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Where do we learn? New report finds arts education increasingly happens outside of school

The Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. Studies show that today's teens regularly use more than one screen at a time to stay connected.
Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images

A new report by The Wallace Foundation argues students are increasingly finding valuable arts education exposure via technology they access outside of the classroom - and teachers should use that to their advantage.

The extensive, 104-page report pushes for educators and policy makers to take advantage of what she calls "arts learning opportunities," many of which are happening outside of normal school hours as kids spend several hours a day using tablets, computers and other devices. 

Rather than look down her nose at the increasing amount of time students are spending on their electronics, the report's author, Indiana University professor Kylie Peppler, said those habits are "full of promise for engaging young people in artistic activity."

She said this is especially critical now, after years of cuts to arts budgets at public schools across the country.


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Options growing for bilingual education for the preschool set

Transitional kindergarten dual language student Jesus Lopez goes through a keycard exercise with his classmates on Wednesday, March 20 at Foster Elementary School. Half of the school is in a dual language program, and the other half of the students are taught in English only.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Bilingual learning continues its upward trend in Southern California. Two of the latest offerings: a drop off program at the Zimmer and a new preschool in Pasadena. 

Called “Jugando Grande” (Playing Big), the museum invites 3 year-olds to participate in a five-week program that it said “combines best practices in Early Childhood and Arts Education with the Zimmer mission to help young people develop their capacity for creating positive change.”

It comes at a time when dual language immersion education is gaining in popularity across Southern California.

Experts say a dual language education helps children develop the focus and mental flexibility of young minds. Immersing preschool- and elementary school-aged children in learning in a second language can improve their performance in both languages, according to researchers. (Check out KPCC’s extensive series on bilingual learning from earlier this year.)


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Parents to weigh in on how school districts spend new funds

A student on his way to school walks past a Los Angeles Unified School District bus.

A new report out Monday by the State’s Legislative Analyst spells out accountability measures school districts must meet under California’s new funding formula, which gives district with lots of low-income or English-learning students more money - and more control over how to spend it.

One significant requirement: schools must get input from parents about how to spend the money.

The LAO said districts have until July to adopt a Local Control Accountability Plan that spells out what “high quality educational programs” they will fund.  They have to show how those programs benefit low income, English learner and foster care children -  and they have to share all this information with parents.

“The goal here is for parents to be more engaged in what’s going on” said one of the report’s authors, Edgar Cabral, “and not just sort of at the end looking back at what school districts have done, but even in the beginning stages of developing a plan.”  


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Experts worry about summer learning loss for low-income families (poll)

5-year old Ariana Gonzalez paints a heart as she and her sister hang out at home during the summer.
Deepa Fernandes

SUMMER LEARNING: Education experts say idle summers can put kids behind when they go back to school in the fall. KPCC spoke to teachers, parents and kids across Southern California about what they're learning this summer — or not. Third in a series.

Five-year-old Ariana Gonzalez is at home in Long Beach with her mom and nine year-old sister, painting on the cement driveway and begging for Popsicles.

Ariana just finished preschool – where she loved “playing with friends” - and will start kindergarten in the Fall.

Between doing the dishes and the laundry and planning dinner, her mom, Celine Gonzalez, scours the internet for free summer activities for the girls. It’s slim pickings, she said.

“So we’re just here at the house, hanging out and doing some stuff,“ Gonzalez said.

The Gonzalez family is in many ways an ordinary suburban family – they own their own home in Long Beach and just paid off the car. Yet it is one of a growing number of families struggling to find affordable and engaging summer care or activities for kids. (Hear more of the Gonzalez family story in the radio feature.)


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Long Beach summer camp teaches science to homeless kids

Emma builds a bridge out of gum drops and toothpicks during science camp at Cabrillo High School in Long Beach, Calif., on July 23.
Grant Slater/KPCC

Jose Mota was cutting and pasting copies of personal checks into a notebook where he would analyze the loops and patterns in the handwriting. He was hot on the trail of a suspect who'd written a ransom note.

Mota is not a detective. He's 13 and the mystery - who stole the magic team's bunny - is part of a science summer camp he's attending. During the two weeks camp, he’ll be a crime scene investigator.

Solving mysteries will be a welcome change from the challenges he usually faces. Mota and the other kids attending this camp are homeless.

The day camp, called "See Us Succeed," is hosted by the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Science Education Department and serves kids from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Laura Henriques, a professor at the university who trains education majors on how to teach science, began the camp in 2008 to reach kids who are at risk of being left behind at school because of insecure housing. Homeless students - which include those who are staying with relatives or otherwise temporary housing - are nine times more likely to repeat a grade and four times as likely to drop out compared with students who have a stable living situation, according to the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness


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