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

LA middle school teacher charged in alleged molestation of 3 teen girls

Courtesy LAPD

Teacher Jason Leon, who was charged Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 with multiple counts of child molestation and battery of students at Gaspar Portola Middle School.

Police arrested a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher Monday morning who taught at Tarzana middle school on charges of molesting three teenage girls.

Jason Leon, 32, faces four counts of child molestation and three counts of battery against three teenage girls. The girls were students at Gaspar Portola Middle School at the time of the alleged incidents, which go back as far as three years.

After a 13-year-old girl alleged Leon touched her inappropriately on the last day of school in June 2012, another 13-year-old came forward with a similar story.

Another girl claims she was similarly abused by Leon in 2010, when she was 14.

“In 2010 a case was referred to our office, and we could not corroborate the allegations that were made,” said L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.


End of year reports show Prop. 30 supporters outspent opponents nearly 4-1

Gov. Jerry Brown

Sharon McNary/KPCC

California Gov. Jerry Brown spoke in support of Prop. 30 at a rally of UCLA students on campus last fall.

During a victory party for Proposition 30 in Sacramento in November, Gov. Jerry Brown said the measure "sold itself."

Well, not exactly.

The Sacramento Bee reported this morning that committes backing the measure spent nearly $54 million--about four times the $13.2 million opponents spent.

The ballot measure is expected to raise about $6 billion a year for education and the state's general fund. How exactly those funds will be used is unclear, but Brown's recently-released budget proposed increasing funds for all California schools--and a larger increase for those in poor and heavily-immigrant neighborhoods.

Proposition 30 raised the state sales tax by a quarter of a cent for four years starting Jan. 1. It also increased income taxes by up to 3 percent for people who make at least $250,000.


California congressman: college students shouldn't be charged "hidden" debit card fees

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

College students complain that the debit cards issued for their financial aid charge withdrawal fees. Officials are investigating.

Debit cards, fast replacing cash and checks, have become a common vehicle for colelges to dole out financial aid. Students have complained the card issuers are ripping them off, pennies at a time and thsoe complaints have reached authorities.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on Thursday that it has launched an inquiry into whether school-issued debit card agreements are in the best interest of students.

The government agency, which enforces federal consumer financial laws, last year began hearing from students who’d been charged fees to withdraw money to pay for college.

California Congressman George Miller said his office found that nearly one million college students in the state have very little access to fee-free ATMs. Only one on each campus.

“Too many students,” Miller said in a statement “have been slammed with hidden fees and penalties that cut into their already limited financial aid dollars. And if students don't pay close attention, they can find precious aid dollars wasted on debit-card fees.”


Out-of-state students surpass Calfornians vying for entry to USC

California v USC

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The USC Trojans enter the field. For the first time in the school's history, out-of-state applicants surpassed in-state.

The University of Southern California is pushing to attract students from all over the country and the world. And it's paying off. For the first time in its 133 year history, a majority of applications for admission this year came from outside the Golden State.

USC’s dean of admissions told the campus newspaper that 50.5% of applications for fall 2013 admission came from students outside California.

The university has increased the number of recruiters it sends to thousands of high schools in 48 states to promote USC., more than tripling the number assigned to the Midwest and East Coast.

Foreign recruitment is also a priority. The university takes the top spot nationwide for foreign student enrollment, with about 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students from foreign countries studying at the South Los Angeles university this year. That's about 10 percent of the student body.


As other states seek to increase preschool budget, California stays flat

Los Angeles Universal Preschool

Courtesy of Los Angeles Universal Preschool

Starting at the White House and kindling in governors' offices nationwide, there’s a move underfoot to increase access to early childhood education programs. Except in California.

Governor Jerry Brown isn't actively cutting preschool programs -- his recent budget proposal kept funding the same as last year; It's that he is not actually doing anything to improve it.

Still, after suffering $1.2 billion in cuts over four years, advocates are crossing their fingers the proposal marks and end to reductions in the state's early childhood education budget.

If you can't quite grasp the impact of that $1.2 billion loss, a coalition of groups has followed the money -- or lack of it -- and mapped the results, neighborhood by neighborhood. Los Angeles County suffered the most dramatic losses. Not surprisingly, they have hit hardest in low-income areas.

This data was compiled by the Los Angeles Children’s Data Network, which includes the Advancement Project/Healthy City, First Five LA and a number of other government, advocacy and data organizations.