LOS ANGELES — A new majority on the Los Angeles Unified School District’s school board wasted little time July 6 in setting a tone for the new school year.
Acting on a motion by new board President Ref Rodriguez, the board adopted a resolution that stated the first and foremost priority of the district would be the education of the 700,000 students the district serves.
The “L.A. Unified Learning, Leading and Succeeding for Students” resolution calls for Superintendent Michelle King, working in partnership with the board, to evaluate — as its utmost priority — the impact that any action, resolution, policy or contract would have on student achievement.
“Our greatest natural resource is our young people, and our greatest gift to them is a quality public education,” Rodriguez said. “As a board, we must stand united as seven leaders who care deeply about education and have the expertise to steer this district to a place where exceptional educational achievement is standard across L.A. Unified.”
The resolution focuses on five critical areas in order to improve student achievement: prioritizing students in any board action; partnering with parents; investing in teachers; verifying that schools and classrooms are “ready to learn” from the first day of school; and prioritizing fiscal health through innovative strategies that put students first.
“It is a new day with the “Kids First” agenda leading the way,” school board Vice President Mónica García said. “We must accelerate the pace of learning and success, until we get to every child in every school.”
While the district has made progress in increasing the graduation rate and student achievement, the board and superintendent acknowledge there is a great deal of work to be done. During the 2015-16 school year, 77 percent of students graduated, 39 percent of students met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts, and 29 percent met or exceeded standards in math.
“This is the emergence of a new paradigm,” new school board member Nick Melvoin said. “It’s about a coalition that arose to implore us to lead with a simple, yet radical maxim: put kids first.”
“I support this resolution, because it declares the board’s values in putting kids first, partnering with parents and supporting teachers,” said the board’s other new member, Kelly Gonez. “As new members — like myself — join the board, this is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to putting kids first and taking concrete steps towards ensuring every student gets a great public education.”