In October 2019, we released Beyond the Schoolhouse: Overcoming Challenges and Expanding Opportunity for Black Children in Los Angeles County, a report that documented a broad array of challenges impacting Black students and families in LA County.
The report showed that Black students are faced with a number of hardships, both within and outside of school, that adversely affect their educational performance, health, and overall well-being. As districts across the County discuss reopening plans now due to the virus, this new report is relevant and timely. We hope it will help illuminate patterns that can inform the strategic use of resources at the federal, state and local level to address historic patterns of inequality that have only been accelerated for Black students in Los Angeles. Our analysis centers on 14 school districts in Los Angeles County that serve 800 Black students or more.
Although most of the data we present was collected prior to the pandemic, in all likelihood, new data will reveal that conditions in the communities and schools we have written about have worsened (Pastor & Segura, 2020). An analysis of these patterns should help inform where federal, state and regional resources are needed in the County as more schools reopen. For example, total COVID relief funding, including stimulus dollars from the recently passed American Rescue Plan is bringing over $6 billion to these 14 districts to support learning recovery efforts (See Table 1).
The 14 school districts in this study all serve a majority low-income students broadly, and Black students in Los Angeles County who often reside in neighborhoods where poverty is concentrated, educational enrichment opportunities are limited, strong healthcare options are hard to come by and resources are lacking. Findings from this report can help inform discussions around resource allocations tied to the American Rescue Plan, which can subsequently assist Black youth in the nation’s largest county—Los Angeles. This report also identifies promising schools and programs across Los Angeles County—where Black children are being well-served. We believe that learning from these models will help achieve measurable progress in promoting the academic success and health of Black youth in Los Angeles County, California, and the nation. At the end of the report, we provide policies that can alleviate and address the challenges that have disproportionately affected Black youth across Los Angeles County. The complexity and systemic nature of the problems we identify in this report will only be ameliorated through targeted and sustained action. Our hope is that this report can serve as a catalyst for that action.