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

How often do you read to your child? New study says: Step it up!

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Kacy Andrews and Jack Messitt read a book before nap time to their 3-year-old son Sawyer in their Glendale home.

As the costs and benefits of subsidized preschool are being hotly debated, a new study from Australia finds that the path to success in life for a preschooler begins with the bedtime story.

The study, conducted over eight years, concluded that when parents read to children on a daily basis, they are up to a year ahead of who are not read to.

And that’s regardless of socio-economic status. With consistent and frequent reading at home, the study found, children from low-income homes where parents have limited education are doing as well as children from higher income, more educated homes.

"It doesn't matter if a child is from a poor or rich family, or if the parents are highly educated or not, doing this basic thing of reading to them leads to better developmental outcomes," said Guyonne Kalb, a co-author of the study and director of the Labor Economics and Social Policy Program, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

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SAT college entrance exam, a dreaded rite of passage, to get another makeover

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The SAT – that dreaded rite of passage for teenagers planning to go to college – will get a thorough redesign by the College Board.

Sometimes even a test can use a makeover.  

The SAT – that dreaded rite of passage for teenagers planning to go to college – will get a thorough redesign by the College Board.

Details about the changes have not yet been released. The last time the test was overhauled was in 2005, when a writing section was added and a perfect score was bumped from 1,600 to 2,400.

One reason for the changes is to align the test with the Common Core curriculum, which are the new learning standards adopted by 45 states.

"An improved SAT will strongly focus on the core knowledge and skills that evidence shows are most important to prepare students for the rigors of college and career," David Coleman, president of the College Board said in a statement.

Coleman called it an ambitious effort to better meet the needs of students and schools.  

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Despite sequestration, Obama administration makes case for early childhood spending

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sp

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US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is arguing for new spending on early childhood education, despite sequestration cuts going into effect.

As the president addressed the nation this morning outlining the impacts of expected sequestration cuts, two of his cabinet members were a few miles away making the case not for cuts but for new spending on early childhood programs.

At an elementary school in Takoma Park, Md., Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius extolled the success of Rolling Terrace elementary school. It’s a unique institution that incorporates its infant and preschool program with its K-5 classes to connect the programming for both age groups.

The joint appearance suggests that interconnected learning will be one part of the administration's strategy for early childhood education.

RELATED : The sequester: A timeline of what to expect and when to expect it

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LA Unified school board races attract millions; will they draw voters?

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Based on the media coverage and celebrity endorsements  the Los Angeles Unified School District  school board election has received, you’d think sitting on the seven-member panel was one of the most glamorous jobs in LA. And it is … if your idea of glamour is working crushing hours to wrangle a behemoth district that’s trying to reinvent itself amid warring factions. All for less than $50,000 a year.

The contest for the three seats is taking place at a crucial time for LAUSD — and there are two powerful forces at play: labor, led by the United Teachers of Los Angeles, versus a particular brand of education reform, spearheaded by Superintendent John Deasy. The two sides disagree on the most important issues:

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California schools earn Bronze when it comes to serving healthy school lunches

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Cafeteria workers prepare lunches for school children at the Normandie Avenue Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles on December 2, 2010.

The results of the latest HealthierUS School Challenge for schools are in, and California schools didn’t do too badly. They didn’t do too well, either, garnering mostly bronze medal certifications. Compared to some school districts nationwide, where many schools swept up a Silver or Gold medal, it might give parents of public school children in Los Angeles pause.

Here’s the skinny.

The brainchild of First Lady, Michelle Obama, in 2010, the USDA began an award system for schools based on the food served to children. To earn a Bronze medal (and $500 cash) a school needs to serve at least one fruit and vegetable with every meal, as well as one whole grain food three times a week, and serve only low-fat or fat-free milk. Many LAUSD schools met this criteria. But few went beyond that.

To earn a higher medal (silver or Gold), schools need to be providing daily whole grain foods, legumes, peas, and multiple green or orange fruits and vegetables. No pizza, hot dogs or processed chicken nuggets.

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