Today’s Headlines: California test scores show deep pandemic drops

Joshua Martinez and Alyssa Steinare reading in class.
Los Angeles students read in their classroom. State and national test scores show significant drops during the pandemic years.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
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Hello, it’s Tuesday, Oct. 25, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


California test scores show deep pandemic drops

Two out of three California students did not meet state math standards and more than half did not meet English standards on state assessments taken in the spring. The scores reflect sizable drops in performance compared to the year before the pandemic when large numbers of students were already struggling to meet grade-level expectations.

The test results are even more devastating for Black, Latino, low-income and other historically underserved students. The dismal results provide further evidence of California schools’ profound challenges as educators focus on helping children recover from deep pandemic setbacks with multibillion-dollar investments in public education.


Kanye West’s antisemitic rhetoric latest sign of growing hate in America

As the United States has increasingly grappled with racist and bigoted rhetoric entering the mainstream along with rising hate crimes, the sources of such extremism have tended to come from the margins of political life.

But for the last few weeks, a series of antisemitic and conspiracy-soaked rants have emerged not from dark corners of the internet, but from one of America’s most iconic rap artists and growing fashion icons, Kanye West.

The ugly, unrepentant nature of the comments by West, who now goes by Ye, present new challenges in fighting hate, experts said.

Construction of the Metro Purple Line halted


Los Angeles transit officials shut down construction of the $2.4-billion Westside Purple Line Extension for two weeks amid a litany of “serious safety concerns” that have left dozens of workers with injuries since July.

Workers have fallen off ladders, crushed fingers, been struck by slurry, slipped in mud and been whipped by a hose in the face while building a 2.6-mile phase of the Purple line.

Metro officials say that despite numerous warnings of unsafe conditions at the underground site, the contracted construction company Tutor Perini O & G has created a substandard safety culture.

Rishi Sunak is sworn in as Britain’s new prime minister

Former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak replaced Liz Truss as prime minister and became Britain’s third prime minister in two months Tuesday, making history as the first person of color in the role. He must now must turn his attention to taming an economic crisis that has left the country’s finances in a precarious state.

Sunak, 42, emerged victorious in a lightning-fast contest by the ruling Conservatives to select a new party leader and, by extension, the U.K.’s new prime minister. The process began after Truss resigned as the shortest-serving premier in the nation’s history, following a turbulent tenure that roiled the markets and sparked chaos among the Conservative parliamentary rank and file.


More politics

  • Justice Clarence Thomas issued an order Monday that temporarily shields Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) from testifying about his phone calls to Georgia election officials after President Trump’s 2020 loss.
  • A new biography explores how Ted Kennedy became one of the most influential senators in modern American history, flaws and all.
  • Los Angeles City Council President Paul Krekorian said he would not grant his colleague Kevin de León’s request to be temporarily excused from council meetings.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom said L.A. City Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo should follow Nury Martinez in resigning from their positions.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

Southern California braces for difficult flu season

Flu is being detected at increased levels for this time of year in Southern California, a trend that officials say could foreshadow a difficult season following a pandemic-induced lull.

At this point, overall influenza activity in California remains low, according to the state Department of Public Health. But given that the flu typically begins ramping up nationally in late November or December, above-normal levels now could lead to further challenges later.

The current levels of flu activity are “much higher” compared to pre-pandemic years, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a bulletin to healthcare providers.


Check out "The Times" podcast for essential news and more.

These days, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you’re seeking a more balanced news diet, “The Times” podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse set of reporters from the award-winning L.A. Times newsroom, delivers the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


A small boat with five people observed as a gray whale calf and its mother surface.
New peril for gray whale survival? For the first time in known history, orcas have been observed in the warm, shallow lagoons of the Baja Peninsula, a refuge for gray whales as the species experiences population decline. Above, a gray whale calf and its mother swim in San Ignacio Lagoon last year. Read the story: “Predatory orcas spotted in Baja calving lagoon.”
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


Santa Ana winds, possibly the year’s biggest, hit Southern California. Large parts of the region were hit with Santa Ana winds in what some meteorologists are saying might be the biggest Santa Ana event this year amid concerns about fire dangers.

Harvey Weinstein’s L.A. trial begins. Los Angeles prosecutors began making the case that the disgraced film mogul used his power and influence as a Hollywood kingmaker to sexually assault women in L.A. and Beverly Hills.

The woman who alleges rape by Danny Masterson delivers emotional testimony over four days. Known only as Jen B., she was the first of three women who are accusing Masterson of rape to testify. On the stand, she recounted, sometimes through tears, how a friendly, “brother-sister” relationship turned dark after the “That ’70s Show” actor violently assaulted her as she went in and out of consciousness.

Inflation relief debit cards are now being sent out to Californians. The California “Middle Class Tax Refund” program aims to soften the blow of rising inflation through a one-time payment, ranging from $400 to $1,050 for couples who filed jointly on their 2020 state income tax return and $200 to $700 for those who filed independently.


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Teen pleads guilty to murder and terrorism in Michigan school shooting. The shooting killed four students and put an extraordinary focus on the boy’s home life and the alleged role of his parents in the tragedy. He pleaded guilty to all 24 charges, nearly a year after the attack at Oxford High School in southeastern Michigan.

2 killed, 6 injured in shooting at St. Louis high school. A gunman broke into Central Visual and Performing Arts High School on Monday morning where he fatally shot a woman and a teenage girl and wounded six others before police killed him, authorities said. It was not clear how the man gained access to the school. Monday’s school shooting was the 40th this year resulting in injuries or death.

Russian court rejects Brittney Griner’s appeal of her 9-year prison sentence. The Moscow Regional Court ruled Tuesday to uphold the sentence for the U.S. basketball star, who was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Ukraine cites success in downing drones and fixing energy sites. Ukraine’s forces have shot down more than two-thirds of the approximately 330 Shahed drones that Russia has fired through Saturday, the head of Ukraine’s intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, said.

The U.S. accuses suspected Chinese agents of trying to obstruct the probe of tech giant Huawei. The two men are accused of trying to direct a person with the U.S. government whom they believed was a cooperator to provide confidential information about the Justice Department’s investigation. One of the defendants paid about $61,000 for the information, the Justice Department said.



Adidas, Hollywood talent agency CAA cuts ties with Kanye West. The agency ended its relationship with Ye this month following his recent antisemitic outbursts in various interviews. CAA is the latest business to cut ties with the rapper over his remarks. Separately, Adidas has ended its partnership with the rapper, West’s ex-wife Kim Kardashian added her voice to the growing list of those condemning West’s remarks and MRC Entertainment shelved a documentary about West.

Comedian and actor Leslie Jordan dies after car crash at age 67. After getting his big break in 1989 when he was cast in the first season of “Murphy Brown,” Jordan’s 30-year career was marked by scene-stealing roles in television shows like NBC’s “Will and Grace.” More recently, Leslie found online viral fame with a constant string of Instagram videos.

How “House of the Dragon” fumbled its Season 1 finale to set up Season 2. Television critic Lorraine Ali says HBO’s decision to swap out cast members seemingly every other episode made it difficult to become invested in their fates. That lack of character development is why, though the series has mostly been a thrill to watch, the finale had a hard time sticking to the landing.

“America’s Got Talent” finalist and Tyler Perry player Zuri Craig dies at 44. In a statement shared on social media by Craig’s longtime singing partner, Jeffery Lewis, and others, the musician’s family remembered him as a “beloved son, brother and friend.” Craig’s cause of death has not been disclosed.


Netflix wants to be a player in gaming. Can it succeed? The streaming giant currently offers subscribers 35 mobile games for free download through Netflix’s mobile app, with plans to grow that number to roughly 50 by the end of the year. The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company faces mounting pressure to diversify its business, but a push into games also comes with risk.


Misleading political TV ads are filling up California’s ‘news deserts.’ It’s quite possible that some Californians will only get their information about the ballot measures and the candidates up for election from TV ads. That’s why it is crucial that state and federal political advertising regulations be updated to account for the loss of access to information, writes Nikki Usher, an associate professor at the University of San Diego.


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Inside the Dodgers’ collapse: Why baseball’s winningest team isn’t in the World Series. Entering the playoffs, they had been the best team in the majors. But after a week, the Dodgers found themselves on the verge of elimination thanks to bad luck and mistimed mistakes; absent offense and questionable pitching plans; and bad execution most of all.

Capturing old-time baseball with a 113-year-old camera. At a glance, it looks like baseball, but a closer look — and a listen —reveals something decidedly different. These guys play the game using a rulebook from the 1800s, which explains, among other things, their unexpected vocabulary.


Why does L.A. have separate city and county governments? As the cloud of scandal lingers over the Los Angeles City Council, some Angelenos may be wondering what’s the point in having the 15-member panel. Especially when the city already has a mayor and a police commission, and then a county government that’s responsible for a wide range of services, plus a school board and a community college board.

The Times’ Jon Healey writes that all these layers of overlapping government are actually intentional: the design reflected concerns at the turn of the 20th century about concentrated power — especially among big-city mayors and political machines. Here’s how the structure breaks down.


Jackie Robinson, Joe Nadel, and Al Green on the set of "The Jackie Robinson Story" in Los Angeles in 1950.
Jackie Robinson, Joe Nadel, and Al Green on the set of “The Jackie Robinson Story” in Los Angeles in 1950.
(Los Angeles Times)

This week marks 50 years since baseball player Jackie Robinson died following a heart attack. Robinson, the grandson of a slave, a man who emerged from a small house on Pepper Street in Pasadena to become one of the nation’s greatest athletes and a symbol of hope for Black America, was 53 years old.

Only nine days before his own death, Robinson was honored in Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium and threw out the first ball prior to the second game of the World Series.

In his career, Robinson played in six World Series and six All-Star games. He stole 197 bases. He played every infield and outfield position. His career average was .311. The taunts, the slurs, turned to praise. Baseball’s first Black player became the first Black person elected to the Hall of Fame.

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