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Schools Feel Fiscal Crunch

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School's out for the summer for the L.A. Unified School District, a victim of budget woes both locally and statewide, and more cuts loom for education statewide.

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From the Daily News's report on summer school's demise:

The Los Angeles Unified School District became the latest in a number of districts statewide to announce the cancellation of summer courses this year.

Officials announced Thursday that summer classes will be canceled for elementary and middle school campuses, and only a limited number of courses will be offered to high school students.

The move will affect more than 225,000 students and save the district about $34 million, officials said. It comes as the district seeks to close a budget gap of $130 million in the next six weeks.....

High schools will only be offering classes required for graduation....A district summer program for students with disabilities will continue this summer, but will also be reduced to fewer sites districtwide.

The L.A. Times reports on the larger cash problems besetting California's school system. Under Gov. Schwarzenegger's latest budget cut proposals

Schools would be hit by $680 million in new cuts to classrooms and by $315 million in cuts for transportation.....Several of the governor's proposals, including cuts to schools, would be contingent on whether the state's tax revenues dip as deeply as projected. All would require legislative approval.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times reports extensively on a very different approach to education at the American Indian Public Charter schools in Oakland, in which some very-un-LAUSD techniques are making for some of the most effective schools in the state.

School administrators take pride in their record of frequently firing teachers they consider to be underperforming. Unions are embraced with the same warmth accorded "self-esteem experts, panhandlers, drug dealers and those snapping turtles who refuse to put forth their best effort," to quote the school's website.

Students, almost all poor, wear uniforms and are subject to disciplinary procedures redolent of military school....By standard measures, they are among the very best in California.

The Academic Performance Index....rates schools on a scale from zero to 1,000, based on standardized test scores. The state target is an API of 800. The statewide average for middle and high schools is below 750. For schools with mostly low-income students, it is around 650.

The oldest of the American Indian schools, the middle school known simply as American Indian Public Charter School, has an API of 967. Its two siblings -- American Indian Public Charter School II (also a middle school) and American Indian Public High School -- are not far behind.

Among the thousands of public schools in California, only four middle schools and three high schools score higher. None of them serves mostly underprivileged children.

Past City of Angles blogging on the difficulty of firing teachers in L.A. and on L.A. USD's money problems.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Dave_mcmt. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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