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

Community college board prioritizes registering new, continuing students

Jack Scott, California Community Colleges

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott talks about the impact of the state's budget crisis on the nation's largest higher education system. Scott has championed the effort to streamline the path to student graduation, certification and transfer.

When it came time to enroll for his community college courses for this year, Rich Copenhagen didn't have the money. So, like many students, he waited. By the time he could enroll, he was "wait-listed" - on the list of students who might get into the class if someone drops.

"It was a little bit terrifying when I was trying to register for classes," said Copenhagen, 22, who is president of the Student Senate for the California Community Colleges. "Everything has got the yellow warning sign that it’s 'wait-listed' and everything else is closed."

Copenhagen got his classes, but many students don't.

After repeated rounds of state budget cuts, colleges have had to reduce course offerings - shutting out more students.

In the academic years from 2008 to 2011, community college enrollment dropped by 500,000 students, said Paige Marlatt Dorr, a system spokeswoman. Last year, California's community colleges had to turn away 200,000 students who could't get into a single course, she said.


LAUSD and administrators' union reach tentative deal on student test scores in evals*

Doe v. deasy

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Attorney Scott Witlin, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and EdVoice president Bill Lucia (left to right) talk to the media about the decision in the case of Doe v. Deasy on June 12, 2012. The judge ruled LAUSD must include student performance data as part of its evaluation of teachers and school administrators.

L.A. Unified and the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles announced Tuesday that they have reached a tentative one-year agreement that incorporates student test data as a factor in evaluating principals and assistant principals.

The deal, which would apply to evaluations this school year, brings the district one step closer to fully complying with state law as ordered by a judge in July; L.A. Unified is still in discussions with the teachers' union and must reach an agreement by Dec. 4.

The agreement requires an approval vote by the school board, said LAUSD spokesman Thomas Waldman. The board will vote on the agreement in early October, he said.

Principals and assistant principals will be evaluated with a variety of student data including school-wide, grade-level and departmental test data. Factors such as attendance, enrollment and graduation rates will be included.


Does the quality of charter schools need to be improved?

Picture this: L.A. Unified school board member Steve Zimmer and the California Charter Schools Association are in a moving car. The Association is in the driver’s seat trying to shift the car into third gear. Zimmer’s struggling to get the car into neutral and shoves his foot on the brake.

Zimmer plans to introduce a charter school oversight proposal during Tuesday’s L.A. Unified board meeting. It would stop new charter school approvals in the massive school district while a commission or similar body convenes to more closely scrutinize the independent, publicly funded campuses.

Zimmer told me that two charter school scandals in recent years – one having to do with standardized test cheating and the other with charter school founders' misuse of public money  - prompted him to want to create another school district body in addition to the L.A. Unified's Charter Schools Division.
“I think that the significant question that we need to examine is whether or not we as authorizers really have a sense of both academic progress, fiscal stability and solvency and what is the effect of this exodus on the parents and students who choose to remain in LAUSD,” Zimmer said.


Santa Monica College joins Pasadena City College in cutting winter session

Vanessa Romo/KPCC

Protesters wait outside of a Santa Monica College budget meeting, saying they support tuition increases as long as it "keeps the doors open." The city college recently voted to cut its winter session classes in an effort to save cash.

Thousands of Santa Monica College students expecting to take classes in the winter session won’t have that option this year. College administrators voted Thursday night to eliminate the 6-week session in order to save $2.5 million.

It was either cut the winter session or make even more cuts to the Fall and Spring semesters, said Santa Monica College spokesman Bruce Smith.

The decision will lengthen graduation time for some students, he said.
"Obviously we don’t like that, but we feel we have no choice given the fiscal situation in the state," he said.

A large population of out-of-state and foreign students have helped keep the Santa Monica campus budget afloat. Santa Monica College is popular with students from Korea, China and Sweden. These students pay six times as much per class than in-state residents, adding up to about $25 million a year for the college.


Manhattan Beach Unified offers teachers 3 percent raise, no health cuts

MBUSD Manhattan Beach

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The two-year contract includes a 3 percent raise without initially proposed cuts to health care. It's the first raise the teachers have seen in five years.

Manhattan Beach Unified and its teachers' union reached a tentative agreement that includes a pay raise for teachers, officials said Friday.

The two-year contract includes a 3 percent raise without the district's initially proposed cuts to health care. It also includes measures to help the district cut costs, should ballot measures to raise taxes not pass in November.

The tentative deal was reached late Thursday between the district and teachers' union after meeting with a state mediator. The parties have been negotiating since March; the district declared an impasse in July.

Teachers and union officials were in negotiations with the state mediator Thursday, from 9 a.m. through 8 p.m.

"It was a long day," said Manhattan Beach Unified Superintendent Mike Matthews.

He said the contract definitely provides the 3 percent increase for this contract year but, depending on whether voters pass a measure to raise taxes in November, that raise may or may not stay in place.