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

High school throws a party to help kids apply to college

UCLA Community School party

Courtesy UCLA Community School

Two 12th graders, Ana Castro (left) and Natalie Valdovinos, work on their college applications at an after-school applications party organized by their public school, the UCLA Community School in LA's Koreatown.

Application season for universities is in full swing with submission deadlines for California State and University of California campuses scheduled at the end of November.

For students who will be the first in their families to apply to college, the process can be confusing and discouraging unless they get help.

On Friday, dozens of 12th graders at the UCLA Community School, a public school in LA’s Koreatown, got that help. With teachers and staff ready to assist, the students started on their college applications at an after-school party with balloons, soft drinks, pizza and rows of laptops.

“We’re celebrating the start of their new journey,” said math teacher Maria Nakis, one of the event organizers.

“They’ve worked hard for the last three–plus years. For them to really begin to see the finish line, to see the payoff for all the work they’ve put in the last couple of years, it’s exciting.”


LA Unified graduation rate improves in 2013-2014 school year

Kriss'Shawn Day

Daniel Castillo

In this 2010 file photo, Kriss'Shawn Day, right, stands with a classmate at his graduation from Morningside High School.

Los Angeles Unified's graduation rate improved to 77 percent in the last school year, the school district's numbers show.

The preliminary rate trails the latest statewide measure of around 80 percent, but increased by 12 percentage points from 65 percent. This marks a "historic high for L.A. Unified," Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement Friday.

"The preliminary rate does not factor in students who completed their requirements in summer school, and have also graduated. I expect the rate to grow," Deasy said.

The graduation rate is based on 9th-graders who are tracked over four years. The number takes into account regular high schools, not option programs such as those for independent study and dropouts.

Nearly 25,000 students graduated in the 2013-2014 school year. 


Child care costs eating close to 40 percent of single-income family budget

Childcare Costs - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Kinta Cox's daughters Natalie, left, 12, and Sophia, 9, look at Sophia's report on President Barack Obama. The two have been attending Little Tykes Day Care in Long Beach since 2006.

Childcare Costs - 2

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Childcare Provider Vernessa Easly, left, tells 9-year-old Sophia about the longest report she ever had to write, after reading through Sophia's report on President Barack Obama. Easly and her husband run Little Tykes Day Care from their Long Beach home.

Childcare Costs - 3

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Marie Williams' daughter Chloe, 5, takes out crayons to make a drawing at Little Tykes Day Care in Long Beach on Wednesday, June 11.

Childcare Costs - 4

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Natalie, left, 12, and Chloe, 5, draw while waiting for their mothers to pick them up on Wednesday evening, June 11. Vernessa Easly's daycare has become the safety net for many single mothers.

Childcare Costs - 5

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Vernessa Easly makes hot meals for the kids at her and her husband's Little Tykes Day Care in Long Beach.

Childcare Costs - 6

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Five-year-old Chloe, daughter of Marie Williams, draws in her notebook on Wednesday evening, June 11 while waiting for her mother to pick her up. Chloe has been coming to the Long Beach day care for about two years.

Childcare Costs - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Kinta Cox says goodbye to Little Tykes Day Care owner Vernessa Easly on Wednesday evening, June 11. Easly will often keep Cox’s daughters into the evening if she is running late at work or stuck in traffic.

Childcare Costs - 8

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Nine-year-old Sophia reaches to unlock her mother's car while leaving Little Tykes Day Care.

For many single parents, this comes as no surprise: rising costs and stagnating incomes have made child care the biggest expense for a family of three. 

This matters in California where one-third of all children live in single-parent households. About 3 million children are living in families relying on one paycheck

The California Childcare Resource and Referral Network, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, has crunched survey and census numbers for at least 15 years to produce a county-by-county index of child care costs every two years.  

"So while it has consistently taken up around one-third of a family's budget, we have noticed that it has been increasing over the past few years, to close to 40 percent in 2013," said Rowena Quinto, the group's research director.

The growing bite of child care costs is largely because incomes have remained stagnant while the cost of living has increased, Quinto said. According to Census and Survey data, in the years between 2005 and 2013, wages in L.A. County increased 13 percent while the cost of childcare went up 33 percent. 


LA school board taking hard look at Superintendent Deasy's performance

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy  sp

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy speaks during a press conference at South Region High School #2 in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.

Scrutiny of Los Angeles Unified's John Deasy is growing more intense as the school board prepares to evaluate the superintendent.

Members of the board are questioning Deasy's effectiveness and the direction he has set down in running the second largest school district in the country.

Discussions began Tuesday during a closed session board meeting and a final evaluation is scheduled for Oct. 21. But the date may prove meaningless if the board, Deasy or both sides decide sooner that his departure is in the best interest of the district.

Board member Steve Zimmer declined to comment about what happened during the closed session, but said it's routine for the board to call upon attorneys to evaluate all potential outcomes of the superintendent's review, including a possible departure.


California website data disclosing educators’ pay missing information

California Budget

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Controller John Chiang. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

State Controller John Chiang unveiled an expanded website on Thursday designed to disclose what administrators and teachers get paid in public schools, and one-third of California’s 1,764 school districts gave salary information to the controller.

But the school districts, county offices of education and charter schools that didn’t give the state salary information educate 42 percent of the state’s public school students. That means the website information has some very big holes.

“It looks like a lot of charter schools didn’t report information and that’s actually where I would have the most questions,” she said.

Chiang's office created the first version of the Government Compensation in California website in 2010 with salary information for city and county public officials. It was a response to the corruption scandal in the city of Bell where public officials paid themselves high salaries and benefits.