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

Despite teacher complaints, LA Unified keeps Breakfast in the Classroom

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Union leaders, parents and teachers packed the L.A. Unified Board of Education meeting Tuesday, when the board took on whether to continue the Breakfast in the Classroom program.

The “power struggle” fireworks promised for Tuesday’s L.A. Unified Board of Education over the Breakfast in the Classroom program never materialized.

Instead, speakers and the board had nothing but praise for the one-year old program.

“I’m here as a mother. I have five boys, single mom,” said Estela Tejada, who got choked up as she talked about how the program had helped her family. “I work the night shift every day and it’s hard for me to get up in the morning to even think about getting breakfast for my kids.”

Ultimately, the board unanimously approved a motion to continue the program – and expand it.

The decision was a big win for Superintendent John Deasy in his ongoing battle with the teacher’s union. He brought the issue to a vote after a union survey last month gave the program a failing grade. Teachers said the food attracts bugs and rodents and it’s taking too long to serve the kids and clean up after inevitable messes – up to 30 minutes of precious instructional time.


UPDATED: LA Unified school board continues free breakfast program

Richard Hartog

A student talks with cafeteria worker Sophia Villareal as she picks up her breakfast at Brockton Elementary School Monday, June 29, 2012 in Los Angeles.

Richard Hartog

A student eats his cereal during breakfast period at Brockton Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education this afternoon unanimously approved the continuation -- and expansion -- of its  Breakfast in the Classroom program.

The program moved the free and reduced price breakfast program from the cafeteria to the classroom more than a year ago in an effort to increase the number of low-income students who pick up and eat a school breakfast. According to the school district, fewer than a third of students were stopping by the cafeteria before school to eat breakfast even though the vast majority qualify for the subsidized meals.

Click here to see Adolfo Guzman-Lopez's live updates from Tuesday's school board meeting.

Until now, the decisions about the program were made by L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy.

Many were left scratching their heads last month when Deasy put up for a board vote whether to keep the program. It serves about 200,000 students and was slated to be rolled out district-wide next year.


Governor to add $1 billion for schools to adopt common core standards

Governor Jerry Brown

Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio

California Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his State of the State speech.

Governor Jerry Brown's revised budget plan being released Tuesday morning will allocate $1 billion for K-12 schools to fund districts’ adoption of new common core standards — about $170 per student.

The Governor will also propose an extra $240 million for base district funding as part of his  funding overhaul.

Administration officials revealed the details to the Associated Press on the eve of the budget unveiling.  They also explained how the money will get divided among school districts:

  • 80 percent will be carved up among districts, based on the total number of students.
  • 16 percent will be divided based on the districts’ number of students learning English, of low-income, or who are foster children.
  • 4 percent would go to districts where the majority of students are English-learners, low-income or foster children.


Despite big name, Shakespeare school still feels cuts

Kurt Ingham

Students from Rafe Esquith's Hobart Shakespeareans perform in this year's production The Tempest.

Kurt Ingham

Brandeaux Lazo (center) performs with other students in The Tempest at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School.

Kurt Ingham

Emily Park, who plays Prospero, performs in a scene from Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Kurt Ingham

Students perform during a production of the Tempest at LAUSD's Hobart Boulevard Elementary School.

Kurt Ingham

Brandeaux Lazo, age 10, plays Caliban in a production of The Tempest.

For decades, teacher Rafe Esquith has staged Shakespeare plays with students from Hobart Boulevard Elementary School in Koreatown. Most of the kids come from low-income families and English isn’t their first language -- and yet every Spring, they put on a show.

The novel program propelled Esquith into teacher stardom. His fourth book is due out this summer, he's been featured in a PBS documentary and his fan-base includes Oprah Winfrey and Sir Ian McKellen.

But the program's success and Esquith's notoriety haven't spared Hobart elementary from statewide cuts to school arts programs.

As Esquith celebrates his 30th anniversary, he says a lot has changed since he first started the Shakespeare program back in the 1980s.

"The fact is we keep cutting the wrong things in schools," said Esquith, who is celebrating 30 years as a teacher at Hobart. "Cutting arts programs is killing us."


Design school publishes anti-gun violence children’s books


Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Patrick Hruby fills palates with paint before the poster-making workshop. The "Uncool" program was put together in memory of an Art Center teacher, Norm Schureman, who was a victim of gun violence.


Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The program is called "Uncool," and workshops are centered around anti-gun violence. After reading an illustrated book, kids make posters depicting things and activities that are "cool."


Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Washington Elementary fourth grader Tae Brooks draws Naruto Uzumaki, a character from a Japanese manga series. This is the fifth workshop put on by Art Center and the Pasadena Public Library.

The Art Center College of Design, known world-wide for graduating hotshot illustrators and car designers, has inserted itself into one of the most pressing issues facing this country: gun violence.

The Pasadena institution published a series of four children’s books that illustrate what a gun-free world could look like.

One of the books, titled “Amos’ New Life,” by Vivian Shih, begins like this:

“Amos the Bullet was born in a cold place called the gun. One day, somebody shot the gun. Bang! Swoosh."

At first Amos breaks things, but when he meets ”useful” objects like pencils and lipsticks, he decides he wants to be more like them.

The series is part of “Uncool: The Anti-Gun Violence Project.”

To get the word out about the books, the Art Center's Helen Cahng led readings and workshops at libraries, donating books to the shelves and giving free copies to the workshop attendees.