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

Educators unveil online role-playing game to increase college-going rates

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USC's new online role-playing game teaches planning for college application process.

A new online game for high school students is designed around one of the most important, most complicated and most frustrating jobs that teenagers face: applying to college.

The game is called “Mission: Admission” and anyone with a Facebook account can play. It’s been three years in the making through a partnership with USC’s Game Innovation Lab.

“We really want to teach them strategies and give them a safe place to fail,” said USC education researcher Zoe Corwin.

Failing in the game is no big deal. Failing to get into the right college because deadline was missed or an application was incomplete is a really big deal.
In "Mission: Admission," a cartoon-like avatar juggles a busy calendar that requires the student to get letters of recommendation and fill out applications, all while studying on an imaginary high school campus. The player can run out of energy, miss deadlines, or fall short of the require qualifications for college admissions.


L.A. City Council celebrates charter school leaders

The Los Angeles City Council is taking time out from its Friday meeting to praise local charter school advocates as California’s charter school law turns 20 years old.
Los Angeles Councilwoman, and mayoral candidate, Jan Perry has prepared a proclamation for L.A.’s charter school leaders.

“When you talk about parents having choices on how their children are to be educated, this is sort of the manifestation of that,” she said.

Teacher unions have been critical because most charter school faculty members aren’t in a union. A recent study found charter schools in California have larger proportions of low- and high-performing schools than public schools overall.

While an audit released last month faulted federal and California education officials for lax oversight of charters, Perry said the schools are still deserving of praise.
“You have inconsistent results and yes over time some have risen and some have fallen,” Perry said.

Advocates recently celebrated a milestone - there are now 1,000 charter schools in California. There are more than 200 charter schools in the L.A. Unified School District.


College students to dress like zombies and march for Prop. 30 in 'The Walking Debt'

The Walking Debt, Prop. 30

Student Senate for California Community Colleges

Community college students will dress up like zombies Friday Oct. 26, 2012, and walk from L.A. City Hall to the governor's Downtown office in support of Prop. 30.

California Community College students are planning to dress up like zombies Friday afternoon and take part in "The Walking Debt" — a march from L.A. City Hall to the governor's Downtown office in support of Prop. 30 and education funding.

Students from the Los Angeles Community College District's nine campuses, Pasadena City College and campuses throughout Southern California plan to meet at noon dressed as zombies at L.A. Trade Technical College before starting "The Walking Debt." (A play on "Walking Dead," for those who didn't get it.)

The event has been primarily publicized through social media, with Facebook events and messages tying state funding cuts to Halloween.

“There’s an audience of people that would be involved politically if it was more interesting, and its been very difficult to reach that audience…The idea is to try to get people that would otherwise be uninterested on board,” said PCC student John Fraser, president of Region 7 of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.


Federal audit finds lax charter school oversight in California

A recent federal audit finds that the federal government and California have done a poor job monitoring millions of federal dollars for charter schools.

The US Department of Education's inspector general examined some of the nearly $1 billion in charter school grants to states and individual charter schools between 2008 and 2011. Auditors zeroed in on California, Arizona, and Florida. In this state, they found that the people assigned to inspect charter schools were unqualified and didn't know what was expected of them.

California received $182 million in federal charter school grants during the four-year period. A spokeswoman with the state Department of Education said it's trying to ramp up charter school oversight. Education officials have closed dozens of charter schools in recent years because of low academic performance, cheating on tests, and misappropriation of funds.


Schools at stake across U.S. in most education tax ballot measures in 20 years

Early Voting Begins In Iowa For Presidential Election

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Many schools across the country will be looking to voters to pass measures next month that fund public education.

In a couple of weeks, Californians will be voting on Propositions 30 and 38, involving education funding, but they are hardly alone this election season: The Wall Street Journal reports that voters in several states will be deciding on measures affecting schools across the United States in the biggest such wave in about 20 years:

"Arizona, Missouri and South Dakota have tax-increase measures on ballots, while California is offering voters dueling proposals. Oregon has an initiative to redirect to schools some money that corporations receive as tax rebates. That is the largest number of education-tax initiatives to appear on state election ballots in two decades, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures."

The story cites information from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that shows that per student funding for elementary and secondary schools is below the 2008 level in 35 states. California is currently 47th in the country in how much it spends per student.