‘A New Kind of School Year with a New Approach’
The Los Angeles Unified School District welcomed our families back to school this week, but it was a new year unlike any other as students logged on to learn from home.
In the face of this year’s nearly impossible challenges, we have rolled out unprecedented new efforts to meet the needs of the students and families I represent on the LA Unified Board of Education, while also working to safely reopen schools as soon as possible.
After hearing feedback from families about the emergency transition to distance learning last March, I pushed for a plan that would ensure this year’s instruction will be more rigorous and equitable than last spring.
LA Unified recently reached an agreement with our teachers that requires daily, synchronous or real-time instruction, built-in time in a smaller group setting to personalize learning and provide social-emotional support, consistent schedules, clear, articulated time to support English Learners and students with disabilities, and attendance tracking to make sure we are reaching all our students.
Administrators will be able to supervise and observe virtual classrooms as needed to provide feedback as our teachers facilitate a semester of learning like we’ve never seen before.
We have also reached agreements with our other staff to help with our “all hands on deck” approach, with substitutes and support staff filling holes and providing as much small group instructional time as possible.
Bus drivers will be calling home and providing support for families who have difficulty connecting, campus aides will provide support for teachers to help facilitate breakout rooms and individualized attention, and we are providing childcare for children of the staff who are reporting physically to school sites.
We have also developed additional supports to help support teachers and students, like specialized professional development for remote teaching, prioritized content standards and model lessons, professional development supports, a tutoring pilot, and more.
As we work to keep our kids learning, we are also busily preparing for the day we can welcome them back safely. We are working to set campuses up with the facilities, equipment and supplies needed to reopen and have continued construction on schools, like the completion of Kenter Canyon’s critical repair project, to make our spaces feel welcoming upon return.
LA Unified is also rolling out a first-of-its-kind widespread COVID-19 testing and contact tracing system for school communities.
Our Grab and Go meal centers have served over 50 million meals to people in need. Our schools have distributed digital devices and hotspots to hundreds of thousands of our students to bridge the digital divide. And I have submitted a resolution advocating for free childcare for district families with the hopes that we can create a public “learning pod” option.
We will continue these efforts, and others, to address the challenges that come our way. This semester will not be perfect, but we will do our best to step up and support our kids and families to make it through this crisis and prepare them to learn and thrive.
LAUSD Board Member, Board District 4
As a long-time subscriber, I have been struck for some time that the Post’s “Crime Report” is rather inconsistent when it comes to using ethnicity or “race”—which we know is a social construct and not a biological fact—to identify suspects.
My unscientific review of incidents printed since the first of the year where the suspect was known (because they were identified by gender) listed 11 white suspects, 13 Black suspects, 13 Hispanic suspects and 35 suspects where no color was indicated.
In general usage, when color is not specifically identified in describing a person, we normally assume that person to be a member of the dominant culture, i.e. white. I imagine that the majority of those 35 no-color suspects were white.
However, the way in which ethnicity or “race” is used gives the inaccurate impression that crimes are being disproportionately committed by people of color.
I understand that the Post gets its information from sources that may be incomplete. So rather than perpetuate this lamentable stereotype, perhaps the Post might be persuaded to simply drop the use of ethnicity or “race” altogether.
Many people these days are working hard to educate themselves about the myriad ways in which we have, often without thinking, perpetuated inequities in our society. The Post has an opportunity here to be part of that important effort.
Debbie Mount Osterholt
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