ABC seeks to create outstanding educational opportunities for all students in L.A. so that they graduate prepared to succeed in college, their careers and in life.  Prioritizing policies that improve the quality and access of early learning and afterschool programs, support English learners, college preparatory curriculum, school-community partnerships, parent engagement, small learning communities, Multiple Pathways programs, and curb high school dropout rates enables ABC to address the very roots of education reform.

For decades, students of color have been underserved and tracked into separate academic and vocational programs perpetuating the inequities of race, gender and socio-economic status in our society. Our students deserve better and ABC works to ensure that all students have equitable access to a quality education that prepares them for 21st century careers and beyond.

This summer, Alliance for a Better Community is launching its Parent Advocate Training Program. The six-week training will engage parents from throughout Los Angeles who are interested in advocating and leading systemic changes that promote the success of all students, families, and communities.
Click here for more information.

Creating Equitable Access to Quality LA Public Schools

education-kidsFamilies have a tremendous amount of insight about the needs and interests of their children and type of supportive environment they need to learn, thrive and reach their highest potential. When families have the tools they need to fully understand the educational options available to their children, they can make informed decisions about the right school options for their children to ensure their educational journey is a successful one. However, the current public education system in Los Angeles is complicated, and families need better support and resources to navigate the system in order to make informed decisions on behalf of their children. Families face 3 key challenges when determining where to send their children to Los Angeles public schools:

  • Lack of centralized information regarding available school options
  • Lack of standardized information regarding school quality and academic achievement
  • Multiple application and enrollment process for school choice programs

While public education leaders are currently engaged in addressing some of these systemic issues, ABC is committed to ensuring that Los Angeles stakeholders including parents, students, advocates and civic leaders are thoughtfully and consistently engaged to inform and drive family-centered solutions that reflect the needs of LA students.

To address these barriers, this past summer the Alliance for a Better Community (ABC), in partnership with local community and advocacy organizations, convened over 120 Los Angeles civic leaders in a series of roundtable discussions that included parent and student leaders, as well as policy experts and practitioners in the areas of early care and education (ECE), higher education, and health and wellness to examine this issue and develop a set of recommendations.

On Thursday, September 22nd, ABC presented its findings to LAUSD, charter, education advocates and philanthropic leaders. The final report affirms the need for a complete overhaul of the current school choice system, calls for greater coordination between all public school sectors to better support families, advocates for meaningful community and family engagement, and provides practical recommendations for system improvement.

ABC Key Education Accomplishments

ABC’s initial project was to ensure that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) complete the halted construction of the Belmont Learning Center. The school was critical to alleviating the extreme overcrowding in Pico Union schools and ending the busing of more than 3,800 high school students to distant schools.

However, due to many political and environmental controversies, LAUSD continued to stall the much-needed construction. As a result, ABC, with its partner organizations, spent the first three years of its existence educating and engaging area parents and students to advocate for the school’s completion. Working with School Board President José Huizar, we developed an alternate school design that met state earthquake codes, built a campus for 2,600 students, offered 12 acres for Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy natural park, and constructed a school and community joint-use soccer field. Key milestones in this effort included:

  • 2002: ABC creates the Belmont Community Development Group (BCDG) and submits plan to build the Belmont Learning Center.
  • 2003: ABC leads a march comprised of more than 500 students and parents from the existing Belmont High School to the School Board to advocate in favor of the newly planned school.
  • 2003: LAUSD School Board voting in favor of the new design to build the Edward Roybal Learning Center
  • 2008: doors open to local students

For more than 20 years, Belmont High School suffered from massive overcrowding, serving 5,000 students on a multi-track schedule and yet thousands more were bussed out of the area to attend high school. The Belmont Education Collaborative (BEC) was founded to ensure that students in the Pico Union area would have new schools built to relieve the overcrowding and provide greater educational opportunities to all students in the region. Key milestones in this effort included:

  • ABC successfully advocating for the development of the Belmont Zone of Choice

ABC was a founding member of the RFK-12 Campaign that sought to provide seats quickly and cost effectively at the former Ambassador Hotel property. The development of this site and other schools in the area was jeopardized when external historical preservation forces sought to conserve as much of the existing hotel at a cost of $100 million more than the building of new school facilities. In a time of extreme overcrowding and budget crisis, ABC maintained that providing local seats, not historical preservation of buildings, was the District’s priority and obligation to voters.

  • Successfully advocating to convert the Ambassador Hotel into a new social justice themed school and keep Central Los Angeles High School #9 a community based school

ABC seeks to increase access to and awareness of early care and education programs for Latino children by ensuring that quality programs operate in the most underserved areas, qualified and culturally relevant teachers are prepared to transform existing programs into outstanding centers, and children’s learning environments address the individual’s emotional and cognitive development as well as the cultural and linguistic needs of English language learners.

Some of the most important learning, particularly literacy and language skills, happen before children even enter kindergarten. Research shows that while 85% of brain development occurs from birth to five years of age, only 42% of Latino three and four year olds are enrolled in preschool, compared to 74% of White and 63% of African American toddlers (U.S. Census, 2000). Key milestones in this effort included:

  • Successfully advocating for the integration of linguistic and cultural elements to be included in the California Department of Education (CDE) Preschool Foundations and Curriculum Framework.
  • Participating in the LA County Early Care and Education Economic Impact and Career Pathway Technical Advisory Board which developed “The Economic Impact of the Early Care and Education Industry in Los Angeles County, (ECE EIR).”
  • Establishing and currently facilitating the Southeast Cities Early Care and Education Taskforce, which strives to engage multiple stakeholders in advocating for additional high quality ECE resources in the Southeast region of Los Angeles.

ABC’s goal is to ensure that all graduating high school students are prepared for a full range of options, including attending a two to four-year college, seeking apprenticeship, and/or formal employment training. ABC supports a “Multiple Pathways” approach to learning which aligns with many of L.A.’s current educational reforms.

ABC is the Co-Chair of the Los Angeles Partnership for Multiple Pathways (LAPMP), a broad-based partnership committed to advocating for the implementation of Multiple Pathway programs. Key milestones in this effort include:

  • Development of LAUSD’s Multiple Pathways Board Resolution
  • Establishment of a Multiple Pathways “Network of Industry Advisors”
  • Partnerships with leaders at the District, school and community levels

Although many after-school programs provided educational enrichment activities to their students, they lacked adjustment of curriculum and instruction for their English learners. As a result, ABC worked to ensure that the after-school programs are of high quality and addressed the learning needs for all students, including English learners. Working with the California After-school Network, ABC was able to achieve their goal in advocating for English learners throughout their after-school program experience. Key milestones in this effort include:

  • ABC completes a one year assessment on Maximizing After-School Opportunities for English Learners and determines that the needs for English learners must be met

Although community based organizations provide critical resources to families and students, it is a parent’s level of involvement and engagement in their child’ education, that has been found to be invaluable to supporting that child’s success. Therefore, ABC aims to partner with districts and schools to develop and implement parent engagement policies and practices that enable parents to guide and monitor their children’s education to ensure they achieve academically, understand their role in accessing rigorous school curriculum, a pathway to college and a successful future for their children and become advocates for positive education systems. Key milestones in this effort include:

  • ABC launches a Parent Engagement Initiative in partnership with the Montebello Unified School District (MUSD) to decrease the District’s high school dropout rate and increase overall student achievement and awareness of the A-G curriculum.