REFORM HIGH SCHOOL CHOICE IN LBUSD - A Call for Transparency & Stakeholder Input

REFORM HIGH SCHOOL CHOICE IN LBUSD - A Call for Transparency & Stakeholder Input

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Leslie Hammond started this petition to LBUSD Superintendent Dr. Jill Baker and

Put the CHOICE back in School of Choice! LBUSD’s current process for students to select their high school program, called High School Choice, allows families to rank up to four pathways in the application process based on their child’s 6th and 7th grade GPA. And because students are only accepted to one program -- there is no true choice. Parents and students need more support from the District to understand the confusing and stressful process where middle school students choose from more than 40 different high school pathways ranging from social justice to medicine to specialized magnet programs. We call for transparency in this opaque process and ask that stakeholders be allowed more input in the overall decision-making process at LBUSD.

The lack of communication has long been an issue for parents and students. As a 2021 National School Public Relations Audit (NSPRA) on LBUSD noted, communication with stakeholders is at a dismal “emerging level” which in academia is the equivalent of a “D” or “F” grade. Given this finding, we ask the following questions with the goal of improving communication and increasing transparency:

  • Why was High School Choice changed from allowing students to be accepted to more than one pathway to only one pathway?
  • Why is there an implied threat in the process where if a student does not get their first choice at another high school, they may lose their spot at their home school? 
  • Why are representatives from all high school pathways not involved in the selection and acceptance process to their schools? 
  • What oversight is there in the current process that is conducted by three individuals in the District’s central High School Office?
  • In what ways will the District ensure that LBUSD stakeholders are afforded opportunities to be engaged in decision-making for the High School Choice process and in other key LBUSD issues? 

In order to strengthen the relationship between the district and stakeholders, we ask for a seat at the table, for our questions to be openly answered, to collaborate to address issues with the High School Choice system, and to be allowed more opportunities to provide input in district decisions. We celebrate the many successes of LBUSD and recognize its willingness to address challenges is in large part what makes it one of America's finest school systems and a national and international model of excellence.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Until recently, students were accepted into three programs as part of the High School Choice process and had a true choice. Now, the District allows students to be accepted into only one pathway and while it aims to give most students their first choice, many factors affect how programs are ranked and a first place ranking may not actually be representative of a student’s first preference. While the changes may have been well-meaning, the current process puts an excessive amount of stress on parents and children. Only 6th and 7th grade grades are factored into the GPA requirements to get into a selected high school program. In addition, if a student is not accepted into their top ranked choice which may not be at their home school, there is a possibility they may lose a spot at their home school and get placed in a high school they had not even considered.

There was a time when the selection process was at the school that housed the program. Individual high schools would pore over applications and select students that best fit their unique programs. Often there was more flexibility with GPAs requirements and even an essay component. Pathway representatives visited middle schools to present their programs and answer questions. Additionally students were able to visit schools and sit in on classes.

The District, however, centralized the entire process at the High School Office (HSO) and introduced a hard GPA minimum for students to even have the opportunity to apply to many of the programs. This and the fear of losing a spot at your home school has prevented children from applying to their top choices or even getting the opportunity to apply. The current process has removed pathway reps from the process entirely and is a closed door system, lacking oversight or checks and balances.

DECISION MAKERS
Contact the following people to lend your support to this effort. Voice your concerns with High School Choice and needed improvements to communication, transparency, and opportunities for stakeholder engagement in decision-making within LBUSD.

Jill Baker, Superintendent
JBaker@lbschools.net

Tiffany Brown, Deputy Superintendent
TMBrown@lbschools.net

Jay Camerino, Asst. Superintendent of High Schools
JCamerino@lbschools.net

Diana Craighead, Board President
DCraighead@lbschools.net

Megan Kerr, Board Vice-President
MMKerr@lbschools.net

Juan Benitez, Board Member
JBenitez1@lbschools.net

Douglas Otto, Board Member
DOtto@lbschools.net

Erik Miller, Board Member
EMiller1@lbschools.net

FOR MORE INFO:
Follow our efforts on Instagram: @reform_hschoice
Email ReformHSChoice@gmail.com with questions, comments, or to assist.

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