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

Update: LA Unified school board approves $1.1M plan to fix Jefferson High class issues

LA Unified's Tommy Chang at Jefferson High meeting

KPCC/Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Los Angeles Unified instructional superintendent Tommy Chang speaks to parents at Jefferson High on Oct. 13, 2014 about a plan to fix class scheduling problems at the school.

Less than a week after a judge ordered the state and Los Angeles Unified to fix problems at Jefferson High, the district board unanimously approved a plan to reschedule students, extend the school day and hire more staff.

L.A. Unified officials said as many as 200 Jefferson students will be interviewed and, if necessary, placed in correct classes by Monday. Officials will also examine scheduling at every middle and high school to ensure students are getting the classes they need to graduate.

The board members agreed to spend $1.1 million to carry out the improvements.

The court order stems from a lawsuit brought by ACLU and Public Counsel on behalf of students at schools across California. Last Wednesday, Judge George Hernandez directed state and local officials to devise a plan to fix Jefferson's scheduling woes and present it to the school board.

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Preschool teachers among lowest paid despite degrees

Long Beach Preschool

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Long Beach preschool teacher Anabel Lopez leads children in a round of singing and dancing. Lopez has a bachelor's degree and receives $11.75 an hour where she teaches at Comprehensive Child Development Center.

While debate rages on increasing the minimum wage locally and nationally, one unexpected group of workers earning close to the bottom of the scale stands to benefit if the floor is raised: preschool teachers.

Although a college degree is required for many teaching in early education, it's not unusual for a teacher to get about $11.75 an hour or $24,440 for the year. That salary puts a family of three or more below the federal poverty line.

The state minimum wage now stands at $9 an hour and will rise  to $10 in 2016. But if the Los Angeles City Council joins Mayor Eric Garcetti in supporting an increase in the minimum wage to $13.25 an hour by 2017, the average preschool teacher could see an annual salary of $27,560. 

An estimated 56,000 preschool teachers in California, mostly women of color, would be among those affected. Anabel Lopez could be one.

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100,000 Los Angeles elementary students still without libraries

library school books

Annie Gilbertson/KPCC

FILE: Multiple libraries in L.A. Unified were closed after budget cuts. Even teachers could not check out books.

About 40 percent of Los Angeles Unified elementary schools still lack the staff to open libraries, leaving about 100,000 students without a way to borrow books on campus, according to figures recently released by the district.

During budget hearings last spring, Superintendent John Deasy promised to spend $6 million to bring back the 192 library aides who would help open shuttered elementary libraries across the district this school year.

In 2011 budget cuts, Deasy and the school board laid off half of the district's library aides and reduced the hours of many who were left. Without trained staff, schools can't run a library under state law.

"Students don't learn literacy skills (in the library). They learn that through trained teachers," Deasy told KPCC in 2011, after the cuts were announced.

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LA Unified moves to fix Jefferson High scheduling problems under court order

JEFFERSON 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Jefferson High School students Dasianique Weeks, left, Starr Brock, and Oscar Carrillo are upset with the dysfunctional scheduling software and staffing issues at their high school.

Top Los Angeles Unified administrators met with school staff at Jefferson High in south Los Angeles Thursday after a judge ordered they come up with a plan to get students the courses and teachers they need.

Instead of academic courses required to graduate or get into college, some students were assigned periods doing clerical work, given classes they had already taken or allowed to go home early, according to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Public Counsel. 

Julia Pineda went to the school to question Jefferson administrators Thursday on why her son is home at around noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

She said their answer wasn't entirely comforting: officials told her he's doing well in his classes so the "home" periods won't affect him.

"It is affecting him because he's losing half a school day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He gets out early and goes home and does nothing," she said, adding she welcomed the state intervention.

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Long Beach museum looks to buck trend of declining student field trips

MOLAA School Bus

Mary Plummer/KPCC

The Museum of Latin American Art's new bus transports students from Anton Elementary School to the museum on Sept. 26.

MOLAA School Bus

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Amber lights, crossover lights and "school" are taped over on the bus purchased by the Museum of Latin American Art to bring local students to the Long Beach museum. The process of getting the bus certified spanned more than a year. This photo was taken over the summer as the museum staff worked to get the bus operating as a school bus.

MOLAA School Bus

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Jared Battad, who works as a security guard at The Museum of Latin American Art, is now a bus driver for the museum. Battad started driving at the start of 2014 and had to qualify for a Class B driver's license.

MOLAA School Bus

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

By the time it was done, the Museum of Latin American Art's bus went through two paint jobs, a letter of appeal to the governor and four separate visits from California Highway Patrol inspectors.

MOLAA School Bus

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Fifth-graders from Anton Elementary School in East Los Angeles head to The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach on Sept. 26.

MOLAA School Bus

Mary Plummer/KPCC

The Museum of Latin American Art's new bus transports students from Anton Elementary School to the museum on Sept. 26.


Museum field trips, once among the most memorable experiences of the school year, have seen declines across the country in the past decade. Budget cuts and pressure to teach to the test have kept students on campus and in their classrooms, museum experts say.

The declines have been significant; some museums report student attendance dropped by double-digits.

"It's of great concern," says Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums. "What we've heard from museums across the country over the past 10 years is that there are increasing barriers to field trips."

National numbers are hard to come by, according to Merritt, but the trend of the last decade at individual museums has been discouraging. In Los Angeles, the Autry National Center museum's field trip numbers have dropped every year since 2010, down 13 percent. And until the 2013-2014 school year, the L.A. Natural History Museum's field trip numbers were down nearly 20 percent from a high in 2007-2008. 

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