Los Angeles (February 19, 2008) - When looking for a symbol that epitomizes the way public schools are failing our kids, look no further than Locke High School in Watts.
Approximately 75 percent of 9th graders entering Locke do not graduate in four years. And less than five percent of Locke students go on to attend four-year colleges.
It's hard to learn when you fear for your life. In the 2003-2004 school year, there were three sex offenses, 17 robberies, 25 batteries, and 11 assaults with a deadly weapon at Locke.
In a new Reason.tv video, Drew Carey tells the story of a group of parents and teachers rising up to free kids from this failing, violent school. Carey chronicles how the school's principal and a majority of Locke's teachers decide they've had enough and revolt against their powerful union and school district in hopes of giving these kids a better education. Over half of the school's tenured teachers signed a petition calling for Locke to be converted into a Green Dot charter school.
In September 2007, the Los Angeles Board of Education agreed, voting 5-2 to let Green Dot schools take over Locke High School in the fall of 2008.
"There are a lot of heroes in this battle for our kids and accountability," said Lisa Snell, director of education at Reason Foundation. "We have a principal forcing teachers to do a better job. Tenured teachers bucking the system, giving up guaranteed employment and their union benefits to help improve these kids' lives. Bill and Melinda Gates giving nearly $8 million to open 10 charter schools in Watts. It shows that no matter the obstacles, education reform can happen. That said, it would be nice if good teachers and places like Green Dot schools and other charter school operators didn't have to fight the government and union bureaucracy every step of the way, especially in cases like this where the status quo is undeniably failing."
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Chris Mitchell, Director of Communications, Reason Foundation, (310) 367-6109