Jesse Grant/Getty Images For MPAA
MPAA receives 200,000 signatures from bullied student, Katy Butler, urging reversal of "R" rating for "Bully" film at the offices of the Motion Picture Association of America on March 7, 2012 in Sherman Oaks, California.
Thousands of Southern Californian students will see the controversial documentary "Bully" along with some special guests this morning in downtown Los Angeles.
Over 6,000 students from the Los Angeles Unified School District, along with L..A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, will screen the film, which follows five children and families over the course of a school year as they encounter and struggle with being bullied in school.
Although the film centers around serious issues -- like families who have lost children due to suicide and a 14-year old being jailed for bringing a gun on a school bus -- the movie has been in the press because of a semantics battle with the movies rating board, which wanted to give "Bully" an R-rating for too much profanity.
Directed by Sundance and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, "Bully" eventually was able to find its way to theaters with a PG-13 (thanks to some slight editing) so that its target audience (students, especially would-be and current bullies) could see the movie without having to attend with a parent.
Tony Pierce / KPCC
Marquee out front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles
Among the many gripes that have aired during the recent rash of alleged teacher misconduct is that parents were left in the dark as the LAUSD and police have investigated suspected instructors.
For example in 2010, Vance Miller was selected as Southern California’s Outstanding Music Educator of the Year. Later that year, Miller was pulled out of his class and reassigned to the local district offices but not placed on administrative leave, according to L.A. Unified documents. Parents were never told why the head of the orchestra was gone and a substitute was in his place.
In Februrary of this year, Miller was accused by 10 students of alleged sexual misconduct.
Thursday Superintendent John Deasy announced that parents would be notified within 72 hours when a teacher is removed from a school due to sexual allegations.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Earlier this month U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced there will be a district level competition for Race to the Top dollars. For the first time money will be paid directly to districts from the federal government, instead of via the state.
That is big news for California, and especially Los Angeles. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has pushed for such a change in D.C. But what does it mean, and why the change?
"If you're a school district as huge as L.A. Unified is...you have the potential to impact a significant amount of children in the state of California, and you don't have to wait for the governor's approval to do so," said Charmaine Mercer, director of policy and research for Communities for Teaching Excellence. In her previous life, Mercer was a Hill staffer for Chairman David Obey (D - Wisconsin) and she wrote what became Race to the Top. (She clarifies that Obey was "the architect.")
John Deasy, head of the Los Angeles Unified School District
Superintendent John Deasy will unveil the proposed LAUSD budget at today's board meeting with a shortfall greater than expected at $570 million. There are proposed cuts to early education programs, the academic decathlon, science centers, band, and adult education, according to a board staff member who was informed of the proposals Monday.
"It's ugly. Absolutely awful unless we get some help," the board staff member said. "Everything that is good about education that keeps people in schools is going."
The board staff member stressed that the details of the budget may have changed since they were informed, as it is a work in progress.
The budget proposal will be voted on at next week's board meeting. Between now and then it is expected to change a number of times as the board members debate what is or is not a necessary cut.
L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy painted a stark budget picture at today's first board meeting of the year — a $543 million budget shortfall for the next academic year, plus the possibility that thousands of employees could face layoffs, whole school programs could be cut, and months of school could be lost.
"Quite simply we've reached the point where there is not a single solitary thing in this budget that can and should be reduced," Deasy said. "I actually believe, at this point, that the rights of youth are completely imperiled, if not outright violated, by the continued cuts in public education in the state of California."
At Tuesday's board meeting, Deasy's presentation went from dark to depressing, as he outlined the possible scenarios the nation's second-largest district faces, depending on whether an initiative to raise taxes that the governor is trying to put on the November ballot is approved by voters.