Our kids, no matter their zip code, all deserve the best possible education. Growing up, I was no star student, but I had teachers who believed in me and made sure that I achieved my potential. That’s what we all want for our kids, but our education system is failing too many of them— and their parents. Early in my working life, I spent years fighting for our teachers and their families as a labor organizer for the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association. Those fights helped shape my dedication to our schools.
The Mayor may not be in charge of LAUSD, but they can have a big impact. A Mayor can just be satisfied with the status quo– or they can push hard for change. I believe that the Mayor of Los Angeles needs to take an active role in supporting students and our teachers. As President Pro Tem of your California State Senate, I helped our schools become more energy efficient with Proposition 39, and I’m already working with LAUSD to transition to zero-emission school buses which will have a demonstrable impact on air quality along bus routes.
I’ve outlined my plans to make our schools work better for all of our students, be better stewards of our tax dollars, and help our students move from high school to the working world.
For working parents, school starts and ends too early. This is more than just an inconvenience– it is an expense to parents and our Los Angeles economy. Most schools do not offer childcare, so parents are left with the choice of either paying for after school childcare or leaving work early to pick up their kids. This leads to lower levels of employment for mothers of school aged children and costs the U.S. economy $55 billion in lost productivity annually.
This affects all our working parents, but it disproportionately affects black and brown families where parents are more likely to hold hourly wage jobs with little to no paid leave. In order to level the playing field for our kids, Kevin supports increased before and after school activities which would allow instruction time to remain the same but keep kids on campus longer. Many of the costs associated with lengthening the school day can be defrayed through federal grants which schools already have access to, including several through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). If we want our next generation to compete on the world stage, we need to get serious about their schooling, and that starts with a school day that works for working families.
LAUSD has only 1 counselor for every 500 students, and roughly one nurse to every 2,400 students, while at the same time having some of the most over-policed schools in the nation. In fact, tens of millions of dollars in funds that were earmarked for high-need students have been diverted to campus security services. Over policing of our schools don’t keep students safer; in fact, for the thousands of undocumented students, disciplinary actions that lead to contact with police can be traumatizing or even put them on a path to deportation. Kevin wants to move these earmarked funds back towards helping high-need students, and getting kids the services they need. By increasing counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals, we can create safer, better schools by dealing with our students as whole people– not security threats.
While graduation rates have ticked upwards to around 80%, English learners remain stuck at near 50%, with foster care students at 59%, and differently abled students slightly higher at 65%. Public schools are for all students, and investing in kids who have divergent needs is vital to the mission of LAUSD. The good news is that much of the funding needed for these programs is already allocated, but those programs were discontinued during the height of COVID. That’s why Kevin wants to restore programs like the mental health evaluation team (MHET), fund Bilingual Supplemental Student Health Services, and expand the UCLA/LAUSD collaborative which connects UCLA staff with school site administrators and teachers to improve high school strategies for English Learner achievement and college prep. Our LAUSD students come from all over the world, and have many different needs, but we can meet those needs by reprioritizing programs tailored to our diverse student population. Kevin will work hand in glove with LAUSD to make sure that Administrators are responsive to parents and teachers, and that everyone is working together to help our kids. Lastly, Kevin will institute a parent-led advocacy group under the auspices of the Los Angeles Mayor’s office to ensure that parents have a direct line of communication with the District.
College is not the path for every student– and it shouldn’t have to be. That’s why Kevin will work with the tech and entertainment industries, as well as City Departments, to create high-school to work pipelines for good paying, stable careers. Partnering with our friends in organized labor, Kevin wants to expand apprenticeship programs for the most needed jobs in the city and up and coming industries, helping LAUSD turn out the scholars and workers of tomorrow. Every graduating student should have a chance at a good career and a fulfilling life, whether or not they choose to attend college. That’s the future that Kevin wants for every one of them.