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

Charter school advocacy group endorse LAUSD school board candidates

Mercer 216

David McNew/Getty Images

Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education in April.

The Coalition for School Reform --an advocate for charter schools-- has picked its horses in the three Los Angeles Unified school board races. It's placing its bets on Monica Garcia in District 2, Kate Anderson in District 4, and Antonio Sanchez in District 6.

Monica Garcia, who’s been on the school board since 2006, is defending her seat against five challengers: Annamarie Montanez, Isabel Vazquez, Abelardo Diaz and Robert Skeels. Garcia is backed by the Service Employees International Union but lost the support from the Los Angeles County Democratic Party over her support of charter schools.

Kate Anderson made a name for herself as a parent advocate. She's running against incumbent Steve Zimmer, who is endorsed by SEIU and United Teachers Los Angeles.

Antonio Sanchez is running to fill Nury Martinez’s seat, the only one not contested by an incumbent. He’s picked up support from UTLA, SEIU, and LA County Federation of Labor’s COPE Committee. The 30-year-old Sanchez faces off against Maria Cano, who favors more oversight of charter schools, teacher Monica Ratliff, and Iris Zuniga an executive for the charter school operator Youth Policy Institute.

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School officials propose overhaul of state standardized tests

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California State schools superintendent Tom Torlakson wants to revamp statewide standardized testing; instead of memorization driven, multiple-choice bubble exams, the proposed tests would assess critical thinking, problem solving, and essay writing skills.

Torlakson said the new test would be implemented in the 2014-15 school year at the same time as the state adopts national Common Core curriculum and phases out the current STAR testing program.

“We’ve been asking our kids to master new skills and so the assessments must change, too,” said Torlakson.

It will take more than a year to implement, so Torlakson is recommending suspending most tests not required by the federal government starting next year. This would put a moratorium on STAR testing of second graders and end-of-course-exams at the state level.

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LAUSD Superintendent to ask board to restore lost week of instruction

School Shooting

Nick Ut/AP

After the passage of Prop. 30, Superintendent John Deasy will ask the L.A. Unified school board Tuesday to restore all furlough days and the week of instruction cut from this school year.

Now that Proposition 30 has passed, Superintendent John Deasy will ask the L.A. Unified school board Tuesday to erase teacher furlough days and restore the week of instruction that had been cut from this school year.

During the summer, the district's unions agreed to take 10 furlough days to save millions in payroll costs and to save jobs. According to the agreement, teachers lost five days of instruction, one of two pupil-free days used for professional development, and four paid non-work days, district officials said.

"With their strong support of Proposition 30, the voters of Los Angeles County made it clear they want the LAUSD to do what's best for our youth. Restoring the full calendar and keeping our employees in the schools is a pivotal step in this effort," Deasy said in a statement released Friday.

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US grant funds $20,000 teacher bonuses at 'high-need' LA schools

Deasy walks campus

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

LAUSD plans to give $20,000 bonuses to up to 80 "effective" science, technology, math, engineering and special ed teachers who agree to teach at 40 high-need schools under a new federal grant.

Los Angeles Unified Schools Superintendent John Deasy said that a $49 million federal grant awarded to the district this week to improve teacher effectiveness will help pay for a new multiple-measure teacher evaluation system and more professional development programs, including a bonus for certain teachers at high-need schools.

The five-year grant includes an initial $16 million; more money would follow based on availability and the district's progress. The grant award details say the school district can use Teacher Incentive Fund grants to support performance-based pay for effective principals and teachers in 40 "high-need schools." 

The district plans to use effective educators as coaches and models for their peers' professional development. Teachers who are experts in their subjects will provide coaching based on information from the evaluation.

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Details: LA Unified plans to impose all 5 allowable furlough days

LAUSD board 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 in March.

L.A. Unified plans to impose all five furlough days on teachers as allowed by an arbitration ruling earlier this week and is in negotiation with the union for additional furloughs next year, district officials said today.

An arbitrator ruled earlier this week that L.A. Unified can force teachers to take up to five furlough days in order to help offset drastic cuts to state funding and the district's $390 budget shortfall.

UTLA has maintained the district had enough money to make it through the school year without the need for furloughs.

Four furlough days will break down into one pupil free day, with the remainder in instructional days this year; as a result, the school year will end three days earlier on June 19. The district is in negotiation with the union about when the fifth day will be applied and about additional days for the 2012-13 academic year, district officials said.

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