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

Million dollar gift adds body to Cal State wine-making program

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Drift Words/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

Fresno State is one of only two universities in the nation with a stand-alone winemaking department.

When you visit a wine shop, you won't see a whole lot of varietals boasting they come from Fresno. But you may see more vintners being trained there.

Officials with California State University Fresno are set to announce in a few weeks a $1 million donation to Fresno State Vineyards, which is run by the university’s Department of Viticulture and Enology.

Fiscal year funding to the university from the state, “doesn’t promote efficiency and what we want to teach our students,” said Jim Kennedy, the chair of that department. The additional money, spent over the next 10 years, will allow students to learn in an environment that feels and has the pressures of a business. The name of the donor is secret for now, Kennedy said, and it's a well known name in California's wine making industry.

More modern facilities for bottling are planned, Kennedy said, as well as replanting of the 120 acres of teaching vineyards. Year after year, winemakers experiment with wine varieties, in response to the changing and voracious taste for California wine. And that’s what the university should offer, he said.


Study finds reasoning, a key skill in learning, begins in the toddler years

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Babies as young as 18 months are capable of puzzling out what you might be thinking.

The ability to reason has an enormous impact on how both adults and children understand, evaluate and accept what they are taught -- how we come to know the things that we know.

A new UCLA study published in a leading biological research journal suggests that babies as young as 18 months old can reason: they can figure out what another person might be thinking.

The researchers wanted to know not only how young a child might be able to watch a situation unfold and have a reasonable response as to what someone in the scenario might be thinking. They studied children around the world, from China to Fiji and Ecuador, to see how culture affects this mental process. And they did find some fascinating differences.

The researchers used a “false-belief test” which has been conducted mostly on older children.


Among groups vying to takeover 'Parent Trigger' elementary school: LAUSD


Vanessa Romo/KPCC

Parents of children at 24th Street Elementary held up placards for passing motorists as they descended upon LAUSD headquarters Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 to deliver a petition to take over the failing school.

Two weeks ago, parents at 24th Street Elementary School felt like they were out of options. Today they have several.

Eight charter school operators submitted "Letters of Interest" vying to take over the failing school by the fall. Among them: L.A. Unified.

The offers started coming in almost immediately after neighborhood parents invoked the “Parent Trigger” law to take over the low-income school in South Los Angeles. Nearly two thirds of the school's parents signed the petition. It's the first attempt to use the controversial law in L.A. Unified since it was passed in 2010 – and could mark a turning point for parent-reform advocates.

Here’s a breakdown of the charter operators that met the Parent Union’s deadline for an application last Friday:

  • Academia Moderna
  • Crown Preparatory Academy
  • Frederick Douglass Academy Elementary School
  • Vista Academy Elementary School Global Education Academy
  • Celerity Global Development
  • Para Los Ninos
  • Los Angeles Unified School District
  • One was received from a former 24th Street Elementary School educator through an Education Management Organization


Applying for kindergarten: what to do if your child is too young

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

A transitional kindergarten class in Long Beach serves kids who are about to turn five-years-old at the beginning of the school year.

It's that time of the year when parents of four and five year old’s are busy with school tours and applications to secure a kindergarten spot. If you're about to embark on this journey with your four year old you may get some unexpected news: California has again moved up the age requirement for a child to start kindergarten.

To start Kindergarten in August 2014, children must have turned 5 by September 1, 2014--that's a month earlier than last year's requirement. The state has been moving up the cutoff for the past three years to get to the point where all kids are 5 by the time they enroll in kindergarten.

What to do if your child has to wait one more year? To fill the gap, California offers "Transitional Kindergarten," an educational program meant to be more age-appropriate for four year olds than the current kindergarten curriculum.

Children are eligible for transitional kindergarten if their 5th birthday falls between:
October 2 and December 2 for the 2013-14 school year
September 2 and December 2 for the 2014-15 school year
More info on Transitional Kindergarten can be found here.    


Where to get help to write a winning college financial aid application

Pile of money

Tracy O./Flickr Creative Commons

Paying for a college education

The clock is ticking toward the March 2, 1913 deadline for state and federal grants for college. That’s the last day when many colleges and universities will accept the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. (Some colleges have earlier deadlines.)

With the price tag for a four-year college education reaching $200,000 in some cases, more students than ever need help paying the bills.

If you're like many students and families, you likely have basic questions about whether you qualify and what to do if the aid you receive isn't enough.  Here’s a good primer on the program that  answers many of those questions.

Want more specific help? The L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce has for years been leading an  effort to guide students to fill out the applications correctly -- and on time.  It has put together  long list of resources on its web site.