Students speak out on the future of LA schools
For generations, the Los Angeles Unified School District has been the epicenter of politics, media, debate, and money. And yet, even in a district with an unparalleled level of attention, the voices of students - in the nation's second largest district and largest with an elected board - have been silenced. In October 2021, we released the LA Student Report, a one-of-a-kind look into the experiences and demands of LA youth.
"[The new superintendent should be] someone who effectively listens to all students and implements their concerns in decision-making."
"I hope this new superintendent relocates funds towards mental health resources, makes our curriculum culturally inclusive, protects us from COVID-19, targets learning loss, and also supports their students fully and wholeheartedly"
- 31.4% of respondents support increasing curriculum focus on the histories of communities of color.
- 25% of respondents support increasing efforts to “support the whole child,” including a greater focus on student mental health.
- 21.8% of respondents want police-free schools in order to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately impacting communities of color.
- 19.2% of survey respondents want schools to address learning loss by prioritizing equity in resource allocation, especially as schools recover from the pandemic.
- Download the Report
- Organizations/Companies: Sign on to the LA Student Agenda
- Join the Our Turn Los Angeles youth-led movement for education justice
1. Decolonize LAUSD
Our Country's potential will not be actualized, until we have a truth and reconciliation of this Nation's true history. Now is the time to dismantle the impacts of white supremacy in Los Angeles schools. We demand:
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- Full decolonization of our schools and curriculum, including but not limited to textbooks, reading list; classroom decor, etc)
- Mandate All School Staff to complete Anti-biases and Anti-racism training
- Fire Racist Adults
- Ensure we close the support disparity to BIPOC by making the data transparent. Collect all of the following data on the support, resources, and education BIPOC are receiving. Data must include but not limited to; race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, and academic progress.
- Schools administration and teachers need to reflect that of the kids they serve.
- Conduct meaningful tribal consultation with Tongva, Tataviam and Chumash people as required by federal law.
- Empower non-citizens/ undocumented community members with ability to vote in school board elections
- Grant the student board member FULL voting rights on any future board deliberations and decision-making.
By erasing history and intentionally misconstruing facts, we are entering into a second Dark-ages. The Country's ability to continuously innovate and expand our collective consciousness depends on shared truths, based on facts. Not until we know and understand our full history will we have a society of critical thinkers who will carry the Country beyond its current limitations.
2. Police-Free Schools
We must confront the harsh truth that the school to prison pipeline is man-made and begins in the classroom.
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- Defund LASPD
- Ensure EVERY students has access to mental health counselors
- An immediate end to all zero-tolerance policies
- Schools must fully adopt restorative and de-escalation practices
- Capture disciplinary data, both of the students and adults handing out disciplinary actions. Data must include but not limited to; race, ethnicity, gender identity, special needs, socioeconomic status.
- Explore alternative safety measures
- Stand up to ICE. We must defend undocumented students both on campus and in the community against ICE agents.
- Disrupt targeted military recruitment of low income BIPOC on high school campuses
- Fully fund after school programs
De-conditioning ourselves from biases and racism will not take place overnight. An immediate tool to dismantle systemic racism is by ending the draconian approach we have on children. We need to make schools an incubator for cognitive and socio-emotional development, not breeding grounds for prisons.
3. Targeting Learning Loss
While COVID-19 did not create an unequal playing field in LA schools, it catastrophically exacerbated the educational disparities for thousands of students. Failed national leadership is no excuse for Los Angeles to further deepen the disparity Black and Brown Kids experience. Education remains to be seen as a stable pathway out of poverty for countless families in Los Angeles. LAUSD must:
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- Expand district early education programs
- LCFF funding must be used to support students and schools with the highest needs.
- Offer live instruction and office hours for students
- Targeted support must be provided to students with low contact and engagement rates
- Targeted resources and support for ELL students and families
- Invest in enrichment programs (after school; tutoring; etc)
- Implement student growth model trainings and best practices for teachers
- Expand district wide early education programs
- Fully meet IEP requirements for students
- Authentically engage parents, students, and community members as co-partners in the learning process
- Increase virtual access to college counselors
- Empower Student and Parent Voice. Administer regular survey check-ins regarding e-learning from students and parents/guardians
- Continued Wifi and computer check-in with parents and students
Public education is intended to be our great equalizer, but currently, it only serves to deepen the disparity in the wealth gap. We must actualize the unfulfilled promise of serving every student to the best of our ability.
4. Supporting the Whole Child
Students are holistic intersectional beings who deserve every opportunity to thrive and maximize our cognitive and emotional development. We demand:
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- Close Digital Divide for all students and families. Free/ affordable wifi and access to working laptops is crucial for students learning.
- Embed mental wellness supports and resources for students and teachers in the school week
- Train parents and students on best practices for zoom, schoology, google classroom, and other technology used in the virtual classroom
- Support students in creating fruitful learning environments at home (exploring public/private partnerships for headphones; lap desk; etc.)
- Hygienic support including but not limited to; Free and readily access to washing machines and showers. Free hygienic and menstrual products.
- Access to healthy food options that match student’s dietary preferences
Creating a more equitable world begins with recognizing that young people need to be cared for holistically. Young people will achieve their full potential when they are supported emotionally, physically and cognitively.
5. Protect us from COVID-19
COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact BIPOC and low income communities. While we applaud LAUSD for prioritizing student safety this fall semester, our district must continue to prioritize student and staff’s health and wellbeing. As LAUSD continues to monitor return to school guidelines, we urge the district to take proactive measures to ensure safety. We must:
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- Strictly follow and adhere to CDC/WHO guidelines
- Increase hand washing and bathroom stations
- Expand lunchtime and breaks in between classes to promote sanitization and hand washing
- PPE for all
- Fully stock cleaning and disinfectant supplies for all classrooms while in person classes are held
Our Turn is active in multiple states across the nation, working directly with students and community partners to advocate for changes in education policy. Explore other current issues.
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