Pass / Fail | So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

New name for South LA school 'Diego Rivera Learning Complex' flies under the radar

Diego Rivera's fountain of the Aztec rain god Tlaloc is a pumping station in Mexico City's municipal water system.
David Hiser/National Geographic

The crowds at Tuesday's Los Angeles Unified board meeting came out in force to discuss a classroom breakfast program and the thorny issue of how to deal with unruly students.  Less noticed was the board's decision to name a school after Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

In fact, it flew so low under the radar that even the school didn't seem to know about the name change.

As of this morning, the front office at South Region High School No. 2 still answered the phone using "South Region." Officials at the school said they have not received official notification from the district about the change -- and weren't interested in talking more about it.

The South Los Angeles school's new name, according to the district, is the Diego Rivera Learning Complex. The school is part of the district's $19.2 billion school construction and renovation program.  It's been operating under the temporary name since it opened in 2011.  The school is set up as  four small learning communities that share a library, two gymnasiums and a multipurpose room.


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Despite teacher complaints, LA Unified keeps Breakfast in the Classroom

Union leaders, parents and teachers packed the L.A. Unified Board of Education meeting Tuesday, when the board took on whether to continue the Breakfast in the Classroom program.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

The “power struggle” fireworks promised for Tuesday’s L.A. Unified Board of Education over the Breakfast in the Classroom program never materialized.

Instead, speakers and the board had nothing but praise for the one-year old program.

“I’m here as a mother. I have five boys, single mom,” said Estela Tejada, who got choked up as she talked about how the program had helped her family. “I work the night shift every day and it’s hard for me to get up in the morning to even think about getting breakfast for my kids.”

Ultimately, the board unanimously approved a motion to continue the program – and expand it.

The decision was a big win for Superintendent John Deasy in his ongoing battle with the teacher’s union. He brought the issue to a vote after a union survey last month gave the program a failing grade. Teachers said the food attracts bugs and rodents and it’s taking too long to serve the kids and clean up after inevitable messes – up to 30 minutes of precious instructional time.


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UPDATED: LA Unified school board continues free breakfast program

A student talks with cafeteria worker Sophia Villareal as she picks up her breakfast at Brockton Elementary School Monday, June 29, 2012 in Los Angeles.
Richard Hartog/California Watch

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education this afternoon unanimously approved the continuation -- and expansion -- of its  Breakfast in the Classroom program.

The program moved the free and reduced price breakfast program from the cafeteria to the classroom more than a year ago in an effort to increase the number of low-income students who pick up and eat a school breakfast. According to the school district, fewer than a third of students were stopping by the cafeteria before school to eat breakfast even though the vast majority qualify for the subsidized meals.

Click here to see Adolfo Guzman-Lopez's live updates from Tuesday's school board meeting.

Until now, the decisions about the program were made by L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy.

Many were left scratching their heads last month when Deasy put up for a board vote whether to keep the program. It serves about 200,000 students and was slated to be rolled out district-wide next year.


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Governor to add $1 billion for schools to adopt common core standards

California Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his State of the State speech.
Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown's revised budget plan being released Tuesday morning will allocate $1 billion for K-12 schools to fund districts’ adoption of new common core standards — about $170 per student.

The Governor will also propose an extra $240 million for base district funding as part of his  funding overhaul.

Administration officials revealed the details to the Associated Press on the eve of the budget unveiling.  They also explained how the money will get divided among school districts:

  • 80 percent will be carved up among districts, based on the total number of students.
  • 16 percent will be divided based on the districts’ number of students learning English, of low-income, or who are foster children.
  • 4 percent would go to districts where the majority of students are English-learners, low-income or foster children.


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Despite big name, Shakespeare school still feels cuts

Students from Rafe Esquith's Hobart Shakespeareans perform in this year's production The Tempest.
Kurt Ingham

For decades, teacher Rafe Esquith has staged Shakespeare plays with students from Hobart Boulevard Elementary School in Koreatown. Most of the kids come from low-income families and English isn’t their first language -- and yet every Spring, they put on a show.

The novel program propelled Esquith into teacher stardom. His fourth book is due out this summer, he's been featured in a PBS documentary and his fan-base includes Oprah Winfrey and Sir Ian McKellen.

But the program's success and Esquith's notoriety haven't spared Hobart elementary from statewide cuts to school arts programs.

As Esquith celebrates his 30th anniversary, he says a lot has changed since he first started the Shakespeare program back in the 1980s.

"The fact is we keep cutting the wrong things in schools," said Esquith, who is celebrating 30 years as a teacher at Hobart. "Cutting arts programs is killing us."


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