Latino & Black Students Prisoners of Dem-Run L.A. Schools

Editor’s note: The following is the sixth in a series of FrontPage articles unmasking the racial injustice of Democrat-controlled education. Read our previous reports on the public school systems of  Washington, D.C.DetroitPhiladelphiaChicago and Atlanta.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the next school district to be examined in this multi-part series. Unfortunately, it bears a striking resemblance to all the other big-city districts in terms of lagging graduation rates, a large achievement gap, marginal grade-level competency and entrenched Democratic Party control. The one exception: it is Latino, rather than black American students, who comprise 73.4 percent of the student population. Black American students are the next largest group at 10 percent. Both groups are lagging behind their white and Asian counterparts at every turn.

Once again, the stats are familiar, and familiarly daunting, especially with regard to male students. In the 2009-2010 school year, the graduation rate for white, non-Latino males was a dismal 64 percent. Yet that represents the high water mark. The graduation rate of Latino male students was 62 percent, while only 41 percent of black male students received a diploma.

The all-important National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test painted an equally bleak and equally familiar picture as well. At the 8th grade level, just 9 percent of both black and Latino males tested at, or above, proficient in reading, and only 8 percent of blacks, and 11 percent of Latinos were at, or above, proficient in math on the 2011 NAEP examinations. These numbers represent an achievement gap of 27 percent relative to white, non-Latino students in reading and a 38 percent gap for blacks and a 35 percent gap for Latinos in math.

Overall, the graduation rate in the LAUSD was 61.6 percent for the class of 2011, and the drop out rate was 20.6 percent. In 2010, the graduation rate was 62.4 percent and the drop out rate was 24.8. These figures are a bit misleading in that LAUSD doesn’t count seniors who fail to graduate, but still remain in the classroom, in the calculations. The number of those particular students increased from 12.2 percent to 17.5 percent from 2010 to 2011. For blacks and Hispanics specifically, the 2011 graduation rate increased from 71.6 to 74.9 percent for blacks, and the graduation rate fell 1 point to 59.8 percent for Hispanics. Drop out rates  fell for both groups, from 30.1 to 24.5 percent for black students, and 25.2 percent to 21.1 percent for Hispanics.

In a better world, such percentages, although trending in a marginally better direction, would still be cause for alarm. In the world of big city school districts, they are lauded. “I’m extremely pleased with the results and the knowledge that we are already making good progress (for 2012),” said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. “Looking back more than a year ago, far fewer kids have left us, which is very positive…Even though they struggled, they stayed with us.” That would be the same John Deasy who got together with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan last week, hoping to procure a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law for 10 districts that combined serve more than one million students. The law’s requirement that students pass English and math tests by the 2014-15 school year has been deemed “unrealistic” by state education leaders.

Arun Ramanathan, executive director of the Education Trust-West, a statewide advocacy group, offers the proper perspective regarding progress. “Even though these rates are improving, at the rate California is going, it will take us 13 years to close the graduation gap between Latina and African-American students and their white peers,” he said. “Tens of thousands of dropouts represent a large-scale tragedy for the California economy and our state’s future prosperity.” Further perspective? Thirteen years represents a student’s entire public school experience, from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Thus, thousands of additional children will be churned through a LAUSD system where, like so many of their big-city counterparts, genuine reform remains familiarly elusive.

Yet even that ostensibly rosier future remains dim for minority students. In January, the Education Trust–West released a two year study of the LAUSD that ought to enrage those minority students and their parents. While it revealed that the top 25 percent of teachers can “dramatically accelerate student learning,” giving students as much as six months of extra learning compared to the bottom 25 percent of teachers, it also revealed that the top 25 percent “are less likely to instruct lower-income students and students who are Latino or African-American,” and that this elite group of teachers “are also more likely to leave the district’s highest need schools.”

The disparities are damning. According to the report, “low-income students are twice as likely to have a low value-added English-Language Arts teacher and 66 percent more likely to have a low-value added math teacher. Latino and African-American students are up to three times more likely to have a teacher from the bottom 25 percent.” The reason for such disparities is tiresomely familiar: union work rules. Like all unionized big city schools systems, seniority trumps teacher quality in terms of assignments and layoffs. The longer one is in the system, irrespective of effectiveness, the more protected–and unaccountable–one becomes.

As for teacher effectiveness per se, the LAUSD has rendered the term virtually meaningless. A 2009 study reveals that a surreal 99.3 percent of the teachers in the system were rated as “meets standards.”  The absurdity of this stat is belied by the reality that 62 percent of principals overall, and a whopping 82 percent of middle school principals, reported that they had either “displaced” a teacher, or encouraged a transfer, due to poor performance. In short, the “meets standard” standard is meaningless and likely fraudulent.

The LAUSD is attempting to create its own teacher accountability system, but the motive for doing so is hardly noble: they’re attempting to get the waiver from the aforementioned No Child Left Behind law currently denied to districts statewide. That denial is based on the fact that state officials remain opposed to tying teacher evaluations to student test scores. In other words, the politicians remain beholden to teachers union clout, while students and parents get shafted.

It is a clout whose unseemliness is revealed by the antipathy directed by the LAUSD against charter schools. In 2011, it was revealed that Los Angeles’s 183 (now 185) “LAUSD-authorized” charter schools outperformed LAUSD schools “across all grade levels on the Academic Performance Index (API), California’s primary academic accountability metric for schools.” For Latino students, the difference was stark: API scores were more than 100 points higher for Latinos attending charters than their counterparts at non-charters. In response to that “threat,” the Los Angeles School Board voted to impose severe restrictions on the ability of charter operators to apply to run new schools in the next round the Public School Choice initiative.

Last December, Los Angeles school district officials won a reversal in the California Court of Appeals of a lower court ruling that would have opened up substantial numbers of LAUSD classrooms to charter school students. State law requires school districts to offer charters space that is “reasonably equivalent” to that provided for public school students. The California Charter Schools Assn. argued that LAUSD uses a number of classrooms for purposes other than instruction and, therefore, they were entitled to more space. The Court of Appeals disagreed, vacating the lower court’s order that LAUSD take an inventory to evaluate their space.

As with other big city school districts, the ham-fisted attempt to stifle competition should come as no surprise. The unions and their political lackeys in both the city government of LA and the state legislature are more than willing to protect the status quo for the simplest of reasons: as this devastating exposé of the California Teachers Association (CTA) reveals, that union’s approximately 325,000 members represent the most powerful special interest group in the state. The CTA has spent millions upon millions of dollars to block anything resembling genuine accountability for its members. Furthermore, it spent nearly $102 million on political contributions from 2003 through 2012 to support the unabashedly progressive agenda championed by Democrats, who received 99.92 percent of the funding. In other words, just like every other school district chronicled in this series, the LAUSD is a Democratic stronghold. In fact, the entire state is a now Democrat stronghold: as a result of the 2012 election, Democrats have an unassailable two-thirds super-majority in both chambers of the state legislature.

This symbiotic relationship has been an absolute boon for teachers statewide, and LA teachers in particular, who earn an average of $94,000 per year. Furthermore, after 30 years on the job, California teachers can retire with a pension equal to about 75 percent of their salary. Thus, it is completely unsurprising that in 2012-13, the LAUSD faced its fifth consecutive year of budget deficits, the lowest of which was 2011-12’s total of $408 million. The 2012-13 budget of $6.3 billion was passed last June, closing a final $169 million deficit that was originally projected to be  $557 million, until there was an infusion of unexpected revenue into state coffers. Even with that revenue, the budget was predicated on the necessity that California voters would opt to raise their own taxes on Election Day, which they did. Yet balancing the budget still came with a price: the school year has been shortened by ten days.

And so it goes. Despite all the promises, pledges and platitudes regarding reform, promulgated by the Democrat-union alliance that controls public school education in America’s big cities, the actual results they produce are consistently dismal, especially for minority student. Millions of black and Latino children are trapped in what amounts to educational wastelands. They are wastelands where the grim realty of dismal graduation and drop out rates, a chronically persistent ethnic learning gap, and the ongoing failure to bring students to grade-level proficiency in the foundational areas of reading and math, have been firmly established as the status quo.

Reform, like prosperity in Barack Obama’s economy, is a promise whose fulfillment remains unerringly “just over the horizon,” even as the litany of excuses for the failure to reach it remains intact. There is never enough money, class sizes are too large, and families are too fractured. That thousands of schools operate successfully on far less money, with equally, if not more crowded, classrooms full of equally disadvantaged children, is never acknowledged. Neither is the reality that the same “bad parents” whom educators invariably blame for their shortcomings were educated in the same wastelands as their children.

It is hard to imagine any other enterprise where multi-generational failure has not only been routinely tolerated, but, due to the corrupt relationship between Democrat politicians and school unions, ultimately rewarded. For years, most Americans believed the dumbing-down of our nation’s children was the result of mass incompetence. More and more, they are beginning to believe that these educational wastelands are breeding grounds for the “low-information” voters who seemingly assure the Democratic Party that they will maintain permanent majorities in our nation’s biggest cities.

Whatever the case may be, the larger picture is far more important. American students are now competing on a world stage against countries where the education of young minds remains a high priority. Those children have routinely bested America’s on international tests. When one considers the reality that America’s minority children invariably lag behind their peers, their futures in a global economy grow grimmer still.

In a better world, the almost purposeful abandonment of minority children to a compromised future would be seen as institutionalized racism it truly is. In modern day America, it remains business as usual. A pathetic and infuriating business as usual, courtesy of the usual suspects: the powerful leftist alliance of Democratic politicians and their teachers union patrons.

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  • Lillith66

    Without us you would still be living in caves, scratching around in the dirt looking for your next meal, and dying like flies, you vile, dumb, racist B@$tard!

  • Parenthetical Phrase

    D'shawn, you're a vile racist pig. Blacks kill blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians with abandon. The biggest killers of blacks are other blacks. Males impregnate females and leave. Take responsibility for your culture and stop blaming your problems on others you Nazi idiot.

  • UCSPanther

    Give it up, white trash. You aren't fooling anyone with your "black man" act.

  • @jdl_uk_official

    Same in UK. A black person is admired if they got where they are – as a celebrity or athlete – by going the criminal way, so Jay-Z and Obama are admired and people who study and achieve genuine brilliance, like Dr Benjamin Carson, are swots, oreos, Uncle Tom's and traitors to their race.


    HISPANICS AND BLACKS ARE BORN DEMOCRATS. On my birth certificate is a (D) next to my name. REALLY! All of our parents vote straight party ticket and have done so for generations.

    After voting for Reagan twice and seeing that the Democrat Party was filled with Closet Communists, I switched to the Republican Party but it's been pure he!! since I had to listen to family members who openly say they "hate Republicans" and teachers and professors who give assignments on Marxist economics and ideology. I was even recruited go to Nicaragua to be in a Construction Brigade where I would have been turned into a Communist in no time on top of quitting school to be a professional protester and eventually on Obama's Cabinet.

    The Communist-loving 1980 college students are now the teachers K-12 and college professors and they will indoctrinate their students even without them knowing it. They will give assignments where their conclusions must be presented or else. Students who tow the party line, are given the best grades therefore on top of the list for graduate school and scholarships. Conservatives are passed up for all advancement and giving them lower grades will ensure that.

    Now you have illegals, and their children, who are filling our schools where leftist teachers and administrators pander to their every need including them learning or struggling with Spanish when these illegals should be thrown into a sink or swim learning of English.

    Let these Hispanics and Blacks sleep in their own vomit!

    • Larry S


      I have long wondered what the essential distinction is between those raised in totalitarian systems where mind control in service to the authorities prevails (e.g. the late Soviet Union, or many Muslim nations today) who, in maturity, see through the lies and those who accept the orthodoxy.. I asked one Soviet expatriate when he realized he had been fed a pack of lies his entire life. He said he was 17 when he started to see through the BS. When I asked what caused him to question the reigning orthodoxy, he said, "Because I was 17".

      I think you follow in that grand tradition of people who question authority.

  • Lillith66

    Where are the first three comments?

  • Arlie

    The only way to defeat this communist, leftist take over of education is for Governors of State to take back the power! Education should be localized. Get the Federal Government out of the schools and UNESCO. Home school while you still can. Once "Common Core" Bill Ayres brain-child is instituted….home schooling is going to be against the law. Time to fight this Federalized Pre-School Agenda TOO. WAKE UP AMERICA…the Communists are brainwashing your children to rise up against YOU.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    RE: "Latino & Black Students Prisoners of Dem-Run L.A. Schools."

    TEA PARTY/Constitutional response:

    NO!!! ~ The hard-working TAXPAYERS are Prisoners!….

    Of the Democrat-Run UN-FUNDED, MANDATED, COLLECTIVE L.A. School system!

    OUR property taxes are siphoned from OUR family's needs so we can elevate a BLACK abyss!

  • κατεργάζομαι

    The Democrat-controlled DE, & NEA unions & the Left's policies Rob ALL Students!
    ….(especially the TaxPayers)

    Before the 1960s, the concept of identity politics in America did not exist. Keep in mind that some of the highest per-pupil spending in the Country is the Washington D.C. school system.

    The real betrayal is the beleaguered TAXPAYER. So screw the dialectic of "minority-centric" school system arguments!

  • Questions

    Has it occurred to the author that blacks and Hispanics, far from being "victims" of the system, are the victimizers? Who do you think runs the LAUSD? On whose behalf do you think policies and procedures are developed? Does Ahlert believe that murderous gangs like MS-13 (Hispanic) or the Crips (black) don't organize on school campuses? Believe it: They do.

    Race and ethnicity, far more than political party, is the main determinant of decline in LA public schools. You could have a hardcore Republican administration running the show and it barely would make a difference. Most Hispanic students are semi-literates barely capable of speaking, much less writing, in proper English. Until U.S. immigration policy and enforcement practices change, and radically, all the carping in the world about "Democrats" will be useless, utterly useless.

    • 11bravo

      There are millions of mexican kids in the system that were born here, and speak english just fine. What do you think we did with all the Italians, Polish, Irish, ukrainians over the last two centuries? It ain't the race, or nationality of the kids. It is the quality of the schools.

      The mark of a true racist; one who thinks because of your race you are by definition, inferior. Is this what you are saying?

      I want everyone illegally here out as much as the next guy, but other than that I do not care what race you are. Welcome aboard!!

  • NO Verde

    WRONG! TAXPAYERS are Prisoners to Latino & Black Dem-Run Legislation!

    • Questions

      That's a secondary reality. The ultimate reality is that the demographic changes that befell L.A. schools were no inevitability, but rather products of deliberately pursued immigration and affirmative action policies. And they were done to please nonwhite constituencies.

      Maybe your reading comprehension skills are a bit wanting.

  • pinnie

    From PA suburbs….The school taxes we pay (locally) are extreme…and we keep pissing out stupid ignorant morons…that would rather steal than read…..Dumb as bags of hair..and content to stay that way.The first of the month is their claim to fame,thats all they know at a very young age.

  • JacksonPearson

    If you want to do a case study in one area of waste alone, then take a hard look at the number of school buses the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) have in daily operation. There are hundreds upon hundreds and possibly thousands of empty buses on the road, everyday, being driven exclusively by minorities. The numbers are staggering.

    • Questions

      Most people aren't aware of it, but most public-sector unions in Los Angeles County are dominated by Mexican ethnics. I almost will guarantee you that the "drivers" of those school buses are paid on the basis of a minimum number hours guaranteed in the collective bargaining agreement well exceeding hours of actual usage. The unions are ethnic particularists. Public-spiritedness matters less than doing right by the Mexican community.

      • JacksonPearson

        Most of the drivers that I see, are black…but then, it might be the areas they're assigned to. All I do know, there's an awful lot of buses on the road, and lots of idle time being spent, with lots of expensive equipment.

  • bryce armstrong

    You know Im realy getting tired of reading articles like this. What is it going to take before you relize, I DONT CARE? What is it going to make you understand minorities are ruining education for everyone? But I sure another week will go buy any you will post another story like this.

    • 11bravo

      What are you talking about? It is the unions and the stupid teachers, and the leftist infiltration of our entire educational system…Not Minorites.

      Go away troll. You do not belong here.

  • barry Spinello

    Simple solution. When the overall test scores go down – the district gets less money. When they go up – the district gets more money.
    But if the scores go down- and they get less money -how will that fix the problem? That's the teachers problem. Let them fix it. The best will start to eliminate the worst.

    • Questions

      We already have this system nationwide. These mandates are built into the No Child Left Behind Act signed by your friend and mine, George W. Bush. The problem with "teaching to the test" is that when the scores are "too low," school officials may do some creative math to raise them, thus keeping funds flowing. There was a big scandal in the (heavily black) Atlanta school district over this.

  • Grandpa Joe

    Maybe this article will garner a few key minority votes for the next election! Well, If they remember it in 4 years…..

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Any area of life that Democrats control is cursed to failure, based in falsehood and mental
    deviancy Democrats destroy themselves and thier posterity in and ongoing failure that
    assures a miserable life but for and elite few. Jessie Jackson is a prime example of what
    happens to a black man that embraces the democratic party or in this case what happens
    when a man like him becomes involved with anything. Duplicity is a vile form of spiritual
    piracy where all who are involved will walk the plank, all Democrats should abandon
    ship and look for a new boat, one with oars that makes you pull your own weight…..William

  • kafir4life

    Being a liberal means you don't really need to be educated. Better that you're not. Education can make you smart, and smart people aren't liberal.

  • Kevin Stroup

    Most problems in the world are caused by people wanting to be more important than they are. -Unknown source, not me.
    Progressives want unchallenged power( authority to exercise their will). Power necessitates control. Competition and its companion , choice, do not guarantee control. That is why progressives do not like the free market. School choice means that I do not depend on some politician for largesse. The progressive pol will not tolerate this. Ever.

    • Jim_C

      The people who have the financial means to even enter the education "market" have always had a choice. And they're generally not the people one has to worry about. But I'm not sure what sorts of choices there'd be even if the whole thing were privatized. Many areas don't have the population to support a choice.

      Control over schools, to some extent (certainly not to the extent that it is now) is not a "bad" thing if it means we have standards. An educated citizenry is ultimately the only asset a free society really has, so educating citizens has to be a societal priority. But that control should be in the hands of the educators–NOT the politicians, who should only be there to write checks–and NOT the unions, who should only be there to negotiate contracts. Teachers need to be able to set and enforce curriculum and also incented to weed out the dead wood among themselves.

  • DebbieOhio912

    Mr. Ahlert, it would be an interesting comparison to see if Republican-run school districts are faring any better.

  • bluffcreek1967

    Every attempt by our government (federal, state and local) seeking to bridge the education gap between whites and 'minorities' will utterly fail. Every 'program' thus far has failed in spite of billions being spent. Liberals and most conservatives are either ignorant of or unwilling to admit that IQ differences between the races is a reality. Blacks and Hispanics, on average, not only have lower IQs than whites and asians, but they simply don't value formal education the way whites and asians do. This is not hard to discern. This is not some deep truth hidden from most people. This is so plainly obvious and clear that only a highly educated person from one of our modern academic institutions could miss it.

  • 11bravo

    We can only pray some governor, or POTUS calls this institutional racism, a civil rights violation, and goes in on national security grounds to secure a better education.
    Liquidate the unions and test the teachers. I know I am dreaming, if only to be king for a day. This is just such an immoral, unethical, evil, and vile way to treat our children. It is child abuse. CHOOT EM!! ALL!!

  • pietro

    Info Molto utile. Spero di vedere presto altri post!

  • lackawanda

    Wake up Black America. its later than you think!! Read the new book”The Unfinished Business of the Civil Rights Movement:Failure of America’s Public Schools to Properly Educate its African American Student Populations..”

    • chuckie2u

      One has to look at the results of the Democrats pushing single parenthood and teenaged girls contributing to the population explosion. I dare say if one looks at the raw statistics of those dropping out,undereducated and unskilled they are the product of single parenthood. African Americans should thank their politicians for the inability of their kids to compete with kids from other countries in our global economy.

  • chuckie2u

    One has to look at the positive side of the Union Controlled Democrat Education System. The system as it works turns out more Welfare Government dependent voters. Exactly what the Political elites want from the system. One has to cheer for the team because the Elites have their kids in private schools and do not have their kids exposed to the lower classes.