LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King announced that high school graduation rates topped 80 percent in 2017, a record-breaking increase from last year and hitting a benchmark goal ahead of schedule.
· The LAUSD Board unanimously passed a resolution intended to make graduation rates more meaningful, by ensuring that graduates are ready for college and careers. The resolution calls on the district to collect data on indicators of college readiness, college application and graduation rates. And it asks the district to consider having every student take PSATs and SATs and providing access to a college counselor and online counseling portal for every student.
· The Board unanimously passed a resolution to support passage of a state bill, AB 621, which would create a summer bridge fund to help classified employees who have summers off and often suffer during those months without income. Some board members, including Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez, however, voiced opposition to paying for this out of the general fund.
· The Board unanimously approved material revisions and charter petition renewals for several Celerity, ICEF and Synergy Kinetic Academy charter schools. Celerity revamped its governance structure following multiple investigations over alleged misuse of funds, severing ties to its parent organization, Celerity Global Development, and the school’s founder. The Celerity Educational group CEO also announced she was stepping down from her position.
· The LAUSD CFO presented a report showing that the district is in better financial shape than expected for this year only because of unexpected expenditure declines from lower energy bills this year and a hiring freeze, as well as higher interest income and other factors. The long-term structural deficit remains.
Getting free labor from students and calling it “College and Career Readiness” strikes us as an outrageous inversion of the Kids-First ethos the new LAUSD Board is attempting to instill at the district. Instead of teachers being there to serve the low-income students trying to prepare for college, the students in the class are there to serve the needs of the teachers.
Health, welfare and pension benefits for LAUSD employees and retirees will take up more than half of the district’s attendance revenue within 15 years unless we see drastic change. That was the stark reality laid out in a presentation to the LAUSD Board at a retreat Tuesday in which the board set goals for the year and explored options for cutting benefit costs.
Putting so much money toward retiree health and pension costs means “less money in classrooms,” saidDistrict 4 Board Member Nick Melvoin. “That’s what provokes the urgency.”
The new kids-first majority on the LAUSD board voted 4-3 against a resolution by District 1 Board Member George McKenna to oppose a new state-authorized STEM school in Los Angeles.
The vote was largely symbolic because the state legislature will decide on the fate of the bill that would create the school, AB 1217. But that didn’t stop the board from spending an hour and a half debating the resolution, much to the chagrin of District 4 Board Member Nick Melvoin.
“I don’t think this debate about this resolution is an effective use of board time and resources,” Melvoin said. “This bill has limited impact on LAUSD’s programs and students and is unfortunately an example of divisive politics as usual. It is not kids first and rehashes the same disputes that distract this board from doing its job.”
The resolution against this proposed school, which would be located in Los Angeles and operated in partnership with UCLA, demonstrates a reflexive opposition to innovation and ignores the desperate need for underserved kids to have more high-quality school options in math and science.
Parents who worked hard to elect a new kids-first majority to the LAUSD Board congratulated the new and returning members sworn in earlier this month -- Nick Melvoin, Kelly Gonez and Monica Garcia -- in this Speak UP video tribute. We also spoke in depth to Kelly Gonez, the newly elected representative for Board District 6, about her priorities for the district and the ways Speak UP members can help. Her message to parents: “The most important thing is to hold us accountable.”
They cheered. They celebrated. After months of knocking on doors, calling voters and mobilizing their fellow parents and friends, Speak UP parents welcomed new Los Angeles Unified School Board member, Nick Melvoin - the candidate they helped to elect. Like Melvoin, newly-elected Kelly Gonez and incumbent Monica Garcia, were sworn in as LAUSD board members during a ceremony last week in downtown Los Angeles.
The mission of Speak UP is to engage, educate and activate parents and community members to advocate for excellent, equitable public education at their children’s schools, in their communities, with elected representatives and at the ballot box.