Kindergarten students at El Rincon Elementary school in Culver City know something most kids their age don't: how to read music.
They know the difference between whole notes and a half note and during a recent morning, expertly clapped and counted out a few measures.
"It felt like I was on a stage and singing," said five-year-old Allisson Rastelli, who wants to be a singer when she grows up.
The success of these public school students at a time when most of their peers are still mastering the alphabet can be largely credited to the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra.
The non-profit provides half-hour music sessions for 16 weeks to about 400 of the district's 500 kindergarteners. The 67-member orchestra also performs occasional concerts in local venues.
"Culver City district has always been really, really supportive of the fine arts, and that's something that's really difficult," said Kindergarten teacher Diane DiFranco, whose students participate in the class. "You don't really see that too much in other districts because of budget cuts."
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
In this file photograph taken on March 20, 2007, a two-week-old boy finds his feet in his new world. New reports finds "disturbing proportions" of infants and toddlers in the U.S. face "severe disadvantage." (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A new report drawing on data from major nationwide demographic surveys found non-hispanic white children under 3-years-old fell from the previous year, making up 49.5 percent of that population in 2012, dropping below majority status. It is the most diverse this age group has been since the 1970s.
"Infants and toddlers are at the leading edge of a transformation that will result, by 2030, in a U.S. child population that is 'majority minority,'" said the authors of "The Youngest Americans: A Statistical Portrait of Infants and Toddlers in the United States," a report produced by Child Trends and the McCormick Foundation in Chicago. The authors collated and analyzed census data and other nationwide demographic surveys from last year to reach their conclusions.
They found latino children under 3-years-old made up 26 percent of all children this age, and black infants and toddlers were 14 percent.
LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy
Former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt's sentencing Friday mostly ends what many have called the biggest child sex abuse scandal in the history of L.A. Unified.
Far from the courtroom and press conferences, most parents at the school said they feel confident in its administration - and that their kids are safe, two years after Berndt's arrest rocked the neighborhood.
"So far [at] Miramonte, everything been alright. Everything’s cool. My son’s cool. He likes his teacher. Everything’s straight," said David Medina as he waited to give his fifth grade son a ride home on the back of his bicycle.
In January 2012, Berndt was charged with dozens of felony child abuse charges when he tried to develop photos of blindfolded students eating what appeared to be his bodily fluids and posing with a giant hissing cockroach. A sharp photo technician called police.
New state money to help with Common Core learning standards can be used for teacher training, new materials and technology. The state plans to spend $1.25 billion on the transition.
Money hits schools this week to help in the transition to new the Common Core learning standards. The California legislature appropriated $200 per student to purchase new materials, teacher training and technology.
The list of products emblazoned with Common Core is growing long: there are seminars, tablets, trainers, a library of new books, and, yes, many apps.
The Common Core is a set of new learning standards that emphasizes analytical thinking over rote memorization.
“I probably have 20 or 30 different books over there – samples. I haven’t bought any yet," said Craig Merrill, the principal of Global Education Academy, an elementary charter school near USC.
“There are a lot of people coming out of the woodwork. I get emails everyday from individuals, organizations who are promoting this or that,” he said.
Kids at KIPP Comienza Community Prep elementary school in Huntington Park are glued to their iPads.
L.A. Unified's troubled iPad program is getting an image makeover – Hollywood style.
The school district has tapped promotional filmmaker Art Simon to make a documentary-style video about the iPad project – the district's initiative to give every student a tablet computer.
Simon has tackled technology in the classroom before. In 2011, he produced a short video for Alliance College-Ready Schools — a Los Angeles charter network that gives a laptop to every student. The video is meant to attract new families so it's full of testimonials.
Even L.A. Unified board member Monica Garcia makes a cameo.
"Revolutionizing urban America," Garcia says of the school's technology-integration model.
Simon did not return calls for comment. District spokesman Tom Waldman says the seven to eight minute video LAUSD envisions would cost the district about $25,000.