Judge orders classes back at South LA’s Jefferson High

By Taylor Haney

Jefferson High School

Jefferson High School

LAUSD officials met with staff at Jefferson High School Thursday to talk about incomplete course schedules. A lack of resources has been keeping many students out of their required classes — or any classes at all. Yesterday, a Calif. Superior Court judge ordered the state to fix scheduling problems at the South L.A. high school.

One student told Annenberg Radio News that his schedule “wasn’t right” for him. For others, classes they needed just didn’t exist.

Click play to hear their comments: 


The ACLU of Southern California had lodged a complaint in May naming a few specific schools and detailing their problems. Here’s how they map out.

See also: #TBT South LA: Jeffferson High School, 1938

Los Angeles magnet school shows off successful STEM and AP program

LACES-ARNThe Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, a prestigious magnet school focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematic curricula, is breaking the mold for lower-income, minority students.

Studies show that STEM courses give high school students access to better colleges and higher-paying jobs, but minority students don’t have as many opportunities to pursue STEM topics. Meanwhile, white, middle-income students are twice as likely to go to a school with a full array of AP courses versus lower-income, minority students.

That’s where LACES comes in.

Learn more in a story from Annenberg Radio News:

Most of its 1,600 students have above a 3.5 GPA and over 85 percent are accepted into successful four-year universities.

[Read more…]

Will South LA benefit from SAT upgrades?

Changes to the SAT, which will be implemented in Spring 2016, claim to make the test more accessible and might bring more to highly-ranked universities, such as USC. | Jordyn Holman

Changes to the SAT, which will be implemented in Spring 2016, claim to make the test more accessible and might bring more to highly-ranked universities, such as USC. | Jordyn Holman

Whenever the SAT gets revised, controversy trails close behind, especially regarding fairness across the board for test-takers from all backgrounds. Many educators have criticized the newest iteration of the test College Board announced this month, which is set to go into effect in two years. But some veteran educators are saying the revamped version holds promise.

Jennifer Hollie, who runs the college prep program for the Challengers Boys and Girls Club in South Los Angeles, feels optimistic about what the new format portends for students from disadvantaged communities.

“For [the College Board] to change the way the SAT is being written is a positive change,” said Hollie, who assists high school students from underserved communities with the college admission process by involving them in comprehensive programs.

“Even with my master’s degree I don’t always understand the words that they’re giving,” she said.

The revisions to the SAT include the elimination of obscure vocabulary words and the penalty for guessing wrong. It will also adapt the essay, which became mandatory in 2005, so that it is an optional test component, according to a College Board press release. The new SAT will have three sections, including reading and writing, math and the optional essay. It will be scored out of 1600 instead of 2400 points.  [Read more…]

OPINION: Brother’s Keepers & #WhiteMenMarching while LAUSD makes school tougher

Obama may aim to help young men of color through his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles the school district is raising its high school graduation standards — and will need to make a concerted effort to help its most disadvantaged students.

Young Men of Color forum | Sikivu Hutchinson

Men of Color College Forum at Gardena High School | Sikivu Hutchinson

According to GOP Congressman Paul Ryan, an insidious “inner city culture” has prevented “generations” of “inner city” men from seeking jobs. Evoking the ghost of the GOP past, present and future, shiftless lazy black men with no work ethic are to blame for the high rates of unemployment in the U.S.’ ghettoes. Ryan’s comments were no doubt a desperate attempt to stay relevant and on message after not receiving an invitation to be grand dragon (marshal) of the “nationwide” White Man March.

A few weeks before Ryan trotted out his Black Pathology 101 thesis, President Obama announced that the administration would spearhead a “Brother’s Keeper” initiative to address the dire socioeconomic conditions confronting young men of color. A central focus of the initiative is improving college-going rates for African American and Latino young men, who lag behind women of color in college admissions. Another is reducing Black and Latino mass incarceration.

See also on Intersections: Obama announces My Brother’s Keeper for young men of color

[Read more…]

What’s going on with the principal at Maya Angelou High School in South LA?

Protest outside Maya Angelou High School. | Stephanie Monte

Principal Yolanda Rangel was taken away from Maya Angelou Community High School in South L.A. on March 6. But what happened to her? At this point, teachers, students and parents have more questions than answers — and they are rallying to bring Rangel back. The L.A. Unified School District said her position is under review, but cannot divulge any details except to say she has not been fired or removed.

Rangel began at Maya Angelou six months ago, and cultivated a reputation for bringing order to campus, and bolstering tutoring, health and fine arts programs.

To hear from students and teachers who want Rangel to come back, click play on an audio story from Annenberg Radio News:

Maya Angelou Community High School | www.mayaangeloucommunityhighschool.com


Maya Angelou High School:

LAUSD fighting to close Latino achievement gap

South LA students encouraged to enter essay contest

South LA high school students are encouraged to submit essays to the national “Being an American” Essay Contest, sponsored by the Bill of Right’s Institute and the History Channel. Students can win up to $1,000 by answering the question: “How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?” Over 80,000 essays have been submitted in the past, making this Essay Contest the largest high school essay competition. image

Essays must be no more 1,000 words and are judged on a number of criteria including adherence to essay question, originality, organization, writing style, and depth of analysis. The Bill of Rights Institute hosts this contest every year. Founded in 1999, the Bill of Rights Institute is a non-profit educational organization. Their mission is “to educate young people about the words and ideas of America’s Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our Founding documents, and how our Founding principles continue to affect and shape a free society.”

“This contest is unique in that it gives students the opportunity to think about the important Founding principles communicated in our Constitution,” said Dr. Jason Ross, Bill of Rights Institute Vice President of Education Programs. “This contest is vital to helping students see the Founding principles as a meaningful part of the American experiment of self-government.”

South LA students will compete against other high school students in California and others from the “Western Region” of the United States: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington as well as Guam, American Samoa, and American Armed Forces Schools Abroad (APO). The top three students in each region will be awarded cash prizes. First place winner wins $1,000, while second place wins $500 and third place is awarded $250. The teacher sponsor of each student winner will receive a $100 cash prize.

The deadline for essay submission is December 15, 2011 at 11:59 PST. To submit an essay and find out more information, go here.

Urban Media Foundation students anchor news stories

Practice makes perfect. Using a teleprompter simulator, students at the Urban Media Foundation practiced their anchoring skills. These future journalists wrote their own copy and filled the mock news cast with a variety of stories.

To find out more about the Urban Media Foundation, click here.

DREAM Act could generate $1.6 trillion

Listen to the audio story:


The DREAM Act applies only to those who came to the United States under the age of 16 and plan to pursue at least two years of higher education or military service.

Dr. Raul Hinojosa, a University of California, Los Angeles professor and director of the North American Integration and Development Center, found that the estimated 825,000 legalized youths would generate between $1.4 trillion and $1.6 triillion in income over a work life of 40 years.

Dr. Raul Hinojosa: We took a conservative estimate of what they would likely achieve in terms of education and then after that, what type of jobs could they be getting and what that would contribute to the economy over the next 40 years. On that basis, we calculated income taxes, sales taxes, all types of financial benefits, without taking into account the fact that many of them are also probably going to end up buying houses, businesses and creating more jobs for the rest of society. This is simply a very conservative version of what their income will be over the next 40 years.

Madeleine Scinto: I was reading some arguments by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington DC, that basically says the DREAM Act is actually going to give broader amnesty than the 2 million that are estimated as a possibility because it’s going to be used as a back-door avenue by some students who get legal status and try to bring more people.

Dr. Hinojosa: I don’t believe that this is going to be a big back door. On the contrary, what we have seen from these legalization programs in the past, is that they end up having a lot less people actually apply, that could apply. The key thing we need to understand is that these are people who have already gone through the educational system. They want to contribute to society. Many of them are already in colleges, paying their own tuition, working very hard to be able to make something of their lives. It’s logical, a no brainer, that we would want as many people as possible to be able to pay in to the social security and the tax system and pay back, and if we keep them in the shadows right now, they will graduate, and they will not be able to work. That entire contribution will not be able to benefit the whole society and the fiscal benefit of our budget deficits at the moment.

Sushi Virgins

By Crystal Gutierrez and Guadalupe Ortega, Fremont High School

As we walked into our journalism class Mr. Hwang was taking out sushi and some other weird-looking food from grocery bags and neatly setting them up on a desk. When he finished he stood in front of class and asked for everyone to please sit down. To our surprise Arturo, a classmate, was handing out chopsticks to the class.
We immediately knew we were going to have a sushi feast but most of us had no clue what so ever how to use chop sticks or what we were about to taste.

“Don’t worry I’m about to teach you guys how to properly use them,” Mr. Hwang said. Everyone felt relived and started unwrapping their sticks. I however broke my sticks–known to be bad luck– and my friend Chelsea, stabbed her food with her chopsticks—a gesture believed to invite ghosts.

The correct way to use your chopsticks is to wedge one in between your thumb and index finger and then place the other about an inch parallel to the other chopstick.

What I expected was nothing to what I tasted. I expected this weird raw tasting fish with gooey substances, but as I bit into the sushi I was surprised by its wonderful taste. I was eating dry seaweed with sticky white rice and other healthy veggies. Chelsea didn’t like it she said it tasted like, “salty, yet sugary fish”, but what I tasted was yummy non-fish tasting spongy sweet rice. Our sushi, unlike most, had no raw fish in it.

To top off our meal we had Mochi, a spongy rice cake filled with sweet red beans in the center. It was very sweet but I didn’t really like it. The Mochi tasted very different to other desserts that I’m used to such as chocolate cake or ice cream but everybody in the class seemed to like it.

Trying something new to eat helped me discover a new culture. Eating sushi was like going to Japan for my first time.

Photos by Guadalupe Ortega