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tv   NBC Bay Area News Special  NBC  December 15, 2014 12:00am-12:31am PST

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i'm in for the first time ever. you too can enjoy quality health coverage. to enroll, or find free in-person help, go to coveredca.com tonight, class action. a new online school based in the bay area promises an ivy league education at a fraction of the cost. we talked to members of the first freshman class to see if minerva lives up to the hype. >> it was not comparable. >> reporter: kids and computers. elementary school kids get a jump on computer science education week.
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>> thank you! >> and a white house call to action for colleges. >> this should not be a democratic issue or a republican issue. a bay area university pledges to double the number of graduates in one key field. now here's nbc bay area's jessica aguirre. >> hello. welcome to our class action education special. we begin with a provocative question. can you get a great college education without stepping foot in a classroom? a new school in san francisco is promising just that. now we first told but the minerva project recruited. you the founding class of freshmen is now enrolled at minerva. >> i don't remember which one of you said this. >> reporter: he is a 17-year-old college student from san diego who is debating his college classmates online. >> a very big advantage when they depend on them. >> reporter: when he applied to college, he got into selective schools like ucla, uc berkeley
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and nyu but he chose minerva. based in san francisco. >> i just want to win the opportunity to be part of the founding class and to co-create my experience is something that i'm not going to find anywhere else. >> reporter: minerva is unique in many ways. there is no campus. most of the students in the first class come from overseas. and the courses they take are entirely online. >> most people would think this is really difficult to do. to be accustomed to having classes online and i think it is a fabulous experience. i'm really engaged. >> reporter: they live together in one building in san francisco. starting in the second year, they'll move to a different city every semester. >> i'll be going to berlin my sophomore year, and then the plan is to go to hong kong and mumbai for the junior year and new york and london for the last year. >> the biggest problems is live in different cities and see the
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different problems people have and how they try to solve them. >> reporter: a former harvard dean heads up academics. >> what we've done is pushed the reset button for the 21st century. >> we can start over and do what we think makes sense in a way you can't do in an established inls constitution. >> reporter: for a generation of students who grew up online taking a new kind of college experience isn't so farfetched. >> i like the idea of re-defining what it means to go through this experience, the university experience. >> so the tuition at minerva, $10,000. it is cheaper than uc and a quarter of the cost of an ivy league school. next year, more than 200 students will spend their freshman year in san francisco before heading out across the globe. sticking with online ed. there week millions of students across the country are trying their hand at one hour of computer programming. it is called the hour of code.
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a group of elementary school kids from east palo alto have a jump start on things. they've been coding every day bright and early rain or shine. we geared up for the hour of code. >> i like it. to come over here early in the morning. >> the rain can't dampen the turnout among early birds at brentwood academy in east palo alto. this morning coding club meets before school. and this week the students have a special assignment. >> the whole school will be doing this code. >> the teacher is preparing them to hem other students during the hour of code. >> i can't do this. it is too hard. >> she is going to send us to the classes to help them logon if you're helping a kindergarten, a first or a second grade class, or even third grade, you might want to
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try course one. >> it is an effort to expose students to computer programming, during computer science education week. >> it lit the fire under so many people. >> millions of students are expected to participate in the hour of code. part of a larger trend boosting coding in the classroom, all the way through high school. >> every one gets a chance to try programming. >> 25 states now offer computer science as a math or science requirement. a year or two ago it was less than half that. >> there is no need to convince these young coders of the benefits computer science. >> you can take it to the next level and have like more stuff and you can learn more about technology. >> they have already turned the hour of code into coding every day. >> i think you're going to be good. >> i think they're going to be good. we would like to give a special shoutout on the teacher allison smith. allison started the club after the hour of code in part because
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many of the students don't have access to computers at home now. she come in every morning on her own time to do it. some follow-ups and stories we've been following on class action. advocates for free preschool for all say full steam ahead. this despite the recent legislative setback. the push for universal 4-year-olds failed in sacramento this year. on the very first day of the new legislative session, they introduced an effort to expand preschool access to all low income children. a field poll released just this month shows strong support for preschool among voters. a high profile bay area filmmaker about boys premiers next month at the sundance film festival. we talked to jennifer, the wife of gavin newsome well known for her previous movie about girls. now she is turning spotlight on boys. and the definition of masculinity that she says damages our children.
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>> we've constructed mass clint that doesn't give young boys a way to feel secure in their masculinity. we make they will go prove it all the time. >> the movie is called the mask you live. in it has nearly 4 million views on youtube. ahead of the debut in january. we're just getting started with class action. when we come back, can a school require parents to volunteer? the answer might surprise you.
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welcome back to our class action education special. america has long been call the handle of opportunity but that opportunity hasn't always been there for everyone who wants to go to college. low income students face many hurdles getting into college and staying in college. but that may change last week president obama hosted the
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second opportunity day in washington, d.c. the day long summit ames to boost the number of disadvantaged students in higher ed. >> this should not be a democratic issue or a republican issue. making sure more of our young people have access to higher education and can succeed and complete their work and get their degree. that has to be an american issue. >> reporter: colleges across the country attended the summit and one of those was dominican university of california. it is a private school in san rafael. they plan to double the number of students who graduate in science, technology, engineering and math. we'll turn our tang to volunteering in school. if you're a public school parent, you probably know about volunteering. that's when parents hem out in the classroom. you cut thing out, clean things out. you are a chaperone, field trips, nothing new. the issue is can schools require parents to volunteer? i'm joined by a woman who says
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no, they cannot. she is a lawyer with public advocates, a civil rights organization in san francisco. now you are looking specifically at charter schools. i have been a volunteer at my school for a long time. it is a public school. i sign up. i volunteer. but i know that i have the option not to do it. you're looking at charter schools which people sometimes get confused. a charter school is a public school. >> that's right. charter schools are public schools and under california law, a public school cannot charge tuition and it can't charge fees. the law also makes clear that requiring parents to donate services is equivalent to charging them a fee. and over 100 charter schools are doing this. they're telling parents, you must agree to donate a imagineder to quota of volunteer hours. so mandatory volunteering. and parents who can't do that don't enroll in those schools. >> that's interesting. because private schools for a long time have been setting up contracts with parents saying you have to donate this amount
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of money or you have to be able to volunteer. but this whole idea of a charter school doing it is really unusual. how did you get tipped off to this? how did you find out? >> we heard about it from parents. public advocates represents low income community grooms. often communities of color and we've long fought for equity. so we're very interested what's going on on the ground. when families are very excited there's a new charter school in the community but then they find out you have to give this mandatory number of hours or your child can't go on a field trim or won't be allowed to walk in graduation. that was concerning to us. it can disproportionately harm some of our most vulnerable kids. >> how do the charter school think they can get away with it? the law is very clear in the public education code that it has to be free. >> well, we don't think that the law is as clear as it should be. that's why we're asking the california department of education to issue clear guidelines and guidance that
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tells all public schools in the state. charter schools included. you can ask for parents to volunteer and you can encourage and it strongly six that they volunteer. but you cross the line when you say it is required. >> what about the issue, you're talking about charter schools. really, they are a hope a lot of time for minority families. you think my school isn't doing well but there is a beacon of hope and hopefully my child will get down the road. it is especially hard for the parents. a lot of them don't have the money to donate or they're working two and three jobs and can't show up to go to the field trip. >> that's what's so problematic. charter schools should improve opportunity. the promise is that they'll go into communities and offer smaller schools, smaller class sizes. they offer a lot of great resources that families can benefit from. when they're supposed to be this beacon of opportunity but instead they put it barriers and
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they tell kids, if your parents can't do 50 hours of service, you aren't welcome here. >> that's humiliating to the child. >> and it is counter to the whole promise of charter schools. >> and it sets up the whole have and have-not. >> it leaves out foster kids, all kinds of very vulnerable students won't get in the door. >> what has been the response from the charter school community when you contacted them about this? >> the california charter schools association sat down with us and told us they want to work together they will have agree with us that you can't penalize a kid if the parent can't do service. i think they understand we can main stream best practices by encouraging and celebrating parent involvement. i think they'll work with their members to ensure charter schools don't have policy that's are illegal. on paper or in practice. >> do you have a legal action to go after a chart he school that may be violating this? >> our first goal is to work
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together with the state. with charter schools. so that everybody understands the law. you should think about, if you're a school, you should think about volunteering parent service as donation of money. you can ask for it. but you can't say it is imagineder to. >> hike when you go on a field trip, the field trip asks money. you ask for the parent to give a donation and then you ask can you cover another child's donation. it has to be other donation. >> there's a difference between calling something a price and calling it a suggested donation. >> where do we go from here? >> we're hoping to meet with the state very soon. we have a meeting scheduled with them very soon. we're optimist tech that they'll work with us. they issued a statement saying we're grateful for bringing this to our attention. so we think that nobody disagrees about what the law says. and nobody wants kids to be secluded from the public school on this basis. >> what should the parent, if a parent gets could not front. the charter school they go to.
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what should be the line that they should be crossing or who should they be speaking to? >> they should tell the school, you can't require me to volunteer for a quota of hours. it is illegal. they should contact us. go to public advocates.org to learn more about the research we did. but schools should not ever be excluding a apparently or giving a kid less privileges or less access to educational opportunity if the parent didn't do as many hours as they hike. >> we hope parents are out there listening. if they're not advocating for. they, hopefully they're advocating for the other parents. we'll be right back with more.
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welcome back. colleges across california offer classes and majors in what is called ethnic studies. actually ethnic studies has been around for 40 years and the bay area is actually its birth place. san francisco's boards of education approved a plan this week to offer ethnic studies to all high school students. but in south san francisco, they've and panelled ethnic studies for ninth graders. and not everyone supports that move. class is just getting started at south san francisco high school. >> everyone brought the tree of life? yes? >> his students are learning about ethnic studies. and today they're sharing a tree of life. >> the roots are like the values. a lot of students, like family or love or hope. >> they also write about topics like race, violence, and sexuality. >> the projects we've been doing so far kind of gets you closer
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and gets to know more about the people around you. you figure out that not everybody is the same. >> that's the crux of this class. the idea everyone is not the same. ethnic studies is a semester long examination of identity. >> if you're an immigrant, hard to come here right away? yes? maybe? >> he covers topics like the challenges facing graenlts. >> racism, language barriers, learning the culture, being away from who? your family. right. >> i prefer to consider all americans. >> the president of the conservative form of silicon valley opposes ethnic studies because he says it draws attention to ethnic identity. >> our nation was founded on principles of freedom, individual liberty, and we are a meritorious society. we really don't care about your
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ethnic back ground. we want to know what can you do for our society at large? >> his opposition to ethnic studies is not unique. >> students united! >> we'll never be divided! >> mexican-american studies amid vocal protests. >> a generic title. >> the classes at south san francisco haven't generated heated debate here, the students and teachers know they're on the front lines. >> every human being knows how to department. right? that's part of being a human, to adapt. >> ethnic studies in south san francisco is an elective. there are no districts in the bay area that require ethnic studies but los angeles unified, the largest school district in california, and the second largest school district in the country, recently put into place a new graduation requirement for ethnic studies. and that goes into effect in 2019. it is well documented in california that latino kids often arrive in kindled garden
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behind their peers in english and other subjects. it is a disadvantage that can persist for years to come. it turns out even at an early age, latino students have skills that are often overlooked and that can help them catch up. >> five seconds -- >> in many ways, it is a reflection of the shifting demographics of california. >> thank you for being -- >> more than half the students at this school and statewide are latino. the the students as a whole have historically led behind their peers. but research is setting new light on a little known strength. >> the common perception about language delays, lower english proficiency, somewhat lower cognitive skills, problem solving schools, that's all
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true. it is empirically born out in our findings. >> it is okay that the pages are torn. we'll use them another day. >> the surprising finding is that doesn't track against their social skills. >> see the pile? >> the latino children have on average strong social and emotional skills. they show up for kindergarten mature. they respect their teachers. they're ready to share. the and to learn. >> what we're realizing now, as i talk to my kindergarten teachers, when at the classes we have here, both classes the kids that were really ready socially were our latino family children. so that just tells us that things are changing. >> the principal said latino
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families take advantage of education opportunities before age 5 including free transitional kind garten. >> we thought it would be hard for him. no. he's very happy. he wants to come every day. >> she says her daughter went to a year of preschool which she says really helped a lot. and she said she and her husband are committed to helping with homework at home. and it is that environment at home that may be having the biggest impact at school. >> it is a different mindset it is and extremely important for to us look at it differently and to have a different attitude about how we embrace the latino families when they come to our doors. >> here's a really interesting side note. rex shows that latino children may be hesitant to speak up in class. educators say it is important to recognize that a quiet or shy latino child is not necessarily less prepared than his peers. sometimes they do it out of almost for the teachers.
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and it may be a cultural difference that keeps them from speaking out. back in a moment.
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if you have kids, that you know school lunch is always a hot topic with students and now it is getting some attention in the nation's camden as well. congress is taking some whole grain foods off the lunch menu. the spending bill released tuesday eases standards that requires more whole granls in school lunches like whole wheat pasta. the measure also put off rules to lower sodium starting in 2017. it does not allow schools toment on out of healthier standards but it would ease standards that would require more whole grains
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in school foods. some school districts want to bandon the school standards. they say they are too costly and restrictive and the kids don't always like the food. we would like to mention that now we're doing class action in span oish our sister station, te telemundo. we'll see you next time.
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6r789s hi, everyone. welcome to "on the money." i'm becky quick. what will the rest of the year bring, and why falling oil prices aren't always good news. new regulations that could make it easier to buy a house. does it mean another mortgage disaster might be in sight? the clock is ticking. less in taxes to save you money before the new year. and the sweet smell of success. pastry chef jacques perez. i love this job. "on the money" starts right now. >> t is "on the money." your money, your life, your future. now becky quick. >> here's a look what is making news as we head to a new week

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