Name: Yolie Flores
Hometown: Los Angeles
Profession: Education Reformer
“My name is Yolie Flores, and for education to improve, it must focus on the needs of the children.”
Very few people have experienced the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) as both a student and a member of its Board. Yolie Flores has those unique qualifications, and they have strengthened her ability to be an exceptional advocate for the children of Los Angeles.
Her experiences as a product of LA public schools and as a social worker dedicated to disadvantaged children and families helped her see how badly the school system was broken. She decided to take on the needed task of fixing it through innovative reform.
"It was appalling to me that I saw no sense of urgency from LAUSD -- the second largest school district in the nation -- and no real plan to address the shameful and persistent achievement gaps that existed for thousands of students," says Flores.
This lack of urgency inspired Flores to propose a radical method of reform: allowing outside entities to operate new and under-performing schools. Public School Choice – became a lever to change a bureaucracy that was failing children.
“When I realized there was nothing at stake for people to behave differently, my strategy was to institute a process that would push the system to move from mediocrity to excellence for every child,” Flores says.
Flores believes successful school reform is centered on the needs of children, not adults. “For too long, the rules for how we operate our schools have privileged the adults running them and not focused enough on our students.”
After four years at LAUSD, Flores stepped down in June 2011 to become CEO of Communities for Teaching Excellence, a nonprofit working nationally to improve academic achievement by engaging communities in advocating for more effective teaching.
"One of the most critical and essential reforms in public education is ensuring every student an effective teacher, in every classroom, every year," says Flores. “Fifteen years of research makes that very clear. My organization is working to do just that, by supporting communities to advocate for policies that support teachers - fair and meaningful evaluations, adequate compensation, good tenure policies, and -- at the end of the day -- strong accountabilities. We must GUARANTEE that every student, particularly poor students and students of color, are exposed to great teaching every day."