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

LA school board race: Quiz your candidates

Annie Gilbertson/KPCC

Los Angeles Unified school board candidates Alex Johnson and George McKenna have less than two weeks left to win the favor of Los Angeles voters before the runoff election.

So far, records show Johnson, an education policy advisor for L.A. county supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, attracted $314,000 in campaign contributions plus $518,000 in expenditures by independent groups -  more than double the funds McKenna garnered.

Johnson is backed by leading education reform organizations, including an advocacy group associated with the California Charter School Association.

McKenna, a former school administrator, won the endorsement of the teachers union, which plans to rally its members to the polls on election day, August 12.

Both candidates said promise to turnaround South L.A. schools plagued by poverty, high dropout rates and low reading and math scores — but how? 


Half of the nation's children have suffered trauma, report says

06 - Christina Bray - Pomona Prison Childcare Mothers Center Pregnant Prisoners

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Just under half the nation's children have lived through an "adverse experience" in their lives. One of those experiences is having a parent incarcerated. The Community Prisoner Mother Program is run by a non-profit, Prototypes. In addition to housing non-violent, low-level offenders with their children, it’s open to community members who are undergoing in-patient drug abuse or mental health treatment.

A report out this week finds that just under half of the nation's children have lived through at least one traumatic experience - most commonly, financial hardships. It's part of a national look at early chronic stress in children's lives compiled by the research institute Child Trends. 

Experts say chronic early stress - or "adverse experiences" - in children’s lives can alter their emotional responses, their impulse control  and even harm their developing brains. 

For the study, researchers analyzed interviews from the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health with more than 95,000 adults who had a child in their household. They looked for eight "adverse experiences" - including parental divorce, having a parent incarcerated, witnessing violence in the neighborhood, being the victim of sexual or physical violence, or living with someone who was suicidal. 


New CalArts residency transforms artists into teachers

CalArts CAP - 4

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Teaching artist in training Anthony "Chuck" Gloria, left, works with animation co-directors Ruah Edelstein and Masha Vasilkovsky on a performance blending music and animated pieces.

CalArts CAP - 1

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High schoolers take part in a dance class at Cortines High School on Wednesday, July 9 during the Community Arts Partnership (CAP) put on by California Institute of the Arts every summer. This year CalArts students training to be teaching artists helped lead instruction.

Teaching Artist

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Connie Covert explains how teaching artists should interact with principals. The lesson is part of the CalArts Residency for Teaching Artists, a new program that launched in May.

CalArts CAP - 2

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Zelia Corbia, 18, of Hollywood paints a photograph taken during a body modification portrait assignment at CalArt's Community Arts Partnership. The program is free to kids ages six through 18.

CalArts CAP - 3

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Sixteen-year-old Karissa Melara of Southgate builds sculptures around which she will do a performance piece. The sculptures came from a sketch Melara drew inspired by the Mike Kelley show at MOCA.

CalArts CAP - 5

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Samantha Hare, 14, of Chatsworth paints letters that she will attach to a mirror. Hare hopes to address women's body image through the piece. Visual arts is one of seven different art forms taught every summer during CalArts' CAP.

CalArts CAP - 6

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CalArts' Community Arts Partnership is a three-week intensive arts program. Each student has a focus in either music, animation, creative writing, dance, photography, theater or visual arts.

Teaching Artist

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Diego Robles looks on during a lesson at Cortines high school. Robles is one of 12 students participating in a new teaching artist training program through CalArts.

CalArts CAP - 7

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Dance instructor Francesca Penzani leads a rehearsal on Wednesday, July 9 during CalArts' CAP program. The class prepares for a final performance on Saturday, July 12.

CalArts CAP - 8

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Each class is led by CalArts faculty and CalArts student instructors that are training to be teaching artists.

A new program at the California Institute of the Arts is taking some of the school's arts students and preparing them for careers in the classroom. 

The well-known university in Valencia has long been a hub for top arts students from around the country — and for decades, officials there have sought to formalize a process for helping arts students make their way in the world of teaching. In January, a $55,000 donation from two CalArts board of trustee members made it possible. The program, known as the CalArts Residency for Teaching Artists, launched in May and officials hope it will continue again next summer.

"We always knew that students needed a little more training in teaching," said Glenna Avila, who designed the program. "But we never had the resources per se to deepen that."


Magnolia charter network pleads for judge to reopen schools

Music class room

Stock photo from uncle-leo/flickr Creative Commons

Music classroom (stock).

Magnolia Public Schools asked an LA Superior Court judge Thursday to reopen two charter schools. The Los Angeles Unified school district closed the schools after an audit found missing and misused funds. 

RELATED: Charter schools: Audit finds missing, misused funds at LA network

Judge Luis Lavin tentatively ruled the schools should be reopened until the next hearing, which Lavin said won't be until 2015. The final ruling is scheduled for release Friday.

“The burden is in favor of the petitioners who have children that need to go to school," Lavin told the courtroom. 

Lavin did not speak to the audit (the district is calling it a "draft forensic review") or its findings and instead focused on whether the L.A. Unified school board followed lawful procedure in closing the schools.


LA schools shaving mental health for special ed students

Special Ed Testing

Lynne Sladky/AP

In this April 3, 2012, file photo, teacher Bev Campbell holds up images of animals and insects for identification by students in her special education class at Amelia Earhart Elementary School in Hialeah, Fla. The Los Angeles Unified School District has been praised for boosting counselors for students in foster care, but a closer look at the budget shows many counselors may be transitioning from special education.

Next school year, the Los Angeles Unified School District is cutting the budget for psychiatric social workers for special education students by 15 percent, raising fears among the special ed social workers that their numbers will be reduced.

The district denies that it will reduce the overall number of psychiatric social workers, but a spokeswoman would not say how many social workers will be dedicated to special education next year.  

"We are not cutting PSWs," said district spokeswoman Monica Carazo in an email. "In essence, we’re reshuffling the PSWs to other departments and the funding will come from different sources," she said, adding, "we are not taking away services from special ed students."

Carazo did not identify the departments to which some psychiatric social worker positions would be moved, but the district is establishing 60 new social workers slots to care for L.A. Unified's more than 8,000 students in foster care.