Student Well-Being

Student Protests to Cost L.A. Schools Aid

By Catherine Gewertz — February 04, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Los Angeles school district is bracing for the loss of about $1 million in state aid because of the absences of about 40,000 students who took part in a protest walkout in December, officials said.

The students joined thousands of Californians who stayed home from school and work on Dec. 12 to protest the state legislature’s recent repeal of a law that allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.

Organized by Latino leaders, the boycott drew widespread participation by Latino students, who make up nearly three-fourths of the 728,000 students in the nation’s second-largest district.

For each student absence, however, the district loses state funds, because a large chunk of the money school districts receive is based on averaged student-attendance figures they submit periodically to the state.

Lorenzo Tyner, the budget director for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said the district estimated its losses by comparing student-absence figures on the day of the boycott, a Friday, with figures on a Friday in mid-December 2002.

In 2002, about 30,000 students were absent from school on a given Friday, compared with 80,000 on the Friday of the boycott this year, he said. Surmising that about 10,000 of this year’s absences were likely due to influenza, the district estimated that 40,000 were caused by the boycott, he said.

The district likely will not feel the effects of the lost money for a few months, until the numbers are made final, but the loss is likely to aggravate an already tight budget outlook for fiscal 2004-05, Mr. Tyner said.

Based on California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed state education budget, the district is projecting a $500 million shortfall in its $6 billion operating budget, he said.

While the district’s board of education had unanimously supported the law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, its president still urged teachers and students to come to school instead of participating in the boycott.

‘Learning Opportunity’

Board President Jose Huizar issued a statement last month saying that the day could be “a learning opportunity” for students, who could “reflect upon and discuss the contributions of immigrants to this country and the role of civic participation in policymaking” in their classrooms on boycott day.

Latino leaders who helped organize the boycott defended the students’ right to take part, even if it meant a loss of funding for their schools.

Nativo V. Lopez, the president of the Mexican-American Political Association, a Los Angeles- based activist group, said that the denial of driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants is an issue of critical importance to California families because a quarter or more of the state’s Mexican student population might never be able to drive legally.

“They have every right in the world to participate in a civic movement for their rights and the rights of their parents,” he said in an interview.

Calling for Latinos to stay home from work, school, and shopping was intended to send a message to Sacramento, the state capital, that “a day without Mexicans would cause economic havoc on the economy of California, and that we need policies that respect them,” Mr. Lopez said.


Student Well-Being Webinar After-School Learning Top Priority: Academics or Fun?
Join our expert panel to discuss how after-school programs and schools can work together to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss.
Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Chaplains Could Work as School Counselors Under Bill Passed in Texas
Critics see the measure as a continuation of the erosion of the concept of separating church from state.
3 min read
This June 1, 2021, file photo shows the State Capitol in Austin, Texas.
This June 1, 2021, file photo shows the State Capitol in Austin, Texas.
Eric Gay/AP
Student Well-Being 4 States Consider Mandating Fentanyl Prevention Education in Schools
Oregon is poised to adopt the legislation, but drug education in schools is often weak or underemphasized.
4 min read
Photograph of Fentanyl opioid narcotic teaching awareness tools sitting on a definition page
Bojan Vujicic/iStock/Getty<br/>
Student Well-Being The U.S. Surgeon General's Warning About Social Media and What It Means for Schools
Schools have been ringing alarm bells over social media and kids' mental health. Now their cause is getting a major boost.
6 min read
Conceptual image of a young person engaged in social media.
Student Well-Being Opinion What Teachers Get Wrong About Creativity
Because of the priorities school systems set, teachers often stifle students' creativity without even realizing it.
Teresa Amabile
4 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.