LOCAL Education

Welcome to Essential Education, our daily look at education in California and beyond. Here's the latest:

  • Applications for college financial aid through the California Dream Act are much lower than they were last year, and officials think the biggest reason is fear.
  • The Trump administration is rolling back Obama-era protections for transgender students, but California's schools chief has promised to uphold students’ rights.
Betsy DeVos K-12

What are your thoughts about Betsy DeVos? We'd love to hear.

An unprecedented number of Americans have called, emailed and faxed their lawmakers to share their thoughts about the U.S. Secretary of Education since she was confirmed last week. We'd love to know what you think about Betsy DeVos and her new job. Tell us.

Send us your answers >>

Higher Education

Black History Month artwork torn down at Orange Coast College

This display of nine black vinyl banners was created by student Karina Mendoza to commemorate Black History Month. (Courtesy of Karina Mendoza)
This display of nine black vinyl banners was created by student Karina Mendoza to commemorate Black History Month. (Courtesy of Karina Mendoza)

Orange Coast College is investigating after Black History Month student artwork was torn down in the campus Art Center on Tuesday.

The art project includes 18 names of people killed by police listed on nine black vinyl banners with the words "Promise that you will sing about me" at the top, referring to a Kendrick Lamar track. A multicolored flag signifying the LGBT community adorns the bottom, along with "#SayTheirName" and "BlackLivesMatter."

K-12

Jameis Winston says he used 'poor word choice' after telling kids that girls should be silent

 (Jason Behnken / Associated Press)
(Jason Behnken / Associated Press)

Jameis Winston was brought in to a Florida elementary school Wednesday to deliver a positive message to the students.

And he did that for most of the time. But for some reason during his 40-minute speech, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback also told the girls in the room they should be “silent, polite, gentle” while informing the boys they’re “supposed to be strong.”

Betsy DeVos K-12

School vouchers can sometimes have negative effects on student outcomes

 (Mario Tama / Getty Images)
(Mario Tama / Getty Images)

As we wait to see exactly how President Trump will try to fulfill his campaign promise to create a nationwide school voucher program , Kevin Carey has provided  some key context in a piece in the New York Times.

Carey, who directs the education policy program at the think tank New America, writes that the origins of school vouchers can be traced to a single 1955 essay by economist Milton Friedman. Friedman suggested the idea of offering vouchers to help pay for private schools, as long as those schools that got public money met "certain minimum standards."

Most programs, Carey says, have relied on standardized testing to show that they do.

But several recent studies, based on test scores, of how students fare in voucher programs have "found that vouchers hurt student learning," Carey says.

The Trump administration has yet to release a plan for building new school voucher programs, but some think it could come in the form of a tax credit .

California State University Community Colleges Higher Education K-12 University of California

Fewer students who came to the U.S. without legal papers are applying for college aid under the California Dream Act

Cesar, an undocumented high school student who does not want to be fully identified, raises his hand. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Cesar, an undocumented high school student who does not want to be fully identified, raises his hand. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Fears about heightened enforcement of federal immigration laws combined with confusion and anti-immigrant rhetoric might be causing thousands of California students who came to the United States without legal papers to forgo valuable college aid.

Far fewer students than last year have applied for financial aid through the California Dream Act so far this year, and advocates are trying to encourage them to do so before the March 2 deadline.

Betsy DeVos California State University Higher Education K-12 University of California

A promise to transgender students, fewer Dreamers and Napolitano's tough talk: What's new in education today

Janet Napolitano (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Janet Napolitano (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

In and around Los Angeles:

In California:

  • Fewer students who came into the U.S. without legal status are applying for California college aid.
  • Transgender students have explicit rights in California.
  • UC President Janet Napolitano blasts Trump immigration crackdown as a backward step.
  • California ranks fifth on Advanced Placement test scores.

Nationwide:

  • The Trump administration rescinded Obama-era guidance on transgender students, despite reports that Betsy DeVos disagrees.
  • The College Board is beefing up its security — and administering fewer international tests — after reports of cheating on the SAT.

To learn more, talk to us on Facebook . And go to www.latimes.com/schools to find all our latest education news in one spot.

Betsy DeVos K-12

Trump administration rescinds guidelines on protections for transgender students

 (Richard Shiro / Associated Press)
(Richard Shiro / Associated Press)

The Trump administration rescinded an Obama -era directive Wednesday aimed at protecting transgender students’ rights, questioning its legal grounding.

Under the guidelines, schools had been required to treat transgender students according to their stated gender identity, and either allow access to restrooms and locker rooms for the gender they identify with or provide private facilities if requested.

Betsy DeVos K-12

The state plans to keep its promises to transgender students, says California schools chief

State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. (Andrew Seng / Associated Press)
State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. (Andrew Seng / Associated Press)

With news that the Trump administration is rolling back former President Obama's guidance on protecting transgender students, State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is reminding California students of their rights .

"California students will continue to have their civil rights protected," he said in a statement Wednesday. "California will continue to work to provide that environment for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students regardless of any misguided directives by the federal government and the Trump administration."

This post was updated to include news of the guidance.

Higher Education University of California

UC President Janet Napolitano blasts Trump immigration crackdown as a backward step

 (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

University of California President Janet Napolitano blasted the Trump administration's immigration crackdown on Wednesday, calling it a step backward that would make communities less safe.

Napolitano, who served as U.S. Homeland Security secretary under President Obama, said the vast expansion of deportation priorities announced by the White House this week would not work in the long run.

"The new guidance essentially makes all undocumented immigrants in the United States priorities for enforcement," she said in a statement given to The Times. "When everyone is a priority, there are essentially no priorities — and my experience as secretary of Homeland Security and governor of Arizona showed clearly that the lack of priorities undermines effective immigrant enforcement and makes our communities less safe.

"I’m also deeply concerned that such broad, ill-defined parameters will stoke fear and anxiety in immigrant communities across the nation, making immigrants — whether here legally or undocumented — much less likely to work with local law enforcement to help keep our communities safe.

"This approach is a step backward from the progress the Obama administration made to establish a more just, humane immigration system and it also fails to comprehensively address the many areas of our immigration system that need to be addressed," she said.

The Trump administration did not say what it would do with so-called Dreamers — young people brought to the country illegally as children and given protection under Obama. Napolitano said UC would continue to protect and defend such students, who number about 3,700 on its campuses.

K-12

Trump is preparing to roll back Obama's protections for transgender students. California students have rights.

A transgender student in Los Angeles Unified School District. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
A transgender student in Los Angeles Unified School District. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

As President Trump prepares to roll back federal protections for transgender students, it may be a good time to revisit a guide we published in 2016 about the rights that transgender students are afforded in California and L.A.

While California state law strongly protects transgender students, losing federal protection could negatively affect transgender rights in the state. Lawyers and advocates relied on the Obama administration, rather than on California's state government, to enforce student rights in a number of cases .

What rights do transgender students have in California?

State law specifies that students cannot be discriminated against based on gender identity or gender expression. School districts are responsible for keeping students safe, preventing violations of students’ rights and addressing problems.

Betsy DeVos K-12

DeVos reportedly disputed Trump plans to roll back transgender student protections

The Trump administration is preparing to rescind the Obama administration's protections for transgender students in public schools — but U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos initially opposed the move, the New York Times reports.

Trump, according to the Times, sided with Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.

In order for the new regulations to move forward, both the Education and Justice departments needed to sign off.

The reported plan is to get rid of the directive Obama released in May.

The New York Times reported that DeVos had little choice but to go along.

Obama's guidance on Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law, said that public schools must let transgender students use the locker rooms and bathrooms of their choice.

The guidance was not legally binding, but advocates say it helped transgender students. Opponents soon called the move federal overreach, with some saying it violated the rights of students who are not transgender.

Thirteen states sued the federal government over the requirements, and in August, a federal judge in Texas put the order on temporary hold nationwide. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said at the time that the state would rather give up federal funding than comply with the directive.

In a recent briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the bathroom question an issue for states. "The president has maintained for a long time that this is a states-rights issue," he said.

The order the Trump administration plans to issue has not yet been released, but an early draft says people are confused by the meaning of the protections. Reuters posted a copy of that draft here .

Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington who spearheaded the fight against DeVos' confirmation, issued a statement about DeVos' reported resistance.

"I am glad to see reports that Sec. DeVos agrees with me and so many people across the country that rolling back this guidance on protecting transgender students would be absolutely wrong and should not be done," Murray said.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals also criticized Trump's reported plans. "If the guidance is withdrawn, principals will continue their efforts to support transgender and all other students in the face of new opposition and, sadly, with the knowledge that their president might not share their concern for the needs of each student," Bob Farrace, the organization's director of public affairs, said in a statement.

The Supreme Court is slated to take up the question of transgender students' rights next month.

This story was updated to include a link to a draft of the guidance and additional context.

K-12

College Board to boost SAT security globally

 (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

The firm that owns the SAT college entrance exam is boosting security around the world following test-stealing and other cheating incidents in recent years.

The College Board told the Associated Press it's reducing the number of international testing dates from six per year to four for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. It says the move will reduce opportunities for test content to be stolen.

Higher Education University of California

Abcarian: UC Berkeley's tiny minority of black students finally get a space to call their own

Cal junior A.J. Moultrie, 21, of the UC Berkeley Black Student Union, reads a statement. (Robin Abcarian / Los Angeles Times)
Cal junior A.J. Moultrie, 21, of the UC Berkeley Black Student Union, reads a statement. (Robin Abcarian / Los Angeles Times)

A small but important piece of history was made Tuesday evening at UC Berkeley when the Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center opened its doors.

To celebrate, there were speeches. And refreshments. And a deejay. Also, an understandable sense of accomplishment on the part of the Black Student Union, which has spent years pushing the university to establish the center, named for the great civil rights activist.

K-12 LAUSD

Steve Lopez: Students who want to get involved in L.A. school board election don't have to go negative

Students at Garfield High School. (Christina House / For the Times)
Students at Garfield High School. (Christina House / For the Times)

I had trouble believing that 18 students, without adult guidance, decided all they wanted to do was attack a single candidate rather than extol the virtues of other candidates. And that one candidate, incumbent Steve Zimmer, is a target of charter school proponents, which is where the million dollars came from, with former Mayor Dick Riordan as sugar daddy.

Political consultant John Shallman told me he pitched the idea of recruiting students to the folks at the California Charter Schools Assn., then assigned one of his staffers to run L.A. Students for Change. Smart move on his part. More than $3 million in independent committee spending alone has been sunk into school board races, and campaign records show that Shallman should have invested in an armored car for all his trips to the bank.

Higher Education K-12 LAUSD University of California

iPad investigation, a new chancellor, potential layoffs: What's new in education today

 (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • Following an FBI investigation into L.A. Unified's iPad plan, the U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday it will not file charges against the district.

California:

  • A Georgia Tech dean known for his commitment to increasing diversity has been named the new chancellor for UC Davis.
  • How teachers are using virtual reality to enhance science lessons.
  • San Diego Unified is considering layoffs to balance its budget.

Nationwide:

  • An investigation finds that school districts direct their lowest performers to alternative schools in an effort to inflate scores and graduation rates.
  • The Trump administration is preparing to roll back Obama-era protections for transgender students.
  • A school prayer bill is advancing in Indiana.

To learn more, talk to us on Facebook . You can go to www.latimes.com/schools to find all our latest education news in one spot.

K-12 LAUSD

No charges to be filed in L.A. schools iPad investigation

 (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

The U.S. attorney has decided not to file charges following a lengthy FBI investigation into the bidding process that won Apple a contract to provide an iPad to every student, teacher and administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The decision, announced Tuesday, brings to a close an infamous and far-reaching chapter in the history of the nation’s second-largest school system. The iPad project, approved in June 2013, was a flagship effort of then-Supt. John Deasy, who saw the devices as a way to help the district’s low-income families offset advantages enjoyed by more prosperous families and by school systems that served wealthier neighborhoods.

In the end, problems related to the $1.3-billion project contributed to Deasy’s resignation under pressure in October 2014. In December of that year, FBI agents raided district headquarters, carting away 20 boxes of documents.

Higher Education University of California

Georgia Tech dean is chosen to replace UC Davis chancellor who resigned under ethics cloud

 (Georgia Tech)
(Georgia Tech)

University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday that she has selected Gary May, a Georgia Tech dean and UC Berkeley alumnus, as her choice to become the seventh chancellor of UC Davis .

May, who has long supported promoting minorities in higher education, will replace Linda Katehi, who resigned last year after a UC investigation into her alleged conflicts of interest found she violated multiple university policies and misled her superiors, the public and the media.

In a statement, Napolitano praised May as a “dynamic leader and an accomplished scholar and engineer with a passion for helping others succeed.”The UC Board of Regents will vote on the appointment during a special meeting at UCLA on Feb. 23.

Betsy DeVos California State University Higher Education LAUSD University of California

What's new in education today: New state travel ban affects college students; U.S. student debt tops $1 trillion

L.A. school board President Steve Zimmer (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. school board President Steve Zimmer (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

In California:

Across the nation:

Did you know that we're on Facebook now, too? And that you can go to www.latimes.com/schools to find all our latest education news in one spot?

Higher Education

Americans owe more on student debt than on credit cards

 (Courtney Keating / Getty Images)
(Courtney Keating / Getty Images)

Outstanding student loan debt continues to increase and reached $1.31 trillion by the end of last year – more than what the nation owes for credit cards, according to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

About 11% of that debt was either in default or 90 or more days delinquent in the fourth quarter of 2016.

President Trump, while on the campaign trail last year, had some ideas on how to tackle this growing problem.

Read the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s quarterly Household Debt and Credit report here .

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