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

Applying for kindergarten: what to do if your child is too young

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

A transitional kindergarten class in Long Beach serves kids who are about to turn five-years-old at the beginning of the school year.

It's that time of the year when parents of four and five year old’s are busy with school tours and applications to secure a kindergarten spot. If you're about to embark on this journey with your four year old you may get some unexpected news: California has again moved up the age requirement for a child to start kindergarten.

To start Kindergarten in August 2014, children must have turned 5 by September 1, 2014--that's a month earlier than last year's requirement. The state has been moving up the cutoff for the past three years to get to the point where all kids are 5 by the time they enroll in kindergarten.

What to do if your child has to wait one more year? To fill the gap, California offers "Transitional Kindergarten," an educational program meant to be more age-appropriate for four year olds than the current kindergarten curriculum.

Children are eligible for transitional kindergarten if their 5th birthday falls between:
October 2 and December 2 for the 2013-14 school year
September 2 and December 2 for the 2014-15 school year
More info on Transitional Kindergarten can be found here.    


Where to get help to write a winning college financial aid application

Pile of money

Tracy O./Flickr Creative Commons

Paying for a college education

The clock is ticking toward the March 2, 1913 deadline for state and federal grants for college. That’s the last day when many colleges and universities will accept the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. (Some colleges have earlier deadlines.)

With the price tag for a four-year college education reaching $200,000 in some cases, more students than ever need help paying the bills.

If you're like many students and families, you likely have basic questions about whether you qualify and what to do if the aid you receive isn't enough.  Here’s a good primer on the program that  answers many of those questions.

Want more specific help? The L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce has for years been leading an  effort to guide students to fill out the applications correctly -- and on time.  It has put together  long list of resources on its web site.


Days of small K-3 classes look done for in California

Joanna Ramos Memorial

Grant Slater/KPCC

Ricardo Quintanar waits for his brother to get out of school at Willard Elementary School in Long Beach.

California embarked on an ambitious experiment in 1996 to improve its public schools by putting its youngest students in smaller classes. Nearly 17 years later, the goal of maintaining classrooms of no more than 20 pupils in the earliest grades has been all but discarded— a casualty of unproven results, dismal economic times and the sometimes-fleeting nature of education reform.

To save money on teacher salaries amid drastic cutbacks in state funding, many school districts throughout the state have enlarged their first-, second- and third-grade classes to an average of 30 children, the maximum allowed under a 1964 law, state finance officials and education experts said. Hundreds more have sought — and been granted — waivers authorizing them to push enrollment in individual kindergarten and primary grade classrooms to 35 and above.


LAUSD to add 1,000 aides for security at schools

Hamilton High

Tony Pierce / KPCC

Hamilton High School in Los Angeles near Beverly Hills.

The Los Angeles Unified School District will spend $4.2 million to hire 1,087 campus aides to increase security at elementary schools.

A minimum of two aides will be added to each of more than 400 LAUSD elementary school campuses beginning March 1, the Daily News reported.

The aides, who will work three-hour shifts, will be unarmed but equipped with two-way radios and vests "for high visibility," according to a memo from Senior Deputy Superintendent Michelle King that was obtained by the newspaper.

The memo says required safety training for the new aides will be conducted online and will cover child abuse awareness training, employee duties during an emergency, mediating student conflicts, responding to threats on campus, conducting metal detector searches, and what to do if there is a school lockdown.


Gov. Brown uses State of the State speech to push education reforms

Governor Jerry Brown

Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio

California Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his State of the State speech.

Gov. Jerry Brown spent a big part of his state of the state speech Thursday pushing legislators to approve his overhaul of public education financing.

As if speaking from a pulpit, Brown warned of fire and brimstone if bureaucracy and inequity isn’t wiped clean from the state education system.

RELATED: Graphic: Gov. Brown's 2013 State of the State key words and themes
“Nothing is more determinative of our future than how we teach our children," he told lawmakers. "If we fail at this, we will sow growing social chaos and inequality that no law can rectify.” 

He said to make up for years of budget cuts and to return the luster to California schools, legislators should approve his plan to give school districts more control over funds. He also wants to give more money to schools with a lot of struggling students.
“As the Irish poet William Butler Yeats said, education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” Brown said in a speech heavily dotted with quotations and stories.

The California legislature will debate Brown’s proposal after he submits a revised budget in May.