What’s working in Los Angeles? Two decades of achievement gains

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A novel set of civic activists arose in Los Angeles in the 1990s, gaining independence from neoliberal advocates and labor leaders to advance a variety of school reforms over the next  three decades. In turn, student learning climbed steadily during the period. This paper first describes the rise of these “new pluralists” – a diverse coalition of black and Latina leaders, civil rights attorneys, pro-equity nonprofits, and pedagogical reformers – and sketches their efforts to equitably fund central-city schools, improve teacher quality and student engagement, and decriminalize discipline. I then review accumulating evidence on which institutional changes empirically predict gains in pupil outcomes, further informed by qualitative studies. These plural actors, rooted in humanist ideals, challenged the individualistic and competitive values of neoliberals. Carving-out a third civic space, they lifted achievement on average, but have yet to find policy strategies that narrow racial disparities in learning.


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How to Cite
Fuller, B. (2022). What’s working in Los Angeles? Two decades of achievement gains. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (50). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.30.7013
Author Biography

Bruce Fuller, University of California, Berkeley

Bruce Fuller, a sociologist and professor of education and public policy, delves into the politics and institutions that shape children’s everyday contexts. His most recent book is When Schools Work (Johns Hopkins University Press).