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

Size matters in new district-level 'Race to the Top' competition

LAUSD board protesters

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside L.A. Unified headquarters downtown as the board met inside to discuss the district's dire budget picture. (March 2012) LAUSD hopes the new Race to the Top competition will bring it urgently needed funds.

The new Race to the Top application, which for the first time this year allows districts to apply directly to the federal government for the competitive awards, will also allow larger school districts to qualify for more money, said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.

Deasy said he had only just received the application information today and was reviewing it.

"I'm reading it literally as we speak," Deasy said. "I'm extremely pleased with what appears to be a major change in the Race to the Top application...a differentiation in awards based on the size of the district."

Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education, said the department plans to announce the application details Sunday. But all that remains clear from previous comments by federal education officials is that the majority of the $550 million pot will go to districts — far less than the $4 billion pot previously provided for Race to the Top competitions.


Calif. court overturns LAUSD's 'last hired, first fired' exemption


The California 2nd District Court of Appeal has invalidated LAUSD's 'last hired, first fired' exemption at 45 schools.

A major class-action settlement that gives LAUSD teachers layoff protection at several dozen schools in high-poverty areas has been invalidated by the California 2nd District Court of Appeal.

The 2 to 1 decision, with Associate Justice Kathryn Doi Todd dissenting and Associate Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst and Associate Justice Victoria M. Chavez concurring, focuses on the technical aspects of Reed vs. United Teachers Los Angeles. The justices agreed that the teachers' union has a right to a trial where the merits of its case can be examined more fully.

Reed vs. California was filed in February 2010 and essentially argued that low-performing schools in high-poverty areas -- already difficult to staff -- were so unfairly impacted by teacher layoffs that it compromised the constitutional rights of students to be educated.


Report: If you teach at a UC school, you're probably underpaid

UCLA Student Protest

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

UCLA students protest tuition increases at a Board of Regents meeting. The system has been hit with multi-millions in state funding cuts that officials fear make it less competitive in retaining first-class faculty.

If you teach at the University of California, you're probably paid less than your peers in similar positions at competing schools, according to the system's annual report on employee compensation released today.

The systemwide report on 2011 compensation found that pay for many UC employees is "significantly below market" and that salary increases for non-union employees have been minimal or nonexistent since 2008. 

A 2009 study found that many UC employees received less money than those working in similar positions elsewhere. At the time faculty received about 10 percent less than their peers at competing institutions. Officials believe this problem has likely grown worse, but have not been able to afford a repeat study, said UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein.

"The feeling is the lag is even greater because while everybody is getting raises, we aren’t," Klein said.


LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy's 'state of the schools' speech

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy  sp

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy speaks during a press conference at South Region High School #2 in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.

The first day of school for LAUSD is less than a week away — the bell rings on August 14 — and Superintendent John Deasy had a few words for school principals and administrators on Thursday; we were there, live-tweeted it and have archived the stream below.
Deasy shared his “expectations and priorities” for the 2012-13 school year. 
Most school board members were in attendance at the address. 
Some issues Deasy’s addressed:
- The role of teaching to new Common Core standards
- Expanding school choice options for parents and students
- Improving administrator and teacher accountability
- Boosting high school graduation rates 

Let us know what you think in the comments below! 



State auditor to look at how schools use anti-bullying laws to protect gay students


Mae Ryan/KPCC

Students from middle and high schools across LAUSD line up at the Nokia Theatre to watch the documentary "Bully." California lawmakers have requested the state auditor examine how schools implement anti-bullying and harassment laws to protect students targeted for their sexual orientation.

California lawmakers today approved a request for a state audit on how schools implement anti-bullying and harassment laws after recent incidents in which students were targeted for their sexual orientation.

Democratic state Assembly members Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens and Betsy Butler of Los Angeles jointly made the request at today's Joint Legislative Audit Committee meeting. It was approved by a 9 to 4 vote, said Julia Svetlana Juarez, a spokeswoman for Lara.

“It’s devastating for a child to feel unsafe in an environment where they are supposed to feel protected," Lara said in a statement. "This audit will help identify gaps in compliance and provide solid recommendations for improvement."

More than 200,000 students in California are harassed each year because they are gay, lesbian or someone thought they were, according to a California Healthy Kids Survey in 2000. These incidents occur despite laws that aim to combat such behavior and improve student safety.