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

Kindergarteners offer their take on the first Thanksgiving, and Mexicans have a role

Kindergarten Thanksgiving

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

Kindergarten students at Weemes Elementary in Exposition Park study the first Thanksgiving story, adding culture and flavor of their own.

Kindergarten Thanksgiving

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

Kindergarten teacher Maria Ramirez Waight created a book with the first Thanksgiving story and students then worked on their own versions.

Kindergarten Thanksgiving

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

A kindergarten student colors a picture for her Thanksgiving book cover at Weemes Elementary School in Exposition Park.

Kids bring their own life experience to every lesson, at least that's what Weemes Elementary kndergarten teacher Maria Ramirez Waight has learned.

Ramirez Waight's week-long Thanksgiving lesson proved no different.

"I wanted them to understand the actual story [of Thanksgiving] because many of the kids don't know," Ramirez Waight said. "Many are coming from another country and they don't know why we celebrate it."

Drawing from her 14 years of teaching elementary school, Waight designed a lesson where the children would make their own storybooks with their own Thanksgiving story. 

On the last day, before the children headed off to the holiday, the students recited their creations. Ramirez Waight smiled as she listened. The students got the concept and the sequence of the story — and they added extra details relevant for today's kids, she said.


Cramming for finals? What the research says about studying with music


File: Conductor Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Classical music may help students cram for finals, according to researchers.

We’ve all heard about the many brain benefits of classical music — think about the Mozart Effect, for example.

But does listening to Bach or Vivaldi really help with test prep? 

Peter Webster is vice dean for the Division of Scholarly and Professional Studies at USC’s Thornton School of Music, and he says it depends on the music — and the listener.

"Some people will find that [music] distracting. Others, though, who sort of enjoy listening, let’s say to a Mozart opera or something, might find putting that on in the background might in fact encourage their study skills," he said.

Webster says one key to determining whether classical music will help or hurt you is to think about how exciting your brain will find the music. 

Researchers know the brain lights up when music is played – creative thinking and analytical processing are activated. But new music can easily distract you – stealing your brain power away from that physics study.


Before LAUSD travel ban, former superintendent flew 100k miles last year

Damian Dovarganes/AP

File: Former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy took an average of three trips per month last year.

Former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy traveled more than 100,000 miles last school year, equivalent to circling the globe four times, according to a KPCC analysis of credit card records.

Before he stepped down, Deasy charged more than 30 business trips to his district-issued American Express card over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, traveling to New York and Washington, D.C., at least five times each. 

LAUSD's contract with Deasy, who remains on the payroll as an administrator until the end of the year, states the district is responsible for his expenses. But the Wasserman Foundation,  a private family foundation headed by Casey Wasserman, ultimately covers the tab, district officials confirmed. 

Deasy continued to travel on district business after he announced his resignation Oct. 16. His decision to step down followed a string of problems with the rollout of key technology projects and growing tension with school board members.


Students: University of California tuition increases mean skipped meals, losing 'luxuries'

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

University of California, Irvine, students march on campus Monday to protest tuition increases approved by the UC regents.

University of California students in the Southland expect increased hardship if planned tuition increases hit their pocketbooks beginning in the fall of next year.

“Student tuition is everyone’s problem, it’s all students’ problem, it’s the state of California’s problem, it’s a nationwide problem,” said UC Irvine undergraduate student Kristine Jermakian as she and several dozen other students set out on a protest march around their campus Monday.

Student leaders at UC campuses called for the protests and walkout in response to a vote by UC regents last week increasing student tuition by up to 5 percent over five years if state lawmakers don’t provide the university system with more funding.

“It seems like students are pinned in the middle between the state and the UC regents,” Jermakian said.


LAUSD sending iPads, laptops to 27 more schools



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.