Category: Education

Aug 21

Los Angeles teachers union sets January strike date

LOS ANGELES – Teachers in the nation's second-largest school district will go on strike next month if there's no settlement of their long-running contract dispute, union leaders said Wednesday.

The announcement by United Teachers Los Angeles threatens the first strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District in nearly 30 years and follows about 20 months of negotiations.

The union, which said it would strike on Jan. 10, argues that the district is hoarding a large reserve of $1.8 billion that could be used to pay teachers more, lower class sizes, improve conditions and add more full-time nurses at campuses. The union also is arguing for "common-sense regulation on charter schools."

"We've reached the point where enough is enough," union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said at a news conference announcing the plan to strike.

"We have watched the underfunding and the actions of privatizers undermine our students and our schools for too long," he said. "The civic institution of public education in Los Angeles is worth saving. It needs to be saved for the future of the city."

In a news release on Tuesday, the district said "a strike would harm students, families and communities most in need."

The district, which has more than 640,000 K-12 students, offered $30 million in additional funding to reduce class sizes and hire additional counselors, librarians and nurses, and said the union had agreed to a 6 percent salary raise.

Caputo-Pearl denied agreeing to any terms regarding salary and said the union would be filing an unfair labor practice charge against the district "on that lie."

"By dragging us through this process for 20 months, refusing to invest in our schools, the district has disrespected our students and disrespected us," he said. "For these reasons we have not accepted the district's offer to go back to the table."

The State of California Public Employment Relations Board issued a complaint against the union this week for refusing to bargain in good faith.

Much of the bad blood between the two sides centers around the district's superintendent, Austin Beutner, an investment banker and former Los Angeles deputy mayor without experience in education.

The union argues that Beutner is trying to privatize the district, encouraging school closures and flipping public schools into charter schools. Charters are privately operated public schools that compete with the school system for students and the funds they bring in.

Beutner has said his plan to reorganize the district would improve services to students and families.

Thousands of teachers took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles last weekend to demand a new contract. They wore red shirts, banged drums and carried signs that read "Stand With LA Teachers!" as they marched.

The teachers are tapping into a shift in public sentiment that supports better wages for educators that came with a "Red4Ed" movement that began earlier this year in West Virginia, where a strike resulted in a raise. The movement spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona and Washington state.

Mar 11

Jesuits: No priests suspected of abuse will go to Gonzaga

SPOKANE, Wash. – Jesuit leaders say no priest credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor will ever be sent to Gonzaga University after a report this week that at least 20 clergy members facing sexual abuse allegations were allowed to live out their lives at the campus in Washington state.

The revelation comes amid a renewed national outcry over allegations of the sexual abuse of children by priests in the Catholic church. Jesuits are a Catholic order that includes more than 16,000 men worldwide who serve in churches, high schools, colleges and other institutions. Founded in the 1880s, Jesuits operate the Catholic university in Spokane, Washington.

"Jesuits West guarantees that no Jesuit with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is currently or will ever be knowingly assigned to Gonzaga University or the Jesuit community on its campus," the Jesuits West Province said in a statement Tuesday.

Instead, Jesuits facing credible allegations will live at the province's senior health care facility in Los Gatos, California, the province said.

The Center for Investigative Reporting reported Monday that the Jesuits had sent at least 20 priests facing sexual abuse allegations to Cardinal Bea House. The last known abusive priest was moved out of Cardinal Bea House on the Gonzaga campus in 2016, Jesuit records show.

Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh on Monday said he was disturbed by the story and demanded guarantees that no priests accused of abuse would be assigned to Gonzaga again.

One priest, the Rev. James Poole, admitted under oath that he sexually abused indigenous women and girls in Alaska. In a deposition taken while he lived in Bea House, Poole said he regularly went to Gonzaga's library and basketball games.

According to the news report, Poole's misconduct was first documented in 1960 and continued in Alaska until 1988, when he was removed from his position. The following year, he took a job as a chaplain at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma.

Poole worked at the hospital until 2003, when he retired to Cardinal Bea House. He died in March.

McCulloh said he was disturbed by "the revelation that the Society of Jesus had knowingly sent a man with Poole's record of sexual abuse to live in their facility within the parameters of our campus, which serves not only as the home of college students, but regularly hosts grade-school children and visitors of all ages, without notification by the province to the university."

"I had relied upon the Province to inform us of any Jesuit whose history might pose a threat to our students or campus community," McCulloh said.

Also Tuesday, the Jesuit province announced it will impose a new restriction on access to its document archives because they contain "sensitive personnel records." Any requests for records now will be vetted by a San Francisco attorney who has defended Catholic institutions from sexual abuse claims for at least two decades, the province said.

On Monday, the Roman Catholic Jesuit province serving much of the eastern United States released the names of Jesuit priests who face "credible or established" accusations of sexual abuse of minors dating to 1950. In a letter, the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus identified five living Jesuits facing offenses that took place in the province and another eight who are dead.

Jan 5

Service dog receives honorary diploma as handler graduates college

When Brittany Hawley received her master's degree from Clarkson University over the weekend, her service dog, 4-year-old "Griffin," was honored, too.

The good boy assisted his 25-year-old handler as she worked toward her degree in occupational therapy. He went with Hawley to classes, and even assisted her at an internship where she assisted patients.

And on Saturday, Griffin aided Hawley, of North Carolina, once more as she made her way across the stage of the Potsdam, New York school's recognition ceremony.

The university's board of trustees honored Griffin for what they said was "extraordinary effort, steadfast commitment and diligent dedication to the well-being and student success" of Hawley.

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Hawley suffers from chronic pain and uses a wheelchair. She told The Associated Press that the Golden Retriever helps her with a variety of tasks, including opening doors, turning on lights and fetching her phone. Griffin, possibly more importantly, comforts Hawley amid her severe pain that's caused her anxiety and depression.

The two were paired up after Griffin was trained through "paws4prisons," a program that teaches inmates at West Virginia prisons to train and place high-level assistance dogs.

"The inmates allow many dogs to come up to you and let the dog choose you," Hawley said. "Some dogs were scared of the wheelchair. Griffin jumped right into my lap and licked me across the face."

Griffin and Hawley interned together at Fort Bragg, a military base in North Carolina, where they helped soldiers with mobility impairments and psychosocial disorders.

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Hawley said she "pushed" for Griffin to graduate alongside her from the beginning, and noted that when she applies for jobs — the duo will be a package deal.

"I couldn't participate in anything without him," she said. "I'm so used to him being there."