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

Yo-Yo Ma visits Washington, D.C. to advocate for arts education

Yo-Yo Ma Meets Memphis Jook on Skid Row


Cellist Yo-Yo Ma performs in Los Angeles. Tonight, the cellist will give a speech on arts education in Washington, D.C.

To celebrate "Arts Advocacy Day," Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will give a speech about arts education entitled "Art for Life's Sake: A Road Map from One Citizen Musician" in Washington, D.C.

The speech will be streamed live by Google starting at 3:30 pm PST. The event will be at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall.

Don't worry if you miss it. Tomorrow, Ma will participate in a Google hangout discussing arts education policies. He'll be joined by Matt Sorum, drummer for Velvet Revolver and Guns N’ Roses. Damian Woetzel, director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program, will also be there. The virtual event runs from 7:30 am to 8 am PST.

Organizers are encouraging questions from around the country. To participate, tweet a question using the hashtag #AskYoYo or send an email to 


Obama to announce Tobacco Tax plan for funding Pre K

Smokers Could Face Tobacco Tax Increase

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

White House confirms universal pre-K plan will call for increased cigarette taxes.

California is seen as a shining example of how tobacco taxes can be used to both dissuade smoking and also improve children’s health and readiness for school. Now President Obama is following California’s lead. When he presents his budget Wednesday, the president will outline a similar scheme to fund universal preschool, the White House has confirmed to various media outlets.

After Prop 10 passed in 1998, California became one of the first states to raise taxes on cigarettes to fund early education programs. A new agency, First Five California, was created to hand out the money to schools and nonprofits to run education and health programs for children under five.

Scott Moore, a political analyst with Early Edge California, a nonprofit that advocates for increased early education, said California’s experience shows that the president’s plan to increase tobacco taxes to fund universal preschool can provide two returns on the investment.


Publishing industry shake up: New curriculum standards pave the way for the little guy

Cost Of University Textbooks Rises To About $900 Per Year

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In the U.S., the K-12 industry for textbooks and other educational materials generates $7.8 billion in revenue.

As new curriculum standards sweep across the country, the market for educational materials and textbooks is about to get a boost from districts that will have to restock. And just in time. Sales had been declining for three years.

"There should be a huge bump," said Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board Of Education. 

Kirst explains that many school districts had been holding off on buying books as they waited for the new standards to be implemented.

"This will be like what I hear is happening in the car industry where the average car is 11 years old and finally people have to get rid of them," he said.

California is among 45 states nationwide plus Washington, D.C. already in the process of adopting the Common Core standards for math and language arts. The new standards, which have been pushed by the Obama Administration, represent a significant change in the country's historically state by state system of education standards. 


Los Angeles charter school founders convicted of embezzlement


On Friday a jury convicted the founders of the Ivy Academia charter school in the San Fernando of embezzling public funds and filing filing false tax returns.

Eugene Selivanov and his wife Tatyana Berkovich founded Ivy Academia in 2004 as a state funded charter school. An audit three years later found the couple had not kept public money separate from its for-profit companies. 

During a three-week trial, prosecutors alleged the couple used $200,000 in public funds to buy groceries, clothes and other personal items -- and to fund a separate private school.

The defense argued that the couple made mistakes based on their inexperience in running a charter.
The jury wasn’t convinced. It found Selivanov guilty of 25 felony charges and Berkovich of three felonies. Sentencing is set for July.


Teaching to the rhythm of Jazz: resources for teachers



April is Jazz Appreciation Month.

Hot can be cool, and cool can be hot, and each can be both. But hot or cool, man, jazz is jazz. -Louis Armstrong

If you're looking to inject a bit of music in your class this Spring, inspiration abounds in April, which is designated as Jazz Appreciation Month. This year's theme, set by the Smithsonian, is "The Spirit and Rhythms of Jazz."

The non-profit website Edutopia, has published a great list of "Seven Free Jazz Resources and Websites for Educators." Here are two of my favorites from the post by Matt Davis:

The Best Sites and Videos for Learning About Jazz Chants: Edutopia blogger and educator Larry Ferlazzo published this blog on his personal site, and there are some great ideas here for bringing jazz chants into the classroom. Jazz chants are poems that use musical rhythms to help students better understand conversational English, and they can be used to test and improve students listening comprehension skills. They’re great for ELL students, as well as younger students.

Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with EDSITEment: The National Endowment for the Humanities produced this resource, which features a wide variety of teaching aides. There are lesson plans, links to online jazz collections, possible topics for research projects, and much, much more. Plenty here to pique the curiosities of your students.