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

Four East L.A. kids take a trip from Roosevelt High to Harvard — and put it on video

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Darren McCollester/Newsmakers

File photo of Harvard University''s main campus.

Here is a breath of fresh air amid the LAUSD roundup from this morning.

Take Part wrote up a post on an inspiring video project by four Boyle Heights kids who traveled from their East L.A. neighborhood to visit Harvard University.

Each student, equipped with their own cameras, shot hours of footage documenting their lives at home and in school as well as their dreams and hopes for the future.

The four students, who were awarded the trip because of academic excellence, visited another student who graduated from their school, Roosevelt High, and is now at Harvard.

The videos are well made and full of reflective and thought provoking statements on the education system.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@LATams).


L.A. Unified weighs in on possible changes to daytime curfew law

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"When I was 16 years old, that's when I got my first truancy ticket," said Jose Solis, 20, to LAUSD board members at today's meeting. "I was three minutes late, I didn't have good transportation. Sometimes I didn't have a choice but to walk 17 blocks to school."

Now Solis is a member of the Inglewood-based Youth Justice Coalition. The group showed up at today's meeting to tell board members why it is important to support a change in L.A.'s daytime curfew law for students.

(Veronica Martinez, 21, shared her trauncy ticket story afterward: "I would be just around the corner from the school, and BAM! — a ticket." She is now a senior at FreeLA High School.)

The change to the city's current law was proposed by Councilmember Tony Cardenas. It looks at narrowing the ability to ticket students who are on their way to school for being truant. The new policy would eliminate fines as a penalty and would also require LAPD data collection and reporting as well as restore a free speech exception.


Martin Luther King, Jr. was born 83 years ago Sunday

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World Telegram & Sun photo by Dick DeMarsico/Library of Congress

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy MLK Day. Today is the official federal holiday marking Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday was actually Sunday 83 years ago, is celebrated for being a major figure who pushed for the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world using nonviolent means.

It is hard to do justice to King's life in just a few sentences, but you can check out The Seattle Times, which created a site in 1996 to commemorate King's life and work. King died April 4, 1968.

And since this is an education blog, here are some of King's own words on education. Writing in Morehouse College's campus newspaper, "The Maroon Tiger" in 1947, King talks about issues that still resonate today.

Here are a few snippets, but do check out the entire text


Not enough printer paper? LA Unified teachers get more than $2 million in help to buy supplies

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Tim Boyle/Getty Images News

teachers get to the point

Milca Ruz, a third grade teacher at Garvanza Elementary School in northeast L.A. probably spends about $4,000 of her own money on school supplies each year.

Ruz, 39, has been a teacher since 1996. These days her worry is printer paper. She is allotted two boxes, or 10,000 sheets, a year. Only a few months into the school year, she's working her way through the second box. With continuing budget cuts, a new reading and language arts curriculum, and not enough books, she uses a lot of paper making copies so students can do grammar exercises.

Well, here's a happy ending for once. Thanks to a unique partnership between the district and the Wasserman Foundation, which launched in November, Ruz and other teachers like her, have received hundreds of dollars to pay for supplies.

To date, teachers have received more than $2 million in donations from parents under this partnership; teachers have used the money to buy school supplies ranging from crayons to digital cameras, said Lydia Ramos, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District.


New study: LAUSD's poor, Black and Latino students get the worst teachers

Students test-taking.

knittymarie/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

Students taking a test.

There are lot of studies coming out these days that look at the impact of a teacher on their students, including one recently released by Harvard and Columbia economists.

This week an Oakland, Calif.-based organization added to the mix, The Education Trust — West published findings of a two-year long study examining the nation's second-largest school system: Los Angeles Unified School District. The organization took the district's raw teacher data and created their own value-added model using experts to analyze how teachers affect students and how they are currently dispersed among schools.

Its findings have been the talk of multiple briefings over at LAUSD headquarters, said board president Monica Garcia today.

Some key findings from the 17-page report include:

  • The top 25 percent of teachers can dramatically accelerate student learning — an English-Language Arts teacher gives the average student an extra six months of learning and a math teacher an extra four months — compared to the bottom quarter of teachers.