Education rallies planned today

This morning, I was greeted by news cameras at my kid’s school. There was a podium set up near the drop off location with people giving speeches about the $18 billion cut in education funding by Sacramento. This was all a lead-in for today’s planned statewide rallies protesting these cuts.

There are many rallies happening throughout Southern California, should you wish to lend your voice in support:

4 pm Assemble at Pershing Square (5th & Hill) in downtown L.A. March to the Governor’s office (300 Spring St.) for 5 pm Rally.  Contact: Marla Edy (UTLA) 213-305-9310 or Blanca Castaneda (CFA) 626-379-7380.

“Unite for Public Education: Stop Layoffs, Fee Hikes, Cuts to Education & Community Services.”
3:45 pm gather at CSU Northridge Sierra Quad • 4:15 pm March • 5 pm Hands around CSUN • 5:30 pm Rally at Sierra Quad.

LONG BEACH – “Long Beach Unite for Education” rally, 4:15 pm at Wilson High School Gymnasium, 4400 E. 10th St., Long Beach. Speakers from CFA, Teachers Association of Long Beach (K-12), Long Beach City College. Music by Tom Morello, The Nightwatchman.

CSU NORTHRIDGE — CFA faculty plus student groups will host a regional march. 3:45-5 pm. Sierra Quad. See details in regional listing above.

UCLA – 4:30pm Rally at Bruin Plaza

Organizers also ask that you call your state legistlator (1-888-268-4334) to voice your concerns about these budget cuts

Help Foundation 44 win a Pepsi grant to help 750 SGV kids get into college.

It started with an idea.  Justin Yuille wanted to help kids get into colleges and new that the average high school counselor is so overwhelmed it isn’t always possible to give each kid personalized help with applications let alone SAT’s.  He’s an educator and knows full well the challenges the kids face in getting help from counselors.  With the help of his family members (all educators, some I know personally) Foundation 44 was born.

That was 6 months ago and so far he has helped 75 kids from Pasadena’s Blair High School and Duarte High School to make it into college.  They are all smart kids from under privileged homes, the many the first in the family to make it to college.  They are in the process of working on obtaining their non-profit status as I write this.

Pepsi has a challenge running right now to give out grant money to programs such as this that help a community. The grant is huge $250K. In the end it comes down to votes and Foundation 44 needs votes if it is to grow and achieve their goal of helping 750 local kids from under-privileged homes make it into college.  If you want to help their cause VOTE HERE.

Panel of UC Regents Approve 32% Fee Increase

UC regents

Or: Taking the “Public” Out of “Public Education”

I think as a student, you always expect your fees to go up.  But 32%?  Oof.  Students and those with supportive parents are going to face a mid-year increase of 15 percent to student fees and tuition, then (ouch) another 15 percent increase effective summer 2010.  A panel of UC Regents meeting today – in front of hundreds of students protesting on campus – just agreed to the fee hikes.  This comes at a time when the same Regents are asking $913 million from the state to cover budget shortfalls and, um, in the middle of a recession that is so bad that student lenders are playing hardball when it comes to renegotiating student loans.  The full UC Regents Board will meet tomorrow to approve the approval, at which time more protests are planned.

What should the Regents do instead of barricading public access to education?  Some helpful suggestions here at the Remaking the University blog.

An appeal to @wileecoyote from @jessicasimpson

Actual flyer. Please print, copy, and post wherever coyotes may see it!
Actual flyer. Please print, copy, and post wherever coyotes may see it!

A coyote snatched Jessica Simpson’s dog before her very eyes, per a tweet she sent Monday evening.

@jessicasimpson: – My heart is broken because a coyote took my precious Daisy right in front of our eyes. HORROR! We are searching. Hoping. Please help!

Clearly, this is incredibly urgent. Coyotes aren’t known to keep malti-poos as pets for very long, and according to urban legend, will often sell these dogs to NFL players to be used as “playthings” for their rottweillers and pitbulls.

“Mommy” Jessica Simpson is offering a reward for Daisy’s safe return, NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

In case this turns out badly, I’m asking all Metblog readers to chip in with me for a gift that will help protect any of Jessica’s future canine pals: a leash.

Sandra Tsing Loh at the Santa Monica Public Library

Ah, simpler times.

Books and media about the modern-day dilemma of finding the “right” private school for your 4 year old to attend is so overdone.  Someone needs to write a book about the travails of not interviewing, and not being interviewed by, elementary teacher-professors; about having to live with the fact that your horrible neighbors spawned their demon child the same time you did, which means their child is in your kid’s class, and there’s no imposed playroom interview to evaluate whether Chucky “fits in” with the class of ’09; and about not receiving weekly newsletter reports about how much the class is learning about organic farming.

Enter Sandra Tsing Loh, who makes an appearance on Tuesday at the Santa Monica Public Library to promote her newest book, Mother on FireMother on Fire is a memoir of her experience touring private and public school grounds in search of the right kindergarten for her daughters and (spoiler alert) chooses the public school and becomes a total PTA mom to boot.  It’s free, and you can pick up tickets an hour before the 7pm showtime.

I’m personally hoping that Tsing Loh also will offer an editorial on “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” an essay published in this month’s issue of The Atlantic Monthly.  There, she uses her extramarital affair and subsequent divorce  (“Given my staggering working mother’s to-do list, I cannot take on yet another arduous home- and self-improvement project, that of rekindling our romance”) as a vehicle to rail against marriage (“…isn’t the idea of lifelong marriage obsolete?”).  Even though she would have a bit more credibility if she wasn’t writing this in the aftermath of a tumultuous divorce, it is a fascinating read.  Much more interesting than the kid’s story, anyway.

“Lost” in Los Angeles: “Lost University” being taught by local professors

lostuniversityInstead of taking the typical Alternate Reality Game approach between seasons, the producers behind ABC TV’s “Lost” are readying the launch of a series of online classes and lectures with lessons on the source material behind the myth heavy series.

Viewers who enroll in “Lost University” will be able to study languages, such as Korean, Latin, and Iraqi Arabic, Hieroglyphics, Time Travel, and Jungle Survival, among other topics that fans will immediately see the importance of, as well as philosophy and psychology classes that will use show references as analogies.

Los Angeles “Lost” fans should be especially proud that most of these classes are taught by actual professors and teachers from USC and UCLA, including fellow blogger Clifford Johnson (, a USC physics professor who will be presenting a course on time travel along with Sean Carrol of the California Institute of Technology and Nick Warner, another Trojan. Continue reading ““Lost” in Los Angeles: “Lost University” being taught by local professors”

Help Burns! Win…for the kids.

Breakaway by Elizabeth Herndon, used under Creative Commons.
Breakaway by Elizabeth Herndon, used under Creative Commons.

Yesterday Queequeg wrote about the 2009 Echo Park Lake Paddle Boat Regatta. I’d like to expand upon that a bit, including how you can get involved from the cool comfort your own internet connection.

I have entered a team in the regatta, and I would like to encourage everyone to join me in supporting Team Flotsam & Jetsam (so named for the floating debris after a shipwreck.) Follow that link to the sponsor page and make a donation to help my team raise the most money for 826LA. Any amount is greatly appreciated and will help 826LA provide free services for local kids. I know the economy is tough for everyone right now, but non-profits and charitable organizations have been hit particularly hard. They need our help now more than ever.

Follow me past the jump to learn why 826LA is my favorite non-profit. Continue reading “Help Burns! Win…for the kids.”

California targets the most vulnerable for budget cuts

True to form, politicians are once again going after the most vulnerable members of society when it comes to shorting them on funding and services. Two weeks ago voters rejected an attempt to move money out of a fund to provide mental health services by voting down a ballot initiative that would have done just that. But that didn’t stop the politicians.

This week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed cutting health care for low-income children under the Healthy Families program.

And in a further effort to address the fiscal incompetence that is sui generis to California politics, Los Angeles Unified School District announced it will cancel most summer school classes this year. After all, kids don’t (and can’t) vote.

In addition to putting working parents in the position of having to find day care for younger children (as well as paying for it), an article about the cuts in today’s LA Times points out the greater toll to society. According to state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell,

“For kids who want to take challenging courses, for kids who need basic courses in order to graduate, these choices will contribute toward the dropout rate and we will have a less competent workforce.”

The article also states that LA Community Colleges have canceled their second summer session this year.

Free class: Hacking for fun and Profit

hackingI could start with a snark about the economy and desperate educational institutions but I’ll pass.  Mount Sierra College here in Monrovia turns out some pretty incredible graphic arts and animation artists and they are offering up free classes as a sampler for those interested on May 30 from noon to 4PM.  The free classes being offered include animation, flash web design, resume building, hacking that tie in with the Bachelor degrees they offer in Media Arts and Information Technology.

The snazzy postcard they sent me can be embiggened from the thumbnail.  Registration is required and you can do it here now.

Address: 101 E Huntington Dr, Monrovia CA 91016

Just How Bad Is It?

Sometimes it’s hard to put a face on what is happening in Los Angeles. It’s probably not too different from what’s happening anywhere else. I read about layoffs and failed propositions and budget cuts every day. Still, I wake up, go to work, go home, and repeat. I’m one of the lucky ones.

Today, I happened to be at the North Hollywood Home Depot, when I overheard a conversation between the cashier and a guy in line. He asked how she was doing. She said was just making the best of it. Picking up more hours here, because they keep cutting her hours at her other job – a school.

I don’t know what she does at that school. But, it’s hard to stomach the idea that her position is in any way expendable. It’s a SCHOOL, for crying out loud. That’s where the next Barack Obama could be getting his – or her – education.

I’m going to be thinking of that woman this holiday weekend. While many Angelenos are out with family and friends, grilling hot dogs, she’ll probably be picking up whatever shifts she can. A lot of people will probably be doing the same.

Hang in there, friends.

Eric Garcetti Polls Citizens on Prioritizing Stimulus Dollars

You can go here to register your top three priorities for the spending of federal stimulus dollars in LA. Your choices?

  • Infrastructure: Street lights, sidewalks, repaving
  • Afterschool programs
  • Gang intervention programs
  • Community centers/senior centers
  • Permanent housing for homeless
  • Neighborhood beautification: medians, plantings
  • Foreclosure prevention & counseling
  • Career training centers

So. What will you vote for? I chose gang intervention, afterschool programs, and permanent housing for homeless.

There’s also a field where you can make suggestions–do you have a write-in idea for how to spend the stimulus cash? Ha. Hahaha. I just bet you do.

LAUSD budget cuts leave us NO choice

axeJust when I thought the LAUSD and the California Legislature couldn’t possibly make me any angrier, our school parents’ group publishes an online poll today that goes something like this:

In order to face the upcoming deep LAUSD budget cuts, we need to make some hard choices.

Which of the following services do you believe we can afford to lose the least? Please mark these in order of priority – 1=most important, 7=least important:

  • Academic coaches
  • Technology/computer program
  • School library
  • Physical education
  • Kindergarten aides
  • Teacher training to match instruction to student skill levels.

Here’s the pathetic part – these are all services funded BY US BECAUSE LAUSD DOESN’T PAY FOR THEM. Continue reading “LAUSD budget cuts leave us NO choice”

Mom chaperone Twitters school field trip

Blogger Debbie Lopez is Twittering a 2nd grade field trip she’s chaperoning to the La Brea Tar Pits.

The average reader may not be too interested in updates such as, “Passing out bananas for snacks” or “We’re getting on the bus figuring out our seating arrangements,” but faculty of Beckford Elementary and the student’s parents may appreciate the microblogging of the day’s events… especially with updated notes on when the kids will be back at the school for pickup, safe and sound.

A very cool example of what Twitter can be used for.

Bigots have rights too.

An L.A. City College student is suing the school after an anti-gay marriage speech he was giving in a public speaking class was cut off by his professor, who objected to the content, labeled him a “fascistbastard ” and then refused to give him credit.

Jonathan Lopez, who is working on his associate of arts degree at Los Angeles City College, quoted a dictionary definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman and cited several Bible verses during a public speaking class in late November, his suit says. His professor, John Matteson, interrupted, called Lopez a “fascist bastard” and refused to let him finish his address, according to the suit.

The professor also refused to give Lopez a grade for the speech, telling him to “ask God” for his mark, the suit alleges. And when Lopez complained to college officials, Matteson threatened to have him expelled, the suit says. [from LA Now]

If true, we have a professor who not only believes it’s okay to mock someone’s religious beliefs while censoring speech, but also abuses their authority when a student tries to report such behavior? Can someone at Fox News please get Professor Matteson a talk show? He’d fit right in.

(to be fair, though, the very unscientific site “” gives a largely favorable impression of Matteson, with the most common critique being that he’s crazy “in a good way.”)

Your Tax Refund Has Been Delayed

California announced today that there will be a 30-day delay on tax refunds because the state is broke.

From the AP:

Controller John Chiang said Friday he must delay $3.7 billion in payments next month because lawmakers have failed to address California’s growing deficit.

Let me get this straight…

  1. A tax refund is money that you owe us because we overpaid you on taxes.
  2. You failed to do the job that we, the taxpayers, elected you to do.
  3. You now want to keep our money a little longer.

Anyone else find this outrageous? Anyone else find this to be a complete failure? Anyone else ready to march from Los Angeles to Sacramento and fire everyone?