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

Teacher victory in LAUSD board race may not bode well for superintendent

Monica Ratliff District 6

Rebecca Hill/KPCC

LAUSD teacher Monica Ratliff won a seat on the LA Unified Board of Education on Tuesday.

Teacher Monica Ratliff’s win of an open seat on L.A. Unified’s Board of Education Tuesday could provide some discomfort for the future of Superintendent John Deasy’s reform agenda.

Ratliff, a lawyer-turned-elementary school teacher, ran a bare-bones campaign. Many who donated money and volunteered were fellow teachers upset with Deasy’s focus on student test scores and charter schools.

“I think he follows an agenda of the so-called school reformists, the business model, very closely,” said adult education teacher Matthew Kogan, who walked precincts for Ratliff. “It’s a very narrow model and there’s a lot of hostile things about it towards teachers."

Kogan likes the nuanced position on Deasy taken by Ratliff, who approves of some of the superintendent's actions, but opposes other policies.


New study weighs risks, opportunities of using test scores to evaluate Pre-K teachers

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Teacher Susan Lopez reads a story along with her transitional kindergarten students.

Evaluating teachers based on student performance is one of the most controversial issues in education today. Pre-K to 3rd grade teachers have been exempt from this scrutiny, since their students don't take standardized test.

A new report by the New American Foundation looks at whether these teachers should also be evaluated based on student achievement.

“Research has confirmed, time and time again, that the quality of instruction and the quality of learning opportunities in children’s formative years sets the foundation for their success as students, and, later, their success as adults,” said Laura Bornfreud, the report's author.

The report, “An Ocean of Unknowns. Risks and Opportunities in Using Student Achievement Data to Evaluate PreK-3rd Grade Teachers,” stopped short of giving a recipe for how evaluations should take place.


High school musical theater students take over Pantages, winners to compete in NYC

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Mary Plummer/KPCC

Calabasas High School students perform "Cool" from their production of West Side Story at the Pantages Theatre.

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Mary Plummer/KPCC

Ayla Stackhouse, a student from Hollywood High School, waits backstage at the Pantages before going on stage to perform In the Heights.

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Mary Plummer/KPCC

Anthony Nappier, left, waits backstage with Mason Alexander, right, before the winners of The Jerry Herman awards were announced Sunday. Nappier went on to win a trip to New York to perform in the national competition.

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Mary Plummer/KPCC

Arcadia High School students perform a scene from The Drowsey Chaperone on stage at the Pantages Theatre.

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Mary Plummer/KPCC

Actress Ruta Lee (center) on the red carpet outside the Pantages Theatre. Lee was one of the night's presenters; she's also a graduate of Hollywood High School.

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Mary Plummer/KPCC

Hollywood High School junior Destiny Loyd, 16, waits backstage at the Pantages.

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Mary Plummer/KPCC

Natalia Vivino and Anthony Nappier took home the top prize at Sunday's awards and will move on the national competition in New York.

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Mary Plummer/KPCC

The six finalists of the Jerry Herman awards on stage at the Pantages, shortly after finding out they'd made it to the final round.

Top musical theater students from around Southern California filled the audience of Hollywood's Pantages Theatre Sunday. They weren't there to see Wicked -- these students were invited to their very own awards ceremony, one that offered more than just a trophy.

The Jerry Herman high school musical theater awards selected winners in everything from best costume design to best musical for school productions held around Southern California this school year.

Six finalists for the best male and female lead roles performed on stage for a chance to win the top prize: an all-expenses-paid trip to New York  for the national competition. Most students spent months practicing their parts.

"Throwing up is a definite possibility," finalist and high school junior Gabriella Certo said backstage as she waited to hear who had won. "Broadway's been my dream since I was a little kid."


CSU trustees hope online classes will ease bottleneck on required courses

Cal State LA

Officials said more online courses will help students at California State University, Los Angeles and other campuses complete graduation requirements.

California State University officials today laid out to its trustees how the university  plans to ease students' access to required courses in the fall -- a huge problem that affects tens of thousands fo students at all 23 campuses.

During a trustee meeting in Long Beach, Cal State officials said budget cuts have led to bottlenecks in lower level classes such as college algebra, general education biology, and micro economics.

“We have 22 courses across the CSU where we have high enrollment and also low success in those students completing those with good academic grades,” said Gerry Handley, head of CSU’s Academic Technology Services.

The university is counting on a $10 million allocation proposed by Governor Jerry Brown to tackle the problem.

Handley said the money will be spent on a three-pronged plan:


UC schools draw record application numbers; UCLA as exclusive as Tufts — for state students

Students at UCLA

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Lucky UCLA students sit around the Bruin Bear statue during lunchtime. The school has become as competitive as Tufts and Cornell, according to a recent article.

The University of California system remains a popular destination for incoming freshmen – and getting into UCLA is now as hard as getting into Tufts and Cornell, at least for California students.

The 10-campus U.C. system drew nearly 140,000 applications for the undergraduate class, according to Ralph Becker, a columnist for College Counseling.  He said UCLA led all UC campuses with 99,000 applications, which include community college transfers. Berkeley came in second place, with a record 67,600 applications, and UCSD followed with 67,400.

UCLA reported an in-state admission rate of 17.4 percent, Becker said, a level comparable to Cornell and Tufts, two of the nation’s most selective universities. Overall, the 10 campuses accepted 82,850 freshman, for an average acceptance rate of 59 percent. Berkeley and San Diego campuses were more exclusive than the average.