▼LAUSD’S SHORT-CHANGED DISADVANTAGED SCHOOLS, STUDENTS
By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1SdwEbF
6/12/15, 7:33 PM PDT :: Schools in poverty-stricken neighborhoods have not been receiving their fair share of state funding from Los Angeles Unified School District, according to a new report from the University of California, Berkeley and United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
Out of $820 million in extra funding sent to LAUSD this year, Gov. Jerry Brown intended for $145 million to be spent on kids who live in poverty or foster care or are struggling to learn the English language.
The school board then adopted a plan to ensure the dollars reached those students, ranking campuses based on the number of kids in those categories and other factors such as violence and financial hardship in surrounding neighborhoods.
But the yearlong review by UC Berkeley and United Way found LAUSD officials decided against proportioning the funds in accordance with the state statutes and district rankings at elementary and middle schools.
“It certainly helped the more middle-class portions of the district, but it doesn’t isolate those students for the proportionality requirements in the state statute,” said UC Berkeley Professor Bruce Fuller.
Over the past year, LA Unified officials instead spread the funding around, rehiring librarians, nurses and other staff at all middle and elementary schools rather than targeting those in need, said Elmer Roldan, United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ director of education programs.
“Without distributing the money in an equitable manner, you continue this history of real injustice in the way we fund education,” Roldan said.
The report has been sent to board members, who will vote Tuesday on the district’s $8.09 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
In the third year of Brown’s funding plan, an additional $161 million has been earmarked to help the same three groups of disadvantaged students.
LAUSD Legislative Liaison Pedro Salcido said the district plans to do a better job of funneling the money to the students for whom it’s intended.
“As we move forward for ’15-16, the resources are starting to be built in a way where you see a greater benefit to elementary and middle schools,” Salcido said.
In ’14-15, Salcido said LAUSD was primarily focused on high schools, which suffered the steepest budget cuts in the recession. According to the report, the district did a decent job of allocating resources to high schools with high numbers of those disadvantaged student groups.
He noted that the district will also address another key finding of the report, which criticized its failure to create a “coherent strategy” for spending to spur improvement.
The report found LAUSD “has no way of determining which of the many strategies it’s mounting are working, or not,” Fuller said in a written statement.
Supt. Ramon Cortines, who started his third stint in October — after the current budget was already drafted — has stressed the importance of accountability in the upcoming year, Salcido said.
There will now be quarterly reports on whether schools are meeting academic goals and a mid-year evaluation of other measures, including attendance and suspension, he said. “The superintendent is very, very, adamant that our school sites must be held accountable to how they expend their dollars and the outcomes.”
But Roldan remains concerned by the district’s proposed budget, which doesn’t provide for the academic counselors needed to ensure students find success. “It’s really difficult for us to see how you can get a student through school and into college without academic counselors supporting them all the way,” he said.
Last week, district officials made an 11th-hour move to revive a decade-old plan that requires students in the class of 2016 to pass college-prep classes as a condition of graduation.
A majority of the class is currently in jeopardy of being denied diplomas because they have not passed those classes.
▼LA UNIFIED FALLS SHORT OF LCFF GOALS, ACCORDING TO STUDY
Posted on LA School Report by Vanessa Romo | http://bit.ly/1dDPXvs
June 12, 2015 4:52 pm :: California’s new education budgeting process, known as Local Control Funding Formula, was designed to shrink the achievement gap among students by funneling more money to schools’ neediest pupils, but a year-long study of LA Unified shows the district has so far failed to fulfill that mission.
The report by UC Berkeley and Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) coalition is slated for release on Monday and found that “the bulk of LCFF dollars has seeped into the district’s base budget with… little apparent regard to the students who generate the new dollars.”
Under the state formula foster care youth, students living poverty and those requiring special education programs earn the district additional funding to supplement their education.
While the board made commitments to distribute those funds — $700 million in 2013-14 and another $145 million in 2014-15 —to an array of initiatives targeting this student population, the money was largely invested in special education efforts as well as restoring staff positions. According to the study, few of those re-hires were directly tied to instruction, especially at the elementary school level.
Research for the study was gathered through student surveys, focus groups with pupils, teachers and principals, and analyzed school-by-school budgets.
Several improvements were made over the current school year. Spending on new instructional aides for English learners is up; programs benefiting foster care youth were launched; and funding for restorative restorative justice programs got a boost.
Other key findings included:
• LCFF “investment dollars” equaled less than 3% of LAUSD’s total budget in 2014-15
• The majority of LCFF investment dollars — $145 million — went to high schools in 2014-15
• Distribution of LCFF investment dollars to elementary schools did not follow the equity formula established by the district
The analysis concludes that the district has no coherent strategy for how new positions and program dollars supposed to spur discrete improvements at the school level. Further, district officials have no method of tracking which endeavors are successful and which need modifications.
●●smf’s 2¢: Short changing? Falling Short? It isn’t how you play the game, it’s who keeps score that counts! If Al Capone says Bugsy Siegel is a bad man, does that make Bugsy a good man?
IMPLEMENTING THE LOCAL CONTROL FUNDING FORMULA: Steps Taken by LAUSD in Year Two, 2014-15 | Research Findings from the University of California, Berkeley for the CLASS Coalition and United Way of Greater Los Angeles - June 2015
was commissioned (ie: bought+paid-for) by the United Way of GLA and their politically community organized partners, CLASS. CLASS was behind the great “Save Deasy” movement that perpetuated the regime and prolonged the agony. Once upon a time the United Way was a coalition of charitable organizations that supported do-goodery like the Boy+Girl Scouts, March of Dimes, PTA, Salvation Army, etc. – but Mayor Tony infused them with a political agenda (his) and they are no longer what they once were.
That said LAUSD has done a very poor job of implementing the LCFF and engaging the community in the LCAP process - and I don’t doubt that the UC researchers had much difficulty documenting that fact. My advice is to take the report’s findings with-or-without a grain of salt: I’m sure it’s seasoned to someone’s taste!