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Sharp Inequities Among Public Schools Throughout the Los Angeles Region Found by Education Research Group

The Southern California Consortium on Research in Education (SCCORE.org), based at Pomona College, has released its 2003 comprehensive survey and analysis of kids and schools in the five-county Los Angeles region, which includes the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Santa Barbara.

Among SCCORE’s findings:

  • Recent school reforms have exacerbated inequity among schools;
  • Crowded year-round schools all over the region tend to have Academic Performance Index scores about 100 points lower than schools running on a traditional September to June calendar;
  • Kids in poor schools where 80% or more are eligible for help buying school lunches, are three times more likely to have an uncredentialed teachers than in schools where less than 10% of kids are eligible for school lunch help; and
  • Kids in high-minority schools, where 70% or more are Latino, African American or Asian American, are three times more likely to have uncredentialed teachers than schools where 90% or more of the students are Anglos.

The organization’s data, which includes Southern California's elementary and secondary students, student outcomes, teachers, districts and schools, and financing, is available to the public at www.SCCORE.org. Within the five-county L.A. region, more than 3 million kids attend almost 3500 schools. The region spent more than $28 billion on its public schools last year.

From the wealth of data collected, three broad themes about the Los Angeles region's elementary and secondary education system were revealed, reports David Menefee-Libey, director of SCCORE.org and associate professor of politics at Pomona College. First, the number of students attending the region's schools has been growing rapidly for more than a decade. Second, this growth, combined with the public demand for school improvement, has created substantial quality challenges for the system. Third, school system responses to these quality challenges have not been uniform, exacerbating preexisting inequities. “The system faces equity challenges perhaps even more daunting than its quality challenge. As we in the Los Angeles region evaluate the Governor’s budget proposals for education, it’s critical that we have a very clear idea about the state of our schools,” Prof. Menefee-Libey said.

The goal of SCCORE.org is to gather and publish authoritative information and analysis on elementary and secondary education in the Los Angeles region. It seeks to inform and improve public discussion and debate about schools and school reform. The intended audience includes policy-makers, practitioners, parents, and the public, as well as researchers and those who fund their research.

Prof. Menefee-Libey is available to talk with reporters about the SCCORE.org website, the state of schools in the L.A. region and various aspects of the data, ranging from school demographics, student dropout rates, how the L.A. Unified School District compares to the rest of the region, the impact of poverty, and the impact of differences in levels of teacher credentialing. With notice, he can also provide information about specific schools to illustrate points of interest to a reporter.

Prof. Menefee-Libey can be reached at his office (909) 607-9323 or by email at David.MenefeeLibey@pomona.edu. He has done research on the politics of school reform, with a focus on urban school districts, for more than 15 years. He is also the author of The Triumph of Campaign-Centered Politics (Chatham House, 2000). SCCORE.org is based in the Pomona College Public Policy Analysis Program.