Los Angeles' dismal Locke High School was the subject of a compelling reason.tv video hosted by Drew Carey. The school was a playground for gangs and poor performance and eventually was taken by the innovative Green Dot charter school operator. Today marks the first day of the school under new management.
The Los Angeles Times weighs in on the changes at Locke, noting
Principal Ronnie Coleman has painstakingly hired each teacher. The staff has attended retreats together and been trained in how to instill discipline. (All staff monitor the hallways during class changes to make sure students aren't cutting classes or getting into trouble; it's better to walk around the classroom than to sit at a desk.) Green Dot CEO Steve Barr didn't fill the quad with the oak trees he'd envisioned, but on registration day, workers were busy planting 16 century-old olive trees that, just as he'd hoped, made the grassy area a shaded, inviting place for students to gather.
Perhaps most promising, the biggest Green Dot fans among those registering were generally the ones who had enrolled in summer school and were impressed by what had been wrought in a short time: Students were neatly dressed and better behaved. Graffiti, a perpetual plague last year despite conscientious repainting, had virtually disappeared. As a security guard described the summer, "The kids walked around with smiles on their faces." The new Locke High School now must find a way to spread that sense of optimism among all of its students.
Watch Unlocked: Education Revolt in Watts for a story that is by turns terrifying, frustrating, and triumphant. Go here for background material and code to embed this video on your own website.