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

High school musical theater students take over Pantages, winners to compete in NYC

Broadway LA - 1

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Calabasas High School students perform "Cool" from their production of West Side Story at the Pantages Theatre.

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Ayla Stackhouse, a student from Hollywood High School, waits backstage at the Pantages before going on stage to perform In the Heights.

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Anthony Nappier, left, waits backstage with Mason Alexander, right, before the winners of The Jerry Herman awards were announced Sunday. Nappier went on to win a trip to New York to perform in the national competition.

Broadway LA - 4

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Arcadia High School students perform a scene from The Drowsey Chaperone on stage at the Pantages Theatre.

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Actress Ruta Lee (center) on the red carpet outside the Pantages Theatre. Lee was one of the night's presenters; she's also a graduate of Hollywood High School.

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Hollywood High School junior Destiny Loyd, 16, waits backstage at the Pantages.

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Mary Plummer/KPCC

Natalia Vivino and Anthony Nappier took home the top prize at Sunday's awards and will move on the national competition in New York.

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The six finalists of the Jerry Herman awards on stage at the Pantages, shortly after finding out they'd made it to the final round.


Top musical theater students from around Southern California filled the audience of Hollywood's Pantages Theatre Sunday. They weren't there to see Wicked -- these students were invited to their very own awards ceremony, one that offered more than just a trophy.

The Jerry Herman high school musical theater awards selected winners in everything from best costume design to best musical for school productions held around Southern California this school year.

Six finalists for the best male and female lead roles performed on stage for a chance to win the top prize: an all-expenses-paid trip to New York  for the national competition. Most students spent months practicing their parts.

"Throwing up is a definite possibility," finalist and high school junior Gabriella Certo said backstage as she waited to hear who had won. "Broadway's been my dream since I was a little kid."

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CSU trustees hope online classes will ease bottleneck on required courses

Cal State LA

Officials said more online courses will help students at California State University, Los Angeles and other campuses complete graduation requirements.

California State University officials today laid out to its trustees how the university  plans to ease students' access to required courses in the fall -- a huge problem that affects tens of thousands fo students at all 23 campuses.

During a trustee meeting in Long Beach, Cal State officials said budget cuts have led to bottlenecks in lower level classes such as college algebra, general education biology, and micro economics.

“We have 22 courses across the CSU where we have high enrollment and also low success in those students completing those with good academic grades,” said Gerry Handley, head of CSU’s Academic Technology Services.

The university is counting on a $10 million allocation proposed by Governor Jerry Brown to tackle the problem.

Handley said the money will be spent on a three-pronged plan:

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UC schools draw record application numbers; UCLA as exclusive as Tufts — for state students

Students at UCLA

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Lucky UCLA students sit around the Bruin Bear statue during lunchtime. The school has become as competitive as Tufts and Cornell, according to a recent article.

The University of California system remains a popular destination for incoming freshmen – and getting into UCLA is now as hard as getting into Tufts and Cornell, at least for California students.

The 10-campus U.C. system drew nearly 140,000 applications for the undergraduate class, according to Ralph Becker, a columnist for College Counseling.  He said UCLA led all UC campuses with 99,000 applications, which include community college transfers. Berkeley came in second place, with a record 67,600 applications, and UCSD followed with 67,400.

UCLA reported an in-state admission rate of 17.4 percent, Becker said, a level comparable to Cornell and Tufts, two of the nation’s most selective universities. Overall, the 10 campuses accepted 82,850 freshman, for an average acceptance rate of 59 percent. Berkeley and San Diego campuses were more exclusive than the average.

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LA Unified candidates Monica Ratliff, Antonio Sanchez square off

School Board Race

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(L) District 6 School Board Candidate, Monica Ratliff, in her classroom at San Pedro Street Elementary. (R) District 6 School Board Candidate Antonio Sanchez.

With less than a day before elections the candidates for the pivotal L.A. Unified school board district 6 race squared off on key classroom policies on KPCC’s Airtalk. The candidates tried to highlight policy differences -- but they didn't appear as wide as each candidate contends.

Former lawyer and current elementary school teacher Monica Ratliff is a union representative with United Teachers Los Angeles. But she said that doesn’t mean she would be in lock step if elected to the seven-member board of education.

“I don’t think that’s actually been indicated by my record so far,” she said.

Ratliff said seniority-based layoffs have hurt schools in poor areas that have high proportions of junior teachers -- so she thinks  seniority should be less of a factor when the school district carries out layoffs.

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Teaching tips: How to make the last 2 weeks of school memorable

Mario Tama/Getty Images

For many Southern California students, summer is just a few weeks away. Getting through the last few weeks of classroom work can be a challenge when summer fun is on the mind.

As teachers and students enter the final weeks of the school year, the temptation of summer - freedom so close, but not quite here -  can rattle even the most dedicated pupils. Minds wander, attention spans seem to grow shorter and day dreaming often becomes harder to resist.

And once state testing and finals are done, some teachers can also get tempted into leniency and playing videos.

To help you make it the finish line, Sacramento-based high school teacher and Education week blogger Larry Ferlazzo has come up with a great list of resources for how to use classroom time during the last two weeks of school.

Some of the tips include strategies for how to avoid going into autopilot, engaging students in memorable end-of-the-year field trips, and a helpful checklist for year's-end planning. In addition, Ferlazzo features a bunch of great reading tips from Texas elementary school teacher Donalyn Miller that aim to keep kids' reading levels high during the off months. 

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