Once Again, a Focus on Disparities in L.A. Unified

Sandy Banks, Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2011

There was a familiar ring to last week’s announcement that the Los Angeles Unified School District plans to improve the education of its black students and children not fluent yet in English.

Again.

The campaign to raise the achievement of black, Latino and low-income students has been bumping along in this school system for so many years, it’s begun to seem like smoke and mirrors.

The achievement gap was an issue when I moved to L.A. in 1979. Then, integration was going to be the solution. Then more money for inner-city schools. Then “culturally relevant” instruction for minority students. Now, at least, it’s fundamentals: better teachers, libraries and technology.

Raise your hand if you see that happening soon.

{snip}

I know I sound cynical. Maybe I’ve been watching and writing about this struggling school district for too long.

I’m glad for the renewed attention on what is an enduringly shameful problem: the persistent gap that separates white, Asian and high-income students from their black, Latino and low-income counterparts.

Translated demographically, that means 15% of the district is shining while 85% sinks.

{snip}

Students in Watts and Hollywood and Boyle Heights should have the same access to libraries and computers and college-prep courses as my daughters did in Granada Hills.

This new settlement requires the sort of basics that every school district ought to offer: intervention for struggling students, adequate instructional materials in every classroom, monitoring of everything from test scores to discipline to student and teacher attendance.

It leaves the details up to local officials, but promises no A based on effort; only good results will matter.

{snip}

I know it takes more than tough love to lift the masses of struggling children. And improving academic performance isn’t cheap. We need more committed teachers, a rigorous curriculum, classroom activities that stimulate curiosity and creativity; assessments that demonstrate what students lack and what they need.

{snip}

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  • Sincerely Concerned

    “classroom activities that stimulate curiosity and creativity…”

    I am sick of seeing this statement. When one learns, one is there to soak in the material and demonstrate they’ve learned it. This is true in the jobs world, the real world, and every world, apparently, except public schools.

    Throwing more money at the problem will not help it but this, also, has been said a thousand times. Parents need to make their children understand that education is a gift, not a right, and they should take full advantage of it by sitting back and listening and taking notes. NO amount of technology can or ever will, in my opinion, matter when this isn’t done. I learned, as well as everyone over the age of 40, from books alone and yet somehow my IQ is around 135.

    My parents, sure, they’re smart. But they grew up in rural 1950s-1960s Georgia and learned from a very few books and then everything else in their lives. Again, IQs over 130 and super high SAT scores. Neither graduated from college yet they raised two daughters on nothing but brains and love. It can be done. One simply must APPLY oneself.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not yet fluent, not fluent yet. Sandy Banks is affirmative action all the way. I can’t wait for the LaTimes to fold and she and the rest of the genocide of the Whites cheerleaders are out of work.

    Clip, paste and scan from every article that has been written about black school preformance for the last 100 years.

  • neanderthalDNA

    “Students in Watts and Hollywood and Boyle Heights should have the same access to libraries and computers and college-prep courses as my daughters did in Granada Hills.”

    The horrid, low performing, violent, hellhole of a high school I last taught at (95% black) had some really nice facilities and equipment. They had thrown some SERIOUSLY good money after bad into that black suckhole of taxpayer bleeding.

    Didn’t make a damned bit of difference. One empty suit black affirmative action administrator, mouthing the duckspeak, collecting fat checks until replaced or retired, after another “led” that brutal failure of a “school” over the years.

    College prep courses a’plenty, baby! Well…”college prep” can mean a lot of things that don’t exactly involve preparing kids for college, especially in a black majority school…unless we’re talking about the black version of college prep – filling out paperwork to qualify for the set-aside slots and race based give-aways more qualified non-blacks could actually use…

    It’s all about the duckspeaky mantra of anything but the obvious.

    Quack quack quack!

  • Cliff Yablonski

    The author of the article has obviously never spent a day teaching in an inner-city classroom. He is ignorant of the situation and should stop writing about it.

  • Cassandra

    As a public school teacher of 30+ years, please allow me to restate the obvious: the public education system in America is doomed. It is broken and it has been for decades.

    It broke when we started allocating the lion’s share of our educational funding to our least promising students and allowed our brightest minds to flounder in classrooms filled with (at best) mediocrities. Some of these minds were able to flourish; most did not survive.

    It broke when we decided that ALL children were equally capable scholastically, despite mountains of research proving that this is NOT the case. When we allowed common sense and scientific evidence to be trumped by the socio-political agenda of an increasingly out-of-touch Left, it came crashing down.

    It broke when we decided that ALL high school graduates are college material, when perhaps, at best, only one-quarter are. When we denigrated the trades, eliminated vocational education programs, and graduated masses of Liberal Arts majors with degrees in “Communications” and “Sociology” and “Comparative Cultures” – majors that are practically useless to a functioning economy.

    It crashes to the ground as the best and brightest young teachers continue their mass exodus out of classrooms filled with punks and thugs. Some years back, the statistics were that 50% of new teachers had deserted teaching after 5 years. Today, I suspect that the situation is far more dire. You cannot lose 1/2 your workforce every 5 years and expect to maintain a viable profession. Those of us who came along in the 70’s and 80’s are nearing retirement. Too many of those who came after us either quit or were able to secure positions out of the classroom. The younger generation is not constituted to withstand the abuse that their older colleagues suffered. I actually think that theirs is a much healthier attitude … but it leaves the front lines unmanned.

    I have three children. Although I am a public school teacher, I allowed NONE of them to attend public school. Each one attended a local Catholic school (though we are not Catholic)and it was the wisest decision I could have made. It was costly and sometimes exasperating, but overall, it was worth it.

    The end is no longer near, my friends. It is HERE.

  • Grob Hahn

    “We need more committed teachers, a rigorous curriculum, classroom activities that stimulate curiosity and creativity; assessments that demonstrate what students lack and what they need.”

    An unusual statement from a black woman. I don’t believe for 1 minute that she REALLY wants to know what black students lack. Even when the results of this sort of assessment have been available for decades she asks for more. How many ways can the same story be told and then immediately denied. Like it or not, blacks and a huge swath of Hispanics do not have the cultural mandate to do well in the “white man’s school”. The ONLY hope for black kids is their own school system and I don’t mean the kind where they scare all the whites away and still work under the same system. Blacks need their own unique school system totally dedicated to their cultural needs. They don’t want white education so why try to push it on them? Over and over.

    Grobbbbbbbbbbbb

  • Pessimistic

    The absolute refusal to acknowledge that not all students are capable of excelling in school is destroying our public school system that was once the envy of the entire world. Non-teaching administrators at the national and state level keep wringing their hands at the test score discrepancies and decide it must be the curriculum or the teachers fault. Bell Curve, anyone?There is nothing wrong with our overworked, underpaid public school teachers. Those school districts where there is parental involvement are just fine. Those districts, mostly urban, where we are forced to reap the results of a 70 percent illegitimacy rate and the accompanying problems will eventually bring us all down. It is not bad schools, it is bad students, or, more accurately, bad parents. I will never understand the tendency of those on the right to demonize public school teachers. Anyone who tries to blame our educational problems on the teachers is dead wrong.

  • Madison Grant

    I chuckled when the writer whined that blacks in Watts don’t have access to libraries and computers.

    Whenever I frequent public libraries here in the Bronx the dusty bookshelves are untouched and ignored by the local blacks and hispanics.

    They do however cluster around the “free” computers in order to download porn and visit youtube and facebook.

  • white advocate – Canada

    It’s important to say that the large Latino population did not enter the US until after the Civil Rights era of black equality. The integration lessons were already supposed to have been learned and then the Latinos would be allowed to enter. Now there is a big Latino problem that no one predicted back then. Racial equality leaders and experts have some explaining to do. Why should we believe them going forward?

  • Anonymous

    Students in Watts and Hollywood and Boyle Heights should have the same access to libraries and computers and college-prep courses as my daughters did in Granada Hills.

    Hang on. Only last year there was an article mentioned on Amren in which:

    The Berkeley (CA) Board of Education will consider, at its February 3 meeting, whether or not to cancel before and after school Science Labs for Advanced Placement Science classes at Berkeley High School because the classes are attended largely by white students. The proposal is aimed at addressing “Berkeley’s dismal racial achievement gap”

    http://goo.gl/TbKuf

  • rockman

    Confucious summed it up when he said “What is the use of carving on rotton wood” Biilions have been thrown down the rat hole and no improvement in things. It should tell you something basic. It is a waste of time and money to think that blacks and hispanics will equal white students in results. its in the blood period. Get used to it

  • White Devil

    Ooooh boy. It’s bad schools too. Has socialized anything been good for, well, anything? Socialized education has nearly destroyed our industry and society. Check the world standing stats if you need confirmation. A college grad today couldn’t pass eighth grade in 1900. Universities are large indoctrination camps. I hear that you can get college credit for attending an OWS event. It’ll sure teach you something at least.

  • Joe

    Senseless. They keep pumping cash to uplift students who don’t want to learn, have no interest in academics.

    The dark side of this lunacy is that generations of gifted children are being ignored and consequently dragged down. This is the greatest sin.

  • Detroit WASP

    Detroit spends more than EVERY public school district in Michigan and yet they fail.

    75% of black males drop out.

    A good school district has 70% of students working at grade level. A bad district would be in the 40-50% range.

    Detroit has 15-25% of kids working at grade level. And AGAIN, they spend more per student than even the richest, most upscale districts in the state who typically have 90% plus working at grade level.

  • BEBE

    “Students in Watts and Hollywood and Boyle Heights should have the same access to libraries and computers and college-prep courses as my daughters did in Granada Hills.”

    ************************************************

    Isn’t that odd?

    They sure seem to have access to STEAL computers and everything else they want from our homes and places of business.

    They have access to their “blackberry’s” and text all day long to meet for another “flash mob” get-together.

    They have access to White women all day/night long. They have access to maim, rob,assault,rape and murder White folk.

    They have access to White schools and colleges, which they have utterly destroyed.

    They have access to every fast food joint to create mayhem and violence.

    Yet, for some odd reason, they do not have access to a library or computer and college-prep courses?

    Tell us another lie.

  • Anonymous

    Twenty-two years ago I went to work at a local elementary school as part of the office staff, not as a teacher. The first year I worked for the school district was the last year either one of my children attended any public school. We live in an area where the schools have always been rated excellent. The student body was at that time approximately 49% white/49% Hispanic/2% “other”. The school is many things, excellent is not one of them. THAT is just elementary school. I shudder to think what the middle schools and high schools are like. We transferred our children to a small, private, 99% white, fully accredited, Protestant Nondenominational Christian school.

    If parents could/would just volunteer just two weeks at their children’s schools, I believe at least half of them would quickly find better means of educating their offspring. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.

  • Justin

    I would first like to point out that MOST of the Los Angeles areas that had an almost all-Black population during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s saw major demographic changes during the 1990s–so much so, in fact, that many boast a 50/50 Black/Latino population today and (some believe) that there WILL come a day when the Hispanic/Latino population in those areas will become the uncontested majority. That aside, the truth is that even the best and most well-regarded schools in the LAUSD are most definitely overcrowded. What further compounds the problem is that most Mexican, Central American and South American parents CHOOSE to enroll their children in schools that offer them bilingual education and this does them no good over the long haul. Tragically, studies show that an overwhelmingly large majority of students in bilingual education programs are unable to attain fluency in neither English NOR Spanish. Case in point: Maria Elena Salinas (the Univision TV network’s equivalent of Barbara Walters or Connie Chung) has always said that her parents refused to put her in any bilingual education program as they were aware enough of the pitfalls of such programs and instead had her take all classes in English at school while communicating and speaking Spanish with them and other relatives at home.

  • Anonymous

    #6

    The ONLY hope for black kids is their own school system and I don’t mean the kind where they scare all the whites away and still work under the same system. Blacks need their own unique school system totally dedicated to their cultural needs. They don’t want white education so why try to push it on them? Over and over.

    So true.

    It is so unfair to them, to be forced into a school system where they are doomed to fail. It is up to black leaders to find out the true needs and the capabilities of black children. Let them shine in their own world. That is the best I can wish for them. Keep them away from my grandkids.

  • Anonymous

    At one point maybe 20 years ago, LA unified decided to have school uniforms for elementary and middle school. White polo shirts and navy pants and skirts.

    The idea came out of some agonizing, weeping and wailing session. What are the Catholic schools doing that public schools aren’t doing.

    Some fool grant hustler came up with the idea that the reason Catholic schools students behaved like normal people and have grade level skills was because they wear uniforms. Of course the ACLU immediately bellowed it would be evil if uniforms were compulsory, so the uniforms are voluntary.

    It is another example of the magic fairy dust the liberals search for. Dress the 80 IQ students in uniforms and they will learn and behave like private school students.

    Many of the kids wear uniforms now. The hispanic parents love them because of the low cost.

    But the uniforms have not made a bit of difference in behavior and performance. Neither has the endless curriculum changes and “innovative, creative” new solutions every year Bon posts about.

    The worst thing of course is the billions of dollars paid to marxist White women of the Departments of Education and affirmative action slugs who spend their careers trying to change 75 to 90 IQ students to 110 to 120 IQ students.

    I looked on the websites of those 2 Georgia schools where the White coach was beaten after a football game. They were what I expected, mostly black students and staff.

    I was really impressed by one of the high school departments.

    Right along with math and English was construction trades.

    Imagine, teaching something useful. Giving the students a skill they can use when they finish.

  • Question Diversity

    Related news:

    http://goo.gl/j9SNg

    Los Angeles Charities and Minority Groups Tell United Teachers Los Angeles and LAUSD: ‘Don’t Hold Us Back’

    ​Today, full page ads appear in the L.A. Times, Daily News and La Opinion taken out by Don’t Hold Us Back — respected organizations calling out United Teachers Los Angeles and LAUSD for letting kids fail. The new supergroup includes The United Way, The Urban League, Community Coalition, Alliance for a Better Community, Families in Schools, Asian Pacific American Legal Center and Communities for Teaching Excellence.

    ***

    For blacks and Hispanics to beg someone else “not to hold us back” would be like the driver of a Ford Fiesta telling the drivers of Lamborghinis and Ferraris to get out of the way because he’s about to hit the gas.

  • June

    Isn’t it strange that a hundred years ago, all the “implements” I had to further learning was a Big Chief tablet, a pencil and a nun who got the 3 “R’s” into my brain with very little trouble. Of course, our classroom then had no non-English speaking students, no gangs, no trouble makers, nor a government who approved the wonderful world of diversity.

  • Anonymous

    Most of Northern and Western Europe have superb educational facilities, but only limited spaces in their universities. Students have to choose at age 12 or so, whether or not they wish to attend college. Those who don’t choose college choose a trade school. Those who choose college are not gauranteed admission. They actually have to compete for the limited spaces. Only those with the best academic abilities are chosen. If young students refuse to study and throw bricks at their teachers, they aren’t allowed to attend college. They can sweep floors or collect welfare. Most young sociopaths choose welfare, of course. Outside of the UK, there is no affirmative action in Europe. Workers actually have to compete for positions. Only the best and well-motivated are hired. Even waiters and waitresses have to be schooled before joining the workforce. Such policies in the United States would shock our liberals and urban underworld. We could tell our 14 year old thugs, “you don’t want to study, fine, here’s a broom. No more free school “. And imagine actually prosecuting the black football players on sport scholarship when they rape a white girl? Oh the horror. This will never happen of course. Unless we have a revolution, we will never see education reform or justice in this country again. The decay will continue. In 20 years from now, these will be the good old days.

  • Sincerely Concerned

    To Anonymous #22:

    “Unless we have a revolution, we will never see education reform or justice in this country again. The decay will continue. In 20 years from now, these will be the good old days.”

    I have been saying this for about 15 years. It seems when I celebrated my 30th birthday I woke up and ceased being a liberal. It was weird. Anyway, the first person to whom I said a similar statement as yours called me a radical. Can you imagine? And now, I still find myself making this statement but realize perhaps we are only 5 years away from destruction. And I always have to clarify that what I mean by revolution is a) a turnaround–a literal revolution of ways and b) the turnaround or massive change should come about non-violently. I am NOT calling for violence.

    However, violence, riots, upheaval, sit-ins, demonstations, protests, etc., are going to occur anyway. We are already seeing “flash mobs” and “Occupy _____”s everywhere. Fine. I want everyone to be made aware of the flash mobs and Occupy ____s and to realize they must CHANGE THE WAY THEY THINK ABOUT THEIR COUNTRY. Which, in my opinion, means to WAKE UP, vote, be productive, be communicative, stand up for themselves and for what is actually good, right, and fair, not this bull that’s been handed to us for decades and used to brainwash our children. If the Occupiers can do it, so can the rest of us. Sure, there’s already a Tea Party, but we all need to do more and do it more often.

    A great way to start is to take our children out of government schools en masse, rent homes rather than own them (so you don’t pay the property tax that goes to the schools), and teach the kids as much science, mathematics, and history as can be taught. We can turn this country around beginning right now, but I still believe we may have to hit rock bottom before we can go up again.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    I know I sound cynical. Maybe I’ve been watching and writing about this struggling school district for too long.

    Because you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. You never have. You have been pontificating to us teachers for years behind a computer screen, believing you know better than we do about the educational system. You have NEVER been a teacher so you have NOTHING to say to me.

    I have nothing but utter scorn and contempt for types like Sandy Banks that claim to have all the answers as to how to close the achievement gap and believe they know “what it is that needs doing!!”

    You believe the foolish, easily disproven government lies that:

    *IQ is meaningless

    *All Children have equal potential to achieve equally

    *If Children do not succeed, it is the fault of the teacher.

    (do I sound like a broken record?)

    I’ll stop repeating these mantras as soon as fools like Sandy Banks and Zerobama state the truth about race, IQ and educational achievement.

    We need more committed teachers, a rigorous curriculum, classroom activities that stimulate curiosity and creativity; assessments that demonstrate what students lack and what they need.

    Oh, how profound!

    Let’s have the government get right on your suggestions since we KNOW that little black and brown children are being cheated by perfidious teachers, lack of books, libraries and computers and that access to knowledge is being withheld from them. They are being held down because they are black and brown, right Sandy? All the “good” teachers are holed up — protected by the teachers’ union — in White schools which are bursting with new textbooks, new computers, brand new libraries, right? Even though these White schools only exist in your imagination!!

    No, Sandy, it’s not as if closing the so-call achievement gap hasn’t been tried and failed repeatedly for four decades, hasn’t been The Focus of the entire education department, hasn’t taken money from White and Asian children, hasn’t cost the government over a TRILLION wasted dollars, with the same dismal results and for the same exact reason: It’s all about the IQ!!

    Students in Watts and Hollywood and Boyle Heights should have the same access to libraries and computers and college-prep courses as my daughters did in Granada Hills.

    Nope!! No libraries in “Watts”, (it’s now known as S. LA, Sandy, get with it, you’re the queen of PC!!) Hollywood and Boyle Heights.

    Students there are sitting at their desks quietly and patiently awaiting teachers who will teach them, right? Thirsting for knowledge, right?

    You are a clueless PC, brainwashed fool. It’s time you put up or shut up!! You’ve been pontificating to us for years as to “what will work”, so come and show us how it’s done.

    I defy you to come into an LAUSD classroom and show us teachers what to do, to try to settle down 52 14-year olds after lunch in their seats and keep them there, to try to teach 11th graders who read at a 3rd grade level, to sit through endless professional developments telling you you’re a failure because those 11th graders who were passed on to you scored in the 2nd percentile of the state tests.

    I too look forward to the day the LASlimes goes completely out of business!

    I will celebrate!!

    Bon