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What you needed to know about LA schools in January: Our 7 most popular articles this month

Laura Greanias | January 30, 2018



LA Unified started a new superintendent search this month, just two years after Michelle King took over the top spot in January 2016. (Photo: Getty Images – Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

The new year started off with a bang for education watchers in Los Angeles: a new leader will be chosen this year for the nation’s second-largest school district. The first month of 2018 had plenty more news to keep up with, as the state thumbed its nose at new federal accountability rules, the governor sought to send more money to schools, and undocumented students watched nervously as hopes for a Dream Act by the end of the month fizzled.

Here’s a quick look back at our most-read stories of January:

A new superintendent search

Before the first week of the new year had passed, news broke that Los Angeles’s superintendent was fighting cancer and will retire by the end of the school year. That set in motion the second superintendent search in LA Unified in less than three years. When the school district’s attorney said the search could begin, it was our most-read story of the month. When board members indicated they wanted a unanimous choice, the story was also in our top 10.

LAUSD is still headed into the red

Gov. Jerry Brown’s final budget proposes giving more to schools than ever before — $78.3 billion — but it’s not going to keep LA Unified from driving off its fiscal cliff in three years, according to the district’s chief financial officer. If LA Unified gets those extra funds, it will still face a $245 million deficit by the 2020-21 school year. In addition, the district’s balance sheet as of last summer showed a negative $5.1 billion in liabilities over assets.

Union contract deal on healthcare

After months of closed-door negotiations over healthcare benefits, LA Unified reached a tentative deal with their labor unions. The unions won a promise that benefits won’t be cut, but the district gets to put a stop to rising costs. For the three years of the deal, if ratified by all eight unions and the school board, there will be no increase in the percentage of the district’s budget that goes to healthcare. But watchdogs say the deal doesn’t go far enough in tackling the district’s standing debt.

Students express more fears than ever before

Los Angeles teachers sounded the alarm when they saw their students’ fears overwhelming their ability to learn. In both traditional schools and independent charter schools, fears are affecting children more than ever, according to administrators and teachers. At one charter network, teachers asked for more guidance and have been getting extra training in how to help their students cope with trauma.

Help for English language learners

In California, Latino students face many challenges to succeed academically at the same level as their white or Asian counterparts, but it’s even tougher for Latino English learners. We explored three key ways to support them as laid out by “The Majority Report” from Education Trust—West. Plus, read examples of school districts and organizations that are doing it right.

Latino parents’ top concerns

California’s Latino students are not achieving at the same rate as students from other ethnic groups. Esmeralda Fabian Romero interviewed a variety of advocates for Latino parents and compiled their most pressing needs for 2018.

Top education storylines for 2018

The new year promises big storylines in education in California and Los Angeles, including elections for a new governor and state superintendent of schools. Here’s our roundup of what we’re watching for in 2018.

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