After a cheery and restful winter break, the new semester is in full swing at L.A. Unified. The first few weeks of the year have certainly been eventful, from the passage of my “Open Data” resolution to democratize data within the District, to the implementation of my pilot program to offer "Headspace" meditation to teachers and employees in my district (coming soon to all L.A. Unified employees!), to the leadership transition following Superintendent Michelle King’s retirement announcement.
One of my signature campaign issues was transparency and accountability — the T in my LIGHT platform — and I’m proud that we are now among the first districts in the country to implement a policy of open data. As constituents, you will soon have access to District data on potential subjects like growth in student achievement, achievement and opportunity gaps, and special education assessments. This comes after my TECH app resolution to create a smartphone app — all in the service of being more transparent and communicative with parents and other stakeholders.
Read on about these and other updates on labor negotiations, highlights from my latest visits to over 100 schools this year, and more!
Increasing Transparency by Creating Open Data: Board Approves LAUSDATA Resolution
The District and our labor partners recently reached a tentative three-year healthcare agreement, which only begins to scratch the surface of our $13.9 billion unfunded liabilities. This agreement is taking at least a small step in the right direction, but does not go far enough in addressing the financial crisis looming over L.A. Unified’s future. I believe it is possible to work through this process in a way that puts kids first and ensures our teachers and employees have the very best benefits possible. Considering that by 2031, 50% of our entire budget will be going to pay healthcare and pensions costs if we do not address these debts and liabilities in a serious way, it is our kids who will suffer as their class sizes get bigger and their art, music, and even science classes get cut. I am unwilling to accept a day when half of our budget is being taken away from the salaries of our hardworking employees and from the classrooms of our kids to compensate for the irresponsible decisions of previous generations. (Read my full statement here.)
Achieving with Innovation: Sutter Middle joins Verizon Innovative Learning Schools with New Grant
Sutter Middle School recently found out they will join the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative from The Verizon Foundation, which will provide every teacher and student with their own tablet, 24/7 internet access and training on how to apply technology to learning in the classroom and beyond. I know firsthand how far this initiative will go at Sutter, where I visited last week to celebrate this awesome accomplishment.
We need to give more kids access to technology tools, resources and hands-on learning so that they can compete for the jobs of the 21st century. I was also able to honor this achievement at this month’s Committee of the Whole meeting, which was hosted in Board District 6 in an ongoing commitment to bring the Board of Education back into the community.
Getting Back to School: A First Day Visit at Bancroft Middle
I kicked off the new semester and new year at Bancroft Middle School welcoming everyone back and checking out all the diverse programs that the school has to offer, including an engineering class! So far I have made it out to almost 120 schools across the District, and I am committed to making it to every school in BD4 before the end of this semester. Thank you to all for the warm welcomes and keen insight into both the successes and challenges in your schools.
Recognizing our Talent: The Board-Certified Teacher Appreciation Event