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Morning Read: Suspension rates in LAUSD fall, raising questions

LA School Report | June 2, 2014

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L.A. Unified suspension rates fall but some question accuracy
In the heart of Watts, where violence in nearby housing projects can spill over onto campuses, two of the city’s toughest middle schools have long dealt with fights, drugs and even weapons. Administrators typically have handled these problems by suspending students. But this year Markham and Gompers middle schools have reported marked reductions in that form of discipline — as has the L.A. Unified School District overall, where the suspension rate dropped to 1.5% last year from 8% in 2008. LA Times

Race for state superintendent heated despite agreement on key issues
The candidates’ views on charter schools, teachers unions and education reform have turned the race for state superintendent of public instruction into an expensive proxy war between big labor and big donors. But Tom Torlakson and Marshall Tuck, the two leading candidates, both Democrats, share similar views on the two biggest education initiatives – and challenges – of the decade in California. EdSource

Judge keeps details of Miramonte sex abuse investigation secret
A two-year sheriff’s investigation into child abuse at Miramonte Elementary School will remain confidential, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Friday. Judge John Shepard Wiley said the privacy and well-being of victims was paramount. In the same ruling, Wiley fined the L.A. Unified School District $6,000 for not directly acknowledging and turning over photos to attorneys suing the nation’s second-largest school system. LA Times

Students want more say in district accountability plan process
While California school districts held an unprecedented number of meetings and conducted scores of surveys seeking parent, community and staff input to develop financial blueprints to improve learning for their neediest children, some students are concerned that their voices have been left out of the process. The state’s new school funding law requires that stakeholder groups, including students, be consulted as districts develop their Local Control and Accountability Plans. EdSource

Teaching through trauma: How poverty affects kids’ brains
New research shows the mere fact of being poor can affect kids’ brains, making it difficult for them to succeed in school. Los Angeles public schools — where more than 80 percent of students live in poverty — illustrates the challenges for these students. Less than half of third graders in L.A. Unified read at grade level and 20 percent of students will have dropped out by senior year. KPCC

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