Ellyana Benitez, left, and Briana Melgar brush their teeth after lunch. More than two months after automatic federal spending cuts, Headstart is one of several categories feeling the squeeze in Southern California, including those receiving help in unemployment, housing, and researchers receiving federal funds.
Gina Roscoe has lived in Monrovia all her life. Her four-year-old son, Jose, has attended the Options Head Start program in downtown Monrovia since last November. He’s learned a lot in those six months, according to his mom.
“He came home knowing how to spell his name out … he’s learned a lot from here, colors, shapes, he knows them all,” Roscoe said.
But due to automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration, the school is eliminating its afternoon program in the fall. Jose is among 20 kids who can try to vie for spots that may open up in the morning program, but competition for head start programs is fierce. Options, the agency that runs this and 19 other programs in the San Gabriel Valley, said hundreds of children are on its wait lists.
A student boards a bus maintained by the Inglewood Unified School District on February 28, 2012.
The financially plagued Inglewood Unified School District will hold a press briefing and public meeting today to discuss the district's ongoing money problems. The struggling district, which was taken over by the state last fall, is facing another deficit. This one is $17.7 million.
Currently, the school doesn't have enough money for the 2014-2015 school year.
In December, the state-appointed former leader of the district Kent Taylor resigned after the state discovered Taylor had signed financial agreements with the teachers union and a food company without consulting state officials. All of this took place before a major financial audit. He was replaced with La Tanya Kirk-Carter, who serving as interim administrator.
The school district has been in trouble for years. After cost-cutting, loans and L.A. County oversight, Inglewood Unified finally requested a state bailout last year. California lawmakers approved a bailout loan that kept the district from insolvency last summer -- and stripped the 12,000-student district of local control.
The college commencement season is in full bloom. But not all of the speeches end up smelling like a rose.
Clichés kill the commencement speech. Ron Solorzano has heard plenty in 15 years teaching at Occidental College. Like: “Find something you enjoy doing and pursue it. This is the beginning of your career. Make sure to network. You can pursue your dreams.”
Solorzano says Motown founder Berry Gordy nailed it six years ago when he concluded his speech with the R&B classic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” as background music.
Most of the people surveyed for this story didn’t remember their college commencement speaker. Leigh Shelton does: “I graduated from college in 2006. And I went to Louisiana State University and our commencement speaker was Dick Cheney."
Shelton’s Texas Democrat grandparents couldn’t listen to him — they led the family out of the ceremonies a few minutes after Cheney took the microphone.
When Arturo Haro enrolled in Renaissance Arts Academy in the sixth grade, his music world consisted of reggae, rap and hip hop.
Then teachers handed him a viola. When he first carried the instrument home to Highland Park, some of his neighbors thought it was a gun.
"I honestly never knew what a viola was until I came here," said Haro, now a junior. "Having that instrument in my hands, it was like, wow, I’ve never had that feeling before."
Learning the instrument has helped him see life differently. At home, he now listens to classical music to help him focus. His grades have improved and his teachers said he's become a more serious student.
Renaissance Arts is an unusual charter school that incorporates string instruments and dance into its everyday curriculum. It is one of a handful of charter schools in L.A. Unified that are using arts not to create the next generation of artists, but to inspire regular students to stay in school.
Alezander Duran reads "Flyboy of Underwhere" by Bruce Hale. A teaching method used for slow readers increasingly helps all students.
Want to help your kids improve their reading skills over the summer? You may want to try a teaching approach designed three decades ago for slow readers – educators are having success using it with all students.
Reciprocal teaching, deconstructs the reading process into four components:
- Predicting, which is skimming a sentence, paragraph or passage for a sense of the topic;
- Questioning, which involves asking questions about the material as you read;
- Clarifying, which is wondering about information you did not comprehend by reading ahead or asking a teacher, parent or friend;
- And summarizing, which is recalling the material you just read.
Sounds complicated, but it’s really about sitting down with your kids and reading something aloud with them and interjecting with the occasional question, such as “what do you think will happen next?” or “do you know what that word means?” or “what has happened so far in the story?”