L.A. Unified is the fictional diary of a first-year English teacher at Pico-Union High School, one of Americas worst performing schools in one of Los Angeless most dangerous neighborhoods, Pico-Union. The students are apathetic, hostile and lazy; the teachers are burned out and cynical; the administrators are biding time until their next promotion, and the schools graduation rate and Academic Performance Index are abysmal. To complicate matters, the area is also the birthplace and current home to the two largest transnational gangs in the world, 18th Street and La Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) as well as Rockwood Street 13. While all three gangs are well represented at Pico-Union High School, they are far from alone. Weapons, drugs, failing grades, brawls, and graffiti are the norm; homework, reading, and safety are fantasy.
Enter David OBrien, a recent college grad who intends to overcome a multitude of obstacles and change the schools failing ways. L.A. Unified is his story, partly inspirational, partly tragic, and completely real. This is Up the Down Staircase in modern times. Welcome to Pico-Union High School: Survival precedes learning.