Southern California -- this just in

Category: Jerry Brown

Cal State trustees seek cure for 'bottleneck' courses

They are the courses that can drive students to distraction, not to mention to failure or to drop out altogether.

And the students who do poorly -- either through failing or withdrawing -- are slowing the progress of others working toward graduation.

Addressing so-called bottleneck courses that are high in demand but have a high failure rate emerged as a key to addressing the needs of these students during a discussion by the California State University Board of Trustees, meeting in Long Beach on Tuesday.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013-14 budget proposal provides $125 million in new funding for the Cal State system, with $10 million directed to boost online learning. Officials said that increasing the use of online classes, Internet-based virtual laboratories and Internet counseling will help.

But identifying which courses are the greatest hinderances is proving more of a problem. Cal State Chancellor Timothy P. White said about 30 courses across the system have been identified as having a high rate of failure, with students receiving D’s, F’s or withdrawing from school.

But officials said campuses are still gathering information and a report is due in April. Preliminary indications point to lower division, freshman math and U.S. history classes as among the most problematic, said spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp.

“You get students who think they want to be an engineer but can’t hack it,” Uhlenkamp said.

Frequently those students tie up seats before dropping the class or fail and try to repeat it. It was not as clear why so many students are failing history, but reports from the system’s 23 campuses are expected to provide some answers, he said.

Some trustees voiced concern about the headlong sprint toward online learning with no real outline of where money should be spent.

“I’m concerned we’re going to be spending money on yesterday’s ideas,” said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who attended the meeting along with the governor.

Brown pointed to a pilot project at San Jose State University to offer online math classes in partnership with the Silicon Valley online education start-up Udacity as a system-wide model.

Cal State “has the opportunity to be a leader,” said the governor. “It has much more flexibility than other systems. The door is open and San Jose State is leading the way.”


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-- Carla Rivera






Steinberg to introduce bill for online class college credit

Darrell Steinberg

State Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) plans to introduce a bill Wednesday that would create a framework to allow students at California’s public colleges and universities to receive credit for some online courses.

The bill takes aim at the chronic problem of over-enrollment in core classes at the community college, CSU and UC level, according to Steinberg’s spokesman, Rhys Williams.

The issue has been exacerbated by severe budget cuts and increasing demands on the state’s higher education systems, forcing students to delay degree completion and take on even more student debt, Williams said.

Steinberg is expected to announce his sponsorship of the bill, fittingly, during an online media conference on Google Hangout.

Steinberg’s move comes as Gov. Brown pushes for more online education as a way to cut costs and widen access at state campuses.

Williams said the online course framework, if approved, would be the first of its kind in the country.


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Photo: State Sen. Darrell Steinberg in a 2012 file photo. Credit: Randy Pench / Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown sends out robocall for Gilbert Cedillo's City Council bid

A robocall recorded by Gov. Jerry Brown went out to 25,000 voters Monday in support of Gilbert Cedillo, a candidate for an Eastside seat on the Los Angeles City Council.

"I've worked with him in Sacramento," Brown said in the recording, "and I believe he will do everything humanly possible to make things better in your neighborhood."

The automated call is Brown's first during this election cycle, a Cedillo campaign spokesman said. Brown's office could not be reached for comment. The call went out to voters in the 1st District who registered as Democrats and voters who declined to state their party affiliation. 

Brown endorsed Cedillo last monthas did Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Cedillo has frequently mentioned in his campaigning that his connections in Sacramento would help him get things done in Los Angeles.

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UC seeks public input on hiring university's next president

Have any thoughts about who should be the next president of the University of California or what that person should do to help the 10-campus system?

Now you have a formal place to post your nominations, comments and opinions. A new website devoted to the UC presidential search was posted online Friday and has room for such comments from anyone inside or outside the university.

UC officials on Friday also announced the creation of four advisory panels -– one each for faculty, students, staff and alumni -- to help in the search for a new UC president. About a dozen people were appointed to each of those groups. Ten UC regents, including Gov. Jerry Brown, already comprise the main committee looking for a successor to Mark G. Yudof.

UC president since 2008, Yudof has said he intends to resign in August and become a law professor at UC Berkeley.

UC is using the Isaacson, Miller executive search firm to help in what is being described as a “global” hiring effort. The job description said UC "seeks an individual who is an outstanding leader and a respected scholar who has successfully demonstrated these abilities in a major complex organization." It then details the university’s massive size, with 240,000 students, 190,000 faculty and staff and a $24 billion annual budget.

The UC regents held a private teleconference earlier this week in which they discussed the search process.


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Brown blocks parole for Manson family member Bruce Davis

Bruce Davis

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday blocked parole for Manson family member Bruce Davis, saying he still poses a threat to society.

“Until Davis can acknowledge and explain why he actively championed the Family’s interests, and shed more light on the nature of his involvement, I am not prepared to release him,” the governor wrote in his decision.

Davis, 26 at the time of the killings, was convicted and imprisoned in 1972 for his role in the murders of two men, ranch hand Donald “Shorty” Shea, who also worked as a Hollywood stuntman, and aspiring musician Gary Hinman.

Details of Shea’s killing have always remained murky, muddied more by Davis’ recent account that the ranch hand was taken to a different location and killed, not the night that prosecutors claimed, but the following morning.

Another Manson family member, Steve “Clem” Grogan, allegedly cut off Shea’s head. Grogan, the only Manson family member convicted of murder to be set free, won parole in 1985 by leading law enforcement to Shea’s body.

Read more at the Times' PolitiCal blog.


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-- Paige St. John in Sacramento

Photo: Bruce Davis. Credit: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Regents panel starts meeting in search for a new UC president

The University of California took the first tentative steps on Tuesday toward finding a successor to UC system President Mark G. Yudof.

A special committee of UC regents conferred privately by telephone from their locations in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Francisco to discuss preliminary ways to organize the presidential search. UC spokesman Steve Montiel said the committee later this week is expected to release the names of those being appointed to advisory panels of faculty, students, alumni and staff to help come up with goals for a new president and help screen candidates.

The regents committee on Tuesday also spoke with representatives of the executive search firm contracted to help hire a new chief of the 10-campus university, according to Montiel. That company -- Isaacson, Miller -- specializes in education and not-for-profit leadership and has offices in San Francisco, Boston and Washington.

Yudof, who has been president since 2008, recently announced that he intends to step down in August and become a law professor at UC Berkeley.

The members of the "special committee to consider the selection of a president" include regents Richard Blum, Russell Gould, George Kieffer, Bonnie Reiss, Frederick Ruiz, Bruce Vaner, alumni regent Ron Rubenstein, student regent Jonathan Stein and it is headed by regents Chairwoman Sherry Lansing.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who is also a member, did not participate in Tuesday’s meeting, although he is expected to have a strong say on future deliberations, given his recent boost in activism in higher education matters.


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L.A. Votes: Candidates woo voters, slam rivals and raise money

See how L.A. voted in past elections

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day in Los Angeles, candidates for mayor, City Council and city attorney are working overtime to sway undecided voters, ding their opponents and raise funds.Election Memo

Mayoral candidate Jan Perry is making a hard play in the San Fernando Valley, promoting herself as a fiscal conservative while launching blistering attacks on City Controller Wendy Greuel. But it’s an open question whether the councilwoman can offset Greuel’s home-base advantage and fundraising edge.

Perry announced the endorsement of community leader and former city Library Commission President David A. Lehrer, while Greuel got the nod of a number of business leaders across the city.

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In the City Council races, Gov. Jerry Brown backed former state legislator Gil Cedillo in the 1st district in Central L.A., Ana Cubas won the endorsement of La Opinion in the 9th District in South Los Angeles, and Matt Szabo received the support of Southern California Americans for Democratic Action in the 13th District that includes Hollywood.

On the mailbox battlefront, mayoral candidate Kevin James is hitting Greuel over a $50,000 donation from former, unpopular Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to the independent committee backing her bid. And Greuel is using James in a fundraising appeal that warns “Right-wing extremists are getting involved in the Mayor’s race. I need your help today.”

Mayoral candidate and councilman Eric Garcetti plans to hold an afternoon press conference at City Hall to tout his efforts on behalf of undocumented immigrants, while long-shot candidate Emanuel Pleitez will lay out his immigration platform at a morning news conference in Boyle Heights.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Meanwhile, the candidates remain focused on a less obvious but vital facet of campaigning — raising cash.

Greuel will be the beneficiary of a Wednesday evening fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of billionaire media mogul Haim Saban that will features an appearance by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Garcetti will pick up some checks at a foodie-focused fundraiser at the Petersen Automotive Museum, featuring small bites from the likes of chefs John Sedlar of Rivera and Jiro Kobayashi of Sushi Roku. And a novelty in the city attorney's contest — Noel Weiss, who has until now eschewed raising or spending money, will hold his first fundraiser this weekend.


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Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

Graphic: A map plotting past L.A. mayoral voting patterns. Credit: Ben Welsh / Los Angeles Times

Gov. Brown backs Gil Cedillo in race for L.A. City Council seat

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday endorsed Gil Cedillo in the 1st District City Council race

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday endorsed Gil Cedillo in the 1st District City Council race, the first Los Angeles contest in which he has weighed in this election cycle.

"Gil Cedillo is a proven local leader who knows how to bring people together to get things done,” Brown said in a written statement. "We need Gil Cedillo's leadership, strength and passion on the Los Angeles City Council in order to create jobs, increase neighborhood safety, and expand after-school programs that keep our kids safe. I hope you will join nurses, teachers, firefighters and local leaders in supporting Gil Cedillo for City Council on Tuesday, March 5."

Cedillo, a former state lawmaker, thanked Brown for his nod.

"I'm deeply honored to have his support," Cedillo said. "We've worked together on countless issues, ranging from enhancing social justice and civil rights, to creating jobs, improving our education system, and making sure our police and firefighters have the resources they need to keep our communities safe.”

Cedillo has received several prominent endorsements, including from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. His chief rival in the race is Jose Gardea, chief of staff to termed-out 1st District Councilman Ed Reyes.


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Photo: City Council candidate Gil Cedillo on Feb. 14. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Jerry Brown to lay out vision for state's long-term future

When Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his State of the State address in Sacramento on Thursday, there will be something missing from his agenda for the year ahead -– cuts.

Boosted by voter-approved tax cuts last fall, the governor no longer has to wrestle with short-term budget shortfalls.

Instead, his focus will be on a long-term vision for the state’s future. While Brown will urge restraint on certain state spending, he will seek billions in new bonds for the state’s aging water delivery system, call for long-term investments in higher education and continue to champion a controversial bullet train.

The speech may also be something of a victory lap for Brown, who has in recent appearances celebrated the state’s fiscal recovery, as the national narrative of California as a failed state begins to change.

But dangers lie ahead. Uncertainty in the national and global economy could sink the state’s fragile recovery. Brown will have to urge restraint among Democrats eager to restore funding for various state programs. And billions in outstanding debts continue to be a drag on the state’s long-term fiscal health.

The address begins at 9 a.m. You can stream it live on the California Channel.


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Cal State won't raise tuition despite budget shortfall

California State University officials said Tuesday they would not increase tuition next fall but they warned that the governor's budget would not allow them to increase enrollment despite record demand at many colleges.

The Cal State system had requested $372 million in additional funding for student programs, urgent maintenance, enrollment growth and other services for the 2013-14 academic year. But the governor's proposal includes $125 million in additional money — and that amount must still make it through budget negotiations with the Legislature.

"It's going to improve access but perhaps not by a lot of bodies," Chancellor Timothy P. White said at a meeting of the Board of Trustees in Long Beach. "The budget stops the hemorrhaging and gives us a chance to take breath."

Gov. Jerry Brown, who attended Tuesday's meeting, echoed White's concerns, reiterating that he wants the university system to spend within its means and avoid a tuition hike. Brown took the same message to the UC regents in San Francisco last week.

"It's a tight ship and it's going to get tighter," the governor said in Long Beach. "We're going to have to do some very creative, very thoughtful, very careful adjustments."

The caution underscored a key fiscal reality: Despite Brown's funding proposal and the passage of Proposition 30, which temporarily increased sales taxes and income taxes on high earners, the state's public higher education systems are still climbing out of deep budget holes. State support for Cal State's 23 campuses has decreased by nearly $1 billion since 2008.

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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