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

California teachers sue unions to stop dues

Michael Carvin, lead attorney for the teachers, says: "We’re not attacking unions. We are attacking the union’s ability to coerce people ... to give money."

Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association, says the lawsuit reflects a nationwide attack on unions.


Ten California teachers — several of them from Orange County — are suing in federal court to stop mandatory union dues. The lawsuit seeks to expand last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision involving union activity in a California special election.
 
California law allows public employees to decide whether to have union representation for collective bargaining, which  requires members to pay dues. The dues are used to finance union activities, which sometimes includes political lobbying.

The lawsuit, filed by ten California teachers against their state and local unions and national advocacy groups, seeks to change that. Michael Carvin, lead attorney for the teachers, said: "We’re not attacking unions. We are attacking the union’s ability to coerce people ... to give money."
 
Union members are allowed to ask unions for a refund on the portion of dues spent on political activities. The teachers essentially want to opt-in to such dues, not have to opt-out after the fact.

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Poll: Should breakfast be banned from the classroom?

California Children's Academy Budget Cuts Preschool Education

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Kids eat lunch at Jardín de Niños in Lincoln Heights. The program provide multi-lingual early education to low-income families.

Should under-nourished students be allowed to eat in the classroom? The issue became a hot topic this week after Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy passed on making a decision, putting the future of a pilot breakfast program into the hands of the school board. 

The program was launched last year after LAUSD discovered that only 29 percent of children eligible for free breakfast were eating before school in the cafeteria.

Nevertheless, teachers say that it takes away from instructional time and leaves a clean-up nightmare.  

RELATED: Future of schools breakfast program has become a 'power struggle' 

Where do you stand on the issue? Should food be restricted to the cafeteria? Take our poll, and see a roundup of quotes from Twitter and Facebook below. 

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UCLA Preschool and the California Science Center museum help turn kids into 'pre-scientists'

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

An instructor reads to children at University Village, one of three pre-schools run by UCLA Early Care and Education.

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

Children go through an elaborate science curriculum at University Village, one of three pre-schools run by UCLA Early Care and Education.

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

Matthew, a student at UCLA Early Care and Education, plays with a fire truck in a classroom dedicated to science curriculum.

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

Holly, a University Village student, plays with a model of a town and fire station.

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

Noah (center) plays in a model city at University Village.

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

Children go through an elaborate science curriculum at University Village. The song lyrics on the walls tell the students about air and water.

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

Students pretend to be firemen at University Village. Newly released standards for teaching K thru 12 science are based on hands-on learning and testing critical thinking.

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

A teacher makes notes on a board about a class field trip to a fire station during the unit on fire. The science curriculum at University Village is structured around the elements.

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

Tupac (left) and Alessandro paint boxes the color of a fire truck. University Village and the other two UCLA preschools are among a few in Southern California to offer science-based learning.

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

A student makes "fire" from Play-Doh in a corner of a classroom dedicated to science curriculum at University Village.

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

Leah, a student at University Village, passes through the locker bin area of the classroom in Palms, Calif.


Science Experiment: One of two stories looking at science in the schools – from pre-K to high school. Click here to read Part 1: RELATED: New science standards hard sell at cash-strapped Sylmar High School (Photos).

When Gay MacDonald came to UCLA in the early 1990s to lead its preschools, the children were doing well at all the things preschoolers do: learning their ABCs and 123s.

Yet MacDonald’s experience in early education taught her that children have vastly more potential for learning than adults believe – and she felt that fact-based standards like learning your ABCs didn’t go far enough. So she set out to revamp them.

As she searched for a theme for the schools on campus, which at the time served 93 infants, toddlers and preschoolers, she chose science.

"We try to create a culture of inquiry and foster asking a question,” said MacDonald, who likes to call her preschoolers “pre-scientists.”

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New science standards hard sell at cash-strapped Sylmar High School (Photos)

Sylmar High

Biology teacher Ronald Hitchcock teaches his advanced biology students. On the right, student Juan Santacruz.

Sylmar High

A view of biology teacher Ronald Hitchcock's American Bull Frogs from the science storage room behind his classroom at Sylmar High School.

Sylmar High

Advanced Biology student Jose Baltazar during class at Sylmar High School.

Sylmar High

Some of the critters in Sylmar High School science teacher Ron Hitchcock's classroom. Hitchcock, who has taught at the school since 2000, estimates that he's spent $10,000 on the entire collection.

Sylmar High

An American Bull Frog. High school biology teacher Ronald Hitchcock estimates he spends $3,500 a year on classroom supplies, which include critters like this one.

Sylmar High

An exterior shot of Sylmar High School, which celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this school year. The school is one of more than 100 high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.


Science Experiment: One of two stories looking at science in the schools – from pre-K to high school. Click here to read Part 2: UCLA Preschool and the California Science Center museum help turn kids into "pre-scientists."

Ronald Hitchcock has been teaching science at Sylmar High School for more than a decade. He's seen a lot of changes, but perhaps nothing has hit the school harder than the news last fall that it lost a $3.5 million QEIA grant.

"We're pretty cash strapped right now," he said. "The budget for the science department is usually in the $20,000 to $25,000 range for consumables and in reality this year we have just about $5,000."

Hitchcock has been following the development of new K-12 science standards, released by California and 25 other states earlier this month. He's excited about the potential of the new standards and likes their hands-on approach to learning.

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LA Unified board member wants improvements to Breakfast in the Classroom program

On Monday LA Unified board member Bennet Kayser called for improvements to the school district’s one-year old Breakfast in the Classroom program, not its elimination.

The statement was prompted by a move by Superintendent John Deasy to put to a vote of the school board the future of a program that's the first project of LA Fund For Public Education, founded by Deasy and an LA philanthropist. The program has fed more than 200,000 students at a third of the district’s schools by moving federally-funded breakfast into the first 15 minutes of the school day

In a written statement, Kayser said an audit earlier this year of the Breakfast in the Classroom program returned a list of things worth fixing but did not propose the program’s elimination. The audit found that some clean-up procedures weren’t followed and that time allotted to eat the breakfast was exceeded by 5 to 30 minutes.

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