This Tuesday, June 12th, the School Board Resolution “Realizing the Promise for All: Close the Gap by 2023!” (Res-047-17/18) goes before the Board of Education for consideration. As a lead organization of Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS), the Center believes that this ambitious resolution sets a meaningful north star for LA Unified and builds on the district’s “Graduation for All” strategic goal that has sharply increased graduation rates.
Knowing what the district has been able to achieve when it sets a high bar, this resolution addresses the inequities that still exist for students of color who continue to have minimal choices upon graduation. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 East LA Walkouts, when Chicano students had the courage to raise their collective voices and take action to condemn the inhuman way they were treated and declare that the education they were receiving from LA Unified was not acceptable.
Fifty years later, in spite of all the gains that came from the walkouts, children of color still experience racial prejudice from long-held beliefs such as, “Some children are not meant to go to college” or “College isn’t for everyone” or “Those kids just don’t care”. LAUSD 2017 data reflects the systemic belief systems and oppression that continue to exist: only 53% of Latino students and 45% of Black students graduated college eligible and only 18% of Black males, 22% of English Learners, 27% of Students with Disabilities, and 28% of Foster Youth graduated college eligible. Until there is a collective voice that states, “All children can go to college” and “It is not the kids who don’t care it’s the adults”, we will continue to make incremental change and generations of young people will not have the opportunities or the future they deserve.
In 2018, we are witnessing the raising of voices of women and youth to demand change with the Me, Too and Never Again movements. As a community, Los Angeles is in a new phase of realizing equity, one that requires policy shifts to address interdependent and systemic barriers to affordable housing, equal pay and equitable college access. The school board’s recent commitments to equity via the Student Equity Needs Index 2.0, a new school performance framework and the “Pathways to Lifelong Success for Our Students” resolutions signal a commendable willingness to push the envelope for high-need student achievement.
“Realizing the Promise for All: Close the Gap by 2023!” builds on these board resolutions that are rooted in equity. It seeks to establish a holistic approach to college and career preparation that begins pre-kindergarten and continues through high school. The resolution; (1) establishes college and career readiness goals across elementary, middle and high school levels, (2) places strategic, equity-based decision making and budgeting at school sites, (3) closes persistent gaps for English Language Learners and, (4) supports teacher and staffing stability for high-needs students and schools.
Our children and families are demanding meaningful options upon graduation. The role of post-secondary education to create opportunities for upward economic mobility is undeniable. This is especially true for low-income Latino and African-American students for whom a four-year degree represents an opportunity to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and to meaningfully participate in all aspects of civic life.
Closing the Gap means not only the gap between graduation and college eligibility rates, it also means closing the belief gap that keeps high-need students from reaching their potential. Center for Powerful Public Schools believes that all students can achieve provided the opportunity to do so. Supporting this resolution demonstrates a commitment to ensuring that 100% of children in LA Unified’s care graduate high school prepared for college and career.