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

Mark Berndt preliminary hearing postponed another 60 days

CORRECTION Teacher Classroom Bondage

Flor Cervantes/AP

This 2003 photo provided by Flor Cervantes shows former Miramontes Elementary teacher Mark Berndt. The former Miramonte Elementary School teacher accused of feeding children cookies laced with his semen was back in court on Thursday.

The former Miramonte Elementary School teacher accused of feeding children cookies laced with his semen was back in court on Thursday.

Mark Berndt was summoned to L.A. Superior Court to set a start date for his preliminary hearing. The hearing will determine whether there’s enough evidence to move forward with a trial. 

Berndt is charged with 23 counts of committing lewd acts on children between 7 and 10 years old. He was in front of the judge for approximately five minutes before both sides agreed to postpone a decision another 60 days. 

Berndt’s scheduled to return to on August 16.


LA Unified principals send over 8,000 files of possible unreported misconduct

Miramonte Elementary School

Grant Slater/KPCC

Miramonte Elementary School

So far, L.A. Unified officials have received about 8,000 files from school principals after they were ordered to send in any unreported misconduct files from over the last 40 years.

LAUSD spokesman Thomas Waldman said not all of the files that have been sent in are necessarily "unreported misconduct," although that is what Superintendent John Deasy directed principals to send in and "that is the intent of the process."

"Perhaps other kinds of files were mistakenly included," Waldman said. "We just don't know yet."

In February, Deasy ordered principals at 1,048 schools to submit all such files by May 30. But that deadline has been extended to June 22, Waldman said.

Some principals have had trouble easily locating files, which may have been moved over years, or faced technical glitches trying to send them in, said Judith Perez, president of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles. The union had received about a dozen calls from principals who weren't able to finish in time.


Literary nonprofit publishes 2nd collection of Southland students' stories


A student during an 826LA writing workshop. The literary group, started by novelist Dave Eggers, is unveiling a collection of writing by Los Angeles teenagers this week.

A literary group started by best-selling novelist Dave Eggers is unveiling a collection of writing by Los Angeles teenagers, the second of two released in under a week by 826LA.

Last Friday, they unveiled the book “A Ring of Sunshine Around the Moon.” Students at the Miguel Contreras Learning Center chose the title as a reference to how the teenage years, like a solar eclipse, can be dark and beautiful.

The book is a collection of students’ writing that came out of work with 826LA tutors. The goal was to improve students’ communication skills rather than turn students into novelists.

"We just want to encourage students to write," says executive director Joel Arquillos. "To write their stories and to realize that through hard work and writing multiple drafts and working with our volunteers that they too can write incredible stories and it’s really taking them through the process of writing."


LAUSD school board approves agreement with teachers' union for 10 unpaid days

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 L.A. Unified school board unanimously approved an agreement with the teachers' union today that will require teachers to take 10 furlough days — effectively shortening the school year by up to one week — to save thousands of jobs and more than $100 million in district payroll costs.

United Teachers Los Angeles members still have to approve the agreement and will begin voting on the measure Wednesday. Votes are expected to be tallied Saturday, said union spokeswoman Marla Eby.

According to the agreement, teachers would lose five days of instruction, one of their two pupil-free days used for professional development, and four paid non-work days, district officials said. About 4,000 teachers would have their preliminary pink slips rescinded, officials said.

"The good thing for the district is these are not [all] days we lose instructional services for students," said John Bowes, assistant chief human resources officer.


Dorsey High teacher is "all for" judge's ruling on teacher evaluation


File: An empty classroom.

Outside the courthouse, Dorsey High School chemistry teacher David Wu lingered to talk about today's ruling. He has worked for L.A. Unified for five years, initially starting under Teach for America. 

"I really wanted a deadline," Wu said. "...I've been in the system for five years and I'm afraid that when July 24 rolls around, the district and UTLA will not actually agree on something that the judge would like to hear."

He said he is "all for" having student performance data included in his teaching evaluation.

"I've never had a job where performance and some type of performance data wasn't tied to my evaluation. It's absurd," Wu said. "Even as little or as much. It's absurd to me. One of my biggest goals to get kids to learn is this test and beyond that test...If it's one part of the multiple measures, I'm all for it."