United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Keynotes United Way of Greater Los Angeles 2011 Education Summit

National and Local Civic, Business and Education Leaders Gather to Reform Education in Los Angeles County; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Incoming LAUSD Superintendent Dr. John Deasy Also Participate in Summit

Mar 22, 2011, 16:30 ET from United Way of Greater Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, March 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, United Way of Greater Los Angeles hosted the 2011 Education Summit, the largest-ever event focused on education reform in Los Angeles County, at the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles. The event, featuring a keynote address from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, brought together over 1,200 national and local educational thought leaders to uncover trends, find solutions, and take action against the driving forces impacting our educational system in Los Angeles County.

Today United Way also released the results of the Creating Pathways To Graduation; What's Working: Examining high-performing middle grades schools in Los Angeles County report, a qualitative look at six high-performing schools from over 303 middle schools assessed across California (four of which are extensively profiled in the report) as part of EdSource's earlier Gaining Ground in Middle Grades study. The studies were designed to identify school and district practices that set apart high-performing schools from lower-performing schools, yielding a wealth of actionable practices associated with improved student outcomes in middle school.

Los Angeles County has seen modest gains in educational achievement over the past ten years, but further action is needed:

  • 40% of L.A. County students are dropping out of school; this rate has not changed in ten years
  • Only one-third of schools in L.A. County have Academic Performance (API) scores of over 800; in LAUSD schools the figure drops to 24%
  • English and Algebra proficiency is improving, but modest gains and solutions are not scaling fast enough to improve education for all students

"With a high school drop-out rate that has held steady for the past ten years, Los Angeles lags behind the nation in terms of educational achievement," said Elise Buik, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. "Our educational system is in real peril, and it is imperative that we bring voices from many different constituencies together to offer their viewpoints on how to bring what's working to scale."

Today's conference included keynote addresses on education as well as break-out panels and group discussions on how we can learn from high-performing teachers and create a culture of success in our classrooms and schools. Attendees at today's conference included national and local education experts and local civic and business leaders, including:

  • U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan
  • Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa
  • LAUSD Superintendent, Ramon Cortines
  • Incoming LAUSD Superintendent, Dr. John Deasy
  • Long Beach Superintendent, Chris Steinhauser
  • United Way of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO, Elise Buik
  • The Education Trust President, Kati Haycock
  • Elementary Vice President, United Teachers Los Angeles, Julie Washington
  • Chairman Emeritus, Jeffries and Company, Inc., Ambassador Frank Baxter
  • President and CEO, SunAmerica  Retirement Markets, Jana Waring Greer

Following the conference in Los Angeles today, United Way Worldwide will hold a National Town Hall on Education, moderated by CNN's Soledad O'Brien on March 31 in Washington, DC. At the Town Hall, United Way will release a National Report on Education that unveils the collective findings from communities across the country, including Los Angeles, as well as focus groups and a national survey on the U.S. Education system.

The Creating Pathways to Graduation; What's Working study, representing research conducted by EdSource and partners from Stanford University and the American Institutes for Research, is a qualitative look at four high-performing schools that were identified from a larger survey of principals of 303 middle grade schools in CA; 3,752 English language arts and math teachers in grades 6-8 of these schools; and 157 district superintendents and charter management organization leaders who oversee them. Profiled schools include Steven M. White Middle School, in Carson, CA; LA Merced Intermediate School, in Montebello, CA; Los Amigos School, in Downey, CA; and View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter Middle School in Los Angeles, CA. Multiple factors distinguished these higher-performing schools from others surveyed, including an intense, school-wide focus on improving academic outcomes; curricula that is closely aligned with state academic standards; an emphasis on early identification and proactive intervention to meet student's academic needs and other key factors.

To view the complete Creating Pathways To Graduation; What's Working, please go to www.unitedwayla.org. For more information on United Way's work on education and the 2011 Education Summit, go to www.liveunitedforla.org.

About United Way of Greater Los Angeles

United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways out of poverty by helping homeless people move into housing, providing students with the support they need to graduate high school prepared for college and the workforce, and helping hard-working families become financially stable. United Way identifies the root causes of poverty and works strategically to solve them by building alliances across all sectors, funding targeted programs and advocating for change. For more information, visit www.unitedwayla.org.

SOURCE United Way of Greater Los Angeles