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

Poll: Should breakfast be banned from the classroom?

Kids eat lunch at Jardín de Niños in Lincoln Heights. The program provide multi-lingual early education to low-income families.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

Should under-nourished students be allowed to eat in the classroom? The issue became a hot topic this week after Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy passed on making a decision, putting the future of a pilot breakfast program into the hands of the school board. 

The program was launched last year after LAUSD discovered that only 29 percent of children eligible for free breakfast were eating before school in the cafeteria.

Nevertheless, teachers say that it takes away from instructional time and leaves a clean-up nightmare.  

RELATED: Future of schools breakfast program has become a 'power struggle' 

Where do you stand on the issue? Should food be restricted to the cafeteria? Take our poll, and see a roundup of quotes from Twitter and Facebook below. 

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UCLA Preschool and the California Science Center museum help turn kids into 'pre-scientists'

An instructor reads to children at University Village, one of three pre-schools run by UCLA Early Care and Education.
Grant Slater/KPCC
05:44

Science Experiment: One of two stories looking at science in the schools – from pre-K to high school. Click here to read Part 1: RELATED: New science standards hard sell at cash-strapped Sylmar High School (Photos).

When Gay MacDonald came to UCLA in the early 1990s to lead its preschools, the children were doing well at all the things preschoolers do: learning their ABCs and 123s.

Yet MacDonald’s experience in early education taught her that children have vastly more potential for learning than adults believe – and she felt that fact-based standards like learning your ABCs didn’t go far enough. So she set out to revamp them.

As she searched for a theme for the schools on campus, which at the time served 93 infants, toddlers and preschoolers, she chose science.

"We try to create a culture of inquiry and foster asking a question,” said MacDonald, who likes to call her preschoolers “pre-scientists.”

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New science standards hard sell at cash-strapped Sylmar High School (Photos)

Biology teacher Ronald Hitchcock teaches his advanced biology students. On the right, student Juan Santacruz.
04:15

Science Experiment: One of two stories looking at science in the schools – from pre-K to high school. Click here to read Part 2: UCLA Preschool and the California Science Center museum help turn kids into "pre-scientists."

Ronald Hitchcock has been teaching science at Sylmar High School for more than a decade. He's seen a lot of changes, but perhaps nothing has hit the school harder than the news last fall that it lost a $3.5 million QEIA grant.

"We're pretty cash strapped right now," he said. "The budget for the science department is usually in the $20,000 to $25,000 range for consumables and in reality this year we have just about $5,000."

Hitchcock has been following the development of new K-12 science standards, released by California and 25 other states earlier this month. He's excited about the potential of the new standards and likes their hands-on approach to learning.

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LA Unified board member wants improvements to Breakfast in the Classroom program

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On Monday LA Unified board member Bennet Kayser called for improvements to the school district’s one-year old Breakfast in the Classroom program, not its elimination.

The statement was prompted by a move by Superintendent John Deasy to put to a vote of the school board the future of a program that's the first project of LA Fund For Public Education, founded by Deasy and an LA philanthropist. The program has fed more than 200,000 students at a third of the district’s schools by moving federally-funded breakfast into the first 15 minutes of the school day

In a written statement, Kayser said an audit earlier this year of the Breakfast in the Classroom program returned a list of things worth fixing but did not propose the program’s elimination. The audit found that some clean-up procedures weren’t followed and that time allotted to eat the breakfast was exceeded by 5 to 30 minutes.

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California gets mediocre grade for preschool access and quality

Elisabeth Romero watches over children at Jardín de Niños in Lincoln Heights.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

California got a mediocre grade in both access to preschool and the quality of the programs in a new study released today by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The state meets only four of the group's ten benchmarks for quality preschool.

The overall findings in the report, titled State of Preschool 2012, are grim: state budgets for pre-k programs suffered the largest one-year drop ever in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Funding across the country fell by more than half a billion dollars.

The institute gave California credit for setting educational standards for preschool and for requiring teachers in government-subsidized programs to get special training. But the state isn’t meeting the group’s benchmarks for class sizes or providing enough meals. It’s also not providing enough support services for children who need them.

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