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

Teacher accused of fondling student pleads not guilty

Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angel

Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images

Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.

A former Miramonte Elementary School teacher pleaded not guilty Monday to three felony counts of fondling a student.

Martin Bernard Springer faces three charges of molesting a second grade female student over a f several months in 2009.

The allegations against Springer, a second grade teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles, surfaced earlier this year - days after fellow teacher Mark Berndt was arrested and charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on a child.  
Springer’s attorney has argued that the veteran teacher is a victim of a witch hunt that followed on the heels of the Berdnt scandal.
Initially, two students alleged that Springer had inappropriately touched them in class, but one withdrew her accusation shortly after the teacher's arrest.  
The 50-year-old from Alhambra is out on bail. Authorities monitor his movements with a tracking bracelet.
He’s scheduled to return to court on January 16th.


Federal grant will help more Cal State LA nursing students graduate

Mercer 14519

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Graduate candidates in the nursing program wait to be conferred their degrees during the 177th commencement exercises for New York University (NYU) in the Bronx borough of New York City.

California State University, Los Angeles has landed a $2.4 million dollar federal grant to help graduate more nurses. The grant will go toward $15,000 scholarships for distribution over four years to nursing students who successfully apply.

The money arrives as the university and other higher education institutions try to ramp up graduation rates and help alleviate a statewide nursing shortage. The shortage is particularly acute in working-class Latino, African American, and Asian neighborhoods like those around Cal State L.A.

“We want to see nurses that are representatives of the community and that are able to serve across cultures and to give good, quality care no matter the kinds of patient,” said Nnenna Weathers, who teaches nursing at Cal State L.A. She said research indicates that patients treated by nurses of their own ethnicity or race, or nurses with a high degree of cultural sensitivity, fare better in the healing process.


New CSU Chancellor asks for 10 percent pay cut

Timothy White

Steven Cuevas/KPCC

Incoming Cal State University Chancellor Timothy White's request for a pay cut was granted by system trustees.

The new Cal State University Chancellor hasn’t even started the job, but Wednesday he asked for a pay cut.
In a letter to the CSU Board of Trustees, Timothy P. White, requested a 10 percent salary reduction and the board complied, though not without some hesitancy.
White, who takes over the 23 university system in January, was set to receive the same annual salary as his predecessor, Charles Reed: $421,500 from state funds, plus a $30,000 supplement from CSU Foundation sources. Now White’s take home pay will be $380,000, but the foundation supplement remains intact.
In his letter, White said:

“…as I join the faculty, staff and students who have experienced cuts, salary freezes, and increased fees, I too must do my part.  This is the basis of my request to reduce my own compensation to contribute to the rebuilding of this great university.”


L.A. Unified restores cut classroom days and rescinds teacher furloughs for this year

The L.A. Unified school board voted Tuesday to restore five instructional days to the district's calendar and to rescind 10 unpaid days off teachers had agreed to earlier this year. These actions didn't  surprise observers. L.A. Unified and ever other district in the state avoided mid-year state funding cuts after last week’s ballot box victory of Proposition 30.

Prop. 30 hikes state sales and income taxes to raise about $6 billion in revenue for public education. Its failure would have triggered about the same amount in cuts to public schools in the middle of this school year. L.A. Unified, and many other school districts, had  approved cuts just in case.

“To say that people held their breath last week is an understatement,” L.A. Unified Superintendent Deasy said during Tuesday's school board meeting as he briefed administrators.


Cal State postpones debate on fee hikes for students taking too long to graduate

California State University trustees cancelled a Tuesday debate and vote on so-called “punishment" fees for students taking too many classes and taking too long to graduate.

 The proposal would add $372 per unit for “super seniors” who have at least 160 units, a $91 per unit additional fee for students taking the same course multiple times, and a $182 fee per unit for students enrolled in 18 units or more at a time. All this is intended to discourage students from enrolling in courses they’ll likely drop later.

Cal State officials said the new fee structure would open seats and push students faster toward graduation day. They said that would allow the 23-campus system to enroll about 18,000 more students.

In a statement issued about two hours before scheduled start of the trustees' meeting, Cal Sate said it would postpone the debate about the new fee structure and added that it “will now be reviewed at a later date after trustees gather additional information and input from stakeholders.”