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

Coachella Valley art scene growing as young people see opportunities

Dan Chavkin/Courtesy of Perkins+Will

The new $5.6 million visual arts building at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, which was designed by the architecture firm Perkins+Will.

Coachella Valley, once known as a place to retire in the California desert, is taking on a new spirit.

The valley is attracting a younger crowd, residents and educators say, one drawn not only to the valley's popular music festival but to its growing arts scene. 

"This is no longer just a retirement community," said Lisa Soccio, art professor at College of the Desert in Palm Desert. Soccio said she's seen radical changes over the nine years she’s worked at the college.

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"We have a lot of people in the sort of 18 to 35 age category and they’re making art for themselves, and they are developing some new forms of art — some new approaches to working with materials that you don’t see in other places, that you don’t see in Los Angeles," Soccio said.


Group says child care costs can exceed even housing expenses for families

Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

File: A child care advocacy group called on lawmakers to address the high cost of child care, which it said can be the most expensive item in a family's budget, exceeding even housing.

Paying for the care of children can sometimes top a family's budget as its most expensive item, according to Child Care Aware of America, an advocacy group for quality child care.

The group on Thursday issued its 2014 report, "Parents and the High Cost of Child Care," showing child care in the U.S. amounts to as much as $14,508 a year for an infant and $12,280 for a four-year-old in a care center.

The expense can sometimes exceed other categories in a family's budget, the group said, including food, transportation, housing and college tuition, but this can differ by regions of the country.

In the West, child care cost for two children is exceeded only by housing expenses based on an average family budget, according to the report.

Lynette Fraga, executive director of Child Care Aware of America, called for solutions to the high cost of child care as well as the low wages earned by child care providers. She said in a press release the situation "has become a crisis."


Funding for 11,000 free preschool seats may disappear in 2016

LAUP Funding

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

Fernando Patlan jumped off his trike and raced to grab balls in the basketball area of Mother's Club preschool in Pasadena. He is 2 years old and in 2016 he will be the right age for Mother's Club, but it is not clear if the preschool's funder, LAUP, will have money for the 11,000 preschool seats it provides.

LAUP Funding

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

Two-year-old Fernando runs in the outdoor play area at Mother's Club preschool in Pasadena. His mother, Gabriela Flores, is worried that in August 2016, he won't have a preschool seat.

Mother's Club Preschool

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

A preschool student in the LAUP classroom at Mother's Club works on his aromatic, gritty concoction. It's a sensory activity that helps children learn about different textures and smells.

Mother's Club preschool

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

In the imaginative play area, one little girl has bathed her dolly and is putting her down for a nap. She tells a teacher how she does this every day at home.

Mother's Club preschool

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

In a fine-motor activity, one table of children in the Mother's Club LAUP classroom take shapes and stick them on white paper, then they select tiny glittery beads and paste those on top.

A change in direction by a major funder of subsidized preschool spaces in Los Angeles County may leave 11,000 low-income families scrambling for child care in two years.

The Board of Commissioners of First 5 LA, the nonprofit that advocates for children 0 to 5 and funds health and early education programs from tobacco tax revenue, met in mid-November and approved a new strategic plan. The plan deemphasized direct services such as subsidized preschool slots, resulting in no new funding contract for Los Angeles Universal Preschool, which has provided thousands of free preschool seats for 4-year-olds since 2004 with First 5 LA support.

LAUP's current contract with First 5 LA runs through June 30, 2016. Thus far, LAUP has no committed funding to replace the monies from First 5 LA.  

While executives at both organizations and key stakeholders have known for many months now that the funding would not be renewed, the move surprised parents and some child care providers who are just learning that they might not have the preschool spaces when the LAUP’s contract ends.


LAUSD students hope for iPads, prepare for disappointment

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

King Drew Magnet High School 11th-graders Maria Delgado and Christian Acuna said they're disappointed the school district canceled iPad orders for their campus and 26 others.

It's been a roller coaster ride for Los Angeles Unified School District students who were promised iPads that would usher in a new chapter in how they'll learn and take tests in the digital age.

The latest dip in that ride came Tuesday with news that LAUSD is canceling the latest purchase of iPads. The announcement came after the FBI seized boxes of district documents, revealing a criminal investigation into LAUSD’s $1.3 billion iPad program.

King Drew Medical Magnet High School was scheduled to receive iPads along with 26 other schools that were part of the next phase of the program designed to place a tablet in the hands of each district student.

Eleventh-grader Maria Delgado says her teachers told her the iPad would replace most everything in her heavy backpack.

"Classwork and assignments were due and given on the iPads so that we wouldn’t carry our binders and none of that — only the iPad, and the iPad was going to carry all the supplies and materials we needed," she said.


California receives more than $4 million in NEA arts funding

Music Makes You Smarter

Jae C. Hong/AP

File: Karina Reyes, left, and Damaris Marquez, right, share a laugh during a lesson offered by Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that provides free music lessons to low-income students and among 14 "Art Works" grant winners in California.

California organizations and individuals landed more than $4 million in funding from the National Endowment for the Arts in the latest round of grant awards.

That amount represents 14 percent of the total awards distributed across the country. Nationally, 1,116 grants were given out for a total of $29.1 million.

RELATED: Two So Cal charter schools land crucial NEA funding

"These new projects will continue to demonstrate the power the arts have to deepen value, build connections, and foster an atmosphere of creativity and innovation both at the community level and with individuals throughout the nation," said NEA Chairman Jane Chu in a written statement. 

In California, 161 grants were awarded. Among the winners are four poets from California who received an NEA Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing: Lynn Xu of Laguna Niguel, Brandon Brown of Oakland, Javier Zamora of San Rafael, and Ellen Bass of Santa Cruz.