FROM John Rogers
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.
L.A. Teacher Case Goes to Court Again How easy should it be to fire bad public school teachers? That’s what’s being reconsidered in an appeals court today in the landmark case Vergara v. California. In 2014, a judge sided with the students who brought the case. He found that the tenure system in California violates students civil rights, because the worst teachers are sent to the highest poverty schools, meaning those students get an unequal education. The state and two unions that joined the case appealed. Today, a court is hearing their arguments. If the decision is upheld, it would be a major blow to teachers unions in California and in the rest of the country.
LAUSD Teacher Shortage It’s the first day of the new school year for LA public schools, and there’s good news for teachers: they aren’t being laid off anymore. In fact, cities across the country are having the opposite problem: they can’t hire enough of them. Here in California, more than 80,000 jobs were lost in public schools during the recession. Now, as the budget picture improves, school districts are looking to fill more than 20,000 positions. But it’s not going to be easy, and the situation looks like it could get worse in the future.
Less School for LAUSD; Student-based Teacher Evaluations The Los Angeles Unified School District and the teachers' union, UTLA , have agreed to shorten the next school year by five days, for a total of 18 days in the past four years. Another three weeks could be lost if Governor Brown's tax package doesn't pass in November. Combined with larger classes, less counseling and cuts in campus management, nobody disagrees that students will suffer. So what has been gained? We hear from educators and attorneys. Education isn't the only thing that's suffering from state budget cuts. Parks are closing, layoffs and court closures are making justice less accessible, and support for the bullet train is on the decline. D.J. Waldie, who's retired as Deputy City Manager for the City of Lakewood, is a prolific writer and commentator about Los Angeles who blogs for KCET .
California Charter Schools Get Grant from Walton Foundation The California Charter Schools Association is getting a $15 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation, to add an additional 20,000 students to attend charter schools in Los Angeles, and 100,000 statewide. The grant is the biggest of its kind from the nonprofit set up by the founders of the retail giant, Wal-Mart. The impact will be felt all over the state, but nowhere more than Los Angeles, which has more charter schools than any other school system in the country.
Will the US Invest in its Own Future? The Royal Society of England has released a report on the scientific output of various countries. It reports that China has already surpassed Britain as the second leading producer of research in the world and, at its present rate, it will overtake the United States in science in just two years. Meantime, education in the United States is in the cross hairs of both reformers and budget cutters.
Will the US Invest in Its Own Future? President Obama says the US has to "out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world," and industry leaders agree. However, while state after state challenges educators to produce a competitive workforce, they simultaneously cut spending from K through 12 to grad school. Meantime, the UK's Royal Society says China is producing enough research and trained professionals to " overtake the US in science " in two years. So why do Chinese parents do whatever they can to get their kids in to American schools? Does the US need education reform or more of the same?
From LA to Sacramento, New Uncertainty in Public Education The LA Unified School District has a new Superintendent. He's John Deasy , who's been assistant to retiring Ramon Cortines for the past few months. The vote of the elected school board was six to zero, with one abstention. In Sacramento, there's new uncertainty about the State Board of Education , completely revamped by Governor Brown. Out went reformers, including Ted Michell and Ben Austin. Newcomers include the well-regarded former Long Beach Superintendent Carl Cohn, Michael Kirst who served during Brown's previous administration and Patricia Rucker, lobbyist for the California Teachers' Association.
Jerry Brown: The Budget and Education Public schools, colleges and universities are already reeling after years of multi-billion dollar reductions. But the over-all budget gap will soon be $28 billion. At Jerry Brown's budget forum yesterday at UCLA, the Governor-elect discussed the dilemma with David Sanchez, President of the California Teachers' Association. The CTA President lamented that after all the budget cuts to K-12, "no more meat on this bone to carve, all that is left is amputation." Brown agreed that one wants to close schools, but reminded that no one wants to raise taxes either, and said it falls to him to bring people together to ensure the future of California.
LA Schools Chief Proposes Shorter Year, Higher Property Tax Drastic times require drastic measures seems to be the approach of the LA Unified School District, where the coming school year's budget deficit has widened from $470 million to $640 million. In the past, LAUSD has resorted to layoffs in trying to solve the deficit. This time, Superintendent Ramon Cortines has proposed cutting the school year by six days and asking voters to approve a $100 parcel tax increase. Professor John Rogers is Director of UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.
Parents Pony Up for Public Schools California law requires that all kids have access to the same level of school spending . Of course they don't, but now the difference is being exaggerated by Governor Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts in funding for education. We hear from a district that's collecting extra money to keep teachers from being fired and another where parents can't afford to chip in more than they already pay in taxes.
Should we 'hack the climate' to fight global warming? The Paris Agreements won't be enough to reverse global warming, whether President Trump pulls the US out or not. Is it time to try altering the atmosphere by what's called "geoengineering?" We hear about unintended consequences, international relations… and ethics.
Is the United States losing its moral authority in the world? American support for human rights has often been criticized as more about words than it is about action. President Trump is creating more skeptics than ever. What are the consequences for America's role in the world?
Trump fires FBI Director James Comey Vice President Mike Pence took the Administration's lead today in explaining why the President fired the Head of the FBI, saying, "The president made the right decision at the right time." Trump's action is being compared to the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre" that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1973.
A New York Times op-ed on climate change sparks uproar The New York Times is embroiled in a public furor over a new columnist, who wrote that scientific uncertainty is reason for debate about climate change. Many conservatives are delighted. Is America's leading liberal newspaper fostering climate denial? This is the latest in our series, "The Emotional States of America."