In Partnership with 74

Local Groups Join Up for School Improvements

Hillel Aron | April 11, 2013

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A panoply of community groups and education-related organizations are forming a super-coalition called “Communities for Los Angeles Student Success” (or CLASS) in an effort to help fill the void that is expected to be left when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa leaves office in July.

“The mayor had a large bully pulpit when it came to education,” said Ryan Smith of United Way. “Obviously, elected officials come and go, but the community is left holding the bag if we don’t make progress with student success.”

CLASS’s first action was to survey over 100 community groups, according to a press release. The responses showed overwhelming support for increased education funding, local control of schools, and teacher evaluations that include test scores.

“The reason we’re doing the survey is to plan our priorities,” said Smith. “We’re still doing our agenda.” But CLASS’s main focus will be to “advocate for progressive education policy reforms.”

The new organization  — which includes the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Urban League, and Educators 4 Excellence — is a successor of sorts to a 2011 coalition called “Don’t Hold Us Back,” which lobbied LAUSD for reforms including new teacher evaluations based on student achievement and an end to seniority-based layoffs known as “last in, first out.”

“These organizations, for decades, have been working very hard to increase equitable access to education,” said Smith. “We all value the same thing. It makes sense to come together to have an even larger presence.”

According to Smith, United Way will host the meetings and “create the agenda, help facilitate and guide the group,” which won’t have its own staff or funding stream — yet.

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