Los Angeles boasts a rich history of opportunity and new beginnings and represents one of the most populous and diverse cities in America. Despite the great hope our city represents, we are failing to deliver on its promise for many of our children.
California, which serves over 6 million students, continues to rank near the bottom of all states in almost every significant measurement of educational success. Although it once had one of the highest rates of per-student spending in the nation, California now ranks in the bottom third of states as measured by its current expense per student on education. In fact, when a state’s cost of living is taken into account, California’s funding per student is one of the lowest in the country. In 2013, the average test scores for California students were significantly lower than the national average in both reading and mathematics. In Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest school district serving almost 700,000 students and one of the most diverse populations, we continue to face a unique set of challenges to expanding educational opportunity. In the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), 76.6 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch. Facing the extra challenges of poverty, only 12 percent of fourth-grade public school students in California who were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch scored at or above proficient in reading on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam.
But Los Angeles is a city of reinvention, and hundreds of innovators are working alongside the community to create change for its students. Teach For America - Los Angeles is proud to have been a partner in this work for over 24 years. Nearly 800 corps members and alumni in Los Angeles teach over 65,000 students every day. Dozens of our alumni have expanded their reach to school leadership and political and social entrepreneurship endeavors. In neighborhoods where inequities persist, more and more top-performing schools are being built on the shoulders of alumni, supporters, and the community at large.
Teach For America - Los Angeles corps members, alumni, and staff believe that change is possible, and we are motivated to reach the day when all students in Los Angeles will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.