Over the past several years, a great deal has been made about the roles and responsibilities of teachers, principals and administrators in helping each student reach and/or exceed his or her potential.
As a school district, we have a significant responsibility: to set policies and implement practices which ensure that schools have equitable resources to provide all kids with a quality, culturally relevant, education.
As educators within the LAUSD, we have a lot for which we can take, at least, partial credit. Recent API scores in many of our schools reflect marked improvement over the past year. In District 1 alone, 68 schools increased their API scores over the past year. Three schools received scores over 900, eight, above 800, 34 above 700 and 25 schools, including Audubon, Dorsey and Fremont, received double digit growth.
The task of raising test scores is a daunting one and requires commitment of numerous individuals at multiple levels. While some in the community are quick to point the finger at particular failings within a particular school, these same individuals have done little to educate parents about their role in the equation.
As a child's primary teacher, a parent is the first to talk to his or her child, helping him or her build verbal skills. As parents, we are the first to teach social skills, demonstrate appropriate behavior, and initiate a disciplinary system based on rewards and punishment. As caregiver, the parent or guardian is responsible for ensuring that the child's basic needs – food, clothing, shelter, and love, are met.
And, as parents, we are also responsible for seeking outside resources if the child needs assistance in any area, academic or otherwise. The responsibility of the parent takes on an added role, once the child enters school: that of a partner with the educational system. It has been proven that the willingness of parents to carry out their responsibilities in partnership with the school, has a tremendous bearing on the academic success of the child. Given the challenging financial, and social climate in which we live, the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child," takes on added significance. We are all stakeholders in the quest for educational excellence. With this in mind, I developed the concept of "Proficiency + (plus)."
In its most simple explanation, "Proficiency + (plus)" means that students, parents/guardians, community, government and religious leaders, and teachers, school administrators and school staffs can play a vital role in helping students exceed the level of proficiency in all academic areas. This requires the contribution of all stakeholders to student safety, self discipline, attendance, physical fitness and academic preparedness of our students.
We must all aim for "Proficiency + (plus)." This concept has been embraced by Superintendent Cortines, who has indicated a willingness to initiate it throughout the district. As we continue our quest to provide the best education for all of our students, we must realize that when our students exceed, the community benefits as well.
Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte is the LAUSD Member, representing Board District 1.