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

Slight increase in California high school graduation rates... mostly

Challenger School

Michael Juliano/KPCC

Graduates and their families meet and pose for photos. New numbers show the graduation rate climbing, but it still has a long way to go.

California high school graduation rates are inching up, annual numbers released on Wednesday suggest, but a large cohort of the state’s students lags behind that trend.

About 76 percent of California high schoolers reached graduation day four years later, said state superintendent Tom Torlakson. Even in the face of "terrible budgets, a lot of turmoil and uncertainty, more crowded classrooms, a shorter school year [and] summer school being eliminated."

Graduation rates for Latino, African-American and English Learner students are significantly lower than for their white and Asian-American counterparts.

In the Southland, graduation rates in Orange and Riverside counties were higher than the statewide figure, while L.A. and San Bernardino counties’ rates were lower than the state as a whole.

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LA City Council votes to oppose cuts to after school programs

Students bus Loyola Village Elementary School

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Students leaving Loyola Village Elementary School by bus.

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to oppose cuts eliminating L.A. Unified’s "Beyond the Bell" after school programs.

The resolution, introduced by City Council President Herb Wesson, is just a symbolic measure — but one that school board member Bennett Kayser hopes creates a domino effect. First, mobilizing parents, then children’s advocates and finally applying enough pressure on Superintendent John Deasy that he finds a way to cover the $7 million cost of restoring the programs at the start of the new school year on August 14. 

The school board is expected to vote on its final budget for the next fiscal year on Thursday. If approved, 566 elementary and middle schools will lose after school programs that go from 3 to 6 p.m.

Board member Kayser said he plans on drafting an amendment to the budget directing the superintendent to find funds by drawing from what he calls “lower priority programs.”

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California lawmakers discuss bill to speed teacher dismissal

Protestors march near Miramonte Elementa

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Protestors march near Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.

A bill that would make it easier to dismiss a teacher accused of misconduct will be heard by the California Assembly Education Committee today and is being met by strong opposition from the California Teachers Association.

SB1530, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima, would give school boards the last word in firing teachers accused of "serious and egregious misconduct" — offenses of sex, drugs and violence against children.

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

The bill is one of three that remains alive after lawmakers responded to a call by the L.A. Unified school board to change state law governing the dismissal process after a spate of sexual misconduct cases at LAUSD schools.

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Education officials react to an agreement that aims to freeze UC, CSU tuition hikes

Jerry Brown Reveals Revised California Budget Proposal

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 14: California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference about the state budget on May 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

It's not an easy time to be in public education in California. 

Under a budget agreement reached between legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown, the University of California and Cal State University systems would each lose $125 million in state funds for the 2013-14 year if the systems increase tuition this fall.

And yet, both systems have more than a $100 million hole in their 2012 budgets, primarily due to severe cuts in state funding.

Even more problematic for budget planners: The governor's budget presumes that an initiative to raise sales tax and the levy on higher earners will be approved by voters in November. If not, then both systems would each be hit with a $250 million cut.

"What this is designed to do is to be able to deal with the issue of affordability not in this coming year but in the following year," said H.D. Palmer, the deputy director for the California Department of Finance. "So we can address the issue of affordability that's on the minds of a lot of students and a lot of their parents."

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LA Unified principals submit 8,300 files of possible unreported misconduct

Miramonte Elementary School

Grant Slater/KPCC

Parents of students at Miramonte Elementary School escort children out of school on Feb. 6, 2012.

So far, L.A. Unified officials have received about 8,300 files from more than 900 school and offices, after principals were ordered to send in any unreported misconduct files from over the last 40 years.

In February, Superintendent John Deasy ordered principals to submit all such files from 1,222 schools and offices by May 30. But that deadline was extended to last Friday. The district is still waiting to hear from 281 schools and offices, said LAUSD spokesman Thomas Waldman.

"The superintendent said, with changes in personnel and principals being cut from schools, he's expecting the rest of the files to come in shortly," Waldman said.

Not all of the files that have been sent in are necessarily "unreported misconduct," as principals may have sent in additional files in order to ensure no possible misconduct slipped through the cracks, officials said.

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