Pedro Noguera: LAUSD Has Bigger Issues to Face

UCLA Distinguished Professor of Education and national expert on schools highlights the district's financial straits, lack of community support in LA Times op-ed.

Pedro Noguera, UCLA Distinguished Professor of Education, delineated the greater financial and civic issues that challenge the Los Angeles Unified School District, in an op-ed for The Los Angeles Times on Jan. 7, a week before the LAUSD teachers’ strike began. In the piece, Noguera, who founded and directs the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools, stated that “… L.A.’s civic leaders must come together to help devise and support a financial plan to ensure the district can serve its students.”

“Why have civic leaders not become more involved up to now? Here’s a theory. A few months after moving to Los Angeles I was invited to speak to a group of influential Angelenos about the need to invest in high quality after-school programs to support the well-being and development of children. During my remarks, I asked those present how many had attended a Los Angeles public school themselves. Most of those in the audience raised a hand. I then asked how many of them had children or grandchildren who were enrolled at district schools. Only a few hands went up.

“This is huge problem,” wrote Noguera. “When those with power and influence are disconnected from the school system and more concerned with making preparations for the 2028 Olympics than they are with schools that serve most of the city’s children, we are in serious trouble.”

Professor Noguera wrote that many key stakeholders in education, including local government, activists, and business and religious communities, “have sat silent on the sidelines” when it comes to supporting public schools. He also called for understanding in a larger context of a then-impending teachers’ strike, which ended on Jan. 22.

“The teachers and their union have raised important and legitimate concerns, and the fiscal condition of the district does not negate the validity of their demands,” he wrote. “The district must invest in its schools and its personnel if it hopes to have a future.”

Noguera also wrote that the school district is the largest employer in Los Angeles, and needs solutions that support its workforce.

“L.A.’s social and economic infrastructure is at risk, and leadership is needed to address the district’s deficits in a thoughtful and strategic manner,” wrote Noguera. “Los Angeles cannot be a truly great city without a functioning school system that is embraced and supported at least as much as we support the Dodgers, Lakers or Rams.”

Following the end of the strike, Noguera reiterated his op-ed sentiments to the Los Angeles Daily News.

“Looking at it from the outside, it seems like the teachers were right to push and they were right — there was more money in the system and outside of the system to address the needs,” said Noguera on Jan. 23.

To read Professor Noguera’s op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, visit this link.