South LA tech mentor contender for national STEM award

Daphne Bradford invites Mayor Eric Garcetti to watch her students tackle coding projects. | Willa Seidenberg

Daphne Bradford invites Mayor Eric Garcetti to watch her students tackle coding projects at the “Coding with STEAM” event held at Dorsey High in July 2014. | Willa Seidenberg

The nationally acclaimed founder and president of a South L.A. tech-education nonprofit, Daphne Bradford, was nominated this fall for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The White House Office of Science and Technology and the National Science Foundation gives this award to organizations and individuals who have shown outstanding leadership with aspiring scientists and engineers from underrepresented communities.

Bradford will be competing against college level professors for this award; her students are high schoolers. The teacher said she feels younger students have not had enough exposure to science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) in their schools’ curricula. Her program, Mother of Many, which offers digital media skills for students at Dorsey and Crenshaw high schools, aims to bridge this teaching gap. [Read more…]

Crenshaw alum: Teacher suspension shed light on LAUSD teacher jail

Iris Stevenson arrives at Crenshaw High after being released from "teacher jail." | Amanda Scurlock

Iris Stevenson arrives at Crenshaw High after being released from “teacher jail.” Scroll below for video of Stevenson’s return. | Amanda Scurlock

At Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles, the 2014-2015 school year almost began without one of the campus’s most beloved teachers. The Los Angeles Unified School District announced in August that music instructor Iris Stevenson had been restored to her post. However, questions about her several-month-long absence remain. The case has shed light on “teacher jail,” the unofficial nickname for a sort of institutional purgatory for district teachers, which until recently meted out a virtually secret form of punishment.

The LAUSD removed Stevenson from her classroom in December 2013, shortly after she returned from a performing trip with the Crenshaw Elite Choir to Washington, D.C. and Paris. Of the 20 participants, only three were enrolled Crenshaw students. The rest of the group consisted of alumni, chaperones and musicians from around Los Angeles. Upon their return, district authorities reassigned Stevenson, and did not explain why to students and families. She had worked at Crenshaw since 1985.

“Her case, which is a confidential, personnel matter, remains under investigation,” the district said in a statement last month. [Read more…]

Metro fare hike hits South LA

Metro Local

Day passes have risen by two dollars. | Amanda Scurlock/Neon Tommy

The Los Angeles Metro increased the fares for its one-way, weekly and monthly passes last week. A one-way pass went from $1.50 to $1.75, a day pass rose by two dollars while the weekly increased by five dollars. The monthly pass has now reached the triple digits, according to a news release on Metro’s website.  In exchange for raising prices, Metro will give riders two hours of free transfer rides for one-way travel if they use Tap cards.

“We have some of the lowest fares in the country, even with the change,” said Dave Sotero, a spokesman for Metro.

In order to raise the fees, Metro conducted several public hearings before presenting the recommendation to the board of directors. The public transportation company raised the fees in order to gain revenue.

The majority of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Mayor Eric Garcetti, approved of the increase, which effects both buses and rail lines.

“We currently get about 26 percent of our revenue from the fare box,” said Sotero. Part of that money will go to the operating deficit. Metro needs funding to maintain 2,228 buses and 87 miles of rail within the county, according to Sotero.

“As we continue to expand the transit system and make transit more useful for more Angelenos, our operating costs increase accordingly,” he said.

Click to hear the opinions of South L.A. bus-goers:

However, Metro has long needed to persevere through deficits according to Lisa Schweitzer, Associate Professor of the Price School of Public Policy at USC.

“They’re always scrambling for revenue,” she said. “Raising fares can be a dangerous thing to do.”

Eric Romann, an organizer at the Bus Rider’s Union believes the raise will have a negative impact on working class people.

“It will hit hard for people who are earning less money,” he said.

The fee hikes could encourage people to opt out of taking the bus, he added, which could boost street congestion, he added.

“It’s essentially discouraging people from using mass transit.”

Sotero, however, predicts that even people who stop taking the bus due to the cost increase will eventually gravitate back to Metro.

“I anticipate a dip in ridership for about six months,” he said. “Ridership has traditionally come back normal after a six month period.”

See also from Intersections: Bus Riders Union superhero El Pasajero protests proposed fare increase

This article was originally published on Neon Tommy. Reach Staff Reporter Amanda Scurlock here. Follow her on Twitter here.