Patt Morrison for March 10, 2010

U.S. Department of Education studies up on LAUSD

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LAUSD Investigated

The federal government’s Office for Civil Rights is launching its first major investigation into the LAUSD to find out whether the second-largest school district in the nation provides adequate services to students learning English. ESL students make up more than 220,000 students—about a third of the LAUSD. From their investigation, the office seeks to uncover policies and practices that result in a "disparate outcome" between ESL and non-ESL students. LAUSD superintendent Ramon Cortines says he welcomes the investigation, but other education experts question what power the government will have to change any disparities they do uncover. Enforcement options could include withholding federal money; more than 23% of the district's $7.16 billion operating budget comes from the federal government—but with the current budget crisis at hand, what can that change?

Guests:

Russlyn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education—she’s heading up the Department’s investigation of LAUSD

Monica Garcia, president of LAUSD School Board

Thomas Saenz, president & general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund

Michael Petrilli, vice president for national programs & policy at the Thomas Fordham Institute for Advance Educational Excellence


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