An Open Letter on May Day from Supt. Michelle King

April 7, 2017

Dear L.A. Unified Family,

This correspondence is to share the District’s position related to keeping schools open on May 1, 2017.

Educating students is a revolutionary act, particularly in urban communities.  Every day, we help youth break free of self-doubt and embrace their brilliance; we disrupt the chain of poverty that is otherwise handed down from generation to generation; and we defy the national narrative that zip code determines destiny.  In a profession full of movers and shakers, it is inevitable that passionate discussions arise about the role L.A. Unified should play in engaging with larger political events, issues, and trends. 

One such discussion that is currently underway involves demonstrations that are planned in Los Angeles for May 1, 2017, to celebrate labor and to provide space for political expression.  Upon learning about these demonstrations, we immediately began meeting internally and engaging local officials to discuss the District’s role in this event.  Guiding these discussions were hundreds of communications received from people throughout the District, which articulately and passionately conveyed all sides of this issue.  Each and every argument that we received was considered.

After careful deliberation and a balancing of the many perspectives shared, we arrived at the conclusion that L.A. Unified schools and offices will remain up and running on May 1.  At the heart of this decision is our unwavering commitment to keep kids safe.  Civic engagement undeniably plays a vital role in our democracy, and we embrace the rights of all students, families, and employees to unite and magnify their voices locally so that their messages can resonate on a larger stage.  Nevertheless, schools continue to be the safest places for students to incubate an interest in civic engagement, and we encourage all schools to use May 1 as an opportunity to discuss matters of civic importance.

Schools are also hubs of change and reform.  In the classroom, we empower students with skills and knowledge to challenge society’s injustices and innovate solutions to pressing problems.  Additionally, by facilitating students’ participation in Advanced Placement exams, some of which are administered on May 1, we position youth for greater success and influence throughout college and life.  And finally, as mentioned, the very act of helping children achieve is an act of resistance, because it counters the narrative that some of our students are incapable of success.  The District remains resolute that the most powerful demonstration that we can be part of is the demonstration that our students are capable of anything—and the most powerful march to be joined is the march toward 100 percent graduation

It remains our privilege to march shoulder-to-shoulder with you along this path of success.  Thank you to everyone for contributing your expertise and dedication to help us continuously reach new heights.

Michelle King