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

Why Antonio Villaraigosa fell short as LA's education mayor

Math School Initiative

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and Meg Whitman, right, help third grade elementary math class students: David Ozorio, middle, and Cecil Pascal, right, at the 99th St. Elementary campus Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, in Los Angeles.

Doe v Deasy

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Attorney Scott Witlin, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and EdVoice president Bill Lucia (Left to right) talk to the media about the decision in the case of Doe v. Deasy on June 12, 2012. The case is wanting to make LAUSD to include student performance data as part of its evaluation of teachers and school administrators.

Antonio Villaraigosa/

Mayor Villaraigosa speaks and listens to parents and teachers at an L.A. elementary school about the impending school district's budget cuts.

As Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares to step down in June, among the achievements he takes credit for during his eight years in office is improving one institution that the law gives him no authority over: the public schools.

Yet if any one policy area shows where his ambition outstripped his performance, it would be in his oversight of the city's troubled schools.

Villaraigosa campaigned, in part, on the idea that power over the city’s schools should shift to his office.
“I’ve said that I believe that the next mayor should be involved with the schools,” Villaraigosa said during a mayoral candidate forum in 2005. “And I even see a role similar to (Michael) Bloomberg in New York and (Richard) Daley in Chicago, where the mayor has oversight over the schools.”

RELATED: Antonio Villaraigosa's Legacy in LA


Preschool teachers need schooling in health and nutrition facts -- and practices

Larry Crowe/AP

Digging into the concept of whether you can teach what you don't know, a recent survey by researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health sought to uncover the health and nutrition knowledge --and practices-- of a group of teachers.

Two of the questions asked of almost 200 Head Start teachers in Texas:

  • Do you know how many servings of fruits and vegetables we should eat each day? What about which of the five food groups we should be consuming most?
  • Now stop and think about your diet yesterday. Did you eat enough fruit and vegetables, and consume enough grains?

Turns out most didn’t have the best habits, according to survey results published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Of the 173 teachers interviewed, only four answered at least four of the five nutrition questions correctly. More than half --  54% -- of the teachers said they found it difficult to figure out the right answer.


States to consider financial literacy requirements for K-12 students

Piles of cash

Photo by 401K via Flickr Creative Commons

Schools have long tried to impart money management skills to students through a variety of programs: elective classes in partnership with banks and nonprofit groups, after-school programs that teach economic basics and “life-skills” to round out a student’s academic education.

Now a nonprofit promoting financial education, the Council for Economic Education, will be unveiling financial literacy standards next month, pegged to "financial literacy" month. They establish benchmarks for what kids should know about money by the end of 4th, 8th and 12th grade.  The group said it will be going state by state to get them implemented.

The lessons include:

  • Earning income: Not just collecting a paycheck, but also collecting rent, stock dividends and interest on bonds. It also includes a discussion of the labor market and how education may lead to higher wages.
  • Buying goods and services: How to plan, compare, budget and making choices in the marketplace.
  • Saving: How to set near- and long-term goals and how time, interest rates and inflation affect savings.
  • Using credit: Borrowing options and how credit history helps determine availability of credit and the rate of interest.
  • Investing: This includes risk, rates of return and diversification.
  • Protecting and insuring: This includes potential loss of health, assets, income and identity, and how behavior affects the cost of insurance.


Effect of TV watching on your child's school readiness -- in one easy graphic

Mercer 9406

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Research shows that educational television programming like Sesame Street can help reduce kids' aggressive behavior.

As we reported on this blog last month studies are finding that certain kinds of television shows may be good for kids' development. Shows like Mister Rogers, Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street can help prepare kids for school and result in less-agressive behavior.

There's lots of data on kids' TV viewing habits -- and it can be confusing. Education News has put together a handy information graphic by aggregating information from Time, the Scientific American and a University of Michigan study, among others.

Here's an excerpt from a recent piece in Time that was cited as one of the sources for the graphic. The piece explains research from a February Pediatrics study on children's TV use.

Despite admonitions from experts and an emerging body of research that suggests children shouldn’t be watching more than two hours a day, the typical U.S. tot spends about four and a half hours parked in front of a television daily. Campaigns to reduce this screen time have clearly been only minimally successful.

So by shifting the focus away from how much youngsters watch and concentrating instead on what they’re seeing, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics on their success in helping parents increase the time kids spent watching educational programming. The result? Better-behaved children.?


UPDATE: LAUSD announces multimillion-dollar settlement of 58 of 191 Miramonte sex abuse claims

Miramonte Elementary School

Grant Slater/KPCC

Parents of students at Miramonte Elementary School escort children out of school on Feb. 6, 2012.

UPDATE: Sources familiar with the settlement said the district has agreed to pay a total of $29 million to this group of 58 students, an average of $500,000 each. Not all will receive the same amount.  

After months of mediation with students and their families the Los Angeles Unified School District announced Tuesday it settled 58 lawsuits over allegations of misconduct by former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt. But nearly two-thirds of the 191 civil suits filed against the nation's second-largest school district in the case remain unresolved.

David Holmquist, the district's general counsel, would not reveal how much each family will be paid until the deal is approved by a judge, but did confirm that it is a double-digit multimillion-dollar settlement.

Holmquist said the settlement is not an admission of guilt by the district but rather an effort to help students and their families “who have suffered” to heal.