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

How do you teach students to ask questions?


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Teachers discuss a list questions they generated about students in the learning environment during a workshop at Wildwood School. The goal of the workshop was to help educators shift their classroom, allowing students to formulate their own questions instead of only reciting facts.


Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Phyllis Castaneda, left, Hali Metelak and Isabel Morales talk over questions they identified during a workshop for teachers and administrators on encouraging students to ask their own questions. The workshop is based around the argument that formulating your own questions is a critical skill for learning.


Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Aspire Ollin University Preparatory Academy Assistant Principal Joel Ramirez listens to discussions during a workshop for educators about the importance of students posing their own questions in the classroom.


Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Joel Ramirez, left, Joel Karchmer, Phyllis Castaneda and Hali Metelak discuss questions they posed about the learning environment during a workshop at Wildwood School. The workshop was based around the premise of the book "Make Just One Change."


Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Isabel Morales works with a group of teachers to identify how they can encourage students to pose their own questions to class material during a workshop at Wildwood School.

It's summer vacation, but a bunch of educators are gathered at Wildwood School in Mar Vista. They spread a poster across a worktable and start listing questions - about why students don't ask more questions.

"Which kids do not ask their own questions?" asked Joel Ramirez, an assistant principal at Aspire Ollin University Preparatory Academy. 

"What squashes a child's curiosity?" asked Isabel Morales, a social studies teacher at Los Angeles High School of the Arts. 

Dan Rothstein is roaming the room, encouraging teachers to keep listing their questions. It's not about getting the answers - at least, not yet. He's walking them through the "question formulation technique" he wants them to teach their students when school starts in the fall.

When done right, he said the results are almost magical.


Civil Grand Jury criticizes First 5 LA's priorities, spending

First 5 LA Logo with URL

First 5 LA Logo

Public agency, First 5 LA, accused of poor budgeting and lack of transparency by LA County Civil Grand Jury.

The Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury has issued a report that takes the multi-million dollar public agency, First 5 LA to task, criticizing it's administrative overhead, planning and follow through on initiatives.

In the report, grand jurors said three-years ago, First 5 LA spent 64 percent of its budget for "place-based" work on operating costs - including public relations and research and evaluations. Last year, the agency was much better, spending 25 percent on overhead.

The civil grand jury said the agency didn't provide enough detail on how much money it spent on each of its 14 target communities, and whether the funds improved the lives of kids under 5, the mandate of the tobacco tax-funded agency.

It also criticized the agency for not spending enough on programs in those 14 communities - just 10 percent of the $17.3 million it allotted to "place-based" program work. 


LA school board president elected to 2nd term

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Richard Vladovic

Richard Vladovic was elected by fellow board members Tuesday to a second term as president of the Los Angeles Unified School District board.

There was no discussion of Vladovic's track record nor his plans for the coming school year. The whole thing took less than three minutes and Tamar Galatzan was the only no vote.

Vladovic guided the board in a year of major changes: the switch to Common Core, the start of the district's one-to-one iPad technology program, a waiver from No Child Left Behind and a move to a new state funding stream aimed at high need students.

The school board pledges all of the reforms will improve academic outcomes for students. 

A former Social Studies teacher and administrator, Vladovic has served on the board since 2007, representing San Pedro, Gardena, Carson and surrounding areas. He replaced Monica Garcia as president last July. 


iPads year 2: LA schools to launch teacher prep course


Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Russ Swanson, left, a virtual learning complex facilitator, works with second graders at Baldwin Hills Elementary as they use their iPads for the first time.

The Los Angeles Unified school district is developing a digital course to help over 700 schools ease into its $1.3 billion technology program.

Schools just getting the tablets in the coming school year will select teachers, administrators and students to lead roll out. Staff will be required to complete the self-guided course in addition to in-person professional development before the computers are distributed.

Bernadette Lucas, director of the program, said they are listening to feedback from teachers who received the devices last year.

Last school year, 85 campuses were slated to go one-to-one, receiving an iPad for each student, with varying results. Some schools pleaded for more planning, administrators said. Four schools asked to be taken off the list of those receiving tablets last year.


Paid family leave law expands the definition of family


California's new expanded definition of family allows for paid time off to care for grandparents, in-laws, siblings and grandchildren.

For a decade, California’s Paid Family Leave Law has allowed workers to receive paid time off while taking care of a sick child, parent, spouse or domestic partner. 

Starting Tuesday, the state expands the type of relatives Californians can take paid time off of work to care for to include siblings, grandparents, in-laws and grandchildren. It’s funded through the state disability insurance program that comes out of an employee's paycheck.

Sharon Terman with the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center in San Francisco called the expansion of this law a "critical step" for workers who can't afford to take time off unpaid to care for ill relatives. 

Workers need a doctor's certificate stating the relative needs care and will then get  55% of their wage for the time they are the primary caregiver. It can be used for six weeks in any one year – the same as caring for a close relative.