72,000 L.A. students show up for school during winter break

“Acceleration Days” — two extra days of school during winter break — came easy for bright-eyed Kimberly Sanchez, a senior at the Maywood Center for Enriched Studies. If there had been five extra days, she could have done them all. She didn’t need the all-out sales pitch and communication blitz of the past few weeks from school officials urging students to participate.

After a slow start to enrollments, about 72,000 Los Angeles students were back in the classroom on their first day of winter break Monday, up from about two weeks when about 45,000 of the district’s 422,276 students had enrolled and the deadline was lifted.

LA Schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho declared the victory and said enrollment of one in six district students was above what could reasonably be expected — despite an earlier plan, opposed by the teachers’ union, to get the majority of students to attract.

“Over 500 … bus routes are active as we speak, transporting thousands of students throughout the district,” Carvalho said during a visit to the Maywood campus, which serves grades 6 through 12. “We opened 304 schools. Due to increased demand, we actually had to open more schools than we originally planned.”

“If 180 days of school is good, four extra days must be good,” he added. “Why is that? Because what I’m going to see and participate in is nothing more and nothing less than this chemical magic between a student and a teacher in a classroom. But this time with smaller class sizes, with smaller proportions of more individual, personal attention, who pay attention to what the students are lacking and provide them with what they need.”

The original schedule for the optional acceleration days called for them to be held on Wednesdays at strategic points in the academic calendar. This plan was to extend the end of the school year by four days. Officials assumed more students would take advantage of the special study time during a regular week.

However, teachers’ union United Teachers Los Angeles disagreed, saying the extra days would have to be the subject of labor negotiations. The union filed legal action and also urged teachers to boycott the extra study time.

County officials capitulated but also gained union approval for the replacement plan. Two Acceleration Days will take place this week during the winter break. Two more days are planned for the first two days of spring break.

The whole process is also an experiment for LA Unified. The format varies from school to school and from grade to grade. Although teachers’ union leaders have expressed skepticism, about a third of teachers have volunteered to take on the extra days – for which they are being paid. Even non-participating teachers had a role to play – they had to decide what and how much work it would take for a student to improve a grade, which for some could mean the difference between passing and failing a class.

Carvalho estimated that two-thirds of the students who attended are those who most need the extra help — though not among them was Kimberly from the Maywood campus, who will use the time to do additional sophomore work in AP biology and calculus.

“I have to take advantage of these opportunities and do my part because I know my teachers are working hard for me to be successful and get a higher education,” she said. But if I don’t do my part, there’s no way I’m getting out of here.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-19/l-a-unified-begins-acceleration-days-experiment 72,000 L.A. students show up for school during winter break

Alley Einstein

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