Founding parent Tamara Hernandez begins a tour at Pasadena Community Church. Hernandez had the idea of starting a new school for a while, but only last winter did she begin working on the project with parents. "I just blurted out ‘I’m going to start my own school,’” she said. “And then as soon as I said it, it just started happening very quickly.”
Founding parent Duhee Lee looks at the second floor classrooms and outdoor space at Pasadena Christian Church. The parents, many of them from Pasadena, decided not to go the charter route, in part because the children would still be subject to testing and in part because of the restrictions that come with public funds.
Tamara Hernandez isn’t the first parent to be underwhelmed by her local public school. But she’s solving the problem in a way not many do: she’s joining other frustrated parents to start a new school.
She said the idea had been percolating in her head for some time. But the project didn’t get started until one afternoon this Winter, while brainstorming with parents about another way to bring change at the school.
“They wanted me to join their effort, and I just blurted out ‘I’m going to start my own school,’” she said. “And then as soon as I said it, it just started happening very quickly.”
So far, 14 parents have joined the effort. This ad-hoc group of founding parents came up with a name: The Oasis Trilingual Community School.
They want to create a thematic and inquiry-based school. Students would receive regular classes in art, drama, music, gardening, and PE - all built in to the school day, and all in equal measures of Mandarin, Spanish and English.
Minutes before her audition with Boston Ballet, 16-year-old Anna Barnes ran through her list of things to remember: Shoulders down, legs turned out, stretch.
Oh, and keep the nerves in check.
"It's really hard," she said. "You can just go crazy in your mind and that never helps."
Barnes was one of about 90 aspiring dancers who gathered at Westside Ballet in
Santa Monica in late January to try out for Boston Ballet's summer intensive program.
Summer intensives, which run for several weeks at ballet companies across the country, are seen as a critical stepping stone for young dancers wanting make it in the ultra competitive professional ballet world.
Boston Ballet is a prestigious destination and many of the dancers prepared by dancing 15-20 hours a week.
Inside the studio, the dancers, mostly girls, wore black leotards and pink tights. They each took a place at the barres set up in rows. Zippora Karz, a former New York City Ballet dancer, led them in a master class, instructing them in different exercises and choreography.
Head Start preschool programs make a difference to children who get little academic stimulation at home, according to a new study from U.C. Irvine. For children who are rarely read to at home, or whose parents don’t work with them on letter and number recognition or word pronunciation, daily Head Start classes matter, the report found.
As debate continues as to whether this publicly-funded preschool for low-income children has lasting academic impacts, the new study found that one year of Head Start can make a “bigger difference for children from homes where parents provide less early academic stimulation,” according to a press statement.
Head Start is a federally-funded program and serves over one million children per year. U.C. Irvine researchers looked at interviews with Head Start mothers from the beginning and end of the school year.
Elizabeth/Table4Five/Flickr Creative Commons
Los Angeles County has a truancy rate of 20.5 percent among elementary school students, almost double that of neighboring Orange County.
New state legislation that would standardize public school attendance records and track truancy interventions was announced by California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Monday. Her office estimates 1 million elementary students were truant at least one day last school year, costing schools $1.4 billion in lost funds.
"Let's track and figure out where are kids are," Harris said. "And, when they are not in school, it then begs that question, 'What's going on?'"
The bill package does not mandate nor fund interventions, such as transportation assistance or childcare services. It only requires that records of such interventions be kept.
According to to the bills' supporters, California is one of only four states in the country that does not collect student attendance data. AB 1866 would mandate the California Department of Education begin keeping records of absenteeism and truancy, and SB 1107 would require the Attorney General to submit an annual report as Harris began doing last year.
A student at KIPP Comienza in Huntington Park plays ST Math to review the week's material. The game tracks his progress and gives him harder activities as he masters skills. It's the type of interactivity L.A. Unified reviewers said they were looking for, but ended up choosing a program with no games or assessments.
When the Los Angeles Unified School District set out last year to buy tablets for every teacher and student, officials drew up a scoring system to rate 19 hardware and software options.
The scores meant a lot: the contract will ultimately be worth about $500 million and marks the largest school technology expansion in the country.
The winners were Apple and global education publisher Pearson PLC, which received nearly twice as many points as the next highest software bidder.
But there was a hitch: Pearson’s software wasn’t ready – and it still isn’t.
Since the contract was awarded last summer, school board members have laid into administrators for buying unfinished materials – and for paying nearly $800 per software-equipped device. The school district's Inspector General has also begun probing the purchase.