United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ President and CEO, Elise Buik
A high-quality education is the ultimate pathway out of poverty…
Over the past few years, it’s become evident that in a sluggish economy, it is perhaps our children who suffer the most. Attempts to balance the state budget have resulted in $20 billion worth of funding cuts for our K-12 schools, limiting their ability to provide students of all ages with the tools they need to succeed.
Two new measures on the November ballot, Propositions 30 and 38, would raise much-needed funds to ensure a strong learning environment that includes smaller class sizes, an increase in per-pupil spending (California currently ranks 47th in the nation) and preventing the school year from being shortened by as much as three weeks.
LAUSD has made significant gains in recent years by improving both its API (Academic Performance Index) score from 595 to 728 and overall graduation rate (from 56% in 2005 to 62% in 2011). We simply cannot afford to undermine the progress that has already been made when it comes to adequately preparing our kids for both college and career. The passage of Prop 30 and Prop 38 can help keep the District’s nearly 700,000 students on a clear path to success.
A high-quality education is the ultimate pathway out of poverty and pursuant to our mission to Create Pathways Out of Poverty for all Angelinos, United Way of Greater Los Angeles fully endorses Propositions 30 and 38 and we urge you to do the same.
By voting yes on both measures this November, you’re making a critical commitment to provide our students with the kind of public school education they deserve; thus securing the future of our businesses and region with a strong and educated workforce.
Read United Way’s official statement.
Read Steve Lopez’ article in The Los Angeles Times.
Due to the concerted efforts of United Way, community partners, local advocacy groups, civic and business leaders, the 672,000 students of LAUSD recently scored a major victory.
State Senate bill AB5, which would have severely limited the accountability and objectivity of teacher evaluations, met with widespread opposition across an extremely diverse set of organizations and governing bodies including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, California State PTA, California School Boards Association, Los Angeles Urban League, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Mayor Villaraigosa and LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.
Despite containing some positive elements, this piece of legislation ultimately failed to take the interests of our students into account and its subsequent defeat proved that we are not alone in our efforts.
With your support, we’ll continue working to secure a high-quality public school education for all students through the creation of a meaningful, multiple-measure teacher evaluation system. We all benefit, especially our students and teachers, when we can accurately understand what’s happening in our classrooms, how well students are learning and how teachers can grow professionally.
Our students deserve it, teachers want it, and parents demand it.
Over the past year, we’ve seen a collaborative effort between teachers, principals and LAUSD school district leaders to develop a comprehensive evaluation system that will support and improve teaching practices in our classrooms.
That progress is in danger with Assembly Bill 5, currently at the State Senate. The bill jeopardizes efforts to create meaningful and objective teacher evaluations. See The Los Angeles Times article and editorial.
In order to best serve our students and improve the graduation rate, United Way will continue to support teacher evaluation systems that include objective measures of student performance. Our students deserve it, teachers want it and parents demand it.
Take Action Today.
Tell Governor Brown and your Legislator that students come first and vote no on AB 5.
Call the State Capital at 916-445-2841. Find your Legislator at www.stopAB5.com.
A Superior Court judge’s recent decision in favor of using student performance data to evaluate LAUSD teachers echoed United Way’s longstanding call for the adoption of a meaningful, multi-measure evaluation system focused on professional development and student learning.
To that same end, the teacher-led organization Educators for Excellence released a new report entitled, “Breaking the Stalemate,” which highlights best practices for improving teacher quality as well as the tools and resources needed to implement them.
These developments are clearly part of a much larger movement spearheaded by United Way, our local partners and thousands of concerned parents, teachers and community members to provide our students with the kind of education they truly deserve.
We are now calling on LAUSD and UTLA leadership to work side-by-side in taking the necessary steps to turn this vision into a reality.
The Los Angeles City Council has a critical opportunity to protect housing for our most vulnerable neighbors. Its vote on the Community Care Facilities Ordinance will decide whether thousands of low-income city residents will be in jeopardy of losing their housing.
This ordinance will not only limit access to affordable housing,but also increase our city’s costs with unnecessary litigation and restrictions to federal funding, not to mention create a red tape nightmare for property owners and tenants. The City Council should be focusing on how we can improve enforcement of existing nuisance abatement laws, not adding more bureaucratic, costly laws that will do more damage than good.
The City Council should demonstrate that it cares for all our residents by creating a solution that fosters strong, healthy communities for everyone.
This letter appeared in the “Letters” section of The Los Angeles Times on June 19, 2012.
As we continue working with LAUSD to increase the high school graduation rate to 75%, we understand that graduating is just the first step on the road to success. We don’t want our children to simply graduate, we want them to graduate fully prepared for college and the workforce.
This week United Way, along with many parents and community members, successfully advocated to ensure that all students are given the courses they need to excel in college and beyond. The Board of Education approved a plan which requires all students to pass a series of “A-G” college preparatory classes (including English, History and Math) beginning next fall.
We believe it is absolutely critical for every child to gain equal access to these key elements of the curriculum and we applaud both LAUSD Board Members and Superintendent John Deasy for their leadership.
For more information on the Board of Education’s recent decision to provide its students with A-G courses, please click here.
United Way is partnering with LAUSD and community-based organizations throughout L.A. to engage local residents in the process of turning the city’s lowest-performing schools around and ensuring the quality of its newest schools. Through the Public School Choice initiative, teams of teachers, principals and nonprofits may submit proposals for operating these campuses.
A critical factor in the District’s decision-making process is parent and community input. Last month, we released a report highlighting their top principles and priorities for each of the 25 Public School Choice campuses with regards to Curriculum & Assessment, Student Support, Parent & Community Engagement, School Staff and Health & Safety.
If you’re interested in learning more, please click here to read the full report.
As a part of our mission to improve the quality of our children’s education, United Way of Greater L.A. is continually investing in innovative middle school programs that work.
In February, we co-hosted “Diplomas Now: Investing in Innovation for L.A.’s Students” to explore a historic investment of federal and private funds to turn the city’s lowest-performing schools around.
Created by Johns Hopkins University’s Dr. Robert Balfanz, the Diplomas Now model uses key performance data to identify youths at risk of dropping out and to provide them with tutoring, peer mentoring, case management and customized curriculum plans.
LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia recently appeared on KCLS’ Reform: The L.A. Way to share her thoughts on this unique approach to student intervention and how it can increase the District’s 56% graduation rate. To see the show now, click here.
For more information or to learn how you can get involved in our efforts, please contact me at email@example.com.
Our children’s schools continue to be faced with crippling budget cuts that severely limit the ability of educators to be effective. According to a recent study released by The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, the role that principals play as a source of instructional leadership and support is now more crucial than ever.
At United Way, we’ve always believed in the importance of creating school cultures which promote student achievement so we helped launch the Leadership Matters program at low-performing, low-income middle schools across L.A. County to provide the training, resources and technical assistance principals need to make a difference.
To learn more about how we can work together to improve the quality of education in our community, please read our Creating Pathways to Graduation report.
A short time ago, I joined with area leaders in sending a letter to Dr. John Deasy, Mr. Warren Fletcher and the UTLA Membership and Members of the Board of Education for LAUSD. We asked them to help our resources from Los Angeles to get the best possible chance for a productive, educated life. Here’s a copy of our letter:
Dear Gentlemen and Ladies:
As a collective set of individuals and organizations that represent the public and private sectors serving millions of families across this city, we consider the Los Angeles Unified School District a cornerstone of our community. When the nearly 700,000 students who attend schools in the District succeed academically, families do better, the economy thrives, and our citizens become more engaged. We succeed when LAUSA succeeds.
The current contract with UTLA expired on June 30th. We are urging 1.) that UTLA and LAUSD leadership complete negotiations on a new contract at a pace that matches the urgency of the need–teachers want it, students deserve it, and parents expect it. 2.) We are also urging that any contract provide key provisions set forth below.
We recognize student test scores have been increasing incrementally over the last few years; however, incremental advances are simply not enough. When only 56% of our students graduate from high school ini four years, we are failing close to half of our kids and consigning them to a life of poverty. We know the most critical difference in the academic success of a student is the quality of their teacher. Providing the students in our diverse district with the best possible education will require change and comprehensive reform in the way teachers and school leaders are recruited, compensated, evaluated, developed and retained.
The time is now for our leadership to do the right thing. We are sure you all agree that we must put the needs of students ahead of those of adults. We must protect our students’ right to a quality education and we support you in that pursuit.
Both the Los Angeles Unified School District and United Teachers Los Angeles have an incredible opportunity to create real systemic change in our schools by negotiating one of the most important labor contracts in the history of this city. However, there seems to be no urgency to make the changes that would ensure that EVERY student has access to quality teaching – notsome students who are lucky enough to be in high-performing charter schools, pilot schools or other teacher-led models that are graduating upwards of 90% of their poor children of color and who are proving it can be done.
We urge you to come to agreement on the following provisions:
- Expand autonomy to every school so that teachers and principals have more flexibility and are empowered to design the type of curriculum, schedule and interventions that they feel will work.
- Empower principals to build their own teams and recruit teachers; stop forcing them to take “must-place” teachers based on factors that have nothing to do with student achievement. Principals should be empowered to hire who they want, and not have to deal with forced placements of teachers.
- Include consideration of school/program needs and teacher performance when implementing personnel decisions, including reductions in force, transfers, displacements, assignments, and return rights.
- Guarantee that every school can vote on agreements that clearly state what is expected for employees at each school site (elect-to-work agreement), and that any school whose staff votes for such an agreement is allowed to implement it.
- Provide multiple measure evaluations to teachers, in which observations by academic leaders, student “academic growth over time” data, and stakeholder (teacher, parents, and student) feedback, and a teacher’s contribution to the school are used to evaluate teacher quality.
- Connect appropriate professional development to teachers so they may use the evaluation data to improve their practice.
- Provide mechanisms for teachers to receive additional compensation for being effective, not for taking additional courses, and for taking on harder assignments.
While we know that our schools are severely under-resourced, people do not want to fund a broken system. Start putting kids first and the community will overwhelmingly support you. We call on the Superintendent, the LAUSD school board and the House of Representatives of UTLA to approve a new landmark contract. The public expects you to do the right thing for the students of Los Angeles.
Edward J. Avila
President, Alliance for a Better Community*
President and CEO, United Way of Greater Los Angeles*
President and CEO, The J. Paul Getty Trust*
Chairman Emeritus, Music Center*
Of Counsel, Latham & Watkins LLP* Founding Chair, LA County Business Federation*
Attorney at Law*
Chairman and CEO, City National Bank*
President and CEO, California Community Foundation*
Partner, Mayer Brown LLP*
Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP*
President & Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Legal Center*
President, Tree People*
President, Board of Harbor Commissions Port of Los Angeles* System*
Thomas M. Priselac
President & CEO, Cedars Sinai Health System*
Robert K. Ross, M.D.
President & CEO, The California Endowment*
John H. Semcken III
Vice President, Majestic Realty Co.*
The Robert Simonds Company*
President & CEO, Los Angeles Urban League*
President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce*
Matthew A. Toledo
CEO & Publisher, Los Angeles Business Journal*
Vice President, Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners*; Former President Los Angeles Urban League*