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Superintendent Austin Beutner Urges Action at ‘Beyond the Schoolhouse’ Presentation (10-9-19)

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CONTACT: Shannon Haber, 213-241-6766                                      


Superintendent Austin Beutner Urges Action
at ‘Beyond the Schoolhouse’ Presentation

Report | VideoRemarks      

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 9, 2019) – Superintendent Austin Beutner, in remarks today at the Avis and Mark Ridley-Thomas Life Learning Center, talked about the need to better support African-American students and the progress that has been made.

Superintendent Beutner spoke after the release of “Beyond the Schoolhouse: Overcoming Challenges and Expanding Opportunity for Black Youth in Los Angeles County,'' a research project by the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

Specifically, Superintendent Beutner spoke about Los Angeles Unified’s efforts to strengthen instruction and increase socio-economic supports for African-American students. They include: 

  1. The newly launched Humanizing Education for Equitable Transformation (HEET) project, which provides targeted academic supports to more than 8,000 students at 16 schools, with an emphasis on improving reading and math skills.
  2. A $100 million investment to establish 26 school-based wellness centers that provide medical, dental, vision and mental health services to students and families.
  3. Support for homeless students through a partnership with the City of Los Angeles, which is providing housing vouchers for 500 families.
  4. A new program being created with the Charter College of Education at Cal State Los Angeles to recruit and train more teachers of color.  
  5. A pilot initiative at La Salle Elementary, where two teachers (instead of one) are assigned to a classroom to focus on early literacy intervention and math skills.
  6. Creation of a Youth Diversion Task Force to reduce arrests and citations of African-American students.

The superintendent said an additional $263 million was invested this year in the highest-needs schools, but he acknowledged more needs to be done to close opportunity gaps. He called on community and civic leaders to join with Los Angeles Unified in advocating for more funding. New York City invests $29,000 per year in each K-12 student, while Los Angeles Unified is asked to make do with $16,000. 

“Despite good intentions and tireless efforts by many people over the past many years, we haven’t made enough progress,” the superintendent said. “We have to double down on what is working and try new things where we have not yet found the answer.

“It will take all of us here today to measure progress and hold us accountable,” he continued. “It is my hope that we can convene in five years and celebrate the progress we’ve made and the promise we’re making here today to offer every African American student a great education.”

“The challenges confronting many black children in L.A. County are enormous, but we have several schools that serve these children well that we can learn from,” said Dr. Pedro Noguera, founder of the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools and distinguished professor, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. He was a lead author of the report. “Now we must generate and sustain the will to ensure this occurs.”

Superintendent Beutner’s full remarks can be found here. A video of his speech can be viewed here.