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

Governor to add $1 billion for schools to adopt common core standards

Governor Jerry Brown

Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio

California Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his State of the State speech.

Governor Jerry Brown's revised budget plan being released Tuesday morning will allocate $1 billion for K-12 schools to fund districts’ adoption of new common core standards — about $170 per student.

The Governor will also propose an extra $240 million for base district funding as part of his  funding overhaul.

Administration officials revealed the details to the Associated Press on the eve of the budget unveiling.  They also explained how the money will get divided among school districts:

  • 80 percent will be carved up among districts, based on the total number of students.
  • 16 percent will be divided based on the districts’ number of students learning English, of low-income, or who are foster children.
  • 4 percent would go to districts where the majority of students are English-learners, low-income or foster children.

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Despite big name, Shakespeare school still feels cuts

Kurt Ingham

Students from Rafe Esquith's Hobart Shakespeareans perform in this year's production The Tempest.

Kurt Ingham

Brandeaux Lazo (center) performs with other students in The Tempest at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School.

Kurt Ingham

Emily Park, who plays Prospero, performs in a scene from Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Kurt Ingham

Students perform during a production of the Tempest at LAUSD's Hobart Boulevard Elementary School.

Kurt Ingham

Brandeaux Lazo, age 10, plays Caliban in a production of The Tempest.


For decades, teacher Rafe Esquith has staged Shakespeare plays with students from Hobart Boulevard Elementary School in Koreatown. Most of the kids come from low-income families and English isn’t their first language -- and yet every Spring, they put on a show.

The novel program propelled Esquith into teacher stardom. His fourth book is due out this summer, he's been featured in a PBS documentary and his fan-base includes Oprah Winfrey and Sir Ian McKellen.

But the program's success and Esquith's notoriety haven't spared Hobart elementary from statewide cuts to school arts programs.

As Esquith celebrates his 30th anniversary, he says a lot has changed since he first started the Shakespeare program back in the 1980s.

"The fact is we keep cutting the wrong things in schools," said Esquith, who is celebrating 30 years as a teacher at Hobart. "Cutting arts programs is killing us."

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Design school publishes anti-gun violence children’s books

POSTER WORKSHOP - 6

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Patrick Hruby fills palates with paint before the poster-making workshop. The "Uncool" program was put together in memory of an Art Center teacher, Norm Schureman, who was a victim of gun violence.

POSTER WORKSHOP - 3

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The program is called "Uncool," and workshops are centered around anti-gun violence. After reading an illustrated book, kids make posters depicting things and activities that are "cool."

POSTER WORKSHOP - 2

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Washington Elementary fourth grader Tae Brooks draws Naruto Uzumaki, a character from a Japanese manga series. This is the fifth workshop put on by Art Center and the Pasadena Public Library.


The Art Center College of Design, known world-wide for graduating hotshot illustrators and car designers, has inserted itself into one of the most pressing issues facing this country: gun violence.

The Pasadena institution published a series of four children’s books that illustrate what a gun-free world could look like.

One of the books, titled “Amos’ New Life,” by Vivian Shih, begins like this:

“Amos the Bullet was born in a cold place called the gun. One day, somebody shot the gun. Bang! Swoosh."

At first Amos breaks things, but when he meets ”useful” objects like pencils and lipsticks, he decides he wants to be more like them.

The series is part of “Uncool: The Anti-Gun Violence Project.”

To get the word out about the books, the Art Center's Helen Cahng led readings and workshops at libraries, donating books to the shelves and giving free copies to the workshop attendees.

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Bjork to bring her children's art program to LA in June

Bjork Performs At Hammersmith Apollo

Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Bjork performs at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. She'll return to the L.A. area for several concerts this summer.

Bjork is returning to Los Angeles in June - and she's bringing something for the kids.

The Museum of Contemporary Art announced Thursday that it's collaborating with the Icelandic singer-songwriter for a new arts education project for students 9 to 14 years old. The free event will take place June 2, during the museum's monthly family day.

The workshop, called the "Biophilia Education Program" is named after Bjork's 2011 album and  based around an interactive iPad app. The hands-on program involves using technology to play music.

This video of a workshop held in Iceland in 2011 highlights the project. 

Bjork aims to bring "arts experience to children who might otherwise not have access to it, and engages children with learning difficulties  and disabilities," according to the museum's release.

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Math by way of art: For Pasadena school, arts plus math is really adding up

Math Arts

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Third grade student Eder counts the amount he'll need to purchase art supplies to create a sculpture. The project is part of a grant funded endeavor that places teaching artists from the Pasadena Armory Center for the Arts with classroom teachers to help them teach integrated arts lessons.

Math Arts

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Kourtney (left) and Gina (right) work on sketching ideas for their sculptures in Ms. Grotts third grade class in Pasadena.

Math Arts

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Diego and a classmate share crayons as they work on their art sketches at Jefferson Elementary School in Pasadena.

Math Arts

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Teaching artist Melanie Moore Bermudez explains to a third grade class how to budget for their art project.

Math Arts

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Teacher Beverly Grotts helps third grader Uriah practice addition at Jefferson Elementary School in Pasadena.


Administrators and teachers are grappling with how to boost math scores to prepare students for an increasingly technology based work force.

Jefferson Elementary in Pasadena may hold some of the answers. The school's been using art to teach its students math.

On a recent visit, students were working on an elaborate art project. They were asked to sketch two ideas that would later become a 3D sculpture. The catch – the students were given a budget and a price list and could only use the art supplies they could afford.

Along with budgeting, the school's students have worked on art projects that helped them learn place value and the concepts of area and perimeter. But unlike dry textbook problems, the projects brought lessons to life.

"Even my more challenged students -- and I have about five of them -- the engagement is like 180 degrees. It’s like a different child," said third-grade teacher Beverly Grotts.

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