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

High school football coaches tackle concussion training head on

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Dem/Flickr

Football helmet of the late Owen Thomas, a former University of Pennsylvania football player, brought to the hearing on H.R 6172, Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act by his mother, Rev. Katherine E. Brearley, Ph.D. A CDC study shows concussion rates in athletics have more than doubled in the past decade.

The start of the new school year also means the start of high school football season.

For the players, it means a lifetime of memories — but it could mean a lifetime of health problems for players who suffer from concussions.

It’s become an all-too-common problem in high school football, and high school football coaches know it. That’s why more than 200 showed up for a concussion training session at Helen Bernstein High School in Los Angeles this week.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control released a study that said concussion rates in athletics have more than doubled in the last decade. The CDC says they’ve reached “an epidemic level.”

Estimates vary greatly, but anywhere from 43,000 to 67,000 high school football players reportedly suffer concussive head injuries. Still, the true number is believed to be much higher, as many athletes don’t report symptoms.


Is USC's 'sketchy neighborhood' reputation fair? Depends on who you ask

Los Angeles Police Department Officer Su


Los Angeles Police Department Officer Suzan Nelson holds photos of Chinese foreign exchange students Ming Qu (bottom) and Ying Wu (top). The two USC students were murdered in April, about a mile from campus.

The University of Southern California faces an issue that all urban schools have: student safety. Located in a spot just southwest of Downtown L.A., the school has a reputation (deserved or not) for being in a "sketchy" zone. 

That fact dominated coversation around the school in April, when two graduate students from China were shot and killed in what police say was a carjacking gone wrong. Now, students are returning to a USC this week that comes with beefed up LAPD patrols, increased seminars on student safety and the continued presence of private security officers positioned in the most student-heavy blocks around USC.

In the last six months, University Park has had a rate of 226.4 crimes per 10,000 people. Adams-Normandie, to the west of campus, where the two students died, has a lower rate at 123.2 crimes per 10,000 people. By comparison, Downtown's rate was 125.2 crimes per 10,000 people.


Cal State University to enroll more out-of-state and international students over California applicants

In the latest twist to Cal State University’s budget woes, the system may not admit any graduate students from California for the spring semester. 

The change won’t affect a huge number of potential grad students — last year Cal State Schools admitted only about 1,800 graduate students at mid-year — but it speaks volumes about the state’s funding woes.  

The schools will, however, continue to admit grad students from states outside California and from abroad, because they pay higher tuition rates.

In a statement, CSU Executive Vice Chancellor Ephraim P. Smith said the system is not “displacing Californians in favor of higher paying non-resident students and there is no policy encouraging campuses to do so.”

The CSU system had already announced that enrollment of undergraduate California students would be limited to a few hundred transfers from community colleges and a couple of other exceptions.  By changing its admissions policy, the Cal State system is trying address $750 million in cuts through the end of 2012, and another $250 million cut next year if voters reject a November tax measure supported by Governor Jerry Brown.


Former third grade teacher pleads no contest to 13 counts of child molestation


A former teacher at Telfair Elementary School in the San Fernando Valley has pleaded no contest to molesting 13 students, says the L.A. District Attorney's Office.

A former teacher at Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima has pleaded no contest to molesting 13 students, says the L.A. District Attorney's Office. 

Paul Chapel, 51, entered the pleas to 13 counts of lewd acts upon a child on Monday, just as his preliminary hearing was about to begin in San Fernando Superior Court. involving all 13 victims

The former third grade teacher was initially charged last year with molesting four children, but prosecutors added nine more children to the case in May.

He has remained in custody since March on $3.4 million bail.

Deputy District Attorney Elena Abramson said in a press release that Chapel will be sentenced to 25 years in state prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life when he returns to court Sept. 20 for sentencing. 


Alhambra Unified students learn to savor the moment in an exercise on frustration

Alhambra High School

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Maria Guadalupe Lara laughs during one of the Fresh Start sessions that asks students to think about the best ways to deal with stress.

Alhambra High School

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Middle school counselors recommend students that would benefit from the Fresh Start program.

Alhambra High School

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Luis Diaz, Brenda Valencia and Cassandra Contreras discuss ways to cope with difficult emotional situations that could occur in the upcoming freshmen year.

Alhambra High School

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services provides mental health services at 23 schools.

Alhambra High School

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Jessica Ramirez-Vasquez and Arturo Jr. Cuevas talk about what stresses them out in life and at school.

On Thursday the group at Alhambra High is talking about feelings. It’s the second to last day of the two-week "Fresh Start" program, and there is an easy familiarity among them.

The quote of the day is "no feeling is final," and they are in small groups filling out worksheets about the "stress spiral." The group takes apart a scenario about a student named Mark who had to join a program at school because he “ditched so much.” Mark tries to develop a plan to change his thoughts, feelings and actions.

The students have to identify coping strategies Mark uses — such as eating ice cream or playing guitar — to deal with his negative thoughts and feelings. And they try to identify how Mark’s feelings, actions and thoughts are linked together.

Sharon Chan, one of the therapists, leads 15 students in one of the three classes in a group discussion. "What if you have a day where eating ice cream, watching the TV, and those things don't work?...Sometimes it's having a friend or family support us, and that's OK."

Chan asks the class to come up with 10 coping strategies, and asks: "Who would you call if you got to the end of the list?”

"I'd call Maria," said Cassandra Contreras, 14, looking over to her friend's desk a couple feet away. "Even though I just met her last week, I'd call her and talk to her. She understands."

"Awwww," the class groaned collectively.

Then they start to put together their lists. Students shout out their coping methods: writing a letter and never sending it, keeping a diary, playing sports, posting to Tumblr.

Maria Guadalupe Lara, 14, watches the action with an appreciative and mischievous grin, shouting out her suggestions.

"You can come in here and say whatever you want, because we have the Vegas rule," Maria said. "What happens here, stays here."

Dianna Dolores Zuany, 14, was always a social butterfly and school leader. But as an eighth-grader, she was struggling in her classes for the first time and was worried she wouldn’t be able to graduate. Her grandfather died in December, she had a new boyfriend, and she and her childhood best friend were starting to drift apart.

"As an eighth-grader you have your drama, you have the little girls and the boys, the 'Oh I have a boyfriend' and all this, and the crossing the stage," Dianna said. "You had your worries, what if I fail freshman year, what if, what if, and you just worry, but this is a fresh start."

Near Dianna sat Arturo Jr. Cuevas, 15. For Arturo, Fresh Start really is a second chance. Arturo didn't cross the stage at his graduation ceremony because he failed a science class. He’d allowed himself to bend to peer pressure to slack off as an eighth-grader, and was distracted by trouble at home.