06 Jun LAUSD Shortchanges South L.A. High Schools
By Sandra Hamada
Jaquay Jones is constantly late to class at Crenshaw High School. As a result, she received detention and lost precious learning time. What’s been holding her up? The restroom.
“There are usually 30 girls waiting in line to use the restrooms. Sometimes we run out of toilet paper,” explained Jones. The school has closed all but one restroom per gender for its more than 1,200 students. School administrator’s claim it’s due to a lack of campus staff to support supervision.
This is why Jones is among a group of students and parents in South Los Angeles that are calling on newly appointed Superintendent Michelle King to put South L.A. at the top of her agenda, as she prepares to present her strategic plan and finalize next year’s budget.
This year marks the two-year anniversary of the LAUSD Board of Education’s adoption of the Equity is Justice Resolution created by the Advancement Project, InnerCity Struggle and Community Coalition. This will be King’s first time presenting the district budget to the Board, which includes the allocation of equity dollars.
The policy, which was sponsored by Board Member Monica Garcia, Board President Steve Zimmer and Board Member Richard Vladovic also received support from labor, including UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl. It requires the superintendent to direct funds to the highest-need schools based on a Student Need Index.
‘We are struggling to pass reading
and math tests. We need action now.’
DISTRICT TWEAKS EQUITY FORMULA
Yet soon thereafter, then Superintendent John Deasy changed the Student Need Index, causing some of the highest needs schools in South Los Angeles to lose out in a big way.
This year Crenshaw High School expected to receive more than a million dollars but was shortchanged
more than $841,625 from the district’s supplemental and concentration funds.
Dorsey and Washington Prep were also shortchanged by the district’s equity ranking – losing out on
$739,044 and $691,066 respectively.
NEED FOR ACTION
“We’re disappointed that the district has has continued to underfund predominately African
American schools,” says Community Coalition Youth Director Miguel Dominguez, who’s hopeful after
presenting the equity shortfall to King at a recent town hall.
In a statement to The Movement, King says she plans to examine the index and “refine the [Student Need
Index] model, as needed, to ensure dollars reach the students with the greatest need.” However, the Superintendent has yet to outline specifics as to how she will take this on.
Kim Pattillo-Brownson of the Advancement Project says, “We are asking the district take into account
factors that we know deeply affect our kids’ learning, such as neighborhood
violence and academic achievement. We believe this may be why many South L.A. schools didn’t receive the funding.”
“Full implementation of the Equity is Justice resolution continues to be a key focus,” said Board Member
Garcia, who championed the equity resolution.
“As new money is available we must correct the lack of equity by investing more and directly to schools that are underfunded.”
New leadership comes at a critical time. After a two-year hiatus from statewide testing, the district’s standardized test scores this year expose serious gaps in achievement.
During the 2014-2015 school year, only 29% of Crenshaw High School students met basic proficiency
standards in English and only 7% met standards for math. according to data released by LAUSD.
The data is far worse when broken down by race: Only 23% of Crenshaw’s African American students met expected English proficiency levels and only 2% of African American students met the math standards.
Students at Washington and Dorsey high schools similarly score poorly in English and math.
“When they look at my test scores, adults are going to say that I’m African American and that I don’t care
about my education. Instead of looking at the school I went to,” said Jones, who is on the honor roll and
has a 3.8 GPA.
“We’re fighting for basic necessities at Crenshaw,” added Jones.
“We’re struggling to pass tests in reading and math, while we’re collecting petitions to open more restrooms.
How is this fair? We’re going to keep rallying and campaigning until we get what we deserve. We
need action now.”