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

Los Angeles unified parents file petition demanding reforms at failing elementary school

24th Street Elementary School Mascot

Courtesy LAUSD

A mural at 24th Street Elementary School.

Some parents in Los Angeles are following the lead of a Mojave group by using California's landmark "parent trigger" law in a bid to improve their children's education.

A group of parents filed a petition with the Los Angeles Unified School District demanding major reforms at an elementary school where fewer than a third of students read at grade level.

Superintendent John Deasy received the petitions, delivered in a children's red wagon on Thursday. He promised to meet with parents next week after reviewing them.

Amabilia Villeda says she and other parents want immediate change at the 24th Street Elementary School, which is located in an impoverished, immigrant neighborhood south of downtown Los Angeles.

The parents are using California's landmark "parent trigger" law. It allows parents to force a district to undertake radical action to reform a low performing school if more than half of parents sign a simple petition.

RELATED: Parent demand leads Mojave Desert elementary to convert to charter school

The parents are being helped by Parent Revolution, which describes itself on its website as:

"Our mission: To transform public education based on what is good for children, not adults, by empowering parents to transform their under-performing schools through community organizing."

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LAUSD's Crenshaw High to become 3 magnet schools

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy  sp

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy, seen here in a file photo, told Crenshaw parents "the quality of instruction is not what it needs to be.”

L.A. Unified voted Tuesday to revamp Crenshaw High School – one of the worst performing schools in the district. But the plan has some parents and teachers up in arms.

Crenshaw’s 1,500 students will be split into three separate magnet schools. While officials are still working out the details, they told parents last month that the magnet programs are likely to focus on the arts, business and science, and technology, engineering and math.

All six school board members present at the monthly meeting voted unanimously to back Superintendent John Deasy. They agreed that the only way to improve the school’s abysmal academic scores is to scrap its current program.

But parents and students who’d waited more than four hours to speak against the plan could not contain their anger over the board’s decision. They sparred with board president Monica Garcia and member Marguerite LaMotte, who represents Crenshaw and voted in favor of the overhaul.

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Parents plan protest of Deasy's plans for Crenshaw High School

School Shooting

Nick Ut/AP

After months of uncertainty, the future of Crenshaw High School will likely be decided at Tuesday's  monthly L.A. Unified school board meeting.

The board will vote on whether to approve Superintendent John Deasy’s plan to convert the high school into three separate magnet schools or allow it to continue operating under the Extended Learning Cultural Model. If it passes, it also means all current staff has to reapply for jobs at the South Los Angeles school.

Parents, students and teachers say they were excluded from the decision making process, and have so far been denied a public meeting with the Superintendent. Tuesday’s meeting is their last chance to block Deasy’s plans.

Members of the Crenshaw Coalition of Parents said they’ll stage a protest and urge board members not just to reverse the school takeover, but also to increase the school’s funding to pay for more social services, college counseling and parent engagement.

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California State University launches online degree program

Post CSUF -1

Anibal Ortiz

Cal State Fullerton will be among those offering online degrees

On Monday the 23-campus Cal State University system becomes the largest public university to roll out online degree programs.

It’s offering six degrees at both the bachelor and masters level in business administration, applied studies, public administration, and management information technology-- a bit of a slow start.

The university's targetting students who already have some Cal State or community college classes under their belt, said John Welty, chair of Cal State’s online advisory board.

“We know there are large numbers of students wanting to complete degrees," he said, "particularly in areas like business and applied studies so this is an effort to provide additional access to the citizens of California."

The first batch will be offered by the Cal State campuses in Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, and Monterey Bay. The  Northridge, Fresno, and East Bay campuses will begin offering fully online degree programs later this year, officials said.

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Feedback: Here's what you think about the state's changes to standardized tests

An empty classroom

BES Photos/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

State school officials say standardized tests as we know them — the multiple choice kind that require Scantron forms and No. 2 pencils — are not working for teachers or students. 

What we need,  California Schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson said last week, is to  move away from memorization-driven tests.  He's proposing an assessment exam that draws on analytical skills, problem solving, and writing, which are in line with the Common Core curriculum set to debut in 2015.

We asked you for your thoughts on Torlakson's recommendations, which include a moratorium on all state testing next school year, making kids subject only to federally mandated exams. He said that would give teachers, students and administrators “breathing room” to transition to the new curriculum.

In response to our questions, many of you said students are not receiving a balanced education because teachers devote too much time classroom time teaching to the test.

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