Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

#GoodSchools: KPCC listeners on what makes a good school

by Take Two

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Kindergartener Mimi Echavez raises her hand to answer a question as teacher Tingting Mei reads a book to students at Eugene Field Elementary, a Mandarin immersion school in Pasadena, on Thursday morning, May 28, 2015. Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Recently on Take Two we launched a new series on education called #GoodSchools.

We've been taking a look at the multitude of choices out there for families in L.A. We've been talking with parents about how they're making sense of it all. And we've been asking "what makes for a good school?"

Here are some of the responses we've received:

Public school teacher and parent Cathy Scubik, of San Pedro:

"First it takes some really good, strong teachers... who know what they're doing and are given the freedom to do what they know how to do. I think the second big piece of a good school is the curriculum. That connects to the freedom that teachers have. I think having an authentic curriculum that's not publisher-driven, that's not imposed by a district, that is a solid, well-rounded curriculum that kids thrive within, I think that's a big part of a good school. And lastly I think that if you have engaged parents and families and support systems around the children who come to the school... and they're connected to their children and what's happening academically, I think that is a third really important piece."

Eagle Rock parent Bevin Ashenmiller:

"A good school district needs to put kids first, always. With limited resources a good district needs to be smart, working carefully to make sure that we are doing more with less and not less with more. A good school district recognizes the hidden curriculum broken buildings and a sea of asphalt communicate: That, despite what we say, we do not put children first. A good district is committed to figuring out a create a budget that maintains and upgrades our existing schools before building new schools that we can't maintain. A good district values and respects the humans who work together with us in this job of education. Not just the teachers and the children, but the nurses and gardeners, the counselors and principals, the parents and the janitors."

LAUSD middle school teacher Noriko Nakada:

"A good school to me is a community where students have the chance to learn and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment. It's where they have opportunities to make mistakes, figure out who they are, and find out what's really important to them. A good school is where students learn academics, but also they learn art and music and play. Good schools help students learn about other people and how to interact in a diverse world with so many different challenging situations. A good school isn't about test scores and can't be determined by checking the school's website. They're dynamic places that you have to visit and really set foot in and understand what's happening in classrooms where there are teachers who hopefully are inspiring and really thinking about how they can help their students find their place in the world. A good school district helps create these communities in every neighborhood. They help ensure that no matter where you live, there is a neighborhood school with a good teacher in every classroom who really understands the importance of their role within the system."  

L.A. parent Alex Brideau:

"Beyond academic rankings and test scores, racial diversity and transit friendliness are important qualities that I look for in a school for my daughter."

Crystal Clayter in El Segundo:

"You absolutely have to have parent involvement, namely financial involvement. My kid is in the El Segundo School District and because the district is tiny and separate from LAUSD, you can see every dollar at work. Kids have enrichment programs in STEM fields, book fairs and read-a-thons, computerized white boards even in kindergarten classes, a garden, and they don't miss out on programs in music and art because of a shared-resource approach, wherein different kids have art and music on different days of the week. This is made possible by multiple fundraisers, at least one active event per month, and the El Segundo Education Foundation to which parents make monthly donations."

Angel Zobel-Rodriguez in San Fernando:

"A truly great school will have challenging academics and a variety of extra-curriculars or electives to help kids get through the day. It's not enough to have AP Calculus, there needs to be enough sections of that class that a student isn't choosing between a third year in language, orchestra, or that Calculus class."

People have also weighed in on Facebook:

Want to weigh in on what makes a good school? Let us know here.

Series: Good Schools

As part of its Good Schools series, Take Two looks at the education landscape in the Los Angeles area. That includes its public schools, magnets, charters, private institutions and dual-language programs. You’ll hear from parents, academics, teachers, kids and even a couple of TV show producers.

Read more in this series and let us know your thoughts on Facebook, or tweet us @Take Two and @KPCC with the hashtag #goodschools.

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