LA Unified district 1 candidate forum scheduled for 6 tomorrow

imgresCandidates for LA Unified’s open District 1 board seat are gathering again tomorrow for a community forum at the West Adams Church of Christ, 4959 W. Adams Blvd.

So far,  said one of the organizers, Rashad Trapp-Rucker six of the candidates have committed to participate — all but Alex Johnson — with a moderator kicking things off at 6 p.m. with a series of questions about Common Core, Local Control Funding and other issues that will affect the district.

The session continues at 7, with questions from the audience.

The seven candidates are competing in a June 3 special election to fill the seat vacated by the late Marguerite LaMotte, who represented District 1 for 10 years through her death in December.

 

Morning Read: Insurance costs boosted superintendent pay

Insurance premium subsidy boosted superintendent’s pay to $772,457
An embattled South Bay school district leader, under investigation for his high compensation, now has a new issue to deal with: insurance premiums that should have been counted as taxable income, but were not. The Centinela Valley Union High School District is being investigated by federal and state authorities for paying Supt. Jose Fernandez $674,559 last year — a figure derived from Fernandez’s own calculations. Now, it turns out that he mistakenly understated his taxable earnings. LA Times


California fails to adequately educate youth inmates, report says
California and other states are largely failing to adequately educate most of the 70,000 youth locked up at any given time in juvenile detention facilities, according to a national report released Thursday. Most youth fail to earn any course credits or complete their high school diploma or equivalency degree while in custody, the report by the Southern Education Foundation found. Yet these young inmates are highly troubled – usually struggling with drug abuse, anger and lagging academic achievement. LA Times


Wanted: early adopters of new science standards
The California Science Teachers Association and the nonprofit education research and development agency WestEd are seeking a half-dozen school districts to take the lead in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. In exchange for committing to making science a core subject and participating in a new K-8 California Next Generation Science Standards Early Implementation Initiative, the districts would receive funding to train teams of teachers and administrators in the new standards over the next four years. EdSoure


A Win for Los Angeles kids
More than 770 poor Latino kids caught a break this week when the Los Angeles County Board of Education unanimously voted to overturn the L.A. Unified school board’s decision to close their charter schools. Alas, charter-school opponents are if nothing else persistent and will likely pursue other means to deny students better educational opportunities. Wall Street Journal


After complaints, LA school leaders abandon plan to cut orchestra
The Los Angeles Unified School District is reversing course on an unpopular proposal to reduce its elementary school orchestra program from a full year to just one semester. A district spokesperson confirmed that schools receiving orchestra instruction next year will get it the entire school year – though the district is considering changing how schools are chosen. KPCC


Nonprofits get nearly $1 mil to train parents as advocates
Two Los Angeles area non-profit groups received grants of about $900,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to train families of young children in the Los Angeles Unified School District to advocate for their children in the hopes of improving educational outcomes. The UCLA Labor Center and the Advancement Project, were among 30 winners nationwide to share $13.7 million to implement “family engagement” projects over three years. KPCC

Vision to Learn helping students with eye exams and glasses

Vision to Learn Eye TestHow can students excel in the classroom — much less learn — if they can’t see what their teachers are writing on the whiteboard? It’s a problem that afflicts approximately 15 percent of elementary school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

But one organization is working toward a solution.

Today, Vision to Learn, a local nonprofit created by the Beutner Family Foundation, is partnering with nursing services for the District’s Education Service Center – East to provide 70 elementary school students and seven early education students with eye exams, and if necessary, eyewear.

“Our vans visit 250 schools across the school district throughout the year,” Yolanda Lasmarias, field coordinator for the District’s Education Service Center – East, told LA School Report. “At the schools, the certified school nurses administer an eye screening to see if the students need eyewear, and if they do, they send them out to one of our vans to see our optometrist who give the an eye exam.”

Since its inception in 2012, Vision to Learn has equipped over 14,000 students with eyewear and other forms of ocular assistance. Since last January, the group has been helping pre-K students to acquire the eyewear they need.

“If our optometrists see that a child has special eye-related needs, like for glaucoma, we will connect them with our hospital partners and arrange for the child to have surgery,” said Lasmarias.

Part of the logic behind offering on-site care is that in many cases, parents and/or guardians aren’t able to take leave from work to obtain the glasses for their children. Vision to Learn, however, can administer the screenings and exams, and set up the children with eyewear so long that parents and/or guardians give consent.

All of these services come at no cost to the parents.

 

Effort underway to eliminate CA schools’ English-only law

Senator Ricardo Lara

Senator Ricardo Lara

Since the late 1990s the debate over bilingual education in California has been, ¿como se dice . . . controversial?  And it seems it’s an issue voters will be taking up again soon.

State Senator Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens, has proposed new legislation to overturn Proposition 227, a 1998 initiative that banned bilingual education in public schools.

“English will always remain the official language of California, but we cannot ignore the growing need to have a multilingual workforce,” Lara said in announcing his measure.

Lara’s bill, SB1174, would put the question to voters once again, as an initiative on the November 2016 ballot. It would effectively repeal Prop. 227, giving parents the option of enrolling their children in bilingual education or dual immersion programs.

“In an increasingly interconnected global economy, we have to prepare our students for a future in which their success depends not only on an ability to understand diverse perspectives and cultures, but also on an ability to communicate in different languages,” said Lara.

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Charters win $1.5 million in grants to improve kids’ health

imgres-2Via KPCC | By Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Sixteen California charter schools have been awarded more than $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education to improve the health of school-age kids.

The biggest local winner, 4,000-student ICEF charter school group, said it’ll use its $845,000 grant to give students more nutrition education during the school day and integrate academics with physical education.

“It feels great to be recognized,” ICEF CEO Parker Hudnut said, “but also to have the funding now to do what we have wanted to do to really try to improve the physical fitness of students and connecting that with nutrition.”

Read the full story here.

Report: Brown decision at 60, what have we learned?

images-5Via Economic Policy Institute | By Richard Rothstein

May 17 is the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision that prohibited Southern states from segregating schools by race.

The Brown decision annihilated the “separate but equal” rule, previously sanctioned by the Supreme Court in 1896, that permitted states and school districts to designate some schools “whites-only” and others “Negroes-only.” More important, by focusing the nation’s attention on subjugation of blacks, it helped fuel a wave of freedom rides, sit-ins, voter registration efforts, and other actions leading ultimately to civil rights legislation in the late 1950s and 1960s.

But Brown was unsuccessful in its purported mission—to undo the school segregation that persists as a central feature of American public education today. This issue brief highlights key elements of the American education system that have evolved in the wake of Brown.

Read the full report here.

Morning Read: FBI investigating superintendent’s salary

Top Centinela official says FBI probing superintendent’s high salary
A top Centinela schools official on Tuesday said the FBI has contacted the district regarding the high salary of Supt. Jose Fernandez, who was paid $674,559 last year. The official, newly elevated school board President Hugo M. Rojas, said he is prepared to cooperate fully with both the FBI and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. LA Times


District remembers bus crash victims
A local student survived the tragic bus crash on Interstate 5 near Orland last Thursday that claimed the lives of five Southern California students who were on their way to visit Humboldt State University. A student from Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools was on board when the crash occurred, as were 18 other Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) students, according to the LAUSD. Police did not disclose the local student’s name or status by deadline. Beverly Press


State panel grapples with defining ‘college and career ready’
Preparing students for colleges and careers shouldn’t be an “either-or” proposition and schools should be held accountable for how well they prepare students for both paths, an advocate for career education urged in testimony before a state committee this week. EdSource


Glendale school board weighs Sagebrush transfer
Reaction from Glendale school board members on transferring the Sagebrush territory to La Cañada Unified was mixed Tuesday night during the board’s first public discussion of the issue since 350 people attended a town-hall meeting last month and most of the speakers supported the move. Glendale News Press


College prep for all?
CommentaryThere’s broad commitment to ensuring that all high-school graduates are college- and career-ready, but heated debate about the best means of achieving that goal. The big question is, how can schools both respect the diversity of students’ interests and ambitions and set a high bar for all? In this forum, two longtime advocates of high school reform weigh in. Education Next

A plan to add more meaning to CA computer science class

Sen. Alex Padilla, sponsor of  computer science bill

Sen. Alex Padilla, sponsor of computer science bill

Few students would likely take advanced computer science just for fun, even though the course is considered an elective in nearly all California high schools.

But a new bill, SB 1200, from State Senator Alex Padilla of Pacoima, would change that, developing guidelines for the course to count toward graduation by fulfilling a math requirement. And the UC and CSU systems would set academic standards for the computer course to apply toward undergraduate admissions.

The bill passed the Senate Education committee yesterday and is now headed to the Appropriations Committee.

“More high school students will take advanced computer science courses if the classes qualify for undergraduate admissions as a core subject like math,” said Padilla.

Only one high school in California offers advanced computer science courses that have been approved by the UC and CSU, and “not surprisingly,” said Padilla, the school is in San Jose, where most computing-related jobs are located.

He added, “Most college-bound students do not have the time to take an advanced computer science course that is not required for college admission.”

Fourteen states have implemented policies allowing computer science to count as core requirements toward high school graduation.  Where this happens, enrollment in computer science classes is 50 percent higher.

Commentary: Best gift of more money is gift of more time

images-2Under the new Local Control Funding Formula, LA Unified schools in underserved communities will be given $837 million to meet the needs of students in poverty, English learners and children in foster care. It’s not yet clear exactly how that money will be allocated, and it’s still less than what we’ve thrown at iPads. But it’s desperately needed.

As a teacher who worked in a high-poverty high school and is now spending a year observing classrooms across the socioeconomic spectrum in L.A., here’s how that funding could help:

Giving teachers time to plan multi-level lessons for each class.

One of the biggest differences I’ve seen between classrooms in affluent communities and in high-poverty communities is the range of skill levels. In affluent communities, students generally read at or near grade level and have a history of positive or neutral experience with school, as well as at least one parent at home always available for help.

In high-poverty communities, in any given class, you’ll probably have a handful of kids who fit that description and who need and deserve all the challenge and stimulation of a fast-paced class to compete for spaces at top colleges alongside more affluent students.

But right next to them, you’ll have kids who are still learning English.  Those kids need “scaffolded” lessons with shortened readings; they also need writing assignments with fill-in-the-blanks support so that they can learn academic phrasing.

Right next to them, you’ll have kids with serious behavior issues, sometimes from growing up in multiple foster homes.  All over the classroom you’ll have kids who, in the absence of libraries, bookstores or books at home, have never read a book. And you’ll have several empty seats because of the kids who, despite your pleas and phone calls home, are truant for large chunks of time.

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Parent panels now reviewing LA Unified’s next spending plan

images-3Parents involved in setting spending priorities for LA Unified have a lot of homework to do over the next two weeks.

Members of the Parent Advisory Committee and the District English Learner Advisory Committee have been instructed to “take home and live with” Superintendent John Deasy’s proposed Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) before providing feedback in time for the school board to adopt the 2014-2015 budget on June 17.

The two groups, which include more than 100 parents and guardians elected onto the committees by other parents, met with district officials last week.

It brings the district one step closer to fulfilling the state’s requirement for local participation in drafting the final LCAP — essentially, a budget explaining how LA Unified will disperse funds from Gov. Jerry Brown’s new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

Rowena Lagrosa, executive director of the district’s Parent Community Services Branch, said the committees met over two days for 10 hours. But they’re not ready to weigh in on the budget just yet.

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Morning Read: Governor backs new CA teacher dismissal bill

New teacher dismissal bill deal has Governor’s support
Asm. Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) says she’s brought the California Teachers Association and the school reform group EdVoice together on an issue that’s split the education community for years: How to allow districts to quickly fire teachers accused of sexual abuse, child abuse or serious drug crimes. Capital Public Radio


Centinela appoints interim replacement for highly paid schools chief
pending an investigation of Supt. Jose Fernandez, who was paid $674,559 last year. Fernandez was placed on paid leave last week. For now, the Centinela Valley Union High School District will be managed by Bob Cox, who had been serving as the assistant superintendent for human resources. The board announced its action after meeting nearly three hours in closed session. LA Times


Modesto teachers to meet as vote looms on split from statewide union
Teachers will gather Wednesday for one last discussion with Modesto Teachers Association management before a pivotal vote May 6 on whether to split from the statewide union. In the run-up to balloting, teachers say tensions are rising, and a legal filing by the California Teachers Association accuses Modesto City Schools of meddling in the fight. Modesto Bee


Vigil planned for Dorsey High student Jennifer Bonilla
A candlelight vigil is planned for Wednesday to honor Jennifer Bonilla, a student from Dorsey High School who was among those killed in a bus crash in Northern California last week. The vigil will begin at 5 p.m. at Dorsey High School, 3537 Farmdale Avenue in the Crenshaw area. LA Times

Just in: LA County Board of Ed OKs Aspire renewals

Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo Academy

Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo Academy

The LA County Board of Education today reversed a decision by the LA Unified school board by voting to approve the renewal of two Aspire charter schools.

“We are delighted in the vote of confidence by the LA County Office of Education,” said Aspire Public Schools CEO James Willcox. By renewing our charters for Aspire Ollin University Preparatory Academy and Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo Academy, the board has ensured the students and families in Huntington Park will continue to have access to a high-quality public education. Now we get to focus on what matters most in school, our students,”

Kate Ford, Aspire Public Schools LA Superintendent, said, “Today’s vote gives our Aspire families the peace of mind that their schools will continue to offer local students a supportive community that meets the needs of all children who choose to attend.”

The appeal was filed in February after the two schools in southeast Los Angeles were denied renewals by the LAUSD Board over questions of funding methods.

 

Too late to apply to LAUSD magnet schools? Try this instead

Gifted and Talented GATE LAUSDThink your child may be gifted but missed the magnet application window last fall?

Now’s a chance for LAUSD parents to act: the SAS program, which stands for “Schools for Advanced Studies,” is accepting applications until April 30.

SAS programs are, in essence, gifted programs that reside within a traditional school. Offered at dozens of schools district-wide (see list here), they are considered a well-kept secret, perhaps because performance numbers are not broken out from the host school so their track records are hard publicize.

“What some parents don’t know is that kids don’t have to test to get into these programs,” says Angel Zobel-Rodriguez, a mother of two, who started a website called,  Magnet Angel (and runs another called Ask a Yenta) to help parents navigate the complicated gifted-magnet application process.

Instead, students can be referred by schools if they meet the academic criterion (see description here). And unlike with the magnet process, students can apply to as many SAS schools as they want and don’t need “points” — an accrual system that is used for the gifted magnets.

According to the new LAUSD Gifted/Talented website, the programs are “an intensive academic articulated program in which both innovative and traditional courses are taught.” The SAS programs are open to students from neighboring areas (pending available space) who have been identified as high performers, and the SAS teachers are required to go through extra professional development training.

In general, you can expect “classes will be taught at a higher level,” says Zobel-Rodriguez. “Think of them as gifted magnets but without a bus.”

For more information:
LAUSD Gifted/Talented website
Ask A Yenta
Magnet Angel
Great Schools

LA County Board of Education deciding fate of 2 Aspire charters

Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo Academy

Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo Academy

The LA County Board of Education is set to vote later today on whether to allow two top-performing charter schools to remain open.

The appeal was filed in February after two Aspire public charter schools in southeast Los Angeles — Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo Academy and Aspire Ollin University Preparatory Academy — were denied renewals by the LAUSD Board.

The denials came at highly-charged school board meeting in February when members clashed over how the schools get paid for students needing special services.

The decision shocked parents and community members because the schools are among the best in the city, both well above the state goal of 800 on the academic performance index.

Aspire is California’s largest charter organization, operating 12 schools in LAUSD.

Officials at Aspire say they are confident that the LA County Board of Education will do the right thing.

“We are hopeful the LACOE Board Members will approve Aspire’s appeal to continue to serve Huntington Park students and families” at the two schools, James Willcox, CEO of Aspire, told LA School Report.

“We have worked with board members and their staff over the past few weeks to demonstrate the high quality education all of our students are receiving at these schools,” he added. “Parents, students, teachers and community leaders have expressed their support for keeping these quality schools open.”

 

LAUSD gets a new ‘index’ to help schools where needs are highest

imagesA coalition of education advocates and community groups has developed a new tool, a “student needs index,” and offering it to LA Unified to help identify high-need schools as the district refines its next annual budget.

Created by the Community Coalition, Advancement Project and InnerCity Struggle, the index uses environmental, social and academic factors that affect student learning to provide the district another measure of students living in poverty, beyond the usual metric of free and reduced-price lunch.

“The index not only measures academic results, but it also measures neighborhood conditions such as exposure to violence, access to youth programming, access to early care and education,” Maria Brenes, Executive Director of InnerCity Struggle, told LA School Report.

In identifying 242 high need schools in LAUSD, most of them in south and east Los Angeles, the index provides a better idea of where the need is greatest, specifically the student populations that money from the state, $837 million, is intended to help — foster youth, English learners and low-income students.

“We think [the index] is an innovative framework for the district in terms of how to target resources for the highest impact,” Brenes said.

The challenge for the community groups now is convincing the district to use the index.

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Morning Read: Settlements to help LAUSD homeless, pending

Settlements pending for Los Angeles schools, homeless
Pro bono organization Public Counsel has inked two class action settlements that would reinstitute funds to struggling schools and homeless residents in the Los Angeles area affected by California’s budget crisis. Under one tentative settlement, reached April 3, Los Angeles Unified School District would allocate $60 million in funding over three years to 37 struggling middle schools that suffered unusually high teacher turnover and student dropout rates following layoffs prompted by the budget crisis. National Law Journal


State among the worst in degrees to Hispanics may surprise you
With a population more than twice as Hispanic as the national average, California has a lower-than-average proportion of Hispanics with college or university educations, and no institution among the top five for awarding them degrees, according to a new study. Hechinger Report


At an East San Jose high school, students react to new Common Core test
The students in John Daniels’ U.S. history class at James Lick High School in East San Jose are a smidgen of the tens of thousands of juniors who are taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium field test this spring. And their views of the new test on the Common Core State Standards are but a snapshot of many that the creators of the test and the state Department of Education will receive over the next two months. EdSource


Must be a combined effort to effectively reform schools
Commentary: The recent guest commentary “Teachers aren’t to blame for most of schools’ problems” addressed a number of important educational issues. Focusing on the Vergara v. California case currently in the courts, the author also points to “misleading and false statements that only serve to distract us from the real problems facing our schools.” Contra Costa Times

Caputo-Pearl: Fletcher made right decision, stepping aside

Warren Fletcher

Warren Fletcher

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the presumptive next president of UTLA,  said today that current president Warren Fletcher made the right decision by expressing a willingness to step aside in the race to lead the second largest teachers union in the nation.

“We look forward to the opportunity to expand the base of support behind an approach where UTLA leads the fight for quality schools and respect for educators through powerful organizing and coalition-building,” Caputo-Pearl told LA School Report.

In the recent union election of 10 candidates or president, Caputo-Pearl, head of the left-leaning “Union Power” slate, ran away with first-place in the first round of voting, gathering twice as many votes as Fletcher, even though only a quarter of the membership cast ballots.

As the top vote-getters in the first round, but neither with a majority, they are now competing in a second round of voting.

Candidates in the Union Power group swept the first round, picking up majority wins in nearly every leadership position within UTLA. The shift in Union Power suggests a major change ahead in union strategies and policies. Throughout his campaign Caputo-Pearl advocated for more aggressive actions on behalf of teachers, including a strike to secure a new contract for the union that would include a raise for the first time in seven years.

“We are glad that President Fletcher recognizes that the membership sees the need to move in this direction,” Caputo-Pearl said, adding, “The more we can be united behind this approach, the more successful we will be.”

Fletcher on Sunday told the LA Times he will no longer actively campaign for reelection because “only a fool fights in a burning house.”

In an interview with LA School Report today he expanded: “We are facing a lot of unprecedented outside challenges — attacks on our profession. We are in a situation where we need to make sure that we are as strong as we can be and that’s part of what’s driving the decision on my part.”

If he loses, Fletcher said he’ll return to the classroom.

“It helps that I like teaching,” he said laughing. “Remember, I went to college and studied to be a teacher. This three year period has been the exception and I’m going back to the thing that is my profession.”

SEIU 99 decides not to endorse a candidate for District 1 board seat

SEIU99SEIU Local 99, the service employees union, which represents more than 30,000 cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, special education assistants and other school support staff at LAUSD, has decided not to endorse a candidate for the district’s vacant District 1 Board seat.

The local is the largest labor unit within LA Unified that chose not to get behind any of the seven candidates in the June 3 special election.

The decision not to endorse followed what the union described in a press release as “a lengthy endorsement process,” which included conversations between the candidates and members of SEIU Local 99, a review of candidate questionnaires and a formal town hall meeting where SEIU members interviewed the candidates.

“We recognize that there are many candidates in this race who share our goals for improving education inside and outside the classroom and who believe that when parents have good jobs, their children have the economic stability at home that they need to thrive in school,” said SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Courtni Pugh. “Our decision not to endorse one candidate is, in great part, a reflection of the strong field of contenders in this race.”

Pugh said the union would continue to follow the election and, if a run-off is necessary, would re-evaluate the candidates to consider an endorsement.

Among the other large unions with LA Unified employees, the teachers union, UTLA, endorsed three candidates — Rachel Johnson, Sherlett Hendy-Newbill and Hattie McFrazier. The union representing principals and other administrators, AALA, endorsed George McKenna.

 

UTLA unsure of financial support for teachers in board race

imagesWinning endorsement is one thing. Winning financial support is quite another.

UTLA, the teachers union, has endorsed three candidates in the June 3 special election to fill LA Unified’s District 1 board seat, all three with ties to the union: Rachel Johnson and Sherlett Hendy-Newbill are teachers, and Hattie McFrazier is a former teacher.

The head of UTLA’s political action committee, PACE, said the union will promote all three on the ballot equally, but that support might not come with a lot of union financial support.

“We believe in all of the teachers we’ve endorsed,” Marco Flores told LA School Report. “But the truth is, whoever gets elected won’t be there very long.”

Flores says the timing of the special election in June is too close to the regular school board elections in 2015, when four seats will be up for grabs, including District 1 again. And campaigning for those races, he said, will begin on Labor Day — just shortly after the new District 1 member would take a seat on the board if the election goes to an Aug. 12 runoff.

The question before UTLA and PACE, he said, is: “How much are we going to ask for, from our friends, from our affiliates, from the different groups that we get money from, for this particular race when nine months from now we’re going to be having another four races?”

Next year’s elections will be for board districts 1, 3, 5, and 7.

So far two board members have declared their intention to run as incumbents: Board president Richard Vladovic (7) will be seeking a third term and Bennett Kayser (5) is going after a second.

Barbara Jones, Chief of Staff for board member Tamar Galatzan (3), told LA School Report last week, “She hasn’t announced yet whether she is running.”

Morning Read: Bus crash investigations moves to LA

Deadly bus crash: Bulk of investigation shifts to Los Angeles
The investigation into what caused a FedEx freight truck to cross a median and slam into a charter bus in Northern California, killing 10 people, is shifting to Los Angeles. On the itinerary for investigators: meeting with Silverado Stages, the company that owned and operated the bus involved in the collision, and interviewing student survivors of the accident, mainly in the Los Angeles area. LA Times


More non-profits teaching parents to read with children
Uriel is one of nearly 100 children in East Palo Alto who receive free books and private tutoring through the nonprofit 10 Books A Home, in exchange for a commitment from his mother: She reads with him every day. Programs such as 10 Books a Home, which focus on improving early reading skills by engaging parents, are spreading in California. EdSource


Mobile classroom rolls out to teach students about L.A. River
The contrast between nostalgia for the Los Angeles River and the reality of it today could not be sharper than at its confluence with the Arroyo Seco, a big, desolate flood-control channel strewn with trash and hemmed by freeways, power lines and railroad yards. LA Times


All schools should have good teachers
Commentary: It’s nice to know that tens of millions of extra dollars will go to 37 low-income schools after the Los Angeles Unified School District settled a class-action suit on behalf of students. But the lawsuit, undertaken by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, was never about money; it was about policies that require teachers with the least seniority to be laid off first when there are staff reductions. LA Times