News Chum: Education on the Brain (so to speak)

In looking over my collected articles for lunchtime news chum, there seems to be a theme in some: education, at various levels. So let’s run with that…

University and College Planning

As you may know, this summer I’ll be doing a college roadtrip with my daughter to the southeast. The current plan is to visit four schools: Tulane, in New Orleans; Emory, in Atlanta (replacing Rhodes in Memphis, as my daughter didn’t think it was a good fit after reading material the school sent); Bellarmine in Louisville; and Washington University, in St. Louis. This means I’ve got planning for college in my head. Here are some articles that caught my eye:

  • From US News and World Report: Which Colleges Claim To Meet Full Financial Need? A major concern is how to pay for college — yes, my salary is decent, but I’m also in a very high cost of living city. Thus, I’m pleased to see a number of our potentials are on the list: Emory, Washington University, and Reed, to name a few.
  • From the Wall Street Journal: Tips from Financial Advisors to those Choosing a College. Basic words of advice, such as (1) Encourage your child to select a career first, and then a school; (2) Don’t promise your child you’ll pay the entire tuition; (3) When deciding between schools, make your child responsible for at least some of the costs of choosing the more expensive option; (4) Make a deal with your child: Underperform and you’re out; and (5) Help children protect their health and finances from uncertainty and risk.
  • From the LA Times: In Paying for College, Better to be Lucky than Smart. In other words, it is not only what you socked away, but where you socked it away and (more importantly) when. Some hit the jackpot. Some get lemons.

K-12 Education

A few articles related to K-12 education:

  • Risks from the School Band. The LA Times looked into the cleanliness of school musical instruments, and found them teeming with bacteria. Researchers from Oklahoma State examined 13 instruments that belonged to a high school band. Six of the instruments had been played the previous week and seven hadn’t been played in a month. Swabs were taken of 117 different sites on the instruments, including the mouthpieces, internal chambers and even the carrying cases. They found 442 different bacteria, 58 types of mold and 19 types of yeast. Many of the bacteria were species of Staphylococcus, which can cause staph infection. Most of the bacteria can cause illness. Mold spores can contribute to the development of asthma. Even the instruments that had not been played recently harbored germs galore. Quite a scary study.
  • Fighting Over a Valley High School. Well, the battle is over: the LAUSD School Board decided to award “Hospital High” (New Valley Regional High School #4) to the teacher-led team from District 1 that wants to create a Performing Arts High School. This goes with the recommendation of the LAUSD Superintendent (the board ignored a number of other recommendations), and probably pissed off the team from Granada Hills Charter High School, which wanted to operate the new school. Of course, GHCHS has only themselves to blame, given the tactics they did during the vote. From the League of Women Voter’s report:
    • The large high school student turn-out was augmented by students voting from a list provided by Granada Hills Charter School.
    • Granada Hills Charter High School sponsored buses that traveled back and forth between the charter school and voting center in 30-minute cycles during both voting sessions. The bus was transporting students, parents, family members and friends to the voting site.
    • An email complaint was received by the League that students from Nobel Middle School were allegedly being called to vote for the Granada Hills Charter school plan.
    • A parent from Granada Hills Charter High School stated students were being offered “10 hours of detention removed” if they voted.
    • The League was given a ticket from a parent who claimed they were given a chance to enter into a raffle if they could submit “proof of voting” for a “charter high school”.

    Those are just some examples. Of course, I have problems with the District 1 LAUSD group as well—primarily, that they forget there is already a Performing Arts Magnet High School in the Valley that gets little support (at Van Nuys HS). My fear is that the new Performing Arts HS will simply kill the VNHS program, which isn’t a good thing. Still, I’m glad that GHCHS didn’t win the vote, for I’m not in favor of charter school dynasties. If GHCHS wants to do anything to help students and the community, they should become a charter complex of elementary, middle, and the high school, just as Palisades has done with their Charter Complex.