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

Obama to announce Tobacco Tax plan for funding Pre K

Smokers Could Face Tobacco Tax Increase

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White House confirms universal pre-K plan will call for increased cigarette taxes.

California is seen as a shining example of how tobacco taxes can be used to both dissuade smoking and also improve children’s health and readiness for school. Now President Obama is following California’s lead. When he presents his budget Wednesday, the president will outline a similar scheme to fund universal preschool, the White House has confirmed to various media outlets.

After Prop 10 passed in 1998, California became one of the first states to raise taxes on cigarettes to fund early education programs. A new agency, First Five California, was created to hand out the money to schools and nonprofits to run education and health programs for children under five.

Scott Moore, a political analyst with Early Edge California, a nonprofit that advocates for increased early education, said California’s experience shows that the president’s plan to increase tobacco taxes to fund universal preschool can provide two returns on the investment.


Publishing industry shake up: New curriculum standards pave the way for the little guy

Cost Of University Textbooks Rises To About $900 Per Year

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In the U.S., the K-12 industry for textbooks and other educational materials generates $7.8 billion in revenue.

As new curriculum standards sweep across the country, the market for educational materials and textbooks is about to get a boost from districts that will have to restock. And just in time. Sales had been declining for three years.

"There should be a huge bump," said Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board Of Education. 

Kirst explains that many school districts had been holding off on buying books as they waited for the new standards to be implemented.

"This will be like what I hear is happening in the car industry where the average car is 11 years old and finally people have to get rid of them," he said.

California is among 45 states nationwide plus Washington, D.C. already in the process of adopting the Common Core standards for math and language arts. The new standards, which have been pushed by the Obama Administration, represent a significant change in the country's historically state by state system of education standards. 


Los Angeles charter school founders convicted of embezzlement


On Friday a jury convicted the founders of the Ivy Academia charter school in the San Fernando of embezzling public funds and filing filing false tax returns.

Eugene Selivanov and his wife Tatyana Berkovich founded Ivy Academia in 2004 as a state funded charter school. An audit three years later found the couple had not kept public money separate from its for-profit companies. 

During a three-week trial, prosecutors alleged the couple used $200,000 in public funds to buy groceries, clothes and other personal items -- and to fund a separate private school.

The defense argued that the couple made mistakes based on their inexperience in running a charter.
The jury wasn’t convinced. It found Selivanov guilty of 25 felony charges and Berkovich of three felonies. Sentencing is set for July.


Teaching to the rhythm of Jazz: resources for teachers



April is Jazz Appreciation Month.

Hot can be cool, and cool can be hot, and each can be both. But hot or cool, man, jazz is jazz. -Louis Armstrong

If you're looking to inject a bit of music in your class this Spring, inspiration abounds in April, which is designated as Jazz Appreciation Month. This year's theme, set by the Smithsonian, is "The Spirit and Rhythms of Jazz."

The non-profit website Edutopia, has published a great list of "Seven Free Jazz Resources and Websites for Educators." Here are two of my favorites from the post by Matt Davis:

The Best Sites and Videos for Learning About Jazz Chants: Edutopia blogger and educator Larry Ferlazzo published this blog on his personal site, and there are some great ideas here for bringing jazz chants into the classroom. Jazz chants are poems that use musical rhythms to help students better understand conversational English, and they can be used to test and improve students listening comprehension skills. They’re great for ELL students, as well as younger students.

Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with EDSITEment: The National Endowment for the Humanities produced this resource, which features a wide variety of teaching aides. There are lesson plans, links to online jazz collections, possible topics for research projects, and much, much more. Plenty here to pique the curiosities of your students.


University conference hopes to rally Southland education reformers

A TEDx conference at Loyola Marymount University on Saturday seeks to turn the traditional education conference on its head.

“When we get a group of educators together and we try to mobilize for ed reform, a lot of the discussion is old and tired,” LMU graduate student Jonathan Ortega said.

Ortega and fellow graduate students in LMU’s school of education are organizing an education-focused conference they hope will spark new thinking about how to improve schools.

Organizers believe that competing ideologies, little cooperation, and “finger-pointing” are keeping public schools in Los Angeles from improving. They hope this conference is an opportunity for teachers to “come together and sacrifice ideology for the sake of creating community, sharing ideas, and springing into action that will transform the education system, as we now know it,” according to the event’s web site.