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In October L.A. Youth asked readers about budget cuts at their schools and more than 1,850 teens responded. I could relate to the students who took the survey because I’ve seen similar bad conditions at my school. We don’t have working light bulbs in some overhead projectors and when the Internet stops working there’s no one in the school to fix it. And all but one of the restrooms have been closed because we don’t have enough custodians to clean them.

When my school opened two years ago students in Koreatown were happy to have a neighborhood school. But we didn’t have any AP classes because there weren’t enough teachers. I wanted to take AP biology and world history but couldn’t. This year there are only four APs. Also, we have only one science teacher for the entire high school. He has a credential for chemistry but he’s teaching my physics class. He shows physics videos and we teach ourselves from our textbook.

I used to blame the bad conditions for my bad grades, like failing history last year and a getting a D in journalism. I felt that the school wasn’t doing enough for us, so there was no point for me to do well in school. Now I realize that I can still learn even without properly trained teachers and the best resources. But not everyone has the motivation to do that so they stop coming to school. From sophomore year to junior year we’ve lost about 30 students out of 120. Some transferred but some dropped out.

Despite how they answered the survey, I was surprised that almost all of the students planned to go to college. That’s good, but unless schools fix these problems, students could lose hope.
—Felix Ruano, 16, Ambassador School of Global Leadership

Here are the answers from the teens who responded to our survey (thank you for helping us out). We randomly chose three people to win $100 for participating. Congratulations to: Matthew Alvarez from L.A. Leadership Academy HS, David Baltazar from Belvedere MS and Trevor Ryan Ramirez from Redondo Union HS. Note: Some percentages do not add up to 100 because respondents checked all the answers that applied.

Download a PDF of the survey results.


Female 56%

Male 44%

Latino 79%

Asian 9%
White 9%
Black 7%
Other 8%


Do overcrowded classrooms make you feel like your teachers don’t have enough time to teach?
Yes  67%

No  33%

Have you been unable to participate in a program or class because it’s no longer offered at your school?
No  71%

Yes  29%

If yes, please list all the programs/classes that apply to you (here are some of the responses):

AP classes  Drama  PE class
ASL (American Sign Language)   Field Trips  Physics
AVID  Football  Saturday school for the SAT
Art  Gymnastics   Soccer
Band  Journalism  Softball
Choir  Leadership  Web Design
Cosmetology  Metal Shop  Woodshop
Culinary Arts  Nursing


If your school had to make cuts to save money, what should they cut first? (They are listed in order starting with what respondents would cut first.)

1. School newspaper or broadcast outlet
2. Summer school
3. Field trips
4. Security guards
5. Custodians
6. Libraries
7. Arts and music
8. Sports
9. Guidance counselors
10. Other
11. Administrators (like principals and assistant principals)
12. Teachers


Have you experienced any of the following in your classroom in the past two years?

Copied information from an overhead because there wasn’t 
enough paper to make copies of a lesson for everyone
Not enough computers or enough working computers  52%
Students had to share textbooks because there weren’t
enough for everyone
Not all the students had a desk to sit at  37%
None of the above  19%


What have you or your family had to pay for in the last two years at your school?

None of the above  42%
Sports uniforms  34%
Supplies in art class  22%
Buses for a field trip  21%
Participation on a sports team  18%
Music program like band/choir   12%
Lab fees for science classes   8%


Has your school cut any of the following journalism programs in the past two years?

My school doesn’t have any of the above  43%
No, none of the above has been cut in the past two years   40%
Radio  11%
Television station   9%
Newspaper club   7%
Journalism classes   7%


How many students are in your English class?
The highest number was 50 and the lowest was 14

How many students are in your math class?
The highest number was 50 and the lowest was 11

Do any of the following need repair at your school?

Restrooms  64%
Graffiti-covered walls  49%
Air conditioning/heating  48%
Classrooms/desks  47%
Cafeteria  36%
Public address/bell system   19%
No, all of the above are in good condition   15%


Have you left or thought about leaving public school because of the budget cuts?
No 78%
Yes 22%

Have budget cuts affected your ability to get the classes you need to graduate?
No 87%
Yes 13%

Are you planning to attend college?
Yes 97%
No 3%

If yes, where are you planning to apply?
(Respondents could check up to three choices.)

Four-year public university in state   64%
Community college  36%
Private college or university  35%
Four-year public university out of state   31%
Trade school    4%


How do you expect to pay for college?

Scholarships   73%
Work  60%
Family  54%
Loans  39%
Military   7%


Download a PDF of the survey results.