Op-ed in the LA Times by Mónica García
Mónica García is president of the LAUSD's Board of Education.
But four decades later, as we honor and remember those courageous students, many of these same challenges remain.
According to a recent report by the community organization InnerCity Struggle, done in conjunction with UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, only 16 out of every 100 ninth-graders enrolled in a high school on the Eastside graduate eligible for college. Sixty-four out of 100 drop out. These grim statistics threaten to worsen as our educational system statewide faces the largest budget cuts we have seen in recent times. (
Despite our challenges, L.A. Unified must be a leader in urban school reform so that we can finally realize the goals of the '68 protests: giving all our youth the support and opportunities they need to learn and succeed.
Our communities are energized for reform. Over the years, voters have supported four bond measures to fund construction of more than 100 schools, enabling the district to end forced busing and bring our schools back to traditional calendars. A 2005 policy called "A-G for All," when fully implemented, will ensure that all students have access to the college-prep classes required for admission to the UC and
This year, the board has increased the district's focus on meeting the needs of English learners, who make up the majority of our students. We're also trying new strategies to accelerate academic achievement, build ties to the community, increase flexibility of resources and strengthen autonomy and accountability at the school level.
Sal Castro, the Lincoln High teacher who led the walkouts, said, "We knew something different had to happen." His words resonate today. We all have much work to do to reach 100% graduation for all LAUSD students. But this is a moment when we can take substantial steps forward. Sí se puede! Yes, we can!
►smf's 2¢: Board President García has been a powerful advocate for improving opportunities for all LAUSD students; she advocated strongly for the A-G FOR ALL INITIATIVE as former Board President Huizar's chief of staff and worked tirelessly against entrenched resistance to get it approved. However unfortunate compromises in the board resolution and some unfortunate legalistic interpretation of the language driven by insider bureaucrats, naysayers and pennypinchers have moved the actual roll out of the graduation requirement to later date than originally promised. It may take some renewed activism from Ms. García to get the A-G piece back on track - especially if it is to be "for all".
Some readers of the above may be a bit shocked at the mention of corporal punishment and locking bathrooms. Corporal punishment persisted at LAUSD schools long after the walkouts. School Boardmembers elected in the backlash of the civil rights movement García celebrates launched careers that took them to Congress based on 'bringing back the paddle' [see below] – and until Roy Romer's superintendency student restrooms were routinely padlocked to save money.