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

A bittersweet moment as LAUSD AcaDeca teams head to state competition

Vanessa Romo/KPCC

Franklin High School AcaDeca coach Sam Cullens works with two of his decathletes.

Days after the L.A. Unified school board approved a budget plan that would axe funding for its powerhouse Academic Decathlon program, it will send a record 13 teams to Sacramento for what may be students' final weekend at the state competition.

Since 1987, the LAUSD has won 17 state contests and 12 national titles — more championships than any other school district in the country, according to a district release.

But most of these teams may not be able to compete next year if the current budget plan is finalized in June.

District officials have said they are working to find funding for the Academic Decathlon program along with the marching band and outdoor education program, all of which are seeing their funding eliminated under the current plan.

"If we sharpen our pencils we can come up with the funding for those," said school board member Bennett Kayser, at Tuesday's meeting on the budget.

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Education in brief: unhappy teachers, changes at Cal, and more

California Education Protest

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Derrick, a member of Occupy San Francisco, sits in front of California Highway Patrol officers dressed in riot gear during a demonstration against cuts to higher education held at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, March 5, 2012. Thousands of students, teachers and supporters marched to the Capitol as part of a daylong protest over state budget cuts to higher education.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

In case you missed it, here's a rundown of some interesting recent education stories:

Unhappy times for teachers

Given all that's happened with school budgets recently and debates over how teachers should be evaluated, it's probably no surprise that teacher morale has sunk to its lowest point in 20 years, at least according to a recent survey of teachers, parents and students. The New York Times has more details from the annual release of the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher.

Changes at the top, at UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced Tuesday he will step down after eight years at the head of premier public university. The announcement happened to come on the same day the latest World University Rankings listed UC Berkeley among the top 10 best schools on the planet, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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More state budget murkiness leaves education hanging

Max Whittaker/Getty Images

California Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown is reportedly backing off portions of a tax proposal he introduced in January that play a major piece in his 2012 budget plan and the prevention of up to $5.2 billion in cuts to education.

The initial proposal would have called for a half-cent increase to sales tax and raising taxes on those making $250,000 or more. Instead, he appears to be looking for a smaller sales tax increase and a higher raise on taxes for those upper-income earners.

Brown unveiled the tax proposal with his 2012 budget plan, which depends on the governor getting the initiative on the ballot and approved by voters. Without the tax increases, the budget calls for an additional $5.2 billion in cuts to education.

What happens with the state budget will likely have a major ripple effect on school budgets, which are being formulated now, despite the host of many unknowns given the state's budget situation.

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LAUSD board approves $298 parcel tax to put before voters on November ballot

LAUSD

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

With hundreds of people protesting outside, the L.A. Unified Board of Education passed a parcel tax for the November ballot that would seek to generate millions in revenue for schools.

The L.A. Unified Board of Education approved a $298 parcel tax for the November ballot that would seek to generate millions in revenue for schools annually from property owners within district boundaries and help improve future budget forecasts.

Board members voted 6-1 to approve the parcel tax, with Marguerite LaMotte voting no. The tax is expected to generate $255 million annually in revenue for schools over each of five years beginning in 2013-14.

"Sacramento cannot take this money away," said Superintendent John Deasy in a presentation to the board. "They cannot cut this fund, this fund goes directly to our schools."

Deasy said the tax is based on the idea that the economy will improve and that schools will receive more funding. The district has been hit with $2.3 billion in funding cuts since 2008-9, Deasy said.

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LA Unified approves budget plan with major cuts to programs to offset $390 million deficit

LAUSD board meeting protesters

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside L.A. Unified headquarters downtown as the board met inside to discuss the district's dire budget picture.

The L.A. Unified Board of Education approved an updated 2012 budget plan that, without union concessions, includes major cuts to adult and early education as well as elementary arts programs. The plan provides no funding for its winning Academic Decathlon program, marching band and outdoor education.

As hundreds protested outside, Superintendent John Deasy briefed the school board on how the district plans to offset a $390 million hole in its $6-billion budget given a continually changing budget scenario that may be affected by Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget in May and whether voters approve various tax measures, including a district parcel tax, on the November ballot.

"Everything I've said is only for a year, none of it is ongoing, they are all bandaids, and that is not the way to run a system," Deasy said. "So the ability to have any of these items ongoing and sustainable so we don't sit through this every single year will depend on a revenue source."

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