Southern California breaking news and trends

LAUSD and other big districts can directly compete for Race to the Top money

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa, Michael Bloomberg and Rahm Emanuel with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the "Education Now: Cities At The Forefront of Reform" summit on Friday.

So far, California’s been shut out of the federal education grants known as “Race to the Top.” But Education Secretary Federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan wants to open up the competition to individual school districts, soig districts like LAUSD will be in a position to compete with their own states for the money.

The announcement happened at an education forum that brought together the mayors and school superintendents of the nation’s three largest cities. Duncan said the government wants to be a good partner with local schools, and he offered districts a shot at half a billion dollars in federal grants. "The next round of 'Race to the Top' will be at district level competition."

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405 freeway closures: 'Not on the same scale' as Carmageddon, says Metro

Los Angeles's 405 Freeway Closes Completely For Bridge Repair

David McNew/Getty Images

Carmageddon, meet Schlepgate. The same stretch of 405 freeway that closed in an end-of-days campaign last July will be worked on again, but this time only at night.

In total, six nights of Sepulveda Pass closures are planned for the portion of the freeway between the 101 and Getty Center Drive. Work will begin on the northbound lanes Friday night, with ramp shutdowns starting at 7 p.m. and lane closures starting at 10 p.m.

We talked to Metro spokesperson Marc Littman and asked why there seemed to be much less fanfare and public outreach about the upcoming closures.

The closures are expected to disrupt significantly fewer drivers than last summer's full freeway stoppage, Littman said, because the construction is being done one side at a time, and late at night from midnight to 5 a.m.

He called the situation "not on the same scale" as the Carmageddon stoppage though "it will be on the same scale next summer." City offices and media outlets were notified, he emphasized, pointing the public to information and detour maps on the Metro site.

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A gust of wind, a dog barks, cue the truck: High winds tip big rig and down power lines in SoCal

blowing in the wind

Photo by Andrea D'Ippolito via Flickr Creative Commons

From the mountains to the coastlines, Santa Ana winds have prompted High Wind Warnings across Southern California until 2:00 p.m. on Friday.

Already, winds have cause traffic accidents, freeway congestion and downed utility lines. Above Point Mugu an 83 mph gust was reported Friday morning at Ventura County's Laguna Peak, the National Weather Service said.

On the roads, a tractor-trailer rig was flipped onto its side blocking two lanes of the westbound I-210 freeway below the Cajon Pass, a California Department of Transportation spokeswoman said. 

In Fontana, where 50 mph winds were registered, utility lines came down over the westbound I-10 freeway and were reportedly scraping the tops of trucks.

Winds are expected to lose their oomph in Los Angeles and Ventura County by Friday afternoon.

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Miramonte scandal aftermath: LAUSD schools forgo blindfolds, 1 school goes butter-less

DebMomOf3/Flickr/Creative Commons

Some can't believe there's no butter at a North Hollywood school, where a lesson involving making butter and eating it on crackers has been nixed.

LAUSD has prohibited blindfolding during a lesson about the senses in a fourth-grade classroom, the L.A. Times reports. One school has also removed butter-making from its curriculum, but not to promote healthier eating habits.

The edicts come after Mark Berndt's January arrest. Berndt pleaded not guilty to 23 charges of lewd acts with children, which include blindfolding and spoon-feeding his semen to students. Since then, a number of cases involving other LAUSD staffers have surfaced, including another at Miramonte.

Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Jaime Aquino cautioned that blindfolding "may be perceived negatively" in a Feb. 23 memo to principals, according to the Times.

Meanwhile, students at a North Hollywood school will no longer make butter with substitute teacher Prentiss Moore. One parent there drew a similarity between kids eating the finished butter on crackers with Berndt's alleged reputation of serving students tainted cookies, the paper continued.

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Schlepgate 2012: Six nights of 405 freeway closures begin Friday (Updated)

carmageddon 405 freeway

Photo by Paul Lovine via Flickr Creative Commons

Carmageddon

Carmageddon's attention-starved cousin, let's call her "Schlepgate," will arrive this weekend with a trunkful of 405 closures likely disrupt the city's stop-and-go flow.

The same stretch of 405 freeway that shut down in dramatic fashion in July 2011 will be worked on again, but this time only at night. In total, six nights of Sepulveda Pass closures are planned for the 405 portion between the 101 Freeway and Getty Center Drive.

The first banishment begins Friday with northbound* lanes on lockdown at 10 p.m. On-ramps and off-ramps could stop allowing traffic as early as 7:00 p.m. Lanes will reopen by 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning. 

Saturday night will see northbound* lanes close again, and reopen Sunday, on approximately the same timetable. On Monday and Tuesday night, the southbound* lanes will close in a similar fashion. Southbound lanes will repeat the drill one more time the following week.

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