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

California Department of Education to take over Inglewood Unified, district on verge of bankruptcy

The Inglewood Unified School District today became the first Southland school district in nearly 20 years to lose local control over its ballooning budget deficit.
 
California Governor Jerry Brown today approved an emergency loan of $55 million to Inglewood Unified School District to keep it from going bankrupt. The move triggers an immediate takeover of the school district’s administration, said Inglewood-area State Senator Rod Wright.
 
“We will have a quality education for the city of Inglewood and the Inglewood Unified School District, that is our goal, that we will achieve by any means necessary. And if it required having a state takeover that is what we had to do,” Wright said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said his office will work with the Los Angeles County Office of Education to appoint an overseer for the district. “The governor’s action was necessary to keep Inglewood’s public schools operating and serving students despite the district’s extreme financial difficulties,” Torlakson said in a written statement.

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Loan from California averts bankruptcy for Inglewood Unified

The Inglewood Unified School District today became the first Southland school district in nearly 20 years to lose local control over its ballooning budget deficit.
 
Governor Jerry Brown today approved an emergency loan of $55 million to the Inglewood district to keep it from going bankrupt. The move triggers an immediate takeover of the school district’s administration, said Inglewood-area State Senator Rod Wright.
 
“We will have a quality education for the city of Inglewood and the Inglewood Unified School District, that is our goal, that we will achieve by any means necessary. And if it required having a state takeover that is what we had to do,” Wright said.
 
Inglewood Unified’s elected school board and its superintendent will lose their decisionmaking authority. California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction will appoint an overseer who will assume the their responsibilities. Inglewood Unified’s board had taken budget cutting measures in recent months that members said could help them prevent bankruptcy.
 
Wright said a combination of the bad economy, budget cuts from Sacramento, and poor budget decisions by the board led to the school district’s situation.

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Georgia team meets with LA officials to reform school discipline

Yellow Dog/Getty Images

LA officials are meeting with a team from an Atlanta suburb that has pioneered methods to reduce on-campus arrests, in hopes of creating a similar, more holistic system to deal with misbehaving students. (Sept. 13, 2012)

Los Angeles school, law enforcement and county officials are meeting Thursday with a team from an Atlanta suburb that pioneered methods to reduce on-campus arrests. They hope to create a similar, more holistic system to deal with misbehaving students.

Rather than focusing on punishment, these methods focus on looking at bad behavior as a symptom in kids, who are still mentally and emotionally developing, and trying to deal with the root causes of their actions. 

The technical assistance team is headed by Judge Steven Teske of Clayton County, Georgia, who has worked on changing the response to low-level juvenile offenses since 2003. He has helped officials in counties across the country drop their arrest rates. In his own county, Teske's efforts dropped the fighting offenses in schools by 87 percent between 2002 and 2010; graduation rates rose by 20 percent.

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Inglewood Unified cuts employee pay 15 percent to avoid bankruptcy

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Inglewood Unified aide Trina Hubbard was one of many district employees who urged the school board not to cut employee pay.

A lot of Inglewood Unified School District employees showed up to Wednesday night’s school board meeting. Some made lots of noise. Others were quiet. All were upset at the latest proposal to cut their pay in order to help close a $7 million budget deficit and keep the district from running out of money early next year.

Maria Lopez, a teacher at Inglewood High School, joined protesters with whistles and cow bells outside her campus auditorium where the board met. She complained that teachers already shoulder five unpaid days off this school year.

“We are taking a big pay cut in benefits and salary. We can’t afford any of these cuts,” Lopez said. By the end of the night the school board had approved the pay cut.
 
The stakes are high for Lopez and other employees as they grapple with shrinking paychecks to meet their living expenses. The stakes for the school district are arguably higher. The district’s solvency hangs in the balance. Inglewood Unified may run out of money to meet its expenses as soon as March.
 
School districts can’t declare bankruptcy. Instead, California legislators issue a bailout loan with a high price for the school district: its independence. The locally elected school board and the appointed superintendent would be stripped of their authority and a state overseer would make decisions about the district.
 
Inglewood Unified board member Arnold Butler says the pay cut proposal would go a long way toward preventing a state take over.
 
“The district is involved in a number of activities. This happens to be one of the many strategies we’re going to utilize to avoid that and to forestall any kind of takeover by the state. The state is not interested in taking us over,” Butler said.
 
The trouble is, many of the key steps toward insolvency have been set in motion. In July the district’s school board requested a state loan while saying that it could still avoid bankruptcy.
 
Earlier in the day Butler and his fellow board members met to discuss the details of state takeover.
 
The president of the Inglewood Teachers Association has welcomed a state takeover as a way to start from a clean slate. Others have said that stripping local control of the school district could make matters worse because the decision-makers wouldn’t know what the district needs.

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Chicano writers publish anthology against Arizona ban of Mexican American studies

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

¡Ban This! is an anthology of Chicano writing in response to the dismantling of a Mexican American studies program in Tucson Public Schools.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Renowned Chicano studies scholar Rudy Acuña takes part in the Los Angeles book signing of the anthology ¡Ban This!


More than half the writing in a new, independently published anthology of Chicano writing “¡Ban This!” is by Southland authors. They wanted to respond to the state of Arizona's ban of a Mexican American studies program in the Tucson Public Schools.

The Cypress Park branch of the Los Angeles Public Library hosted a signing party Tuesday night for the anthology.

The anthology includes the work of 39 writers from Mexican American and Latino backgrounds. Some are middle aged, others, much younger. Some are novelists, others are academics. Santino Rivera published the anthology.
 
“There’s science fiction in here, there’s humor in here, there's poetry, there’s prose, there are short stories, there are some dynamite essays in here. There’s things that speak to politics, current issues, there’s things that speak to the lack of Chicanos in Hollywood and in film,” Rivera said.

The title, “¡Ban This!” refers to Arizona’s dismantling of a public school Mexican American Studies program. State education officials said it promoted separatism and the overthrow of the United States. Publisher Rivera says he wanted to counter the program's elimination with a collection of writing for the students it had served.
 
“I wanted to show them, to the kids who had their books taken away from them, you can our books but you can’t ban our minds,” he said.

A public reading by the book’s Southern California authors attracted a hundred people to the Cypress Park Public Library.
 
Poet and Cal State LA professor Karina Oliva took the microphone and told the audience that her contribution attempts to capture the complexity of her Latina identity.
 
“What you’ll hear in it is someone who was born in El Salvador who grew up among Mexicans and Mexican Americans and other Central Americans, who had a Cuban step father, who’s lived in Arizona and who practices Native American spirituality,” she said.

A Northern California poet read a tribute to students arrested for protesting discrimination in Arizona. A former Marine from East LA talked about the way a fellow soldier of Russian descent wondered why Mexican Americans remain outsiders in this country. And a gay hip hop artist read a short story about a raspado, a Mexican snow cone.

The audience gave a standing ovation to contributor and Cal State Northridge scholar Rudy Acuña. His book “Occupied America” is a founding text of Chicano studies. Acuña told the audience that he took college students to Arizona to protest the ban on Mexican American studies in public schools, and helped raise money for legal challenges.
 
“We wanted to give hope to students, we wanted to give hope to a community, we wanted to tell them that they couldn’t single out a person,” Acuña said.

Loyola Marymount University instructor Annemarie Perez, another contributor to the anthology, says critics of the Tucson program based their analysis on writings nearly 50 years old.
 
“Yes, there are radical writings, even the separatists, and I put that in quotation marks, were and are always talking about the idea of community ownership of schools of hospitals. It’s not this idea that most Chicanos or a significant minority of Chicanos think that we’re going to wake up one morning and secede from the United States,” Perez said.

“¡Ban This!” isn’t the only recent anthology of Latino writing, Perez says, but it's perhaps the one most in keeping with a Chicano tradition of small presses that publish creative work in response to crises.

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