Even During A Pandemic LA’s Students Still Deserve An Education.

It’s time to tell LAUSD that our children are worth more.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Worth More LA?

Worth More LA is a group of parents and community members unwilling to accept educational cuts that deny opportunity to the children of Los Angeles. We are legally challenging Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)’s distance learning plan in court. We think our kids’ futures are worth more than a plan that does not even meet California’s constitutional guarantee of a basic public education and disproportionately harms Black and Latino students, English learners, and students with disabilities.

Who is Worth More LA?

Worth More LA is led by Los Angeles Unified families who are parent leaders in the community organizing work of Parent Revolution and Innovate Public Schools. We’re activists for public education because we want our children and all children in Los Angeles to have the opportunities that they deserve. We were very unhappy with LAUSD’s distance learning plan in the Spring. We spent all summer asking the district to come up with a plan that would provide LA’s children with an education, even while they were learning from home. When we were ignored, we organized this campaign. We believe that even during the pandemic our children are still worth more and deserve to have access to an education. When we learned that other California school districts were doing much more for their students, we knew we had to fight for our children.

What does the Worth More LA suit claim?

The filing, brought by a group of Black and Latino parents, claims LAUSD’s plan for distance learning does not meet the standards set by SB 98—the law that created distance learning requirements for California schools—and violates students’ right to a basic public education under the California Constitution. The suit also alleges Black and Latino students, English learners, and students with disabilities are disproportionately negatively impacted, therefore violating their rights to equal protection.

What does the Worth More LA lawsuit hope to accomplish?

Our lawsuit alleges LAUSD’s plan for distance learning falls so short of giving students what they need to learn that it violates their legal rights to a basic, fair public education. We are calling on LAUSD to create a distance learning plan that serves all students and is worthy of LA’s children, and to put in place a real plan to address the learning loss and social emotional harm it has caused.

Do you think it is okay to be critical of teachers, when everyone is working hard and doing their best?

The defendants in our lawsuit are LAUSD and Superintendent Beutner, not the teachers of Los Angeles Unified. We know that many teachers are working incredibly hard. We believe that, just like LAUSD has left students and families on their own to figure it out, that they’ve done the same to teachers. Just like our children are stuck in a system that doesn’t value them, teachers are in a system that is not supporting them. We are taking on that system.

What is wrong with the current LAUSD distance learning plan?

There have been improvements over last Spring’s distance learning disaster, when many of our children had no learning for three months. But, asking if LAUSD’s distance learning plan is a little bit better than a disaster is the wrong question. We want to know if this plan will provide our children with an education. We want to know that Los Angeles is doing everything it can. We want to know that our children are getting the same opportunities that children in other communities have. Unfortunately, when we ask those questions we see that Los Angeles Unified has made decisions that give our children much less than what children in other big California school districts are getting right now. We see that what our children are getting doesn’t add up to an education.

After a lost spring semester where LAUSD failed to engage 4 out of 10 students every day, the district’s distance learning plan for the Fall offers:

  • Not enough learning time.
  • Not enough instructional time with teachers and classmates.
  • No focused equity efforts.
  • Not enough support and information for families.
  • Not enough attention to student disconnection.

Let’s go through the facts:

What do you mean when you say “No focused equity efforts”?

In education, equity means admitting that our school system has, throughout history, harmed children from some communities and making sure that those children get what they need to be successful. Even before the pandemic, LAUSD did not provide a fair opportunity to Black students, Latino students, English learners and students with disabilities. The district’s distance learning plans have made these inequities worse. Last spring, Black and Latino students were 20% less likely to be engaged online. English learners and students with disabilities were left out and disengaged. LAUSD admitted this in their own report, but their fall plan doesn’t do anything to fix it. On top of all students getting more learning time than LAUSD, other districts are giving extra learning time with teachers to students who have fallen behind. LAUSD has the resources to do this, but decided not to.

What do you mean when you say “Not enough learning time”?

LAUSD drastically cut the student school day.. Every day, LAUSD is giving its students much less instructional time (including time with teachers and time spent learning alone) than other big California school districts.  These  differences add up. Over the course of a year, a high school student in San Diego will get 90 more days of school than a Los Angeles high schooler. We think that our children in LA are worth just as much as the children in San Diego.

What do you mean when you say “Not enough instructional time with teachers and classmates.”

Not only is the LAUSD school day much shorter than other districts but most of that time leaves students learning on their own without  access to their teachers or their classmates. At a moment when students need connection with their teachers and classmates  more than ever, LAUSD cut  instructional time with teachers by nearly 60% from what students  would normally get . Other districts are doing much more, high school students in Long Beach are getting twice as much time with their teachers every week. It does not have to be this way. This is a direct result of district decisions and cuts.

What do you mean when you say “Not enough support and information for families.”

Distance learning requires families to be a partner in their kids’ education, but LAUSD’s plan only mandates that information on student schedules are shared with families. This leaves out critical information about student progress and curriculum that we need to help our children while they are learning at home. This is especially harmful to students with disabilities and English learners.

What do you mean when you say “Not enough attention to student disconnection.”

In the Spring, LAUSD’s decision to neither provide video instruction, assess student learning, nor take attendance had a profound impact on students. Many students spent months totally disconnected from school and their peers, putting tens of thousands of students at risk of dropping out. The Fall plan eliminates normal interventions like home visits, providing too little time for meaningful connection and implementing an attendance policy that counts students as “present” for a full day if they log in for as little as one minute or if the school receives an email. If thousands of students dropped out or decided that school isn’t for them, and LAUSD doesn’t even know about it or speak with families, they may never return to get an education.

Are you advocating for in-person instruction for LAUSD?

No. Distance learning is a necessity in light of COVID-19 and opening schools is a major health risk. Worth More LA are parents who want LAUSD to invest as much in their distance learning experience for our kids as other California public schools do.

Do these problems start and end with distance learning? Won’t they go away when school goes “back to normal”?

LAUSD has failed Latino and Black students for decades. The district’s distance learning plan has made things worse. There needs to be a real plan to finally address these inequities, to address the learning loss and social-emotional harm that LAUSD has caused, now and in the future.. The inequities of our education system are no longer hidden behind school walls, but are in our homes. We won’t go back to a system that doesn’t educate all kids.

Why are you choosing a lawsuit over other actions?

After the failed Spring semester, many public school families spent the summer urging LAUSD to come up with a plan for Fall that gives our kids what they need to learn and is rooted in equity. Over the summer, parents made countless attempts to share our stories and experiences with the district so LAUSD could come up with a plan that gives students what they need to learn. But the Fall plan was agreed to behind closed doors, without parent input or accountability. The district’s fall plan only guarantees that parents be told when our students have live online instruction. If we are going to be able to help our children learn we need to know what they are learning, how they are doing in class, and how to teach them during all those hours when they do not have access to their teachers.

People who hold power in education are not reflecting the interests of those who need the district to work for them. The district’s plan is unacceptable, and the long-lasting consequences will hurt students, families, the city, and the state.

I am a parent of one or more students at LAUSD. Can I join the lawsuit?

The case is currently proceeding at this time and Worth More is not currently looking to add more plaintiffs. However, Worth More LA is a movement that does not start and end with our legal case. We are a powerful group of parents, students, and allies working to create a more inclusive and equitable school environment. Please join us by filling out the form on this page (link) and we will be in touch. It is going to take all of us to create a new and better education system.

How can I get in touch with Worth More LA?

You can email us at info@worthmoreLA.org, or give us a call at 323-364-5420 x144. You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, download our one-pager here.

How can I share my distance learning story with Worth More LA?

We’re collecting stories using the form on our homepage, at www.worthmoreLA.org. You can also send us an email with your story at info@worthmoreLA.org – we look forward to hearing from you!