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EDITORIAL ARMY OF TUTORS EMPOWER STUDENTS TO HELP EACH OTHER.

THE best way to save a failing school district is one student at a time.

That's the lesson the Los Angeles Unified School District should have learned through the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Now the district must apply that lesson as broadly as possible.

Among the act's many provisions, the one that's made the biggest difference in the LAUSD, is the requirement to offer tutoring to the kids who need it most.

Under the law, if a school's been deemed ``failing'' two years in a row, parents are entitled to demand a transfer. If the district can't provide one - and LAUSD usually can't - it must offer supplemental education, either in-house or from a private contractor.

It's the first time the private sector has been allowed to play a government-subsidized role in the public-education system, and so far, the results are promising.

For the 4,000 LAUSD students to take advantage of tutoring programs this year, the extra help has provided the one-on-one assistance that can't be found in crowded classrooms. It's enabled kids who have fallen behind their classmates to catch up, rather than languish perpetually.

If there's one shortcoming, it's that not enough students are getting the support they could use.

Out of the 165,000 LAUSD students eligible for supplemental education this year, the vast majority have been unable to receive it, due largely to poor advertising on the district's part. The district aims to double the number of students participating by next year, but that's still a far cry from meeting all of its students' needs.

To take full advantage of the potential tutoring has to offer, the LAUSD needs to tap into its greatest resource: its students.

Gifted students, who rank among the top in their class, could help their struggling peers in an organized, after-school and weekend mentoring program. For the achieving students, the opportunity would allow them to serve their community while picking up a valuable extracurricular activity to put on their college applications. For struggling students, it could be the assistance they need.

And for the LAUSD, the program would be an economically efficient way to build up school communities while making sure that no child is left behind.

By raising an army of tutors, the LAUSD could triumph over its educational failings.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Aug 28, 2003
Words:382
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