NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Los Angles Schools Say Ending Social Promotion Is Too Costly

May 4, 1999

If events in Los Angeles are any indication, education bureaucrats and union bosses will stonewall reforms in public schools by protesting that they need more money -- even if the issue is stopping social promotion of students. Social promotion entails advancing students to the next grade level, even if they are failing at their present level.

Although California has a law which prohibits social promotions, administrators and teachers appear determined to get around it.

  • Officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District -- the second biggest district in the nation -- protest that it is too costly to identify the 150,000 student in danger of flunking this year and to send them to summer school, Saturday sessions and after-school classes.
  • The program would take 430 of the district's best teachers out of classrooms and turn them into administrators in each of the 430 Los Angeles elementary schools.
  • But union contracts require they be given raises of more than $20,000 a year if they assume administrative posts.
  • The school superintendent says his district doesn't have enough classrooms to house the needed remedial classrooms -- and blocked a plan to send students to rented classrooms in private schools and storefronts because of earthquake safety requirements.

Although a $140 million plan was adopted two months ago to pay for the program, the superintendent says it will be impossible to find the money. As a result, only students in grades three and eight will face toughened standards this spring. Children in some other grades may be included next year or later.

Source: Thomas D. Elias, "L.A. Schools Lack Cash, Power to Stop Social Promotions," Washington Times, May 2, 1999.


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