Editorial: LAUSD’s efforts to address learning loss should inspire hope, not chaos and frustration
A few days ago, the Los Angeles Times ran a story that outlined a few of the steps the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has taken in recent weeks to improve attendance rates. Among the measures taken were a focus on providing early morning lessons after school and an aggressive plan to track student attendance, both measures that should be applauded as they indicate that the district is committed to working on its attendance issue.
Unfortunately, however, the article also contained some critical details that have caused many parents to question how much the district is doing to address the long-standing problems of attendance — problems that have led to poor outcomes for students in other districts, as well as an increase in teacher turnover.
As parents and students have come to grasp the full effect of the school year on attendance, the public has become increasingly frustrated that an issue that was once considered a minor annoyance can no longer be ignored. And yet, the district is only now moving forward with any kind of comprehensive strategy to address the issue, and the steps taken appear short of what parents are asking for.
Many parents have been particularly upset at the fact that the district appears to be ignoring the biggest barrier to attendance, that being transportation. While some parents worry about whether the district will adequately address the problem, I am concerned that this may be more of a liability than a strength, as parents and other stakeholders are not going to be satisfied with simply having transportation be an issue that is solved, but will want ongoing and comprehensive efforts that take into consideration other issues that contribute to poor attendance. Further, the lack of resources and programs such as transportation support is a key reason why the district is so consistently low in terms of its graduation rates — which, in turn, have led to the large teacher corps, low graduation rates, and high turnover and turnover rate.
LAUSD officials have acknowledged that poor attendance affects graduation rates,