LAUSD promoting equitable access to arts and cultural experiences through passport program

Offering students access to artistic venues, performances, outdoor education, museums and more, Los Angeles Unified School District officials detailed its recently launched Cultural Arts Passport during a March 3 virtual legislative briefing.

While entry to places like the Getty Center are free, that doesn’t mean young people would have the chance to visit them. The program aims to provide students equitable access to arts and cultural experiences and the opportunity to build their knowledge about the world through partnerships with popular locations like the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Pantages Theatre, Museum of Tolerance and Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, which some students have already visited this year.

From Feb. 6-10, some of the district’s priority schools (those that have historically had low achievement in math and English language arts, have low graduation rates, etc.) were invited to participate in the Week of Wonder kick-off event. By July, the passport will be available to all the district’s 100 priority schools as part of phase one of the launch. It will be implemented at all LAUSD schools by 2024.

“As soon as students attend these venues and performances, they will be able to apply their learning through an assignment and extend and deepen their understanding of the experience that they had, and they’ll continue to attend field trips to build upon that learning,” said Frances Baez, LAUSD chief academic officer. “Through this experience and these trips, professional development for teachers will be provided and students will be able make connections between arts and non-arts disciplines and promote critical thinking.”

The goal is to extend students’ learning in areas like social studies and history. When learning about California missions, for example, students can visit local sites to see them in person — earning a stamp for every place they go from various categories. “The goal is by the time they leave LAUSD schools they will have a completely stamped passport and that will also be in their learning management system,” Baez said.

The district is also working to ensure families can participate with students after school and on the weekends.

The program is funded with Expanded Learning Opportunities Program dollars, Baez said. Some funding will go directly to schools so they can identify a campus “cultural arts champion” to help make field trip arrangements and provide teachers with resources that can expand students’ learning experience on a subject and/or location in the classroom before and after an excursion.

Other local efforts discussed during the briefing included the district’s success with early literacy interventionalists, who work with small groups of K-3 students to assist them in becoming proficient in reading and math; use of acceleration days and tutoring; the implementation of the Black Student Achievement Plan, its pillars and work around eliminating opportunity gaps, building strong relationships, providing high-quality instruction, addressing social-emotional needs, investing in staff and more; and support for accelerating the growth of students at LAUSD’s 100 priority schools.