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

LA teachers union blocks LAUSD's Race to the Top (Updated)

John Deasy

Nick Ut/AP

The L.A. teachers' union refused to sign off on the LAUSD Race to the Top application, effectively taking it out of the running for $40 million in federal funds.

Citing long-term budget concerns, the union for schoolteachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District has refused to sign off on the district's Race to the Top grant application, effectively taking the nation's second-largest school district out of the running for $40 million in federal funds.

L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy, sounding deflated, said Tuesday morning that the district had tried to work with United Teachers Los Angeles and couldn't understand why no deal was reached.

"They gave a number of different reasons and every single reason they gave we accommodated," Deasy said.

Initial concerns about ongoing discussions to meet a Dec. 4 court-imposed deadline for a new teacher evaluation system were addressed by the district. The Race to the Top competition requires districts to adopt an evaluation system that incorporates student test scores. Deasy said L.A. Unified provided the union with a legal assurance that plans for Race to the Top would be treated separately from negotiations.

Read More...

LAUSD unveils state-of-the-art science center named for astronaut Sally Ride (video)

Sally Ride enviro center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The late astronaut Sally Ride's mother Joyce Ride and her sister Bear Ride help with the ribbon-cutting on The Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science at L.A. Unified. Democratic Assemblyman Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles helps hold the scissors. School board member Bennett Kayser looks on.

sally ride enviro cneter

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

LAUSD unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park named for Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring students to pursue careers in math and science.

Sally ride enviro center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

A student looks into a microscope at the new Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science at LAUSD.

sally ride enviro center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

LAUSD unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park named for Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring students to pursue careers in math and science. Students listen to 10th-grader Moises Ortiz and 11th-grader Jessica Recendez demonstrate how waterways can be contaminated by rains washing down fertilizer, pesticides and trash.

Sally Ride Enviro Center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

NASA intern and Cal State student Jill Pestana talks about how the late astronaut Sally Ride inspired her to pursue a career in science. LAUSD unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park named for Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring a new generation of students to pursue careers in math and science.

Sally Ride Enviro Center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

LAUSD unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park named for Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring students to pursue careers in math and science.

Sally Ride Enviro Center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The late astronaut Sally Ride's mother Joyce Ride and sister Bear Ride pose with the ribbon and scissors. LAUSD unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park named for Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring students to pursue careers in math and science.

Sally Ride Enviro Center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The late astronaut Sally Ride's mother Joyce Ride and her sister Bear Ride speak at the unveiling of The Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science at L.A. Unified.


L.A. Unified unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park Monday that bears the name of the late astronaut Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring a new generation of students to pursue careers in math and science.

The Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science is a $4.8 million LEED-certified facility that sits behind the Sonia M. Sotomayor Learning Academies. The 6,000 square foot facility, less than a mile from the L.A. River, includes three state-of-the-art labs that will focus on areas such as hydrology and energy. The labs have high-tech, professional grade equipment, including a photovoltaic demonstration system, a PH water lab, a centrifuge, and field spectrometers.

The site will be used not only as a hands-on science lab for students who will conduct water and soil testing and energy conservation research, but also to train teachers. 

Read More...

College students to dress like zombies and march for Prop. 30 in 'The Walking Debt'

The Walking Debt, Prop. 30

Student Senate for California Community Colleges

Community college students will dress up like zombies Friday Oct. 26, 2012, and walk from L.A. City Hall to the governor's Downtown office in support of Prop. 30.

California Community College students are planning to dress up like zombies Friday afternoon and take part in "The Walking Debt" — a march from L.A. City Hall to the governor's Downtown office in support of Prop. 30 and education funding.

Students from the Los Angeles Community College District's nine campuses, Pasadena City College and campuses throughout Southern California plan to meet at noon dressed as zombies at L.A. Trade Technical College before starting "The Walking Debt." (A play on "Walking Dead," for those who didn't get it.)

The event has been primarily publicized through social media, with Facebook events and messages tying state funding cuts to Halloween.

“There’s an audience of people that would be involved politically if it was more interesting, and its been very difficult to reach that audience…The idea is to try to get people that would otherwise be uninterested on board,” said PCC student John Fraser, president of Region 7 of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.

Read More...

Schools at stake across U.S. in most education tax ballot measures in 20 years

Early Voting Begins In Iowa For Presidential Election

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Many schools across the country will be looking to voters to pass measures next month that fund public education.

In a couple of weeks, Californians will be voting on Propositions 30 and 38, involving education funding, but they are hardly alone this election season: The Wall Street Journal reports that voters in several states will be deciding on measures affecting schools across the United States in the biggest such wave in about 20 years:

"Arizona, Missouri and South Dakota have tax-increase measures on ballots, while California is offering voters dueling proposals. Oregon has an initiative to redirect to schools some money that corporations receive as tax rebates. That is the largest number of education-tax initiatives to appear on state election ballots in two decades, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures."

The story cites information from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that shows that per student funding for elementary and secondary schools is below the 2008 level in 35 states. California is currently 47th in the country in how much it spends per student.

Read More...

At PCC: Confusion and complacency on Prop. 30

Pasadena City College Prop. 30

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

Pasadena City College students gathered in the quad holding "Yes on Prop. 30" signs to educate their peers about $6.7 million in cuts they'll face if it fails. They also put up a voter registration table to allow students to register electronically.

A handful of students gathered in the Pasadena City College quad at noon Thursday holding "Yes on Prop. 30" signs and trying to educate their peers about the nearly $7 million in more cuts they'll face if the measure fails to receive a majority of votes next month.

Most students kept walking. A few stopped at the laptops on the table to register to vote or to ask questions; others to grab some Milk Duds.

Benjamin Rincon stopped by the table to change his address. Rincon, 22, couldn't remember whether he's a second- or third-year — "it's been too long," he joked. He's studying accounting and communications and had been planning a while ago to transfer to a four-year college. 

He's planning on voting against Prop. 30.

"I'm against increasing our taxes," Rincon said. "...Budget cuts have been happening, so I guess I'm getting accustomed to it. I'm not sure. I'm doing OK so far with the budget cuts. Of course, I wouldn't like to spend another year here, but I'd rather spend an extra year than increase taxes again."

Read More...