Thursday, January 31, 2008

Enrollment Down, LAUSD Scraps Building Plans

The Los Angeles Unified School District is cutting back on plans for expanding new schools and new classrooms. The reason stated is that there has been a sharp decline in school enrollment over the past couple of years so the expansion and creation of new schools would seem useless. The reasons for the lack of enrollment point to lowering birth rates as well as the expense of living in and around L.A. More families move out of L.A. because of the expense of living in such a costly city, thereby lowering the enrollment.

According to Orfield, "many of the inequalities in schools, derive from the concentrated poverty that is the result of both historic and contemporary job discrimination and housing segregation." This case is no exception -- minority students and low-income white students would be the ones dropping out or leaving the L.A. schools, segregating the low-income students from middle to upper-middle class students.

The article quotes L.A. residents who support the cut-back, saying they don't believe the birth rates would rise as projected by the district. It is questionable as to whether this is really the only reason why the residents would want the cut-back because it also means that existing L.A. schools will enjoy increased support. The children of those who can afford to live within the school district would benefit from the smaller classes and the individual attention while ridding of the low-income students. The Coleman Report states that, "a pupil's achievement is strongly related to the educational backgrounds and aspirations of the other students in the school" It brings into question as to whether residents of children attending schools in the district are afraid of the negative effect of such a statement.

With this said, Orfield argues that desegregation can work in a metropolitan district like that of LAUSD by desegregating both the inner city and the suburbs. This, he argues, not only allows for the highest levels of integration while creating a framework of interracial area wide concern and involvement, but also stabilizes enrollment. We can see both a social capital good, and a human capital good evolve from this idea.
But, how many suburban white families are going to send their child to Jordan High in Watts?

-GROUP 2 , ED175

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