Los Angeles, CA

Residents of Los Angeles has Racism to Deal With in its School District

Tom Handy

Black student virtual learning from homePhoto by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

As the year started, many schools opened up allowing students to return to school except Los Angeles is facing some issues. Approximately, 43% of Black parents decided to keep their children home due to racism, bullying, and low academic standards.

Black parents were able to see how their children were treated by their peers and instructors while kids learned at home, and in some cases, saw a system that did not benefit them,” the report said. “Many of the same parents who saw that their children seemed to learn better and thrive emotionally away from school now question whether it is in their child’s best interest to return to campus.”

A Los Angeles Unified Parents survey asked 500 parents about their child’s progress. The results raised some new concerns as 96 Black parents gave the real reason they kept their child home from school.

This loss of faith in the public school system will have long-term repercussions,” the report said. “The only way to undo the damage of the pandemic is to dramatically reimagine how the public schools system serves its Black students.”

National polls showed more black and Latino parents kept their children home for distance learning than white parents.

While the survey had a small sample compared to the full Black student population, even a single student experiencing bullying or racism in L.A. Unified is unacceptable,” said school board President Kelly Gonez.

According to the survey, 28% of parents said their child’s behavior improved with virtual learning while 8% said it got worse.

Student learning virtuallyPhoto by August de Richelieu from Pexels
We have seen the district implement multiple initiatives to address Black student achievement in the past, but without true accountability that authentically acknowledges and incorporates the voices of Black parents and their experiences, these measures have been meaningless,” Chief Executive of Speak Up Katie Broad said. “The needle has not moved.”

Before the pandemic, black parents said their child was bullied. During distance learning, the percentage decreased to 6% from 40%.

This report reminds us that we are not just recovering from 15 months of a global health pandemic, but also from over 400 years of neglect, abuse and mistreatment,” LA Unified board member Franklin said. “This coming school year, particularly with the additional relief dollars, is an important opportunity to collectively plan, act, reflect, and serve in truly anti-racist ways that result in transformational outcomes for our Black scholars in L.A. Unified.”

Black parents felt there was a lot of institutional racism built into the school system. Parents felt the system was hostile to them.

I wanted my voice to be heard, I wanted my son to learn math. I knew it was a critical subject,” parent Michelle Tillett said in an interview.

The mother of three took several days off from work to speak to school administrators about the issue. She also drove her son to math enrichment programs in West L.A. to help him catch up.

“I was worried about distance learning at first, but I now see that it’s very beneficial to have her at home because I am able to see what’s taking place in the classroom, and whether or not the curriculum is set up to benefit her as an African American student,” said Tillett, who now works remotely half the time so she can stay at home with her daughter.
I think LAUSD has taken some steps over the last 15 months ... to try to be more intentional about how it can best support black students and families,” UCLA Professor Tyrone Howard said. “But I think more needs to be done structurally, and the data bear this out.”

As Los Angeles works to get students back in school, they are facing a bigger issue with racism.

The report is right about its most basic finding, which is that Black students face a great deal of institutional racism at LAUSD,” said Jan Williams, a leader in Reclaim Our Schools LA, and parent of a Dorsey High School student.

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