August 14, 2020

CDE rules LAUSD’s plan for educating at-risk kids is deficient – a warning to other school systems

The huge Los Angeles Unified School District is ground zero in California’s perpetual political war over educating millions of children on the short end of the state’s chronic “achievement gap.”

LA Unified, the nation’s second largest school system, has nearly 10% of the state’s 6 million public school students, the vast majority of whom are considered to be “at risk” due to poverty, lack of English language skills or foster child status.

Reformers scored a win last week when the state Department of Education, which has tended to be an enabler of LA Unified and other recalcitrant systems, declared the district’s 2019-20 LCAP to be seriously deficient.

Public Advocates, a public interest law firm based in San Francisco, and Covington & Burling, a Los Angeles law firm, had challenged the LCAP, saying it was vague in reporting how extra state aid was being spent and what improved outcomes would result.

The Department of Education rejected some allegations, but upheld the most important ones about the lack of specificity, such as bundling $800 million in different types of services into one category, or failing to report how school-level appropriation would be spent.

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