Beyond The Schoolhouse

Executive Summary

Despite a significant decline, Los Angeles (LA) County is home to the second-largest number of Black students in the nation (second only to Cook County, Illinois). There are 109,000 Black students in the county, but Black students are overrepresented among those who are underprepared for college, who are subject to punitive forms of discipline, and who are chronically absent from school. Moreover, a disproportionate number of Black students in LA County attend schools that the state has identified as “low-performing” often where critical resources (e.g. school counselors, nurses, social workers, highly qualified teachers, etc.) are in short supply. While considerable attention has been focused on efforts to reform schools and raise student achievement, far less attention and effort has been directed at addressing the out-of-school factors that influence a child’s development, or the social and economic conditions in the neighborhoods where they live. We must do both. Throughout this report, we reference the ways in which the accumulation of disadvantage across various educational, health and social indicators interact with the academic and developmental outcomes of Black children in Los Angeles County. Failure to recognize how poverty, health, and educational performance are related has made it more difficult for education policy to have a positive impact on the needs of the most vulnerable children. This report aims to correct this oversight, suggesting solutions that are designed to counter the effects of these disadvantages.