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

President unveils plan for expanding early childhood education

Head Start - 4

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

Head Start school yard in Compton.

Two days after President Barack Obama's State of the Union vow to work toward universal high-quality preschool, the White House released its plan early Thursday morning.

The president proposes to:

* Expand the federal Early Head Start program, which subsidizes pre-K programs for disadvantaged families.

* Partner with states to guarantee preschool to all 4-year-olds in families at or below 200 percent of the poverty line.

* Ramp up existing in-home visiting nurse programs to support families in poverty from prenatal care until the child is two years old.

The plan does not include a pricetag.

Celia C. Ayala, CEO of Los Angeles Universal Preschool, called the proposal historic and a potential "game changer for the field of early education."

She and other advocates had been awaiting a federal push toward universal preschool.


LA Unified school board race could break fundraising records this election

Monica Garcia Campaign Office - 12

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Incumbent LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia at her East LA campaign office.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's unprecedented $1 million donation Tuesday to influence Los Angeles school board elections ups the ante in a school board race that is on its way to breaking fundraising records.

The 2013 school board races have barely started and they have already attracted more than $4 million in donations. Compare that to 1978, when Bobbi Fielder spent $56,000 to win a seat on the board.

Unlike in Fiedler’s time, most of the money this year isn't coming from individual donations. It's coming from independent committees that can raise unlimited amounts of cash.

For years the teachers union was the outside group that spent the most. It got Mark Slavkin elected in 1989. But the scale was still much smaller.

“Mostly we were getting checks in the mail every day from individual teachers to $10, $12, $15," he said. "It was a massive, grass roots effort and at the end of the day all this combined, we raised just over $250,000.”


L.A. school board races receive unusual donation: $1m from NY mayor

Grand Central Terminal 100th Anniversary Celebration

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $1 million to committees supporting school board candidates -- in Los Angeles.

A $1 million donation from across the country has upped the ante big time in the three Los Angeles Unified school board races.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a policy ally of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, donated the seven figure sum to the Coalition For School Reform, an independent expenditure committee Villaraigosa started years ago to make his mark on the school board.  The committee is supporting the campaigns of incumbent board president Monica Garcia and newcomers Antonio Sanchez and Kate Anderson — candidates opposed by the city's teachers union.

The donation brings the coalition’s war chest to $2.5 million. The group has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads for the candidates.

Villaraigosa and Bloomberg are both strong proponents of opening more publicly-funded charter schools and overhauling teacher evaluations to include student progress on test scores. Both mayors have tussled with their respective teachers unions over these issues.


Advocates welcome President Obama's proposal for more preschool access


Ashley Myers-Turner/KPCC

A preschool aged boy uses his recess time to play with a word puzzle.

There was a lot of anticipation from early childhood education advocates leading up to the president’s State of the Union address that he would announce a groundbreaking new education initiative for the country’s 3 and 4 year-olds.

He fell short. Or maybe it’s just the nature of the SOTU beast that details are sparse.

What pleased advocates was the President Barak Obama's unequivocal statement of the need for “high-quality” preschool and a promise to work with the states to make this “available to every child in America.”

California’s State Superintendent at the Department of Education, Tom Torlakson, issued a statement welcoming the remarks, which he called a “new opportunity to partner with the Administration to give more children the opportunity to benefit from high-quality early education programs.”

California is home to nearly 11 percent of the nation’s preschool age children, and it has been hit hard by budget cuts to early education programs in recent years. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, $1 billion has been cut from California’s early education programs since the 2008-2009 fiscal year. That means about 110,000 children are losing out on subsidized preschool.


LAUSD board votes down proposed staff layoffs; approves iPads

Jan. 17 Board of Ed mtg LAUSD

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

LAUSD Board of Education voted Tuesday against proposed staff layoffs

The LAUSD school board voted Tuesday to cancel more than 200 proposed pink slips, ensuring the district will not lose any more health and human services employees in the coming academic year. 

The positions – mostly school counselors, psychologists, nurses and school librarians – are typically funded by individual school sites. Officials said it was the schools themselves that submitted them for layoffs.

The board was slated to approve those layoffs at its regular meeting Tuesday. Instead, Superintendent John Deasy proposed paying for the 208 jobs out of the district’s general fund. The board voted unanimously to support that amendment.

During the same meeting, the board also approved Deasy's proposal to spend millions to supply every student and teacher with a tablet computer by 2014.