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

Compton High School students walk out of class

About 70 students marched out of Compton High School shortly before lunch Tuesday. They protested recent budget cuts that have led to a failing school system that graduates students who can barely read and write.

Topping their list of demands: hire more teachers and reduce class size. Some students report that the teacher student ratio is 60-to-1. 

Patricia Ryan, a retired teacher and a Compton High School graduate who works at the Compton teacher’s union office, said students organized the demonstration on Facebook Monday night.

Compton Unified School District officials declined to comment; they could not disclose whether Superintendent Darin Brawley plans to meet with students or address their concerns. 

Another march from the high school to the district’s office is planned for later Tuesday around 5 p.m. 

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$4 million fund drive puts LAUSD arts education on center stage

Arts education

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The LA Fund for Public Education kicked off Monday a $4 million campaign — and the largest initiative in city history — to revitalize arts education at the Los Angeles Unified School District. About a dozen city buses will feature L.A.-based artist Barbara Kruger's work produced for this effort.

LA Fund for education arts

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The LA Fund for Public Education kicked off Monday a $4 million campaign — and the largest initiative in city history — to revitalize arts education at the Los Angeles Unified School District. About a dozen city buses will feature L.A.-based artist Barbara Kruger's work produced for this effort.

LA fund for education arts

Tami Abdollah

The LA Fund for Public Education kicked off Monday a $4 million campaign — and the largest initiative in city history — to revitalize arts education at the Los Angeles Unified School District. About a dozen city buses will feature L.A.-based artist Barbara Kruger's work produced for this effort.

Arts education

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The LA Fund for Public Education kicked off Monday a $4 million campaign — and the largest initiative in city history — to revitalize arts education at the Los Angeles Unified School District. About a dozen city buses will feature L.A.-based artist Barbara Kruger's work produced for this effort.

arts education

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The LA Fund for Public Education kicked off Monday a $4 million campaign — and the largest initiative in city history — to revitalize arts education at the Los Angeles Unified School District. About a dozen city buses will feature L.A.-based artist Barbara Kruger's work produced for this effort.


With song, dance and star-power tweets by Justin Bieber and Ryan Seacrest, the LA Fund for Public Education launched a $4 million campaign — and the largest initiative in city history — to revitalize arts education at the Los Angeles Unified School District.

At an event at East Los Angeles Performing Arts Academy, dozens of students along with school board member Nury Martinez danced to The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" and Beyonce's "Move Your Body" to celebrate the new campaign.

"Arts Matter," with CBS Outdoor as a primary sponsor, will feature the work of L.A.-based artist Barbara Kruger on about a dozen city buses and on hundreds of billboards, bus shelters, wall postings, mall media and bulletins, LA Fund officials say.

"You can go from DreamWorks to Amgen, from Boeing to Mattel, they all say their No. 1 challenge is finding creative thinkers who can problem solve and who have the capacity and desire to learn new ways of doing things in an increasingly competitive market place," said LA Fund Chair Megan Chernin.

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LAUSD school CHOICES window opens today; deadline is Nov. 16

Mercer 15435

MGShelton/Flickr (by cc_nc_nd)

The window for applying to a school outside your area starts today, Monday, Oct. 8, and runs through Nov. 16. That's an earlier closing date than in previous years.

It used to be that if you went to public school, you only had one choice — go to the school nearest your home. Now, students and their parents in the Los Angeles Unified School District have a variety of options. But don’t take too long to think about them. 

Parents may submit applications online, through the mail or in person.

This degree of choice applies to more than the district’s 172 magnet schools. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, parents whose children attend a school that's not meeting academic targets may transfer them to one that is.

If your child's local school has a homogenous student population of any ethnicity, and you seek a more culturally integrated experience, you may apply for the Permit with Transfer program.

L.A. Unified wait-lists hundreds of families each year, sometimes for several years, depending on the program they want. So district officials urge all parents not to procrastinate.

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Portrait in numbers of LAUSD's decline in arts education

Graffiti Artist

Grant Slater/KPCC

L.A. plans to unveil a major initiative to save public arts education. Meanwhile, L.A. Unified's school board is looking at a measure that would make arts a "core subject."

In the last three years, Los Angeles Unified has had to cut nearly $1.5 billion from its annual operating budget, which is now roughly $6 billion. "Arts education is one of the most impacted components of LAUSD instruction as a result," according to the district.

I'm still working on getting specific breakdowns on arts education funding from L.A. Unified, but in the meantime, here are some numbers the district had handy.

In 2008, L.A. Unified employed 345 art specialist teachers — the district called that year its "peak." Now there are 204 art specialist teachers for more than 580,000 students (not including those in charters).

That breaks down to about one art specialist for every 2,800 students. The district says that teachers travel from school to school to fill gaps.

Since 2008, the district has cut arts education at elementary schools by 40%.

  • The district says 53% of more than 272,000 students in kindergarten through fifth grade will not receive any arts instruction in elementary school.
  • About 75% of about 129,000 students in the sixth through eighth grades will not receive any arts instruction in middle school. The district adds that "most middle schools have no art teacher (primarily due to budget cuts)."
  • About half the district's more than 180,000 high school students will not receive any arts instruction in high school. 

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South LA Schools team up to fight reconsitution

The conflict between activists and LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy over the district’s reconstitution of Dorsey High School is coming to a head. Just as the final deadline to prevent a school takeover looms for Dorsey (it has until Oct. 31 to submit a school reform plan), Crenshaw High School faces a similar process.

That’s why the two South LA schools joined forces and organized a public meeting tonight to inform Crenshaw parents and students about the disctrict's effort to reform underachieving schools. 

LA Unified can reconstitute a school when it fails to meet state-mandated educational benchmarks under the federal No Child Left Behind act. That means the district can lay off the entire staff at a school and make everyone re-apply for their jobs. Those who are re-hired must sign contracts that includes provisions based on student performance on standardized tests.

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