Report Says Black Families Are Reluctant to Return to Los Angeles Unified Schools Due to Systemic Racism After Year of Virtual Learning

A report released Monday, June 7, 2021, by the parent group Speak UP suggests that many Black families in Los Angeles Unified are reluctant to send their kids back to campus despite more than a year of distance learning due to perceived systemic racism in classrooms. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Black families may be reluctant to send their children back to Los Angeles Unified schools, after more than a year of coronavirus-induced virtual learning, because they feel the nation’s second largest school district is plagued by systemic racism, according to a new report from an educational advocacy group.

Speak UP, a parent group that advocates for improved and equitable public education, released a report Monday, June 7, about how racial bias affects Black students at LAUSD.

The report took into account responses from focus groups, analyses of district data and surveys, and the results from its own survey of 500 LAUSD parents, including 96 Black parents. Nearly two-thirds of Black parents said they did not want to send their children back to school. And while lingering concerns about the coronavirus pandemic was at least partly responsible for their hesitancy, 43% said they had concerns about bullying, racism and academic achievement, the reports says.

LAUSD resumed in-person learning in April, but fewer than half of all students chose to return.

The report called the results an indictment against LAUSD and said the months of distance learning proved revelatory for Black parents. Officials with LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles, the local teachers union, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday morning.

“Black parents were able to see how their children were treated by their peers and instructors while kids learned at home, and in some cases, saw a system that did not benefit them,” the report says. “Many of the same parents who saw that their children seemed to learn better and thrive emotionally away from school now question whether it is in their child’s best interest to return to campus.”

Before the pandemic, 40% of Black parents said their children were bullied, the report says. But that dropped to 6% during distance learning. (Latino, White and Asian parents also reported a drop in bullying during distance learning, but the difference was not as stark.)

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SOURCE: Los Angeles Daily News, Linh Tat

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