So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

ACLU: Jefferson High class scheduling improvement plan may be flawed

JEFFERSON 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

File: Jefferson High School students Dasianique Weeks, left, Starr Brock, and Oscar Carillo are upset with the dysfunctional scheduling software and staffing issues at their high school.

Attorneys for students who want Los Angeles Unified to fix their class scheduling problems caused by the mismanaged rollout of the district's data system say the district's plan to cure the issues may fall short.

According to the attorneys, the district has yet to explain how officials came up with the number of students -- 48 at Jefferson High School -- who were given two or more non-academic classes, one of the issues that have caused students to lose critical instructional time. 

In a court filing Thursday, the students' attorneys said L.A. Unified officials and representatives from the State Board of Education and California Department of Education have failed to detail their method for counting the number of students impacted.

“It’s a pretty significant question, about whether the plan addresses the full scope of the problem at Jefferson,” said the ACLU's David Sapp, one of the attorneys who helped file a lawsuit on students’ behalf.

Read More...

LA Unified gets school lunch makeover in test of locally sourced meals

SCHOOL LUNCH 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Kitty Chora, 8, gets lunch at Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Unified School District is starting a program that brings food produced within 200 miles of Los Angeles to area schools every Thursday.

SCHOOL LUNCH 002

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Students at Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars eat lunch, which includes a hamburger, banana, fruit and milk.

SCHOOL LUNCH 003

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Students at Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars eat lunch, which includes ingredients grown or made within 200 miles of Los Angeles.

SCHOOL LUNCH 004

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Rumana Zaman sorts bananas before lunch starts at Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars. The Los Angeles Unified School District is starting a project called "California Thursdays," which gathers ingredients from producers within 200 miles of Los Angeles.

SCHOOL LUNCH 005

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Students line up for lunch at Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars.

SCHOOL LUNCH 006

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Carlos Castro, left, and Michele Canete go through the lunch line at Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars in Los Angeles. The district is implementing "California Thursdays," which will ensure the ingredients in the lunches are produced from within 200 miles of Los Angeles.

SCHOOL LUNCH 007

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Elementary students go through the lunch line at Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars.

SCHOOL LUNCH 008

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Adan Perechu, 7, eats a banana during lunch at Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars in Los Angeles. The district gathers 70 percent of ingredients from producers within California, but is launching a program that will boost that number to 100 percent once a week.


Los Angeles Unified and 14 other school districts across California launched a pilot program Thursday that aims to bring the farm-to-table movement to school campuses.

Known as "California Thursdays," the new initiative seeks to increase healthy, homegrown food in school meals and reduce schools' dependence on processed foods that have become a staple of student lunches in recent decades.

"We want to serve more local, fresh food to kids," said Adam Kesselman, a program manager for California Thursdays, an effort backed by the Center for Ecoliteracy, a nonprofit that encourages education in sustainable living for grades K-12.

"Healthy kids perform better in schools. They show up to school, and food is an opportunity for teaching and learning that kids can take with them," Kesselman said.

Read More...

LA Phil celebrates 10th year of pipe organ with kids' concert

Disney organ

Courtesy of L.A. Phil/ Adam Latham

The Walt Disney Concert Hall's pipe organ features 6,134 metal and wooden pipes.

Disney organ

Courtesy of L.A. Phil/ Adam Latham

The Walt Disney Concert Hall's pipe organ was a collaboration between architect Frank Gehry and L.A. organ designer Manuel Rosales.


The Walt Disney Concert Hall is marking a very big birthday — its custom-made organ turns 10 this year. To celebrate, the Los Angeles Philharmonic created a concert series aimed at teaching kids about the prized instrument. 

"It's really about getting kids to fall in love with music," said Gretchen Nielsen, who leads the LA Phil's education programming. "We have this belief that there's a way of shaping experiences and music and learning across all spectrum of people."

RELATED: Can art help students learn science?

The concert, called "The Organ: Stops, Keys, Pedals and Pipes," is part of the Toyota Symphonies for Youth series for kids age 5 to 11. It's one of several events for all ages presented this year to celebrate the organ's 10th year. 

During the kids' concert, organist Joanne Pearce Martin and actor Robert Beuth — playing a plumber who stumbled upon the wrong set of pipes — take the audience through a fun, musical journey that weaves in lessons about the pipe organ. Students learn about the giant instrument's mechanics and hear a sampling of the organ's rich sounds.

Read More...

State seeks $140 million federal grant to expand preschool

Long Beach Preschool

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

File: Long Beach preschool teacher Anabel Lopez leads children in a round of singing and dancing.

State officials are asking for $140 million in federal funds to create more subsidized preschool slots in communities where parents have a difficult time finding quality childcare.

The grant request coincided with an address by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who on Tuesday encouraged California early education advocates at an early learning summit in Los Angeles to continue working toward the Obama administration's goal of universal preschool.

Debbie McMannis, director of the California Department of Education's early education division, told summit participants that if the state's grant request is approved, preschool services would be expanded over the next four years.

"This grant is going to bring regional preschool to 11 different areas of California, which is very exciting," McMannis said. While she would not name the specific regions, she said the target areas are a mix of rural and urban communities.

Read More...

Education secretary says time to debate preschool is over

DUNCAN 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the keynote speaker Tuesday at a White House summit in Los Angeles focused on the importance of early learning.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a conference of preschool advocates in Los Angeles Tuesday that the value of early education to young children is undisputed and the effort should shift to expanding it to more kids.

Duncan told the audience, including many Southern California educators, that Los Angeles should be at the forefront of the push to provide high quality early education to all children.

"If this community and this state can fundamentally break through and take to scale what we know makes a difference in kids' lives, that would be amazing and the implications would be national," he said.

The education secretary gave his remarks at the White House Early Learning Summit at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, part of a two-day tour of California during which he promoted the economic and social benefits of early education. It was one of six such summits the White House is holding. Yesterday, Duncan attended another in San Francisco. 

Read More...