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

Beyond Props 30 & 38: Education ballot measures you need to know about before voting

Pennsylvania Voters Take Part In The State's GOP Primary

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This week Gov. Jerry Brown launched a media blitz supporting Proposition 30.  If we can glean anything from the commercial breaks between the wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Sandy, Molly Munger has also stepped up her TV ad campaign for Prop 38. But  a lot of other ballot measures that could have a big impact on education may glide under your radar screen.

Let’s get to them.

In Los Angeles County, 15 bond measures seek to benefit local schools. Districts are asking voters’ approval to borrow from $18 million to $385 million to repair leaky roofs, make seismic retrofits, modernize science labs, and construct new buildings.  For the most part the districts with the greatest need aren't asking for the most money. It’s the opposite. The smaller the bond the more modest (and sometimes dire) the improvements seem to be. Um…asbestos removal?

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LA teachers union blocks LAUSD's Race to the Top (Updated)

John Deasy

Nick Ut/AP

The L.A. teachers' union refused to sign off on the LAUSD Race to the Top application, effectively taking it out of the running for $40 million in federal funds.

Citing long-term budget concerns, the union for schoolteachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District has refused to sign off on the district's Race to the Top grant application, effectively taking the nation's second-largest school district out of the running for $40 million in federal funds.

L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy, sounding deflated, said Tuesday morning that the district had tried to work with United Teachers Los Angeles and couldn't understand why no deal was reached.

"They gave a number of different reasons and every single reason they gave we accommodated," Deasy said.

Initial concerns about ongoing discussions to meet a Dec. 4 court-imposed deadline for a new teacher evaluation system were addressed by the district. The Race to the Top competition requires districts to adopt an evaluation system that incorporates student test scores. Deasy said L.A. Unified provided the union with a legal assurance that plans for Race to the Top would be treated separately from negotiations.

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Credit rating for California school districts could be downgraded if Props 30 & 38 fail

Prop 30 and 38

David McNew/Getty Images

The fate of pro-education Propositions 30 and 38 will be decided by voters on Nov. 6.

Public support for Propositions 30 and 38 is plummeting despite expansive, and expensive,  campaign efforts across the state by their respective champions: Governor Jerry Brown and attorney and millionaire-ess Molly Munger.

Critics have accused Brown and Munger of using scare tactics about the imminent collapse of the public education system to elicit more “Yes” votes for the tax initiatives intended to shore up funds for education. 

But Moody’s Investors Service says the forecast for California school districts is dire, and many are at risk of having their credit rating downgraded if both ballot measures fail.

The projections in the report, "California School Districts Face Mounting Credit Pressure If Tax Initiative Fails in November Election," are bleak:

“As many as 150 of the 327 California school districts it rates to face some degree of fiscal pressure if both propositions are defeated. The weakest of these are likely candidates that Moody's would place on review for downgrade following the election.”

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LAUSD unveils state-of-the-art science center named for astronaut Sally Ride (video)

Sally Ride enviro center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The late astronaut Sally Ride's mother Joyce Ride and her sister Bear Ride help with the ribbon-cutting on The Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science at L.A. Unified. Democratic Assemblyman Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles helps hold the scissors. School board member Bennett Kayser looks on.

sally ride enviro cneter

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

LAUSD unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park named for Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring students to pursue careers in math and science.

Sally ride enviro center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

A student looks into a microscope at the new Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science at LAUSD.

sally ride enviro center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

LAUSD unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park named for Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring students to pursue careers in math and science. Students listen to 10th-grader Moises Ortiz and 11th-grader Jessica Recendez demonstrate how waterways can be contaminated by rains washing down fertilizer, pesticides and trash.

Sally Ride Enviro Center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

NASA intern and Cal State student Jill Pestana talks about how the late astronaut Sally Ride inspired her to pursue a career in science. LAUSD unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park named for Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring a new generation of students to pursue careers in math and science.

Sally Ride Enviro Center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

LAUSD unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park named for Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring students to pursue careers in math and science.

Sally Ride Enviro Center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The late astronaut Sally Ride's mother Joyce Ride and sister Bear Ride pose with the ribbon and scissors. LAUSD unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park named for Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring students to pursue careers in math and science.

Sally Ride Enviro Center

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The late astronaut Sally Ride's mother Joyce Ride and her sister Bear Ride speak at the unveiling of The Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science at L.A. Unified.


L.A. Unified unveiled a state-of-the-art science facility in Glassell Park Monday that bears the name of the late astronaut Sally Ride, in hopes of inspiring a new generation of students to pursue careers in math and science.

The Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science is a $4.8 million LEED-certified facility that sits behind the Sonia M. Sotomayor Learning Academies. The 6,000 square foot facility, less than a mile from the L.A. River, includes three state-of-the-art labs that will focus on areas such as hydrology and energy. The labs have high-tech, professional grade equipment, including a photovoltaic demonstration system, a PH water lab, a centrifuge, and field spectrometers.

The site will be used not only as a hands-on science lab for students who will conduct water and soil testing and energy conservation research, but also to train teachers. 

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Educators unveil online role-playing game to increase college-going rates

screen shot

USC's new online role-playing game teaches planning for college application process.

A new online game for high school students is designed around one of the most important, most complicated and most frustrating jobs that teenagers face: applying to college.

The game is called “Mission: Admission” and anyone with a Facebook account can play. It’s been three years in the making through a partnership with USC’s Game Innovation Lab.

“We really want to teach them strategies and give them a safe place to fail,” said USC education researcher Zoe Corwin.

Failing in the game is no big deal. Failing to get into the right college because deadline was missed or an application was incomplete is a really big deal.
 
In "Mission: Admission," a cartoon-like avatar juggles a busy calendar that requires the student to get letters of recommendation and fill out applications, all while studying on an imaginary high school campus. The player can run out of energy, miss deadlines, or fall short of the require qualifications for college admissions.

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