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

What age should kids start learning sex ed? In Chicago, it's kindergarten

back to school pencils supplies

Photo by c.a.muller via Flickr Creative Commons

How soon is too soon to talk about sex in schools?

When it comes to talking to kids about sex -- what should they know and when? I was wondering about this last night, when I stumbled on a show on Nick Jr where an interviewer was pretending to be a small child, asking people those oh-so innocent questions that get parents all tangled up. “What is intercourse?” “Why does my penis change size?” “What’s that tiny diaper you wear, Mom?”

Put on the spot, the parents were embarrassed, tongue tied and generally came up with odd responses. Which got me wondering what a parent should say when a young child asks these kinds of questions. How young is too young to talk about it?

In California, schools have to teach HIV/AIDS prevention once in middle school and once in high school, according to the Department of Education.

That's what Chicago used to do, too. But the board of education there recently decided to begin sex education in the first year of school. Kindergarteners through third graders will learn basics like anatomy and reproduction, as well as a 101 on appropriate and inappropriate touching. The school district is quick to point out that parents who object can opt their child out.


Despite increase in funding, school districts still sending layoff notices to teachers

Teachers Protest

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Teachers, parents and supporters rallied last year to protest budget cuts and layoffs.

Year after year, March 15th has been a date of dread for California public school teachers. The date, which falls on a Friday this year, is the preliminary deadline for school districts to send out "Reduction In Force" notices for cuts to next year's staff.

But Governor Jerry Brown said two months ago that this year would be different. He proposed a state budget without funding cuts to schools. The news was welcomed by educators still reeling from five years of intense budget cuts that led to tens of thousands of layoffs across the state.

But that doesn't mean there won't be any RIF notices, although they will be “significantly less this year than it was last year,” predicted Dean Vogel, President of the California Teachers Association

“We did have about 20,000 RIFs as of March 15 last year and right now we’re sitting at about 2,400,” he said. Vogel expects lawyers for the teachers union to give a more accurate count later this week.


LAUSD Budget forecast is getting brighter

Students bus Loyola Village Elementary School

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Students leaving Loyola Village Elementary School by bus.

LA Unified’s Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee is convening Tuesday morning. The proposed agenda shows financial improvement at the district after five years of devastating cuts — due to a boost from Prop. 30 funds.
According to the district, the Governor’s proposed budget would provide $1.6 billion to begin implementation of a new funding model that benefits district with large numbers of poor and English-learning students, like LAUSD. L.A. Unified is also expecting the state to pay the district $1.8 billion in "deferrals" — money it already owed the district from past budgets. It also stands to gain $400.5 million in Prop 39 energy efficiency projects 

However, LAUSD funding won’t get back to 2007-08 levels until the start of the 2014-2015 school year. And, despite revenues generated by Prop 30, the impact of the federal sequester remains an issue.

Another bright spot: the partnership between LAUSD and FilmLA, a nonprofit group that coordinates filming permits, has expanded to inlcude 347 “film friendly” schools which are available for filming. The project brought in more than $1.9 million last fiscal year.


Lost in budget cuts: Army Tuition Assistance program dating to 1940s

President Obama Attends Memorial Service At Ft. Hood For Shooting Victims

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

U.S. Army soldiers stand together in Fort Hood, Texas. On Friday, the Army suspended its Tuition Assistance program for soldiers due to budget cuts.

Soldiers across the country received some bad news in their email inboxes: due in part to sequestration, the Tuition Assistance Program has been suspended -- cutting out $4,500 a year  in tuition assistance for military personnel.

The Secretary of the Army approved the suspension on Friday and notified soldiers via email.

The suspension will not affect soldiers who are currently enrolled in courses using the program, but soldiers will no longer be able to submit requests for future assistance.

"Reducing their access to education isn't really well thought out," said Patricia D'Orange-Martin, coordinator of Veterans Services at Pasadena City College. She said Tuition Assistance is a crucial component to helping veterans earn college level diplomas since the GI Bill often doesn't cover a full four year degree. 


UPDATE: 2 incumbent LA Unified School Board members keep seats in costly races

Monica Garcia on Election Night March 2013

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Board President Monica Garcia awaits election results with supporters at her Boyle Heights campaign headquarters on Tuesday night.

Los Angeles Unified School Board incumbents Steve Zimmer and Monica Garcia kept their seats in a hotly contested election that attracted nearly $6 million, putting it on track to be the most costly school board election in the district’s history. Zimmer won with 52 percent of the vote and Garcia with 56 percent. A third race for district 6 is headed for a runoff.

“Everyone knows that the School Board of Los Angeles is not for sale,” Zimmer told more than 100 cheering supporters Tuesday night at a campaign party at the Next Door Lounge, a 1920s themed speakeasy in Hollywood.

RELATED: LAUSD's John Deasy speaks Wednesday on Take Two about the school board election and future of LA's schools

Zimmer was supported by United Teachers Los Angeles in his battle to fend off a challenge by lawyer and parent Kate Anderson, who was backed by the Coalition for School Reform, a well-heeled political action committee endorsed by outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. More than $1.6 million was spent to elect Anderson – about a third more than the roughly $1.2 million spent on Zimmer, a swing vote who supports both the union’s policies and its nemesis, Supt. John Deasy.

Anderson got 48 percent of the vote in the head-to-head race. She said if the results hold, she just might try again in four years – after she gets some rest.