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

LAUSD sending iPads, laptops to 27 more schools

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DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images

The Los Angeles school district is expanding its iPad program, adding 27 schools to those outfitted with tablets or laptops.

Los Angeles school district superintendent Ramon Cortines is expanding the iPad program to 27 more schools, the second round of computer purchases announced this week.

Without seeking new bids from tech companies for the latest purchases, the district may need to rely on a controversial contract with Apple that former Superintendent John Deasy said would be canceled.

"Our students deserve the best tools available to meet the requirements to be successful in the 21st century workforce," Cortines said in a statement on Friday.

Before a bond oversight committee Thursday, Cortines requested $22 million worth of iPads and Google Chromebooks to allow students to take new digital state tests. 

In the latest announcement, the superintendent declared he would tap into a $114 million fund (allocated in January) to extend the school technology program to 27 more schools. That would bring the total of schools outfitted with tablets or laptops  to 106 of the district's more than 800 schools.

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UC students plan walkout Monday over tuition increases

University Tuition

Eric Risberg/AP

File: Student protesters block the entrance to a parking garage outside a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents Wednesday in San Francisco.

University of California students say they will walk out of classes on Monday to protest the university regents' decision this week to increase tuition barring more funding from the state.

Student protesters, who on Friday occupied Wheeler Hall on the UC Berkeley campus for the second day, said the Monday walkout at noon will be coordinated with students from other UC campuses.

"We oppose the UC Regents’ intention to increase UC Berkeley tuition by 27.6% over five years, despite opposition from student and faculty groups statewide," the group said. "This would increase UC Berkeley yearly tuition to $15,560 for in-state students and nearly $45,000 for out-of-state students by 2020, excluding living costs."

The student group called for no tuition hikes, full transparency regarding the UC budget and dropping of charges against a Berkeley student arrested during the regents' meeting.

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Local research project exploring the arts as a tool to teach science

Alex Ray/ESCAPE

Fourth-graders at West Orange Elementary warm up with teaching artist Dawn Dyson-Platero before an arts and sciences dance lesson on weathering and erosion. The lesson is part of a new project funded by the National Science Foundation.

University of California, Irvine, researchers are in the midst of a five-year project to develop and study the effectiveness of a new curriculum designed to help students better learn science through the arts. 

The effort, backed by $6.4 million from the National Science Foundation, is targeting eight school districts in Orange County: Irvine Unified, Anaheim City, Capistrano Unified, Orange Unified, Ocean View, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified, Tustin Unified and Westminster. 

“This is on a very broad scale," said Brad Hughes, the project's executive director. Hughes also directs science education and media for UC Irvine's school of biological sciences. "It has not been funded at this level before."

RELATED: KPCC survey finds arts instruction limited in SoCal schools

Over the five-year life of the project, which launched in 2013, researchers hope to reach about 21,000 students, many of whom are learning English.

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Federal funds reauthorized to provide child care for low-income families

WATTS 00

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

File: A young boy at a Children's Institute facility in Imperial Gardens in Watts puts on his shoes before taking a nap. The program offers a safe haven for children who may live in housing projects known for drug activity and violence.

More federal funds are in the pipeline to help low-income families following President Obama's signing of the Child Care Development Block Grant reauthorization on Wednesday.

The $5.3 billion program funded child care for about 1.5 million children last year. Child care agencies and organizations that receive grants out of the appropriation also provide training, professional development and quality-improvement services to those in the field.

California received $542 million of this funding in fiscal year 2012, the latest numbers available from the state Department of Education. 

Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund national advocacy group, applauded Congress and the president for the reauthorization. She called it a “hopeful indicator” of bipartisan commitment to funding more early education programs.  

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Report: Charter schools' requirements for parent volunteers preventing enrollments

alexbcthompson/ Flickr

File: A student graduating from a Green Dot charter high school. Public Advocates, a civil rights group, said it found charter schools violate the state's guarantee of a free public education when they require parents to volunteer.

Policies of nearly a third of California charter schools reviewed by a civil rights group violate the state’s free public education guarantee by requiring parents to volunteer up to 40 hours each school year, according to a report released Thursday.

If parents can’t volunteer the hours, Public Advocates lawyer Hilary Hammell said, some charter schools demand parents either pay about $25 for each hour they can’t volunteer or donate learning supplies to the school.

“It’s a nice idea that parents should volunteer and we certainly support that, but it crosses the line when it becomes, basically, a form of tuition,” Hammell said.

The volunteer requirement, she said, discourages many parents from enrolling their children in the publicly funded charter schools.

Hammell said there are many kinds of barriers to volunteering: parents may work several jobs, are undocumented but need to pass a background check to volunteer in the schools, or care for young children or elderly relatives.

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