The real secret to choosing a school in Los Angeles

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As desperate parents seek some sort of viable alternative to the dearth of options they have in LAUSD, the district's imperfectly run CHOICES Program remains one of the few possibilities that offers even the slightest chance of their children receiving an adequate education in a public school.

In a system where over 90% of the approximately 30% white population that remains within the boundaries of LAUSD has chosen to put their children in either parochial or other non-public schools, those without the ability to cough up over $20,000 a year or more are scrambling to find the least bad public school option.

Rather than address the continuing abysmal results of the vast majority of LAUSD schools, LAUSD seeks to fix their continuing failure by trying to create oases of moderately better functioning magnet schools housed within the desert that is the vast majority of LAUSD schools that continue to fail their overall populations. In implementing this program, LAUSD does it's usual incompetent best, so that parents seeking to decipher the CHOICES Program are often left at a loss as to how CHOICES functions.

Some of the problems with the program are:

  1. There is no central location where those interested in the program can find complete and easily accessible information.
  2.  Student test scores for magnets are not disaggregated from the lower functioning population scores of the larger school where they are housed.
  3. The point system that gives priority to one student over another in seeking admission to a magnet is difficult to understand.
  4. Allowing students to escape their home school, if it is one of the 300 failing schools within LAUSD, only intensifies the dysfunction in those schools that were already failing.
  5.  And in the final analysis, magnets often do not offer the academic rigor that is touted by LAUSD in their specialty areas.

Rather than exclusively concerning themselves with amassing enough points to get their children into a magnet based on: overcrowded neighborhood school, low income area, and prior rejection in CHOICES, parents would be better served if they went to the California Department of Education website and looked up the Academic Performance Index (API) for the schools they are considering. While affluent suburban school districts routinely have API scores in the high 800s or even 900s, schools of this caliber are few and far between in LAUSD, which will never redress this unacceptable disparity in test scores until it exchanges its disingenuous and unrealistic edspeak rhetoric that talks about all of its students going to college, despite API scores that continue to proclaim the absurdity of these claims.

Until public school districts in the United States end social promotion and institute annual minimum competence examinations as a prerequisite for being promoted to the next grade as exists in schools in virtually every other industrialized country in the world, we will not turn around what I believe to be the greatest threat to this country's continuing prosperity.

We have recently marked the 40th anniversary of the walk-outs from predominantly Latino schools in East Los Angeles and over half a century since the 1954 landmark case of Brown vs. Board of Education, that also said, "Separate but equal education is inherently unequal." In a public school district like LAUSD that has a Latino population of over 73%, can anyone say that Latino education in Los Angeles with a graduation rate less than 50%, is better than it was in 1969? With 3 white students presently going to school in the Bronx in New York and the de facto segregation of public education in this country worst than the de jure segregation Brown was supposed to deal with.


flickr:ervega

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12 2009

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