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

Congress approves one-year freeze on student loan rates

President Obama Delivers Commencement Address At Joplin High School

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Congress approves a measure to freeze the federally-subsidized interest rate for student loans days before it was set to double.

The U.S. Congress today approved a measure that will freeze federally subsidized student loan rates for 570,000 students in California and millions across the country, days before the 3.4 percent rate was set to double.

The deal was tucked into a larger transportation measure on funding roads and bridge construction that was approved by the House Friday on a 373 to 52 vote and in the Senate on a 74 to 19 vote. The bill now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature or veto before midnight Saturday.

Loans rates were set to rise to 6.8 percent Sunday. But with the bill's expected passage, rates will remain at 3.4 percent for another year, saving about 7.4 million students nationwide an average of $1,000 each, according to the White House. Lawmakers said this would amount to many thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the loans.

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Judge to decide whether to overturn LAUSD's 'last hired, first fired' exemption

Teachers Protest

Damian Dovarganes/AP

File: Teachers, parents and supporters rally as the Los Angeles Unified School District board meets to consider budget cuts and layoffs, which include adult education, preschool and elementary school arts programs, in Los Angeles on Tuesday Feb. 14, 2012.

The Los Angeles teachers union was back in court on Thursday appealing a settlement that exempts teachers in low-performing schools from being laid off based on seniority.

The case made against LAUSD by the ACLU and a partnership of school reform advocates was this: low-performing schools in high poverty areas, which are already difficult to staff, experience the brunt of teacher layoffs. Since so many teachers at low-income schools are junior teachers, they're the first to be targeted when firings start. The system has been accused of leaving students in highly unstable schools and, in the worst cases, without teachers in the classroom.  

A judge agreed, exempting 45 of the district’s hardest-to-staff schools from the "last hired, first fired" rule back in 2011. But now, the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) are appealing that decision. In a written statement, UTLA president Warren Fletcher said:

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LAUSD approves $6 billion budget for 2012-13 with $169 million in cuts

LAUSD board protesters

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside L.A. Unified headquarters downtown as the board met inside to discuss the district's dire budget picture. (March 2012)

The L.A. Unified Board of Education today overwhelmingly approved a $6 billion budget for 2012-13 with $169 million in cuts that manages to save outdoor education, Academic Decathlon and the after school program, despite hefty cuts to adult education and the layoffs of thousands of educators.

The 6-1 vote, with board member Richard Vladovic voting no, was made reluctantly by board members after about an hour of discussion. Superintendent John Deasy emphasized in a brief presentation that many of the savings were "for one year" and stressed that whether voters approve Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative to raise taxes will "determine the future of most of this."

If the governor's tax initiative fails, L.A. Unified estimates it will have to cut an additional $264 million in 2012-13. Public schools across the state would suffer a nearly $6 billion cut under Brown's budget.

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LAUSD board meeting interrupted by protests against school's Planned Parenthood clinic

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An LAUSD board meeting has resumed after being disrupted by protesters who want one school's Planned Parenthood clinic shut down.

An LAUSD board meeting was disrupted by protesters who want one school's Planned Parenthood clinic shut down.

Board President Monica Garcia called a five-minute recess Thursday afternoon after about 15 audience members stood up and refused to stop chanting "Roosevelt High School: Abortion is not health care!"

Garcia called a break so school police could remove the protesters.

The protest came after anti-Planned Parenthood speakers kept coming to the podium while the board was discussing other topics. Board members asked the protesters to wait for the meeting's public comment portion.

Protesters asked the board to shut down a Planned Parenthood clinic at Roosevelt, calling its presence racist and detrimental to girls' health.

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SB1530 to speed firing of abusive teachers dies in state Assembly committee

Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images

Parents and children protest outside Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California, February 6, 2012.

bill that would have made it easier to fire a teacher accused of sexually abusing a student died in the California Assembly Education Committee this evening on what one L.A. educator called a "remarkably tragic day for students," after fierce opposition from the California Teachers Association.

The failure of SB1530, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima, ends all three attempts at similar reform this legislative session introduced after a spate of sexual misconduct cases in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The bill would have given school boards the last word in firing teachers accused of "serious and egregious misconduct" — defined as offenses involving drugs or sexual conduct or violence toward children. 

In these instances, what had been decided by a three-person panel called the Commission on Professional Competence would have become an "advisory" decision by an administrative law judge. Evidence more than four years old could have been used in the investigation and during proceedings for such a case.

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