Click here for part one of Austin Beutner’s interview with DeMarco Morgan.
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – More than two million children in the U.S. do not have the eyeglasses they need to see, and outgoing Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner is on a mission to change that.READ MORE: Thousands Of LAUSD Students Still Unvaccinated As Deadline Nears
Beutner founded Vision to Learn back in 2012, an organization that makes it easier for students to access eye care, especially those in underserved communities who are often overlooked.
“The single most important thing you can do to help a struggling learner, get them a pair of glasses,” Beutner told CBS2 News This Morning’s DeMarco Morgan.
To date, thousands of school aged children have been helped through the organization’s mobile clinics, in which a licensed optometrist provides the eye exams onboard. Frames are then selected by the students themselves, and the children walk away with confidence as a result.
“Well, it turns out, about one in four kids need glasses to see the board, that’s human physiology,” Beutner said. “Go to the communities that we serve here in L.A., and you will see that kids don’t have glasses. It’s not because they don’t need them, it’s because they don’t have access.”READ MORE: LA County Pays $2.75M To Compton Man With Mental Illness Beaten By Deputies
Beutner said his organization has so far helped more than one million children nationwide. Vision to Learn brings in celebrities to show children there’s no stigma around wearing glasses.
“We get celebrities, we’ve had Kamala Harris visit schools with us, we’ve had across the nation, NBA players, MLB players, NFL players, rock stars, rap stars, the community comes in support of children,” Beutner said. “And it’s one of those things, you can actually see the difference when it happens.”
“They put the glasses on, and the magic happens, they see the world in a different way, and they tell you exactly what they see,” he adds.
Beutner explained that sometimes vision problems can be misdiagnosed as behavioral issues.MORE NEWS: Scott Peterson Resentenced To Life In Prison In Pregnant Wife’s Slaying
“In kindergarten, they’re misdiagnosed as behavioral problems because they’re all fidgety, they can’t seen what’s going on on the board, so they’re just jumping around,” Beutner said. “By fourth or fifth grade they’re misdiagnosed as a slow learner, sometimes called something less polite than that. By eighth grade they’ll drop out, because they’re looking for that engagement, they’re looking for a community that embraces them, they find that on the street.”