FROM Howard Blume
Why you should care about Los Angeles' March 7 election Los Angeles is having an election tomorrow. One ballot initiative may reshape LA development for years to come, and the school board could become majority pro-charter school.
Supt. boasts best grad rate yet. But how’s LAUSD really doing? LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King gave her first state-of-the-district address Monday morning. She touted the highest graduation rate ever for the district, but education advocates question whether the numbers are inflated. King also talked about expanding arts education, language and technology in classrooms, but she talked less about how the district would go about accomplishing these goals. And meanwhile, one group is suing LAUSD over how it spent $450 million set aside for high-need students.
LA Unified Abuse Settlements Top $300 Million The Los Angeles Unified School District has been plagued in recent years by a series of teacher sexual misconduct cases. As a result, the nation's second largest school district has paid out more than $300 million to sexual abuse victims in just the last four years. The payouts aren't for the crimes committed by the teachers, however, they're for LA Unified failing to protect students, by either missing warning signs of sexual abuse or by outright dismissing or ignoring complaints. What is LAUSD doing to prevent sexual abuse?
L.A. School Report Takeover The pro-charter organization The Seventy Four has taken over the education site L.A. School Report, which covers schools in Los Angeles. The Seventy Four was co-founded by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown. It’s mainly funded by pro-charter supporters. Brown is also embroiled in a lawsuit aimed at overturning tenure protections for New York City public school teachers. That’s why the takeover worries teachers and other union leaders. They think The Seventy Four’s control will lead to less transparency and could undermine the journalistic integrity at the L.A. School Report.
LAUSD Has a New Superintendent L.A.’s schools have a new leader today. Michelle King has been named superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District. A consummate insider, she’s worked for the LAUSD for more than 30 years, first as a teacher and a principal, then as deputy superintendent. And as a child she attended public school here in L.A. Now King’s the first black woman ever to run the city’s school system. Who is she and what are her ideas about education?
A Tale of Two Cities and Their Email Threats LAUSD closed all of its campuses and facilities this week because of an emailed terror threat which claimed bombs, nerve gas and automatic weapons were stashed at several schools, and an attack – the threat said – was imminent. Public school officials in New York City received a similar threat, but quickly deemed it a hoax.
Following Up on the LAUSD Closure One day after the LAUSD closed more than 900 schools, parents, teachers and officials are wondering, what happened? And what’s next? Superintendent Ramon Cortines made the call to close the schools after receiving what he described as a credible threat. The FBI has since discredited the threat, deeming it a hoax. It’s worth noting that the threat came less than two weeks after a deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino that left 14 dead and many injured. But what kind of impact will this closure have on the district? And in the wake of these events, will LAUSD develop a new plan for handling emergency situations?
Does Anyone Care About the Search for the Next LAUSD Superintendent? While Mayor Garcetti was being shouted down by protesters, a quieter public meeting was taking place a couple of miles away. The LA Unified School District held a forum to get the public’s input on who should be the next superintendent. Only about 20 people showed up.
LAUSD Faces Challenges Los Angeles public schools face a critical moment right now. Billionaire Eli Broad’s plan to double the number of charter schools in the city threatens to siphon off students. At the same time, the district is still dealing with fallout from its failed plan to give iPads to all students, teachers and administrators. And that’s not all the LAUSD is struggling with.
Back to School: Class Sizes Some 650,000 students went back to school yesterday in Los Angeles and most of them returned to crowded classrooms. Some classes can have more than 40 kids in them. And that means, of course, less time with the teacher. We look at what that means for education in Los Angeles.
Rafe Esquith Sues the LAUSD There’s a new twist in the story of Rafe Esquith, the L.A. elementary school teacher who was removed from his classroom in April and put into “teacher jail” after allegedly making an inappropriate joke. Now the allegations against him have escalated to sexual and financial misconduct, and Esquith, for his part, is suing the LAUSD .
LAUSD Board Elections: Proxy War between the Union and Charter Schools Next week's LA School Board elections have turned into a contest between the Teachers' Union and the California Charter Schools Association. Both are focused on two crucial races, and they're spending big money. Howard Blume is education reporter for the LA Times .
The LAUSD's iPad Debacle Drags On With Refund Demand The Los Angeles Unified School District has an iPad -- or 43,000 -- it would like to sell you. Lawyers for the district have fired off a letter to Apple saying they’re not happy with the product and demanding a refund . School officials say the curriculum on the iPads, made by the education company Pearson, is glitchy and students don’t like the content. Most teachers who were given the iPads have stopped trying to use Pearson’s app. The iPad debacle lead to the end of John Deasy’s tenure as superintendent, and the FBI is investigating possible fraud in the bidding process. So who’s to blame here, and does the LAUSD deserve a refund?
LAUSD’s $139 Million Miramonte Settlement Former third grade teacher Mark Berndt is serving 25 years for sexually abusing children at LA Unified’s Miramonte Elementary School. When he was sentenced last year, the District settled with 65 families for $30 million. But the parents of 81 children went to civil court, and last week, in the midst of jury selection, the District settled for $139 million . A total of $169 million is a staggering sum when schools are in financial trouble.
Pushing Deasy: From iPads to iQuit After three and a half years heading the LA Unified School District, John Deasy stepped down from his post this week. He’s set to remain with the district on “special assignment” through the end of the year.
Deasy’s iPad Problem L.A. schools superintendent John Deasy has written a blistering six-page memo defending the iPad program and the bidding process. He has temporarily halted the program, not because he doesn’t believe in it, but because -- in his words -- it’s been sidetracked by insinuations, innuendos, and misleading statements. Meanwhile several board members are pushing for an internal report on the procurement process to be made public.
Lead poisoning hits LA County It’s been three years since the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan began. Flint residents are still drinking bottled water. In LA County, there are areas with even higher rates of lead contamination, and in places you wouldn’t expect, like wealthy San Marino.
North Korea tests more missiles, Turkey's president gains more power Early Tuesday morning, North Korea tested another intercontinental ballistic missile. It blew up shortly after take-off. But North Korea keeps working on a nuclear missile that could reach the U.S. Also in Turkey, a close vote has given sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey is an important Western ally in the region, but its leader is becoming increasingly authoritarian.
States allowed to strip federal funds from abortion clinics President Trump signed the law allowing states to block federal funding to family planning clinics that offer abortions. Critics say this could potentially devastate the health care network that low-income women rely on for birth control and other reproductive care.
Cambodians and fried chicken, baby pureés, vegan baking tips Frank Shyong explains how Cambodians got into LA’s fried chicken game. Clara Polito shares vegan baking tips from her new book, and Leena Saini says boost the flavor of your baby’s food with spices. Martha Rose Shulman talks up a nifty kitchen gadget that will take your produce for a spin, and Jonathan Gold does lamb barbacoa at Maestro in Pasadena. Plus, a closer look at how bees make honey and wasps pollinate figs.