In a school district like the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) with a combined Latino and Black student population of close to 90%, several important questions were brought up when we met last Friday, April 22nd to explore whether Latino and Black students and parents would support a boycott of the school district in an attempt to finally hold corrupt and self-serving LAUSD administration and the politicians and corporate interests that keep them in power accountable to this majority constituency.
One of those who attended the meeting said that he didn’t think Latino and Black parents would support a boycott, because they want their children in school learning.
With somewhere around 50% of students quitting school between the 9th and the 12th grade, it is clear that students might presently be in school, but they are definitely not learning under the present system that moves them from grade to grade without ever assuring that they have mastered even basic skills in English, math, and the other courses they need foundational skills in, if they are to have any chance at higher education or the work force.
With no reality to justify it, LAUSD rhetoric constantly talks about “All students going to college,” when the reality is that 60% of the students arriving at Los Angeles City College have to do remediation, before they are capable of taking a college level course — many of these students quit in frustration, because the school district has left them unnecessarily so far behind where they should be. As for the graduation rate of Black students from Santa Monica College, it’s about 3%, because by the time these students become aware of just how far behind they are from where they should be, they also become aware that the task they now face is insurmountable.
Even where students in high school have no basic foundational academic schools, LAUSD administrators continue to tell minority parents that their children are going to college, when nothing could be further from the truth.
If parents are educated about this conscious deception by a school district that disrespects minority parents and students by assuming that they are not smart enough to know when they are being ripped off, not only will parents and students support a boycott, they will work to make sure that it is successful in the realization that it is one of the only ways to discredit a corrupt system of public education that has held these parents and their children in contempt for far too long.
With the support of retired teachers and other educators from the college community, parents concerns about their children continuing to be educated can be addressed, if classes are reconstituted in alternative venues like parks and churches. It might be surprising for some to see students and their parents voluntarily showing up for these classes, if they have the feeling that real education for these students might just be a possibility for the first time.
Someone else said that even if Latino and Black parents did support a boycott, they would not do so unless teachers and other certificated and classified staff went along with it.
While parents and teachers can support and lead a boycott of purposefully dumbed down public daycare in lieu of education without reprisals, teachers and other certificated staff and classified staff would be immediately subjected to reprisals from district administration if they ever acted on their knowledge as to the fraud and corruption of LAUSD, where good education hasn’t been possible for a very long time.
Already teachers are being summarily removed from their jobs on trumped up charges with no help from their union UTLA. Next academic year, LAUSD has already proposed 12 furlough days that are an effective 6% cut in teachers’ salaries.
By staying at school while standing ready to perform their employment function, staff can impose the most financial pressure and promote real change in LAUSD policies by requiring that they be paid, since the district will no longer be able to collect money for physical presence of students that they make no attempt to educate to their potential.
Since the school district is only paid for physical presence of students at school, the mass exodus of students would have a profound effect on LAUSD’s ability to finance its failed and unaccountable public education policies. Some have said that this might not have an immediate effect on their financing this academic year, but is there any reason to believe that things will be any better next year, if parents and students don’t start to mobilize for action with their supporters in the community?