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

LA County Office of Education, unions at impasse over health benefits

Challenger school

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

Teachers who work for the L.A. County Office of Education face some of the toughest classroom conditions in the county. Union officials say the county needs to value its workers by offering them a fair deal for health and welfare benefits. County officials say they have done that. The parties are at an impasse.

The Los Angeles County Office of Education and its unions have reached an impasse in negotiations over next year's healthcare benefits and are now in state mediation.

Union officials say the education office is taking advantage of their willingness to play ball over the years; they plan to voice their concerns Tuesday during public comment before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. But county officials say an uncertain budget year and the possibility of additional new cuts make it impossible to offer more.

The L.A. County Office of Education negotiates health and welfare benefits every year with the Los Angeles County Education Assn., Service Employees International Union Local 99, and the California School Employees Assn.

For years, under an agreement with the unions, the office set aside money from workers' pay for a trust that would help offset rising healthcare costs. That trust grew to about $6 million at one point, but it's dwindled to about $630,000, said Rudy Spivery, a treasurer for the L.A. County Employees Assn.


National Week of Action: Human Rights Workshop for parents tonight

As part of the annual National Week of Action to raise awareness about the more than 3 million students suspended out-of-school each year and call on states and school districts to implement positive discipline policies, CADRE – Community Asset Development Redefining Education – is hosting a talk framing access to education as a human right for all students. 

While CADRE concentrates its efforts in South LA schools, tonight's workshop is open to all parents who live in similar economic and social situations whose children, organizers say, are caught in a “system of pushout rather than equal opportunity and access in our public schools.”

 The objective of the workshop is to train parents to lead their own grassroots movements “changing the rules of the game (educational policies) so that public schools not only provide a quality education to all children, in every neighborhood, but also function as community institutions that value social justice and respond to community needs.”


State-appointed administrator for Inglewood Unified to be announced Wednesday

Inglewood Unified union leaders and a school board member say California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction is set to announce on Wednesday his pick to run the Inglewood Unified School District for the state. It’s the result of the school district’s rescue from bankruptcy.

Inglewood teachers union president Peter Somberg said State Superintendent Tom Torlakson met with him and other district union leaders on Saturday.

“He said that he has someone appointed, someone chosen for the position of state administrator for our district,” Somberg said.

The announcement is the latest development in a years-long process in which the school board and the superintendent it hired failed to steer the district’s budget away from bankruptcy. Despite recent cuts the 12,000 student district faced a $9 million deficit this year that it expected to balloon by the spring.

Chris Graeber, with the union that represents Inglewood Unified’s classified workers, said his members have a vested interest in a new leader who can restore public confidence in the district.

“A large proportion of our members live in Inglewood so they’re either parents, grandparents, alumni of this district,” Graeber said.

Torlakson’s office declined to comment for this story and members of Inglewood Unified’s board were not available to talk. Inglewood Unified is the first Southland school district the state’s taken over in nearly 20 years.


Renowned dancer and Southland ballet instructor, Yvonne Mounsey, dies (Video)

In an interview with Dance Channel TV, Yvonne Mounsey said her eight decades in ballet began far from Los Angeles. “I started dancing in South Africa, where I was born, when I was a child. And it wasn’t long before I went to England and started studying there and doing all my Royal Academy exams,” she said.

Mounsey died Saturday of complications from cancer, her family said.

Along with her British training, Mounsey also learned from the top Russian choreographers of the mid 20th century. George Balanchine asked her to join his New York City Ballet. Mounsey’s daughter Allegra Clegg said her mother’s interpretations during this period involved much more than masterful technique.

“The reviews of her when she danced “The Prodigal Son” in New York City Ballet, yes it was done before, and people had danced it before her but she embodies that role, the sensuality of it, just the artistry,” Clegg said.

In 1967, Yvonne Mounsey founded Westside Ballet in Santa Monica to teach children and adults. During the Dance Channel interview she expressed pride in the dancers who went on to careers in ballet - and those who did not.

“We’ve had many go become famous surgeons and doctors and artists and writers, it’s just amazing. And I think in part it’s the discipline,” Mounsey said.

She maintained that discipline until three months ago. Clegg said her mother was teaching scores of children for her company’s production of “The Nutcracker” in December. “Her friend called her a 22-year-old with wrinkles,” Clegg said.


Miramonte: Lawyers say Picasso print distressed students; propose reform plan (poll)

Girl Before a Mirror


Picasso's 1932 painting, which is now hanging in New York's Museum of Modern Art. Lawyers point to a print of this painting that hung in a Miramonte classroom.

Lawyers for 24 children who claim sexual abuse at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles said a Picasso print hanging in a classroom was "distressing" to students and suggested an 11-point plan to protect children from future abuse. 

Attorney Luis Carrillo suggested that Los Angeles Unified School District and other districts throughout the state should enact the plan. He sent copies to L.A. Superintendent John Deasy, California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and federal education secretary Arne Duncan.

The alleged victims’ lawyers also claim that at least one of their clients experienced "suffering" because a print of a Pablo Picasso painting was posted in Mark Berndt’s classroom. Berndt is the former teacher who's accused of abusing 23 students over at least five years.