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He said, “I’m an advocate of school uniforms, but I think you can mandate it much easier if the parents accept it … especially in elementary schools; then transition it into the middle schools and then from middle schools to high schools. He often worked weekends, checking teachers’ plans and tutoring students. The “Sentinel” reached out to its President and CEO, Charisse Bremond Weaver for comments on McKenna’s appointment. Students are skeptical, and a parent activist, Margaret Wright, warns him, “I got you hired, I can get you fired.”, Then a promising young athlete is shot just off campus in a gang fight and dies in the principal’s arms. [3], At Rotten Tomatoes the film received two negative reviews from critics. “I have never been married, no wife, no kids,” McKenna mused. “McKenna made students feel safe to come back where some of the country’s most notorious gangs began,” Kakassy said. Elsewhere co-star Denzel Washington and Lynn Whitfield. McKenna explained that the Watts Riots in 1965 scared many of the white families out of the area. (Get a full synopsis and other facts about the movie here.). And the district told him to stand down.”. During Dr. George McKenna's tenure as prinicpal of Washington Prepratory High School in South Los Angeles, students, parents, and community members witnessed the transformation of an inner-city high school that had been torn by violence, low achievement, and lack of community confidence into a school with an attendance waiting list and nearly 80% of the graduates enrolled in college. “That being acceptable and celebrating it, as we make incremental gains, is never worthy, but we never aspire to be at the top and become superior academically. Some of the changes he made at Washington Prep were implemented at hundreds of schools throughout the nation. Why should it be celebratory when it does work rather than invoking outrage when it doesn’t?”. IMDB. The original script depicted more of an overall struggle to change the education system as a whole. “Some things have gone backwards, it’s out of my control, but ultimately that school and all the schools in the district are much, much safer,” McKenna said. “I don’t blame it on the job, but I accept the fact that that’s the way it’s supposed to be. A great deal has changed in the three decades since the movie was made about this success in the LA educational system, but some things remain the same — and still need fixing. “I think there is a movement not only here locally in Los Angeles but nationally, to find alternatives to public schools, and I still think that most of the children will be in public schools. McKenna left Washington Prep to serve as superintendent of Inglewood Unified School District until 1992, and then worked as deputy superintendent of Compton Unified until 2001 and then as assistant superintendent of Pasadena Unified until 2008. The graduation rate has fallen below the state average to 71 percent, and only 27 percent are college ready. Gangs formed and drugs were sold openly. He also was one of the real-life characters portrayed in the film who met with the writers and filmmakers during the making of the movie. The triumph of Washington Prep can be shared by all of us.”. “All the parts in the movie were real, everything happened, it was factual,” said McKenna, who read all versions of the script. Denzel Washington with McKenna on the set. The George McKenna Story is a 1986 biographical television film directed by Eric Laneuville, which stars Laneuville's St. Elsewhere co-star Denzel Washington and Lynn Whitfield. in mathematics from Xavier University and was awarded a teaching fellowship to Loyola University, where he earned an M.A. “My challenge, my struggle, has been to get the system to change,” McKenna explained. The George McKenna Story is a 1986 biographical television film directed by Eric Laneuville, which stars Laneuville's St. No school has metal detectors anymore, although random wanding is still done. That incident, like the rest of the movie, was true, McKenna said, adding about the death, “It was one of the toughest moments of my life.” The gang fight motivates the principal to step up changes both on campus — which he does with the help of an idealistic white teacher — and off campus, including painting over graffiti on a wall across the street and recruiting the football team to help. You can say it, but you can’t draw it.”, McKenna insisted, “The principal is the single most powerful position in public education. “I had to bully the kids,” he said. Then, pulling out another McKenna-ism, he added, “Someday is not on the calendar. “Patience is not a virtue, it runs out on all of us, and there will still be things I need to get done when my time runs out,” McKenna said, smiling. “George McKenna wanted to change the system, he is a pioneer,” Kakassy said, welling up with tears as he recalled his days at Washington Prep. $5 Million. A student dies in McKenna’s arms in the movie. Bremond-Weaver said, “It’s very refreshing to have someone with Dr. McKenna’s educational background and concern for the children back at the helm of the LAUSD seven.”According to McKenna, the assignment is open-ended in that the Superintendent asked him to come in and he will be there until the assignment is over, serving at the superintendent’s pleasure. “If the adults around don’t have sufficient commitment to let no child escape, then the situation in the schools will just get worse,” McKenna warned. “I remember the first time he appeared at Washington High with the teachers in the cafeteria and spoke about hope and collaboration and how he was determined to make the changes, it was just like in the film,” Kakassy reminisced. … They enjoyed that.”. The movie “Stand and Deliver” about tough LA Unified teacher Jaime Escalante (which earned Edward James Olmos an Academy Award nomination) came out two years later. He meets resistance, particularly from a teacher who reports him to the district on trumped-up charges. Your privacy is important to us. Washington High was built in 1926 in the Westmont section of unincorporated Los Angeles County. McKenna succeeded her to the school board after her death in 2013. In the end, the graffiti is eradicated, students thrive and the principal is a hero. “I was able to get kids from the local high school to get bit parts in the movie. And yet, people resisted. We now have a waiting list to enter our school. At the age of twenty, he received a B.A. ... Report estimates that up to 500,000 students across California — and 1 to 3 million kids nationwide — have been missing from schools since March, Politics, not science, is driving school reopening decisions to a ‘really dangerous’ degree, research suggests. [1] It involves the events at George Washington Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles. “The school used to have 3,000 students, and when I got there, there were 1,700 and enough spaces for a whole other school,” McKenna said. Subscribe to The Los Angeles Sentinel for only $5.99 $3.99 per month, with 1 month free!

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