Los Angeles Unified Announces School Closures As Partnership with PBS SoCal and KCET Plans to Provide Educational Content to Students

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Three Local Public Media Channels – PBS SoCal, KCET and KLCS-TV – To Broadcast Educational Content for Kids Pre-K Through 12th Grade As Two Weeks of School Closures Begin Effective Monday, March 16

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner, students from Los Angeles Unified and PBS SoCal/KCET CEO and President Andrew Russell. Images via Los Angeles Unified, PBS SoCal and KCET

“As education is one our organization’s highest priorities, we want to harness the power of public media in assisting all students,” said CEO of KCET and PBS SoCal Andrew Russell. “Our mission is to connect communities so we’re talking to stations throughout the country to follow our model.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest district in the nation, has announced a plan in partnership with PBS SoCal and KCET, Southern California’s flagship PBS organizations, to provide for continuity of learning for its students during the recent school closures effective for the next two weeks beginning on Monday, March 16, due to the coronavirus.

This measure will allow 700,000 local Los Angeles Unified students educational resources via television in light of recent significant school closures. The plan is for all students to have access to free educational resources at home provided by the local public media organizations, both on-air and online, regardless of their broadband access. The initiative will entail three local public media channels broadcasting content specifically targeted to kids Pre-K through the 12th grade. The partnership can be a model for other partnerships between public media organizations and school districts throughout the U.S., as PBS SoCal and KCET work together to deliver a satellite feed that other public media stations can use.

“We want to continue to provide the best possible education for our students, while we work to evaluate the significant number of school closures for the next two weeks,” said Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner. “So we asked PBS to work with us with a simple goal: We know what good looks like, let’s find a way to share it with our students.”

“As education is one our organization’s highest priorities, we want to harness the power of public media in assisting all students in Southern California,” commented President and CEO of KCET and PBS SoCal Andrew Russell. “As cornerstone institutions in our community, PBS SoCal and KCET have a mission to connect communities so we’re already talking to stations throughout the state, and even across the country, to follow our model.”

Los Angeles Unified serves almost 700,000 students in diverse communities spread across more than 700 square miles. About 80% of students come from families living in poverty, 73% of students are Latino, 8% are African-American and 13% are students with disabilities. Los Angeles Unified serves more than 17,000 students who are homeless and about 24,000 students with moderate to severe disabilities. An estimated 50% of students in Los Angeles Unified lack the digital tools (computer or tablet) to participate in online curriculum and 25% of families lack access to the internet at home.

As Southern California’s flagship PBS organizations, KCET and PBS SoCal currently serve 19 million people in the area. With Los Angeles Unified closing schools, the public media stations are prepared to unveil a curated schedule of programming and digital resources that will be broadcast as follows:

  •     PBS SoCal (Daytime programming from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pre-K through 2nd grade)
  •     KLCS (Daytime Programming would highlight content for Pre-K through 12th grade from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with additional educational programming in the evenings)
  •     KCET (Daytime programming: 9th grade through 12th grade)
  •     Additional educational programming on PBS SoCal and KLCS digital channels

This effort began when Superintendent Beutner reached out to Paula Kerger, CEO of PBS in Washington D.C., and Andrew Russell, President and CEO of KCET and PBS SoCal, concerned about the lack of access many students and their families might have to online learning which might be available in more affluent communities. Superintendent Beutner asked the team from PBS to work with the instructional team at Los Angeles Unified to come up with the best standards-based instructional content they could find with rigorous lesson plans. In addition, educators and families gave input to the plan.

The public media organizations are collaborating with Los Angeles Unified to create a schedule by working with curriculum leads in subjects such as math and history and developing new online resources that will adhere to the state curriculum. KCET, PBS SoCal and KLCS-TV, Los Angeles Unified’s television station, will collaborate to leverage their educational programming and resources as well as content including the Emmy® Award-winning series NOVA and Ken Burns’s THE CIVIL WAR and several PBS KIDS series including Peg + Cat and Cyberchase. The primetime schedules for both KCET and PBS SoCal will remain the same beloved PBS programs and original local content that viewers expect and have come to love.

Los Angeles Unified teachers will have training utilizing PBS LearningMedia, a national resource that offers additional content to support educational assignments. Joining this collaboration is PBS member station KQED in San Francisco, which is leading the development of digital resources that align to state standards. This robust digital toolkit for educators and students will include: standards-aligned PBS video content, associated lesson plans and support materials, as well as online training sessions hosted by KQED for teachers. The PBS LearningMedia materials will be offered in conjunction with the on-air content and will be available online.

Content also streams on pbssocal.org and kcet.org and on the free KCET app (available on Roku and Apple TV), the PBS Video app (available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, the App Store and Google Play), as well as on YouTube.

For updates, follow @LASchools on Twitter/Instagram, @LosAngelesSchools on Facebook, @PBSSoCal and @KCET on social media.

ABOUT KCET
On-air, online and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern and Central California. KCET offers a wide range of award-winning local programming as well as the finest public television programs from around the world. Throughout its 54-year history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions, its quality educational family and children's programs, its outreach and community services and its website, kcet.org. KCET is a donor-supported community institution. For additional information about KCET productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org. Select original programming from KCET is also available for streaming on Apple TV, YouTube, Amazon and Roku platforms. For more information please visit kcet.org/apps. KCET is a content channel of the Public Media Group of Southern California.

ABOUT PBS SOCAL
PBS SoCal is a donor-supported community institution that is a part of Public Media Group of Southern California, the flagship PBS station for 19 million diverse people across California formed by the merger of PBS SoCal and KCETLink Media Group. PBS SoCal delivers content and experiences that inspire, inform and entertain – over the air, online, in the community and in the classroom. We offer the full slate of beloved PBS programs including MASTERPIECE, NOVA, PBS NewsHour, Frontline, Independent Lens, a broad library of documentary films including works from Ken Burns; and educational PBS KIDS programs including Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Curious George. Our programs are accessible for free through four broadcast channels, and available for streaming at pbssocal.org, on the PBS mobile apps, and via connected TV services Android TV, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Second largest in the nation, Los Angeles Unified serves over 700,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, early education and adult education at over 1,000 schools. The District has authorized over 200 independently-operated public charter schools. Additional details are available on the Fingertip Facts page. Los Angeles Unified's boundaries stretch across 720 square miles and include the City of Los Angeles as well as all or parts of 31 municipalities and several unincorporated regions of Southern California.

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JP Shields
KCET
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Shannon Haber
LAUSD
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