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

Experts say kids shouldn't be exposed to television coverage of shooting

In the middle of a tragedy, we are all drawn to listen and watch the news. But USC pediatrician Harvey Karp said parents of young children should be careful what images they see.

"I encourage parents to turn the TV off. Because those images are so powerful and they can be very very disturbing and really seared into your child's memory," Said Karp, who has worked with children of military personnel and veterans dealing with trauma.

That doesn't mean you should avoid the conversation. Karp said a good strategy is to focus on what will make kids feel secure: tell them about all the things that you and their teachers are doing to keep them protected.

"Visitors are not allowed at the school, or there's a gate around the school, or there's a policy at the school to help keep people like this out," he said. "Simple messages to help allay their concerns."


Community college academic senates slow to reform, group says

Community College Chancellor

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

The new chancellor of the California Community Colleges system, Brice Harris, faces a legal challenge from an independent group that contends the system's academic senates exercise too much power. The group, California Competes, petitioned the community colleges' Board of Governors on Wednesday.

A group of business owners and elected officials – that includes the mayors of Long Beach and Pasadena – contends that professors are slowing the pace of reform at California’s 112 community colleges. On Wednesday the organization called California Competes formally asked the state community colleges' Board of Governors to change that.
Community college academic senates have existed for almost 50 years. The state legislature created them to give faculty a say in academic decisions and instructor staffing.
Bob Shireman of California Competes says those advisory groups routinely veto all kinds of decisions. His organization on Wednesday asked state officials to change policies so each college’s board of trustees could exercise final decision making power.
“Even in Pasadena and El Camino College, there in the Los Angeles area...they’ll even argue over the start date for the spring semester,” Shireman said.


Parents to hear about future of Crenshaw High School

Crenshaw High School may soon go the way of Dorsey, Manual Arts and Westchester high schools; it could face a district takeover as early as next year.

Over the summer, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy suggested Crenshaw, with its persistently low test scores, is eligible for "reconstitution," wherein the district can layoff the entire staff. The district can take over a school when it fails to meet state-mandated educational benchmarks under the federal No Child Left Behind act. Teachers who want to stay would have to reapply for their jobs.

Stakeholders say district officials are proposing restructuring the South L.A. school into three separate magnet programs. But officials have not explained how that might happen, leaving parents, students and teachers with a lot of questions.

They hope to get some answers tonight at a public meeting at 7 pm at the Crenshaw High School library. (5010 11th Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90043)


LA Unified foreign teacher program ending; instructors head home

Roda Mongen

Mae Ryan/KPCC

LAUSD hired Roda Mongen from the Philippines six years ago during a shortage of math and science teachers. She claims that a subjective evaluation from her principal led to her visa not being renewed and she is heading back to the Philippines this December 11th.

A shortage of math, science, and special education teachers more than six years ago prompted L.A. Unified to hire hundreds of teachers from the Philippines.
Now the shortage is over and that’s left some foreign teachers in a lurch. Many are heading home – even though they may not want to – when they were unable to obtain a visa.
One of them is Roda Mongen. She taught in Baguio City, north of Manila, for seven years before she arrived at the boot camp known as “first year L.A. Unified teacher” in 2006. She wasn’t prepared for what she found at Virgil Middle School.

“The kids talked back to me, they were even laughing at my accent. They were totally disrespectful because they know that I’m new here,” she said. Less than a year into the job, she thought no amount of money could convince her to stay.

“They could tell I’m new here, I’m a new teacher, they took advantage of me,” Mongen said.

She eventually got the hang of things, even though she didn’t always get to teach what she wanted. In the Philippines, she taught life sciences, such as biology and physiology. But L.A. Unified needed chemistry and physics teachers. She finally got to teach life science last year. Students perked up during one section.
“It’s the reproductive system. Kids love it. Every time they come to my class, you know, the first part of the hour they come to my class, they would ask me: 'Ms Mongen, what are we going to learn today?'” she said.

Last week, Mongen had dinner at fellow Filipino teacher Caridad’s Mid City apartment. A Christmas tree waited for decorations in front of a large window and a wood figurine nativity scene sat in a corner.

“I feel home now,” Caridad said.

Mongen and Caridad, who is afraid to be identified by her full name, grew close during their years in the program. But this would be their last dinner together. The district sponsored Caridad for a worker visa but chose not to renew Mongen’s visa.
“It appears that the district is allowing competent, well regarded teachers to be treated as disposable based on their immigration status and that just doesn’t seem fair,” said United Teachers Los Angeles area chair Dan Barnhart. He has tried, unsuccessfully, to help Mongen keep her teaching job.
One issue is a teacher evaluation, which was one factor L.A. Unified considered. Mongen says it didn’t include classroom observation or student test scores.
Debbie Ignagni, of LA Unified, says the district can now fill the job shortages so will no longer be sponsoring teachers to stay in the U.S.
“When the teachers were recruited there was no guarantee that permanent residency would be part of the package,” Ignagni said.

Roda Mongen has been packing up her life in Los Angeles to head back to the Phillipines. She’ll join her husband and two kids. She’s pregnant with her third child, due in the spring. She would have preferred they build their lives here.
“Most of us teachers doesn’t want to go back home. We want to bring our family over so we can be together here,” Mongen said.

Mongen has tickets for the 15 hour flight to Manila Tuesday night.


Attorneys for Miramonte kids say LAUSD is not negotiating abuse claims in good faith

Miramonte lawsuits

Vanessa Romo/KPCC

Attorneys Luis Carrillo (L) and Brian Claypool (R) talk to reporters about their clients' civil lawsuits against LAUSD over alleged lewd acts against children committed by teachers.

Lawyers representing 35 students who say they were abused by a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School want to pull out of settlement negotiations with LAUSD.

The attorneys - Luis Carrillo and Brian Claypool - said the school district is not making much of an effort to compensate the children who they said were victimized by Mark Berndt. Berndt is facing 23 criminal charges for feeding some of his students cookies laced with his own body fluids.

“We spent three full days in mediation, as did Mr. Carillo’s group of clients and I think only three offers were made and they were insignificant," Claypool said at a press conference in Pasadena.

LAUSD general counsel David Holmquist said the attorneys' complaints are unfounded.

“We have been working with counsel for all parties involved, including Mr. Claypool and Mr. Carrillo, to develop a reasonable and fair resolution process and reach resolutions that provide for the ongoing educational and health needs of the students," he said in a written statement.