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

NRA-commissioned plan for school safety calls for guns in schools

NRA Discusses Findings Of  National School Shield Program In Washington

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Former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson announces the recommendations of the NRA backed National School Shield Program regarding school security during a press conference April 2, 2013 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Among other findings, the report recommended training and placing armed personnel in public schools following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson unveiled his new, National Rifle Association-commissioned plan for safe schools in Washington, D.C. this morning.

In a 225-page report, Hutchinson recommends a training program for "armed personnel in a school environment" and suggests that the NRA should develop and implement a model program. 

"School safety is a complex issue with no simple, single solution, but I believe trained, qualified armed security is one key component among many," Hutchinson said, in a press conference unveiling the NRA's Education and Training Emergency Response Program.

The report calls for states to change current laws to allow for a school staff member to carry a firearm at every school in the country. 

"I think there are people in every community in this country who would be happy to serve if only someone asked them and gave them the training and certifications to do so," he said.


Administration, students and faculty clash at Pasadena City College

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Students at Pasadena City College are upset that the winter session was canceled, while faculty members bemoan the lack of a labor agreement.

By some accounts, tensions between administrators, students and faculty at Pasadena City College are near a boiling point. Campus administrators said Monday the advisor for the campus newspaper was not placed on leave as retaliation for coverage of recent disputes.

In the past month, the college’s Courier newspaper blasted banner headlines such as “Campus Seethes” and “No Confidence.”
Pasadena City College President Mark Rocha told KPCC’s AirTalk that the newspaper’s faculty adviser, Warren Swil, is on leave as administrators investigate a complaint against him unrelated to his work overseeing news coverage.
“The publication of the Courier will go as usual, as it has for decades," Rocha said. "It’s an award winning newspaper.” 

The Courier, students and faculty have kept Rocha on the defensive for most of this academic year. Students are upset that last summer’s decision to cancel the winter session hurt many students’ plans to transfer to four-year universities. Faculty members are upset that PCC hasn’t signed a labor agreement, while cutting the winter session means less work for professors.
Faculty and students handed Rocha a symbolic vote of no confidence two weeks ago. PCC’s board of trustees hasn’t lost its confidence in Rocha — it extended his contract through 2016.
Simon Fraser, student body president at the college, says the administration isn’t governing with all stakeholders in mind.
“As a student, I have to think about what really impacts us and that’s access to classes, access to counselors and access to services on campus,” he said.

Fraser says in some areas, such as counselor-to-student ratios, PCC is doing poorly.
Many other community colleges are facing similar budget related problems. Last year, students staged large protests at Santa Monica College after trustees moved to cancel the winter term to save money.


More college grads are working minimum wage jobs

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In California, there were 7.73 million college graduates in 2011, compared with 7.43 million in 2007.

The Wall Street Journal did some interesting reporting last week on underemployed college graduates.

The reporting cited a study out of the National Bureau of Economic Research that concludes that demand for skilled workers is on the decline. Journal reporter Ben Casselman explains in his piece:

The recession left millions of college-educated Americans working in coffee shops and retail stores ... Economists have generally assumed the problem was temporary: As the economy improved, companies would need more highly educated employees. But in a paper released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a team of Canadian economists argues that the U.S. faces a longer-term problem.

The reporting also dug up the number of college graduates working minimum wage jobs nationally: 284,000 in 2012. That number is up 70 percent from a decade ago. Here's the Wall Street Journal's chart:


Want to teach better? New study says use your hands

Dual Language API - 2

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Sixth grade dual language teacher Luz Valasquez leads a math class on polyhedrons. A new study out this week finds that students who receive instruction with hand gestures perform better on tests.

One key to more effective teaching could be as simple as talking with your hands, according to a new study from the University of Iowa and Michigan State University.

The study released yesterday in the educational psychology journal "Child Development" tested third and fourth grade math students in Michigan. It found that students taught with hand gestures performed better on tests of the material both immediately after the lesson and 24 hours later.

For the study, the students were split into two groups. Half were shown a video of an instructor's lecture where he did not use his hands.  The other half of the students received the same information, but the instructor also used hand gestures.

Exactly why gestures help students learn better is still a mystery. The study authors said one possibility could be that gestures "clarify or provide conceptual information that is not readily apparent in the accompanying speech."


State's largest teachers unions want to join pending lawsuit on teacher tenure

Lawyers for California’s two largest teachers unions filed a motion in L.A. County Superior Court on Wednesday to intervene as defendants in a lawsuit that would radically alter tenure for public school teachers.

The lawsuit, known as Vergara vs. California, was filed in May, 2012 by Students Matter and a top constitutional law firm. The suit seeks to change five laws governing the teaching profession, namely the tenure provisions that give teachers wide job protections after 18 months on the job.

The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers argued in the filing that existing defendants, including California’s Governor and State Superintendent of Public Instruction and others will not adequately represent teachers interests in the case.

California Federation of Teachers President Joshua Pechthalt does not want to to do away with teacher protections now in place.