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

LA Unified school board blocks current president from another term

Monica Garcia Campaign Office - 12

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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.


Lawyers for alleged victims of LA Unified teacher say higher up knew of accusations

George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School

Rebecca Hill/KPCC

Robert Pimentel was a teacher at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School. He is facing felony charges for allegedly touching children inappropriately.

On the sidewalk just outside the Los Angeles Unified school district's 29 story headquarters, lawyer Luis Carrillo told reporters Thursday that Wilmington-area parents complained to a high ranking district official in October 2009 about improper touching by a teacher. Carrillo said parents angrily told local district superintendent Linda Del Cueto that elementary school teacher Robert Pimentel was acting inappropriately.

“The parent was concerned about this inappropriate touching of her daughter and she’s the one who raised red flags and, ‘hey I don’t like what he did to my daughter,’” Carrillo said.

Carrillo said Del Cueto took notes -- which should have found their way to then school district superintendent Ramon Cortines. If true, the meeting could increase the district’s liability.


Congress forces defense department to restore military Tuition Assistance program

US Army V Corps To Leave Europe For Afghanistan

Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images

A soldier of the U.S. Army V Corps at the U.S. Army base in Wiesbaden, Germany. Many members of the military depended on the Tuition Assistance program to help better their lives with college degrees. Today, Congress voted to reinstate the program, which had been a victim of sequestration cuts.

Just a few weeks after it was suspended, a decades-old financial aid program for the military was saved today when the U.S. House of Representatives approved a spending bill that will restore the aid for active duty troops.

The Tuition Assistance program had been a financial lifeline to members of the military looking to jumpstart their college careers while still on active duty. It paid up to $4,500 a year for classes. But after sequestration cuts went into effect March 1, the Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Army stopped approving new requests - upsetting troops who relied on the benefit. 

“It’s something that just has to be preserved,” said Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank voted in support of the spending bill.

Sequestration put into motion about $46 billion in defense cuts for the 2013 fiscal year – that’s roughly 9 percent in cuts to every defense account other than personnel funding, according to the Department of Defense.


Cal State trustees discuss planned $125 million funding increase

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California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed increases to Cal State funding.

Trustees of the California State University system on Tuesday began deliberating how to spend a $125 million funding increase proposed by Governor Jerry Brown.

"After struggling through one of the toughest times in CSU history, the system is now in a position to address some of its critical needs," said Robert Turnage, the assistant vice chancellor for budget.

If the increase is approved by the state legislature in June, Cal State’s funding would increase to $2.3 billion. That would be a big reversal. Cal State has suffered $1 billion in cuts over the last five years. The cuts have led Cal State administrators to limit enrollment.

It's not alone. The state has closed budget deficits in recent years by drastically reducing funds for K-12 schools and community colleges as well as public universities.  


Why Antonio Villaraigosa fell short as LA's education mayor

Math School Initiative

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and Meg Whitman, right, help third grade elementary math class students: David Ozorio, middle, and Cecil Pascal, right, at the 99th St. Elementary campus Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, in Los Angeles.

Doe v Deasy

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Attorney Scott Witlin, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and EdVoice president Bill Lucia (Left to right) talk to the media about the decision in the case of Doe v. Deasy on June 12, 2012. The case is wanting to make LAUSD to include student performance data as part of its evaluation of teachers and school administrators.

Antonio Villaraigosa/

Mayor Villaraigosa speaks and listens to parents and teachers at an L.A. elementary school about the impending school district's budget cuts.

As Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares to step down in June, among the achievements he takes credit for during his eight years in office is improving one institution that the law gives him no authority over: the public schools.

Yet if any one policy area shows where his ambition outstripped his performance, it would be in his oversight of the city's troubled schools.

Villaraigosa campaigned, in part, on the idea that power over the city’s schools should shift to his office.
“I’ve said that I believe that the next mayor should be involved with the schools,” Villaraigosa said during a mayoral candidate forum in 2005. “And I even see a role similar to (Michael) Bloomberg in New York and (Richard) Daley in Chicago, where the mayor has oversight over the schools.”

RELATED: Antonio Villaraigosa's Legacy in LA