In 2008 the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was reported to have graduated only 48% of its class for the 2007-2008 school year. In 2017, a study tracking college enrollment of that same 2008 class found that while 68% of those graduates enrolled in a two-year community college or four-year university within twelve months of their graduation, only 25% of them would obtain a college degree six years later.
Public data also shows that in the 2007 – 2008 school year, the total number of students enrolled at LAUSD was estimated to be just over 694,288 students. Accounting for a graduation rate of 48% then, we can estimate that at the end of that school year, only 333,258 of those enrolled left the schools with their diplomas.
Applying the data from UCLA’s study showing the 25% college success rate for those same students thereafter, we can also determine that of the 2008 high school class, comprised of nearly 700,000 students, only 83,314.5, or 8.3% of them would successfully complete a college or a university education six years after their graduation from high school.
Today in Los Angeles, the graduation rate for this same public school district is cited as being at 77%, as recently as the 2015 – 2016 school year. But the improved rate is not indicative of the districts’ struggles to actually improve education and college readiness at the schools over the years.
For example, UCLA’s report also shows that in the 2013 – 2014 school year, less than a third of the class of 2014 graduated from the district with an A or B grade point average, implying that over two thirds of the class left the district with C or D grade point averages.
UCLA’s study goes on to show that while the difference between a C and a D grade point average might not seem like much, students with only a D grade point average are five times less likely to enroll in college.
In L.A. today then, for a new generation of high ‘schoolers’, a district with an underwhelming track record in qualitative education and college preparation for so many students is only one of their challenges. Lest we forget: these students are attending L.A.’s public schools at the same time that a real estate boom in Los Angeles continues unabated, evicting working class families en masse, leading them either to seek shelter somewhere along L.A.’s Skid Row district, or straight out of town.
In March 2017, the Sacramento Bee reported that similarly to the way Latin American countries ‘export’ their human labor to the U.S., the Golden State is also a human transporter, that is, of its working class, to states like Texas and Oklahoma.
According to the report, “California exports more than commodities such as movies, new technologies and produce. It also exports truck drivers, cooks and cashiers. Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states.”
In Los Angeles, with a school district where less than 9% of students obtained a college degree six years after their high school education, the work options are limited. And with the cost of living rising, Los Angeles and California as places for such people to live are also limited.
In the same report, the Bee notes that out of the state’s 58 counties, it’s been in the wealthiest two where there’s been the greatest number of expulsions: “the state’s exodus of poor people is notable in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties, which combined experienced a net loss of 250,000 such residents from 2005 through 2015.”
I wonder of those 250,000, just how many were students at LAUSD at some point.
This is Los Angeles. And it is ongoing. That is, until we place our foot on the dial.