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

Can a 4-year-old learn from online preschool?

Online Preschool - 2

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Three-year-old Reagan Hurtado watches a preschool course with her mother on a laptop in their Monrovia home on Friday, July 18.

Online Preschool - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Before starting the courses, mother Monique Hurtado thought her daughter wouldn't sit and pay attention to watching them. But three-year-old Reagan focuses and sings along with the educational videos.

Online Preschool - 3

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Monique Hurtado, who is also caring for Reagan's baby brother, wanted a preschool option in which Reagan could stay home with her.

Online Preschool - 4

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Monique Hurtado sits with her three-year-old daughter, Reagan, while listening to a song about the months in the year.

Online Preschool - 5

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Online preschool companies ABC Mouse and CHALK preschool online both say their numbers for online courses are in the tens of thousands and are growing daily.

Online Preschool - 6

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Each daily online course has a crafts portion. Each day, three-year-old Reagan learns a new letter and paints it.

Online Preschool - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Three-year-old Reagan spends one to two hours each day doing the online preschool courses, which include print-outs for painting activities.

Monrovia mother of three Monique Hurtado doesn’t send her 3-year-old to preschool. Hurtado has her own bookkeeping business and her husband works full-time as a laser supply stock clerk.

“Financially we couldn’t afford it,” Hurtado said of the nearby preschool options.

And there was another reason: “I just feel she should stay home with me."

So she set up a preschool learning center. The big kitchen table is neatly divided into stations with paints, crayons and other art supplies. There are blocks and play dough in tubs.

And there’s a laptop computer.

Monique Hurtado found a preschool course for her child on the Internet. For years, websites have offered free preschool handouts or activity guides. Now, parents can get an entire preschool curriculum from a computer.

Two new companies for online preschool are ABC Mouse and CHALK preschool online. Neither company was willing to share exact metrics on home-use of its online products, but both said their numbers are in the tens of thousands - and growing daily.


Q&A: UC Berkeley prof on teacher collaboration and the future of LA schools

Teachers in charter and pilot Los Angeles public schools collaborate with and trust each other significantly more than teachers in L.A. Unified's traditional large public high schools, according to a new report from University of California researchers.

"There was so much trust and acceptance that teachers eagerly observed each other and gave coaching hints and came up with new ideas and units for kids," said Berkeley professor Bruce Fuller, who leads the L.A. Teacher Ties Project, a joint venture between scholars at Berkeley and UCLA to study teacher stability and motivation in Los Angeles schools. "That’s kind of interesting because there’s lots of controversy over teacher evaluation."

Released last month, the report notes significantly higher feelings of collective responsibility toward students and their school among teachers in charter and pilot schools than teachers in traditional Los Anglees Unified public schools. Charter schools and pilot schools are both managed on site, operating with more independence from central administration.


Charter schools: Audit finds missing, misused funds at LA network

Balancing The Account By Hand

Ken Teegardin/flickr Creative Commons


The Los Angeles Unified school district is investigating a network of eight charter schools for misuse of public school funds.

An audit showed Magnolia Public Schools used classroom cash to help six non-employees with immigration costs. The schools had trouble justifying another $3 million expense.

"These are taxpayer dollars, and we want to make sure they are spent correctly," said José Cole-Gutiérrez, director of L.A. Unified's charter school division.

A June audit, which the district is calling a "forensic review," revealed $2.8 million flowed from schools sites to the network’s management organization in the form of sloppy loans  - much of which were never paid back.  The management organization was then found to be operating on a $1.7 million deficit, meeting the IRS's definition of insolvent.


US Department of Justice blasts California’s English Learner monitoring

An empty classroom

BES Photos/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

Officials with the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice said in a court filing Monday they're troubled California officials did not act on a 2007 student census that found 20,000 English learner students had received no specialized instruction.

“California’s EL students cannot afford to wait any longer,” the filing by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels said.

The document was filed in support of a 2013 lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union against the state, claiming uneven English learner services are a violation of state law.

The US Dept. of Justice began investigating California's English learner monitoring in 2013.

State and federal law requires schools to give students who speak a language other than English at home specialized teaching to get them up to speed in academic English. The students in question make up less than 2 percent of the state's population of English learner students.


Summer school now a given for high achievers, but it’ll cost them

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Foundations run large summer school programs for public school districts in Palos Verdes and other communities. They offer many "get-ahead" academic classes and electives.

For high achieving students, summer school is the only way to stack their high school transcripts for their college applications to shine above the rest.

At Peninsula High School, near the top of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, more than a thousand students have signed up for classes this summer, most of them to get ahead, officials said.

“They want to fill their transcripts with what looks at very appealing to colleges and universities,” program director Pat Corwin said. "They can’t do that during the normal school year."

The average six-period high school day doesn’t stretch far enough to meet graduation requirements and college entry requirements – especially for those who are shooting for a big name school, Corwin said.

A generation ago Palos Verdes Unified used to run its summer school. Corwin said the school district can’t afford it anymore – so now students have to pay for it.