Board of Education calls on District, community leaders to create roadmap for success among early learners

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 16, 2018) – The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education unanimously voted Tuesday to jumpstart a comprehensive effort to promote literacy among its youngest learners. Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez authored the “Creating a Birth to Eight Roadmap for Success in Los Angeles” resolution and Board Members Dr. Richard Vladovic, Scott Schmerelson, and Kelly Gonez co-sponsored the measure. The resolution calls on the superintendent and early childhood education leaders to organize a steering committee, including city, county, business, community, and family partners to create and implement a detailed plan for literacy and learning success among children from birth to age eight.

“The creation of the Birth to Eight Roadmap is a bold step forward for L.A. Unified,” Boardmember Dr. Rodriguez said. “It will move us closer to providing all of our children the early-literacy development they need to succeed when they walk into their first classroom, when they sit down to read their first book, and when they write their first essay. Participation in high-quality early childhood education programs enhances school readiness and minimizes the need for costlier interventions later in life. That’s why it is so important that our schools, community organizations, and the city work together to create a roadmap focused on providing excellent educational opportunities for kids as well as supports for parents to help them guide their children’s development.”

Board Member Dr. Vladovic added, “We have seen time and again the clear evidence that shows the early childhood years are critical to nurturing academic success. Once a child falls behind, it is a constant struggle not only to keep pace with their peers but to continue to move forward academically. I support all efforts that will work to provide our youngest learners with every chance they need to succeed in school and in life.”

“I am pleased to co-sponsor the ‘Creating a Birth to Eight Roadmap for Success in Los Angeles’ resolution,” Board member Schmerelson added. “I look forward to participating in the steering committee to develop a plan that will prioritize and invest in our youngest learners as we continue to build a solid foundation and set them on the path to academic success.”

Board Member Gonez added her support stating, “I’m excited the board is looking for creative ways to address student education from the earliest age. Children from birth to five years of age experience the most cognitive growth of any point in their lives. This steering committee will explore ways to put our students on an early path to success that will carry them through their entire education.”

Dean Tagawa, executive director of the L.A. Unified Early Education Division echoed her thoughts. “”A Birth to Eight Roadmap’ is a comprehensive step toward establishing the foundations for long-term academic, social and economic success that is critical for our district and state.”

Community leaders having served on L.A. Unifier’s Committee on Early Education – chaired by Board Member Dr. Rodriguez – echoed praise for the board’s call to promote success in early learning. Creating an early learning roadmap for success grew out of the committee’s work over the last several years.

“This resolution provides a timely opportunity to optimize children's developmental and academic paths by supporting the alignment of the philosophies, goals and objectives of early learning and the K-12 system,” said Karla Pleitéz Howell, director of educational equity at Advancement Project California. “It will help to promote the successful transition of students into elementary school and build a strong educational foundation for long term success in school and beyond.”

Another critical partner to the effort, early learning policy advisor Araceli Sandoval-Gonzalez said, “This policy is an opportunity to roll-up our sleeves and work together to ensure students achieve greater outcomes and we make progress toward eliminating the persistent readiness gap. I applaud the L.A. Unified for aligning itself with the overwhelming research that shows that the early years are the most critical to brain development.”

“Again and again, studies show investments in early education lay the foundation for learning, ensure school readiness and narrow the persistent achievement gap for the most vulnerable children,” said David Rattray, executive vice president at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “L.A. Unifier’s ‘Birth to Eight Roadmap for Success’ ensures that all of us—city, county, business, community, and family partners—play a role in high-quality early care. It creates a comprehensive education that leads to a seamless alignment to the K-12 system.”

The resolution is modeled after similar efforts in cities around the U.S.—including Boston, Denver and Detroit—that have shown promising results.

The identification of age eight as a benchmark was driven by the District’s efforts to ensure 100 percent proficiency in literacy by the third grade, a strong predictor of later academic success. Most students enter third-grade around age eight.

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Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766