Analysis: What should top Austin Beutner’s to-do list

Austin Beutner takes over as Los Angeles schools chief a week from today. He was hired for bold action, and he’s vowed to make hard choices.

Here’s where he can start.

1. Close the opportunity gap for kids in the highest-need communities.

While students in the district have made some academic gains in recent years, far less than half are proficient in math, reading, and writing. Students of color and low-income students are faring even worse. Immigrants continue to arrive in LA’s classrooms with no English skills, and the number of homeless students grew by 50 percent to over 17,000 last year.

About half of LA Unified graduates aren’t eligible to attend California’s public universities. Less than 10 percent of African-American and Latino boys graduate eligible to even apply to the Cal State or UC college systems.

On California’s new school rating system, the California School Dashboard, 52 percent of LA Unified’s schools earned a D or F in English language arts, and 50 percent earned a D or F in math. There are 234 schools that earned a D or F in both English and math.

And students in poverty continue to slip even as some other groups make gains. LA’s fourth-graders in poverty lost 2 points in math on the latest national test scores but gained 3 points in reading.

As Beutner has said, he will need to focus on communities most in need. Click here to read more: