Coalition says L.A. Unified underfunds neediest students
e Los Angeles school system is improperly diverting money from programs for the students who need it most, including those from low-income families, according to a coalition of local groups. The use of hundreds of millions of dollars is at stake.
The dispute centers on increased state funding that is supposed to benefit students who are among the most challenging to educate and who have persistently lagged academically: the low-income students, those who are learning English and students in the foster-care system. Providing extra resources for these students is a centerpiece of funding reforms pushed through by Gov. Jerry Brown.
These students are not getting the full benefit of the money that they are generating for L.A. Unified under the new state formulas, according to the coalition.
“We have seen slight progress” since last year, according to a “report card” from the participating organizations. Even so, “schools in South L.A., East L.A., Sylmar and Pico-Union are often severely underfunded, and gaps in [academic] achievement persist due to lack of sufficient investment.”
The critics include United Way of Greater Los Angeles and allied groups coming together as Communities for Los Angeles Student Success, or CLASS. These organizations include Community Coalition, Los Angeles Urban League and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
They base their conclusions on an analysis from researchers headed by Bruce Fuller, a UC Berkeley professor of education and public policy.
All parties acknowledge that the nation’s second-largest school system faces long-term financial problems, but CLASS challenges the district’s spending priorities.
According to Fuller, district officials have insisted that the priority is to rebuild staffing to the levels it had prior to the last major economic recession. Yet, he added, spending per student is already 30% higher than before the recession.
“Much of this increase is not going to the classroom but instead to cover pension and healthcare costs,” Fuller said. “Also, the superintendent's attorneys now argue that other students would be hurt if the district properly directed the $4 billion in new funding to the kids who generate the fresh revenue from the state…. But the district has elected to move Coalition says L.A. Unified underfunds neediest students - LA Times: