Politics, government and public life for Southern California

California to propose new student achievement testing system

Military Kids Feature - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Elementary school children point out which states they've previously lived in.

California's top education official is expected to unveil a new system of student achievement testing on Tuesday.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson was tasked by the state Legislature last year to revamp the state's bank of standardized tests that measure student progress in English language arts and math and qualify high school students for graduation.

The proposed new testing comes as the state starts phasing in new national curriculum standards known as Common Core State Standards.

RELATED: On 11th anniversary, No Child Left Behind law in tatters

The emphasis of the new testing will be on critical thinking and problem solving skills that will be aligned with Common Core's focus.

The proposal is the result of six months of meetings by a statewide taskforce that has held meetings around California gathering input from educators.


Gov. Brown schedules special election for 2 vacant SoCal state Senate seats

Schwarzenegger Holds Press Conference On Passing Of California Budget

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A view of the California State Capitol February 19, 2009 in Sacramento, California.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s scheduled a special election for May 14 to fill a couple of vacant California state Senate seats.

San Bernardino Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod and San Diego Democrat Juan Vargas both won elections in November for seats in Congress.  They resigned their state Senate seats mid-term to take up their new posts. The governor scheduled a primary election on March 12, with a final vote set for May 14.

If one candidate gets a majority of votes in the primary — that’s the end of the story.  Otherwise, the top two vote-getters progress to the general election.

So far two candidates — both Democrats — are running for the 32nd District Senate seat in San Bernardino: Assemblywoman Norma Torres of Pomona and San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller Larry Walker. 

Torres has the advantage of being a sitting assemblywoman, but the disadvantage of having supported the incumbent Rep. Joe Baca, who Negrete McLeod's defeated. Rep. Negrete McLeod supports Larry Walker as her replacement.


LA roads could get $3 billion makeover with bond proposal

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Brian Watt/KPCC

Under the bond proposal, the average Los Angeles property owner would pay $99 a year more over a 20-year period to resurface and reconstruct 8,500 lane miles throughout the city.

Los Angeles property owners would pay more on their tax bills for road repairs under a bond proposal that will be considered by the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday.

Councilmen Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino are backing a 20-year, $3 billion bond that would repair 8,700 lane miles of failing roads through the city – both residential streets and main thoroughfares. Low interest rates are part of the motivation for seeking funding that would address decades of neglect along L.A.’s streets.

“Roads have been neglected for 50 or 60 years and not been properly maintained," Englander said. "The fact is, what are we going to do now to put Los Angeles back on the map?” 

 The program would likely cost property owners an extra $99 per $350,000 of assessed value annually for a 20-year period. In the first year, that figure could be as low as $24. The city's budget office is still calculating the expected costs. 


League of Conservation Voters backs Greuel, Garcetti for mayor

Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti

Wendy Greuel Campaign/Eric Garcetti campaign

L.A. mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti both won endorsements from the L.A. League of Conservation Voters in the March 5th election.

Less than a month after it hosted a debate with the four leading mayoral candidates, the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters has endorsed Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel in the spring primary. 

So far, Greuel and Garcetti appear to be in the lead – at least when it comes to money and poll numbers.

RELATEDLos Angeles 2013 Mayoral Race Endorsements

The league’s Tessa Charnofsky says both candidates “have demonstrated strong leadership on public health and the environment – from supporting policies that reduce our city’s dependence on fossil fuels to cleaning our storm water, investing in public transit systems and protecting open space.”

A spokesman for the League said, should Garcetti and Greuel advance to a runoff, the organization will not endorse one over the other. 

Both Garcetti and Greuel sent out messages via social media about Monday's endorsement, but neither noted that their primary opponent was also receiving the League's support. 


Maven's Morning Coffee: mayor's race gets serious, bond for road repairs, endorsements in CD13

Mayoral Candidates

Photos courtesy of candidates' campaigns

The race for mayor is getting serious. Jan Perry tells the Daily News not to underestimate her, while Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel bicker about the controller's audits.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

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Today is Monday, Jan. 7, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


In Rick Orlov's Tipoff column, Councilman Bill Rosendahl donates campaign funds and the mayor's race gets serious.

Los Angeles Times writer Jim Newton looks at the county's Department of Children and Family Services and why more children are being removed from their homes. "If we think the child is safe, we leave the child with the biological parents. Sometimes, of course, that's just not possible," said Philip Browning, head of DCFS.