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

Under fire, Pasadena City College President Mark Rocha steps down


Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College President Mark Rocha announced on Thursday that he’s stepping down on Aug. 31 after four years on the job.

Rocha’s tenure the last two years has been filled with clashes with campus faculty and students. Rocha canceled winter session two years ago and that prompted many students to protest that the move upended their ability to graduate in a timely manner. The Associated Students took a vote of “no confidence” last year against Rocha and urged the board of trustees to fire him.

PCC faculty did the same thing. Professors complained that Rocha rejected curriculum proposals and ignored the faculty’s warnings of canceling the winter session in 2012.

“It’s a victory for faculty and staff,” said Roger Marheine, a past president of the Faculty Association. “If he would only have listened to faculty he would have been a great CEO."


After school arts tries to fill a void, but is it enough?

Photo Courtesy of Ben Gibbs

Los Angeles Unified students involved in LA's BEST's After School Arts Program compete in a Dance and Drill Team Competition at Cal State LA.

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Mario Davila leads an orientation for after school arts instructors in Boyle Heights. During the 2014/2015 school year, 190 schools in Los Angeles Unified will get LA's BEST arts programs.

Photo Courtesy of Ben Gibbs

Students from LA's BEST's After School Arts Program at UCLA's Royce Hall.

When Los Angeles students get ready to head back to school next week, many of them won't get arts instruction. 

Despite a requirement in the state's education code which requires that students have school day access to four different art forms (dance, visual arts, music and theater) each year from 1st through twelfth grade, L.A. Unified doesn't make the grade.

To help fill the gap, a public-private partnership called LA's BEST  provides after school arts instruction to 7,600 elementary students at 190 different schools across the district.

"Many times when we go out to a school the principals will tell us that they've lost their arts programming during the regular school day. And that the only arts education programing the children are getting are the programs that we're bringing in through LA's Best," said Mario Davila, director of LA's BEST's After School Arts Program, which also brings science, sports and many other programs to Title 1 schools after the final bell.


LA school board race: Quiz your candidates

Annie Gilbertson/KPCC

Los Angeles Unified school board candidates Alex Johnson and George McKenna have less than two weeks left to win the favor of Los Angeles voters before the runoff election.

So far, records show Johnson, an education policy advisor for L.A. county supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, attracted $314,000 in campaign contributions plus $518,000 in expenditures by independent groups -  more than double the funds McKenna garnered.

Johnson is backed by leading education reform organizations, including an advocacy group associated with the California Charter School Association.

McKenna, a former school administrator, won the endorsement of the teachers union, which plans to rally its members to the polls on election day, August 12.

Both candidates said promise to turnaround South L.A. schools plagued by poverty, high dropout rates and low reading and math scores — but how? 


Half of the nation's children have suffered trauma, report says

06 - Christina Bray - Pomona Prison Childcare Mothers Center Pregnant Prisoners

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Just under half the nation's children have lived through an "adverse experience" in their lives. One of those experiences is having a parent incarcerated. The Community Prisoner Mother Program is run by a non-profit, Prototypes. In addition to housing non-violent, low-level offenders with their children, it’s open to community members who are undergoing in-patient drug abuse or mental health treatment.

A report out this week finds that just under half of the nation's children have lived through at least one traumatic experience - most commonly, financial hardships. It's part of a national look at early chronic stress in children's lives compiled by the research institute Child Trends. 

Experts say chronic early stress - or "adverse experiences" - in children’s lives can alter their emotional responses, their impulse control  and even harm their developing brains. 

For the study, researchers analyzed interviews from the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health with more than 95,000 adults who had a child in their household. They looked for eight "adverse experiences" - including parental divorce, having a parent incarcerated, witnessing violence in the neighborhood, being the victim of sexual or physical violence, or living with someone who was suicidal. 


New CalArts residency transforms artists into teachers

CalArts CAP - 4

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Teaching artist in training Anthony "Chuck" Gloria, left, works with animation co-directors Ruah Edelstein and Masha Vasilkovsky on a performance blending music and animated pieces.

CalArts CAP - 1

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High schoolers take part in a dance class at Cortines High School on Wednesday, July 9 during the Community Arts Partnership (CAP) put on by California Institute of the Arts every summer. This year CalArts students training to be teaching artists helped lead instruction.

Teaching Artist

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Connie Covert explains how teaching artists should interact with principals. The lesson is part of the CalArts Residency for Teaching Artists, a new program that launched in May.

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Zelia Corbia, 18, of Hollywood paints a photograph taken during a body modification portrait assignment at CalArt's Community Arts Partnership. The program is free to kids ages six through 18.

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Sixteen-year-old Karissa Melara of Southgate builds sculptures around which she will do a performance piece. The sculptures came from a sketch Melara drew inspired by the Mike Kelley show at MOCA.

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Samantha Hare, 14, of Chatsworth paints letters that she will attach to a mirror. Hare hopes to address women's body image through the piece. Visual arts is one of seven different art forms taught every summer during CalArts' CAP.

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CalArts' Community Arts Partnership is a three-week intensive arts program. Each student has a focus in either music, animation, creative writing, dance, photography, theater or visual arts.

Teaching Artist

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Diego Robles looks on during a lesson at Cortines high school. Robles is one of 12 students participating in a new teaching artist training program through CalArts.

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Dance instructor Francesca Penzani leads a rehearsal on Wednesday, July 9 during CalArts' CAP program. The class prepares for a final performance on Saturday, July 12.

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Each class is led by CalArts faculty and CalArts student instructors that are training to be teaching artists.

A new program at the California Institute of the Arts is taking some of the school's arts students and preparing them for careers in the classroom. 

The well-known university in Valencia has long been a hub for top arts students from around the country — and for decades, officials there have sought to formalize a process for helping arts students make their way in the world of teaching. In January, a $55,000 donation from two CalArts board of trustee members made it possible. The program, known as the CalArts Residency for Teaching Artists, launched in May and officials hope it will continue again next summer.

"We always knew that students needed a little more training in teaching," said Glenna Avila, who designed the program. "But we never had the resources per se to deepen that."