“Put simply, the old way of doing things is no longer good enough for the children of Los Angeles. We live in the greatest city in the world, nothing but the best education system in the world should be tolerated. LAUSD is moving in the right direction. Just not fast enough. They are willing to innovate these days though. We need to engage. Our city hall politicians show up on campuses in a suit, followed by a staffer with a camera and a list of useless accolades. Send me to City Council, and I will show up in a t-shirt with a broom and with my homework already done.”
Proof of Tomas’s hands-on Empowering Education policy can be seen at Thomas Starr King Middle School. Working with an open-minded principal and teachers, Tomas has helped foster an atmosphere of success on campus, which has seen some of the most improved test scores in the entire state of California. Tomas has big plans for public schools in CD4 and beyond.
“I’m going to continue working closely with LAUSD to get a magnet in every single one of our middle schools and to bring the teacher-student ratio down. Especially in the current economic climate, many parents are taking another look at public schooling. I’m convinced that they, like Justine and myself, will come to the conclusion that their kids will flourish at their local public school, just like ours have.”
A win-win partnership. We can help our planet and rejuvenate our public education system.
“The idea for the new magnet grew from brainstorming sessions she ( Dr.Kristen Murphy Principal )held with a number of community and environmental groups, particularly Friends of King, a nonprofit parent-teacher organization that spearheaded development of the school’s organic garden, Farm King.”
The new environmental magnet at King has been nicknamed the “shoestring” magnet. When LAUSD responded to Dr. Murphy, the principal of King, that there simply was “no money” to open up a green magnet, Dr. Murphy came back and said King could create this new part of the school for under $30,000. When LAUSD said even $30,000 was impossible to find, O’Grady responded with a guarantee that the local community would raise the $30,000. Finally, confident that the money could be raised over the next year, he personally guaranteed the money by offering to borrow on his home equity line. O’Grady exudes confidence when it comes to getting things done.
Aside from meeting high academic and educational standards, Tomas also believes schools should be physically healthy environments for our kids. “I still can’t believe gasoline-powered leaf blowers, unwholesome food, and toxic, ancient school buses are allowed anywhere near growing minds and bodies,”he says. “Once again, we need to treat our kids, all of our children, with respect and to nurture them. LA is already polluted enough without us adding to it.” The projects Tomas initiates at schools are carefully planned so as to engage students both physically and mentally.