Los Angeles Small Schools Center Organizational History
The Los Angeles Small Schools Center (LASSC) was founded as the unincorporated Los Angeles Small Schools Collective (Collective) in March 2003 by teacher-scholar Cris Gutierrez and UCLA Center X researcher Karen Hunter Quartz and housed at University of California Los Angeles Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences. In July 2003, LASSC received an Annenberg Foundation seed grant to create a professional learning community of accomplished educators who were establishing small democratic secondary public schools in LA. LASSC executive director Jeanne Fauci joined the organization in 2005. In May 2007, LASSC incorporated as a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation and changed its name to the Los Angeles Small Schools Center in November 2007. LASSC received its non-profit status in April 2008.
Since then, LASSC has been a leader in school reform, focusing its work on Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Local District 4 that encompasses some of the most underserved communities in LA.Among its accomplishments, the Los Angeles Small Schools Center:
• Co-founded the Belmont Education Collaborative (BEC)—a coalition of 30 community and educational organizations that developed and implemented the Belmont Zone of Choice that gives Pico Union eighth grade students and their families the choice to attend one of 17 themed high schools in the Belmont High School attendance area
• Became a Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) affiliate center, receiving a Gates Foundation grant to support CES school development in Los Angeles
• Partnered with the Center for Collaborative Education to replicate the Boston Pilot School Network in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Nineteen Pilot schools—in-district public schools with autonomy over their budget, curriculum, governance, schedule and staffing—are currently open. An additional 12 Pilot Schools are expected to open in Fall 2011 through Public School Choice 2.0.
• Founded Civitas School of Leadership, one of the first LA Pilot schools to open in 2007
• Supported the design and implementation of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in mid-city LA, the first wall-to-wall Pilot schools campus with six autonomous schools that each have a social justice mission to honor the legacy of the late Robert F. Kennedy
• Partnered with UCLA Center X and LAUSD Local District 4 to lauch UCLA IMPACT a five-year federally funded urban teacher residency program that places apprentice teachers with mentor teachers in a small, innovative school for a full year. This innovative 18-month secondary math and science, K-12 special education and Early Childhood and Multiple Subject teacher education program integrates classroom practice and university coursework culminating in a preliminary teaching credential and a Masters in Education
• Received a 2010 grant from the James Irvine Foundation to be the first regional California Linked Learning Center working throughout Los Angeles Unified and in southern California to ensure that all students are prepared for success in college and career. The Center provides teachnical assistance, professional development and coaching for schools and school districts.