LAUSD: A tale of two cities

It was the best of schools, it was the worst of schools, it was the age of segregation, it was the age of separation. It was Los Angeles in the 50’s and early 60’s. Los Angeles was segregated. Los Angeles City Schools were segregated.

The schools in the Westside, the Valley, and other areas were excellent. The success of their students from Kindergarten through 12th grade led to college and professional careers.

Meanwhile, students in other parts of the city received a lesser education in many instances. 

In the beginning Los Angeles created the Los Angeles City Schools. 

As the population of Southern California grew, as cities incorporated, the Los Angeles City Schools became the Los Angeles Unified School District. The Los Angeles Community College District became a separate entity.

Today, in the 21st Century, LAUSD is a tale of three cities: three school districts in one: the haves and the have nots and those in between.

The haves have money raised by the parents. These schools have high tests scores, enrichment programs like music, gardening, art, etc.

The have nots are not the poor schools with low test scores—they receive plenty of funding—the have nots are the schools in the middle. These schools are too rich to be poor and too poor to be rich. 

The have nots have average test scores. They are not eligible for funding and the parents raise only a little money. The have not schools are like the middle class who don’t receive the tax breaks of the upper class and don’t receive the benefits of being poor.

Funding of public schools in many educator’s minds and in many parent’s opinions is totally inequitable.

All schools do have dedicated, hard working teachers determined to do everything that they can for their students, 

However, social and economic conditions, cultural nuances, language differences, home life issues, and community concerns draw the distinctive, definitive line between the haves and those in other areas of the city.

A Tale of Two Cities in one city, in one school district, in one educational system.  Like during the Iron Curtain era dividing Eastern Europe from the rest of Europe, some escape. Students are bused or driven to schools which parents hope and pray will provide them with a better education, a better school neighborhood, and a brighter future.

Some families do their due diligence in selecting schools for their children, while for others anything out of their community is an escape and hopefully better.

All schools are not created equal. All education is not equal. A great equalizer is beyond the depth of a dream. It involves society, it involves schools, and it involves government.

We cannot change society or society can’t be changed.

To some degree education can be something of an equalizer. That would mean similar opportunities for all.

Once upon a time, the great State of California invested in all levels of education. The state university system and the UC schools were affordable. Not anymore.

We will never again see a time in which governments truly invest in the future of America—students and their education.

Perhaps, when this generation of students reaches the levels of employment where they can be compared to previous generations, business and governments alike will see that much more is needed to prepare the students for lives as leaders in the business, governmental, and educational worlds.

Right now the schools are all alone.

Funding from the state government has dropped and will continue to do so. Revenue is down and there are so many pressing issues that state legislators and state government officials see as higher priorities than education.

That leaves the schools. If the schools were already doing their best, if the teachers continue to do their best despite higher class sizes, less assistance from District support people, and little or no family help in buttressing school values in some situations, schools are and will be the only and best solutions.

So why are teachers, who have so much influence on the future of the world, who give and give beyond the expected, regarded so poorly in general? Why are teachers, all with education beyond the Bachelors degree, paid so poorly in contrast to other positions particularly those that do not require a college education? Why are teachers expected to do more and more, combat the evils of society in the classroom while producing improved test scores annually?

It is a tale of two cities. Education and the rest of the job world. Teachers produce! Teachers give! Teachers work under any circumstances!