Two different Listening Sessions were held during the month of February at Stephen S. Wise Temple. While our congregant’s concerns regarding education in Los Angeles are quite serious, we were pleased by the participation. The individual stories we heard were interesting, often depressing, and occasionally heart-wrenching. By being there though, our community showed its interest in bettering the public education situation in our city. A few common themes emerged:
o Middle school transition issues
o Lack of parent involvement at the middle school level
o Schools losing music, art and library funding
o Teacher effectiveness issues
o Concerns over ear-marked funding. Specifically, money raised by middle and high school “student stores.”
Where do we go from here?
Our Leadership Team has met again and is conducting further research into State Ed Code and LAUSD restrictions surrounding the use of Student Store and Associate Student Body (ASB) funds. As expressed by many, middle schools are desperately short of necessary resources and supplies. At the same time, it seems that any number of middle and high schools have a significant pot of money sitting in accounts unavailable for necessities because this money is so heavily ear-marked. Our Team is looking into the possibility of easing restrictions on these funds in order to make them available to be spent at the discretion of a school’s Principal to address important issues specific to each school.
We do not have the power to increase budgets but if we could help free up money for our schools, we’d feel impactful. Additionally, by tackling this issue, we’re tackling an issue that effects middle-schools – where are members see the greatest need.
On a final important note, our Social Justice Education Reform work is also about strengthening our congregation. As such, if you would like to host a listening session at your home with your friends from the Temple, please contact Sharon Almany or Laurie Bahar. Involving more congregants will help add to our common story as we work together to improve public schools.
Other questions or ideas? Please feel free to be in touch with us. Regardless, we thank you again for your interest and will continue to keep you updated as our work continues.
Sharon Almany, Laurie Bahar & Jennifer Smith