Incubator School in L.A. Sparks Discord

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sujata Bhatt uses online games to encourage her students at Grand View Boulevard Elementary School to aim higher: "Don't just play games, make them."

Now Bhatt will get the chance to teach middle school students how to launch their own businesses at a new campus approved this week by the Los Angeles school board. The Incubator School marks the latest effort in L.A. Unified to spark innovation through "pilot" schools, where district educators are given autonomy over their curriculum, budget, staffing, training and other elements.

Despite enthusiasm for the school's concept, however, the plan became entangled in disputes over its location, union concerns over job placement rules and political tensions.

The board backed off from locating the new campus at Venice High School after parents and students complained they were not informed about it until last week. Sara Roos, a Venice High parent, told the board she wanted more details about the plan, although she sharply criticized it in online comments as an "experiment indoctrinating children in the tricks of an unregulated, free capitalistic market."

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