PILOT SCHOOLS ARE EPIC!

On Friday, March 16, the Center for Powerful Public Schools supported the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the LA Unified School District (LAUSD) Pilot Schools at an evening attended by over 400 Pilot School teachers, administrators, students, families, community organizations, and LAUSD staff.  The celebration was entitled "Pilot Schools are EPIC!"  EPIC stands for Equitable, Personalized, Innovative, and Collaborative, several of the key features that the 47 autonomous LA Unified Pilot Schools have exemplified over their decade of accomplishments.

LAUSD School Board President Monica Garcia was the keynote speaker and students Kevin Lopez and Yasuri Palma from Los Angeles High School of the Arts (LAHSA) were the evening's MCs.  Stellar student performances included Korean drumming from UCLA Community School elementary students, music by East Los Angeles Performing Arts Magnet rock band, Ear Ringers, a solo by HArts Academy student Imani Oglesby, singing "Count On Me", the Cesar Chavez Learning Academies Dance Company performing "Beautiful Existence" and two monologues by Natalia Echeverria and Yrah Rayos del Sol from LAHSA.

Dr. Karen Hunter Quartz of UCLA Center for Community Schooling and Center Executive Director Jeanne Fauci shared the results of a ten-year Pilot Schools research report, "A Decade of Innovation" that details findings over the 10-year period.  Pilot Schools serve a higher proportion of Latino students (84% vs. 74%) than LAUSD as a whole and also have a higher proportion of students who are economically disadvantaged (84% vs. 79%).  In terms of outcomes, the 2015-16 Pilot School graduation rate was 8 percentage points higher than LAUSD (85% vs. 77%) and Pilot Schools' four-year college enrollment was 7 percentage points higher (34% vs. 27%).

Los Angeles River School parent Beny Merlos shared her experience as a Pilot School parent and Pilot School alumni Angela Roado at Cal Arts, Guadalupe Nufio at Columbia University, and Juan Miramonte at UC Berkeley sent videos where they talked about how being at a Pilot School prepared them to be successful in college.  Pilot Lead Teachers Esther Dabagyan, Michelle Suarez, and Roberto Vega talked about working in teacher-led schools.  Board President Garcia led a rousing call and audience answer exchange ending with "This is what democracy looks like!" and Pilot School Organization Chair Cynthia Gonzalez and Co-Chair Paul Hirsch closed out the evening with thanks to all and a powerful clap.

For more on Pilot Schools see this video produced by students at the Communication and Technology High School and LA Legacy Project.