Los Angeles Public Schools- You Gotta Be Kidding Me


When we bought our house in Los Angeles, we bought in one of the few districts with a "good" public school. The public schools are terrible in Los Angeles. So finding a good one was one of the determining factors in where we bought. With private schools in LA ranging from $18,000-$30,000 a year for K-12 we knew it might be smarter to at least let him go to public elementary school. (Public High Schools in L.A. are not even close to being okay, maybe one or two but that's it.)

Landon still has another year or two of preschool but it's time to start looking at options. We had to go over to our local public school to get Landon's speech evaluated, so I thought it might be the perfect time to spy, I mean check it out.

It looked okay from the outside....but then....

Cue music from Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pfieffer teaching inner city kids.

"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I take a look at my life and realize there's nothin' left!"

We approached a very high security fence and gate (think prison) and had to be buzzed in. Over our heads a camera was rigged up by a thread. Okayyyyy...

Once inside all concrete, no grass ANYWHERE. A kid runs by with his Mom, late to school. She looked a little like she was engaged in the worlds oldest profession and her son looked like he had not been bathed in weeks. He was in a pajama top with food on it.

We walk into the office were the receptionist is so rude and off putting I am afraid that Landon will be scared. She orders me out of the office to wait, I gladly do. Her mistake, I start exploring the entire concrete campus. A prison indeed. No windows, all trailers, and it smelled.

This was the "good" public school they were referring to? Are they kidding me? I remember we had gone to another public school in LA, to get Landon's hearing tested. This one was in a bad neighborhood, I knew it would be bad. Guess what, it wasn't that much worse than the "good" one I saw.

Excuse my french but WTF. I pay insane taxes, live in a big, exciting and progressive city, where public schools should be amazing. We should have the greatest ones in the nation with all the money that is in this town!! I will never send Landon to that school.

Can't wait to sell m script so I can send him to private school! How about you? How are your schools?

26 comments:

Melissa said...

My parents moved to the town I grew up in (not too far from Greenwich, CT) for the school systems and they were great! Right now, my husband and I live in a town where the school systems are not fabulous and we would never send our kids to them because of the crime and stuff that we've heard about. We figure our kid will go to private pre school, so we have a few years once we have a kid before we'd have to move and send them to public school. Pretty much any other town near us would be fine (we'd love New Canaan or Darien), but they're a lot more expensive to live in. If we couldn't move for whatever reason, my kid would definitely go to private school.

Melissa said...

My parents moved to the town I grew up in (not too far from Greenwich, CT) for the school systems and they were great! Right now, my husband and I live in a town where the school systems are not fabulous and we would never send our kids to them because of the crime and stuff that we've heard about. We figure our kid will go to private pre school, so we have a few years once we have a kid before we'd have to move and send them to public school. Pretty much any other town near us would be fine (we'd love New Canaan or Darien), but they're a lot more expensive to live in. If we couldn't move for whatever reason, my kid would definitely go to private school.

Heather@PixieDust said...

that's horrifying! I can't believe an elementary could be like that. I hope you are able to find a solution that works for you.

Sherrie said...

We live in the city where I teach. Schools in SE WI are very very good (not including the city of Milwaukee). We are very fortunate to have a top notch school system. I have taught in this district for nearly 18 yrs (right out of college).

I think the problem with your schools is the funding has dried up. We are experiencing huge cuts in funding here too (as everywhere these days with the economy). I really don't know what the state of education will be a few years, but it is damn scary!

mFw said...

I have been in private schools all my life in St. Louis and now elsewhere for college. The public schools around us were by far the best in the area, but they were still pretty bad. The education was fine, it was just the other kids that were so creepy. Good luck with everything!

PaperCourt said...

We've opted for private school and we've been thrilled so far (and we should be for what we're spending). The public k-8 option near us is not too bad but we're happy with our choice. Private school admissions in Seattle are insanely competitive. We spent hours upon hours on kindergarten applications. It was all worth it!

Hillcrest Acres said...

Our public schools are nice and clean and they provide a good education. The problem is that the school district is enormous, 1200 students in the freshman class alone. Our district includes several towns ranging from wealthy to low income. Very diverse. With the good comes the bad. We decided to send our daughter to a private high school which has been the best decision we ever made.

In a private school you know the parents are all on the same page as far as the importance of education.

Good luck with it all!!!

Cookie Crums said...

Oh my! Having prison and school in the same sentence is real uplifting (sarcasm!). I can only imagine how freaked you were. We're lucky where we live the public schools are pretty good. Is it not crazy that you have to start worrying about this when your child is 2 or 3 yrs old!

debra said...

Yikes! You are so right, you should get so much more the the taxes you pay. I would love to delve into the books of some of the school districts to see what they spend their (I mean our) money on.

My daughter goes to public school here. It is probably the best school in our town and we've been happy there for the most part. We do feel safe and she is doing well. The private schools (2) here leave alot to be desired. My biggest concern is when we get to jr high and high school. She is only in 2nd so I have a while but I hear horror stories about the higher grades. Don't know if this old mama can handle it!!

I could go on and on but won't. It is just tough because you want the best for your kids but where school is concerned it gets harder and harder.

Anonymous said...

I live in New Orleans where public schools are also godawful. Silver lining is that there's a huge selection of private schools to choose from at relatively reasonable cost (@ $8000 / year for preschool). Good luck.

Life is what you make it said...

Well, kudos to you for being on top of things (natch) and finding this out now with plenty of time to organize your options.

I live in northern california - san jose - and I teach in the santa clara unified school district, which is also where my daughter attends. Our school (public) is wonderful! Having the inside scoop (as a teacher), all of the staff are sooo f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c! School is pretty and safe too. One of the three middle schools is pretty good, the other two are OK as well. High schools are a mixed bag. Hubby teaches at super high-ranking cupertino nearby, where everything is uber-competitive. Miss P will probably go the private route in middle school or possibly high school if she doesn't just switch on over to hub's district.

I totally agree with you - the schools in your city should be amazing. I guess it comes with being in a big city? Good public schools in our nearby S.F. are also really, really difficult to get into. There it is not neighborhood based, but lottery-based, and you could be in the best, beautiful neighborhood in the marina, and end up in the yucky school across town (even though there is a nice school down the street.)

Our district is losing class size reduction (20 to 1). Every other district has already lost it. So sad. CA schools are being siphoned of money from the state. Kids need more!!

trifitmom said...

we live in tri state area, meaning hubby has to commute 2 hours on a train to get to nyc but the town we are in has an excellent school system the number 1 reason we moved into this town.

New England Gal said...

Wow! Can't get over the fact that your "good" public schools are that terrifying. There would be no way I could send my kid to a school like that, at least for the "upper grades" where they are going to be the most influenced. I would definitely be sending them to private or high tailing it out to a better district. I know that is easier said than done, especially if you love your home and neighborhood.

I grew up in Darien, CT in one of the best school systems in the country. I feel lucky to this day to be able to receive the good education that I did, and it taught me a lesson for when we were moving last year out of a city and into the suburbs about how important the school systems are, even though we dont have kids yet!

Angry Julie Monday said...

I know people who know people....let me know when you are ready for the private school list in LA...I know tons of LA bloggers with suggestions.

And truly laughing out loud at your school description....

On the other hand, I will be writing my Kinder orientation post for tomorrow. Just imagine that discussion of gifted children heard in the background...

nanny said...

I guess there is something to be said for living is smalltown USA or maybe I am just out of touch....it's been awhile since I had to deal with the school system.....good luck!!!

Uncommon Blonde said...

What a scary realization! We live in SW Florida and the schools here are really good. I feel very fortunate to have several wonderful Elementary schools to choose from when we choose a new neighborhood. One is an IB school (in elementary)!

Stephanie said...

Ugh..that just sounds like a nightmare!
We are so very lucky to have amazing schools! We moved to our town knowing it was one of the better ones in our state. We have K-12 and our Kindergarten is amazing. It's a school all by itself and it's in the middle of an apple orchard and pumpkin patch. Such a sweet school. We then have 3 Elem schools one middle and one High School. We are a town of about 25,000 and each grade has about 400 kids in it. A very 30-40 something town with many kids in the district.
I feel for you...it's a really hard choice, but we ended up moving from our old town knowing we wanted better schools for our kids.
We pay huge taxes for our education...about $10,000 a yr in property tax, but we don't have income or sales tax.
I hope you can find the right place for Landon! :)

Preppy 101 said...

I agree with you 100%. That is a travesty. And for you to be treated in such a disrespectful manner. You do whatever you have to do to make sure his years in school are wonderful. He will be spending 6+ hours a day there. It must be exemplary.

Yes, I get on a bandwagon about this. . .

Henley on the Horn said...

We send our children to a Classical Christian school. I adore it. The education is amazing!! THE BEST!

Solar Powered said...

The schools are good in my neighborhood but I hear your public school pain and the pain of $$$ for private school. You are funny, I would have been exploring all over that place too!

Anonymous said...

Luckily, we live in Fairfax County, Virginia which has one of the top school systems in the country. We specifically bought the house we did for the elementary school which is the best in our school system.

I feel your pain so acutely though. As mothers we agonize over even the tiniest decisions and school is such a big part of our children's lives.

Mrs. R said...

Oh my word!! Girl run. I live in GA, so I won't even bother to mention the public school situation here. I am already saving up for private school and I don't even have a child yet. Is that bad? LOL!!

bevysblog said...

I teach in the same elementary school my sons attend. What a blessing! Although there are some "less than attractive" schools in our district, our school is a National Blue Ribbon school.

In fact, before I moved and began teaching here three years ago, I had ONLY taught in private schools. When people in our town met me and learned where I would be teaching, their comments were that I would be teaching in a school where the parents were so on top of everything and expected so much from the teachers and their own children. Thank God my children and I are in such an amazing place!

bloggerprotectionprogram said...

My friend lives in Pasadena and says the same exact thing. She went back to work to be able to afford private schools for her children. Her oldest has special needs so that was even more challenging for her. It is just not fair! My childrens' elementary school is wonderful. Brick with hardwood floors and they are renovating it to be the first "green" school in our state. The principal is amazing. We are very fortunate. I heard middle school is a different story...Hang in there!

Belle (from Life of a...) said...

Oh dear...that doesn't sound good. Are there any charter schools in your area that you could investigate. As you know, we live in South Carolina and one swath of the state, is known as the "corrador of shame" in the education world. President Obama recognized a student from one of those schools (Dillon) in his 2009 State of the Union. As you know, I'm an employee of our school system and Legare went to public school all the way, but we do live in a small town and know a lot of the teachers and staff. But Lorelai went to private school from 3rd grade all the way through because the smaller school was better for her temperment...It's a hard decision, my friend...very hard. Keep us posted.

Kate said...

For awhile some of the local public elementary schools (such as Fairburn) were looking better. All the kids I babysat for were going and enjoying it. Unfortunately I now know 3 families that are pulling their kids out of Fairburn to go private. The schools are just not getting the $$$ anymore.

I can't remember where you are exactly (Encino?) but I can give you advice on private schools if you need any!

(you don't have to publish this comment-I just can't find your email address!)