Under the new Local Control Funding Formula, LA Unified schools in underserved communities will be given $837 million to meet the needs of students in poverty, English learners and children in foster care. It’s not yet clear exactly how that money will be allocated, and it’s still less than what we’ve thrown at iPads. But it’s desperately needed.
As a teacher who worked in a high-poverty high school and is now spending a year observing classrooms across the socioeconomic spectrum in L.A., here’s how that funding could help:
Giving teachers time to plan multi-level lessons for each class.
One of the biggest differences I’ve seen between classrooms in affluent communities and in high-poverty communities is the range of skill levels. In affluent communities, students generally read at or near grade level and have a history of positive or neutral experience with school, as well as at least one parent at home always available for help.
In high-poverty communities, in any given class, you’ll probably have a handful of kids who fit that description and who need and deserve all the challenge and stimulation of a fast-paced class to compete for spaces at top colleges alongside more affluent students.
But right next to them, you’ll have kids who are still learning English. Those kids need “scaffolded” lessons with shortened readings; they also need writing assignments with fill-in-the-blanks support so that they can learn academic phrasing.
Right next to them, you’ll have kids with serious behavior issues, sometimes from growing up in multiple foster homes. All over the classroom you’ll have kids who, in the absence of libraries, bookstores or books at home, have never read a book. And you’ll have several empty seats because of the kids who, despite your pleas and phone calls home, are truant for large chunks of time.