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Today’s Headlines: A push for early education

children play with blocks
Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a wide expansion of the state’s early education program as part of a multibillion-dollar investment in schools. Above, children play with blocks at a preschool.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

California’s governor proposes adding a full school year before kindergarten. How will it work?

TOP STORIES

A Push for Early Education

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed far-reaching, multibillion-dollar education initiatives — including a full year of schooling for all 4-year-olds and enrichment programs and tutoring for students in low-income communitiesaimed at those he sees as most in need as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

If approved by the Legislature, the governor’s plans, which his administration pencils out at $20 billion over several years, would represent an ambitious expansion of the mission for California’s education system.

Funded by a massive influx of state income tax revenue, Newsom’s proposal first and foremost targets universal transitional kindergarten, promising an additional year on the front end of the kindergarten-through-12th-grade public school experience.

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But it also includes $1 billion a year for additional after-school and summer programs in low-income communities — building up to $5 billion. Here’s more about how it would work and why many experts are praising the effort.

Should She Go to the Border?

After President Biden made Vice President Kamala Harris his diplomatic envoy to Latin America to address the “root causes” of the increase in the number of unaccompanied children and families trying to enter the United States, Republicans have demanded to know why she hasn’t visited the border.

Even some some Democrats, nonpartisan policy experts and immigrant advocacy groups also say Harris should visit the border as a high-level sign of the administration’s commitment to fixing the battered immigration system and so that Harris can witness the scope of the problem she has been asked to help fix.

Harris, so far, has resisted making plans to visit, pointing out that her job description involves diplomacy in Latin America rather than policy at the border. She will fly over it next month for two days of meetings with the presidents of Mexico and Guatemala about alleviating the conditions that drive Central Americans northward.

Yet, the fraught debate over the border illustrates why Harris’ most high-profile solo assignment is so challenging.

More Politics

— House Republicans led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy voted to oust Rep. Liz Cheney from her role as the No. 3 GOP leader in the House over her criticism of former President Trump.

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— Two former Trump administration officials faced tough questions at a congressional hearing on their roles in the sharply criticized response to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

— California Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Faulconer unveiled a tax plan that would eliminate state income tax for individuals who make less than $50,000 and families that earn less than $100,000.

— An independent redistricting commission that California voters created to stop lawmakers and powerful interests from drawing gerrymandered congressional and legislative districts is now accused of routinely flouting the law with acts that threaten to undermine its impartiality.

For more news and analysis, sign up for our Essential Politics newsletter, sent to your inbox three days a week.

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An End to Mandatory Masks Soon?

Newsom said that California could significantly ease its mask mandates in the coming weeks as coronavirus cases continue to decline and vaccinations increase.

State health officials have not offered guidance, but Newsom said it could come soon. On June 15, when the state is slated to reopen its economy, “we’ll move beyond the blueprint and we’ll be in a completely different space,” Newsom said. “We will be updating our mask guidelines, outdoor masking, if we reach that threshold where we hope to be…. In fact, it will be eliminated, those mandates. They’ll be guidelines or recommendations.”

Newsom’s comment comes amid growing debate about how much longer mask mandates should remain as the country — and California especially — recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Children as young as 12 should get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, a government advisory panel says. The recommendation means middle school and high school students could be vaccinated before the next school year starts.

— It’s a simple enough concept, but so-called vaccine passports have become a loaded topic in corners of the U.S. where distrust of government runs high, sparking new conspiracy theories, wild social media claims and protests.

— As California gains the upper hand on COVID-19, who is still dying? An average of 57 Californians a day succumb to the virus.

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— Enlarged lymph nodes are a sign COVID-19 vaccines are working. But as vaccinated people flock back to mammography clinics, the side effects of the shots are showing up as false red flags for breast cancer.

On the Streets in Bogotá

Colombia has become a nation gripped by protests.

They began two weeks ago in reaction to a government tax-increase plan that opponents said would disproportionately hurt low-income Colombians, who already suffering amid the pandemic. But the demonstrations quickly morphed into broader calls for improved healthcare, education, security and other demands.

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Hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, trade union members, farmers, Indigenous activists and others are now taking to the streets each day. The mass mobilizations have largely shut down cities and left dozens dead — most killed by police, according to human rights groups. One slain activist has become a symbol of resistance.

And they could be a sign of things to come in Latin America, where the pandemic and its fallout have exacerbated long-standing inequities.

Sticker Shock

It’s not your imagination: The price of a lot of things is going up.

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The return of inflation has been reflected in the cost of food at the grocery store, computers, shoes, furniture, sporting equipment and many more goods and services. Used car and truck prices jumped 10% between March and April; airfares and hotel rates rose about as much.

The big question now is whether the current price surges are temporary or are warning signs of serious problems ahead.

Here’s why most economists agree that inflation worries, at least for now, are overdone.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1971, Chicano rights demonstrators undertook a long walk from Calexico to Sacramento to draw attention to their cause. The group began May 5, and by May 12, about 25 marchers had reached the Salton Sea, where The Times caught up with them.

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They said some who encountered the group offered praise or food and shelter. On other occasions, drivers shouted “racist catcalls” and big rigs “roared close enough to the highway shoulder to nearly blow the marchers down,” The Times reported. The marchers reached Sacramento in August, and about 200 Chicano demonstrators held a 20-minute protest on the front lawn of Gov. Ronald Reagan’s home.

A line of people marching along a desert road with signs and flags, seen from a car driver's point of view
May 12, 1971: Chicanos march along a desert road near the Salton Sea during a protest march from Calexico to Sacramento.
(Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA)

CALIFORNIA

— State Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta will create a racial justice bureau to combat white supremacy and biased policing as well as to explore the possibility of reparations for slavery.

— The Jesuit priest who oversaw Biden’s inaugural Mass has resigned from his post as president of Santa Clara University after an internal investigation found he engaged in behaviors that conflicted with the Jesuit order’s “protocols and boundaries,” according to a school statement.

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Low attendance among middle and high school students in the reopened Los Angeles Unified School District have education officials fretting over what these figures portend for next fall.

— An Australian destroyer pulled into San Diego Bay last weekend with two dead fin whales lodged against the ship’s hull.

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NATION-WORLD

— Criticized for its slow response to escalating warfare, the Biden administration plunged into urgent diplomacy, dispatching an emergency envoy to the Mideast, appealing directly to Israel’s prime minister and insisting Israelis and Palestinians deserve “equal measures” of security and freedom.

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— A Minnesota judge has ruled that there were aggravating factors in the death of George Floyd, paving the way for a longer sentence for former Police Officer Derek Chauvin, according to an order.

— Independent experts who reviewed the World Health Organization’s pandemic response say the agency should be granted “guaranteed rights of access” in countries to investigate emerging outbreaks — a contentious idea that would give it more powers and require member states to give up some of theirs.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Ellen DeGeneres will end her daytime talk show next year after more than 4,400 episodes. The show faced allegations of a toxic work environment.

— Foo Fighters, the Go-Go’s, Jay-Z, Carole King, Todd Rundgren and Tina Turner will join the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year as part of the latest class of inductees.

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— HBO’s “Mare of Easttown” is airing on an old-fashioned one-episode-a-week timeline. Here are five shows for fans to try in the meantime.

— How good are the songs from Season 1 of “Girls5eva”? Our pop music critic ranked all 31 of them.

BUSINESS

— The U.S. lumber market is out of control, with prices skyrocketing due to low borrowing rates, growing appetites for bigger homes and a frenzy of DIY pandemic renovations.

Gasoline prices are jumping and shortages are expanding in Southeastern states in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack. Gas prices are up in California too, but for totally different reasons — in fact, inventory is above normal for the West.

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SPORTS

— The Rams will start their season Sept. 12 against the Chicago Bears at home at SoFi Stadium, which barring a COVID-19-related setback is on track to host fans for games for the first time. Here’s more from the team’s just-released schedule.

Kobe Bryant was not just an American icon. He inspired a generation of players around the world, one sleepless night at a time.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

— Ahmad Chebli is an American auto engineer who was born in Chicago. So how did he end up on the U.S. government’s no-fly list in 2018? He deserves to know, and so do we, writes columnist Nicholas Goldberg.

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Anti-trans bills capitalize on the country’s prejudices and worst fears as Republicans seek to hold onto support. It’s a coordinated effort at the expense of transgender children, writes columnist LZ Granderson.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— In the Navajo Nation, clashes between Chinese farmworkers and locals offer a cautionary tale about the cannabis boom, the investment that’s fueling it, and its effects on migrant workers. (BBC)

— How Kevin Garnett’s prep-to-pros jump changed the NBA and paved the way for Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. (New York Times)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

When Vans co-founder Paul Van Doren died last week at age 90, one particular shoe — a slip-on sneaker with a waffle-bottom sole and a black-and-white-checkerboard canvas upper — took center stage. The shoe set the company on its way to becoming a multibillion-dollar action sports brand. But it was hardly the only Vans shoe to make waves.

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Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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