Posts about “Education” Category
At an L.A. Unified news conference today Superintendent Ramon Cortines defended his decision to eliminate summer school for more than 200,000 students this year. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Sacramento funding cuts have already forced the district to slice more than half a billion dollars from its current budget. The red ink keeps flowing. By cancelling summer school, L.A. Unified will save $34 million. The district will still have to cut more than $100 million elsewhere. Superintendent Ramon Cortines doesn’t relish the task.
Ramon Cortines: How would the public deal if it was their own home, that if they got a bill on the latter part of May, that they had to make a payment on July 1 and didn’t have a savings account to do that? And that’s what’s happened to this district.
Guzman-Lopez: Cortines spared a summer school program for about 74,000 high school students short of graduation credits. He said he fears for the safety of some students who won’t have a place to go to this summer. Without offering specific suggestions, Cortines suggested that more taxpayers take action to protect vital services like public schools.
Tight budgets are prompting Los Angeles public education districts – from grade school through community colleges – to cut many summer classes this year. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall reports that administrators say they have no choice.
Cheryl Devall: Summer school won’t happen for most elementary and middle school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Its officials there say they have to cut more than $130 million before the current school year ends, and summer school was one place to do it.
They say that’s because California may cut more than $5 billion from its education budget – and because sales and property tax revenues are down. L.A. Unified high school students who need to make up graduation requirements and core classes will be able to take courses this summer.
So will students with disabilities in the Extended School Year program. Students who’d hoped to take summer courses in the L.A. Community College District won’t be as lucky. Several of its campuses are also cutting summer sessions to save money.
State lawmakers introduced a bill today that would ask voters to give the legislature the power to regulate the University of California. The state constitution protects the UC from state regulation.
The bill would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot. If approved, it would strip the UC of its immunity. San Francisco Democratic State Senator Leland Yee is a co-sponsor. He told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that many lawmakers are angry about the high salaries paid to UC executives.
Leland Yee: “They make more than the president of the United States. They make more than the governor of this state. It seems that their perspective, the regents perspective, of what is appropriate given these tough economic times, given their position relative to other positions in the this country and this state that are just not, not adequate.”
UC chancellors make $300,000 to $400,000 a year – that goes up to as much as half a million with perks.
Several hundred L.A. Unified students skipped class this morning and marched to school district headquarters in downtown L.A. to protest planned teacher layoffs. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Most of the protestors were from Santee High School south of downtown. Chanting and waving homemade signs they marched two miles and circled the 29-story L.A. Unified building.
The school board has voted to lay off thousands of instructors, many of them new teachers. New hires represent a large portion of Santee High’s teachers, and ninth grader Maria Del Angel says it’s unfair cuts will affect her campus more than others.
Maria Del Angel: I want to be a nurse and a doctor. And we don’t have enough education for us right now. That’s why we’re trying to keep our teachers with us because we really need them, and we cannot let them go like that.
Guzman-Lopez: Schools officials said students should voice their opinions, but shouldn’t skip school to do so. Superintendent Ramon Cortines met with student leaders and engaged in a spirited debate about budget cuts. In spite of this and other much larger protests, the school district’s likely to move ahead with teacher layoffs and other cuts in the next few weeks.
The chancellor of California community colleges says the system could lose hundreds of thousands of students next year because of the state’s fiscal crisis. Jack Scott told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that the system won’t be able to afford the number of students it’s been serving. He said proposed budget cuts will force local community colleges to reduce class offerings.
Jack Scott: “If I were making an estimate today, I’d say at least 250,000 students that will not be served next year because the colleges cannot bankrupt themselves in terms of offering the schedule and so forth, so they’re going to have to make very drastic cuts.”
Scott says the state’s community colleges will have to be cut because of the state’s fiscal situation. It’s the size of the reduction that he doesn’t agree with. The colleges have seen enrollments spike as unemployed people return to school, but per-student funding hasn’t kept pace.
Summer sessions at California community colleges are supposed to get underway in a couple of weeks. But city college administrators worry the state budget crisis will wipe out the summer session. KPCC’s Shirley Jahad reports.
Shirley Jahad: Just as more newly unemployed people are flocking to community colleges, administrators are facing dramatic cuts. Dr. Jamillah Moore – the president of L.A. City College – says her staff are holding emergency meetings to talk about cutting upcoming summer sessions.
Dr. Jamillah Moore: We are having those discussions with our constituency groups this week and next week, so we hope to have that decision before May is over because we have to.
Jahad: Moore says the situation is grim. She just doesn’t know how grim it will be. She says not knowing this close to the summer session and the new fiscal year is like dealing with a moving target. News of how deep the cuts will go is to come – sooner or later – from state lawmakers and the governor.
California community colleges have added 150,000 more students this year – without any more funding. More than 2-and a half million people are enrolled.
L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines plans to discuss possible cutbacks with union bargaining units tomorrow. The school district has to cut an additional $130 million from this year’s budget because of the failure of five statewide ballot measures this week. Cortines told KPCC’s Larry Mantle he’s trying to avoid further layoffs.
Ramon Cortines: “That means the bargaining units are going to have to work with us at furlough days, they’re going to have to look at maybe freezing salaries, etc.”
Union leaders have recommended that the district use all the stimulus money immediately, rather than spreading it across two years. Cortines has resisted that, but he says he’d reconsider using more of the money this year if the teachers’ union would agree to furloughs or other cutbacks. Cortines says summer school and after school programs may also go under the budget knife.
L.A. Unified school board president Monica Garcia says the failure of a statewide ballot measure that would have secured more public money for schools has pushed the school district’s financial situation from bad to worse.
Monica Garcia: “Yesterday’s election means that we are facing an additional cut of about $300 million. Nothing is being spared. We’re looking at whether we can afford summer school, whether or not we have to do more central cuts.”
L.A. Unified’s superintendent will propose cuts in the next few weeks. The president of the teachers union said he’s open to discussing union concessions only after administrators make concessions of their own.
Funds for public education may be drying up but organizers of a national education summit taking place in Pasadena today say it’s an exciting time for reform. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The non-profit New Schools Venture Fund takes foundation grants and private donations, $80 million in the last three years, and funds education projects like charter schools and teacher prep services. CEO Ted Mitchell says summit will focus on the opportunities this economy presents.
Ted Mitchell:I think that innovation in hard times is always a mixed bag. On the one had we feel that even in our own households that we are hunkering down and spending less and perhaps being a little less adventuresome.
I think a challenge for education innovation is to grasp a hold of this crisis as an opportunity to begin to do things very differently and not succumb to the hunkering down impulse.
Guzman-Lopez: The Obama administration promotes this approach but teachers unions criticize it. The unions argue that innovation is less important than job preservation.
- May 19, 2009 4:13 PM
- Categories: Education
Police arrested 38 teachers and union leaders today during a protest in front of Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters in downtown L.A. The union planned the arrests to protest school district approved plans to layoff thousands of teachers.
Those taken away sat down to block the street in front of the building. As he was led away in handcuffs to likely face misdemeanor charges, United Teachers L.A. president A.J. Duffy said school district administrators can rescind the planned layoffs.
A.J. Duffy: “We’re being arrested to send a message to the district and the city that they have the money, that they don’t have to raise class sizes, and they do not have to lay off teachers or counselors.”
After the arrests, L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he’s ready to be flexible on the district’s plans if union leaders make concessions on employee furloughs and pay cuts.
- May 15, 2009 3:06 PM
- Categories: Education
Police arrested more than three-dozen L.A. Unified teachers’ union members and leaders today for blocking the street in front of school district headquarters and refusing orders to move. The planned arrests were part of a day of action that included pickets before school, the midday arrests, and an afternoon rally.
United Teachers L.A. president A.J. Duffy was among the 38 people who’ll likely face misdemeanor charges of blocking a street. School superintendent Ramon Cortines frowned on the action.
Ramon Cortines: “I don’t like it that some of our teachers, including Mr. Duffy, got arrested. I don’t think that’s the kind of image I want for this system. But you know, I have to respect what they did.”
Cortines said union president Duffy asked yesterday for a meeting to discuss concessions the union and the district could make that might lower the number of teacher layoffs. Cortines agreed to the meeting. Union leaders said they don’t expect any more arrests during the second rally this afternoon.
- May 15, 2009 3:02 PM
- Categories: Education
A judge’s injunction prohibited a planned one-day strike. But before the bell rang this morning, teachers throughout the L.A. Unified School District marched outside their school to protest layoffs. KPCC’s Brian Watt stopped by Venice High School, where students joined in and kept the protest going.
Brian Watt: About 50 teachers dressed in black marched with signs that read “LAUSD, Shame on You.” Teacher Brad Jones co-chairs the United Teachers Los Angeles chapter at Venice High. He said L.A. Unified’s teacher cuts would cripple public education.
Brad Jones: With English class sizes – I’m an English teacher – going from 20 to 34 in 10th grade and from 20 to 40 in 11th and 12th, it’s gonna be crazy.
Watt: Minutes before the start of 1st period, Jones and his colleagues began heading for their classrooms. By then, some students had joined the picketing – including senior Carmen Baez and her friends.
Carmen Baez: We’re losing all of our teachers and our classes are getting way too big, overcrowded.
Watt: All right.
Watt: Well, that’s the bell…
Baez and friends: We’re staying out here.
Watt: Oh, you’re staying. You’re not going to class?
Students: We’re here for our teachers.
Watt: And without their teachers, about 100 students continued the protest on the school’s front lawn.
- May 15, 2009 11:50 AM
- Categories: Education
If your commute takes you past the main University of Southern California campus near downtown L.A., you may want to find an alternate route tomorrow. Tens of thousands of graduates and visitors plan to throng the campus for commencement activities. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says they’ll hear from a singular star of state politics.
Cheryl Devall: Of course, the day will focus on the newly-minted degree holders – close to 10,000 from undergrad and graduate academic programs. The main commencement speaker – California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – will likely generate a lot of attention, too. The action movie star-turned politician is approaching his final year in office.
He’s one of four USC honorary degree recipients this year. The others are computer scientist and professor Anita K. Jones, Mexican human rights activist and novelist Elena Poniatowska, and Frances Wu, founder of the Chinese-American Golden Age Association. USC expects about 40,000 people to attend the major commencement event and dozens of smaller ceremonies for its various schools and programs.
- May 14, 2009 3:19 PM
- Categories: Education
A jury in Los Angeles has convicted a man of participating in a scheme to profit from UCLA Medical School’s willed-body program. Details from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: Prosecutors had told jurors that Ernest Nelson worked out a scheme to buy human remains from the former director of the program at UCLA that accepts bodies that donors intend for use in scientific study. Nelson owned a business that provided body parts and corpses to researchers at hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.
Authorities say the deal netted one-and-a-half million dollars over five years. The onetime UCLA employee, Henry Reid, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit grand theft – he’s serving a four-year prison sentence.
In the just-concluded trial the jury convicted Nelson of conspiracy to commit grand theft, grand theft by embezzlement, and tax evasion. He also faces four years in prison.
The scandal around UCLA’s willed-body program caused the university to voluntarily suspend it five years ago. It later reopened with a new emphasis on security and transparency – now the program requires financial and criminal background checks on all potential employees.
Some employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District are planning a demonstration this afternoon against the L.A. teachers’ union. The protesters work as instructional coaches. There are more than a thousand in the district and they help classroom teachers with their curricula.
The coaches also analyze test data to improve student performance. Michael Martin is a math instructional coach. He says the United Teachers Los Angeles works to undermine people like him, even though they’re dues-paying members.
Michael Martin: “Our argument is taxation without representation. We’re paying over three quarters of a million dollars to the UTLA. They’re working, they’re literally sending out representatives from the United Teachers Los Angeles to our schools to undermine our work.”
Martin says the teachers’ union doesn’t believe the instructors are needed. The instructional coaches are planning to picket outside the UTLA building in Mid-Wilshire beginning at 4 this afternoon. The union has not responded to the accusations.
- May 14, 2009 2:13 PM
- Categories: Education
When your public school system gives you lemons, it’s time to make lemonade. That’s the philosophy behind The Lemonade Initiative, an effort to involve more parents in the workings of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Co-founder Elisa Taub, whose two children attend a public middle school in the San Fernando Valley, said parents like her have to chime in on school district policy alongside administrators and the teachers union.
Elisa Taub: “The most important thing about us really is that we are attempting to give voice for the students which are the most important thing here. We’ve heard from UTLA, we’ve heard from LAUSD, we are the missing voice in the conversation. And we feel it’s important, that it’s time for us to stand up, make a difference, and help solve the problem.”
Taub spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” The Lemonade Initiative is planning a parent rally at the Balboa Park soccer fields in Encino on Friday – the same day union teachers plan pickets against proposed job cuts.
- May 13, 2009 3:34 PM
- Categories: Education
Leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles said today they will abide by a court order that blocked their one-day strike scheduled for Friday. A Superior Court judge sided with L.A. Unified lawyers who’d argued the strike would violate the teachers’ contract and put students at risk. Union President A.J. Duffy met with lawyers and union leaders last night to discuss the ruling’s effect on the 48,000 member union that represents credentialed teachers.
A.J. Duffy: “Violating the injunction would have exposed our members to unacceptable risks. The injunction would have allowed our members to be fined individually up to a thousand dollars a day and they could have faced credential revocations.”
Duffy said the union’s still using Friday to protest planned teacher layoffs and their effects on class sizes and learning. Union leaders are planning before-school picketing on campuses, a rally at school district headquarters, and a secret act of civil disobedience. The politically powerful union also plans to file for a recall election against school board members who approved teacher layoffs to close the school district’s budget deficit.
- May 13, 2009 2:55 PM
- Categories: Education
Leaders of Los Angeles Unified’s 48,000-member teachers union today called off a one-day strike set for Friday. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story from teachers union headquarters in L.A.’s Koreatown.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The union acted one day after an L.A. Superior Court judge blocked the planned strike. That judge sided with school district lawyers who’d argued the strike violated the union’s labor contract and would cause irreparable harm to students’ education.
Union members who violated the court order stood to be fined $1,000. United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy said the prospect of fines contributed to the decision to call off the strike. He said the union’s not dropping the fight against teacher layoffs.
A.J. Duffy: “We are now going to shift gears. We’re going to have before-school pickets, where we’re going to reach out to parents and have them join us. We will be announcing a civil disobedience that day at an undisclosed location.”
Duffy said the union’s also planning a recall campaign against L.A. Unified school board members who’ve approved teacher layoffs. L.A. Unified administrators called on all teachers to obey the court order and to show up to work on Friday. The school district also urged teachers union leaders to ratchet down their adversarial rhetoric.
- May 13, 2009 2:50 PM
- Categories: Education
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge today blocked a one-day strike planned by L.A. Unified’s teachers union. School district lawyers argued that a strike this Friday by the 48,000 member United Teachers Los Angeles to protest teacher layoffs would cause irreparable harm to students. At a school district news conference, backed by the school board, Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he was pleased with the ruling.
Ramon Cortines: “We’re extremely pleased on behalf of the students of this district that there will not be a strike on Friday. We believe that students are best served in schools. And involved in their education.”
The teachers union had argued that the school district exaggerated claims that education would grind to a halt if teachers went on strike. Teachers union leaders said they’re disappointed with the decision.
They did not announce whether they’d abide by the court ruling or file a legal appeal. They said a meeting of union leaders and lawyers tonight will determine their next steps.
- May 12, 2009 3:54 PM
- Categories: Education
Students in the Cal State University system are likely to pay about $300 more in fees next academic year, if the trustees vote as expected tomorrow. The trustees say that’s their only option amid continued state budget cuts to higher education. Steve Dixon of the California State Student Association told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that students like him are caught in the middle.
Steve Dixon: “It’s almost like a trick in the book. One-third of all increases at the California State University makes, so that whenever they increase our tuition by $100, 33 of those dollars go to financial aid intended for the lower economic scale students so that they won’t be affected, but in the end it does affect them because you end up taking more in loans.”
Dixon, who’s graduating soon from Humboldt State, said federal money for student loans isn’t keeping up with Cal State fees. He said students are taking out personal loans to cover the cost of their education.
Trustees of the Cal State University system may vote tomorrow to raise student fees an average of $306 next academic year. The officials say the state’s budget constraints leave them with no choice – to cut costs, they’ve already limited admissions to the 23-campus system by 10 percent. Robert Turnage, Cal State’s budget director, told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that the state cuts its spending on higher education every year.
Robert Turnage: “I’ve been working on state budget matters in the capital for about 25 years, and all of my veteran colleagues, none of us have seen anything like this before. So, we’ve already gone through a year where the cuts have been very serious and now it’s quite apparent that the state is facing another round of serious cuts.”
Turnage said the only way around student fee hikes is expanding class sizes and lowering the quality of a Cal State education. Governor Schwarzenegger projected a $21 billion budget gap for the coming fiscal year if voters don’t approve six propositions on next week’s statewide ballot.
California’s dropout rate is down one percentage point – but state schools chief Jack O’Connell says losing one student in five before they finish school results is a rate that’s still “unacceptably high.”
Last year officials measured California’s dropout rate as just over 20 percent. O’Connell says that more than a quarter of Latino students drop out, while close to 35 percent of African-American students quit school before they graduate:
Jack O’Connell: “Over a lifetime, dropouts have lower earnings, higher rates of unemployment, poorer health, increased dependence on public assistance, and increased rates of criminal behavior and incarceration. We know that we can’t wait until a student drops out to determine that there’s a problem.”
Education officials also measured the state’s graduation rate. It nosed above 68 percent last year. That’s an increase of half a percentage point over the year before.
- May 12, 2009 3:09 PM
- Categories: Education
California state regulators are expected to rule today on L.A. Unified’s request to stop its teachers union from carrying out a one-day strike at the end of this week. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: United Teachers Los Angeles is asking its 48,000 members to protest teacher layoffs the board of education approved by skipping work this Friday. School board president Monica Garcia said the school district’s working out contingency plans.
Monica Garcia: There’s a lot of conversation about one, how to provide support for each school site – a lot of interest in ensuring student safety. Ensuring that there is a conversation about when we work together and when we put students first.
Guzman-Lopez: L.A. Unified’s superintendent said last week that the teachers union has been unwilling to minimize the effects of a strike on students. The teachers’ union contract forbids strikes. Union leaders said that they were up front with members – and that they believe a one-day strike will shed light on the severe impact of laying teachers off.
- May 11, 2009 3:22 PM
- Categories: Education
Los Angeles Unified administrators unveiled a plan that, if the school board approves it tomorrow, would offer early retirement to 2,500 school district employees. L.A. Unified’s personnel director Wendy Macy says these workers fall under the classified category – a group of jobs subject to budget cuts.
Wendy Macy: “Our buildings and ground workers. We’re losing almost 700 of them. We’re losing almost 700 of our office staff. This incentive provides a mechanism by which some of our employees who may be thinking about retiring are able to do so in a way that’s more financially manageable for them. And they’re able to do so. And then meanwhile some of our employees who we’ve most recently hired would not have to lose their jobs.”
If they take the incentive, employees would receive 40 percent of their salary over several years in addition to their retirement benefits. Macy says the district expects up to one-fifth of the workers to take the offer. That would save the district about $6 million. The union that represents these workers backs the plan. So do L.A. Unified’s superintendent and board president.
There’s been a change of leadership at a South L.A. County medical school. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more about developments at Charles Drew University.
Cheryl Devall: Drew is the private med and health sciences school that used to be affiliated with county-run Martin Luther King-Charles Drew Medical Center in Willowbrook. When that hospital closed two and a half years ago after it failed federal inspections, Susan Kelly came on board to lead the university during a difficult transition.
While Kelly emphasized Drew’s commitment to educating its mostly black and Latino students, and established a nursing school there, the economy dealt multiple blows to the institution’s finances. Its investments took a hit in the stock market, and donations dropped. In response, the school cut staff, executive salaries, and contributions to employee retirement funds.
Last month, Kelly took a leave of absence, and the school announced her resignation effective May 1st. Three administrators – operations vice president Elizabeth Garcia, academic affairs dean Ronald Edelstein, and research vice president Keith Norris – will run Charles Drew University as a team.
Teachers at a high school run by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Partnership for L.A. Schools are threatening to secede from that group. At a news conference today outside Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, teacher John Fernandez said Villaraigosa hasn’t delivered on promises made when he and fellow teachers voted to leave L.A. Unified governance more than a year ago.
John Fernandez: “The partnership uses a top down management style, this must change. Prior to the vote, 16 months ago, teachers and parents were told that the mayor’s partnership had $50 million to help schools like Roosevelt. Where’s the money? Computers were also promised by the mayor’s partnership. Instead teachers were given t-shirts and coffee mugs.”
More than two-dozen Roosevelt teachers joined Fernandez. He said that teachers at the school recently approved a no-confidence resolution. The Partnership’s chief operations officer said he’s aware of teachers’ concerns. The official said the Partnership has given the school extra money, and it’s working to give teachers more say over decision-making at Roosevelt.
- May 7, 2009 3:51 PM
- Categories: Education
The nearly 700,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District has reported its first probable case of swine flu. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Principal Ed Zubiate says a student at Fairfax High School became ill during the weekend with flu-like symptoms. Medical tests indicated that the student’s probably sick with the swine flu.
After weighing the federal government’s caution against closing schools and determining that the case was mild with no other people sick on campus, district officials decided to keep Fairfax High open. That’s a relief to Principal Zubiate.
Principal Ed Zubiate: We have a prescribed number of instructional days, that’s been decided on. And then once you do things like that – I mean, schools that are closed for a week, I don’t know what the implications of that are.
Guzman-Lopez: An Orange County campus closed for a week after a swine flu case surfaced. Its teachers will have to compensate for classroom days lost so they can fulfill state instructional requirements.
L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines is moving forward with plans to block a planned one-day strike next week by the district’s 48,000 member teachers union. Contract language prevents the union from striking. At a news conference at Fairfax High School, Cortines said he respects why the union wants to protest planned teacher layoffs.
Ramon Cortines: “I think that the union has the opportunity to meet and negotiate one furlough day on a non-educational day that would make a statement and would not be disruptive to one of the most important areas, the testing time in this district.”
State and national testing’s scheduled at some schools during the planned strike. Fairfax High’s principal predicted that many of his 11th and 12th graders wouldn’t show up to school if teachers went on strike for a day.
The teachers’ union rep at Fairfax High said that Cortines misses the point – and that the school district should rescind all teacher layoffs and class size increases the school board approved last month. The superintendent did announce this morning that he’s withdrawing layoff notices the district sent to hundreds of math and science teachers.
- May 6, 2009 10:56 AM
- Categories: Education
This morning administrators confirmed the first probable swine flu case in the L.A. Unified School District. A student at Fairfax High School fell ill early this week and was out yesterday.
Medical tests showed the student a likely carrier of the H1N1 virus. Kimberly Uyeda, head of student medical services for the district, said L.A. Unified considered closing the campus based on several factors including:
Kimberly Uyeda: “Is there evidence that there is spread of the disease among people in the school, so we look and see if there’s flu-like illness among other people, either staff or students in the school, and we’ve noticed no increase in symptoms, or increases in illnesses or absences. So we’ve determined that closing down the school at this point would not make any difference in the spread of the disease.”
L.A. Unified deployed workers to Fairfax High to clean the school. The district’s also working with county health officials to monitor any other possible swine flu cases. Officials urge parents to keep their children at home if they’ve come down with flu-like symptoms.
The L.A. Unified School District’s fired the first salvo against the one-day strike planned by its teachers union next week. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: In a statement, Superintendent Ramon Cortines called the planned strike “dangerous, illegal, and irresponsible.” He said school district lawyers will ask state regulators to stop the action.
Last week on the steps of L.A. Unified headquarters, leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles announced that members had approved a one-day strike to protest teacher layoffs. The school board approved layoffs weeks earlier to close a looming budget deficit.
The union had urged other cuts. The superintendent and board of education argued that union member furloughs and pay cuts would be the only way to avoid eliminating jobs.
The one-day strike is a violation of the UTLA’s contract, and union leaders said they were up front with members about the seriousness of the vote. The union argues that laying off thousands of teachers would increase class sizes and cause serious short-term and long-term disruptions to many students in the school district.
California State University officials are set to consider a proposal to raise student fees by 10 percent. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: If Cal State trustees approve the plan at their Long Beach meeting next week, undergraduate fees will go up $306, to just over $3,300 a year. The increase would raise about 127 million much-needed dollars for Cal State’s budget in the coming fiscal year.
The economy’s in meltdown, Cal State Chancellor Charles Reed said, and the university urgently needs the money to plug the holes Sacramento budget cuts left. Reed said the 23-campus system is working hard to provide financial aid to the neediest of Cal State’s 460,000 students.
Cal State’s professors’ union is opposed to the proposed fee increase. Fees have more than doubled in seven years, the California Faculty Association said. Its leaders argue that making it harder to get a college diploma can only hurt California’s economy.
- May 5, 2009 3:41 PM
- Categories: Education
A longtime football coach and teacher in Los Angeles died yesterday – his first day of retirement from almost 40 years with the L.A. Unified School District. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the life of Glenn Bell.
Cheryl Devall: As a teacher and a coach, Glenn Bell demanded much from his young charges. He was known to say, “I want higher standards; average is unacceptable.” Failing a course meant expulsion from his teams.
His varsity Dorsey Dons won the L.A. City Section 3A football championship 26 years ago. Bell coached most recently at the Santee Education Complex in South L.A., and also over the years at his high school alma mater Manual Arts, at Crenshaw and at Palisades.
He worked with young people at the Pacific Lodge Boys Home and at L.A. County’s Camp Kilpatrick juvenile detention facility. Last year, the California Interscholastic Federation presented him with its Model Coach Award.
Glenn Bell, who played football for East Los Angeles College and Whittier College, was 61 years old when he died of an apparent heart attack. Former players and colleagues were organizing a tribute dinner to him on June 6th.
Authorities have charged the athletic director of the Compton Unified School District with grand theft and forgery. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says he allegedly helped a high school hoops coach defraud the district of $15,000.
Cheryl Devall: The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office says the athletic director, Ernest Carr, faked a letter from the principal of Dominguez High School in Compton that authorized the school’s basketball coach to deposit a check into his personal account.
The check for $15,000 was from athletic wear company Nike – it was made out to the Compton Unified School District. School police arrested Carr last month. He’s free on $20,000 bail and his arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.
After Compton police investigated the check incident, prosecutors named Carr as a codefendant on theft and forgery charges with the basketball coach, Russell Otis. Otis has pleaded not guilty to an array of other charges, including burglary and child molestation.
The coach is on leave from his job. He’s out on $75,000 bail before his next scheduled court hearing later this month.
Contention continues at the Los Angeles Unified School District over how to close a budget deficit that’s ballooned to hundreds of millions of dollars. Today the district’s 48,000 member teachers union scheduled a one-day work stoppage two weeks from today to protest school district cuts. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles wanted the school board to cut administrators and the central office budget. They also wanted the school board to use all federal stimulus funds this year to avoid employee layoffs. Instead, school board leaders are spreading that money out over two years and asked the schools superintendent to negotiate concessions from unions such as pay cuts and furloughs.
The union says nearly three-fourths of voting members approved the work stoppage, now set for Friday, May 15th. If carried out the action will cost the district a lot of money to hire substitutes for the employees who decide to stay away from schools.
In a statement, the teachers union president said the district’s actions pushed the union to carry out the work stoppage. It can be avoided, he said, if the school district rescinds some layoffs.
- May 1, 2009 4:27 PM
- Categories: Education
Most college campuses have e-mail and text message alert systems. KPCC’s Nick Roman says the one at Cal State Long Beach today fired off an “Urgent Health Warning” on swine flu.
Nick Roman: The e-mail warning came from campus President F. King Alexander. It says a student in a Cal State Long Beach dorm got a “probable positive” for swine flu. The Long Beach Health Department needs two days to confirm the result. The message says the case is mild – the student has been isolated – and the roommate has moved out.
Infectious diseases can sweep quickly through a campus. That’s one reason local colleges posted swine flu info pages on their Web sites. Most are like the ones put up by USC, UC Irvine, and Occidental.
They reassure students, faculty, and staff that the campus has a pandemic plan in place. They advise anyone who’s sick to stay home. And they offer the usual tips on how to avoid the flu. UCLA even has a video from the director of the student health center with everything you need to know about swine flu.
The American School of Guadalajara in Mexico shut its doors for at least a week in response to the swine flu. Teacher Nathaniel Parson said he saw no signs of the virus there. But he left with his wife and son, anyway.
Nathaniel Parson: Well, if we stay, there’s nothing to do. If you want to go to a restaurant, you have to get takeout, because you can’t stay. And I guess they get penalized if they open the restaurant or the nightclubs.
“And even the stores, if you go in the stores, you have to wipe down the carts, and everyone has to wear a mask inside the stores. So we thought that does not sound like fun. You know, might as well come where it’s a little more – more relaxed.”
“More relaxed” means a weeklong visit with relatives in Santa Barbara. The Parsons family arrived at Los Angeles International Airport this morning.
The union that represents teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District objects to the school board’s consideration of measures that would make it easier for administrators to fire teachers based on performance. United Teachers L.A. president A.J. Duffy spoke with KPCC’s Larry Mantle.
A.J. Duffy: “You have no idea about the limited amount of time and the enormous amount of work that classroom teachers and health and human service professionals have to do in this day and age to get the job done. No, it is the responsibility of the district to create an environment for quality education.”
Duffy’s union maintains that basing teacher dismissals or pay raises on performance would give too much power to administrators. The school board is scheduled to take up the teacher performance issue at tomorrow’s meeting.
- April 27, 2009 2:34 PM
- Categories: Education
The Los Angeles Unified School board may determine tomorrow whether the district can make it easier to fire teachers for performance reasons. School board member Tamar Galatzan told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that most teachers are very good at what they do – but that some shouldn’t be allowed to return to the classroom.
Tamar Galatzan: “We have, you know, some teachers who were caught having sex with a student, we have a teacher who is fondling a student and other faculty members, we have a teacher telling a child who had already tried to commit suicide ‘this is a better vein.’
“You know, all sorts of things like that. There aren’t a lot of these folks, but we need to watch out for the best interest of our kids, and some of these folks really have to go.”
Some of those teachers have been charged with criminal offenses. Galatzan said the school district tried to dismiss them, but union negotiators persuaded administrators to give them another chance. She added that throughout the state, only 31 public school teachers have been fired in last five years.
- April 27, 2009 2:28 PM
- Categories: Education
Some of the best-known names in online used car sales set competition aside to warn potential shoppers about the possibility of fraud. Carfax spokesman Larry Gamache told an audience at the Petersen Automotive Museum that con artists are taking advantage of consumers with low credit scores.
Larry Gamache: “And they cannot go to a dealer and get done anymore, because their FICO scores are low and they don’t have enough money in the bank, and they’re looking for a deal.”
He and others on the panel agreed that online “deals” that look too good to be true usually are. They cautioned consumers to use common sense – see the car in person, insist on an inspection by an independent mechanic, and thoroughly research the car’s history before you close the deal.
Despite budget shortfalls, high dropout rates, and underwhelming student achievement, the Los Angeles Unified schools must continue to promote excellence, district superintendent Ramon Cortines told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
Ramon Cortines: “It’s not a pretty picture. People want the status quo and there is no place in the economy in America based on what’s happening nationally and statewide that we can keep the status quo.”
Cortines said he’s heard from high school students who’ve grasped the importance of earning their diplomas because few companies are hiring people without them. He also conceded that because of budget problems, he’s recommended increasing elementary school class sizes from 20 students to 24. When schools get money the federal government’s pledged, he said, he hopes they can hire teachers back and maintain the smaller class sizes.
- April 22, 2009 4:38 PM
- Categories: Education
Seven-thousand employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District received layoff notices earlier this month after the school board voted to cut the budget. District superintendent Ramon Cortines told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that he doesn’t expect most of those teachers and other staff will lose their jobs.
Ramon Cortinez: “Yes, indeed there are a great many slips that went out, but nobody ever takes it the next step, that schools have the ability to hire back the majority of people that have been given the pink slips. And they will be able to do that by the fifteenth of next month.”
Cortines said that’s because California was the first state to get money from the federal Education Recovery Act. L.A. Unified administrators are figuring out how far that money will go toward retaining jobs.
- April 22, 2009 4:30 PM
- Categories: Education
California education officials are expressing concern over a new study that indicates the state high school exit exam disadvantages many students of color and girls. Deborah Sigman is the state’s deputy superintendent in charge of testing.
Deborah Sigman: “I wouldn’t say that students are the problem. I would say that it’s a collective concern that as educators, we need to be focused in on, not at grade 10, but certainly beginning at preschool and beyond, early on in terms of how students are instructed, how students are treated early on in their educational experience.”
Sigman told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that her department is looking into the study results. Stanford University researchers found that graduation rates for low-achieving minority students and girls have fallen by almost 20 percentage points since California began to require the exit exam three years ago.
- April 22, 2009 3:56 PM
- Categories: Education
Researchers at Stanford University and UC Davis claim say they’ve discovered that a disproportionate number of female and non-white students are failing the California exit exam.
Sean Reardon of Stanford University is lead author of the study. He told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that girls and non-white students may be failing more because of what’s known as “stereotype threat.”
Sean Reardon: “That is when students are asked to perform on a test that has high stakes and if they perform badly it might confirm a negative stereotype about their group, that they underperform because of the added stress of confirming that stereotype.”
High school students have to pass the exit exam in order to graduate in California. But the study’s researchers say they found the exam has “had no positive effect on student achievement.”
State schools superintendent Jack O’Connell said in a statement that the findings of the study deserve careful review, but he believes the exam plays an important role in ensuring that the high school diploma has meaning.
- April 22, 2009 3:48 PM
- Categories: Education
Events around the world today honor the millions of Jewish people killed by the Nazi government in Europe during World War II. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports that some schools are changing their approach to this grim chapter in history.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: At the private Adat Ari-El Day school in the San Fernando Valley, lessons about the 6 million people killed in the Holocaust begin in the third grade. Orli Kotkin is the school’s Judaic studies teacher.
Orli Kotkin: We read the book, The Terrible Thing, and it actually tells you about animals, it tells you about, it tells you about butterflies, it tells you about bunnies, and this terrible thing came and it took away all these bunnies and the butterflies.
Guzman-Lopez: Until only one bunny remained. Years ago, Kotkin says, the school took a protective approach and wouldn’t spell out the connection between this story and the Holocaust. She says some kids were too young to make the connection, and students who did get it didn’t know enough details to connect the Holocaust with other acts of genocide.
Kotkin: We feel like we can push to the point more at a younger age, from what we’ve seen. They haven’t gone home. They haven’t had nightmares.
Guzman-Lopez: Kotkin says other Jewish schools are making similar changes in their curricula.
Note: Some of Kotkin’s students plan to join thousands of people tomorrow for a Holocaust Remembrance event at L.A.’s Pan Pacific Park.
UC Irvine’s new law school has chosen its first class. KPCC’s Susan Valot says admissions officials got to be choosy because there were so many applicants.
Susan Valot: For every open slot at UC Irvine’s new law school, 40 people applied. There were more than 2,700 applicants in all. School officials say they accepted 4 percent of the applicants.
That’s a lower percentage than high-caliber law schools like Yale and Stanford. But applicants to UCI get a bonus for entering the inaugural class. All 68 people who agreed to attend will get three-year, full-tuition scholarships. Classes at UCI’s law school begin in August.
In Los Angeles, thousands of public school teachers and support personnel are about to receive layoff notices. KPCC’s Steve Julian reports.
Steve Julian: The nation’s second largest school district faces a budget deficit of nearly $600 million next year. School board members voted on Tuesday to cut as many as 7,000 teaching and other jobs.
The final number of layoffs likely will change – the district is waiting to see how much money it gets from state and federal sources, including stimulus funds. Superintendent Ramon Cortines and teachers’ union president, AJ Duffy, could not agree to teacher furloughs and salary reductions, but roughly 600 teachers are taking early retirement.
Many teachers who’ve received layoff notices say that inner-city schools are getting hit the hardest because many of those teachers are new – state law mandates job reductions begin according to seniority.
L.A. Unified’s Board of Education has just voted to rescind budget cuts that could have led to thousands of job cuts in the district. L.A. Unified’s superintendent has located money to rescind nearly 2,000 of the 8,500 provisional layoff notices the district sent out last month, and the board approved the superintendent’s plan.
At the start of this afternoon’s packed board meeting, president Monica Garcia noted that the district’s not out of the woods yet.
Monica Garcia: “I want to be clear that this vote is the first step in a live process. It is a painful and necessary step one, but now it’s on all of us to reach step two. We have two months to come together to find a shared solution to save as many teacher and other employee jobs as possible.”
Next year’s school district budget is hundreds of millions of dollars in the red. Administrators want L.A. Unified labor unions to accept furloughs and pay cuts to help close that deficit. The district’s teachers union opposes that proposal.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has stepped into the debate over whether L.A. Unified School District employees should accept furloughs and pay cuts to balance the district’s budget. He convened a town hall style meeting today in a Los Angeles middle school library.
Most of the people who attended were allies of his education reform efforts. The mayor said he could help break a stalemate between the administration and its labor unions.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: “And I don’t have a vote on this school board, I wish I did but I don’t, but I do have a bully pulpit, and that’s part of why you see the cameras here, because I said, let’s shine a light on what’s going on here.”
Villaraigosa didn’t advocate one solution over another. His board of education allies did, and they criticized union opposition to furloughs and pay cuts. Teachers union president A.J. Duffy said after the meeting that the school district needs to cut central office expenses further.
L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines announced earlier in the day he’d identified money in the budget to rescind about one-fifth of the provisional layoff notices the school district sent out about a month ago. L.A. Unified’s board meets tomorrow.
- April 13, 2009 3:33 PM
- Categories: Education
Governor Schwarzenegger today asked the federal government for $5 billion in stimulus money for education. KPCC’s Frank Stoltze reports that the governor hopes to reduce the number of teacher layoffs in California.
Frank Stoltze: Public schools across the state have sent out preliminary layoff notices to 26,000 teachers to address $8 billion in state budget cuts. Governor Schwarzenegger hopes that federal stimulus money will keep some teachers working.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: Education took a major hit. And I think because of that, teachers had to be laid off. So I think that this money will help us to not have to lay off as many teachers. It will also go into the classroom.
Stoltze: The governor says public schools could get about $3 billion within weeks – if the federal government approves the state’s application. He estimates another $2 billion would come later. Most of the money would go to Kindergarten through 12th grade schools. One-fifth would go to higher education.
Just over 66,000 students this spring got fat envelopes that signal admission to the University of California system. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the UC’s incoming freshman class.
Cheryl Devall: The class of 2013 will emerge from the largest number of applicants ever to the system. The university admitted about 72 percent of them. More than one-third of the high school seniors admitted maintained grade point averages of 4.0 or higher.
UCLA remains the most popular choice for applicants throughout the country. Along with UC Irvine, the Westwood campus has slightly lowered the number of students it’ll admit this fall. Blame it on the tight state budget.
UC Riverside will admit slightly more students, including some who’d applied to other UC campuses, in order to accommodate every Californian eligible for the system.
This is the first class admitted after system officials pledged the university will cover fees for undergraduates whose families bring home $60,000 or less a year. The 66,265 students accepted have until the first of next month to let the UC know whether they’ll attend.
- April 7, 2009 2:21 PM
- Categories: Education
A new arts high school is scheduled to open in downtown Los Angeles in less than six months. But the school still doesn’t have a principal. Critics are also voicing concern about its direction. They’re calling for the L.A. Unified School District to turn over its control to a charter organization.
Philanthropist Eli Broad told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that he doesn’t think L.A. Unified can effectively operate the school.
Eli Broad: “I do not think they have the ability to run this as a first rate arts high school with the same quality that I’ve seen in other cities. So I think the smartest thing for the district to do would be to get a first-rate charter organization to run it for them.”
L.A. Unified superintendent Ramon Cortines has said that he doesn’t think the school should become a charter school now, but he may let staff consider the idea after it opens.
The district has set a deadline of next week to find a principal from within its ranks. Two leaders from prominent East Coast arts schools had been tapped for the position, but both turned it down.
- April 7, 2009 2:19 PM
- Categories: Education
Last week the president of L.A. Unified’s teachers union, A.J. Duffy, said “no way” to furloughs for his 48,000 members. Today, some of those members met with school board president Monica Garcia and said they’re open to the idea. Garcia said she wants Duffy to consider all budget cutting options.
Monica Garcia: “Mr. Duffy, hear the voices of some of your teachers and help us, help us come to a solution that perhaps protects some of our schools so that there is a stabilization in these over-impacted schools.”
Those who met with Garcia teach at campuses that stand to lose a higher-than-average percentage of instructors because of budget cuts. In a 90 minute meeting, the teachers told board president Garcia they want administrators to make cuts in the central office before their union agrees to furloughs. Garcia says she’ll propose that all seven school board members cut their office budgets by half.
- April 6, 2009 2:47 PM
- Categories: Education
A group of scientists at UCLA say they’ve formed a new organization to publicly counter opponents of animal research. Some of these opponents have tried to drive home their point with fire bombings, vandalism, and intimidation in several Southland incidents in recent years. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: About a month ago, UCLA psychiatrist David Jentsch awoke before dawn at his Beverly Glen home to find his car engulfed in flames.
David Jentsch: Two days later the Animal Liberation Brigade took responsibility – and threatened to extend their actions to me personally, beyond my property.
Guzman-Lopez: Jentsch conducts experiments on mice and monkeys in the hope he’ll find cures for mental disorders. No animal rights extremists have been charged in connection with the incidents at his home and others. Jentsch says that’s caused many researchers to live in fear.
Jentsch: Nobody, including myself in the past, came out and really made a visible stance. Why? Because you could be next.
Guzman-Lopez: He’s started a group called UCLA Pro-Test. Supporters plan to counter an animal rights rally on campus later this month.
Jerry Vlasak is a Los Angeles physician who defends the extremists’ tactics, serves as their spokesman, and says he doesn’t engage in unlawful actions. He says his side’s argument will carry the day at the rally.
Jerry Vlasak: They’re not likely to get very far because the public will wise up once we offer to debate them. Their literature will be ridiculed once it’s available.
And they’re claiming that they’re going to be doing somewhat of a counter-protest on April 22nd and the word is spreading wide throughout the animal rights community, and it’s really just galvanizing the animal rights community.
Guzman-Lopez: Both agree that society needs a reasoned debate about the benefits of using and killing animals for medical research. They disagree about what might happen when that debate proves fruitless.
Southern California scientists who’ve experienced harassment and intimidation from animal research protestors in the last couple of years hope to fight back in the court of public opinion.
UCLA scientist David Jentsch studies mental disorders using vervet monkeys. He says that hundreds of university colleagues and other supporters are speaking out against the violence against researchers who work with animals. Jentsch said he reached his breaking point on the issue a month ago.
David Jentsch: “On the morning of March the 7th, at about 4 a.m. in the morning, I woke up when I heard my car alarm going off. And I walked to the front windows in my bedroom and looked out and saw the car in my front yard in flames.”
He said a group called the Animal Liberation Brigade took responsibility for destroying his car and threatened to cause him bodily harm. A Woodland Hills trauma surgeon who denies participation in the acts but speaks for the extremists said the acts are morally justifiable.
UCLA’s Jentsch says his group is organizing a rally in support of animal research later this month at UCLA.
Los Angeles Unified’s Board of Education is set to vote tomorrow on whether to honor the late farm worker leader Cesar Chavez with a paid employee holiday. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Cesar Chavez Day is already a paid holiday for state employees in California and a handful of other states. California law lets school districts decide whether to declare Chavez Day a paid holiday.
That’s the perfect way to honor Chavez’s decades of civil rights struggles, say the authors of the L.A. Unified motion: board members Yolie Flores Aguilar and Richard Vladovic and board president Monica Garcia. Chavez, a founder of the United Farm Workers, used non-violent tactics to call for better working conditions and wages for farm workers and their families.
If approved, Cesar Chavez Day would take the place of another L.A. Unified paid holiday. For years, San Bernardino congressman Joe Baca’s tried to pass a bill to declare a national Chavez Day. The authors of the L.A. Unified motion hope their action will encourage Baca’s colleagues to approve it.
- March 23, 2009 7:29 PM
- Categories: Education
About 300 students walked out of class today at L.A.’s West Adams Preparatory High School. KPCC’s Brian Watt says they headed toward school district headquarters downtown to protest potential teacher layoffs.
Protesting students: No more pink slips! No more pink slips!
Brian Watt: The students marched peacefully around the L.A. Unified School District’s headquarters. Earlier this month, the district sent layoff notices to about 9,000 employees. While the schools may not let all those workers go, some cuts may be necessary because it’s trying to close a $718 million budget shortfall. West Adams Prep senior Maricia Farmer helped organize the protest.
Maricia Farmer: By the end of the year, 43 of our teachers will not know if they’re gonna be working at West Adams – which is gonna double our class size. We don’t want that.
Watt: Farmer said the cuts are unfair to students who have to head back to school next year – like junior Malcom Oaks. He said some of the younger teachers he’s been studying with for two years could lose their jobs because they lack seniority.
Malcolm Oaks: They’ve worked all these years, got their teachers’ credentials, and now they’re getting laid off. That’s sad.
Watt: Despite this moment of uncertainty for teachers, Oaks said he still aspires to teach English some day.
Protesting students:: Let our teachers stay…
- March 23, 2009 7:28 PM
- Categories: Education
About 300 students from L.A.’s West Adams Preparatory High School marched today outside the downtown headquarters of the L.A. Unified School District. They chanted “no more pink slips” to protest the potential layoffs of thousands of teachers district-wide. Senior Maricia Farmer helped organize the peaceful march.
Maricia Farmer: “I don’t exactly have the right solution, but I know that the wrong solution is to cut our teachers. To cut them and cut our funds from learning, it will really stress my 11th and 10th and 9th graders out, and especially the kids who are coming into high school. It’s not fair for them to be coming into high school where it’s going to be 75 kids in each classroom.”
Earlier this month, L.A. Unified sent layoff notices to about 9,000 employees. While the district may not let all those workers go, some cuts may be necessary because it’s trying to close a $718 million budget shortfall.
- March 23, 2009 3:48 PM
- Categories: Education
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has sued an Orange County school district, claiming that it fosters a sexist and homophobic environment. KPCC’s Frank Stoltze has more.
Frank Stoltze: The civil rights organization alleges that officials at Corona del Mar High School sanction an atmosphere “hostile to female, lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender students.”
Its complaint refers to a case in which three male students used gay slurs and threatened a female student. It claims that a fourth male student verbally threatened her. The female student ended up enrolling in another school.
The ACLU alleges that the school assigned an assistant football coach to investigate the incident, even though three of the four male students were members of the football team. School administrators suspended two of the boys. The other two went unpunished.
The superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District called the ACLU’s allegations serious and promised to investigate them. Earlier this year, Corona del Mar High School’s principal temporarily cancelled a student production of the musical “Rent,” which features gay characters who battle drug abuse and AIDS.
Charter schools claim their independence from school district allows them to push student achievement to new heights. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says a new study suggests that charters are falling short of that promise.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The Rand Corporation study examined middle and high school student data from one California campus, in San Diego, and from others across the country. The numbers indicate that, on average, student performance isn’t much different at charter schools compared to traditional schools.
The California Charter Schools Association contends that the situation’s much different in this state. The association’s president said charter school students in urban school districts such as Los Angeles and Oakland are higher achievers than their peers in traditional public schools.
Charter supporters say they are not skimming the best students. The Rand study agrees. The study also found that charters do a better job motivating students to earn high school diplomas and gain acceptance to college. Low-performing charter schools remain a concern – the report concluded that educators need to do more to hold faltering campuses to high standards.
- March 18, 2009 3:10 PM
- Categories: Education
It’s a repeat for Moorpark High School. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says its team won the state academic decathlon in Sacramento today.
Cheryl Devall: Moorpark is the defending national academic decathlon champion – the Ventura County team scored 50,753 points out of a possible 60,000. This year, competitors had to master 10 subject areas – from math to music to essay writing – with a common focus on Latin America.
The top statewide finishers are from the Southland. El Camino Real High in Woodland Hills placed second, and North Hollywood High School ranked third. The winning team from California will face off against the top scorers from other states in the national decathlon starting April 22 in Memphis, Tennessee.
- March 16, 2009 3:02 PM
- Categories: Education
The J. Paul Getty Trust plans to cut its budget by nearly a quarter in the coming fiscal year. The Getty relies mostly on its investment earnings to operate its two museums and pay for its non-museum operations. Like most others, the Getty’s investment portfolio has taken a hit – it’s lost one-and-a-half billion dollars since July.
American Institute of Philanthropy president Daniel Borochoff told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that the institution may have relied too heavily on investments for income.
Daniel Borochoff: “If the stock market goes down, and it’s going to happen when things are tougher to get other sources of money, it’s not good. I mean there’s government money, the city and state – of course that’s harder now – there’s getting major donations from corporations.
“There’s still wealthy people around that, had they built relationships with some wealthier people to send them money, then they would have those to come forward right now.”
Getty president James Wood told the Los Angeles Times trust officials will decide by the end of May what reductions to make. That could include cuts to temporary exhibitions. The Getty museums do plan to continue free admission.
Proposed cuts in California’s education budget haven’t caught up with the Lawndale School District. None of its almost 500 educators have received the kind of layoff notices the Los Angeles Unified School District sent out to thousands of its teachers earlier this week.
To demonstrate solidarity with others at risk of losing their jobs, about 100 Lawndale teachers, administrators, and parents marched in pink t-shirts. Kindergarten teacher Rosa Maria Garcia waved a sign over her head during the rally.
Rosa Maria Garcia: “We want to put students first. We have to have teachers and custodians and secretaries and administrators to make that happen. This is why we’re marching through our community.”
About 1,000 educators in the Inland Empire met at the Pomona School District headquarters for a similar protest. Public education activists planned similar actions throughout the state.
High school students from across Southern California are in Sacramento for four days of academic grilling. But KPCC’s Frank Stoltze reports the students asked for it.
Frank Stoltze: These are the top students from the region, participating in the annual California Academic Decathlon. Teams of students from 17 Los Angeles area high schools will join a total of 60 teams from across the state – 500 students in all.
The teams come from all over – from Palisades Charter High School to Crenshaw High. The winner will represent California at the national competition in Memphis.
The decathletes are tested in 10 subjects – from art and economics to math and science. This year’s contest theme is Latin America. Last year’s state champ, Moorpark High School of Ventura County, is the defending national champion.
- March 13, 2009 11:46 AM
- Categories: Education
University officials at South Los Angeles’ Charles Drew School of Medicine, across the street from the Martin Luther King/Harbor Urgent Care Center, are looking forward to its restoration as a full-service hospital. L.A. County officials proposed a timeline for that this week.
University president Susan Kelly says it’ll take several years before the new facility can begin to train medical residents again.
Susan Kelly: “But it could still take medical students rotating through there and nurses and physician assistants. We certainly hope that from the moment it’s opened, that it can be a rotating site for medical students.”
Before L.A. County closed the hospital a year and a half ago, it doubled as a teaching facility for the Charles Drew medical school.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is proposing a partnership with the University of California and the state. If all the parties can work out the details, King Hospital could reopen in three years with 120 licensed beds.
UC Irvine’s medical school is focusing new attention on older adults. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall explains why.
Cheryl Devall: UC Irvine has received a $2 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation so it can incorporate more info about aging into its medical training. Over four years, the university plans to incorporate geriatrics education into fields of study from psychiatry to emergency medicine to oncology.
The main idea is to improve communication between doctors and older patients. The director of UCI’s Center of Excellence in Elder Abuse and Neglect points out that most doctors don’t know how to talk – or listen – to elderly patients about their health conditions.
Some of the grant will also adjust UCI Medical Center’s electronic medical records system, so it can warn doctors about possible drug interactions. That’s especially important for older patients, who often take lots of medications.
California’s population is graying. By next year, one in every five people here is expected to be over the age of 60.
The new leader of the California Charter Schools Association said at the organization’s annual gathering today that charter schools’ strengths are no excuse for complacency. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has this report from the conference in Long Beach.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Association chief Jed Wallace started his job a month ago. Soon after that, he asked the association’s staff to pull data for the Academic Performance Index, a test score measurement with a top score of 1,000.
Jed Wallace: They came back to me and they told me that charter schools median score is actually 28 points lower than traditional schools. And I was surprised by that – there are probably some explanations to this that make sense. But 28 points, I was surprised by that.
Guzman-Lopez: So were some of the charter school teachers and administrators who listened to his keynote speech. Wallace told the gathering of about 2,000 people that the schools must make innovation a high priority, but that test score improvement must not fall far behind.
He said the solutions would arise from individual campuses, not from leaders like him. About 800 charter schools operate in California – another 80 are set to open this year. All operate independently of public school district control, and most of their teachers don’t belong to unions.
- March 11, 2009 2:14 PM
- Categories: Education
Administrators at Los Angeles Unified, the Southland’s largest school district, are poised this afternoon to take the first step toward closing a budget deficit by laying off thousands of employees. The decision is set to happen at a school board meeting this afternoon. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez is there.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: L.A. Unified’s teachers’ union is mobilizing teachers and parents to rally at school district headquarter today. They’re protesting preliminary layoffs of nearly 9,000 employees, mostly teachers. The union’s threatening to disrupt the meeting with what it calls “civil disobedience.”
L.A. Unified administrators are predicting that the district’s budget for the next fiscal year will be more than $700 million in the red. Administrators say that sending preliminary layoff notices is a step toward meeting a state-mandated layoff deadline. District officials hope that federal stimulus money and a changing state budget will result in less drastic cuts by June.
Many California school districts are also voting to send layoff notices this week.
California’s likely to get about $2 billion for public schools, state education superintendent Jack O’Connell told reporters after he met with federal education secretary Arne Duncan. During a teleconference, O’Connell said he’s encouraged that Duncan seems to share his concern about improving the quality of teaching and learning.
Superintendent Jack O’Connell: “I have two primary objectives here. One: make sure we qualify as a state for as much money as we’re entitled to. And two: get the money out the door to school districts as quickly as possible.”
O’Connell assured reporters that the federal department would not delay the money. He added, though, that the one-time cash infusion would last no more than two years.
California’s education superintendent Jack O’Connell is accustomed to delivering bad news about the state of public education. But after he met with federal education secretary Arne Duncan, O’Connell struck an optimistic tone in a teleconference with reporters.
Superintendent Jack O’Connell: It’s clearly a new day. It’s a new day in our relationship with the federal government, and it’s very, very exciting. The conversation was focused on collaboration and focused on helping kids. I can sum this meeting up with one word: Bold.
Not only could the state pick up a couple of billion dollars in federal education money, O’Connell said; he added that so far, he’s had three more conference calls with the new federal education secretary than he did with the previous one.
L.A. school superintendent Ramon Cortines says any report of possible abuse of any student must be reported right away. Cortines says he sent an e-mail to all public school employees in Los Angeles last night to make that clear.
The Cortines e-mail came after the schools chief reassigned six employees at Taft High following a report about alleged hazing of athletes on the boys’ volleyball team. Cortines says the police should have been told about the Taft incident, whether it was true or not.
Ramon Cortines: “It is not who you like, it is not about what you thought. You must take action immediately. We are the stewards as it relates to our children and young people, and protecting them from what first was seen as horseplay but obviously based on preliminary information was far more serious.”
Cortines spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” Police investigators say no school employees were involved in the alleged hazing. The L.A. school superintendent says any such incident must be reported to the LAPD and the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services – without exception.
The Los Angeles Unified School District says a student-on-student hazing investigation has led them to reassign six staff who’d worked at Taft High School in Woodland Hills. David Holmquist is the district’s chief operating officer.
David Holmquist: “The Superintendent Tuesday of last week learned that there were some incidents involving boys on the varsity volleyball team that might have arisen to the level of requirement on the district employee part to report suspected child abuse.”
Holmquist wouldn’t reveal details about the allegations. He’d only say the reassigned employees are “high ranking.” The school district continues to look into the matter and the LAPD’s aware of the allegations. A jury convicted one L.A. Unified administrator of a felony last year for concealing a sexual relationship between a minor and a teacher. State law compels school employees to inform their supervisors about actual or alleged child abuse.
- February 24, 2009 6:07 PM
- Categories: Education
No matter how much you’re enjoying that read from the library, a couple of weeks may not be enough time to finish it. So starting Sunday, the Los Angeles Public Library is extending the borrowing period. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has the details.
Cheryl Devall: The library will allow users to check out most books, magazines, and audiobooks for three weeks instead of two. Unless someone else has requested the same item, it’ll be possible to renew twice.
While the borrowing time is longer, late fees will be higher – 35 cents a day instead of 30 for adult and teen library materials, and 15 cents a day instead of 10 for children’s items. It’ll also cost library users more to replace lost overdue books and DVDs.
Library commissioners expect the new fees to generate up to 400,000 extra dollars a year. Anyone who lives in Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura counties may get a free card to use the L.A. central library and the system’s 71 branches. More information about the new fee schedule – and about reserving books for pickup at any city of L.A. library – is available online at LAPL.org.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa cut the ribbon today on a refurbished parent center at a Watts schools run by his Partnership for L.A. Schools. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez was there.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Parents at Gompers Middle School said they’d asked L.A. Unified for years to improve the campus parent center. No money, the district replied. When the mayor’s schools partnership began running this and nine other schools last year, its officials said they’d find the funds.
Satellite television company DirecTV has donated $250,000 to convert the old campus woodshop into a comfy parents’ lounge, outfitted with computers, books, and DirecTV’s 80 education channels. DirecTV also is a donor to the mayor’s reelection campaign. Gompers parent advocate Lily Robinson said the center will help ensure that no parent is left behind.
Lily Robinson: We have Spanish workshops, ESL workshops where the Spanish parents get to learn how to speak English, and it’s free. We have anger management classes for our parents, and teach them how to talk to their teens and pull back some. We have reading classes, math classes, computer classes, and we just keep going.
Guzman-Lopez: With those skills under their belts, she said, parents will be better equipped to help their kids succeed.
In an annual report released today, UCLA education researchers say high school and college diplomas remain out of reach for many students. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: One-third of ninth graders enrolled in the fall of 2003 didn’t make it to graduation day four years later, says the report from UCLA’s Institute for Democracy Education and Access. Researchers say that California’s public schools are segregated, and campuses with black and Latino majorities often end up with the least experienced teachers and the fewest advanced course offerings.
The proportion of California students who enroll in college right after high school is almost the lowest in the nation, the report says. It doesn’t spell out the direct causes of all this. But it does advise Californians to think about whether directing more money toward education will improve the state’s economic outlook.
Other data suggests that high school seniors are finding their way to college, even if they wait awhile. More students are transferring to Cal State from community colleges each year. Close to 33,000 transfer students started at Cal State campuses in the fall of 2002. Five years later, 36,000 transferred.
- February 23, 2009 4:55 PM
- Categories: Education
In a time of budget cuts, some UC Irvine medical and nursing students are providing a silver lining. KPCC’s Susan Valot says they’re opening a free health clinic this week.
Susan Valot: The new clinic is at the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope. That’s at the old Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin. It’ll be run out of the village’s Hurtt Family Health Clinic.
The students will work under UCI faculty physicians to provide free services from 8 in the morning until noon every Saturday. Those services include preventive care, lab testing, and medication for people with low incomes who don’t qualify for government programs.
The grand opening’s this Wednesday. The UC Irvine Outreach Clinic’s being paid for with donations and by the university’s School of Medicine. The campus hopes to expand the hours – and branch out to other locations.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said today it’s been a good news/bad news week for California education. Public schools and community colleges in the state are thirsty for the nearly $10 billion in federal stimulus money approved in Washington, D.C.
At the same time, O’Connell told reporters in a teleconference that lawmakers in Sacramento are close to approving a budget that will cut about $7 billion from statewide education. He said that’ll hurt schools in the short and long term.
Jack O’Connell: “When we have a bad budget, when we have all this uncertainty, when we have a record number of layoff notices, fewer college students are entering the teacher preparation pipeline. And that’s going to cost us when you’re looking at a dramatic need to recruit the best and the brightest among us to enter the teaching profession.”
He said the state budget rules that require two-thirds of lawmakers to approve have made the financial picture worse. O’Connell’s urging that the legislature reduce that threshold to a simple majority.
During a teleconference today, state schools superintendent Jack O’Connell praised federal officials for greenlighting close to $10 billion for California public schools and community colleges. Still, O’Connell added, state lawmakers are likely to approve a budget soon that will force many school districts to send layoff notices to teachers in three weeks.
Jack O’Connell: “I’m going to project a record number of layoff notices. This is more than just morale. We know from a difficult budget last year, many of our outstanding teachers leave the schools. I have seen billboards from other districts in other states, stating that our district values public education, come teach here.”
Budget cuts would also swell class sizes, especially in the higher grades. O’Connell said California’s budget stalemate has worsened the state’s economic prospects during this recession. He urged Sacramento lawmakers and the governor to overhaul the budget process.
Students at a South Los Angeles medical school will be able to ask officials there about the school’s finances and future tomorrow afternoon. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario says the president of Charles Drew University wants one-on-one time with the students.
Patricia Nazario: University president Dr. Susan Kelly started hearing about students’ concerns soon after she announced salary and job cuts almost two weeks ago.
She promises that student amenities and services will not factor into her cost-cutting equation. Kelly says she wants more of the institution’s resources to go toward students.
Dr. Susan Kelly: Because they have great needs at the moment. There’s not as much part-time work out there. We’ve put in a place a new scholarship program. We also will be distributing more of our own scholarship funds to students in needs, because these are hard time for everybody.
Nazario: The medical university focuses on training urban health care practitioners. Its closest teaching hospital used to be the L.A. County run King-Drew Medical Center. Charles Drew lost millions of dollars when L.A. County supervisors closed the hospital a year and half ago.
The global financial crisis is causing foundations and donors to scale back donations to the school. President Susan Kelly hopes that cutting executive salaries, travel, and overtime costs will help reduce annual expenses by $10 million.
As Sacramento lawmakers approach an agreement with the governor on the state’s budget gap, they’re coming in for criticism from educators upset about big cuts to public schools and community colleges. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass told KPCC’s Larry Mantle why legislative leaders didn’t trim from other programs and services.
Karen Bass: “The deficit is so large, $41 billion, there was no way to cut from one sector only, and you probably know that we’re under court order around the prisons. And so we definitely cut where we could, but this is a question of shared sacrifice, like our president said in his inaugural speech.”
Bass said she hopes that money from the proposed federal economic stimulus package will ease the pain of state budget cuts.
State lawmakers appear to be closing in on a budget agreement that reportedly would cut almost $8 billion from public schools and community colleges.
The official who oversees San Diego County schools says that would deliver a world of hurt. Superintendent Randy Ward told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that, in the past, districts have cried wolf – threatening to fire teachers and then pulling back.
Superintendent Randy Ward: “This is not one of those cry wolf situations and we are going to have quite an extensive number of layoffs. And we don’t expect many of them to be rescinded.”
Legislative leaders will meet with Governor Schwarzenegger today to try and finalize the budget agreement. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass says they still have to work out some technical details.
The proposed budget reportedly would also cut close to $500 million from local public transit systems. The proposal also includes higher gasoline and sales taxes. It would also impose a new surcharge on personal income taxes.
After six months of negotiations, eight L.A. Unified labor unions that represent more than 100,000 active and retired employees announced today a significant three-year agreement on health and welfare benefits. United Teachers Los Angeles president AJ Duffy spoke with reporters about the deal.
AJ Duffy: “This is a good agreement. This will allow the current level of benefits to be continued for active employees, and will allow the district to maintain it’s time-honored agreements with retirees who’ve given a lifetime of service.”
The deal guarantees that for the rest of this year, active and retired L.A. Unified employees will keep their current benefits and won’t have to pay health care premiums.
In the following two years, a school district committee that consists almost entirely of union members will have more power to negotiate benefits with providers. It’ll cost L.A. Unified more than $900 million to provide these benefits this year.
The teachers union is negotiating separately with the school district on salary increases. UTLA leaders are moving forward with a strike authorization vote next month.
For a year and a half, L.A. Unified and its teachers’ union have faced each other at the negotiating table over salaries, benefits, and other contract provisions.
KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez attended a news conference today where union leaders said they’ve had enough.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: United Teachers Los Angeles wants a contract that includes pay raises and continued free lifetime medical benefits for members. Freemont High School Teacher Matt Taylor rejects a school district proposal that would make new hires pay premiums for health care benefits. Current union members don’t pay premiums.
Matt Taylor: The teachers will vote to go on strike if all else fails to convince the district to keep pay cuts as far away from the classroom as possible and to bargain reasonably with UTLA.
Guzman-Lopez: Negotiations are so bad, Taylor and other union officials said, that UTLA has scheduled a vote next month to move closer to strike authorization. Superintendent Ramon Cortines is the school district’s main negotiator.
Superintendent Ramon Cortines: They are wrong, negotiations are not so bad.
Guzman-Lopez: Both sides said they are closer to agreeing on other provisions of the labor contract.
- February 10, 2009 5:08 PM
- Categories: Education
Charles Drew University in South Los Angeles plans to lower its expenses by cutting jobs, reducing some salaries, and limiting staff travel.
The teaching hospital nearest the campus – L.A. County-run King-Drew Medical Center – closed a year and a half ago. The president of the medical school, Dr. Susan Kelly, says she hopes to lay off no more than three or four dozen people.
Dr. Susan Kelly: “Some jobs are redundant. We don’t need them anymore, because we don’t do that work anymore. Others, we need fewer of them and others, we need to adapt to the fact that revenues have declined. Some people need to be part time until we can restore the funding to that area.”
Kelly says donations to the private, non-profit medical school are drying up.
She says financial aid for its 325 students is not in jeopardy. But Kelly might stop construction of the university’s nursing school building, if Sacramento doesn’t make good on a $10 million grant toward the project. That’s a real possibility amid California’s $42 billion budget crisis.
Leaders of L.A. Unified’s teachers union said today that contract talks with the school district are so bad they’re moving toward a strike vote. United Teachers Los Angeles Secretary Betty Forrester said that so far, offers from school district negotiators are unacceptable.
Betty Forrester: “After 18 months of district intransigence at the bargaining table, on both economic and non-economic issues, UTLA wants the district and the public to know that a strong public education cannot be sacrificed, even in hard economic times.”
Union officials want a 6 percent pay increase. They also reject a district proposal to start charging new employees premiums for health care benefits. Union teachers don’t pay premiums under the current contract.
L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said negotiators are making progress. He added that an agreement is close on a portion of the contract talks. The union’s strike authorization vote is set for next month.
- February 10, 2009 3:24 PM
- Categories: Education
The Los Angeles Unified School District officially announced today that it’s expanding an innovative solar panel installation training program. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: L.A. Unified wants enough solar panels on school roofs in three years to produce 50 megawatts of electricity – enough to power tens of thousands of homes. It’ll have to hire contractors with experienced installers.
There aren’t enough experienced workers to fill the need now, so the school district’s expanding its certification courses from one center in Lincoln Heights to others in South L.A. and the San Fernando Valley. Guy Mehula, head of L.A. Unified’s Facilities Division, says new schools built with voter-approved bond money are all wired to use solar energy.
Guy Mehula: We have actually made a conscious effort in our bond program to build 130 new schools, but to make sure we’re reinvesting back into the community and making sure that those dollars are going back to our local labor force, and means jobs for us here in L.A.
Guzman-Lopez: About 90 adults, a small portion of them high school students, are enrolled in the solar panel training program. Officials predict that hundreds will want to train for the well-paid jobs.
LINK: East Los Angeles Skills Center - current location for Photovoltaic Installer Certification Preparation program
Educators have largely failed to significantly improve the performance of African American students in California public schools. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says the State Board of Education wants ideas.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The state board’s decided to create an African American advisory committee of educators, parents, and others to share ideas and find out how some schools succeeding at raising black students’ test scores and graduation rates. State Board of Education member Greg Jones says one of the biggest obstacles is low expectations.
Greg Jones: Most of the young people that find themselves on the bottom end of the achievement gap, whether they are African America, Latino, or poor kids, many of them live in a world of low expectations, whether it’s through their peer group, whether it’s even at home, and sometimes it’s at school.
Guzman-Lopez: The board’s accepting applications for the committee until Tuesday, February 17. It wants people with experience in education or with African American communities.
When classes start up Monday at a couple of Orange County community colleges, something will be missing: smoke. KPCC’s Susan Valot says two campuses are joining the ranks of the “smoke-free.”
Susan Valot: If you smoke, you’ll now be pushed to the outskirts at Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College. They’ve declared themselves “smoke-free” institutions, starting this semester.
That means no tobacco in buildings, on sidewalks, or on the college mall. The ban includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes… even chewing tobacco. Smokers will have to head to the parking lots around the perimeters of the campuses if they want to light up. Initially, there’ll just be signs and polite reminders to let smokers and tobacco chewers know.
The number of college campuses that have banned or limited smoking has grown over the past few years. Some campuses have really strict policies. For example, smoking’s not allowed anywhere on campus at Fullerton College and Santa Monica College… not even the parking lots.
The University of California’s governing board has unanimously approved a major overhaul of its admissions policy for freshmen. KPCC’s Nick Roman says the changes announced in San Francisco are the biggest in the UC’s admissions guidelines in almost 50 years.
Nick Roman: Back then, the newly-adopted “Master Plan for Higher Education” guaranteed a tuition-free education at the University of California for the top one-eighth of the state’s high school graduates. That’s 12.5 percent, if you don’t do fractions.
Now that’s shifting down to 10 percent. The UC’s Board of Regents has adopted new admission guidelines in the works for five years. The biggest change is the lower admission guarantee. But the Regents also tweaked the admissions formula of grades, college prep credits, personal achievements, and SAT scores.
The aim is to get more Latino, African-American, and low-income students into the UC’s nine undergrad campuses.
The new guidelines don’t take effect until today’s high school freshmen enter college in three years. But remember: They apply only to freshman admissions. Go to a community college and get good grades in the required courses, and you’ll be first in line among UC transfers.
- February 5, 2009 5:41 PM
- Categories: Education
College campuses throughout the country and the Southland are conducting teach-ins about global warming today. KPCC’s Molly Peterson has the story.
Molly Peterson: Loyola Marymount, UCLA, and UC Irvine are taking part. One focus of the annual event is how to make campuses more sustainable. TreePeople’s Andy Lipkis is leading a discussion about that topic at Cal State Northridge.
This year, teach-in organizers are pegging the event to the first 100 days of the new presidential administration to try to build support for specific policy recommendations – cutting carbon by 40 percent within 11 years, creating millions of “green” jobs, promoting carbon-neutral power, and developing renewable technology.
High schools will take up projects on global warming too. A Web site for the teach-in recommends to all campus organizers that they invite policymakers, scientists, and scholars to discuss the consequences and prevention of climate change with students.
Link: National Teach-In
The governing body of the University of California is set to vote Thursday on a plan that would drastically change freshman admissions at the nine campuses. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says that under the proposal, UC would guarantee admission to the top ten percent of California’s high school students, not the top 12-and-a-half percent, as it stands now.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The plan would also broaden the number of students whose applications UC admissions officers would consider. The university would review applications from high school juniors with a B average who’ve finished 11 of UC’s 15 required classes for admission.
The plan, supported by UC President Mark Yudof, would also guarantee spots for top performers at all high schools, from exclusive private ones to low-performing public schools. University officials say the changes would increase ethnic diversity at the 220,000-student system. Faculty in UC’s Academic Senate proposed the changes.
Almost 13 years ago, UC stopped considering race in student admissions after a voter-approved proposition banned the practice. In the years since, black and Latino student enrollment dropped throughout the system.
If the regents approve, the admissions changes would take effect in three years.
- February 4, 2009 6:45 PM
- Categories: Education
Like just about every other business, the music industry is facing hard times. That didn’t keep a thousand hopeful Southland high school students from a Grammy Foundation program about careers in music. KPCC’s Brian Watt has the story.
Brian Watt: The Grammy Foundation’s sponsored a Career Day for 21 years. Top musicians, songwriters, and producers offer their takes on the possibilities and pitfalls of the recording business. Bassist Marcus Miller started the jazz workshop with a couple of questions.
Marcus Miller: Did I hear that everyone here is a jazz musician? Y’all don’t mind not eating every once in a while, right? (laughter)
Watt: In other words, the odds are long for making it as a performer. But Miller pointed to other lucrative jobs in the industry. For example, he said the engineer he likes to work with most can also play.
Miller: He knows where you’re going. He knows when to move you louder, he knows when to move you softer. He knows when to add some bass to your sound because he’s a musician himself.
Watt: Miller’s words struck a chord with aspiring bassist John Ardon, a 12th grader at Antelope Valley’s Little Rock High School.
John Ardon: Being able to know that you could do something else, you know, and something else that… there’s more possibility, and still be intertwined with music, which you love the most, that’s what I really like about that.
Watt: Ardon calls Marcus Miller his inspiration. Now that they’ve met, he said he’ll just practice longer and harder.
More than a thousand Los Angeles-area high school students got an opportunity today to learn about careers in music. Ahead of Sunday’s big recording industry awards show, the Grammy Foundation rounded up successful musicians, songwriters, and producers for its 21st annual Career Day at the University of Southern California.
During a panel discussion, 22-year-old singer-songwriter Jesse McCartney told the students that he began to taste success at age 16. But he resisted the pressure to drop out of high school.
Jesse McCartney: “That guy who would have dropped out at 15 to 16, his partner that was in that music class that finished high school, he’s the one that’s gonna be more musically inclined graduating. He’s the one that’s gonna get the deal. And even though he waited a little longer, he’s definitely gonna come out on top.”
After the panel, students attended workshops on topics including music publishing, production, and engineering.
At a Pasadena town hall meeting today, state superintendent of schools Jack O’Connell said proposed budget cuts are pushing schools into crisis mode. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: It was billed as a Save Our Schools town hall. The message wasn’t new to the audience. Most in attendance were education advocates and school district superintendents who’ve presided over budget cuts in recent years. O’Connell said Sacramento cuts under consideration this year and next will jeopardize the schools’ mission.
Jack O’Connell: It is bad, I’m using the term ‘precarious,’ and we’re really at that juncture where we’re teetering, and if we make some bad decisions in Sacramento and locally, we will not continue to see academic achievement and improvement we’ve seen in the last six years.
Guzman-Lopez: Proposed cuts would force many school districts to cut instructional days and lay off teachers. Crisis or not, school leaders said, Sacramento needs to come up with more money.
O’Connell told the audience that one way to avert a crisis is to lower the voter threshold to pass municipal parcel taxes – and to pass a statewide school improvement bond so districts can upgrade facilities in an environmentally-friendly way.
- February 4, 2009 12:35 PM
- Categories: Education
California’s education chief says the public schools are in a “precarious” situation. In his annual “State of Education” address, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said schools face up to $10 billion in cuts this school year because of the state’s massive deficit. O’Connell worries that the resulting layoffs and larger class sizes cuts could hurt some students more than others.
Superintendent Jack O’Connell: “It’s the students of color, students who are poor, students who are learning English, or coping with learning disabilities, who need the most assistance. And equal cuts across the school, or across a school district, will be inequitably felt by them.”
Any deal lawmakers work out to balance the state’s $40 billion deficit is likely to include cuts to education.
The governor says he wants to give schools more spending flexibility. But the state’s biggest teachers union maintains that would leave schools with smaller instructional staffs.
With the state strapped for cash, it’s delayed tax refunds and other payments for at least a month. That includes state grants to students who need the money for fees, books, and education costs. KPCC’s Susan Valot says the University of California system is offering its students a bit of a reprieve.
Susan Valot: The University of California says it’ll foot the bill to cover the Cal Grant money students haven’t received – but will eventually get – once the budget mess is squared away in Sacramento. It did the same thing last fall when lawmakers in Sacramento were late with the state budget.
University students that qualify for Cal Grants get up to $10,000 a year to pay for education expenses.
Until the checks come in again, those students will get an advance on their Cal Grant payments from the UC. The 10-campus university system says it’ll use money from its short-term financial reserves to foot the bill for now. But the UC also says it expects to be reimbursed once lawmakers pass the state budget.
LINK: Cal Grants
California education leaders today blasted Governor Schwarzenegger’s new proposals for mid-year education cuts. The governor’s office says a sharp drop in revenues has forced it to recalculate the education funding guarantees it made last year. The result would be $7 billion less to schools for this fiscal year.
Members of the Education Coalition said school districts would have to close public school campuses for 34 days and increase class sizes. Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell spoke with reporters in a teleconference.
Jack O’Connell: “This is an absolute shame and I’d like to strongly urge the governor and the legislature to think twice about reducing public education to such a bare bones level of funding, because we owe our kids more than just the minimum. We owe them the guarantee of our commitment to their future.”
The governor’s finance department says some relief may be in sight. A spokesman said school budgets would recover next year if the legislature approves the governor’s plan to raise California’s sales tax and taxes on sporting events and alcoholic drinks.
- January 29, 2009 1:01 PM
- Categories: Education
Los Angeles Unified’s teachers’ union is telling its members to boycott a student test it calls unnecessary and costly. More on the story from KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The union has complained about the math and English assessments for years. The school district makes most students take the test to measure progress. The union said this week that the district should scratch the assessment to save money and avert some budget cuts.
L.A. Unified superintendent Ramon Cortines credits the assessments with improved academic achievement. Besides, he said, they’re mandatory.
Ramon Cortines: This district was cited by the state because of our schools not making academic progress. And the settlement that we agreed to was we would put in place an accountability system.
In a letter to all employees, Cortines said the test is part of teachers’ jobs. He added that he doesn’t want disagreement to turn into confrontation.
L.A. Unified’s still facing budget cuts, Cortines said last week, but the district won’t lay off beginning teachers to save money.
- January 28, 2009 5:07 PM
- Categories: Education
L.A. Unified’s Board of Education has voted to name one of its brand new schools after the people who filed a pathbreaking desegregation case in Orange County. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Lawyers for Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez successfully argued in 1946 that their children should attend a nearby all-white school in Westminster instead of the segregated school farther away.
The case ended legal public school segregation in California. Eight years later the U.S. Supreme Court made a similar, national judgment in the case Brown versus Board of Education.
L.A. Unified Board President Monica Garcia said a school should carry the Mendez name to shed light on the family’s struggle for civil rights.
The Boyle Heights high school joins many other new L.A. Unified campuses named after noteworthy Latinos, living and dead. The school board’s named schools after the late L.A. Times journalist Frank Del Olmo, Texas painter Carmen Lomas Garza, and former state legislator Martha Escutia.
A San Gabriel Valley school district is turning third-generation Chinese American middle school students into cultural ambassadors during the Chinese New Year. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Chinese culture is teacher Corrina Shih’s main subject at the Rowland Unified School District. Her students are mostly assimilated Chinese Americans who are largely disconnected from the culture of their parents and grandparents. She says the seventh- and eighth-graders had a lot of questions about this week’s Lunar New Year celebrations.
Corrina Shih: Why people do fireworks during Chinese New Year and also talk about clothing, why Chinese people like to wear new clothes during the Chinese New Year, and also lion and dragon dances.
Guzman-Lopez: Shih directed her students to turn their questions into research projects. They paid a visit to a massive Buddhist temple complex in Hacienda Heights. They’ll also take their display boards to a nearby elementary school to share their knowledge with younger students.
This is the second year Rowland Unified’s received a federal grant to offer Chinese and Korean culture classes.
In the last decade L.A. Unified’s opened 76 new schools through its publicly-funded construction program. None of these facilities have been established as charters, the very popular schools that function independently of district control. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says that could change at tomorrow’s school board meeting.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: L.A. Unified hasn’t set aside construction money for the 500-student Central Region High School #12, near downtown L.A. Construction costs are rising. So is the demand for room at charter schools.
The board’s vote would determine whether a charter school company would run the school after the company finds construction funding on its own and lets L.A. Unified build it.
This arrangement would be an important first if the school board approves, says Jose Cole Gutierrez, head of L.A. Unified’s Charter Schools Division.
Jose Cole Gutierrez: “It is significant and frankly a sign from the board of education, superintendent of this district, to say that we want to continue to work together with charters to make sure every child has access to a safe facilities and a quality education.”
A spokesman for the California Charter Schools Association says the proposal represents a very small step in the right direction. The association’s taken L.A. Unified to court to obtain space for charter schools.
Charter school operators, the association argues, can build facilities more cheaply, so the school district should give charter schools public bond funding and let them build the facilities they need.
- January 26, 2009 5:17 PM
- Categories: Education
The administrators of the Southland’s second largest school district are holding an informational public meeting this afternoon to talk about upcoming budget cuts. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The Long Beach Unified School District laid off almost 100 beginning teachers last year because of budget cuts. Administrators don’t know how many they’ll have to let go this year because Sacramento lawmakers haven’t agreed on budget cuts.
Long Beach Unified receives more than $5,000 per student from state coffers. Mike Day, the president of Long Beach Unified’s teachers’ union, says his union and administrators are bracing for cuts of about 300 dollars per student.
Mike Day: That’s two to three teachers that could be cut from every elementary school in the district, and more for high schools.
Guzman-Lopez: Union president Day defends a 4-and-a-half percent pay increase the union negotiated for its current contract. Teachers deserved it, he says, and the state allocated the cost of living increases. It might be the last pay raise Long Beach teachers receive for the next several years.
- January 26, 2009 10:24 AM
- Categories: Education
The University of California today released application statistics for the fall term. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says the numbers show that the UC is becoming an even more elite university.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: UC received 98,000 freshman applications and almost 29,000 transfer applications for the fall. The combined numbers are a nearly 5 percent spike compared to last year. The surge isn’t a surprise.
Its Nobel laureates, top research facilities, and country club-like campuses make the UC system very attractive. But its stringent entrance requirements, limited seats, and rising fees can make acceptance a long shot for many California students.
UC regents voted last week to accept 2,300 fewer freshmen in the fall because the state’s not providing enough money to accommodate at least 10,000 students currently enrolled. Administrators said they’d rather accept fewer students than lower the quality of a UC education with crowded classrooms and strained facilities.
At the same time, UC’s increasing slots for students who transfer from community colleges. This week, the system’s president promised to guarantee enough financial aid to cover the cost of annual fees for low-income students.
- January 23, 2009 2:47 PM
- Categories: Education
New teachers at L.A. Unified can breathe easier today. School district superintendent Ramon Cortines says he won’t move forward with plans to lay off more than 2,000 teachers in response to proposed state budget cuts. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: In a statement, Cortines offered two reasons for the decision. About 2,000 teachers are interested in early retirement. That would save the district money. Cortines also said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pledged last week to allow school districts more flexibility in the way they use some state education funds.
Last week, L.A. Unified’s school board gave Cortines the authority on a split vote to lay off up to 2,290 teachers. The district may have to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from its current budget. Teachers who’ve spent just a couple of years on the job, with less job security than tenured teachers, would have been laid off.
Public school districts including L.A. Unified aren’t out of financial jeopardy yet. Sacramento lawmakers continue to debate how to best close a multibillion dollar budget gap in this year and next year’s budgets. That’s likely to push administrators to cut support services for classrooms, increase class sizes, and lay off instructors.
President-elect Barack Obama has made improving education an important goal of his administration. He may be surprised to know he’s already inspired students like 8-year-old Cheyenne Clark of Los Angeles.
Cheyenne Clark: “And I’m so happy that Obama becomes the president because that speech that he said, it was so touching. I love that speech where he says “‘yes we can.’ Because when I think I don’t know a answer to a test, I think of his speech ‘yes we can’ and I just write my answer down.”
Clark was one of thousands of people who turned out for the annual parade saluting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Vendors who sold t-shirts, bobble-head dolls, and other items bearing the likeness of the first African-American president lined the parade route along Martin Luther King and Crenshaw boulevards in South L.A.
The Southland economy’s set to get a small construction boost. Los Angeles Community College administrators are green lighting $400 million in bond-funded contracts. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: These contracts account for about one-tenth of the 3-and-a-half billion dollars in bonds voters approved in November to improve L.A. community colleges.
The contracts will go toward construction of an $80 million health center at West L.A. College, new classrooms, labs, and parking lots at Mission College in Sylmar, and a $28 million parking structure at Harbor College in Wilmington.
Economists and labor leaders praised the L.A. Community College administration’s swift action to approve construction and design projects. College administrators say these contracts will create more than 6,000 new jobs in the next few years.
In the last several years voters within L.A. Community College boundaries have approved almost $6 billion in bonds to build and improve facilities.
Public school teachers in Los Angeles may face layoffs. The board of education yesterday gave the district superintendent permission to lay off nearly 2,300 instructors. KPCC’s Steve Julian has more.
Steve Julian: This year’s L.A. public school budget is more than $400 million leaner than last year’s, but cuts at the state level could force an additional quarter-billion dollar loss in funding. Laying off probationary teachers and other employees could save the district more than $137 million.
But AJ Duffy, the head of the teacher’s union, urged the school board to not take money from teachers, or out of classrooms. Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he hopes the threat of layoffs will put pressure on California lawmakers to help districts across the state.
A state proposal to save money by trimming five days from the school year doesn’t sit well with California’s superintendent of public instruction.
Jack O’Connell told KPCC’s “AirTalk” he doesn’t believe the state is going to save $1 billion, as the governor’s administration claims.
Jack O’Connell: “Here’s the reality – these districts have collective bargaining agreements already. So, we have a thousand school districts in the state, and I don’t believe you’re going to see a majority of these school districts be able to renegotiate and suddenly in the middle of the year reduce funding for these five days.”
The state finance department spokesman has said that no school district will be forced to cut days from the academic year for budget reasons.
The Schwarzenegger administration is defending a proposal that would allow school districts to save money by cutting five days from the academic year. H.D. Palmer is a spokesman for the state department of finance. He told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that the proposal would not be mandatory.
H.D. Palmer: “It is not something that we are proposing as you shall do this or you must do this, we are giving school districts the option of doing this in order to save what again would be, as you noted, a little bit over $1 billion in the coming fiscal year. This is not a proposal that would affect the current school year or the current fiscal year.”
Palmer added that educators suggested the proposal last year when they met with the governor about the budget crisis.
But state schools superintendent Jack O’Connell responded that there are better ways to save money - and that districts shouldn’t even have the option of cutting instructional days. O’Connell said he realizes that California will have to cut education money amid the budget crisis, but he added that the state should do it with a scalpel - not a meat axe.
The state schools superintendent is criticizing a budget proposal that would allow school districts to shave five days off of their school year. The proposal by Governor Schwarzenegger would give districts the option of reducing their school year from 180 days down to 175 days to save money.
State Superintendent Jack O’Connell told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that cutting school days is not the way to go.
Jack O’Connell: “We know we’re going to have to postpone the purchase of much needed textbooks, and computers, and technology, and professional development for our professional educators - all of them really necessary for our students. But to deny our student a learning opportunity that every other class has had since we increased to 180 – I want more learning opportunities for our students, not fewer.”
O’Connell also argues that such a move could put students in poor areas at a further disadvantage, since wealthier districts might be able to pay for the extra five school days on their own.
In a new report, the union that represents instructors at Cal State University campuses takes aim at Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget cuts.
Schwarzenegger’s proposed cutting millions of dollars from the state’s education system to help close a big budget gap. California Faculty Association president Lillian Taiz says that years of cuts have already created obstacles for low-income students in the Cal State system.
Lillian Taiz: “They can’t get out in four years. They’re lucky to get out in six years. It could take longer. They’re going to go head over heels in debt, if they can figure out how to fill out the forms. Their library isn’t open as many hours as it should be.”
The California Faculty Association’s report indicates that California ranks 49th of 50 states in educational attainment – the percentage of the adult population that holds at least a high school diploma.
- January 7, 2009 2:56 PM
- Categories: Education
In a new report, the union that represents instructors at Cal State University campuses takes aim at Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget cuts.
Schwarzenegger’s proposed cutting millions of dollars from the state’s education system to help close a big budget gap. California Faculty Association president Lillian Taiz says that years of cuts have already created obstacles for low-income students in the Cal State system.
Lillian Taiz: “They can’t get out in four years. They’re lucky to get out in six years. It could take longer. They’re going to go head-over-heels in debt, if they can figure out how to fill out the forms. Their library isn’t open as many hours as it should be.”
The California Faculty Association’s report indicates that California ranks 49th of 50 states in educational attainment, the percentage of the adult population that holds at least a high school diploma.
The L.A. teachers union is reacting angrily to the possibility of large-scale teacher layoffs. The LAUSD says budget problems may force it to lay off more than 2,000 of its newer teachers this year. AJ Duffy is president of United Teachers Los Angeles.
AJ Duffy: “These are the teachers of tomorrow, and if you get rid of them now, they are gone forever. They will not come back to this district. They will go to Florida. They will go to Illinois.They’ll go to any other place where they can get a job, or worse than that, they’ll go to another profession. What we are looking at here is the total devastation of public education in California, and that is a tragedy.”
Duffy spoke on KPCC’s “AirTalk.” LAUSD says if it moves forward with the layoffs, 1700 elementary school teachers and 600 middle and high school math and English teachers would receive pink slips.
The LAUSD’s Chief Operating Officer spoke on KPCC’s “AirTalk” today about the district’s financial troubles. Dave Holmquist said L.A. Unified may have no choice but to lay off more than 2,000 of its newer teachers this school year.
Dave Holmquist: “Well, we certainly hope it doesn’t damage the profession of teaching. I mean, this is all budget driven. We aren’t doing this but for the fiscal crisis that we are in. I mean, certainly we don’t like to lay off teachers, and we don’t want to have to do it mid-year. Fortunately, we do have some out-of-classroom teachers, so while it will be a disruption to learning, we hope to minimize that if it becomes necessary to do so.”
LAUSD says the state’s fiscal mess has blown a $250 million hole in the L.A. public school budget.
The teachers who might receive mid-year pink slips have less than two years’ experience, meaning they have fewer job protections than teachers with more seniority.
The L.A. Unified School District’s new superintendent Ray Cortines sent a letter today to district employees. In it, he warns of possible layoffs.
At a news conference this afternoon, Cortines said his immediate goals are to address a $250 million budget shortfall for this school year, and to begin planning for even bigger deficits in the next two years. Cortines said the school district could lose a lot of its newer teachers.
Ray Cortines: “If I’m a third grade teacher, and I’ve been around for 50 years, I’m not gonna lose my third grade job. But the teacher next door to me, this little young whippersnap that I’ve been mentoring and helping, this teacher is going. So it creates a morale problem within a school.”
Cortines said 2,000 to 4,000 district employees, not only teachers, could lose their jobs. The L.A. Unified Board of Education must approve any personnel cuts.
The federal government’s applying new standards for adult students in the Southland and across California. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario has the story.
Patricia Nazario: The California Department of Education is raising the bar for adult literacy and “transition to job” programs. The state’s complying with changes in the federal Adult Basic Education Initiative for Student Success.
Under that initiative, the federal government assesses adult students in each state and sets individual target performance goals. In California, one in three adults enrolled in high school-level classes is literate. Uncle Sam wants the state to increase that proportion to 43 percent.
School districts have until January 16th to apply for access to consultants, technical assistance, and professional staff development opportunities. The three-year federal project doesn’t allocate new money for adult education, but its goals are negotiable.
- December 30, 2008 11:50 AM
- Categories: Education
Mid-year cuts in the state education budget have prompted the Los Angeles Unified School District to suspend a partnership with area arts organizations. Danielle Brazell with the advocacy group Arts for L.A. lamented the decision on KPCC’s “AirTalk.”
Danielle Brazell: “The purpose of arts education is not solely to create the next generation of artists. The purpose of arts education is to create the next generation of society. It’s to create a creative work force.
“Southern California is built on a creative industry and we need smart, intelligent, critical thinkers who can fill positions that require creative thinking, so this is one of the things that arts education provides.”
Brazell - whose program administers the partnership between public schools and 80 theaters, musical organizations, and other arts institutions – described arts education as a social justice issue. The partnership’s budget was about $8 million this year. L.A. Unified has to cut $400 million in state money from its annual budget.
Forget the North Pole. One UC Irvine scientist is spending his holiday season in the South Pole. KPCC’s Susan Valot says he’s studying gases trapped in ice.
Susan Valot: UC Irvine chemist Murat Aydin and three other scientists are drilling holes into the icy surface buried below the snow in Antarctica. They’re collecting samples of air from below that ice layer. They’ll then bring it back to UCI to study it.
The scientists want to see how levels of various gases - like propane and butane - have changed over time. Aydin says understanding that will help scientists predict what will happen in the future and will help them understand how to respond to climate change.
For people lucky enough to have jobs, there’s still the nagging question: Is there enough money in the paycheck to cover food, rent, and other necessities… especially if you clean hotel rooms, park cars, or sew jeans in the garment industry?
Fifteen-year-old Celine Gonzales attends Animo Film and Theater Arts Charter High School in South Los Angeles. She’d like the next president to address the economic squeeze.
Celine Gonzales: “My advice to President-elect Barack Obama would be to work on the regulations of the business here in the United States, in order to better have some regulations on the companies, so there would be more jobs for Americans, that they would be able to make a living wage on, like, a humble job.”
Gonzales says she also wants Obama to invest in schools, and especially in arts education.
A judge in Sacramento tentatively ruled today that mandatory algebra plus eighth graders does not equal good policy. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez adds up the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Algebra’s the branch of math that uses letters and symbols to represent numbers and values. It’s useless for understanding state education politics.
This summer California’s state Board of Education, at the behest of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, voted to require algebra testing for all eighth graders. They argued that it’s good for kids, and that the state would avoid losing some federal money.
The California School Boards Association sued to block the mandate. It said the state was ill-equipped to meet the requirement.
The state superintendent of schools contends that it’ll cost about $3 billion to enroll and test all eighth graders in algebra. Public schools are facing $2 billion in mid-year cuts.
In her tentative ruling, the Sacramento superior court judge said the state Board of Education acted outside its jurisdiction and without public input.
The president of the state board promised an appeal if the injunction becomes final. He said more stringent requirements will lead to higher student achievement.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today lauded the selection of Ramon Cortines as superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District. KPCC’s Frank Stoltze reports that Cortines gives the mayor a key ally in his effort to reform the district.
Frank Stoltze: The mayor smiled when a reporter asked what he thought of Cortines’ selection as superintendent. Cortines used to work for the mayor.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: Congratulations to Ramon Cortines! I said when we first hired him as our deputy mayor for education to lead our education reform effort that he was the best of the best.
Stoltze: The mayor reportedly lobbied for the ouster of former Superintendent David Brewer. Two years ago, the school board selected Brewer without consulting Villaraigosa. Last week, the board bought out Brewer’s contract. The mayor suggested that the new schools chief will be a better political fit.
Villaraigosa: Ramon Cortines has the urgency and the commitment to partner with me.
Stoltze: Under a deal struck with the district, the mayor’s non profit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools already supervises 10 L.A. Unified campuses, including three high schools.
The new head of L.A.’s public schools says that because of the state’s budget mess, he expects that he’ll have to make $200 to $400 million in mid-year cuts to the LAUSD budget.
Incoming Superintendent Ramon Cortines told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that he’s already working on where to find the cuts, and that one area he’s looking into is the district’s union contracts.
Ramon Cortines: “We are negotiating with all of our unions on health care, and together the unions and the district understand the perilous financial future both here and in the state, and are trying to hammer out a program that protects all of our present employees and looks at new employees that come on board.”
Cortines was senior deputy superintendent until the school board bought out the contract of outgoing Superintendent David Brewer last week.
Ramon Cortines, the L.A. Unified School District’s new superintendent, admitted today that he’s feeling conflicted about taking on the job.
Ramon Cortines: “The stars are not aligned, and it is a daunting time, but it is a job that has to be done in behalf of our youth.”
Cortines spoke on KPCC’s “AirTalk” about he may have to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to the public schools’ budget. Cortines officially takes over as superintendent on January 1. The school board appointed him this week after it bought out the contract of outgoing Superintendent David Brewer.
- December 17, 2008 1:32 PM
- Categories: Education
The newly-appointed superintendent of L.A.’s public schools officially starts work on New Year’s Day, but Ramon Cortines says he’s not waiting until then to start dealing with massive budget cuts.
Cortines expects $200 to $400 million in mid-year cuts, and another $700 million in reductions over the next two years. He told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that he’ll be working closely with the LAUSD Board.
Ramon Cortines: “One of the things I will be doing after the first of the year is bringing to the board options for the mid-year cuts, and we will work up until Christmastime on ideas to help the board in making the best decision possible, even though it’s going to be a difficult decision.”
Cortines said he’s talking to the unions representing teachers and other school workers about possible cuts in health care benefits for new employees.
The new Superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District officially takes over on January first. Ramon Cortines has a three-year contract to run a district that is facing huge budget cuts. He’ll be nearly 80 when he finishes his term, but he told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that physically, he’s up to the challenge of the job. Cortines said he does wonder about being mentally up to it, however, because:
Ramon Cortines: “These are not quick fixes; there are no pat answers. This means you need to be creative, innovative, you need to think out of the box, you need to be logical, it needs to be reasonable, and it’s always got to be practical.”
Cortines served as L.A.’s public school superintendent back in 2000, and he also headed up the school systems in New York and San Francisco. He said he’s already working on how to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the budget.
L.A. Unified’s board of education today voted unanimously to replace Superintendent David Brewer with veteran educator Ramon Cortines, Brewer’s top deputy. The three-year appointment follows a contentious effort to remove Brewer two years before his contract was up.
Cortines thanked board members and told them he’s determined to help L.A. Unified through upcoming budget cuts. He said he also hopes to boost graduation rates.
Ramon Cortines: “And I’m not going to promise you that we’re going to do all these wonderful things in the next six months; what I do promise you is that I will work hard, that I will work with this board of education.”
Board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte said she’s still concerned that Brewer’s ouster was unfair. Earlier this month, the school board bought out that superintendent’s contract.
The school board approved a $250,000 yearly salary for Cortines, the same pay he’s gotten in his current job. He becomes superintendent on January 1.
President-elect Barack Obama named Arne Duncan as his education secretary this morning. Duncan currently runs the nation’s third-largest public school system, in Chicago.
Veronica Anderson edits a publication about public education improvement efforts in Chicago. She told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that, for the most part, Duncan is a collaborative leader.
Veronica Anderson: “He’s tried to tackle the tough problem of raising performance in the lowest scoring schools, he’s tried to do something about high schools, and he’s had some success around teacher quality and principal leadership issues, doing some things to change the way the district hires teachers and supports them once they are on the job.”
Anderson says that Duncan has had run-ins with the Chicago teachers union over his promotion of charter schools and some other changes he’s instituted. The U.S. Senate will need to confirm Duncan’s appointment.
More than a dozen Los Angeles African-American civic leaders called on the L.A. Unified school board today to make the superintendent selection process more open and transparent. The appeal follows days after the school district’s board decided to replace Superintendent David Brewer.
The process that led to Brewer’s selection, some in the group said, didn’t include enough opportunities for parents and other concerned observers to weigh in. Eric Lee heads the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in L.A.
Eric Lee: “We want to have a role in the selection process for the new superintendent by having a community representative on the selection committee. Second, we want the establishment of a task force specifically for improving the quality of education for our black children.”
Lee said the group also wants meetings with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. Unified leaders to voice these concerns. Neither Brewer nor the current board of education have done enough to raise the very low test scores of most African-American students, Lee and others said.
- December 11, 2008 3:49 PM
- Categories: Education
Ending a week of speculation, the board of the L.A. Unified’s School District decided on a split vote today to replace former U.S. Navy Admiral David Brewer as Superintendent. Two years remained on the contract. The motion’s author, School Board President Monica Garcia, said the district needs new leadership.
Monica Garcia: “We have acted to buy out the superintendent’s contract, effective December 31st of 2008. I want to thank Superintendent Brewer for his commitment to children and his hard work and dedication over the last two years. We have a lot of work to do in public schools. Many of our children don’t get to graduation. Most don’t read at grade level.”
She did not respond to questions about what prompted the move or who’d replace Brewer.
The teachers union president urged the board to complete Brewer’s term with veteran superintendent Ramon Cortines. Cortines is working as Brewer’s instruction deputy; he’s also advised L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on education matters.
- December 9, 2008 6:12 PM
- Categories: Education
The Los Angeles Unified School District magnet admissions policies were the subject of an appeals court hearing today in Los Angeles. The district is defending its programs against a challenge from the Pacific Legal Foundation.
That organization claims that L.A. Unified is violating a state ban on race-based discrimination and preferences in public education, by factoring race into decisions about who can attend magnet schools and take free transportation to certain schools. Attorney Sharon Browne with the Pacific Legal Foundation brought the case on behalf of the American Civil Rights Foundation.
Sharon Browne: “The use of race was prohibited in 1996 when the voters of California adopted Proposition 209, which prohibits school districts including Los Angeles from using race in assigning students to public education.”
Peter James, an attorney representing the school district, said magnet schools are supposed to offer students opportunities that might not be available in their home neighborhoods.
Peter James: “Do they violate Proposition 209, is very clearly no. The people who put Proposition 209 on the ballot were very careful to exclude situations where there was an existing court order or consent decree.”
James and Browne spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” California’s Second District Court of Appeal is expected to rule on the matter within 90 days.
- December 9, 2008 4:59 PM
- Categories: Education
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent David Brewer will leave his post by the end of this month. A majority of L.A. Unified board members voted this afternoon to buy out the remaining two years of his contract. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports from L.A. Unified headquarters.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: In closed session the board of education voted to award Brewer the compensation and benefits in his contract. That could total half a million dollars.
Board members Julie Korenstein and Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte opposed the motion to buy out Brewer’s contract.
The vote ends a week of contentious debate about the superintendent’s future at the district. His African-American supporters said board president Monica Garcia’s behind-the- scenes move to oust him didn’t allow for a fair assessment of his performance.
The president of L.A. Unified’s teachers union welcomed the buyout motion and recommended Brewer’s instruction deputy, Ramon Cortines, to fill out Brewer’s remaining two years as superintendent.
- December 9, 2008 1:52 PM
- Categories: Education
Non-tenured instructors across the Cal State University system plan to walk off their jobs tomorrow over what they call unlawful bargaining practices. More on the story from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: About 4,000 graduate students, tutors, and teaching assistants in the 23-campus system are poised to go on strike. Many of these instructors teach to help pay living and other expenses as they work toward advanced degrees. These student employees want Cal State administrators to waive the fees the university charges instead of tuition.
In recent years, the system has steadily increased student fees; for grad students that can run more than $3,700 per academic year. The fee issue has held up contract negotiations between the university and the United Auto Workers, the union that represents these instructors.
This year, the nation’s largest public university system faces more than $66 million in midyear budget cuts amid California’s fiscal crisis. Cal State has already limited its enrollment and changed admission criteria in response to decreased state support.
- December 9, 2008 1:38 PM
- Categories: Education
L.A. school superintendent David Brewer today asked the school board to buy out the last two years of his contract. Various members of the board had lost faith in Brewer and were seeking his ouster. Last week Brewer – who is African-American – vowed to stay in office.
But today he said he would step down so the fight over him would not become a “racial battle” that could spill over onto campuses and playgrounds. Connie Rice chairs L.A. Unified’s Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. She said Brewer made the right decision for all concerned.
Connie Rice: “He’s a very honorable man; he has a lot of integrity, he has a lot of talent. He was just asked to do a job that he wasn’t equipped to do. And the fact that he has decided that the better thing for L.A. is not to have another racial fight, not to have a fight over him but for him to go in grace and dignity, I think says that he has put the interest of the children in the city above himself.”
Rice is also a member of KPCC’s Board. She spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” Superintendent Brewer defended what he called his “undeniable record of significant accomplishments” in his two years on the job. He pointed in particular to much higher test scores in elementary, middle, and high schools.
At a news conference this afternoon, L.A. Unified Superintendent David Brewer said he won’t resign amid movement from members of the board of education to remove him from his appointed position. Brewer did raise the possibility that he’d step down another way.
David Brewer: “I am asking the Los Angeles school board to shield our students from this contentious debate and honor the buyout provisions of my contract.”
Brewer took no questions from reporters. He left immediately after he read his prepared remarks. Four members of L.A. Unified’s board of education attended; they also left the school board chambers right after Brewer finished.
The full school board is expected to deliberate in closed session tomorrow on whether to ask Brewer to leave the superintendent’s job halfway through his four-year contract.
- December 8, 2008 3:33 PM
- Categories: Education
Educators at Cal State Long Beach are opposing budget cuts by targeting an Orange County member of the Assembly budget committee. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The California Faculty Association printed 5,000 postcards addressed to Assemblyman Jim Silva. They’re urging students to write on the cards how cuts to the CSU will hurt their ability to earn college degrees.
Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander says his campus has cut 40 percent of summer school courses and hired several dozen fewer professors to teach this year.
State legislators are weighing cuts to the Cal State system and other public agencies to close a multi-billion dollar deficit.
The Los Angeles Unified School District launched a new kind of competitive sport at some high schools this weekend. Students won’t be able to earn a varsity letter, but organizers promise a big payoff. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The Los Angeles Urban Debate League kicked off this weekend with students from eight campuses, including Maywood High and Manual Arts High. Brett Flater, the league’s director, says anyone can join, but coaches are targeting struggling students and those close to giving up on school.
Students identify with the sense that they’re not heard, that they get told what to do, that teachers determine what they should think. And the moment that you give students an opportunity to express their opinion, students are full of opinions and they’re full of a desire to listen to them, and to really respect what they have to say.
Flater says competitive debate improves students’ reading and analytical skills. The Urban Debate League’s $326,000 budget comes mostly from school district funds and donations from members of a local advisory board. Organizers expect to expand the league in the coming school year.
- December 5, 2008 8:31 PM
- Categories: Education
The L.A. Unified board of education has scheduled a closed door session on Tuesday. The agenda includes an item on the Superintendent’s job performance. Last Tuesday, some board members said they intended to discuss asking Superintendent David Brewer to step down, but didn’t.
Organizers of a Crenshaw District public forum are devoting Saturday morning’s session to the topic. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable founder Earl Ofari Hutchinson says he’s undecided whether Brewer should stay or go before his four-year contract is up. Two things concern him.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson: Number one, the process. I think that you really have to look at the overall performance of Dave Brewer, vis a vis the district itself, and essentially what he set out to do and what the district expected him to do, namely performance.
Guzman-Lopez: Hutchinson says he’s also worried about the growing influence of elected officials on the school district.
L.A. Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s moving forward with a proposal to change the superintendent post from an appointed to an elected position.
During her time as Los Angeles’ First Lady, Ethel Bradley hosted leaders from more than 100 countries.
Today hundreds of people turned out at South L.A.’s First AME Church for her funeral. They included Libby Clark. She wrote about former Mayor Tom Bradley and his wife Ethel for the African-American weekly, the L.A. Sentinel, during their 20 years at City Hall.
Libby Clark: “She was really the impetus in the community. More so than Tom; Ethel was a community person, because see, she had been a beautician. So, she was very active in the community.”
The family’s civic involvement continues with their Tom and Ethel Bradley Foundation, based at UCLA. Its mission includes annual scholarships, especially for urban kids.
LINK: L.A. Sentinel
There’s some hopeful news about Los Angeles public schools. Tonight, public TV station KCET’s “SoCal Connected” is running a documentary on Locke High School, a long-troubled L.A. Unified campus that’s beginning to demonstrate improvement as a charter school.
Steve Barr, chief of Green Dot Charter Schools, described his company’s plan to reverse Locke’s high dropout rate.
Steve Barr: “We know this year though that, you know, the freshman class is about 1,200, and traditionally at Locke it goes down about three or four hundred, so you lose all of those kids, 900 kids in the first year. We will stop that this year, and that school will be transformed.”
Barr spoke on KPCC’s “AirTalk.” Among California public high schools, Locke has ranked third from the bottom in academic performance. Green Dot assumed control of the school during the summer.
- December 4, 2008 3:57 PM
- Categories: Education
Los Angeles Unified School Board President Monica Garcia and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have been mum on whether Superintendent David Brewer should step down from his post. Brewer says he learned Monday about a plan to buy out the remaining two years of his contract.
L.A. Councilwoman Janice Hahn, a supporter of Villaraigosa’s education reforms, told KPCC she’s considering whether to propose a change to the city charter next year that would make the schools superintendent an elected - not appointed - position.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn: “We need a superintendent that is maybe more accountable to the people. I think having a part-time school board, having those members which all have their political agendas, continually appoint one person to run the district is problematic.”
Councilman Bernard Parks, who supports Superintendent Brewer’s leadership of L.A. Unified, says he’s open to the idea.
The future of L.A. Unified’s superintendent, David Brewer, is in limbo. Much of the school board apparently wants to buy out the remaining two years of his contract, and there’s support for that move from political allies including former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.
Richard Riordan: “He doesn’t seem to how to – make the board, or get the board to go where he wants to go, or he doesn’t seem to even try quite honestly. And he doesn’t seem to have the support of the assistant superintendent, the principals of the school, the teachers, the students, or even the parents. So it’s sort of – he’s in a vacuum right now.”
Current mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has indicated that he agrees with Riordan. Brewer – a retired U.S. Navy admiral - said he’s concentrated more on raising student test scores and improving internal procedures at the school district than on currying favor with the powerful.
Superintendent David Brewer: “I’m a leader. I’m not a politician. So, if that’s a, if that’s a fault, then I’ll accept that, and if that’s what it takes to do this job, then they probably got the wrong guy.”
Brewer and Riordan spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
L.A. Unified’s school board has concluded a three-and-a-half hour closed-door meeting. Members are reportedly unhappy with the performance of Superintendent David Brewer, and they wanted to discuss buying out his contract. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The school board emerged from the meeting and reported no action on an agenda item listed as “Employee Evaluation: Superintendent of Schools.” State law compels school board members to report any decisions they reach in closed-door meetings.
The Los Angeles Times reports that School Board President Monica Garcia is leading a quiet effort to buy out the remaining half of Superintendent Brewer’s contract, two years before it’s up for renewal.
Brewer and six of L.A. Unified’s seven school board members attended the meeting. One board member was away on school district business. Those who were present left promptly after the meeting and Board President Garcia declined to talk to reporters.
- December 2, 2008 2:45 PM
- Categories: Education
California’s legislative analyst has issued its periodic list of reform proposals intended to make government more effective and efficient. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reviews the analyst’s public school recommendations.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The legislative analyst issued 12 public school recommendations.
They include opening charter school authorization to public agencies other than school districts, such as universities. The analyst suggested that California align public school accountability standards with those of the federal government.
The analyst also suggested combining seven separate funding programs having to do with class size and teacher pay. That would reduce school district paperwork, and would offer administrators a clearer picture of what state money they can expect.
Jennifer Kuhn of the Legislative Analyst’s Office predicts that the proposals won’t fall on deaf ears.
Jennifer Kuhn: Maybe half of our recommendations are implemented in a two-year period and half aren’t. And then we have to take a look at the ones that haven’t been, to look at whether they’re still salient issues that the legislature would want to pursue.
Guzman-Lopez: These reforms may be necessary. But Sacramento’s got a bigger problem: how to find the money to keep state government running.
The Los Angeles Unified School District has announced a $15 million settlement with Deloitte Consulting, the company it had paid to make sure a massive new payroll system worked.
That system wreaked havoc on payroll almost two years ago. It underpaid, overpaid, and failed to pay tens of thousands of L.A. Unified employees.
The school district was ready to sue Deloitte Consulting, says school district Chief Operating Officer David Holmquist. He calls the settlement a good resolution, even though it doesn’t cover the $37 million dollars LA Unified spent to fix the problems.
David Holmquist: “It also does not compensate employees for the suffering they endured as a result of the incorrect payroll we had for a number of months, but you have to remember that this is a breach of contract action, and we were limited in the amount of dollars that we could recover.”
Deloitte did not assume any blame in the matter. Holmquist says the school district’s learned to better review the companies it works with, and to fully test and re-test new the technology it purchases.
Almost two years ago, the Los Angeles Unified School District flipped the switch on a brand new payroll system. It went haywire, issuing overpayments, underpayments, and no payments to tens of thousands of employees.
KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says the school district announced a settlement today over the question of who was to blame.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: L.A. Unified spent $37 million to fix the payroll problems. School district officials concluded that payroll training was deficient, and that complicated payment categories weren’t programmed correctly into the new system.
The district moved to sue Deloitte Consulting, the company responsible for making sure the new payroll system worked. Deloitte Consulting has agreed to pay the school district more than $8 million. It’ll also forgive invoices totaling $7 million, without assuming any blame. School district officials said they will not sue the company.
Through a spokesman, School Board President Monica Garcia welcomed the settlement and said it’s a victory for teachers, families, and taxpayers, even though L.A. Unified didn’t recoup all its costs.
The number two man at the L.A. Unified School District says the public schools need to close a projected $700 million deficit over the next three years. Deputy Superintendent Ramon Cortines plans on cutting up to $140 million next year on spending for administration and support staff.
A.J. Duffy is the head of United Teachers of Los Angeles. The union head says it’s about time the district slashed the size of its bureaucracy.
A.J. Duffy: “Here’s what we have – we have finally come to the crash of this district after years and years and years of horrible mismanagement of fiefdom building. And now it falls to Cortines, and in part, myself, to help tear this bureaucracy down.”
Duffy told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that the teachers union will work with Cortines and the District to make sure cuts don’t affect the classroom.
A top official at the L.A. Unified School District says the public schools face a projected $700 million deficit over the next three years. Deputy Superintendent Ramon Cortines says he needs to cut up to $140 million next year from the budgets for administration and support staff. Cortines is adamant that the budget mess have as little impact as possible on the quality of kids’ education.
Ramon Cortines: “Students have to be college ready, career ready, and that means advanced placement, AP courses, remedial courses, A through G requirements, etc. Sure there’s going to be some trimming, but the students will feel it the least.”
Cortines spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
The number two man overseeing L.A.’s public schools says they need to cut spending this next year by up to $140 million. Deputy Superintendent Ramon Cortines says he’ll ask all eight local district offices to cut their spending in half, and he plans on slashing more than a hundred million dollars from the budget for LAUSD headquarters. In an interview with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison,” Cortines insisted that the cuts will not affect the classroom.
Ramon Cortines: “I won’t tolerate that. I’ve made it pretty clear, I’ve met with all of the principals in the district, that these cuts, while they will mean less administration and less support people, we are not going to do it on the backs of students.”
Even with the cuts he’s laid out, Cortines says L.A. Unified is facing an even larger deficit year after next.
The Southland college that’s produced the world’s top car designers and Southern California’s largest car museum are partnering for the first time. The exhibition’s called “Imagining the Future” and it opened this weekend. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Graduates of Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design have gone on to design the new Volkswagen Beetle, the old Batmobile, and the Ferrari Enzo.
The Art Center-designed permanent exhibit at L.A.’s Petersen Automotive Museum will allow visitors to step into a fully equipped auto design studio of the past and present. Stewart Reed, chair of Art Center’s transportation design department, says the intent is to shed light on his well-paid profession.
Stewart Reed: So by being able to see how the process works and how in fact there is this hybrid profession that is sort of right in the middle of art and technology is quite exciting. So we’re as excited that the students will see it as we are that the educators that bring the student groups will see it.
Guzman-Lopez: The exhibit will run indefinitely. In January, Art Center students will begin offering demonstrations on how to design the cars of the future.
Education leaders reacted today to a prediction by California’s legislative analyst that the state will face annual deficits of $22 billion for the next six years.
State Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell urged lawmakers to protect schools funds.
Jack O’Connell: “The governor and the LAO have presented proposals to address this budget deficit. But I strongly disagree with any plan that includes cutting any education funding. The current budget was balanced based upon almost exclusively all cuts. We must not let our national and state economic meltdown translate into an education meltdown in California.”
The governor has proposed more than $2 billion in midyear cuts to education.
The Cal State University system announced policy changes today that will reduce the number of students admitted to CSU schools next year by up to 10,000. Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi is a member of the CSU Board of Trustees. He says it’s a shame that the state is spending less on its students than in the past.
John Garamendi: “We’re just making a decision and have made a decision for 20 years now to not invest in education. Give you an example. In 1990, the University of California had $15,000 per student from the state general fund. This year, 2008-9, it’s $9,580 per student.”
Garamendi spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” He says he’s disappointed with the decision to accept fewer students to CSU schools, but given the state’s budget mess, he doesn’t see any alternatives.
For the first time in its history, the California State University system will have to turn away thousands of qualified applicants. Chancellor Charles Reed says the state began cutting the system’s budget before the academic year began, and the cuts haven’t stopped.
Charles Reed: “This year we started off with a budget that was $215 millon short and we took a little over 10,000 students that were not funded. And then in the last month we’ve been notified to cut another hundred-million dollars out of our budget.”
Reed told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that it’s hard to cap enrollment, but…
Reed: “… quality is what we have to protect. I mean quality is all we have, and I want to make sure that the 90-plus-thousand students that we graduate are students of quality that enter California’s workforce.”
The 23 Cal State campuses will admit about 10,000 fewer students this year because of the budget squeeze, Reed said.
- November 20, 2008 1:44 PM
- Categories: Education
At their meeting in Long Beach today Cal State trustees discussed a plan to cap enrollment by 10,000 students next year at the 23-campus public university system.
Administrators recommend the unprecedented move to brace for the hefty budget cuts they expect in the coming months and the next academic year. After the meeting, Cal State Chancellor Charles Reed said he heard a clear message from trustees.
Charles Reed: “I think the trustees, first of all, gave me a green light that essentially we don’t have any other choice. Number two, you know the trustees, first of all, set as a top priority how sensitive and how much attention that we’re going to need to pay to diversity.”
Some trustees voiced concern about the plan’s effect on black, Latino, and working class applicants. The proposal would direct the university admissions office to grant priority to qualified applicants who live near a given campus. Other prospective students can remain on wait lists; they’ll gain entry based on grades and test scores.
Several trustees said Cal State should respond to lean economic times by promoting online classes. Cal State’s faculty union said it’s concerned about ramping up those course offerings.
Note: University of California officials said today they’re also considering enrollment caps at their 10 campus system.
- November 19, 2008 4:38 PM
- Categories: Education
Cal State University trustees spoke out today [WED] on a plan to cap enrollment at the 23-campus system. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports from the trustees’ meeting in Long Beach.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Under the plan, the system would limit admission to qualified students who live near each campus. Higher grades and test scores would open the door to others. Cal State’s expecting a $66 million cut to its current-year budget, with more cuts likely next year. Trustee Jeffrey Bleich told colleagues he didn’t like the choices before him.
Jeffrey Bleich: It makes me sad and actually physically sick to think about turning away 10,000 students from our system. But that’s the situation that we’re in.
The one bright spot that I’ve heard in this entire discussion has been the focus on not simply getting California to invest in education again but for us to think about how we can innovate in the interim.
Guzman-Lopez: Some trustees want Cal State to provide more online education opportunities.
Cal State Trustee Jack O’Connell, who’s also the state’s superintendent of schools, recommended that Cal State Chancellor Charles Reed hold off on the enrollment cap for a year, as O’Connell and others lobby Sacramento for more money. Reed has signaled that he’ll move forward with the enrollment cap in the next few days.
- November 19, 2008 1:53 PM
- Categories: Education
California State University administrators will hear a plan tomorrow to deny admission to about 10,000 qualified students next year. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports that the plan’s a response to likely state budget cuts.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Cal State officials say more students than ever want to – and are qualified to – enroll at its 23 campuses. But state money to accommodate those students has remained frozen the last couple of years.
State lawmakers may approve mid-year cuts, and next year’s funding for the system doesn’t look good. So instead of getting rid of courses or increasing class sizes, Cal State’s considering enrollment limits that would shut out about 10,000 students across the system.
Cal State’s already shortened by several months the application deadline for popular campuses, including those in Long Beach and Fullerton. Chancellor Charles Reed is considering a plan to grant admission priority to students who live near each campus. That proposal would admit others based on higher grades and test scores than the system requires now.
In the last seven years, Cal State’s raised student fees six times. Chancellor Reed hasn’t said whether he favors another increase.
Note: Reed may decide by Thursday whether to enact the enrollment limits.
- November 18, 2008 3:57 PM
- Categories: Education
Cal State trustees will meet tomorrow to discuss a plan that would reduce the number of students in the system.
Allison Jones is the university’s assistant vice chancellor. He told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that the 23 Cal State campuses have enrolled 10,000 more students than they’re funded to serve.
Allison Jones: “In order to ensure that access is real in the sense that the student has access to classes, the class sections and the student support services outside of the classroom, we need to scale back the number of students that we’re serving. Because there are students on campuses who are unable to get the classes that they need and the support that they need outside of the classroom.”
The proposal under consideration would raise the academic bar for students who want to attend Cal State schools. At present, applicants must maintain a B average to qualify for admission.
Jones said the state already has cut Cal State’s funding by $31 million for the current budget year, and the governor is proposing additional midyear cuts.
If you were planning to attend one of the California State Universities next year, the system’s chancellor offers two words of advice: apply early. Budget cuts mean the Cal State campuses will enroll fewer students. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde reports.
Kitty Felde: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has already warned the Cal State system that the state will cut its budget for the second half of this year by $97 million.
And he’s told system officials to prepare for more cuts next year. In a conference call with reporters, Cal State Chancellor Charles B. Reid said that’ll mean eliminating 10,000 admission spots from the 2009-2010 school year.
Charles B. Reid: Not providing real access to students is a big issue. We can’t continue to admit more and more students without receiving adequate funding.
Felde: Every one of the 23 Cal State campuses will impose an enrollment quota equal to the number of students they enrolled during the 2007-2008 school year. That means the most popular campuses will fill up early. Some campuses could cap enrollment as early as the end of this month.
Proposed state budget cuts have put California public schools in… a state. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the L.A. Unified School District is imposing a hiring freeze and other measures to prepare for tighter times.
Cheryl Devall: The school district expects to lose 200 to 300 million dollars from its budget if the state reduces education funding. Governor Schwarzenegger has urged the cuts to help close a potential $28 billion revenue gap.
L.A. Unified deputy superintendent Ramon Cortinez is saying the district’s cuts are temporary for now. But in a system-wide memo he warned that some smaller campuses may have to close - and some jobs may have to go - if the state budget crisis persists.
Cortines told administrators that the district will only purchase supplies for health, safety, school construction in progress, legal requirements, and the school lunch program.
The spending freeze also prohibits L.A. Unified employees with district-issued credit cards from using them. Cortines told the L.A. Daily News that if the district doesn’t make the mid-year budget cuts, it won’t be able to make payroll soon.
Recession or no, shoppers are making their way to Southland malls for Veterans Day sales. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez talked with one at the Cerritos Mall.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: This is a day for Kamel Walia to do some holiday shopping for his high school age son. He’s checking out the basketball shoes. Walia’s an information technology manager who works from contract to contract.
He’s been out of work for six months. But his family still has a little money to spend. That’s because he and his wife have put some money away – and have made a tough decision about work this year.
Kamel Walia: There was an opportunity that came for my wife to get a job in India for a two-year contract and I thought, this is a little safer bet. So at least my wife works, she works overseas, so in terms of that at least one of us will always have a job.
Guzman-Lopez: Walia says his family is making do. His daughter’s a junior at UCLA and his son is set to graduate from high school in a couple of years.
Veterans Day traditionally falls on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. But for some students, the holiday’s today. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde explains.
Kitty Felde: If you’re a student at the University of California or one of the Cal State campuses, the official observance of the Veteran’s Day holiday is tomorrow. Same goes for elementary, middle, and high school students in the L.A. Unified School District. And banks. And libraries. And government buildings.
But if you’re taking classes at one of L.A.’s community colleges, Monday, not Tuesday, is observed as Veterans Day. So don’t be surprised if you show up for your patternmaking class Monday night to find the doors locked.
Classes will resume at community colleges tomorrow. One other note: if you were hoping for a holiday from bad economic news, no such luck. The New York Stock Exchange will be open as usual all week.
- November 10, 2008 5:22 PM
- Categories: Education
The gatekeepers of state agencies continue to object to Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed cuts to close an $11 billion budget gap. Jack O’Connell, California’s superintendent of public instruction, warns of big problems this school year if lawmakers approve the cuts.
Jack O’Connell: “We’re operating on a bare bones budget today, and in the middle of the year, for the governor to propose midyear cuts, these unexpected cuts, when we’re down to about half of that, the fiscal year remaining now – it’s just unrealistic based upon the budget that was passed last year.”
O’Connell spoke on KPCC’s “AirTalk.” The governor’s convened a special legislative session to work out a solution to the budget crisis.
Authorities arrested more than two-dozen handymen posing as contractors in a Los Angeles-area sting. They face charges for working without a license. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario has the details.
Patricia Nazario: Investigators staged the undercover operation in Atwater Village. They requested home-improvement bids from unlicensed handymen who they suspected were passing themselves off as the real deal.
California State License Board spokeswoman Melanie Bedwell says consumers can easily avoid falling in with fly-by-night contractors. When in doubt, she says, go to the state’s consumer affairs website and plug in the contractor’s license number or name.
Melanie Bedwell: … and they can see if that person is in good standing. If there are any complaints against them.
Nazario: Or, if they have a license at all. Bedwell says a legitimate contractor should always carry a pocket license that looks like a credit card. Consumers should always ask for references and get at least three bids from competing contractors.
Bedwell: There’s no reason why people can’t say, “Hey, ya know, can I have some references? And, I’m gonna get three bids and compare them.”
Nazario: Also, she counsels, be stingy with your money. By state law, contractors can only ask for deposits of 10 percent – or no more than $1,000 – on any job.
The two most senior members of the L.A. Unified Board of Education say they’re calling it quits. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Julie Korenstein’s represented the San Fernando Valley on the school board for 22 years. She’s been a teachers’ union advocate, and she’s pushed for early childhood education and class size reduction. Korenstein, a grandmother of four children, said the time’s right to retire.
Marlene Canter’s also leaving the school board. She’s represented the Tarzana and Westchester district for almost eight years. She scored a knockout against junk foods on campus a few years ago by banning high-calorie food and beverage sales in vending machines. Canter said she’s leaving L.A. Unified to pursue other work.
The departures could realign the school board in favor of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s education proposals. He helped elect three of seven current school board members.
Whoever runs next will need a thick wallet. Last year one school board candidate spent about $1 million to get elected. The L.A. City Clerk’s office is accepting applications Monday through Saturday of next week for the March election to fill the two open seats.
LINK: LAUSD Board of Education
LINK: L.A. City Clerk
Public education leaders condemn Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal to close deficit by cutting school budgets
Public education leaders are condemning Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to close a ballooning state deficit by slashing school district budgets.
Maria Ott, Superintendent of the San Gabriel Valley’s Rowland Unified School District, says she doesn’t want budget cuts to disrupt education now that the school year’s started.
Maria Ott: “If you would have to do any kind of reduction in employees mid-year, that would have a huge impact. That certainly is a fear any district would have, is can they meet their payroll requirements for the remainder of the year.”
Ott says a committee of Rowland Unified’s staff and neighborhood leaders is meeting every month to brainstorm on how they can save money. She supports a tax hike to help close the budget deficit and spare schools. Governor Schwarzenegger told educators at a private meeting this week he’ll also back a tax increase.
The budget state lawmakers approved a few weeks ago is already at least $5 billion in the red. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger met with public school leaders yesterday to warn about the consequences. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Governor told educators to prepare for 2 to 4 billion dollars in mid-year cuts.
L.A. Unified, by far the largest school district in the state, would take the biggest hit. Its superintendent, David Brewer, told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” he’s preparing for far-reaching cuts.
David Brewer: “We’re supposed to keep our schools open the equivalent of 180 days every year and obviously if they impose some budgets like that in the middle of the school year, it will be almost impossible for us to basically to maintain, keep schools open and do all the things we’re supposed to do.”
Brewer said cuts could force L.A. Unified to shut some campuses. Previous budget cuts and dropping enrollment have already forced some Southland districts to close schools. State Senator George Runner said schools could withstand cuts if Sacramento removes some limits on they way they can spend state education money.
The new president of the University of California says budget cuts are challenging its mission. Mark Yudof says he believes the UC system is the finest public university system in the world. But he told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that a lack of investment is jeopardizing that status.
Mark Yudof: “The biggest risk, a gradual diminution in quality – a silent set of cuts that make you less competitive with faculty, less competitive for the best students, less competitive for graduate students who do the research.”
Yudof – who came from the University of Texas four months ago – compared UC’s situation to that of an employee whose salary stays the same while the rent and gas bills keep climbing.
He said the university’s dealing with more students and inflated costs at the same time it’s getting less money from the state. In the last state budget, the UC system received $48 million less than the year before.
A plan to force 8th graders in California to be tested in algebra has been put on hold. KPCC’s Steve Julian says a judge yesterday ordered the state to shelf the idea until another court hearing in mid-December.
Steve Julian: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nudged the Board of Education to approve the plan in July. The plan to test 8th graders in algebra would be the first of its kind in the country.
But those against the idea, including the state schools superintendent Jack O’Connell, believe students at that age aren’t yet ready, and the added pressure could increase dropout rates. California was under pressure from the U.S. Department of Education to change its current 8th grade math test or face losing up to $4 million dollars in funding.
Superintendent O’Connell had proposed measuring some algebra standards, but not all. He said it would cost California billions of dollars to implement the plan – money the state doesn’t have. California currently has a $3 billion budget deficit.
Public school instruction has emerged as an issue in the battle over Proposition 8. The measure would amend California’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage, after the state supreme court legalized it this year.
In campaign ads, supporters contend that if Prop 8 fails, teachers will instruct schoolchildren about gay marriage. Kate Kendell is executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that children are already learning about families with two moms or two dads.
Kate Kendell: “Nothing about Prop 8 will change what children are taught in schools, whether Prop 8 passes or whether it fails. Of course, there is diversity education in schools now; California’s the most diverse state in the country.”
In an ad opposing Prop 8, state education superintendent Jack O’Connell says schools aren’t required to teach anything about marriage. Law professor Richard Peterson told KPCC that’s beside the point.
Richard Peterson: “See, what they say is that it’s not mandated. And if you hit me in the head, the fact that you’re not required to do so doesn’t make me feel it any less. And this is the absurdity of the argument that Proposition 8 has nothing to do with that.”
Peterson, a supporter of Prop 8, says its failure at the polls would make it harder for parents to object to such a discussion. He and other supporters point to a legal decision in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal. Courts there ruled that a public school district did not have to notify parents ahead of time when a teacher read a children’s book about a prince who marries another prince.
Pop goes the conservatory. USC’s Thornton School of Music is launching one of the first university-level degree programs in the country to concentrate on popular song. More on the story from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: Most universities that offer music degrees focus on classical theory, composition, and performance. Jazz has also made its way into the academy. But rock, country, and rhythm and blues have had a harder time winning higher-ed respect.
The Thornton School at USC is about to change that. Starting next academic year, the music school will offer a bachelor’s degree in popular music. It’s designed to help would-be performers and producers make their way in the hotly competitive, rapidly changing music business, department officials say.
The faculty will include songwriters and performers from Motown, Nashville, and, of course, Hollywood. USC will audition applicants for the program in January.
A dean on paid leave from a Los Angeles Unified school was convicted of a felony today for concealing an improper sexual relationship between a colleague and an underage student. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Prosecutors say Foshay Learning Center Dean Alan Hubbard broke the law when he didn’t tell anyone one of his teachers was having sex with a 14-year-old female student. Hubbard pleaded “no contest.” Prosecutors dropped a second charge that he tried to dissuade the student from testifying.
The judge sentenced Hubbard to three years probation and two months of CalTrans clean up duty. In a statement, L.A. Unified said it continues to investigate Hubbard and the probe “could result in discipline including termination.”
The teacher, Steven Rooney, pled not guilty to allegations of improper sexual relations with three underage female students. One was a Foshay student. Two were students at the Watts middle school where Rooney’s supervisors transferred him. He resigned from the school district in May.
Last month the L.A. County District Attorney charged Rooney with having sex with a fourth Foshay Learning Center student who was 15 at the time. Rooney’s scheduled to enter a plea in that case later this month.
About 200 students at USC have now received treatment for a nasty stomach virus. Late Friday, the campus health facility started seeing dozens of students complaining of nausea, cramps, and diarrhea. Dr. Larry Neinstein runs the University Park Health Center.
Dr. Larry Neinstein: “The main prevention is very good handwashing, and keeping students who are sick away from students who are not sick, and vice versa. Public Health has not advised us to have any kind of a quarantine on campus, or really at this time restrict any of our activities.”
Neinstein says the virus isn’t life threatening and takes a day or two to shake off. Campus officials are telling students who aren’t feeling well, or who’ve had contact with other sick students, to stay away from class for now. USC is also handing out free hand-sanitizing gels and wipes to students and faculty.
L.A. County administrators are moving to reform a job classification that critics say exploits student workers. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: For years the county’s advertised temporary “student worker” jobs as an introduction to the world of civil service. About a thousand people work under this classification in many county departments including public health, firefighting, and the district attorney’s office. Elizabeth Brennan, a spokeswoman for the union that represents student workers and is negotiating their contract, says the classification has soured many people to working for county government.
Elizabeth Brennan: What it’s evolved into is a sort of a sub-classification of county employees that can be fired at any time, no vacation time, no benefits, health care, no retirement, and make slightly over minimum wage.
Guzman-Lopez: Sixty-four people, Brennan says, have been student workers for more than six years with no benefits and no chance to advance. L.A. County’s chief of human resources admits some missteps and proposes limiting student jobs to six years for those currently taking classes and getting a C average. County supervisors are expected to hear about the topic at their regular Tuesday board meeting.
Researchers at UC Riverside just got a million dollar grant to do something millions of kids do in backyards every day: dig for worms. KPCC’s Steven Cuevas more.
Steven Cuevas: The grant from the National Science Foundation will get the three-year project off the ground. Maybe not “off the ground,” because UC Riverside researchers will be digging around to identify and catalog a type of worm called a “nematode.”
Scientists say there are millions of different kinds of nematodes, but they’ve only identified about 26,000 species. And because they’re transparent, a lot of nematodes can only be seen with a microscope. But even though they’re small, some nematodes can cause big trouble.
They can ruin crops and spread disease in humans. Head researcher Paul De Ley says Southern California is a good place to start such research, because the diverse region is home to a rich variety of nematodes. He says digging up and studying some of these “invisible” worms will help us protect our fields, and our health.
California’s high school graduating class grows each year, so the 23 campus Cal State University system usually opens up about 10,000 additional seats a year. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports there’s no money from the state to do that this year, and Cal State officials worry that many qualified students will be shut out of California’s largest public university system.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The problem: same supply, more demand. The university’s solution is to limit the college application window. Cal State enrollment director Jim Blackburn says it used to be as long as eight months, from October to August, on some campuses. It’s been cut to two months, October and November, at popular campuses, including Long Beach, Fullerton, and Pomona.
Jim Blackburn: We just want to make sure that as many students as we can are aware that they should not tarry on this, because sometimes it’s the students who are least fortunate who make the latest applications.
Guzman-Lopez: Blackburn says blacks, Latinos, and students from poor families are often the ones who apply late in the cycle, so the university’s begun a campaign to let them know about this year’s narrower application window.
The City of Los Angeles has just cut the ribbon on a new youth center named after a native son who became a jazz giant. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Stand-up bass player Charles Mingus grew up in Watts in the years before World War II. The choir and group singing he heard in his youth inspired him to write orchestral jazz compositions including “Haitian Fight Song.”
[Music: “Haitian Fight Song”]
Guzman-Lopez: Before the world clued into his genius, the neighbors knew Mingus as a short-tempered man prone to fighting. Rosie Lee Hooks, director of the new Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center, says Mingus’ musical gifts outweigh his personal failings.
Rosie Lee Hooks: Who cares about his reputation? Look at what he gave to the community and continues to give to the world.
Guzman-Lopez: Hooks and other arts advocates will have to compose their own fight songs. Their vision for the Charles Mingus Youth Center remains an unfinished composition. The center next to the Watts Towers needs more money for the string bass and other classes it’s designed to house.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s signed into law a measure to prevent public school administrators from punishing instructors who protect students’ free speech rights. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the details.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Say you’re the advisor for a high school newspaper. Your students write a scathing editorial calling for cleaner campus bathrooms. When the principal criticizes it, you defend the writing on First Amendment grounds. Months later, in your evaluation, the principal removes you from newspaper advisor position and reassigns you to another class.
That’s what happened to Orange County high school teacher Janet Ewell.
Janet Ewell: There have been so many injustices done in California and across the nation. I’m hopeful that California’s leadership may help some other states pass similar laws.
Guzman-Lopez: The law’s author, State Senator Leland Yee, documented dozens of similar cases throughout California. The law prohibits school administrators from firing, disciplining, or reassigning any public school or college employee only because that employee tried to protect students’ free speech. The law goes into effect on New Year’s Day.
Cal State Long Beach communications professor Craig Smith wrote speeches for President Ford and the first President Bush. He says it’s time for the second President Bush to go eye-to-eye with Congressional members who ignored their party leaders and voted down the bailout package.
Craig Smith: “He has yet to address them directly, in their face, like a joint session of Congress. And I would simply call that emergency meeting right now and get down there.”
The president spoke to the nation last week about quick action to ease the financial crisis. He later met privately with congressional leaders. But Smith says Mr. Bush needs the right forum for his message.
Smith: “He’s not nearly as good when he speaks from the White House, not nearly as good in a press conference, not nearly as good when the cameras are on him and there’s no audience. But when he has given ‘State of the Union’ addresses and other speeches in front of a joint session of Congress, such as the post-9/11 speech, he’s done a much more persuasive job.”
Cal State Long Beach’s Craig Smith says if the president speaks before Congress, it’ll be tough for opponents of the bailout package to stand their ground.
The president of Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design is leaving the institution effective immediately. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the departure of Richard Koshalek.
Cheryl Devall: Trustees of the Art Center agreed to release Richard Koshalek from his contract more than a year early. During nine years as president, Koshalek sought to raise the profile of a college known largely for its graduates in automotive, industrial, and entertainment industry design.
The former director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art also wanted to build. His plans for the college included a $50 million library commission for Disney Hall architect Frank Gehry. But Koshalek’s priorities for the Art Center clashed with those of students, faculty, and alumni, including some board members. On Internet discussion boards and e-mail petitions, many of his critics called for more emphasis on fundraising for scholarships and academic programs.
In June, the board of trustees decided not to renew Koshalek’s contract. They’ve begun the search for a new president, and they’re planning to appoint an interim president soon.
Starting next autumn, military veterans with three years of service under their belts after September 11th, 2001 may ask Uncle Sam to pay for their public college education. With that kind of free college money, the number of veterans at California’s public colleges and universities is expected to nearly double in the next few years. A new report commissioned by the California Postsecondary Education Commission predicts as much in a new report. Murray Haberman is the group’s executive director.
Murray Haberman: “There are already a lot of efforts being made by the university, the state university, community colleges, and numerous independent institutions to provide the necessary outreach and support for veteran students. So, the basic structures are there; they may become overtaxed, though, if in fact resources are not coming from the state of California to support the institutions.”
Haberman forecasts that community colleges will feel the student boom the most. The increase could also boost California’s economy. The tuition grants may add up to half a billion dollars in new state income.
- September 23, 2008 3:52 PM
- Categories: Education
Community college and public university administrators in California are bracing themselves for a big change on campuses in the fall of next year. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the details.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The number of military veterans enrolled at California colleges is expected to nearly double in the next few years. That’s because the 21st Century G.I. Bill goes into effect next August. It covers veterans’ public college tuition and fees.
In California that’ll be just over $22,000, enough to enroll at a UC or Cal State campus. Existing vets’ benefits only cover much cheaper community college costs. Murray Haberman of the California Postsecondary Education Commission says the bigger benefit package will improve the job prospects for thousands of men and women.
Murray Haberman: As you increase your level of educational attainment, there’s a direct correlation between improved educational attainment and working income.
Guzman-Lopez: Haberman says colleges need more state money to make sure there are enough classes and college advisors for all the new students. The benefits are expected to inject more than a half a billion dollars a year into the state economy.
- September 23, 2008 2:04 PM
- Categories: Education
The LAPD hasn’t made any arrests in the early morning fatal stabbing of a 23-year-old University of Southern California student. Police are now accepting tips by text message. As KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports, that’s how USC got the word out about the tragedy.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Third-year biology student Scott Greenberg reads the text message beamed to his cell phone by USC at about six in the morning.
Scott Greenberg (reading text message): “Student Bryan Richard Frost died after stab wounds after two a.m. altercation in the area of 28th and Orchard Street.”
Guzman-Lopez: It’s tragic, Greenberg says, but he’s happy he signed up for Trojans Alert after last year’s deadly Virginia Tech campus shootings.
About half of USC’s employees and students have not given the university their cell numbers for the service. Junior Bryant Trent is one of them.
Bryant Trent: The university should kind of let more students know about it. Because when I first started here I didn’t really know about that system until recently, actually. So, I’m probably going to sign up for it really soon.
Guzman-Lopez: Lots of other universities use text message alerts. Many sent alerts after July’s earthquake. USC officials say they’ve put a priority on text messaging because, for the time being, it’s the technology that gets students’ attention.
Police are still looking for suspects in the fatal stabbing of a student near the University of Southern California campus early today. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports tens of thousands of people found out about the death of the 23-year-old man through a USC text message.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: USC, UCLA, and other Southland universities set up text message alert systems after the deadly shootings at Virginia Tech a year ago. USC has sent alerts this year after a chemical spill and after the July earthquake. Officials say the fatal stabbing was tragic and the USC community needed to know about it right away. David Carlisle of USC’s Department of Public Safety says text is the most reliable way to get a message to students.
Davidi Carlisle: What our experience has been here in the last few years has been that students tend no longer to look at their email but they are very cognizant of text messages. They use them much more than email.
Guzman-Lopez: But the voluntary Trojans Alert system doesn’t reach most USC students and employees. Carlisle’s urging more people to sign up. Meanwhile, the LAPD’s investigating the fatal stabbing, and text messaging could help find a suspect. Police this week launched Text-A-Tip, a way to send an anonymous tip by text message.
A University of Southern California film student was stabbed to death near the campus early this morning. Within hours, USC officials had notified tens of thousands of students and employees of the homicide, using a year-old text message notification system. David Carlisle of USC’s Department of Public Safety says the system was used after July’s earthquake and to warn of a chemical spill. But he says this was the first time used in a case like this.
David Carlisle: “The death of a student in these circumstances is a rare and extraordinary event. And many people would hear rumors of what occurred, rumors would fly, parents would be unnecessarily upset. We felt that it was important to let the campus community know because this is such a rare occurrence here.”
Carlisle says a campus-wide e-mail followed the text. But he says the priority was the text message because students don’t pay as much attention to e-mails. The LAPD hasn’t announced any arrests in the death.
Public education officials are wary of the tentative state budget deal lawmakers approved early today. Ramon Cortines, senior deputy superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District, told KPCC’s AirTalk that the schools will lose out in this budget.
Ramon Cortines: “It will have major negative impact partly because it is holding to us to the ‘07, ‘08 levels without sufficient inflation adjustments. But what complicates it for the L.A. Unified School District is that, is it has not had a salary increase for several years for its employees.”
Cortines said that teachers in the district are already earning less than their counterparts elsewhere, and he fears that many will leave L.A. Unified for higher-paying jobs.
A state appeals court has ruled that California can’t charge undocumented college students cheaper in-state tuition unless it offers the same benefit to any U.S. citizen from out of state. More on the story from KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: California lawmakers enacted that in-state tuition change six years ago. The University of California supported the legislation, says spokesman Ricardo Vasquez.
Ricardo Vasquez: Because through their hard work and perseverance, these California high school students had earned the opportunity to attend UC and out of state tuition had become a barrier to their access to higher education.
Guzman-Lopez: Two-and-a-half years ago, 42 out of state college students, backed by a conservative legal group, sued to overturn the law. They argued that federal law clearly prohibits such public benefits to undocumented people unless the benefit’s also available to any U.S. citizen. A judge upheld the state law.
But a Sacramento appeals judge has ruled that the federal law preempts the state law. He sent the case back to trial court for resolution. If it stands, the ruling would affect tens of thousands of illegal immigrants enrolled at California’s community colleges and in the Cal State and UC systems. UC’s spokesman says its lawyers haven’t decided whether to appeal.
Sacramento lawmakers wouldn’t reveal details yesterday or today about the budget deal they’ve reached. California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, says he’s been told that the deal includes a $1 billion cut to public schools and community colleges. He says most of that will come from cost-of- living increases for school employees.
Jack O’Connell: “Certainly the price of fuel, as we’re all experiencing, for our school buses, the energy costs, the food costs for our kids, health care costs, and benefits for our employees, and salary adjustments, and to receive less than the full COLA, it’s going to be very problematic for the education community.”
State legislators are expected to vote on the proposed budget today. Governor Schwarzenegger has not signaled whether he supports the deal.
Sacramento two month budget stalemate’s holding up California State University’s budget. But even before they receive final word on how much they’ll have to cut, trustees are already talking about future budget increases. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Cal State finance officials are expected to tell trustees that the university system will need $150 million more in the next fiscal year. They say they’ll need more money to cover rising costs for maintenance, employees, and academic research.
State lawmakers are expected to cut CSU’s budget by about $200 million. University spokeswoman Claudia Keith says Cal State has to voice its needs early on.
Claudia Keith: This is just, sort of, the first pass, if you will, of the ‘09-‘10 budget for our board. Since there’s so much uncertainty. It’s always done with that caveat. So, we’re just going forward and hope that, you know, higher education can get the priority that we feel that it needs.
Guzman-Lopez: The Cal State’s formed a powerful coalition with its faculty union and students to push for more funds. Trustees will continue the budget talks at their November meeting.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Education says he’s leaving his cabinet post. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The governor appointed David Long 18 months ago to help make 2008 the year of education. Instead it turned out to be the year of defending education cuts. A huge budget deficit pushed Schwarzenegger to propose billions of dollars in reductions to public schools. A powerful coalition that included teachers unions fought the proposed cuts.
The governor’s Secretary for Education has significantly fewer powers than the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Long said in an interview with the Sacramento Bee that these divided responsibilities were a problem. In a three-paragraph resignation letter to the governor, Long didn’t indicate why he’s leaving. The veteran Riverside educator merely said it’s time for him to move on to another chapter in his life.
California’s Board of Education today adopted new guidelines for physical education in public schools. It sets P.E. standards that students will have to meet in every grade, and KPCC’s Nick Roman says they’ll start meeting them in kindergarten.
Nick Roman: You have to start that early if you want kids to be physically fit… and to get the benefits that come with that. Kids in better shape are better in school, and they’re just plain healthier, too. So the new P.E. standards say that in kindergarten, kids have to learn how to move their bodies: Hopping, skipping, moving to a beat, even why it’s important to stretch your muscles.
First graders should learn how to throw and kick a ball, and how to balance. Second graders should be able to jump rope, climb, and play fair.
By the time senior year in high school rolls around, students will have to show some level of skill in some sort of lifelong physical pursuit, like running, cycling, swimming, or dancing. And they’ll have to demonstrate that they’re physically fit.
It all sounds great… as long as the schools hire good P.E. teachers and give them the facilities they need for physical training.
Six Nobel Peace Prize winners are attending the PeaceJam global conference that began today on the campus of Loyola Marymount University. The non-profit PeaceJam aims to create a new generation of leaders by allowing young people to exchange ideas with Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Thirteen-year-old Sasha Kanji of Malibu is one of 3,000 young people from around the world at the conference. He plans to present his latest project to Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
Sasha Kanji: “I just went to Sudan, and I went to refugee camps. Not on the Darfur side, but the other side. And I helped and I’m actually building a school there, because their schools there are just– you see it and it’s just like a dirt floor with a bunch of rubble and rocks.”
Kanji says that despite the condition of the schools, education is the only way out for the kids in the refugee camps. Central American indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchu and Jody Williams of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines are among the Nobel Peace laureates in attendance.
For the seventh year after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Southland lawyers are fanning out to public school classrooms today to spark discussions about civil liberties. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: After the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy urged classroom discussions about freedom and basic rights. L.A. Unified and the L.A. County Bar Association answered the call.
This year 175 volunteers, mostly lawyers, are visiting six high schools. The students have a vague recollection of 9/11, says Beverly Hills attorney Elaine Mandel. And, she adds, that makes for spirited discussions about civil liberties.
Elaine Mandel: Last year, one of the issues was about principals being able to search students’ backpacks without any kind of prior notice or any kind of rationale, other than the principal selected a particular student. And I said, “What do you think about that, is that OK?” And a number of the students said, “Sure, I don’t have anything to hide. Bring it on.”
Guzman-Lopez: The scenario for this year’s discussion is timely: a fictional presidential candidate who’s preparing for a debate wants to know young people’s thoughts on rights versus security.
California public education officials are describing a doom-and-gloom scenario for school districts if Sacramento’s budget impasse continues. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Education labor unions and California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction say the impasse will keep billions of dollars from reaching school districts this month.
That’s causing high anxiety, but not panic, at those districts, says Wendy Benkert, head of business services at the Orange County Department of Education. The county’s 27 school districts launched contingency plans months ago.
Wendy Benkert: First they’re going into their reserve accounts; they’re using up their reserve accounts to pay their current expenses. Once they exhaust that funding, they’ll borrow money from other restricted funds that they’ll end up having to pay back.
Guzman-Lopez: Restricted funds include money for child development and adult education services. Benkert says it’s unclear how districts will pay employees in these departments.
If there’s still no state budget once that money runs out, Orange County school districts have the option of borrowing from a board-of-supervisors-approved education investment pool. Benkert says that one school district is getting in line to borrow $25 million next month from that fund to make its payroll.
State educators’ unions and California’s superintendent of schools are warning that two-and-a-half billion dollars won’t get to schools this month if legislators don’t pass a state budget. They’re pushing for a budget with some tax increases.
Jim Novak, assistant superintendent of the Palm Springs Unified School District, says the outlook there is serious but not critical. The district started tightening its belt in January, and later cut $3.5 million from its budget. Novak says that whatever budget passes had better stick.
Jim Novak: “So I’m crossing my fingers that the legislature’s wise enough to know to settle a budget that we can live with throughout the rest of this year, and we don’t have to suffer through any type of midyear cut, halfway through the school year.”
Like most other school districts, Palm Springs Unified is borrowing from existing funds to cover payroll and other costs.
Education officials announced today that pass rates are down for California’s high school exit exam. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the details.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: About one in 10 seniors statewide from the class of 2008 hadn’t passed the exit exam by graduation day in June, said state education superintendent Jack O’Connell.
Jack O’Connell: Part of that can be attributed to special education. This is the first year we require special education students to also pass the high school exit exam.
Guzman-Lopez: Lawyers representing special education students had fought in court to stop that requirement, but they agreed to a settlement this year. A little over half of California’s special education 12th graders last June passed the exit exam.
More than two-thirds of special education students have learning, speech, or language problems. O’Connell praised students who took the exit exam for the first time. Tenth graders who took its English and math portions are passing at a higher rate on their first try.
- September 9, 2008 1:21 PM
- Categories: Education
The California Department of Education has announced that passing rates on the mandatory exit exam are down for the class of 2008 compared to the previous year’s class. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more on the data released today.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Just over 90 percent of seniors in the class of 2008 passed the exit exam by the time they graduated in June. That’s about 3 percent fewer than the previous year’s seniors, and 1 percent fewer than the class of 2006.
California’s made the exit exam a centerpiece of its education accountability program. Results are folded into the Academic Performance Index, and seniors who don’t pass either the English or math portion are denied high school diplomas.
Policymakers have devoted tens of millions of public dollars for exam workshops to help students pass or take the test over. School districts offer help to students for two years after their senior year. The exit exam tests knowledge through 10th-grade English and seventh-grade math.
- September 9, 2008 10:06 AM
- Categories: Education
Administrators outside one Los Angeles public high school put out a new sign for the first day of school yesterday. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says its message is “Under New Management.”
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Teachers’ frustration over low test scores, poor maintenance, and student fights at Locke High School last year led to a revolution. Most of the faculty voted to secede, and to reorganize Locke as a charter school under Green Dot Public Schools.
Math teacher Fernando Avila, who’s worked at Locke for nine years, says people at the school have urged changes for a long time.
Fernando Avila: I remember when I was here, maybe my second and third year, the state would come by and threaten and say, “If the API doesn’t improve, we’re going to take over the school.” And there would be a few number that would be like, “You know what, bring it on, come on in, get rid of everybody, rehire, start new, start fresh, let’s give these kids a better education by getting rid of a lot of the teachers that weren’t doing their jobs.”
Guzman-Lopez: Uniforms are mandatory for students. More security personnel patrol the campus. Green Dot has divided the 2800-student school into six semi-autonomous campuses. The company runs small start-up campuses in working class neighborhoods. This is the first large campus Green Dot’s converted into a charter.
- September 8, 2008 7:08 PM
- Categories: Education
Locke High School in Watts opened for classes today. But for the first time in 41 years, Los Angeles Unified School District administrators are not running the place. Low test scores and student brawls afflicted the campus last year. Most of Locke’s teachers voted to secede from the district. They chose the Green Dot charter schools company to take over.
Green Dot founder Steve Barr says Locke needed tender loving care, and then some.
Steve Barr: “All the adults are on one mission that we think every kid can learn. Every kid is in a uniform. We have high expectations for every kid. And every dollar that the taxpayers have put forth have gone to the school site. So that enables us to have class size at 25-to-1, and it enables us to put resources where they belong, at the school site.”
Barr says it’s going to cost $20 million a year to run Locke. Most of that money will come from the state, and Green Dot fund raising will help supply the rest. Green Dot didn’t fire teachers, but it did require every one of them to re-apply. About one-third of last year’s teachers returned. Green Dot pays a little more, but the benefits aren’t as generous as they were under L.A. Unified’s teachers’ union.
- September 8, 2008 5:40 PM
- Categories: Education
State education officials are set to release the latest results from the California High School Exit Exam Tuesday. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez offers this preview.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Last year 93 percent of the class of 2007 had passed the English and math portions of the exit exam. The exam tests a student’s knowledge of math through seventh grade and English through the tenth grade.
In the last two years, the state’s denied diplomas to high school seniors who fail either portion. About 40,000 seniors from the class of 2006 hadn’t passed the exam by the time their fellow students donned their caps and gowns. But the state encourages students to retake the standardized test. California has poured millions of dollars into exit exam workshops, available to students for two years after their senior year.
Those funds have muted some education advocates’ complaints that students at crowded schools with less experienced teachers are at a disadvantage when they take the test.
State Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell is set to unveil the exit exam results in Sacramento Tuesday morning.
- September 5, 2008 6:32 PM
- Categories: Education
The latest school test scores are in, and the news isn’t good. The Academic Performance Index measures the progress of California public schools from one year to the next. According to this year’s API, half of the state’s schools are performing below their targets, including many in the Inland Empire. KPCC’s Steven Cuevas has the numbers.
Steven Cuevas: All but a handful of the two dozen school districts in the region failed to meet those state and federal performance targets. But that doesn’t mean all the elementary, middle, and high schools in those districts are struggling. Take San Bernardino Unified, for instance. True, most of its schools failed to reach the state test score improvement target. But several other schools did well, according to federal standards that measure improvement.
It’s a similar story for Coachella Valley Unified schools. That’s where lots of Latino migrant farm workers send their kids. Not surprisingly, those students struggle with English. But the district’s API score is up 36 points. And individual schools in the desert district are showing improvement that beats out all but the highest performing schools in the Temecula, Redlands, and Lake Elsinore school districts.
- September 4, 2008 5:14 PM
- Categories: Education
It’s the first day of school for many students in the L.A. Unified School District, including those at the 10 underperforming schools under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s stewardship. The mayor has set some lofty goals for those schools.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: “In the first year we expect to double the success in the API rate, double our English test scores, our math test scores. We are going to focus on the dropout rate at the two high schools that we have. We have a target of reducing the dropout rate by 3 percent at these schools in the first year, and then each year we are going to build on that. Attendance rate, college-going rate, school safety numbers, parent satisfaction, are all going to be part of our parent report card.”
Villaraigosa spoke with KPCC’s Larry Mantle. The mayor took a bus tour of his 10 campuses on opening day, welcoming students back to class.
Students began classes this morning at the newest high school in the L.A. Unified School District. The campus just west of downtown Los Angeles, says school board president Monica Garcia, will relieve crowded schools nearby.
Monica Garcia: “Today, as we open the doors to the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center and welcome 2,600 kids in this community that has fought for, to end forced busing, to end the Concept 6 calendar where students get 163 days instead of 180 days, these communities have been our champions.”
It’s taken 11 years and about $400 million to build the school formerly known as the Belmont Learning Complex. L.A. Unified administrators stopped construction there after work crews detected explosive methane from old oil wells and earthquake faults under the foundation. The school district redesigned the school and says it’s safe now.
- September 3, 2008 10:45 AM
- Categories: Education
A UCLA political science professor has left the school’s admissions committee over concerns that the Westwood campus is cheating in its efforts to enroll African American students. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has the story.
Cheryl Devall: The professor, Tim Groseclose, told the Orange County Register that he agrees with the idea of enrolling more black students. But he resigned from UCLA’s admissions committee because he perceives a lack of transparency in the admissions process.
He’d sought to review that process because he suspected that, while state law forbids public universities from factoring in applicants’ races, UCLA admissions officers were considering it anyway.
For privacy reasons, the university declined to give Groseclose the data he’d asked for. Groseclose, whose scholarly research focuses on Congress and media bias, maintained that many students reveal their race in their application essays.
More students apply to UCLA than to any other university. There are 235 African Americans among the 4900 freshmen entering next month.
- August 29, 2008 2:13 PM
- Categories: Education
California school districts are doing a better job of informing people of the progress they’re making to improve the neediest campuses. That’s the finding in an annual report released today by an education advocacy group that sued the state for better classrooms. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: In the Williams versus State of California lawsuit, education advocates argued that thousands of public school students took classes from unqualified teachers, in crumbling classrooms without enough textbooks. Governor Schwarzenegger settled the lawsuit four years ago.
He agreed to spend more than $1 billion to improve instruction. He also compelled schools to inform the public about improvements. The schools’ compliance with that settlement was spotty, says Guillermo Mayer, a lawyer with the Bay Area’s Public Advocates.
Guillermo Mayer: When we first looked into this issue in 2005 we were finding that about half of the school districts were not reporting this information by the end of the school year, which is the deadline.
Guzman-Lopez: His group’s study of more than 1,000 schools found 90 percent compliance. The study, Mayer says, revealed that handful of school districts still isn’t making the information public. These include the Orange Unified School District and Lucerne Valley Unified in San Bernardino. The state doesn’t enforce the reporting requirement, Mayer adds, so his group will send warning letters to administrators at those school districts.
- August 28, 2008 1:50 PM
- Categories: Education
School starts next week – but KPCC’s Nick Roman says that for the top high school football teams in Southern California, the season is under way now.
Nick Roman: The Rivals.com sports Web site lists the top 100 teams in America. Eleven are from Southern California, including three – Orange Lutheran, Santa Ana’s Mater Dei, and Anaheim’s Servite High – that play in the same league.
Even in high school, when you’re good enough to rank among the best in the country, you play football before classes begin. Take Edison High in Huntington Beach. The Chargers made the Top 100 – and they opened their season last weekend in Maui with a win over a team from Lahaina. On Friday night, it’s Mission Viejo’s turn to play in Maui against a team from Wailuku.
The top Southern California team in the Rivals Top 100 is Long Beach Poly. They’re number 10. The Jackrabbits will spend Saturday night in Miami for a game against a Florida team. How can a public high school afford to fly its football team across the country? It can when Nike sponsors the game and picks up the tab.
A new national study of the nation’s Latino student population sheds light on its rapid growth and diversity. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the details.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Almost one in five students in the United States, the Pew Hispanic Center found, is Hispanic. That’s about double the proportion 18 years ago. Researchers found that the vast majority of Latino students are U.S.-born Mexican Americans with smaller proportions of Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, and Dominican Americans. Pew researcher Richard Fry says the study examined Latino students’ household income, English competency, and the educational backgrounds of their parents.
Richard Fry: One out of twenty white public school students have parents that haven’t finished high school. Comparatively, one out of three Latino public school students have parents that haven’t at least finished high school.
Guzman-Lopez: This places many Hispanic students at a disadvantage as they finish high school. Fry hopes the study will help educators better understand the students in their school systems.
- August 26, 2008 4:39 PM
- Categories: Education
The Pew Hispanic Center has released what it calls the most comprehensive national profile of Latino public school students. Researchers found that the Latino student population nearly doubled between 1990 and 2006, and will continue to grow.
Latinos account for about 20 percent of the nation’s public school students. More than 8 in 10 Latino students are U.S. citizens. And almost three-fourths claim Mexican roots, with a small but growing number claiming Salvadoran and Dominican heritage. Pew researcher Richard Fry helped to write the study.
Richard Fry: “California, Texas, Florida, L.A. Unified, you’ve been educating Latino students for many, many decades, in fact in some cases, centuries, if we refer to, you know, the Texas border. But as the report shows, California educates many, many Latino students, but increasingly states in the deep south, schools in the Midwest, schools in the Northwest, Hispanic population and Hispanic students are dispersing, they’re spreading out.
That, Fry said, means these regions should look to California for lessons about proven and effective ways to address Latino students’ educational needs.
- August 26, 2008 3:17 PM
- Categories: Education
Cal State Northridge would like to thank the source of a $5 million gift. But, says KPCC’s Cheryl Devall, the university doesn’t know who the benefactor is.
Cheryl Devall: Northridge does know what the money’s for. The anonymous giver specified that it’s for scholarships and other student aid, a university representative said. The school will call it the Scottsdale Endowment, because the cashier’s check for $5 million arrived from a bank in Scottsdale, Arizona. That seed money could allow some students who couldn’t afford college to attend, Northridge’s development chief said. The gift coincides with the San Fernando Valley school’s 50th anniversary.
- August 21, 2008 4:45 PM
- Categories: Education
A San Gabriel Valley nonprofit is making sure that kids in need get a good start on the new school year. Foothill Unity Center held its 10th annual back to school event today at Santa Anita Racetrack. Kids from low income and homeless families picked up backpacks and school uniforms. They were also treated to manicures and haircuts. Dajanai Sims says she’s about to enter her senior year at Duarte High School. She didn’t get a haircut, but she did pick up some clothes.
Dajanai Sims: “I just came from picking up socks and stuff. But I’m pretty much done now with everything. So, yeah. I’ve done it before. It’s nice.”
This year’s event was significantly bigger than last year’s. Organizers say about 1,400 families turned out, compared to a thousand last year.
A Catholic university in San Diego today rejected a faculty petition to appoint a feminist theologian. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the appointment foundered because the professor sits on the board of an abortion rights organization.
Cheryl Devall: Last spring, the University of San Diego appointed Rosemary Radford Reuther to an endowed chair in theology for the fall semester. But it withdrew the offer last month after finding out that Reuther is on the board of Catholics for Choice, an organization that challenges the Roman Catholic position that abortion is a sin.
Faculty at the university presented its administration with a petition bearing more than 2,000 signatures in support of Reuther, who’s a visiting professor of theology at Claremont Graduate School. The petition did not sway the San Diego institution.
Anti-abortion activists had criticized the appointment of Reuther, the author of several books and a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter. Reuther and her advocates say the controversy reflects the tension between academic freedom and conformity with church doctrine on Catholic campuses.
More than a thousand low-income and homeless children from the San Gabriel Valley received free clothes and school supplies today. A coalition of nonprofits and volunteers called Foothill Unity Center organized the annual Back to School Distribution event at the Santa Anita Racetrack. Director Joan Whitenack says this year’s event almost didn’t come together in time, because so many people need help.
Joan Whitenack: “This is about 40 percent bigger than last year’s. The economy has had a huge impact on our center, and, uh, we’ve seen more families that we’ve ever seen before.”
The kids received backpacks, shoes and socks, and even manicures. This is the tenth year Foothill Unity Center has held its back to school event.
The head of an influential charter schools advocacy group is leaving the job to join a Southland educational services company. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has the story.
Cheryl Devall: The country’s largest concentration of charter schools – independent, usually small learning centers that operate within public school districts – is in the Los Angeles Unified School District; it’ll include 150 charters when classes start this fall.
That reflects the advocacy of Caprice Young, a former L.A. Unified board member. During the five years she led the California Charter Schools Association, Young re-shifted the organization’s focus from suburban public districts to urban schools. Young is leaving the charter schools non-profit to join Knowledge Universe, a training and curriculum development company owned by the Milken Family Foundation.
Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, a political ally of Young’s, told the Los Angeles Times that he regrets her departure from the charter school organization. Young, he said, raised the profile of charters, and “opened up the door for all schools to challenge and help each other.”
During the 1980s, Congress passed a law that set the minimum legal drinking age at 21. Now the presidents of more than 100 colleges and universities are urging policymakers to reconsider the effectiveness of that law.
The presidents have signed onto what they call the Amethyst Initiative to try and re-ignite a public debate over young adults and alcohol. Occidental College President Robert Skotheim told KPCC’s Patt Morrison why he supports the initiative.
Robert Skotheim: “Deans of students are very worried that students away from home for the first time in this country seem extremely vulnerable, the first year, especially, to binge drinking.”
April Smook of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers told KPCC there’s no easy solution to the issue.
April Smook: “It’s not to just automatically say ‘let’s lower the drinking age to 18.’ The reality is, that’s not going to eliminate, necessarily, your binge drinking problem. Not to mention, you’re just pushing that problem down onto high school campuses. If you’re lowering the drinking age to 18, what is to say you’re not going to have the same problem on high school campuses with binge drinkers at 16.”
The results of November’s elections, educators say, should jump-start the debate in Congress over how to change the education reforms President Bush signed into law seven years ago. The authors of a set of education studies released today hope their findings will influence the discussion. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the details.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The research concludes, broadly, that the federal reforms are pushing teachers to raise student achievement. But success is haphazard among school districts and individual schools in California, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. And federal reforms haven’t closed the pervasive gap, especially in California, between the achievement of black and Latino students compared to their white classmates. UC Berkeley education professor Bruce Fuller, an editor of the studies, says principals play a key role in closing this achievement gap.
Bruce Fuller: Mainly, it’s through their charisma. It’s in part through their sustained focus, working on the front lines, sitting inside classrooms. These are principals not just roaming the halls with their walkie-talkies and their big ball of keys, they’re actually in classrooms collaborating with teachers to create more stimulating classroom settings for kids.
Guzman-Lopez: The studies are collected under the title “Strong States, Weak Schools” in the journal Research in the Sociology of Education.
Education researchers in California and Pennsylvania released a batch of studies today that criticize a 7-year-old federal education law. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The federal No Child Left Behind act imposed test result and teacher training requirements at public schools across the land. UC Berkeley education professor Bruce Fuller, who helped edit the research studies, says the federal law has damaged teacher morale.
Bruce Fuller: Like other professionals, teachers welcome clear objectives. They seem to welcome the state setting clear objectives, what should be covered at each grade level and in each subject area. On the other hand, they realize that if a subject is not covered on the test, like social studies or music, they are forced to ignore it.
Guzman-Lopez: It’s a vicious circle, Fuller says. Teachers drag their feet to meet the new standards. That leads to lower test scores, and that marks schools as low-performing under the law. Fuller hopes the findings will inform the national debate over how to reform the No Child Left Behind act.
- August 20, 2008 1:37 PM
- Categories: Education
As students prepare to return to school, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is setting some goals for the 10 under-performing L.A. Unified schools under his control.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: “We’re going to be accountable for raising the API scores. We’re going to be accountable for safety. We’re going to be accountable and responsible for attendance rates. We’re going to be accountable and responsible for lowering the dropout rate and increasing graduation rates.”
The mayor spoke with KPCC’s Patt Morrison. Villaraigosa said he expects to see progress each year, and to enact significant changes by the time his five-year mandate runs out.
- August 19, 2008 2:33 PM
- Categories: Education
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has announced the hiring of seven new principals for many of the L.A. Unified schools under his stewardship. Four of those principals will work at middle schools, the other three at elementary schools. The mayor told KPCC’s Patt Morrison that the principals will assume hands-on leadership in their schools.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: “Our principals have to commit to being in the classroom three hours a day, supervising teachers. It’s a novel concept, but many principals don’t go in a classroom anymore. They’re so busy running the school, if you will, the physical plant of the school, and forget that the key to every school is the education.”
About 18,000 students are enrolled in the 10 schools that belong to the mayor’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.
- August 19, 2008 2:23 PM
- Categories: Education
Some schools develop reputations for winning sports teams or distinguished faculty. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says one Southland college is garnering praise for graduating blacks and Latinos who go on to teach in public schools.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: For 16 years, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has awarded scholarships through its Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color program. The aim is to direct more black and Latino teachers into public schools. In California, educators say, that’s a big deal because nearly half of all students are Latino and one out of seven is African American. The vast majority of public school teachers are white.
Shelly Tochluk is chair of the Education Department at the private Mount Saint Mary’s College, south of Downtown Los Angeles.
Shelly Tochluk: “Many young people, when being able to better see themselves within the face of their teacher – there’s often an easier relationship or more connection made.”
Guzman-Lopez: Thirty Mount Saint Mary’s graduates received Rockefeller Brothers fellowships. That’s the most the fund has granted to the graduates of any institution. Those alumni embarked on teaching careers and stayed in the field longer than fellows from other colleges.
- August 18, 2008 7:19 PM
- Categories: Education
The latest standardized test scores for California students indicate they’re doing a little better in school – but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. KPCC’s Nick Roman says the state’s new STAR tests also highlight a nagging “achievement gap.”
Nick Roman: Since the STAR tests began five years ago, California students have pushed their scores up point by point. In English and language arts, the score for all students from second grade to junior year in high school is up 11 points from those first tests.
Generally speaking, middle school kids improved the most. Math scores are up, too, but it’s a little tougher to tell. Elementary and middle school students have moved their scores up, but scores for high schoolers in algebra, geometry, and advanced math courses are flat.
Here’s another problem: even as scores go up, the majority of school children in California still do not test as “proficient” in English and language arts, or in math, and there’s still a nagging “achievement gap” that separates white and Asian students from their black and Latino classmates. It’s about a 30 point gap, give or take a few points – and it has not budged at all in six rounds of STAR tests.
- August 14, 2008 3:52 PM
- Categories: Education
California students continued to make slight progress on English and math standardized tests last year. But more than half failed to meet the state achievement goals. State public instruction superintendent Jack O’Connell this morning released the results of the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program. O’Connell told KPCC’s AirTalk that African-American and Latino students are still scoring significantly below their white classmates on the tests.
Jack O’Connell: “We still have an achievement gap. And the achievement gap is real, it’s dark, it’s persistent, it’s glaring, and absolutely must be addressed.”
O’Connell said he was particularly concerned that only one-third of African-American students scored proficient or above in English. That’s just one percentage point more than Latino students, a group that includes many English learners. Forty-six percent of all California students scored “advanced” or “proficient” in English.
- August 14, 2008 12:34 PM
- Categories: Education
The Southland’s largest city today took a cue from smaller municipalities to reduce teen truancy. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Los Angeles councilwoman Jan Perry praised Long Beach’s and Monrovia’s efforts to help police make sure that teens are in school. The Los Angeles city council has approved Perry’s proposed change to city law inspired by those cities.
Los Angeles had prohibited students under 18 from going out unexcused between 8:30 in the morning and 1:30 in the afternoon. Perry’s change extends the prohibition to the hours school’s in session. So, if classes don’t get out until 3 o’clock, students can’t be on the streets before that time.
Police could hit violators with up to $250, up to 20 hours of community service, or both. The truancy rate in L.A. County schools has gone up slightly in recent years. It’s declined a bit in San Bernardino and Riverside county schools, but it’s significantly higher there than in L.A. and Orange counties.
Elementary school students from Atwater Village got a lesson in water policy today at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Ten-year-old Leslie Castillo and 9-year-old Acacia Shaw are fifth graders at the 75th Street school. Castillo says she learned that water comes over mountains and through pipes to get to her tap.
Leslie Castillo: “They told us that water is not easy to get to L.A. and they have to dig. They have to make pipes that could, so that water could go through and go to L.A., and so people could drink water and…”
Acacia Shaw: “… And he told us not to use a lot of water because it would kill our Earth.”
Historic L.A. water engineer William Mulholland is depicted in the play “Thirsty City.” It tells how water travels to the Southland through aqueducts and pipes. The play’s creators, the nonprofit educational group Theater of Will, plan to perform “Thirsty City” at other schools and youth groups through the fall.
For three weeks, twenty-six L.A. Unified high schoolers studied full time at UCLA and conducted interviews with student and civic leaders. They presented their findings at Los Angeles City Hall today. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: It’s the ninth year UCLA’s organized this summer research seminar for high school students.
Sixteen-year-old Haemin Jee attends Cleveland High School in the San Fernando Valley. Her research group studied how caring adults help to motivate students. Conducting the research, she said, dissolved some of her cynicism.
Haemin Jee: I’ve learned that adults will listen. They might need a kick in the butt, but they will eventually listen to us. And that it’s all on us as the youth to demand our rights. To demand help.
Guzman-Lopez: Students presented their findings at L.A. City Hall’s marble-clad top floor. UCLA education professor John Rogers pointed students toward a quote carved near the ceiling and paraphrased its meaning.
John Rogers: Our city should exist to nurture, sustain, and develop its youth.
Guzman-Lopez: Research sponsors said they’re organizing follow up sessions at high schools to cultivate the students’ learning and enthusiasm.
- August 8, 2008 6:24 PM
- Categories: Education
Twenty-six high school students finished a UCLA summer research project today. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez listened as they delivered their findings in the packed top floor ballroom of Los Angeles city hall.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: No summer lounging for these students. For three weeks, from Monday through Friday, nine to five, they took classes at UCLA and researched what young people like themselves have to say. Manual Arts High student Maurice McCoy explored how their ideas might improve high schools.
Maurice McCoy: “One out of four students don’t feel they could talk to their administration if they don’t feel safe, and that simply isn’t acceptable.”
UCLA education professor Ernest Morrell supervised the project. He hopes adults also pay attention to its findings.
Ernest Morrell: “I’m most confident in the impact of the program on the young people and I’m also confident that there will be some changes and they will feel themselves heard on their school campuses.”
UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access sponsored the project.
- August 8, 2008 6:05 PM
- Categories: Education
Parents without teaching credentials may home school their children, a state appeals court decided today. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the ruling reverses the court’s earlier stand on the issue.
Cheryl Devall: In February, the Second District Court of Appeal declared that parents who home school their children must obtain teaching credentials. The ruling sent tens of thousands of households into a frenzy. No other state required that of parents, and home-schoolers and their advocates feared the ruling in the most populous state might set a precedent for the nation.
An estimated 166,000 California kids get their education at home. In response to the decision, dozens of teaching organizations petitioned the court. So did California’s governor, attorney general, and education officials. The court re-heard the case in March, and backed off the credential requirement for home-schoolers.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called the reversal a victory that confirms every California child’s right to a quality education, and every parent’s right to decide what’s best for his or her children.
College and university administrators around the country say admissions policies are not attracting significantly larger proportions of poor or minority students now than when many such students first entered higher education three decades ago. More than a hundred administrators concluded a three-day conference on the topic today at the University of Southern California. Jerry Lucido is vice provost there.
Jerry Lucido: “As colleges and universities, we really have to understand the students who are coming to us and who will be coming to us in the future. That means we have to understand their background. We have to understand how well they’re prepared and be ready to meet them where they are, at the same time that we let them know that a college education is possible, a college education is affordable, far more affordable than they may realize.”
Retention’s also important. The president of Williams College in Massachusetts told conference participants that schools like his need to do a better job of tracking individual students’ achievement on the way to graduation.
- August 6, 2008 2:32 PM
- Categories: Education
UCLA hosted a big emergency training exercise this morning. The LAPD and several other agencies were practicing how to respond to a campus shooting. The scenario for the exercise involved gunmen shooting and wounding several students in a residence hall. Volunteers pretended to be gunshot victims.
Phil Hampton is a UCLA spokesman.
Phil Hampton: “The planning for the training has been going on for several months. It’s a very complex exercise involving multiple agencies and many moving parts.”
The FBI, the Los Angeles City Fire Department, and UCLA’s police department also participated in the exercise. About 100 student and staff volunteers joined the first responders.
Hundreds of Trabuco Hills High School students who had their advanced placement test scores thrown out were looking to an Orange County judge for answers. And KPCC’s Susan Valot says they didn’t get the answer they wanted.
Susan Valot: Educational Testing Service, or ETS, administers the Advanced Placement exams. High school students who pass AP exams get college credit. ETS recently threw out nearly 700 tests taken by Trabuco Hills High School students. It said 10 students admitted to breaking the test-taking rules.
Some sat too close to other students. Others took unsupervised restroom breaks. And a few even used their cell phones during the test. So ETS ditched all of the Trabuco Hills High test scores and told all the students they’d have to retake the exams later this summer if they wanted AP credits.
But 375 students who said they didn’t break the rules asked an Orange County Superior Court Judge to order ETS to report their scores – and spell out the evidence used to invalidate their exams. The judge sided with ETS, saying that turning over the evidence wouldn’t change the fact that they still had to retake the test.
L.A. Unified administrators announced today they’ve decided to run a large schools complex set to open next year through an experimental model. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the details.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: L.A. Unified tore down the old Ambassador Hotel in L.A.’s Koreatown two-and-a-half years ago to build schools for about 4,200 students. The elementary school is set to open next year, the middle and high schools the year after that.
Once they’re open, the schools will be split up into school clusters of about 700 students each. Nonprofits will work with the school district to set curriculum and budgets. UCLA’s already signed on to run the Bruin Community School with instructors, staff, and students from the Westwood campus.
L.A. Unified’s looking for other partners, too. Administrators say the model’s worked in Boston – and should help improve learning. L.A. Unified’s budgeted more than half a billion dollars to finish construction at the Ambassador site.
- July 30, 2008 2:55 PM
- Categories: Education
Campus officials at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut canceled classes for the rest of the day. The community college should reopen tomorrow morning. Cal State Fullerton and Citrus College in Glendora are also closed.
Aspiring lawyers began taking the three-day bar exam today around the state. According to the State Bar of California’s website, the exam is offered in five locations around the Los Angeles area, including Ontario, Anaheim, downtown Los Angeles, near LAX at the Radisson Hotel, and in Century City.
A woman who answered the phone at the admissions department of the State Bar of California says that they’re “still investigating” and that the state bar will not be giving out any information, at any time, for the remainder of the testing period, which extends through Thursday.
Those who sit for the bar exam can be extremely picky about their accommodations; the State Bar has faced lawsuits in the past about alleged problems during the exam, especially when an applicant learns later that he or she does not pass. Bar exam courses teach you to stay in your seat and keep writing until you’re dismissed.
The speaker of California’s state assembly is scheduled to speak at a town hall meeting in Carson Tuesday evening about the urgent needs facing California’s public universities. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: It’s more than a month into the state’s fiscal year. And Sacramento lawmakers continue to debate a budget proposal that would, among other things, cut nearly $300 million from the 23-campus Cal State university system.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has organized a town hall meeting at Cal State Dominguez Hills to brief the public about the budget stalemate. Dominguez Hills music professor David Bradfield plans to attend. He says cutting education funding is shortsighted.
David Bradfield: “Public higher education is actually the solution to help get us out of the economic problem that we’re currently in. And that, in fact, any further cuts to higher education will exacerbate the economic situation for the state.”
Guzman-Lopez: Budget cuts would force campuses to accept fewer qualified students and offer fewer classes. And that, educators say, would hurt the job prospects of many young California residents.
Los Angeles Schools Superintendent David Brewer today said smaller schools are the key to lowering the district’s high school dropout rate. Brewer spoke on KPCC’s Patt Morrison.
David Brewer: “What we have found is once you go small, you have better attendance, you have less dropouts, you have what we call a personalized learning environment. Children can’t get lost in the system. So you take major high schools with three or four-thousand students on it. Number one, our building program is going to reduce that number to three thousand or less. And then we will be able to divide those schools into six small learning communities into 500 each.”
The L.A. Unified School District’s 34 percent high school dropout rate is one of the highest in the state. The statewide average is 24 percent.
- July 23, 2008 3:51 PM
- Categories: Education
Students and colleagues at UC Riverside today shared their memories of the late Lindon Barrett. Authorities say the 46-year-old professor of African-American literature and culture was murdered in his Long Beach home more than a week ago. During a tribute UC Riverside radio station KUCR, professor George Haggerty said Barrett was a skilled teacher and colleague.
George Haggerty: “He just took the place by storm, I mean he was so warm and so brilliant and so collegial, and he really just transformed the department. We were thinking of Linden as the future really, he was such an important addition to the department and we thought this is great, we can move forward in these fields, and it was just so great to have such a perfect senior hire.”
At the time of his death, Lindon Barrett was working on a book examining the slave trade’s impact on North America. His colleagues plan to complete that project in his memory. Police found Barrett’s body at his home in Long Beach. They’ve arrested and charged an acquaintance with murder.
The city and county of Los Angeles and the L.A. Unified School District are serving up free lunch to qualifying kids all summer. Kevin Regan with the city recreation and parks department helped launch the season at Cesar Chavez Elementary school in South Pasadena.
Kevin Regan: “The Department of Recreation and Parks also has a summer lunch program at a 107 recreation centers throughout the city. And these are meals primarily for children under the age of 17. They’re free and any child who shows up can get a meal. And we partner with LAUSD as well, on the program.”
They hope to distribute food to 36,000 kids and families by summer’s end. For more information about where lunch is served, call the toll-free L.A. City or County information lines: 2-1-1 or 3-1-1.
School’s out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean lunchtime is over. The L.A. Unified School District and the city and county departments of recreation and parks have teamed up to feed kids for free. L.A. Unified’s Nadia Gonzalez is trying to get the word out about the Summer Lunch Program.
Nadia Gonzalez: “As far as the LAUSD’s concerned, the summer food service has been around since the ’70s. I mean, we’ve been serving hundreds of thousands of kids for many years. However, this time around what we’ve decided to do is, we really wanted to do more outreach. We wanted to reach more families. And so we created a partnership with the city and the county.”
They’re serving free lunches at schools and parks. There’s more information at L.A. County’s 211 hotline or L.A. City’s 311 hotline.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. Unified administrators have been busy mixing the ingredients for a November school bond proposal. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports that today they took it out of the oven before it was done.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: In the last decade, voters in L.A. Unified boundaries have said yes to nearly $20 billion in school construction and improvement bonds. L.A.’s mayor, along with school district and charter school officials, stood outside Roosevelt High School in East L.A. to tell voters they’ll need even more money. L.A. Unified Superintendent David Brewer.
David Brewer: This particular bond is going to be transformational. We’re going to be looking to our charter community, to our partnership schools, and to all of the other schools to help bolster their capacity
Guzman-Lopez: The bond would aid schools now run by Mayor Villaraigosa’s Partnership for L.A. Schools organization, along with charter campuses that haven’t had much luck securing classroom space from the school district. The cost? No one would say. The mayor said he’s trying to round up support for the school bond. The details, he promised, would surface on Tuesday, the same day as L.A. Unified’s next board meeting.
- July 18, 2008 3:44 PM
- Categories: Education
New numbers state education officials released today show that California’s drop-out rate almost doubled to one quarter of all students. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the details.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The California Department of Education says the state’s overhauled the way it tracks which students have dropped out. The results fall closer to recent academic studies that estimated nearly one third of California high school students drop out.
Of particular concern, says State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, is higher-than-average drop out rates among black and Latino high school students. Statewide, almost 42% of black students dropped out, and one third of Latinos abandoned their studies. The black and Latino drop out rates in L.A., Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties reflect statewide trends. O’Connell said the problem represents a huge loss of potential.
More accurate data, he hopes, will allow educators to focus on better ways to lead students to earn high school diplomas.
- July 16, 2008 5:54 PM
- Categories: Education
State school officials say nearly one in four California high school students dropped out last year. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more on new dropout number released today.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Statewide, the new dropout numbers are nearly double what they were the year before. State education officials attribute the huge jump to better tracking of students, not to more students leaving school before graduation.
In L.A. and San Bernardino counties, the dropout rate for the 2006-20007 school year was slightly higher than the state average. Riverside County’s rate was about even with the average. In Orange County, high school students drop out at about half the rate they do statewide.
For years, public education activists and researchers have said the California Department of Education does a poor job of collecting data on dropouts. Education officials didn’t deny the charge. This year, the department’s using an individual identification number to track California’s six million students. That system lets administrators quickly spot students who’ve stopped showing up to school.
- July 16, 2008 5:06 PM
- Categories: Education
California Department of Education officials are set to unveil the state’s latest high school dropout rates at a San Fernando Valley news conference this afternoon. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez explains why the new numbers are important.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: California’s recognized for years that its high school dropout data is inaccurate. There’s been no way to verify, state officials say, whether students drop out, enroll elsewhere, or move out of the state. State officials say the high school drop out rate two years ago was 14%. Public education advocates, including Bay Area lawyer John Affeldt, say that’s wrong.
John Affeldt: The dropout problem in California is frankly one of the moral crises occurring in the state right now. The Harvard Civil Rights Project and others have reported that the dropout figure is around 30% or more. In some districts, like L.A. Unified, it’s closer to 50% for African-Americans and Latinos.
Guzman-Lopez: The dropout statistics to be released today will be more accurate, state officials say, because they’re calculated using a new data system that tracks the state’s six-million students through individual identification numbers.
- July 15, 2008 6:25 PM
- Categories: Education
Hollywood and the government are trying to send a more consistent anti-smoking signal. KPCC’s Brooke Binkowski has more on the story.
Brooke Binkowski: Six major studios have agreed to run state-sponsored anti-smoking messages like this on DVDs with G, PG, or PG-13 ratings. At Hollywood’s Kodak Theater, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lauded the effort.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: “By agreeing to include our anti-smoking ads in the opening minutes of the DVDs, especially those that contain tobacco use, the studios will help reach tens of millions more viewers with a proven anti-smoking message. And the good thing is, it won’t cost anything to the taxpayers. Isn’t that great?”
Binkowski: California’s Department of Health and Human Services developed the public service announcements. The Entertainment Industry Foundation helped to pay for and distribute them. Motion Picture Association of America chief Dan Glickman said his industry’s responding to persistent criticism from anti-smoking activists who contend that movies routinely make smoking look cool, even glamorous.
Dan Glickman: “We are under no illusion that this single step constitutes a silver bullet. But we are going to do our part to raise awareness of the very real public health consequences of smoking.”
Binkowski: State public health officials say there are no plans to delete smoking scenes from films. The anti-smoking messages will start showing up on DVDs later this month. They may eventually run in theaters.
After years of criticism from anti-tobacco activists, Hollywood’s joined with the California’s department of Health and Human Services to include messages about the dangers of smoking on movie DVDs. Dan Glickman heads the Motion Picture Association of America.
Dan Glickman: “All six major motion picture studios joined together: Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Warner Brothers, committing to run state-produced PSAs. All of the major film studios standing shoulder to shoulder. This is an issue that has become increasingly important in our society and within our industry.”
For Glickman, it’s personal: both his parents had cancer. All DVDs with G, PG, or PG-13 ratings will include the anti-smoking announcements, starting later this month.
Hollywood and California’s government are joining forces to target kids with messages that it’s unhealthy to smoke. Details on the plan from KPCC’s Brooke Binkowski.
Brooke Binkowski: Anti-tobacco activists have long criticized the movie industry for glamorizing smoking. Now six Hollywood studios are trying some damage control.
They’ve agreed to place anti-smoking public service announcements on future DVDs of children’s movies. The studio effort won’t delete smoking scenes from movies. Although the anti-smoking messages will only show up on DVDs at first, they may eventually run in theaters.
California’s Department of Health and Human Services developed the public service announcements. The Entertainment Industry Foundation plans to distribute them.
Every eighth grader in California will be required soon to take an algebra test. The state board of education approved the requirement yesterday. State schools superintendent Jack O’Connell opposes the plan. He told KPCC that California schools don’t have the resources to impose this kind of mandate.
Jack O’Connell: “Without preparing our teachers, without recruiting more teachers, without having smaller class sizes, more resources. I believe we’re just setting our students up for failure.”
Governor Schwarzenegger says the mandate will show the rest of the nation that California has faith in its students. He says he’ll try to ensure that the state also has the resources to make it happen. The new requirement, the first of its kind in the country, is expected to take effect in three years.
An L.A. Unified School District board member is recommending that the schools require at least 20 minutes of physical education each instructional day. Chad Fenwick, an advisor to the school district’s physical education program, told KPCC’s Patt Morrison that kids these days aren’t able to run outdoors and play as their parents and grandparents did.
Chad Fenwick: “L.A. doesn’t have that space anymore, and it’s become so condensed it’s hard to find places to move where you’re gonna naturally learn a lot of these kinds of skills. The hardest hit areas are the lowest socioeconomic areas in L.A. They have the highest density, and the least facilities of parks and recreation around it.”
Fenwick says students increasingly depend upon their schools to offer opportunities for physical activity.
The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education is considering a measure that would enforce the importance of gym classes in public schools. It would require the district to hire qualified physical education teachers, develop better sports and exercise facilities, and to limit class sizes.
As many as 80 kids crowd into gym classes at some secondary schools. KPCC’s Patt Morrison spoke with Chad Fenwick, an L.A. Unified physical education advisor.
Chad Fenwick: “We have a minimum by the state standards of 200 minutes each 10 school days, and that’s all year long. But, the national recommendation is about 250 over that time. So, just to meet the minimum, it’s not getting done.”
L.A. County’s public health department says obesity among L.A. Unified students has increased from one in five nine years ago to just more than a quarter of all students enrolled two years ago.
The state’s budget problems mean there’ll be fewer summer school programs in California this year. State Schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell says most districts have reduced the number of summer school classes they can offer. He blames it on proposed budget cuts and the Legislature’s inability to pass a spending plan on time.
Jack O’Connell: “Not having the budget really does hurt public education. It’s the uncertainty, not knowing the level of funding, and the first victim is really summer school and so many programs have been significantly scaled back or even eliminated.”
Students who need remedial classes to pass the state’s high School Exit Exam are getting them. But most districts have cut classes for English learners, elementary school students, and college prep programs.