LOCAL Education

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

  • Gov. Jerry Brown proposed the creation of California’s first public fully online community college.
  • L.A. Unified officials announced Supt. Michelle King will retire after an extended medical leave.
Betsy DeVosK-12LAUSD

Transgender bias complaints dismissed, a call to focus more on history of Reconstruction: What's new in education

Delaine Eastin, left, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom listen as former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks during a gubernatorial debate Saturday. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Delaine Eastin, left, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom listen as former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks during a gubernatorial debate Saturday. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • The Clippers and L.A. Unified are helping students in need get glasses.
  • The district urged students to spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day of service.

In California:

  • Police freed children who were malnourished and shackled to beds in Perris.
  • Education was yet again a major flashpoint in a recent gubernatorial debate.

Nationwide:

  • The U.S. Department of Education has dismissed transgender students’ complaints of discrimination, saying they fall outside the department’s purview.
  • Some educators are asking schools to teach students more about America’s Reconstruction era.

Clippers are partnering with LAUSD to give eyeglasses to students

Blake Griffin was in third grade when his mother took him and big brother Taylor to the eye doctor. Blake’s vision was fine.

“My brother couldn’t see at all,” said the Clippers forward, a five-time All-Star.

His brother was in sixth grade. He would need glasses. Two decades later, what remains most vivid about that day to Griffin is the reaction of his mother.

Betsy DeVosHigher EducationK-12LAUSDUniversity of California

UC San Diego 'Dreamer' arrested, Texas' special-education missteps, Manual Arts lockdown: What's new in education

 (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • A UC San Diego student and “Dreamer” originally from Israel was arrested after he took a wrong turn into Mexico.
  • Manual Arts High School was placed briefly on lockdown Thursday after a nearby officer-involved shooting.

In California:

  • Schools across the state are preparing for the possible loss of students after the Trump administration announced it would revoke temporary protected status for thousands of Salvadorans.
  • Early education advocates say they’re glad Gov. Jerry Brown increased funding for the state’s littlest learners in his latest budget proposal, but they say much more help is needed.

Nationwide:

  • The U.S. Department of Education found that the Texas Education Agency has been violating a major special education law.
  • Columbia University Teacher College’s former financial aid chief and three students face criminal charges amid accusations of running a financial-aid kickback scheme.

UCSD 'Dreamer' arrested after wrong turn into Mexico

On the day before Orr Yakobi’s final quarter at UC San Diego, he was arrested by border officials after his roommate took a wrong turn and drove into Mexico.

Yakobi, 22, is originally from Israel and came to the U.S. on a visa with his family when he was about 5, according to his attorney. When his visa expired, he became an unauthorized immigrant.

He joined the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in 2013, his attorney said, which gave him a renewable two-year permit protecting him from deportation and authorizing him to work. DACA does not authorize recipients to reenter the U.S. if they leave.

Gov. Brown proposes California's first fully online public community college

Gov. Jerry Brown wants California to launch its first fully online public community college to help 2.5 million young adults without college credentials gain skills for better jobs and greater economic mobility.

In the 2018-19 budget plan he unveiled Wednesday, Brown proposed spending $120 million to open such a college by fall 2019, with a focus on short-term credential programs for careers in fields including advanced manufacturing, healthcare and child development.

The governor is a longtime advocate of online learning, which he sees as more cost effective than traditional education.

Community CollegesHigher EducationK-12LAUSD

Brown's big idea, Connecticut's aid to Puerto Rico, schools and the governor's race: What's new in education

Ben Carson (John Locher / Associated Press)
Ben Carson (John Locher / Associated Press)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • School superintendents often don’t stay in place for long. A look at the churn, locally and nationally, as the school board starts considering a replacement for Michelle King.
  • District officials praised Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal.

In California:

Nationwide:

  • Detroit’s school board voted to allow schools to be named after living people, which could lead to a school named for Ben Carson.
  • Schools in Connecticut have opened their doors to students arriving from storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. Hartford has taken in nearly 400.
California State UniversityHigher EducationK-12LAUSDUniversity of California

L.A.'s superintendent search, Cal State's budget worries, recruiting teachers: What's new in education

Students at Cal State Northridge (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Students at Cal State Northridge (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • The L.A. Unified school board voted to keep Vivian Ekchian on as interim superintendent and move deliberately on a search for a permanent replacement.
  • UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools aims to help local schools identify new strategies for improvement.

In California:

  • Cal State officials, tasked with expanding their student body, are disappointed that Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to propose only a 3% budget increase.
  • The state created a new advertising campaign for teacher recruitment.

Nationwide:

L.A. school board keeps interim leader, prepares for superintendent search

Meeting for the first time since Supt. Michelle King announced her retirement, the Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday to name Vivian Ekchian — who has been filling in for King since October — as interim superintendent.

Board members announced the decision after a 2 ½-hour closed session.

“The board had a very thoughtful and rich conversation about the work of the superintendent and the selection process ahead,” board President Monica Garcia said after the meeting.

K-12

Gov. Jerry Brown's signature plan for low-income schools gets full funding in his new state budget

 (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown’s landmark law that sends additional dollars to K-12 students from disadvantaged communities will meet its funding goals two years ahead of schedule under a budget proposal to be unveiled in Sacramento on Wednesday.

The governor’s budget, according to sources who spoke on the condition they not be identified, will commit to full financing of the Local Control Funding Formula at a cost that could be close to $2.6 billion in the fiscal year that begins in July.

Betsy DeVosHigher EducationK-12LAUSD

L.A.'s push for attendance, funding for low-income schools, campus pot bans: What's new in education

Gov. Jerry Brown (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Gov. Jerry Brown (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • As students return to L.A. Unified classrooms, the district stresses the importance of attendance.
  • According to public records, L.A. Unified had only 12 unfilled teaching positions at the start of this school year.

In California:

  • The Local Control Funding Formula — a relatively new education funding and accountability law — gets fully funded in Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget proposal.
  • The state’s colleges and universities plan to continue to ban marijuana on their campuses.

Nationwide:

  • What the Trump era means for Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C.
  • More female and minority students are taking AP computer science classes.

Apple should study how iPhone use might hurt kids, two big investors say

Two big shareholders of Apple Inc. are concerned that the entrancing qualities of the iPhone have fostered a public health crisis that could hurt children — and the company as well.

In a letter to the smartphone maker dated Jan. 6, activist investor Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System urged Apple to create ways for parents to restrict children’s access to their mobile phones. They also want the Cupertino, Calif., company to study the effects of heavy usage on mental health.

“There is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences,” says the letter from the two investors, which combined own about $2 billion in Apple shares. The “growing societal unease” is “at some point is likely to impact even Apple.”

For ParentsK-12LAUSD

Michelle King era closes with questions about the future of the Los Angeles Unified School District

LAUSD Supt. Michelle King, who recently announced her retirement so she can focus on battling cancer (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
LAUSD Supt. Michelle King, who recently announced her retirement so she can focus on battling cancer (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Board of Education members face difficult decisions this week after the sudden retirement of L.A. schools Supt. Michelle King. The school board will meet Tuesday in closed session, its first gathering since King announced Friday that she has cancer and that she will not return to work following a four-month medical leave.

King’s departure and what comes next has raised questions about her legacy, the state of the school district and the path forward. People also are concerned about King, who is making a stunning, saddening exit from the scene after a term in office that began in January 2016 with widespread hope and good feelings.

Higher EducationUniversity of California

UC Davis veterinarian sees some of the world's most exotic patients

UC Davis veterinarian Dr. Jenessa Gjeltema examines a flamingo named Tiki. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
UC Davis veterinarian Dr. Jenessa Gjeltema examines a flamingo named Tiki. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

UC Davis veterinarian Dr. Jenessa Gjeltema opened her 7:30 a.m. staff meeting with a rundown of the day’s patients:

An armadillo, a tarantula, a western pond turtle, a thick-billed parrot, a flamingo, a baby bongo and a Wolf’s guenon monkey.

Gjeltema doesn’t treat the usual dogs and cats. Her veterinary practice is one of the most exotic in the world. A specialist in zoological medicine, she cares for the Sacramento Zoo’s animals. There are about 575 of them, representing nearly 130 species — from tiny whiptail scorpions to 1,500-pound giraffes.

Higher EducationK-12LAUSDUniversity of California

Michelle King's legacy, UC Davis goes to the zoo, fighting the teacher shortage: What's new in education

Michelle King with Ref Rodriguez (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Michelle King with Ref Rodriguez (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • L.A. Unified Supt. Michelle King is undergoing treatment for cancer and has announced that she won’t be returning to the job. She was the first black woman to hold the district’s top job.
  • King was known for working with competing factions. The L.A. Unified board will meet in closed session Tuesday to begin discussing what happens next.

In California:

  • UC Davis’ long-standing partnership with the Sacramento Zoo lets veterinary students learn about exotic animals while the zoo’s inhabitants get the care they need. The school’s veterinary teaching hospital, by the way, treats some fascinating cases
  • Some Bay Area districts are using millennial-friendly tactics and cross-country university partnerships to attract teachers.

Nationwide:

  • Heating outages during bitterly cold weather caused Baltimore schools to close their doors Friday. Most were set to reopen today. 
  • A national roundup of new state laws that affect schools.

After a chilling sex abuse scandal, many Chinese seek a new way to protect their children: sex education

Fifty elementary school students crammed into a rickety classroom at Tongxin Experimental, a school for children of migrant workers in suburban Beijing. Most days, they study math, science, history and other government-mandated subjects.

But on Fridays, they learn about sex. Today’s lesson: how to prevent sexual assault.

“And if your internet friend asks to meet you alone in person, what do you say?” asked the teacher, Li Xueyan, a pharmaceutical industry representative in her early 30s. A part-time teacher, Li volunteers on Fridays for Xixi Garden, a Beijing-based non-governmental organization that teaches sex education in Chinese lower-income schools.

After a chilling sex abuse scandal, many Chinese seek a new way to protect their children: sex education

Fifty elementary school students crammed into a rickety classroom at Tongxin Experimental, a school for children of migrant workers in suburban Beijing. Most days, they study math, science, history and other government-mandated subjects.

But on Fridays, they learn about sex. Today’s lesson: how to prevent sexual assault.

“And if your internet friend asks to meet you alone in person, what do you say?” asked the teacher, Li Xueyan, a pharmaceutical industry representative in her early 30s. A part-time teacher, Li volunteers on Fridays for Xixi Garden, a Beijing-based non-governmental organization that teaches sex education in Chinese lower-income schools.

LAUSD chief Michelle King to retire, won't return from medical leave, sources say

Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Michelle King, whose four-month medical left a leadership gap at a school system facing challenges on numerous fronts, won’t return to her position and plans to retire later this year, the district announced Friday.

King’s move will allow the new Board of Education, which last year for the first time became controlled by supporters of charter schools, to select a new leader to run the nation’s second-largest school district.

Her decision to step down came amid growing questions about when she would be returning and demands that the school district be more clear about her condition. Some, both inside and outside the district, expressed concern about the district’s direction in her absence.

Questions over LAUSD chief's extended medical leave intensify as new semester begins

The Los Angeles Unified School District is poised to start the spring semester next week amid lingering questions about when ailing Supt. Michelle King will return to the job, leaving what some see as a leadership gap in the face of daunting challenges.

Though day-to-day decision-making has been handed over to an acting superintendent, King’s long-term strategic plan has been in limbo during her four-month absence. Some efforts, including one to reduce the number of students who miss weeks of school, appear to be moving forward without King.

L.A. Unified is confronting budget deficits, labor negotiations and internal disagreements over reform strategies.

Higher EducationK-12LAUSDUniversity of California

Michelle King's leave, Baltimore's cold classrooms, the benefits of writing: What's new in education

Michelle King (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Michelle King (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • The students of L.A. Unified are going back to school, but Supt. Michelle King is still on extended sick leave.

In California:

  • A UC Berkeley student was arrested at the border on his way home from a party.
  • A rural school district in Imperial County is improving by infusing writing into all lessons.

Nationwide:

  • Baltimore’s schools closed after outrage over students’ sitting in near-freezing classrooms. The district has returned federal money due to its failure to fix heating systems.
  • A Columbia University professor/photographer has been charged with sexual misconduct.

UC Berkeley student arrested by Border Patrol while visiting girlfriend

A man visiting his girlfriend for the holidays after his first semester as a transfer student at UC Berkeley was arrested by Border Patrol agents at an immigration checkpoint in Jamul.

Luis Mora, 20, and his girlfriend Jaleen Udarbe, 21, were on their way home from a party around 10 p.m. on Saturday when they missed a turn and ended up at the checkpoint. Mora has been detained in a temporary holding cell in a Border Patrol station since then.

“Luis Mora was found in violation of his visa condition,” said Tekae Michael, a spokeswoman for the Border Patrol in the San Diego sector. “Currently, Luis Mora is listed in DHS custody. This is all the information I have on the subject at this time.”

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