Austin Beutner on What It Will Take To Reopen L.A. Schools

Los Angeles Unified’s fall semester is scheduled to begin Aug. 18. But it still isn’t clear whether or not that will happen in classrooms. Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner has penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times outlining the challenges LAUSD will face in reopening. He presents a picture of enormous difficulty — one that will require perseverance and a great deal of money.

For schools to reopen, Beutner says three things are needed:

The first is adequate funding. The second is that the investments being made now to bridge the digital divide continue to pay lifelong dividends for students.

Mastery of digital technology is essential to the jobs of tomorrow at innovators like Amazon, Illumination, Snap Inc., Verizon and YouTube — companies working closely with our schools. But many students in LAUSD didn’t have ready access to technology outside the classroom. Because of our recent efforts, they now do, and we need to build on that and make it a positive outcome of this stressful and, to some, devastating time. Our investments in the future need to include making sure all students continue to have internet access.

Technology enables new ways to explore ideas, and we are getting great support to help students with that. Guitar maker Fender is working with teachers to offer online music classes. Illumination is collaborating with teachers on a class in drawing, animation and storytelling. And director James Cameron is helping teachers create a class exploring the voyage of the Titanic.

That brings me to our third need: community support. Nothing is possible without active participation from the broader community.

Beutner is cautiously optimistic. While he has faith in the teachers, students, parents, and civic leaders needed to help bring back some semblance of normalcy, he worries that coming cuts to public education will deepen an existing crisis.

“I worry that schools will get hung out to dry,” Beutner writes. “This past week, the State Department of Finance estimated cuts as deep as 20% to funding for public education.”

Read the full op-ed here



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