After more than a decade of directly overseeing $1 billion in education reform grants from his non-profit foundation, philanthropist Eli Broad is grooming a replacement.
He's hired Bruce Reed, a high profile Washington political operative who spent decades in the halls of power. Reed was a speechwriter for then-U.S. Senator Al Gore, advised President Bill Clinton's domestic policy agenda, and was CEO of the influential Democratic Leadership Council.
Sitting at a conference table at Broad's 12th floor Westwood office recently, Reed sounded almost like an intern.
“I'm sitting at the right hand of the master, learning how this is done,” Reed said. “He's been a great mentor in so many ways already.”
Among the billions Broad has donated over the years, a substantial chunk has gone to public education. For more than a decade, his support has fed the growth of charter schools and pushed for results-based teaching.
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Offering computer science classes at California high schools is a challenge because of a shortage of qualified teachers.
An initiative to address the shortage of computer science offerings in the L.A. Unified School District will go before the school board Tuesday. Only one-in-three of the district's high schools are offering a basic course this year, and far fewer are offering the Advanced Placement Computer Science course.
"We definitely are in this incubation stage as a district," said David Azevedo, district director for board member Tamar Galatzan, who authored the resolution.
"We imagine we will need a lot more teachers. We may need some kind of curriculum component that may cost money, whether it be textbooks or software," Azevedo said.
The resolution directs Superintendent John Deasy to survey what schools currently offer, including after-school and enrichment opportunities. The administration then has 90 days to respond with an expansion plan and associated costs.
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Sarah Henderson (L) and children from Mrs. Morrow's kindergarten class at Sunderland Elementary school recite the Pledge of Allegiance September 17, 2002 in Sunderland, Maryland. At the 2014 National Governors Association meetings, Maryland was held up as an example of a state where early education is working well, preparing children for the rigors of kindergarten.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan told governors this week that expanding early education programs is underway — and they should join in.
"This is a parade I think you all want to be in front of, not behind," he told the National Governors Association on Sunday, during the group's winter meeting in Washington.
Governors peppered Duncan with questions regarding funding and access for early education for their states.
In January's budget bill, Congress allotted $250 million for the early education portion of Race to the Top. California was awarded early education Race to the Top funds in December 2011.
State education officials from Alabama and Maryland shared details of their early education programs. Despite its growing preschool movement, Alabama's Commissioner of Children's Affairs, Jeanne Ross, told a panel on early education that her preschool centers still have long wait-lists.
Los Angeles Unified school board member Tamar Galatzan wants to spend $290,000 in bond money for computer labs for five of her San Fernando district's elementary schools. The new computers, which include a range of tablets, desktops and laptops, will come in addition to L.A. Unified's plan to equip all students with an iPad.
The request was approved by the bond oversight committee Thursday but must be approved by the school board before it can go forward.
L.A. Unified has spent about $4.5 million in bonds on computers in addition to the iPad program since 2011, according to its 2013 Strategic Execution Plan. Two thirds of that money - $3 million - is planned to be spent on Galatzan's district - the western San Fernando Valley.
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William Johnston, who was superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District during the 1970s, is urging officials to stop using bond funds to buy iPads - leading an oversight committee to take up the issue Thursday.
"I believe the current purchase of iPads with school bonds is illegal," Johnston said in a letter addressed to the chairman of the district's bond oversight committee, Steve English. "New developments and technology will make them obsolete, requiring replacement. School bonds are designed to buy property, build schools, equip schools with lasting equipment."
The committee has sided with the current administration, recommending the school board use school construction bonds to expand the iPad program. Once fully implemented, it's expected to cost $1.3 billion, most of which will be spent on upgrading wifi at schools.