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

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."

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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.


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.


Education secretary says time to debate preschool is over


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. 


LA school board approves $300K contract for Cortines


Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines attends his first school board meeting Tuesday after stepping in for John Deasy, who resigned.

The Los Angeles Unified school board unanimously approved its third contract with new Superintendent Ramon Cortines Tuesday morning. 

On Monday, Cortines, 82, returned to head the district again, replacing John Deasy, who stepped down last week. 

In an interview with KPCC's Take Two, Cortines vowed to move away from what Deasy's critics called his autocratic leadership style. 

"Decentralization of the district," Cortines said. "I've met with the leadership team, challenged them, let them know what I expect."

The board offered Cortines $350,000, but Cortines negotiated down to $300,000 without medical coverage. The district already pays for a long-term care policy for Cortines under a previous employment agreement. 

The contract extends through June 30, 2015, but the agreement can be canceled with 30 days' notice at any time. 


New LA schools superintendent won’t use district-paid Deasy as adviser

Mercer 225

David McNew/Getty Images

File: Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent of Schools Ramon Cortines.

New L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said his improvement plans for the school district’s most pressing problems won’t involve the man who arguably knows the district best: resigned Superintendent John Deasy.

“Dr. Deasy did many things well, but I will not be using his services,” Cortines said in an interview with KPCC’s Take Two on Monday.

Last week, L.A. Unified’s school board announced Deasy had resigned as superintendent but would remain with the district as a paid adviser for $60,000, based on his previous salary, through the end of this calendar year.

Cortines ranked fixing the MISIS student tracking and class scheduling system as his top priority, but cautioned that it may take as long as a year to correct the problems.

Cortines and Deasy had previously worked together. When Cortines served as district superintendent from January 2009 to April 2011, Deasy was brought in as his deputy and was positioned to take over after Cortines, which he did in 2011.