FROM Howard Blume
What the new year means for kids in LA public schools More than 640,000 students in LA’s public schools go back to class today. What will the new school year bring? It’s the first with a majority of charter school supporters on the board. The district is facing serious money problems. Plus, vaccination rates are not where they’re supposed to be.
As LAUSD board goes pro-charter, what will change for students? After Tuesday’s LA city election, it looks like charter school advocates will run the LA School Board. What will that mean for the district, which is losing money as more children go to charters? What will it mean for the teachers’ union?
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.
Accusations of lying fly between James Comey and White House During his testimony Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey accused President Trump and other White House officials of lying when they said the FBI was in disarray and its staff had lost confidence in him. President Trump’s lawyer said Comey was wrong -- that the president never asked for his loyalty, and never asked him to back off the investigation into former NSA director Michael Flynn.
Securing Public Spaces, Super Wealthy Asians Vehicles are increasingly being used as weapons, as seen in the London Bridge attack over the weekend and in New York’s Times Square last month. The Compton-based company Calpipe is designing security bollards to help make public spaces safer. And novelist Kevin Kwan satirizes the “crazy rich” Asian jet set and their luxurious tastes in his latest book, “Rich People Problems.”