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

July 27, 2009 in Education, Entertainment, Television

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. Read the rest of this entry →

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by Burns!

Help Burns! Win…for the kids.

July 22, 2009 in Downtown, Education, Events

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. Read the rest of this entry →

California targets the most vulnerable for budget cuts

May 29, 2009 in Education, Politics

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.

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by frazgo

Free class: Hacking for fun and Profit

May 22, 2009 in Education, Events

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?

May 21, 2009 in Education

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

May 5, 2009 in Education, LA, Politics, SoCal, Social issues

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

April 3, 2009 in Education, LA, Rants, Social issues

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. Read the rest of this entry →

Mom chaperone Twitters school field trip

March 30, 2009 in Education, Twitter

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.

February 15, 2009 in Education, Social issues

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

January 16, 2009 in Crime, Education, Politics, Twitter

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?

BREAKING: LAUSD Votes to Send Layoff Notices to 2300 Teachers

January 13, 2009 in Education, News, Politics, Twitter

From the Daily News:

Los Angeles Unified school board members voted 4-2 Tuesday to authorize sending layoff notices to about 2,300 teachers, although the district superintendent said the notices might not necessarily be sent.

“It is strictly precautionary mainly, because I am trying to put pressure on Sacramento,” Superintendent Ramon Cortines said.

He vowed not to send any notices before the board’s next scheduled meeting in two weeks, adding the notices would be sent only if there were no other options to save the jobs.

The president of the teachers union condemned the vote, saying it was more than a bluff.

“It’s more than pressure,” said United Teachers Los Angeles President AJ Duffy. “No matter what Cortines said the reality is with Megan Reilly, the district chief financial officer, who has a budget based on laying off 2,200 teachers.”

Cutting education is no way to solve a budget crisis. Who is running this joint, and why haven’t they been fired?

LA City Budget Survey: Share your voice!

December 13, 2008 in Biking in LA, Crime, Driving, Education, LA, Law Enforcement, Mass Transit, Politics, SoCal, Social issues, Transportation, Utilities

I’m on a mailing list for NorthEastLA (NELA) community issues and this came across my desk: the City of Los Angeles Budget Survey. I just completed the survey myself. I think it’s a good exercise and brings up a lot of interesting questions. Why no survey questions about subway funding or routes? And why do they even have to ask about what they call “needs based budgeting,” which would divert funding to areas that appear to need them the most? Is the city actually NOT “Repaving streets based on condition of the streets and the usage of the particular street?” or NOT “Focusing gang reduction services in communities where gang crime occurs most”…? Why do they even have to ask me if this is a good idea?! It made me think of a recent report I heard on local newsradio, where a representative from the Westside was bitching about higher-crime communities diverting his crime-prevention forces. “I know we don’t have as much crime as those areas,” he admitted, then went on to whine about the whole thing.

Well, ’nuff said. Go voice your own opinion here. The letter that came with the link is behind the jump.

Info on the current budget & process is here; the fiscal year 2008/09 budget itself is here. Read the rest of this entry →

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by frazgo

LAUSD to Teachers: Happy Holidays and a kick in the nuts.

December 9, 2008 in Education

Yup, LAUSD is doing it to the teachers again.  Budget cuts, threats of teacher lay offs, state funding dilemmas the works all falling on their backs.  LAUSD Teachers are busting their butts for our kids and the district rather than find ways to keep the teachers we have is recruiting out-of-state.  

Our own Spencer Cross already named LAUSD Supt Brewer as a Grinch of the Year, but this tidbit fell through the cracks.  Nice job Brewer, what else are you going to toss at the teachers?  I do believe Spencer was onto more than he gave in the nomination.

Hat tip to Aaron Proctor of the Philly Metblogs for sharing that Craig’s list recruiting item.  Just in case the post mysteriously disappears from Craig’s List, I have a pdf available on request of the page.  Dawgs.

Poketo + 826LA collaborate to benefit student writing non-profit

October 13, 2008 in Art, Education, Shopping

Forging a bond between the creative pursuits of established visual artists and young writers, Poketo, a Los Angeles design company specializing in limited edition, affordable art products, teamed up with 826LA, a non-profit organization that teaches writing skills to students ages 6 to 18, to create a special series of artist wallets.

826LA held a writing workshop called When Wallets Eat Words, where students developed short stories to line the inside of the artist wallets. Each wallet was then illustrated with a Poketo artists’ interpretation of the stories. The series was conceived when Poketo approached 826LA with an offer to curate a project for the organization.

Started by McSweeney’s Quarterly founder David Eggers, 826 has grown into a nationwide network, with two facilities in Los Angeles (Echo Park and Venice,) as well as branches in San Francisco, Seattle, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Boston and Brooklyn.

The wallets are available for $20 on the Poketo site , as well as at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, 1714 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90026. Proceeds benefit student writing programs at 826LA.

Wallet designed by Martha Rich.

Inner-City Arts opens new campus

October 2, 2008 in Downtown, Education

Inner-City Arts, the non-profit arts education center smack in the middle of Downtown Los Angeles’ skid row, held the grand opening for their newly expanded campus today. A parade of children wound around the gleaming white complex on Kohler Street carrying kites, pinwheels and other artwork they created.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa led a group of community leaders and donors in a ribbon cutting ceremony that gave way to performances by musicians, dancers and puppeteers and a walking tour of the campus.

Opened in 1989, Inner-City Arts has been serving thousands of LA’s most at-risk elementary, middle and high school students each year, using the arts as a tool in teaching academic subjects. The organization serves at no cost to students.

Photos: Keith Knueven