L.A. Unified Board of Education and Superintendent Address Inequities in College-and-Career Readiness

On June 12, 2018, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted to adopt a resolution that will increase access to college and life opportunities among all of L.A. Unified’s historically underserved students by 2023. The effort was led by Board President Mónica García who put forth the resolution, “Realizing the Promise for All: Close the Gap by 2023,” in partnership with Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) and United Way of Greater Los Angeles. 

“Close the Gap is a comprehensive Pre-K-12th grade effort that will put college-and-career readiness at the forefront of District efforts. We thank President García and Superintendent Austin Beutner for their leadership and look forward to working together on the implementation of Close the Gap so that all kids have meaningful opportunities upon graduation,” states Elise Buik, president and CEO of United Way Greater Los Angeles and founding member of CLASS.

Closing the gap means working together to find solutions to support achievement for all students including Latino, English Learner, African American and foster youth graduates. It also means identifying investments that demonstrate success in student achievement and preparing all high school graduates to be eligible to apply to a California 4-year university and ensure they are well prepared and equipped for career opportunities as defined by the California Department of Education.

“Educating children is a phenomenal privilege with amazing responsibility,” said Board President García. “This effort is part of our promise to the children and families of Los Angeles in partnership with community partners inside and outside of schools. L.A. Unified will continue to provide safe, stable and successful schools for every child. We thank every champion for student success.”

“Only 55 percent of our students are graduating college-eligible today. The Close the Gap resolution is an opportunity for L.A. Unified’s leadership to demonstrate its commitment to high-needs students and to equity. We are eager to partner with the District to realize the vision of closing the college readiness gap by 2023. We will need bold leadership coupled with structural changes across the system to truly close opportunity gaps,” said Deycy Hernandez, director of Promesa Boyle Heights and member of the CLASS Coalition.

“By passing the Close the Gap resolution, the District is demonstrating its commitment to high needs students and communities of color who have long awaited increased access to college readiness and meaningful life opportunities,” states Jeanne Fauci, Executive Director of Center for Powerful Public Schools and CLASS Coalition Member. 

Michele Siqueiros, President of the Campaign for College Opportunity noted: “We applaud the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education Members for passing the historic Close the Gap Resolution ensuring all students are prepared for college, career and life. The jobs awaiting our young people require more than a high school diploma and the Close the Gap resolution ensures all students, regardless of income, race or ethnicity, have a real opportunity to go to college and succeed. This is a game changer for our students, Los Angeles and our state.” 

“No child, regardless of where they live in L.A. Unified, should ever be discarded and left behind,” said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic, who co-sponsored the resolution. “We need to take a serious look at maximizing what skills and programs we have in the District that are making a difference in economically disadvantaged areas and apply them with minimal delays.”

“We know that strong and stable staffing environments are critical to supporting student success. High need schools will now be afforded responsible flexibility in hiring and L.A. Unified will develop a plan to support hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers in the District’s highest need schools. Addressing staffing stability and developing distributive school leadership at school sites is critical to ensuring all kids graduate college-eligible, regardless of their zip code,” states Ama Nyamekye, Executive Director of Educators for Excellence and founding member of the CLASS Coalition.

“We have not made enough progress for our students most in need,” Superintendent Beutner said. “We welcome the continued focus by our community partners on increasing student achievement. This resolution, however, is just the beginning. L.A. Unified will have to make changes and do things differently in order to make progress in these areas.”

“By adopting the Close the Gap resolution and elevating its measure of success from high school graduation to college eligibility and career readiness for all, the District has finally acknowledged the demands of students and parents who want more for their future and their communities. While this is a critical first step we must now work together to tackle the structural and financial barriers that continue to persist and limit equitable investment in our highest needs schools,” states Nadia Diaz Funn, Executive Director of Alliance for a Better Community and founding member of the CLASS Coalition.

“It’s not enough to support our students. We need to accelerate our progress to unleash the potential of every child. Today, we at LA Unified committed ourselves to closing the gap for all our students, so they are truly prepared for success in college, career and life,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez, who also co-sponsored the resolution.

“This resolution exemplifies the Board’s expectation for the system: that all children, no matter their circumstances, can succeed in college and careers if given the opportunities they deserve. Ensuring all children those opportunities is what comes next; it will require hard work and hard choices to ensure that all students have access to quality teachers and excellent schools so that they cannot just graduate, but graduate college- and career-ready,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin.