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So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

New national standards pump extra $113 million into LA Unified

Common Core works to standardize learning goals across state lines.
Common Core works to standardize learning goals across state lines. Joint Base Lewis McChord via Flickr.

The Los Angeles Unified School District will soon have an extra wad of cash on hand. It's getting $113 million from the state of California over two years to phase in new national standards called the Common Core.

School officials are presenting a proposed budget to the school board on Tuesday on how to spend it.

"You won't see in-classroom positions with this funding," said Jamie Aquino, the district's Deputy Superintendent of Instruction. "The funding does not allow for that."

Instead of hiring teachers, the district will spend about $86 million to embed coaches in schools and train teachers on how the new standards work. It's also setting aside some cash for new materials and technology upgrades. The district is set to begin full implementation of the new standards early next month.

The State of California is providing $200 per student to all school districts to make the switch. The total price tag will exceed $1.25 billion.

Mary Ferguson, Executive Director of the advocacy group Center for Education Policy, said that's just a start.

"It's going to take years for them to figure out what they are doing," Ferguson said. "This is probably a ten-year process. They are going to have to check the check engine light every step of the way."

The new standards don't simply call for rote memorization of facts; the goal is to teach students to become critical thinkers.

Aquino, of L.A. Unified, said the switch marks a landmark event in public education.

"I think historians will think of this alongside compulsory education, Title I and Brown vs. Board Education," he said.

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