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LAUSD’s Planning A Full-Time Reopening In Fall — But Many Black Families Prefer Distance Learning

 First graders line up on the blacktop at Brainard Elementary, wearing masks and standing apart.
First graders at Brainard Elementary demonstrate the very lengthy process of lining up, socially distanced, outside.
(Kyle Stokes
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LAUSD’s Planning Full-Time Reopening In Fall, But Many Black Families Prefer Distance Learning

Most California public schools are likely to return to in-person classes this fall — but in Los Angeles, a new survey suggests many Black parents are not excited about sending their kids back to campus.

In a poll commissioned by the advocacy group Speak Up, Black respondents in L.A. Unified School District zip codes gave higher marks to distance learning than parents of any other racial background..

A chart showing the results of Speak Up's parent poll, showing levels of satisfaction with distance learning. On average, Black parents reported a satisfaction level of 7 out of 10 — higher than any other racial group in the survey.
Speak Up/Goodwin Simon Strategic Research)
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The survey also showed Black parents were less willing to send their children back to campus than parents of other racial groups. While COVID-19 safety remains a predominant concern, 43% of Black respondents cited concerns about racism, bullying or low academic expectations as the reasons they would keep their kids home.

The survey results arrive as state lawmakers grapple over what role distance learning should play in the coming academic year.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers have laid out their expectation that K-12 schools return to full-time, in-person instruction this fall . They’ve also said parents should not be compelled to send their kids back, but suggested that amendments to California’s existing rules for independent study programs should be enough to accommodate students who want to stick with distance learning.

As Politico reported last month , however, some districts fear students might not be able to remain enrolled on their current campus if they want to stick with distance learning. The details are now being hashed out in Sacramento ahead of a June 15 state budget deadline.

A screenshot of a chart showing results of Speak Up's survey of parents on issues of school reopening across racial groups.
Speak Up/Goodwin Simon Strategic Research)

Speak Up hired outside pollsters who surveyed more than 500 parents within LAUSD zip codes. The researchers also strategically oversampled Black families, whose numbers within LAUSD have dwindled as the Latino population has grown.

In the LAUSD parent poll, 34% of Black respondents say their children received more teacher support since distance learning started; only 12% of Black parents say their children received less support. (A similar number of Latino parents reported a favorable experience with distance learning.)

White parents reported almost the exact opposite: one-third of white parents said their students’ received less support.

Speak Up leaders have previously criticized LAUSD for, they say, unnecessarily delaying the reopening of campuses. Since before the pandemic, Speak Up has tussled with the district’s teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, over multiple policy issues.

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