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

Kids Count: Ending California child poverty requires new approaches

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

File: Beverly Gardener looks after her 3-year-old grandson in Compton. Gardener started working at Small World Preschool in 1977, but lost her job when the new provider took over.

A new report out Wednesday examines California's 1.3 million population of impoverished children and those in other states and asks why their numbers remain stubbornly high after decades of social service programs. 

According to a new Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, there are more children living in poverty in California than in any other state. It's not a surprise as California has the largest population in the country, but it's the scale of child poverty here that compounds the problem, said Jessica Mindnich, California director for Kids Count. 

"This is challenging because of the sheer number of poor and low-income children and families in California that makes this difficult to solve," she said. "You add to that that we have very dispersed systems: one that is serving parents and one that’s serving children."


Parents find LA schools magnet program application process daunting

Patrick Lee/KPCC

File: Brian Tom, 17, a Bravo Medical Magnet High School student, works in the stem cell research lab of USC's Keck School of Medicine.

With a Friday deadline approaching to get applications in for Los Angeles Unified School District magnet schools, some families find the process time-consuming and frustrating.

One parent they turn to for help is Angel Zobel-Rodriguez, whose experience applying to magnet programs for her 8th-grader led to the launch of her Ask A Magnet Yenta website. There she doles out free advice to parents trying to get their children into the highly sought-after magnet programs.

"I’ve had people that have been trying to figure out which magnet to apply for while the child is in utero," she said.

She praised the Los Angeles Unified School District for its new magnet program webpage and for putting the program’s brochure online. However, the process has a way to go to make it easier for families, said Zobel-Rodriguez.


SoCal after-school programs to receive White House honors

Courtesy of the Santa Ana Public Library

Alan Hoffmann, Eduardo Cervantes, Roman Valladares, Phil Campos and Alex Mendez participate in a Teen Jam Sessions program at the Santa Ana Public Library. The library's TeenSpace after-school program is a 2014 winner of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award presented by the First Lady.

Two Southern California after-school arts programs will be honored Monday at the White House for outstanding effectiveness in helping students boost their learning and life skills. 

The prestigious National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award will be presented to everybody dance! — an afternoon dance program that operates at six inner-city sites in Los Angeles — and TeenSpace, a mentoring and tutoring program for 10- to 23-year-olds based out of the Santa Ana Public Library. 

"It's an amazing thing. If I could take all the kids with me, I would," said Cheryl Eberly, a librarian at Santa Ana Public Library who came up with the idea and launched the program in 2009.

RELATED: Unusual charters use dance, string instruments to motivate students

TeenSpace students gain work experience and training in digital media arts production and get help with academics and career readiness. 


Cal State hires sexual harassment compliance officer for all 23 campuses

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

File: California State University has hired a systemwide Title IX compliance officer. CalState is not the subject of a federal investigation, but other Southern California colleges are following accusations they mishandled reports of campus sexual assaults.

Amid growing scrutiny of the way universities handle sexual assault cases, the California State University announced Friday that it has hired Pamela Thomason as its new Title IX compliance officer.

“Her work will be vital to expanding the education and training of students, faculty and staff to tackle the issue of sexual violence in our campus communities,” CSU General Counsel Fram Virjee said in a written release.

Title IX is the federal gender anti-discrimination law that compels college campuses to develop and enforce policies preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Thomason starts her job next month. She currently serves as the Title IX compliance officer at UCLA, a post she's held since 2000.

Thomason steps into the position as the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights investigates whether colleges nationwide mishandled sexual assault cases. Among them are some of Southern California’s most prestigious universities: UCLA, USC, Occidental College and CalArts. The Office for Civil Rights is continuing investigations of the four institutions, a spokesman said Friday.


San Francisco's universal preschool could prove a model for SoCal cities

SF Universal Preschool

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Jennifer Delos Reyes is the program director for Holy Family Day Home, a preschool in San Francisco that has been able to serve 50 percent more children after the city implemented universal preschool.

When San Francisco voters overwhelmingly reauthorized the city's universal preschool program on Tuesday, ensuring an annual $27 million for the next 24 years, other California cities may well have sat up.

The Obama administration's call for universal preschool has cities nationwide thinking about how to implement such programs. New York's mayor swept in a pilot project this year that offers preschool to four-year-olds and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia wants to do the same.

But a model for funding and implementing a global program for preschool may be just up the I-5. 

A group of community organizers in San Francisco began discussing the idea of a public fund dedicated to small children’s needs in 1987. It was the precursor to the city's passage of universal preschool and decades ahead of what today is a national movement.