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University conference hopes to rally Southland education reformers

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A TEDx conference at Loyola Marymount University on Saturday seeks to turn the traditional education conference on its head.

“When we get a group of educators together and we try to mobilize for ed reform, a lot of the discussion is old and tired,” LMU graduate student Jonathan Ortega said.

Ortega and fellow graduate students in LMU’s school of education are organizing an education-focused conference they hope will spark new thinking about how to improve schools.

Organizers believe that competing ideologies, little cooperation, and “finger-pointing” are keeping public schools in Los Angeles from improving. They hope this conference is an opportunity for teachers to “come together and sacrifice ideology for the sake of creating community, sharing ideas, and springing into action that will transform the education system, as we now know it,” according to the event’s web site.


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Apps and little kids: should we worry?

Two children focused on an iPad. Is it good for them?
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Maybe it’s the appeal of swiping or the challenge of Angry Birds, but any parent with a smartphone or tablet can attest to this: the devices are irresistible to children.

But how much smartphone and tablet use is too much for young minds? And do games which are marketed as "educational" live up to their label?

It’ll be some time before we have definitive answers, but a couple of recent articles dig into those questions — and how we as parents feel about them.

The Touch Screen Generation found an interesting contrast: Programmers, designers, and writers who create iPad games for children impose strict rules for screen time for their own kids. They own up to pangs of guilt when they park their child in front of an electronic device — just like the rest of us. Author Hanna Rosin shared this annecdote:

"At one point I sat with one of the biggest developers of e-book apps for kids, and his family. The toddler was starting to fuss in her high chair, so the mom did what many of us have done at that moment — stuck an iPad in front of her and played a short movie so everyone else could enjoy their lunch. When she saw me watching, she gave me the universal tense look of mothers who feel they are being judged. 'At home,' she assured me, 'I only let her watch movies in Spanish.'"

She cited studies on television use that show that it can be stimulating and educational — and yet we still worry.


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Suspended PCC newspaper advisor speaks about tensions at college

Tensions are high between the administration of Pasadena City College and its faculty and student body.
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Many students and faculty at Pasadena City College have accused the administration of putting the advisor of the college newspaper on leave for covering ongoing tensions between top leaders, faculty, and students.

The advisor, Warren Swil, spoke for the first time publicly on Wednesday.

“This entire situation is enormously stressful," he said during a telephone interview from his Pasadena home. "I have been placed under medical supervision."

Swil guided the college newspaper’s coverage last month of no-confidence votes by students and faculty against campus president Mark Rocha. They are up in arms over Rocha’s cancellation of this winter’s classes. Two weeks after the votes and the newspaper stories the administration put Swil on leave last week while investigating a complaint against him.


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6-minute film showcases arts education project, wins award (video)

Students on stage in a production of "Live Art."

An unusual film just won the People's Choice Award in PBS's second-annual Online Film Festival. 

Professional musicians and a group of kids, many of whom have developmental and hearing disabilities, are getting ready for a concert in Richmond, Va. The six-minute film, "A Live Arts Story," captures what took place over 20 weeks of preparation. 

Am I losing my mind? Am I crazy? Or is this a good idea? Those are the questions Erin Thomas-Foley asked herself during the production of Live Art — the innovative, arts-education concert project. 

"What took place over the last couple of years is a community coming together to showcase the power of art and the uplifting of the human spirit," said filmmaker Martin Montgomery, in a video message posted on PBS' website. He shot the film with William Gaff.


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Southland school district latest to buy iPads for every student


Coachella Valley Unified got the green light Tuesday from the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to spend bond money to put an iPad in every student’s hand and a Macbook in every teacher's lap.

“As soon as they come into pre-school they’re going to have classroom sets and then as you go up the grades you will see students taking them home,” said Superintendent Darryl Adams.

Last November, Adams and other educators convinced voters in the school district to approve a $42 million bond measure for technology upgrades. The district is using $21.5 million of that now to order 900 MacBook laptops for teachers and 20,000 iPads for students for the fall.

Adams said the district isn’t adequately preparing students for college and jobs. A pilot program last August showed him and other administrators that teaching with iPads could help students.
“We saw teachers engaged, students engaged, students helping students, students helping teachers, teachers learning from students, creating documents, and creating art, and creating music,” Adams said.

Coachella Valley Unified joins a small group of school districts nationwide that have committed to providing an iPad to every student. It’s expensive, not only to buy the technology, but to boost wifi infrastructure, train teachers, and buy insurance.


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