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

Educator with local roots picked to take over troubled Inglewood Unified

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

California’s State Superintendent announced Wednesday he’s chosen Kent Taylor, the current superintendent of Southern Kern Unified, to take over administration of the fiscally troubled Inglewood Unified School District.

This summer the school district requested and state legislators approved a bailout loan that kept the district from insolvency and stripped the 12,000-student district of local control.

The announcement caps a years-long process - led by the board of education and local superintendent - of budget cutting, loans, LA County oversight, and finally a state bailout. Inglewood Unified’s board room was standing-room-only with education activists, employee union leaders, and elected officials. They were there to witness the school district lose local control for the first time in its 58-year history.


UPDATED: CSU Campuses spread the word on Prop 30

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University library at the Cal State Long Beach campus.

California State University campuses are trying to spread the word on why voters should say “Yes” to Proposition 30 – a measure that raises taxes to prevent further state cuts to education.

Over the next week, Cal State campuses in Sacramento, Long Beach, and San Francisco are hosting nformational events detailing the potential impact of the tax initiative. Voter registration drives are also part of the effort. Some critics, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, charge that with actions like this the public university system is engaging in improper political advocacy.

KPCC’s Julie Small recently reported that although a slim majority favors Prop 30 – 55% of survey respondents say they support the quarter cent tax hike - pollsters say its fate is “vulnerable.”

If voters approve it, the measure would prevent a $250 million “trigger” cut to CSU’s budget that would take effect at the end of the year.


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.