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Superintendent Alberto Carvalho plans to seek input from families, teachers and other stakeholders in the Los Angeles Unified School District as he embarks on his first 100 days on the job. By the end of May, Carvalho aims to have several plans underway across the district to address an array of topics, including equity among students, staffing and enrollment issues, and academic program expansions.
Carvalho, who took the helm of the district last week after 13 years at Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida, has a history of improving achievement gaps among students. He left the fourth-largest public school system in the country to oversee Los Angeles Unified, which ranks second-largest in the country and has long faced disparate gaps in student achievement, staffing shortages and declining enrollment, all exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I recognize that many of our students and their families are in crisis, but let’s be honest, they were in crisis prior to the pandemic,” Carvalho said Thursday at an event hosted by Partnership for Los Angeles, where he rolled out details of his 100-day plan. “It is our collective responsibility not only to elevate to where they were prior to the pandemic but to surpass that level.”
Carvalho intends to prioritize the district’s work to support its Black students, who consistently score low on standardized math and English language tests. Programs to increase academic achievement among English learners and special education students already are underway. He also intends to expand arts programs across the district and expand summer learning opportunities among Title I schools to help close achievement gaps exacerbated by Covid-19. The Title I program provides federal aid to low-income schools. To make more opportunities accessible, he intends to streamline transportation for students.
Carvalho said he doesn’t see children as broken in the way that others do; he looks past that.
“I do see broken systems that break their dreams and their aspirations. So we will expand opportunities to dignify the existence of children in our community,” he said.
Among his plans, Carvalho wants to create a parent academy to equip families with the skills needed to support their children from their early academic years to graduation and beyond.
Carvalho’s plans to improve district communication and school resources have been praised by the parent group Parents Supporting Teachers, which advocates on behalf of families to expand equitable support and resources.
“This 100 Day Plan means no one will be sleeping, and we love that energy,” co-founder Jenna Schwartz said in a news release. “Reducing overall testing, creating a stronger system for district communication, and improving per-pupil spending, are all goals we have been working towards since the beginnings of PST and we are ready to move forward.”
On the administrative front, Carvalho will reevaluate the structure of the district, implement meetings at schools to assess school-specific data, analyze staffing needs for the upcoming school year and review the district’s Covid-19 protocols. Carvalho said he will focus on data to evaluate student performance, the effectiveness of college and career readiness support, enrollment trends and other district needs.
“This information is powerful and sometimes disturbing,” Carvalho said. “But we need it. We need tools to ensure that the information is accessible and clearly defines where our students stand in terms of academics, in terms of social-emotional wellness, in terms of threats, in terms of stressors, in terms of all of the conditions that impact their ability to learn, and quite frankly, their full fulfillment and the joy that belongs to them.”
Since Carvalho has taken on his new role as superintendent, he’s emphasized communication about his actions and intentions within the district and used social media to share news with families and community members. His plan states he intends to continue to be accessible through these platforms as he continues to embark on listening and learning sessions with community stakeholders to develop district priorities.
District board member Nick Melvoin said he was happy to see how much input Carvalho took from community members and staff when putting the plan together, acknowledging the amount of work that lies ahead for Carvalho and the rest of the district.
“I think it’s ambitious but feasible,” Melvoin said at a press roundtable Thursday. “I think it aligns nicely with the board’s goals and other board priorities over the preceding years.”
Carvalho said he plans to continue developing his action items in the next few months as he continues to gather and assess information from across the district, but he intends for each of those goals to have an established plan of its own in place by the end of May.
“I know some of you will say this is too much, too far, too fast,” Carvalho said. “Some will say it should go deeper and faster. Therein lies the perfect balance — the sweet spot of progress and cadence and frequency of attention to the issues that matter to all of us.”
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