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

UPDATED: Report: cheating on standardized tests in 75 percent of U.S. states

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing issued a report Thursday that tallies cases of cheating on standardized tests in 37 states across the country, including notable cases in Southern California.

The manipulation hurts the most needy students, said he center’s president, Bob Shaeffer: “Most of the most significant cases of cheating have occurred in low income communities where students have historically had the lowest test scores.”

Students have been found to take smart-phone photos of tests and forward them to fellow students. A lot of cheating, though, is done by teachers and principals, many under pressure to get high test scores, Shaeffer said. The group’s report documents more than 50 ways schools manipulated test results to inflate their test scores.

Here are the typical violations:


PHOTOS: From the lunch line to the stage: LAUSD cafeteria worker featured in new play

Kevin Michael Campbell

Joel Jimenez, Frank Boeheim (center) and Jasmine Rosales in the new play "Lunch Lady Courage."

Kevin Michael Campbell

Bahni Turpin and Clara Choi in a scene from "Lunch Lady Courage."

SEIU Local 99

Los Angeles Unified cafeteria worker Frank Boeheim working at Fremont High School. Boeheim makes his acting debut in the new play "Lunch Lady Courage." Boeheim is also a member of SEIU Local 99.

Kevin Michael Campbell

Page Leong in a scene from "Lunch Lady Courage." The play features 17 Los Angeles high school students.

Kevin Michael Campbell

Bahni Turpin and Rachael Portillo in "Lunch Lady Courage." The play runs through April 13 at Cocaonut Theatre in Los Angeles.

Kevin Michael Campbell

A scene from "Lunch Lady Courage" featuring Maria Kathy Chavez, Page Leong and Rachael Portillo.

Kevin Michael Campbell

Frank Boeheim, 58, in his stage costume for the new play "Lunch Lady Courage."

A new play that tackles healthy eating in schools by following the life of a lunch lady opens tonight. Among the performers is a Los Angeles Unified School District cafeteria worker who will take to the stage for the first time at age 58.

Frank Boeheim is part of the 21-person cast, which features 17 students from Los Angeles High School of the Arts. Boeheim was part of a group of LAUSD cafeteria workers interviewed by playwright Peter Howard last fall. Howard incorporated some of their lunch room stories into the script in an effort to reflect realistic community challenges.

"I was really interested that somebody wanted to write a play about what I do for a living," said Boeheim, who auditioned for the play and landed a role as a member of the chorus. He has about 30 lines in the performance.


Military tuition assistance bill now law, troops still wait for benefit to return

First Female Unrestricted Line Officers Qualify In Submarines

U.S. Navy/Getty Images

President Obama has signed into law a spending bill that will reinstate a financial aid program that troops rely on to earn their college degrees and advance their careers.

A day after President Barack Obama signed the spending bill that reinstates military tuition assistance into law, troops remain without the benefit.

Pentagon spokeswoman Leslie Hull-Ryde confirmed to KPCC that the tuition program is  currently inactive and the Department of Defense is working to sort out logistics so it can be reinstated. Service members currently enrolled in courses via tuition assistance are not affected, but new applications are still suspended.

"We are working with the services to develop a plan to comply with any legislation," Hull-Ryde said, via an emailed statement. In a meeting Tuesday with the defense department, tuition assistance program representatives began early discussions on how to comply with the law.

The decades-old tuition assistance program was cut by the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps earlier this month as part of the $46 billion in defense cuts that sequestration put into motion. The move angered active duty troops who relied on the benefit to help them earn college degrees. The financial aid program provides up to $4,500 a year for classes.


First book with transgender theme makes it on CA schools reading list

"I Am J" by Cris Beam is on the updated recommended reading list for California high schools.

The California Department of Education this week released its long list of recommended books for grades Pre-K-through-12. Between Geoffrey Chaucer and Willa Cather is a new book for high schoolers about a transgender teen’s search for acceptance.
The book is titled “I Am J.” It’s a young adult novel about a teen, Jennifer, who identifies and sees herself as a boy.

In one passage, her father, Manny, lovingly tells J — as she begins calling herself—  that she doesn’t have to take a traditional path in life. But it’s clear he’s talking about professions, not gender identity.
Manny stood up and pulled J into a hug. “You’re still my baby girl,” he said into J’s baseball cap. His voice was sweet and crooning. “You’ll always be my baby girl."

J stiffened, resisting the urge in every one of his nerve endings to pull away. What if I’m not? he thought. What if I’ve never been your baby girl? He knew, for sure, that his father would never accept him. He’d have to leave his parents’ house.  Now.


LA Unified school board blocks current president from another term

Monica Garcia Campaign Office - 12

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Incumbent LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia.

In a 4-3 vote LA Unified’s board of education prevented current board president Monica Garcia from running for a seventh term as president when the board convenes to elect a president in July.

The board motion didn’t name Garcia. Its authors, Marguerite LaMotte and Bennett Kayser, proposed limiting all board members to two consecutive, one-year terms as president. The motion said the limit would increase “geographic diversity.”

During debate on the motion, board member Tamar Galatzan, a Garcia ally, said limiting the presidency to two terms is “short sighted.”

The president of the board has wide powers in scheduling or tabling board motions, and moving along and limiting discussions on agenda items.

Garcia has been the strongest advocate on the board of education for an agenda that’s included a ramping up of charter school approvals, allowing outside groups to run district schools, and the decentralization of campus decision-making.