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

LA schools iPads: Superintendent Deasy explains Pearson, Apple meetings

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy

Krista Kennell/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.

More than a week after new questions arose regarding the bidding process for the 1:1 technology program, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy sent a six-page memo to the school board Tuesday defending his actions and stating that neither he nor his staff violated any rules.

"I am often times asked to meet with current or potential vendors by Board Members – all appropriate in my responsibility to become aware of the best products and services for LAUSD," Deasy wrote.

On Aug. 22, KPCC published internal emails showing discussions between Deasy, other top school district staffers and executives at Pearson and Apple began nearly a year before the companies won the contract to equip every student with a tablet loaded with educational software. He canceled the contract last week and said he will put the project out for bid again.


Far-reaching Vergara decision headed for appeals court

Vergara v California trial

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

In this file photo, Julia Macias, one of nine plaintiffs in the Vergara v. California trial, welcomes a judge's ruling in June striking down teacher job protections.

Officials are challenging the Vergara v. California ruling that struck down key job protections for state public school teachers.

“Changes of this magnitude, as a matter of law and policy, require appellate review,” wrote State Attorney General Kamala Harris and two deputy attorney generals in the appeal filed on Friday in L.A. County Superior Court.

The June ruling struck down California laws that give public school teachers wide job security after two years, carry out layoffs based on teacher seniority not effectiveness, and grant teachers more job protections than other public sector employees. Lawyers for nine public school student-plaintiffs argued in court that the laws allowed grossly ineffective teachers to keep their jobs and deprived some students of their constitutional right to an adequate education.


LA schools' woes with enrollment system continue

student classroom teacher

Photo by Tom Woodward via Flickr Creative Commons

The Los Angeles Unified School District has struggled to keep accurate tabs on students during the new school year — glitches in a new student information system have forced some counselors to handwrite student enrollment information.

Los Angeles Unified officials vastly underestimated the number of students facing problems from the district's new digital enrollment system, new numbers from the principals and administrators union suggest.

In an online newsletter for the week of Sept. 1, the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles reported at least 45,000 students are unaccounted for under the new system known as MiSiS. The district's communications office had previously said fewer than 1 percent — roughly 6,500 students or fewer — were affected.

Here's an excerpt from the newsletter:

We cannot begin to tell you the countless numbers of calls that have come into AALA about this catastrophe. Both elementary and secondary schools have had a particularly stressful opening this year. Basic student information is being incorrectly reflected in the system, with wrong birth dates and juxtaposed middle and last names. Enrollment counts are nowhere near accurate. 


LA schools iPads: Officials on bid committee got free tablets, resort trips

Baldwin Hills iPad - 6

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

L.A. Unified has already purchased 75,000 iPads, half with Pearson software. Here, second graders at Baldwin Hills Elementary swipe through their iPads for the first time and call out the apps they see.

Los Angeles Unified officials who evaluated bids for its massive technology project received iPads from Pearson, met with a Pearson software executive and attended a weekend sales pitch for that software — all ahead of the public bid process, documents show.

The revelation is important because Superintendent John Deasy has repeatedly said the bid process was not affected by early conversations on the software — which he asserts were limited to a small pilot project.

According to travel reports received through a public records act request, Susan Tandberg and Gerardo Loera, top administrators in the district's office of curriculum and instruction, attended a Pearson conference at a Palm Desert resort in July 2012 where all attendees were given iPads loaded with Pearson's learning software.


For some immigrant parents, keeping kids home better than preschool

Immigrants & preschool

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Dina Khalil accompanies her two young daughters to their early education classes at Shenandoah Elementary school in West LA. She is able to be with them in the classroom which greatly eases her anxiety about putting them into preschool.

Immigrants & preschool

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Dina Khalil's youngest daughters are enrolled in Shenandoah Elementary's Family Literacy program and state preschool.

Dina Khalil and her family left behind political turmoil in Egypt when they moved to Los Angeles in 2010.

Khalil and her husband tried to find housing and jobs - and figure out how things worked in their new country -with their two toddlers in tow. Khalil only spoke Arabic.

New friends began suggesting she put her children into daycare or Head Start, but the idea was utterly baffling to Khalil. In Egypt, family members are the primary caregivers for young children, she said.

“If I go to work [in Cairo], I bring my daughter or my son to my sister; I bring my son to my mother,” she said. For her, the early years are a time to teach love, culture and language and daycare can’t do this like family can.

But what to do in a new country when there is no family to help out? It’s a dilemma facing more families nationwide. One quarter of all young children in the U.S. live in a family where at least one parent was born overseas, according to the Migration Policy Institute.