Los Angeles Unified School District's Board President, Ms. Monica Garcia spoke about Diversity in Education at Pacifica Institute Los Angeles on September 13th, 2012. She started off her talk by laying out her belief that through education families are strengthened and individuals can achieve communal, financial and personal well being.
Ms. Garcia said, "In the LAUSD 90% children are of color and 77% of children receive free or reduced lunches." She outlined this statistic to show that there is a wide array of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds that are represented in the LAUSD student body.
Ms. Garcia talked about the importance of creating relationships with students. LAUSD faces a great challenges in schools with more than 5000 students where these important relationships between students and teachers are not being fostered. In order to ensure their development students need to be able to communicate with their teachers and school administrators on a personal level.
In 2006 the graduation rate at LAUSD high schools was 43% today that graduation rate has improved and is now at 64%. This development was made possible by rethinking the previous one-size-fits-all strategy of the LAUSD. Different children need different strategies for their development. LAUSD brought not only teachers but also the local communities into the fold of discussing solutions. This focus on better communication is what helped he LAUD improve in the face of drastic budget cuts.
Ms. Garcia gave some of the credit for the LAUSD's improvement to charter schools. LAUSD has been able to replicate some of the successes in charter schools at LAUSD schools in order to improve.
Garcia noted that while the proficiency rates in LAUSD are better than the California average that is not enough. There are ethnic and socioeconomic achievement gaps. But she said there is hope and there is possibility of improvement as long as the community continues to work together. She said the way to achieve this is by building new schools and by spreading the talent in teachers in administrators throughout LAUSD.