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

San Fernando Valley is home to gold medal winner in all-girl international math competition

Vanessa Romo/KPCC

Alicia Weng, of North Hollywood, competed in the girls-only international math competition — China’s 11th Annual Math Olympiad

While U.S. athletes were in London parading their physical prowess, eight American "mathletes" were scoring medals at China’s Math Olympiad. One of them is a 16-year-old from North Hollywood High School, Alica Weng.

When I called to speak with Weng, who says she's incredibly jet-lagged from her flight home from China last night, I interrupted her in the middle of her leisure time, doing math.

"It was an inequality from a hand-out that I got at the camp."

Weng, who's starting her junior year, competed in the girls-only international math competition — China's 11th Annual Math Olympiad. It was held in Guangzhou, the country’s third-largest city. 

It's a grueling two-day competition where teen math whizzes are supposed to answer eight proofs over 16 hours.

If you're saying to yourself, "Meh, that’s not that hard," feel free to take a stab at the test. You’ve been warned. KPCC is not responsible for any loss of self-esteem that may occur as a result of knowing a 16-year-old can solve these and you can't.  

Read More...

Inglewood Unified school board brainstorms ideas to avoid bankruptcy

Inglewood Unified School District

Grant Slater/KPCC

A student boards a bus maintained by the Inglewood Unified School District on February 28, 2012.

Inglewood Unified School District

Grant Slater/KPCC

Students exit Inglewood High School as the bell rings on February 28, 2012.


Inglewood's school board met Wednesday afternoon to discuss ways to keep from running out of money, after taking steps last month to declare bankruptcy. 

An exodus of students, deferred payments from the state and funding cuts have pushed Inglewood Unified’s budget $9 million into the red. Board member Trina Williams says a small increase in student enrollment this year will generate more money from the state, and the district has been appraising unused land.

"We got about six properties, land and building included. If we sold that I think we would be alright," Williams said.

One property, she said, is Center Park next to Worthington Elementary School. Another property under consideration is a strip of land behind Morningside High School. The City of Inglewood, Williams said, is interested in buying the properties.

Read More...

Public school students enter classrooms with unequal instructional calendars

High school graduation

Getty Images

As the academic year begins, students in the Southland will attend public schools with significantly unequal instructional calendars.

Students in the Southland may have a hard time lining up summers with their friends, as schools begin the 2012 academic year with extremely lop-sided instructional calendars. The administrators of some districts have cut instructional days in the school year in order to close funding deficits.

In June, LAUSD’s school board cut five instructional days from the 180-day instructional year. Superintendent John Deasy alluded to this in a back-to-school assembly last week at Washington Preparatory High School.

"I am very aware of challenges we face and they’re daunting," he said. "They’re huge, scary and seemingly impossible."

But in spite of "seemingly impossible" challenges, he urged students, teachers and administrators to continue improvements among English learners — both in the high school exit exam and in mandatory state testing.

Read More...

Q and A with a Miramonte teacher

Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angel

Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images

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

When Los Angeles Unified removed two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School amid accusations they'd molested children, the school district also removed the entire teaching and support staff from the campus. For many of them, Tuesday was the first day back in the classroom after six months of district-imposed exile, forbidden from student contact.

Andrea Shaffer and 75 of her colleagues were among them. For months they spent their workdays at a nearby high school passing the time in limbo as they waited to be cleared. On her first day back on the job, I asked Andrea a few questions.


What does it feel like to be back?

Shaffer: "Fabulous! I’ve been in this area for about 12 years. I know a lot of families, and so, I just feel like I’m back home. I started bringing a car-load of boxes last Wednseday. I’ve been working very hard to get books up on the shelf and things cleaned up and everything in order."

Read More...

Former Miramonte Elementary teachers return as school opens for the new year

Miramonte Elementary School

Grant Slater/KPCC

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

Tuesday is the first day of school for more than 670,000 students enrolled in Los Angeles Unified, and the district is celebrating the grand opening of 20 brand new schools.

In honor of that, Superintendent John Deasy, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other “special guests” will hold a 10 a.m. news conference at the Hilda L. Solis Learning Academy.

The superintendent and other board members are also planning visits to at least 12 other new and existing schools throughout the day.

A district official said Deasy will likely make a stop at Miramonte Elementary School where two teachers were arrested in separate cases over claims of lewd conduct back in February.

Miramonte’s newly appointed school principal, Marta Contreras, said it’s likely to be an emotional morning at the South L.A. school with 45 of 76 of its previous teachers back in the classrooms.

Read More...