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

Parents reeling over closure of indigenous charter high school

LAUSD Board meeting June 18, 2013

Fernando Ramirez, Semillas supporter

Parents ask L.A. Unified board to overrule staff recommendation and keep indigenous charter high school open.

School supporter in Aztec headdress at LAUSD Board meeting

Fernando Ramirez, Semillas supporter

Parents ask L.A. Unified board to overrule staff recommendation and keep indigenous charter high school open.

Parents protest Semillas closing

Fernando Ramirez

Parents protest L.A. Unified's decision not to renew charter license for indigenous high school.

Parent protest 2 June 18, 2013

Fernando Ramirez, Semillas supporter

Parents protest L.A. Unified's decision not to renew charter license for indigenous high school.

Parent protest 3, June 18, 2013

Fernando Ramirez, Semillas supporter

Parents protest L.A. Unified's decision not to renew charter license for indigenous high school.


Situated on a busy section of Huntington Drive in East Los Angeles, the Anahuacalmecac International Preparatory High School has been teaching teenagers about their indigenous roots and culture for five years.

It teaches in Spanish and Nahuatl, incorporates Native American mathematics and indigenous visual and performing arts. One course teaches indigenous diplomacy and youth leadership skills. Parents and grandparents are integrated into the student’s learning.

But the school’s Academic Performance Index for 2012, a standardized measure of success, is 683, well below the statewide goal of 800 points. The score is in the middle of all schools in the state. And the school scored 106 points higher than in 2011. But that wasn't enough for the Los Angeles Unified School district, which decided not to renew the school's charter, citing the school’s API as one of the main reasons. As of today, the school can no longer provide instruction.

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Art auction raises money for free art classes

Courtesy of Ryman Arts

A man bids on an art piece during a charity auction for Ryman Arts in Laguna Beach, Calif. The auction paddles used during the event featured artwork from former Ryman Arts students.

Fullerton art students listen up:  Ryman Arts will be expanding its weekend offerings thanks to $27,000 it raised at an art auction.

The Los Angeles-based non-profit auctioned off paintings and other works of fine art June 22 at the Laguna Beach gallery Salt Fine Art. Fifteen percent of the earnings from the auction, about $13,700, went to Ryman Arts. An anonymous donor agreed to match that amount. 

"Now we can serve more students," said Michelle Lee,  a spokeswoman for Ryman Arts.

Ryman runs art classes for 9th-12th graders at Otis College of Art & Design in Westchester on Sunday and at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. Cal State Fullerton is its newest site; classes there started in January.

The auction proceeds will expand the Cal State Fullerton art program and help pay for student art supplies and travel costs and college and career guidance. Lee said Ryman will add two additional classes to the fall schedule there. 

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State appoints new trustee to head struggling Inglewood Unified

Inglewood Unified School District

Grant Slater/KPCC

Students wait for school to end outside Inglewood High School.

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson appointed Don Brann Friday as the new trustee to head the Inglewood Unified School District.

Brann has worked as a teacher and school administrator for more than 40 years, including 15 as superintendent of the Wiseburn School District in Hawthorne. He inherits a school district in the midst of a severe financial crisis.

Brann could not be reached for comment Friday.

“Bringing the district back to sound financial footing—so that it can continue serving students and their community—remains my top priority, and Don Brann has the experience and vision to make it happen,” Torlakson said in a press release. “Dr. Brann will bring decades of sound judgment and strong leadership to the job of helping Inglewood’s schools regain local control.”

Inglewood Unified asked the state for help meeting its financial obligations last year. The state took over the struggling district, injecting $55 million in emergency loans.  But the money, which must be repaid within 20 years, is being spent faster than state officials anticipated. Now they're worried that the district won’t have enough funds for the 2014-2015 school year.

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Funding windfall helps new Cal State chancellor, but can he reshape 23-campus system?

Chancellor Tim White has an improving economy on his side as he sets out to improve the California State University system.

Six months ago, Tim White took over as chancellor of a California State University system that is a shadow of its former self. A bad economy led to nearly a billion dollars in state funding cuts over four years. University administrators more than doubled student tuition, canceled pay raises, and turned away thousands of qualified students.

Now, White has been given the luxury to put all that behind him. The budget for the 437,000 student system went up $125 million this year – in part because of voter-approved Proposition 30.

That’s allowed him to keep tuition flat for only the second time in more than a decade. He’s also proposing a 1.2 percent pool for raises to professors and all other university employees. Both moves have won him fans.

"He's really out there listening to the people, the little guys not just the upper management," Alisandra Brewer, a vice president with the California State University Employees Union.

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Miramonte: LA Unified settlement countdown website has lawyer seeing red

Miramonte Elementary

José Martinez/OnCentral

Two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School stand accused of abuse. L.A. Unified has put up a website on settlement offer to victims which one lawyer complains is unethical.

The Los Angeles Unified school district put up a new website Tuesday for victims of abuse by teachers at Miramonte Elementary School — and at least one plaintiffs' lawyer is not happy about it. 

The one-page site describes the district's most recent offer to a group of 35 alleged victims — but most of it is dedicated to telling parents that if they don't accept the offer before it runs out, they may have to cover some of the district's legal fees down the line.

"To me this is unethical, because it’s a way of communicating to our clients by scaring them," said Luis Carillo, an attorney representing 23 of the alleged victims of sexual abuse by former teachers at Miramonte Elementary School.

The site details Civil Code of Procedure 998, which the district wrote into its offer. The district said those who don't accept the settlement within 30 days will have to cover some of L.A. Unified's legal fees if they don't win a higher award at trial. Those fees would include witness costs, court fees and jury fees — but not the school district's attorney fees.

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