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

Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls for revamp of 'No Child Left Behind,' but still backs annual testing

Schools Testing

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks about the administration's priorities for education at Seaton Elementary in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a big pronouncement on Monday that President Barack Obama would like to see the No Child Left Behind law tossed into the dust bin of history.

“I believe we can work together – Democrats and Republicans – to move beyond the tired, prescriptive No Child Left Behind law. I believe we can replace it with a law that recognizes that schools need more support – more money – than they receive today,” Duncan said in a speech Monday at the Seaton Elementary School in Washington, D.C. 

But Duncan also wants to keep a federal requirement to continue testing students yearly — and link teacher evaluations to how well students do on test scores.

At the same time, the education secretary said Congress should pass a new federal education law that reduces the burden of testing and test preparation on classroom time.

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Ex-LAUSD chief John Deasy joins Broad leadership academy

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Former LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy is joining The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems.

John Deasy, former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, is joining a training academy funded by philanthropist Eli Broad, Deasy's long-time supporter.

Deasy resigned from LAUSD in October after issues with technology projects and growing tension with the school board. He remained on the district's payroll until the end of December.

In his new position at The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems,
Deasy will serve as a consultant and superintendent-in-residence for the Broad Academy, the center's training and coaching program for urban public education leaders, according to a center news release.

Deasy served for over three years as head of LAUSD, the country's second largest school district. His supporters pointed to achievements in student performance during his tenure and management of the district's budget in lean times. But his detractors criticized his sometimes abrasive style, which alienated key district players, including the teachers union.

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Free community college: Excitement, doubts as news of Obama's tuition plan spreads

US-POLITICS-OBAMA

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Vice-President Joe Biden shakes hands with President Barack Obama Friday after introducing him at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Obama promoted his college plan.

Word of President Obama’s new initiative to offer qualified applicants a free, two-year community college education drew cheers, but also some skepticism on Friday.

The president's proposal could substantially increase access to higher education for many in California, which has the largest community college system in the country, serving more than 2 million students at 112 colleges. 

The state's community colleges are a primary gateway to four-year colleges: about a third of University of California graduates and half of California State University degree-holders begin at a community college.

"Community college should be free for those willing to work for it because, in America, a quality education should not be a privilege that is reserved for a few," Obama said in a speech Friday at Pellissippi State Community College in Tennessee.

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Report gives California poor grade, low ranking for education

Half Day Preschool

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Blanca Romero conducts a reading exercise with Jayden, her 4-year old son. Jayden attends El Sereno Elementary's state pre-kindergarten program. Early education enrollment is among the indicators used in a new report ranking states on its education.

California doesn’t fare well in a new report issued Thursday that provides a nationwide snapshot of how states are doing in educating their students.

Completed by the nonprofit Education Week, the “Quality Counts” report gives California a D-plus grade and ranked it 42nd among states based on key education performance indicators.

Overall, the nation received a C grade. No state received an A. Massachusetts and New Jersey ranked the highest with a grade of B. At the bottom were New Mexico and Nevada, both earning D grades. 

The report looked at education funding, K-12 academic achievement, early education participation, and other indicators that point to a student’s “chance for success.”

Family income matters a great deal when it comes to preschool enrollment, according to the report's findings. Nationwide, children from wealthy families are enrolled in preschool at 1.5 times the rate of their peers from middle and low-income families.

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California students invited to devise creative solutions to state water problem

California Drought Water School

Jae C. Hong/AP

In this May 2014 file photo, fourth-generation rice farmer Josh Sheppard walks across a dried-up ditch at his rice farm in Richvale, California.

California officials want to tap the inventive minds of 4th- and 5th-graders around the state to help address the region's drought problem.

In a new contest announced Wednesday by the California Arts Council, students are invited to design a poster that showcases unique and creative ways to reduce water consumption. The winners' artwork will be displayed in the State Capitol.

RELATED: 5 ways to teach kids about the California drought

"The arts offer a unique way to illuminate reality," said Craig Watson, director of the California Arts Council, in a statement. "We hope the Conservation Creativity Challenge contest will help students engage with these important conservation values in new and fun ways."

California is in a state of extreme drought. The dry period started back in 2012. In 2013, just 7.93 inches fell across the state, according to the National Climatic Data Center. That's more than 14 inches short of normal and the driest in about 120 years of recorded history.

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