Longtime educator feels she’s making a difference

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson In 2003, she jumped at the opportunity to work for a company that creates charter schools, bringing “small learning communities” to neighborhoods with lagging achievement scores and high dropout rates. She is now president and CEO of the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, which has opened four campuses in crowded and underperforming areas in South and East Los Angeles and hopes to create 20 more middle and high schools over the next six years. At the same time, the group wants to influence Los Angeles Unified by establishing small schools that help students graduate, go on to college and eventually have an impact on L.A., she said. “Our basic belief is that every kid can learn at high levels given the learning condition and opportunity to learn at high levels, and that’s what we’re out to prove,” she said. “We’re able to do what we believe makes a difference.” And, there’s a significantly higher sense of accountability at charter schools, which don’t stay open if they don’t deliver. So, if something doesn’t work, it gets changed. Judy Burton worked 30 years in the LAUSD and was on track to become a candidate for superintendent when she quit to join an educational system she believed would yield quicker and better results. Although Burton loved her students and colleagues, she could no longer cope with the heavy bureaucracy and the slow pace of reform in the nation’s second-largest school district – especially at the high school level. “I think we were making good progress but not at the pace we needed or wanted, and a large part of it was due to the incredible size of the schools,” said Burton, 58, who started her career as a teacher and rose to become a local district superintendent in the northeast San Fernando Valley. “I saw our principals and teachers just working so hard, committed to trying to get results but distracted by so many other factors that it just seemed so difficult to stay focused on the kids.” “Our decisions are guided by what we’re trying to achieve versus what rule we’re trying to follow,” she said. “Not to say there aren’t rules and regulations at charters – there are just as many. But we still have the flexibility to work for kids and what works best for our schools.” – Naush Boghossian 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more