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

LA schools superintendent calls for hiring freeze, citing cash shortage

Preschool discipline

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

File: Norwalk preschool teacher Stefanie Servin reads to her class as her district coach, Astrid Feist, observes and takes notes from the back of the classroom.

Los Angeles Unified's Interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines ordered a hiring freeze Wednesday, citing "significant deficits" for the next two school years,  according to a memo obtained by KPCC.

"Although initiating a more stringent hiring freeze is not something that I wish to do, I feel that it is not only necessary but a prudent approach to an inevitable reality," Cortines said in the memo. 

The freeze begins Dec. 1 and runs through Jan. 30. It affects teachers and principals as well as aides, bus drivers, office staff and other employees.

"I will review the budgetary success of this freeze at the end of January, and will decide at that time if it should be continued," Cortines said in the memo.

L.A. Unified has more cash on hand than it has had for years: revenues increased $332 million in state funds from last school year. 


LA Unified police say $8 million needed to keep iPad-toting students safe

student girl ipad school desk

Photo by Lexie Flickinger/Brad Flickinger via Flickr Creative Commons

File: A student uses an iPad at a school desk.

Los Angeles Unified school police say 80 new officers are needed to provide "safe passage" for students walking home from school with $500 iPads.

Safety concerns thwarted plans for students to take home tablets when 47 schools piloted the program last fall, but school officials say they have addressed the issues and plan to send students home with their iPads from select campuses in the next couple of weeks.

To prevent thefts, L.A. Unified iPads are tracked for recovery and are rendered unusable when reported stolen, making it difficult for the tablets to be resold.

Nonetheless, the idea of students walking between home and school with the costly devices has worried families.

"Parents are concerned it could be a target for criminals mugging the children, and taking the iPads away," said Scott Folsom, a PTA representative. 


LA schools data troubles hit home, jeopardizing one college-bound student

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Jefferson High senior Jason Magaña and his parents are worried that L.A. Unified's troubled data system may hurt the 12th-grader's college prospects.

Jefferson High School senior Jason Magaña knew something was wrong on the first day of the school year. His class list for the semester included a graphic design class he’d already taken twice.

“I was pretty shocked because I needed an economics or government class to graduate high school and be eligible for college,” he said.

Jason is among hundreds of students who were assigned incorrect classes and then corralled into the school’s auditorium while counselors tried to find the right courses for the students, one pupil at a time.

Some would spend up to three weeks into the school year without the right classes.

“They were just being patient, but you could see frustration in their eyes,” he said.

Jason is named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in May challenging the district’s practice of assigning high schoolers to non-academic “home” and “service” periods when the schools lacked the needed academic classes.


Long Beach looking to extend its push for college to preschools

Long Beach City College Preschool

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Long Beach City College President Eloy Oakley visits his campus Child Development Center preschool. He's a supporter of Mayor Robert Garcia's push to bring universal preschool to Long Beach.

Believing it's never too early to think about college, Long Beach public officials and educators plan to take their message to the earliest learners — preschoolers.

Their efforts to recruit the children sooner rather than later is part of a broader effort to provide preschool for every child. Among its champions is the new mayor of Long Beach, Robert Garcia, elected in July as the first Latino and gay mayor for the city. 

Garcia is making universal preschool, especially for disadvantaged children, a priority of his administration. Drawing from his own background as a five-year-old immigrant from Peru who overcame the challenges of language and poverty through education, the mayor wants Long Beach to become a leader in extending preschool to all. 

Universal preschool won't come easily or cheaply. Long Beach, with a population of almost half a million with one in five living below the federal poverty line, has waiting lists for state preschool and Head Start programs that run into the hundreds.


California's children falling through the cracks, says study on kids' well-being

preschool kids arts and crafts star children early education

Photo by DIBP images via Flickr Creative Commons

A new report by the group Children Now paints a bleak picture of the well-being of many of California's children.

New information out Wednesday shows kids across 58 counties in California are faring poorly overall when it comes to education, health and socio-economic outcomes. 

Compiled every two years by the nonpartisan research group, Children Now, the 2014-2015 scorecard paints a bleak picture for many California children, particularly those who live in counties with concentrations of impoverished families. 

"While some counties may be doing better than others, as a whole we are failing our children," said Jessica Mindnich, research director for Children Now. "Despite having a large economy and more children than any other state, we are allowing too many to fall through the cracks and denying them the opportunity to be productive, healthy and engaged citizens."

The data that Children Now collects and compiles come from publicly available local, state and national sources. It was used to evaluate how children are doing based on a series of key indicators.