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Los Angeles Schools Run Nation’s Second Largest District
In terms of numbers, Los Angeles Schools make up the second largest public school district in the country. Only New York City Schools top them. The issues of running any urban system are complex, but in massive districts the numbers make efforts even more difficult.
Los Angeles Schools Struggle with Graduation Rates
Simply getting students to graduate is a challenge for the Los Angeles Schools. A 2006 USA Today study reported that Los Angeles Schools were among several large urban districts with less than 50% of its students gradating from high school on time. That report put the number of graduates in Los Angeles Schools at 44.2%. This is well under the California state graduation rate of 71%.
Another report released from Princeton University in 2005 estimated the lost income of these dropouts at over $36 billion. These numbers are not surprising to educators in the Los Angeles Schools. Numerous studies over the years have confirmed what Los Angeles Schools teachers know. High School drop-outs are far more likely to become teen parents, commit crimes, and use government funded social and medical services. Graduates have higher incomes, raise better-educated children, and experience other social benefits.
Los Angeles Schools Receive Funds
As the result of a 2005 lawsuit filed by State Schools Chief Jack O’Connell and the California Teachers Association, some of the poorest rated Los Angeles Schools were awarded extra funding in May of 2007. The lawsuit was filed in 2006 against California Governor Schwarzenegger and the California Department of Finance. It alleged that they had failed to appropriately fund Proposition 98 during the 2004 to 2006 school years.
O’Connell is using the lawsuit’s awards to provide $2.7 billion to some of California and Los Angeles Schools’ highest risk schools. The funds are part of a program called the Quality Education Investment Act. The funds will provide chosen Los Angeles Schools with additional per pupil funds of $500 for k-3rd grade, $900 for 4th through 8th, and $1,000 for 9th through 12th . Los Angeles Schools intend to use the money for hiring more teachers, addressing class size concerns, professional development, and hiring in-school counselors.
Los Angeles Schools are in need in many areas. The national achievement gap is huge here because of a large population of English Language Learners, and a low socio-economic population. One concern of the Princeton study mentioned above is that it pointed out huge discrepancies in graduation rates between white and non-white students. African-American students and Hispanic students have the lowest graduation rates; and Los Angeles Schools are largely made up of these student minorities. Over 100 Los Angeles Schools will receive the additional funds over the next seven years.
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