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

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.

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

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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.

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

Students test-taking.

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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.

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It's gotten bad: Budget issues literally push one school official to her hands and knees

Before the pledge, she got down on her hands and knees in front of the horseshoe and began a prayer to God — asking for forgiveness and asking for all in the room to repent for their sins.

That's how Inglewood Unified School Board vice president Trina Williams started the district's first meeting of the year, reports my KPCC colleague Adolfo Guzman-Lopez.

The night apparently didn't get any less dramatic, as the board discussed the likelihood that it would run out of money in the next few months and be forced to declare bankruptcy. That would likely mean the state would strip the school board of its powers and take over the operations of the 12,000-student district.

Guzman-Lopez reported over KPCC's airwaves today:

"The district expects an $18 million deficit by the end of this fiscal year. The superintendent recommended taking out loans, freezing expenses and laying off employees. Inglewood schools have already dismissed 223 workers, mostly teachers, to cut the deficit. The teachers’ union president said a declaration of bankruptcy and a state takeover would stem the flow of red ink."

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Thousands of students cited for playing hooky get a break

Thousands of L.A. students who got tickets for playing hooky are getting a big break.

Truancy citations for students who were late to class will be dismissed under new guidelines released last week by Judge Michael Nash, who is the presiding judge of L.A.'s Juvenile Court.

Under the new rules, the courts will dismiss the $250 tickets if students can prove they were late or on their way to school when cited by an officer. The new rules go into effect immediately.

Students with chronic truancy will have 60 days to improve their attendance record and to take and complete programs to help them get back on track in school. Those who don't may be sentenced to community service or have their driving privileges suspended.

The guideline change comes roughly two months after the Los Angeles School Police Department said it would relax its truancy policy and limit tickets issued to students for not being in class.

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