Los Angeles Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, in his first school address Monday, pledged to bring rapid progress to the nation’s second-largest school district, which has long struggled to make modest, steady gains.
Carvalho made the pledge to school district administrators and other district and community leaders during an event widely seen as a “state of the district” and a preview of the upcoming school year — plans that will later serve as benchmarks to gauge the superintendent’s own effectiveness to eat .
“Most view the reform of an institution like Los Angeles Unified as necessarily lengthy,” Carvalho said in his prepared remarks to a packed Microsoft theater in downtown LA. “Community reform need not, by its very nature, be lengthy or slow. It can be quick. And we will make changes and rapidly and uncompromisingly reform the way Los Angeles Unified does business.”
Carvalho pointed to his recently school board-approved strategic plan, calling it his roadmap “which lays out exactly how we will position Los Angeles Unified as the first urban school district of choice,” in a speech meant to be both a pep talk and ambitious .
The plan is organized under five ‘pillars’ which together aim to represent key aspects that lead to student success. The pillars are: academic excellence, enjoyment and wellbeing, engagement and collaboration, operational effectiveness, and investment in people.
Among academic excellence, the superintendent noted that 360 new universal transitional kindergarten programs, accommodating up to 19,000 four-year-olds, will open this fall after a decline in pandemic enrollments among kindergarten-age children in Los Angeles and across California. Even in the early stages of the pandemic-enforced school closures, many parents chose to keep young children away from online distance learning.
These programs are opening as part of new funding to support early childhood education statewide, although schools and counties have struggled to find the necessary staff. For LA Unified, the effort is viewed not only as an academic necessity, but as key to offsetting rapidly declining enrollment.
The Early Education Initiative includes a Born to Learn outreach campaign to support parents of newborns with baby welcome kits and resources.
Another attempt to increase enrollment and attendance is by opening up empty seats on buses to allow for more ‘local’ transportation to area schools. According to official policy, buses are only offered to students who live more than five miles from a school. As part of a pilot program, 15 high schools will offer transportation to students who live closer by. In addition, all buses are now equipped with WiFi.
Carvalho recently acknowledged that academic performance is lagging as students are challenged by what experts call unfinished or incomplete learning from the pandemic years.
“It’s no secret that Los Angeles Unified has been through difficult years, some stemming from the pandemic and others long before that,” Carvalho said. “But change is coming. Opportunities are emerging.”
The district added four optional days and three optional teacher development days to the school year—a less aggressive extension of the school year than many school systems. Like other districts, LA Unified intends to rely heavily on tutoring or special student support during the regular school day.
The superintendent also highlighted new career opportunities for younger teens, including many in middle schools.
He said 26 middle schools are setting up labs that allow students to explore numerous industrial sectors through hands-on experiences.
Additionally, the National Education Equity Lab brings college credit courses from top universities to high school classrooms. Initially, nine district schools and an estimated 225 students will participate.
The district is also implementing a “Greening Index” to examine the community’s parking needs and the condition of each campus. A typical LA Unified campus has become a sea of tarmac — because it was considered easier and less expensive to maintain than green space, especially in the past when the borough was overcrowded and portable classrooms were installed on that tarmac.
Over the past decade, the district has gradually removed unneeded portable classrooms, but Carvalho wants to go further and side with activists who see schoolyards as the equivalent of parking spaces that children can benefit from before and after school.
The district announced up to 20 projects to provide outdoor learning spaces with landscaping and greenery. Projects are identified using the Greening Index, officials said.
It remains to be clarified how the greening efforts can be balanced with the water conservation needs resulting from regional drought conditions. Another potential problem is that access to green space at schools is being restricted by tighter site security measures, such as green spaces. B. more impenetrable fences and restricted, locked entrances, could become more restricted.
But at least in the near term, LA Unified will be far more resourced than it has been in years past due to record state tax revenues and COVID-related aid funds.
“Now is the time to change and there may not be another opportunity,” Carvalho said.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-08/l-a-schools-supt-carvalho-vows-rapid-back-to-school-change L.A. schools Supt. Carvalho vows rapid back-to-school change