Pass / Fail | So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

After years of cuts, LA Unified reveals plans to restore arts education

Shana Habel, Los Angeles Unified's Dance Demonstration Teacher, leads a class of teachers at Cortines high school.
Mary Plummer/KPCC

It's summer break, but classes were still in session at the Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts -- at least for teachers.

They packed into the school's classrooms two weeks ago for a summer training program by the Los Angeles Unified School District on arts integration. Incorporating arts into other lessons is a key component in the district’s new arts plan.

In one session, music instructor Paul Strand tried to connect the dots for a group of teachers by asking this:

"What is the natural connection between music and which of our four disciplines?"

"Math," several of them chimed in.

"Ok, there it is," Strand said, encouraged.

The plan, which district officials have shared with the board and will post publicly later this month, calls for some P.E. teachers to teach introductory courses in dance and Language Arts teachers at some schools to take on theater instruction.


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CA compromise on teacher misconduct falters in Senate Ed committee

Parents and children protest outside Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California, February 6, 2012.
Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images

A state bill to make it easier and faster to dismiss teachers for sexual misconduct stalled in a Senate subcommittee Wednesday.

That came as a surprise to supporters.  Assembly Bill 357 was considered the most likely-to-succeed reform of California’s lengthy teacher dismissal process.  Previous efforts to reform the process failed largely because the powerful teachers’ unions opposed them, but the group wasn’t an obstacle this time.

California Teachers Association Spokeswoman Patricia Rucker even testified in support of AB357 at a Senate Education Committee:  

“This bill creates accountability both to investigate and to present a hearing in a timely, fair, efficient manner,” said Rucker.

But school administrators weren’t so happy.  The bill set a 7-month deadline for dismissal hearings, which now can drag on for months or even years.


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Bill to expand transgender students rights reaches Governor's desk

Republican state Senators, Joel Anderson of Alpine, left, Mark Wyland of Escondido, center, and Steve Knight of Palmdale confer as the Senate debated a bill regarding transgender students, at the Capitol in Sacramento on July 3, 2013. Anderson, Wyland and Knight voted against the measure.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

The state Senate sent Governor Jerry Brown a bill Wednesday that seeks to expand protections for transgender students in public schools.

AB 1266 would compel schools to treat students as the gender they identify with, not the one they were born with.

A transgender 16-year-old who was born a girl but identifies as a boy testified to the Senate’s Education Committee last week that his school forces him to take physical education in all girls classes. He said that leaves him feeling isolated and alone.

Along with taking P.E. with boys, the bill would allow him to use the boys’ bathroom and try out for the boys’ football team.

The bill is authored by assembly members in San Francisco, South Gate, and San Diego and is endorsed by a long list of gay rights groups. The California Catholic Conference told the Los Angeles Times local school districts should have the autonomy to decide these issues, not the state.


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Update: Richard Vladovic elected LA Unified School Board president

Monica Garcia's term as LAUSD Board President is ending after six years.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Update 1:08 p.m. Los Angeles Unified’s Board of Education elected Richard Vladovic — the board’s San Pedro-area representative — to be its next board president on Tuesday.
“I’m humbled. When I began as a playground worker many years ago, I never saw the stars, and I’m seeing stars now,” he said after the 5-2 vote was tallied.
“I am the only parent on the board,” said board member Tamar Galatzan, the only other nominee before the vote.
New board president Vladovic said he’d focus his efforts on improving the school district’s early childhood education and adult education.
Vladovic takes over as president after board member Monica Garcia served six consecutive one-year terms as president.
“Sometimes we differ, sometimes we argue. But Monica Garcia has shown leadership when we were down on our knees and being beaten up for the last few years. And she saved this district in terms of keeping us together and always giving us hope,” Vladovic said in praise of Garcia.
Vladovic began his lifelong education career in L.A. Unified. He started as a teacher in Carson. He served as principal of Locke High School and two other campuses.


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Parents reeling over closure of indigenous charter high school

Parents ask L.A. Unified board to overrule staff recommendation and keep indigenous charter high school open.
Fernando Ramirez, Semillas supporter

Situated on a busy section of Huntington Drive in East Los Angeles, the Anahuacalmecac International Preparatory High School has been teaching teenagers about their indigenous roots and culture for five years.

It teaches in Spanish and Nahuatl, incorporates Native American mathematics and indigenous visual and performing arts. One course teaches indigenous diplomacy and youth leadership skills. Parents and grandparents are integrated into the student’s learning.

But the school’s Academic Performance Index for 2012, a standardized measure of success, is 683, well below the statewide goal of 800 points. The score is in the middle of all schools in the state. And the school scored 106 points higher than in 2011. But that wasn't enough for the Los Angeles Unified School district, which decided not to renew the school's charter, citing the school’s API as one of the main reasons. As of today, the school can no longer provide instruction.


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