Superintendent Beutner addressed a crowd of 250 parents, community and education leaders at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools on Thursday, September 13, 2018. Outside the Paul Schrade library where Beutner delivered his speech, teachers union members gathered to protest.
Beutner’s speech was both motivational and a call to action. His address highlighted the stark differences that exist in LA Unified. In particular, he stressed the need to support students who have high levels of adversity.
He also pointed out, “In a generation, we have gone from leading the country in education funding to being near the bottom. We went from top of the chart student achievement to near the bottom. In the most simple terms, of 100 students who enter our high schools, 12 will drop out, 77 will graduate from high school, and only 12 will graduate college—and that’s any college, two year, four year, or online.”
Beutner pointed out the following opportunities:
- Vulnerable students deserve quality teachers. Schools in disadvantaged communities need to be staffed differently. Teachers and staff in these areas require better training and support.
- The district and the union should be working together to advocate for funding in Sacramento. Currently, the funding system is based on attendance not on enrollment. Disadvantaged communities often have a high absentee rate. This needs to be solved creatively so poverty isn’t passed down through generations.
- Parents need be able to volunteer at their children’s schools. Currently, there is a lot of barriers that prevent parents from being engaged. Parents have to pay $57 per year to volunteer.
- There needs to be an agreed upon process and solution to manage ineffective teachers out of the district.
- Parents and community need a clear understanding of how schools are progressing. Schools need clear performance expectations and measurable goals.
- Schools and district need better tracking of how funds are spent. Parents and community members need to see what decisions are being made with funding.
- Labor agreements affect parents and students. Because of that, parents need to be part of the discussions and should have access to the information.
Overall, Superintendent Beutner’s address was well-received by the crowd. His focus on disadvantaged students and their specific needs has been a struggle in LAUSD for decades. With the teachers union on the verge of striking, many parents have felt the absence of their needs and their voice represented in the discussion. His intention towards collaboration and transparency feels hopeful.
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