Sen. Calderon Responds to Calls for Resignation

November 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A group of local elected officials gathered in Bell Gardens Wednesday to demand the resignation of Sen. Ron Calderon, who is under investigation as part of a federal bribery probe.

“You need to resign,” Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo said. “We’ve worked very hard to fix the corruption that exists in these cities, and [that] you are continuing to remain in office is a shame to all the cities you represent. Resign, Calderon.”

Downey Mayor Mario Guerra added, “Senator Calderon has violated our public trust and does not deserve to represent the people of this fine district.”

Calderon, D-Montebello, has not been charged with a crime, and he has denied any wrongdoing.

Al Jazeera America recently reported the contents of what it called a sealed FBI affidavit, outlining allegations that Calderon had accepted thousands of dollars in bribes to influence legislation. The affidavit described a relationship between Calderon and an undercover agent posing as a film studio executive, and alleged that Calderon accepted bribes from the agent in return for legislative action on film tax credits, according to Al Jazeera America.

Calderon’s offices were raided by the FBI earlier this year.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Artesia, called for Calderon’s resignation last month and was among those who organized and attended today’s news conference. Calderon has lashed out at her for “making a mockery” of his presumed innocence.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, center in blue, speaks at a press conference in Bell Gardens Wednesday where she and local city officials asked Senator Ron Calderon to step down amid allegations of corruption.  (Courtesy of the Office of Cristina Garcia)

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, center in blue, speaks at a press conference in Bell Gardens Wednesday where she and local city officials asked Senator Ron Calderon to step down amid allegations of corruption. (Courtesy of the Office of Cristina Garcia)

In response to the latest calls for his resignation, Calderon again accused Garcia of acting in “an opportunistic way.”

“Without knowing the full story and waiting to hear all the facts in this case, she has assumed the role of judge and jury by calling for my resignation,” Calderon said.

“… It is now clear that she is a politician after all – quite an ambitious one at that,” he said. “I would not wish on my worst enemy what I have been going through…but I do hope that Ms. Garcia comes to understand that what has happened to me could happen to anyone in public office. Sometimes one is better served to act in kindness than in self-righteousness because all politicians live in glass houses.”

Calderon has been stripped of his legislative committee assignments and from the executive board of the Latino Caucus in response to the ongoing federal probe.

Johnson Poised to Tie Petty, Earnhardt NASCAR Championship Records

November 14, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Southern California native Jimmie Johnson, in the black Lowe’s #48, leads on the pole last Sunday in Phoenix, ultimately finishing third in the race.  (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Southern California native Jimmie Johnson, in the black Lowe’s #48, leads on the pole last Sunday in Phoenix, ultimately finishing third in the race. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Jimmie Johnson looks like he could be claiming another season championship this weekend with just one race remaining Sunday at Miami Speedway.

Johnson could also seal his place among NASCAR’s legends with a good outing Sunday — coming in 23rd or better — tying the 6 NASCAR championship wins each of drivers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Johnson leads Matt Kenseth in the championship race by 23 points. The winner of last week’s race in Phoenix, Kevin Harvick, trails Johnson by 34 points.

Q&A: Napolitano On Diversity, Academics and the Undocumented at U.C.

November 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 In September former secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano took over as president of the University of California, the first-ever woman to hold that position. She now heads a $24 billion system of 10 campuses, five medical centers and three national laboratories. In an interview with New America Media, Napolitano says it was the promise of the California dream, which is really the “American Dream on steroids,” that drew her to the state.


NAM: What attracted you to California and to the University of California in particular?

Napolitano: California is really the engine for the United States, and in some respects for the world. And the University of California is a big engine for the state. The demographics of California are changing … 45 percent of [UC] students are now first generation [immigrants]; 30 percent are from historically underrepresented groups; we have more people receiving financial aid at four of our campuses than the whole Ivy League combined. So it’s a very open university, and it’s a world-class university. And that reflects California. California has always been at the head of innovation and creativity … this notion of the California dream [is] really the American dream on steroids.


NAM: What’s your strategy for increasing social and economic diversity at UC schools? 

Napolitano: One of my major strategies involves a lot of outreach into lower income neighborhoods and schools. We know there are a lot people who don’t understand or know about the University of California, [including the fact that] if your family makes $80,000 a year or less, you pay no tuition. And we can wrap other financial aid around that to cover room and board.


One of the things I am concerned about, though, is that students who are in ninth grade, who are making decisions about what classes they are going to be taking and what track they’re going to be on, are prematurely self-selecting out of the classes that would qualify them for the University of California out of the mistaken belief that they can’t afford to go. The answer is, they can and we will help them get there.


NAM: Are there any plans to increase faculty diversity?

Napolitano: When I went to law school in the 1980s – I went to a public university, the University of Virginia – there was only one woman on the entire faculty. That was noticeable. So I can put myself a little in the shoes of some of our students today … if they look at the faculty they see the same thing. Diversity really matters in that respect.

That’s why one of the first things I did was focus on post-docs. They are researchers, they teach, they are future faculty, inventors and creators. They are going to be a big source of diversity in our faculty long term, and so we want to make sure we recruit and have a diverse post-doc cadre moving forward.


NAM: What do undocumented students need to know right now about access to a UC school?

Napolitano: You need to know that you pay in-state tuition. You need to know that we have set aside some additional funds to provide special student services for undocumented students, including helping to offset some of the financial burden caused by the fact that they can’t get federal aid or work study grants. We are here to educate Californians, and it doesn’t really matter to us [or] to me whether they are documented or undocumented. It matters whether they are a good student, and whether they are pursuing their passions and their dreams, and are putting themselves into that.


NAM: What will you do to enhance the university’s relationship to California community colleges?

Napolitano: That’s one of the things that surprised me the most when I took over as president, the large percentage of our students who are transfer students from community colleges. Historically community colleges were free and were an open doorway to higher education. Looking now at what the transfer student experience is, [the questions to ask are] how do you qualify, how easy or difficult is it, have we streamlined the processes enough, and what are the problems that our transfer students encounter when coming to a UC campus.


NAM: Can the university play any role in addressing the growing social and economic inequality now on the rise in California and across the country?

Napolitano: The University of California is a tremendous bridge for lower income [students] or from historically underrepresented groups, for those whose families haven’t gone to college before. Again, over 45 percent of our students are low income, and over 40 percent are first generation. In this day and age, a world-class university education … is really the ticket to success for so many young people. It’s not a guarantee, but it certainly opens up more possibilities.


NAM: What role can technology play in this?

Napolitano: There is a role for online education, but it has to be done carefully and in a way that does not substitute for the academic experience.


NAM: With the growing emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), what role is there for the humanities at UC?

Napolitano: Let’s go back to the meltdown on Wall Street. The meltdown didn’t happen because people didn’t understand mathematics. It happened because of a crisis in values. Knowledge of the humanities – of history, and philosophy, and literature – is key for critical thinking, for exploring nuance and how decisions are made, and the values embodied in those decisions. We have to get out of the business of saying, ‘You can’t get a job if you have a humanities degree.’ That is absolutely not the case. If you have a humanities degree you are a well-educated person.


NAM: Are you concerned that international students might be crowding out eligible in-state students?

Napolitano: Our students are going to graduate into a very interconnected and international world. It’s beneficial for them to meet and get to know international students. And it’s great diplomacy for the United States.


I have heard the perception that places for California students are being taken by students from other states or by international students. And the answer is, they’re not. We are sustaining the same number of places for California students as we have historically. What’s happened is we’ve added on.


NAM: What is UC’s role in the growing trans-Pacific partnership?

Napolitano: The first thing I’m going to do is take an inventory of where we do have relationships … and identify areas of the world that would be key partners potentially with the University of California. And given that we’re on the Pacific Coast, it makes ultimate sense that we would look toward Asia in that regard. We also ought to look south, to Mexico, Central America and South America. There’s a whole host of issues about international relations that can be led out of the office of the president.


NAM: Are you concerned in any way that higher education is becoming more of a job incubator as opposed to a social and political thought leader?

Napolitano: I think it needs to be both. As a public university, we are educating for what the public needs … but hopefully in an environment and in such a way that the graduates of this university are thinkers, so that when they leave the university they are capable of being part of a well-informed citizenry. If California is going to thrive, it’s going to need those UC graduates to do so. It’s a key driver for this state.


Part of the question goes to the notion that universities have somehow retreated from public involvement … that they are independent of addressing the real problems of the day. One of my visions for the University of California is, to the extent that perception exists, to wipe it away. To make sure our talents, and the things we’re doing in our laboratories and classrooms are focused on some of the world’s most pressing problems. World hunger, energy, climate change … these are all things we have leading efforts underway in. That’s not isolated from being involved in the public, but is linked up with what the public is looking for. If I can help to be that bridge, I hope to do so.


The interview was conducted by Peter Schurmann, NAM education editor, and Jacob Simas, videographer/youth media coordinator


Child Pornography Seized in Bell Gardens

November 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Sheriff’s deputies have seized evidence of a child porn distribution network at homes in four cities, but no arrests have been made, a sergeant said Thursday.

The seizures were made Nov.1 at undisclosed locations in Bell Gardens, Compton, El Monte and Pasadena, said Sgt. Peter Hahn of the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau.

The cases remain under investigation and involve multiple cases involving the distribution of child exploitation materials over the Internet, Hahn said.

“The investigation remains ongoing as to whom the suspects were distributing the material [to, and the identities of the children depicted in the pornography,”’ Hahn said.


Authorities Investigate Highland Park Stabbing

November 14, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Police Wednesday released the identity of a man stabbed to death in what they describe as a gang-related killing in Highland Park.

Lt. Richard Parks of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Community Police station said 19 year-old Andrew Michael Stittiams was stabbed after a confrontation at 7149 North Figueroa Street about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Stittiams died at a local hospital about 90 minutes later, he said.

“The nature of the killing appears to be gang-related,” Parks said.

Parks said Stittiams was walking north on Figueroa near the intersection of Yosemite Drive with another man when they were approached and asked about their gang affiliation. After a short argument, Stittiams was stabbed at least twice in the abdomen, Parks said.

The assailant, a Hispanic man aged 20-25, escaped in a dark gray midsize sedan driven by another man, Parks said. He said two men were detained Tuesday as possible suspects in the killing but then released.

Gas Leak in Commerce force Short Evacuation

November 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A gas leak on Wednesday afternoon in Commerce led authorities to evacuate eight homes and a two-story apartment complex. Firefighters were sent to the 1400 block of South Sydney Drive at 2:42 p.m., said Inspector Tony Akins of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Denise King of Southern California Gas Co. said a homeowner digging with a shovel in a yard managed to rupture a 1/2-inch-diameter gas line. She said a crew was dispatched to the scene to stop the flow of gas and make repairs, adding that three customers were without service.

She said the utility urges contractors and homeowners to call 811 at least two business days before they do any digging in order to prevent damaging gas lines.

The 811 call is a free service and Gas Co. crews will come to the site and mark the location of underground lines.

Who’s Afraid of the Common Core? Not California

November 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

California schools are getting close to fully implementing Common Core, and with it new standardized tests, more rigorous expectations for classrooms, and over $1 billion in state funding for school districts.

But polls show nearly three in four Californians are still wondering – what is the Common Core?

“We’re shifting to a new set of standards,” explains Arun Ramanathan, executive director of Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based education research and advocacy organization. “The standards themselves will demand more of our students, and in many ways more of our teachers.”

Adopted by California in 2010, the Common Core is a new set of education guidelines that are meant to make curriculum standards for math and language arts consistent across all states nationwide, and to align those standards with higher expectations for student learning. So far, 45 states have signed on to the initiative.

The standards are national, but were not developed by the federal government. They were created by a team of education experts, including those knowledgeable in other countries’ education systems, that were brought together by the National Governors’ Association.

“They were really looking to see what’s the standard we need to achieve,” says Ramanathan.

The new standards emphasize critical thinking and deep understanding of key ideas, skills students will be required to demonstrate verbally and in writing, both in class and in standardized tests.


What was wrong with the old guidelines?

California’s old curriculum guidelines “were called a mile wide and an inch deep,” Ramanathan told reporters Oct. 29 on a telebriefing organized by New America Media.

A former teacher, he says that the Common Core brings with it “a reduction in the sheer number of standards” that will allow teachers to have “the ability to address the needs of students who are falling behind, but also the students are excelling.”

Iris Taylor, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Sacramento City Unified School District, agrees. Since 2010, Taylor has helped lead efforts to implement the new standards in her district. She says that the Common Core encourages educators to “go deeper into a few standards as opposed to trying to cover a multitude of standards.”

The new areas of emphasis, she says, will result in “college and career readiness for all students, not just a select few.”


Changes in math and language arts

In math, the Common Core will reduce the amount of content and the number of topics being covered in favor of students gaining a deeper understanding of fewer key concepts and being able to “use the language of mathematics to describe their thinking,” says Taylor.

UC Santa Cruz mathematics education professor Judit Moschkovitch agrees that in math, the Common Core represents “a shift toward balancing understanding and calculation.”

Moschkovitch says that students will be expected to communicate verbally about math with each other and their teachers during math class, which will support both understanding and remembering math concepts.

In language arts and literacy, the Common Core will bring with it a greater emphasis on non-fiction because, as Taylor says, non-fiction represents the kind of writing that students will encounter more of in college and in their future workplaces.

According to Taylor, students will read texts at higher levels of complexity than before, and will be required to critique the ideas presented in the texts and respond both orally and in writing.


Support for English learners

Ramanathan believes that the implementation of the Common Core is “critical to the success of California students across the board,” and that it can particularly benefit English language learners. One-quarter of the 6 million students enrolled in California public schools are English learners.

Hector Perez-Roman, who teaches AP world history in Los Angeles Unified School District, says that the Common Core’s emphasis on group discussion in class has become “a powerful tool” for helping his students to comprehend reading assignments.

Perez-Roman teaches in the San Fernando Valley at a high school where 95 percent of the students are Latino, and nearly half of the students have at some point been classified as English learners. He says that when students work in groups, he’s able to have students who have strengths and weaknesses in different areas work together so that they complement each other’s skills.

Taylor adds that the emphasis on verbal discussion in math – for example, talking through word problems – also serves to support English learning.

Moschkovich agrees. As co-chair of the math work group at Stanford’s Understanding Language initiative, she has long studied mathematics education for English Learners. “Communicating about mathematics not only supports understanding math but also learning English.”

Critics of the Common Core worry that some teachers may not be prepared to teach to the new standards, widening the achievement gap that already exists in California.

Moschkovich notes that the success of the new standards will depend on schools and students having access to “high quality materials” and “qualified teachers.”

Taylor adds that implementation “won’t happen overnight,” but will take years before the standards are fully in place in all California schools.


What about the digital divide?

The first Common Core-aligned standardized testing, which is targeted for the 2014-2015 school year, will be administered on computers.

The $1.2 billion allocated by the state for Common Core implementation will in part help to pay for the technical necessities required for computer-adaptive testing, according to Ramanathan. The tests, he explains, will adjust the level of difficulty based on whether a student answers questions correctly or not.

But there are still concerns that students will not have equal access to technology. Among the challenges that still need to be addressed are bandwidth, Internet connectivity, and the number of computers and other devices available for students to use.

And while part of the state funds will go to purchasing devices, Taylor adds that these tools must not be “put in a closet and saved for testing” – students must have access to the technology so that they can become familiar with it and be able to use technology outside of testing situations.

As for measuring the success of Common Core, Ramanathan says that “will be dependent on getting a far higher percentage of students in public school into and through two- and four-year colleges.”

Migrant Education Programs Make Saturday School a Family Affair

November 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

School on Saturday? Most students would protest such an intrusion on their free time, but for children of migrant workers, Saturday school is a family affair.

Combined with after-school and summer programs, Saturday courses are a required part of the federally funded Migrant Education Program, which gives some of the country’s most at-risk students a chance to keep pace with their peers.

Migrant education programs are for children whose parents are in jobs that require them to move frequently, such as in the agriculture industry. Children may attend several different schools each year as families move from region to region, following the seasonal planting of crops. To ensure that children don’t fall behind, the program offers a range of services such as academic classes, bilingual and multicultural instruction, vocational education and even some health care.

Saturday programs have been seen as a way to supplement traditional academic years and boost student achievement, yet formal use of Saturdays as part of the school calendar, along the lines of the migrant program, is a rarity in California.

The program includes multiple Saturday activities for the entire family, with child care provided for babies and toddlers, preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds, hands-on projects for elementary and middle school students, and a chance to catch up on credits for high school students. Classes for adults focus on literacy, nutrition, computer skills and parenting. Districts that want to participate in the migrant program – which is voluntary for both schools and families – must offer academic services beyond the regular school day to receive federal funds.

Interviews by EdSource in recent months have found that some campuses offer special tutoring or Advanced Placement preparation sessions, while other students participate in athletic or arts events on Saturdays or perform community service work. In addition, some schools use Saturday academic programs as a way to recoup average daily attendance funding losses by requiring students with many absences to attend.

But few programs compare to the full-scale, in-depth approach by the migrant education program, which attempts to prevent the learning loss that could be suffered when students are transferred from one school to the next as their parents follow the crops or other itinerant work.

Those who advocate for more learning time for students say Saturday programs are one way schools can boost student achievement, along with longer school days and longer school years.

“All of those speak to the fact that the conventional 180-day, five-day-a-week schedule is not based on what’s needed for kids and families,” said Chris Gabrieli, chairman of the Maryland-based National Center on Time & Learning, which advocates for more academic time. “That schedule is based on a set of convenient routines people worked out (around adult work schedules). But a lot of the experimentation you’re seeing is based on people saying there are different populations of students now with different needs, and maybe we shouldn’t be so bound by traditions.”

Many Saturday programs have been difficult to sustain because of cost and varying degrees of interest among participants, Gabrieli notes, yet those that engage and serve the entire family may have the best chance of long-term success because they can create buy-in from the community.

Rosa León, who teaches in the migrant education program in Los Angeles Unified, says she wishes the interactive, hands-on, family-oriented classes were available to all students. All students and families, she said, could benefit from this approach.


In-depth approach

The migrant program supports children and youth, ages 3 to 21, whose parents or other members of their family have worked in agriculture, fishing, dairy, food processing and packing, forestry or the livestock industries within the past three years. While following the temporary work, parents must have taken their child from their regular school to a different school district, whether or not the student went to school at the second location, program organizers said.

Not all eligible students participate in the voluntary migrant program. Statewide, 133,928 students were eligible to participate in the 2011-12 school year, but only 79,547 took part in the classes, according to figures from the California Department of Education.

In Los Angeles Unified, 2,500 students qualify for the program, yet only about 10 percent of those participate, despite efforts by staff to encourage greater attendance. LAUSD’s program offers classes during the summer and after school in addition to eight to nine Saturday classes per semester, lasting from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Many of the families who participate in L.A.s migrant program turn to temporary agricultural work when they can’t find other jobs, or are laid off from other employment, said Nellie Barrientos, migrant education program coordinator at Los Angeles Unified.

“When families do not find work in Los Angeles, one of the alternatives they have is to seek agricultural work up north in Fresno, Bakersfield, Oxnard, Tulare or Santa Maria,” Barrientos said in an email.

While the district encourages every eligible family to attend, many face logistical challenges, Barrientos said. The migrant students are scattered throughout the large, urban district, and parents may struggle to find transportation to the three school sites that offer Saturday programs. In addition, some parents work on Saturdays or have other commitments, not to mention that getting teenagers to get up in the morning is no easy task.


Beneficial program

The program provides valuable academic assistance, but also exposes students to experiences they might not otherwise have – such as out-of-state field trips or trips to local beaches to study the tide pools.

Claudia Bañuelos, whose parents picked lettuce, was 14 and a good student in the Los Angeles district when her mother insisted that she attend Saturday school with the family.

“I didn’t feel the need to go, to get up early on Saturday,” she recalled. “But once we were there, we knew there was a purpose for us.”

Because she did not need to make up credits, Bañuelos helped tutor the younger students.

Bañuelos, now 32 and a graduate of California State University, Fresno, said the dedicated teachers who worked in the program helped her realize she had educational and career options she hadn’t considered before.

Self-conscious about her Spanish accent, Bañuelos hadn’t thought about attending college and instead intended to get whatever job she could after high school. The teachers in the program made her realize that there was nothing wrong with her accent, she said.

“English wasn’t my first language,” she said, “so I just had to work with it and make sure I was understood. It’s just who I am.”

Now a mother of three, Bañuelos runs an after-school program and plans to return to college in January to pursue either a teaching credential or a career as a nurse.

Her mother, Rosa Bañuelos, said the program “changed our lives.” Now that her children have grown, Bañuelos volunteers with the migrant education program.

“I learned to be a parent leader, learned to write,” she said. “My husband and I learned that educating our children was a family thing – that it takes the whole family.”


‘Gratifying’ work

The migrant education program is taught by credentialed teachers, such as kindergarten teacher León, who teaches at Humphreys Avenue Elementary in East Los Angeles on regular school days and with the program at Harmony Elementary in South L.A. in the summer and on Saturdays.

“It is a lot of work, but it is very gratifying,” León said. “They come because they want to come, and the parents are so grateful for this opportunity.”

Students are given a writing score from 1 to 4 when they begin the semester, and an individual plan for each student is developed based on that score. Students are assessed again at the end of the semester. The collected data, a written assessment of the students and samples of their work are then given to their classroom teachers.

“Many of the students jump up one score, a few even two scores,” León said. “Even if they have the same score, I can see growth, especially in kindergarten, in the ways the kids are expressing themselves.”

This includes their ability to speak in complete sentences in English, broaden their vocabulary and tackle more sophisticated art projects. Data on the writing assessment for 157 students at the three sites in spring 2013 show that more than 60 percent of the students grew by at least one point in their writing assessment, with almost a quarter jumping two points.

With the introduction of the Common Core State Standards, the migrant education program is focusing more on critical thinking and writing. This past summer, León’s kindergarteners researched the threats to marine life and then were asked to write an opinion piece about whether it was important to preserve ocean habitats.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of the program, according to its graduates, is the boost in self-confidence.

Mariana Alonzo, 18, the daughter of an orange picker, is a civil engineering student at University of California, Davis, who participated in the migrant program. She recalls a trip to Washington, D.C., offered to middle school students through the migrant education program. She had never ventured outside California.

“Because of that trip, I was able to come out of my comfort zone,” she said. “It was a week without my parents. It was hard. I cried. But it helped me be stronger and made me realize I’d have to be on my own someday.”


EdSource Today senior editor Michelle Maitre contributed to this report. Nonprofit EdSource states its goal is to “engage Californians on key education challenges with the goal of enhancing learning success.”


Board of Supervisors Back Special Downtown Tax

November 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to support a special tax assessment to keep the downtown Arts District clean and safe.

The group that managed the Arts District business improvement district for the last six years — collecting taxes from property owners to supplement city services such as bike patrols and extra trash pickup — was ordered in May to disband.

Ruling in a lawsuit brought by property owners, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert H. O’Brien found that the former Arts District BID had violated state law by spending tax dollars on what amounted to a public relations campaign for the area. The judge said those economic development efforts didn’t provide a special benefit to those paying the extra taxes.

But after the BID group broke up, the neighborhood suffered, according to a nonprofit organization seeking to start a new special assessment district.

“In the few months without a BID, we have seen an increase in trash left (or) dumped on our streets, automobile break-ins, vandalism, graffiti and a general sense of not feeling secure, “ Dilip Bhavnani, chair of Arts District Los Angeles, wrote in a letter to property owners.

Arts District Los Angeles’ plan for a new BID has been approved by the city clerk’s office. The group has also submitted petitions of support from more than 50 percent of property owners in the area roughly bounded on the north and south by the Hollywood (101) Freeway and Seventh Street, and on the east and west by Alameda Street and the Los Angeles River.

Another nonprofit group — the Arts District Community Council of Los Angeles — has also been trying to drum up support for a BID with slightly different boundaries, a smaller budget and a different method of calculating assessments.

“Both … have the best interests of the community at heart,” said Jonathan Jerald of the Los Angeles River Artists and Business Association, who proclaimed himself “Switzerland” in the competition. “Either would be a big improvement over what we had before.”

ADCCLA has not yet submitted its plan for approval, but the next step for the ADLA plan is review by the City Council, according to a city spokeswoman.

The county, which has a Department of Public Social Services office in the district, would pay a very small percentage of the total assessment — about 1 percent or $11,000 under the $1.1 million ADLA plan.

Fundraising Calendar Showcases Art by Highland Park Youth

November 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A Highland Park-based nonprofit that provides services to low-income and at-risk students is once again raising funds by selling calendars for the new year filled with artwork by students who receive their services.

The resource center, which has been selling the calendar for several years, has announced that the 2014 Hathaway-Sycamores Children’s Art Calendar is now on sale. The calendar makes a “wonderful holiday gift” and proceeds from the sale benefit youngsters in need, according to Hathaway-Sycamores’ press release.

Scarlett Sanchez, 8, displays her painting of the Chrysler Building in New York, which was used in the 2014 Hathaway-Sycamores Children’s Art Calendar. (Courtesy of Mary Kay Wilson)

Scarlett Sanchez, 8, displays her painting of the Chrysler Building in New York, which was used in the 2014 Hathaway-Sycamores Children’s Art Calendar. (Courtesy of Mary Kay Wilson)

Created through the “World Traveler” art project by area students who receive academic-enrichment and other support services from the Hathaway-Sycamores Highland Park Family Resource Center, the one-of-a-kind calendar features the students’ artistic response to the question: Where in the world would I like to visit?

Featured artwork is by a group of students from Highland Park who spent spring acquiring an assortment of artistic techniques that they applied to their colorful artwork for the calendar.

“Not only is the Hathaway-Sycamores calendar both beautiful and affordable ($10, plus $5 shipping and handling), but proceeds will help fund crucial services needed by the thousands of youngsters and families served annually by Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services  – one of Los Angeles County’s largest, nonprofit, private children’s mental-health and welfare agencies,” according to the resource center announcement.

The innovative spring art program that sparked creation of the annual calendar is offered by the Highland Park Family Resource Center located at 840 N. Avenue 66. At-risk and underserved children and teens – ranging in age from 7 to 12 – spent afternoons at the center where they receive instruction from Master-in-Residence artist Mary Kay Wilson, who is well known for her award-winning work with watercolors. Wilson’s interpretation of the Mission San Fernando Rey de España (located in Mission Hills, Calif.) is currently being displayed on Metro buses and rail cars traveling throughout Los Angeles County as part of Metro’s “Through the Eyes of Artists” poster series.

The 2014 Hathaway-Sycamores Children’s Art Calendar can be purchased by calling (626) 395-7100 ext. 2516 or it can be ordered online at

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