A Little Means a Lot for LAUSD : Some good news: L.A. schools still have the best and brightest

It can be tough to be a student in the Los Angeles Unified School District these days. That's why a good news story right now has got to be a grand thing.

It's true that state officials haven't thrown in the towel for the LAUSD and come in to take over operations as education officials have done in the cases of some ailing districts elsewhere in the country. But the fact remains that many Los Angeles residents don't consider the L.A. public school system good or safe.

Nearly all of the public's attention currently seems focused on the possibility of forming smaller school districts that might better serve students. In the meantime, much of the day-to-day news about the LAUSD is negative. Just pick a card, any card, and you'll find reference to the deplorable 44% dropout rate, a litany of depressing test scores and frightening accounts of violence on campus.

It's obvious that the achievements of a handful of students can't resurrect confidence in an entire school system. But this is the time of year when it seems as though an LAUSD school always steps forward to prove that the district's student enrollment includes some of the nation's best and brightest.

Two years ago, for example, it was Taft High School that won the U.S. Academic Decathlon. Last year, John Marshall High School accomplished the same. And now, nine students from El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills have captured the state title and have qualified for a bid to bring the national decathlon title home again. In so doing, Arabella David, Eldar Brodski, Isis Okowita, Jenny Stefanotty, Sarah Sabolek, Dale Shuger, Justin Weaver, Matthew Backes and Kasra Torabi defeated teams from the state's best public and private schools. And they did so in a prestigious academic competition that tests knowledge in 10 subject areas, including math, fine arts, economics, science and literature.

They've given El Camino Real High School, and the LAUSD, a vital moment of pride. And we're proud of them.

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