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

LAUSD to add 1,000 aides for security at schools

Hamilton High

Tony Pierce / KPCC

Hamilton High School in Los Angeles near Beverly Hills.

The Los Angeles Unified School District will spend $4.2 million to hire 1,087 campus aides to increase security at elementary schools.

A minimum of two aides will be added to each of more than 400 LAUSD elementary school campuses beginning March 1, the Daily News reported.

The aides, who will work three-hour shifts, will be unarmed but equipped with two-way radios and vests "for high visibility," according to a memo from Senior Deputy Superintendent Michelle King that was obtained by the newspaper.

The memo says required safety training for the new aides will be conducted online and will cover child abuse awareness training, employee duties during an emergency, mediating student conflicts, responding to threats on campus, conducting metal detector searches, and what to do if there is a school lockdown.


Gov. Brown uses State of the State speech to push education reforms

Governor Jerry Brown

Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio

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

Gov. Jerry Brown spent a big part of his state of the state speech Thursday pushing legislators to approve his overhaul of public education financing.

As if speaking from a pulpit, Brown warned of fire and brimstone if bureaucracy and inequity isn’t wiped clean from the state education system.

RELATED: Graphic: Gov. Brown's 2013 State of the State key words and themes
“Nothing is more determinative of our future than how we teach our children," he told lawmakers. "If we fail at this, we will sow growing social chaos and inequality that no law can rectify.” 

He said to make up for years of budget cuts and to return the luster to California schools, legislators should approve his plan to give school districts more control over funds. He also wants to give more money to schools with a lot of struggling students.
“As the Irish poet William Butler Yeats said, education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” Brown said in a speech heavily dotted with quotations and stories.

The California legislature will debate Brown’s proposal after he submits a revised budget in May.


ACLU: state, school districts failing English learners

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

ACLU attorney Jessica Price says school districts up and down California are failing to enroll all English learners in the instruction mandated by law.

More than 20,000 students whose first language isn’t English are not getting proper instruction according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which threatened California education officials with a lawsuit Wednesday. 

Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the ACLU of Southern California, said 251 school districts are failing to provide the basic instruction English learners need.
“It violates the federal law," he said.  "It violates state laws that specifically state that EL services must be delivered to these children.”

He said kids who don't speak English are supposed to attend special classes until they catch up. But ACLU lawyer Jessica Price said some of the districts are in such disarray they don’t know where to begin.
“We’ve spoken to teachers and administrators confidentially who’ve told us things like, we don’t even know who the English learner children in the classroom are so we have no idea how to provide them the specialized services,” she said.

Nearly a quarter of California’s six million students are labeled English learners. The vast majority speak Spanish. Vietnamese is a distant second, followed but a bunch of other languages.
UCLA researcher Patricia Gandara says California officials have done little to adopt findings that would help English learners, such as using bilingual teachers.

“There’s substantial evidence now that those children that have the advantage of a teacher who can actually, not only instruct them in a language they understand, but simply even informally assess what they’re understanding, that would go a long way toward helping.” Gandara said.

The ACLU wants the state to hold the districts accountable. California education officials say courts have ruled the state’s already meeting its obligation toward English learners.


Fontana schools police get high-powered rifles for 'attack on a campus'

Mercer 13686

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Semi-automatic assault style rifles on display at a gun show in Virginia.

Fontana school police force has acquired semiautomatic rifles for officers to bring to campuses under a controversial safety program.

Fontana Unified School District police purchased 14 of the Colt 6940 rifles last fall, well before the Connecticut school massacre.

The $1,000 rifles were received last month. School police Chief Billy Green says the guns are stored at police headquarters but trained officers can take them to campuses and keep them locked in their offices during school hours.

Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks says they're only to be used if there's an attack on a campus in the district located in San Bernardino County.

Critics say such guns have no place on campuses and the $14,000 should have been used to restore counseling programs.


Azusa elementary school found lunch after recess improves diet and concentration

Murray Elementary

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Murray Elementary says students eat more of the improved school lunches because recess comes before lunch.

For years, students at Murray Elementary School were like most others, they saw lunch as an easy obstacle to overcome to get to the important part of the school day: recess.

But five years ago the school decided to move lunch – and the school's principal said it has paid big dividends.

“When we were doing recess after lunch – we can’t make the kids eat their food – so they were eating a bite or two, not drinking their milk and they were throwing the whole dish away so that they could go play,” said principal Saida Valdez.

And their next meal wouldn’t come for at least another five hours, said Valdez, which mean the kids were starving by 3 p.m.

Very little learning can happen on a mostly empty stomach, said Steven Mittleman, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
“Kids who are hungry, first of all, have a hard time focusing and paying attention because they’re thinking of being hungry,” Mittleman said.

Now students in this San Gabriel Valley school play their hearts out during recess, mellow out as they sit down for lunch, and then go back to class.