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New poll offers insights for LAUSD’s next superintendent

Jacob Scott

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Credit: Betty Márquez Rosales/EdSource

Heliotrope Avenue Elementary students in Los Angeles Unified begin the school year.

A new poll provides insight into the issues that a new Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent may face.

Lower-income and Black families of students attending L.A. Unified schools feel less supported by the state’s largest school district, according to the poll, while a majority of the families, regardless of income or race, support a public annual evaluation of the new superintendent.

“There has historically been a disconnect between communities and the superintendent, the leadership in LAUSD, and we’re at a time where families have been co-educators,” said Ana Ponce, executive director of Great Public Schools Now, one of the organizations that helped coordinate the poll.  “They were thrown into educating kids because of the pandemic.  This is an opportunity to sort of continue to build on that and really see the co-educators, the parents, the family members, the siblings, as individuals that can give meaningful input on how to better serve students and how to better engage communities and make the district better every year.”

The district is in the midst of a search for a new superintendent to replace Austin Beutner, who resigned in June after three years on the job. The district is now being run by interim Superintendent Megan Reilly, the previous head of business services and operations.

The vast majority of families support a public annual evaluation of the district’s superintendent once the role is filled: 55% said they “strongly support” it, and 40% said they “somewhat support” it. The support was high across respondents representing families with various demographics, including race, income level, English learners and where families live within district bounds. The survey was designed so it represents all of those demographics across the district’s more than 600,000 students.

The poll does not provide a description of what such an evaluation might look like, but “at minimum” it would ask questions regarding students’ academic achievements and their needs for social-emotional mental health support, Ponce said.

The question is timely, as the district’s board is expected to soon name its new superintendent — its sixth in 20 years, not including three interim ones.

The poll was coordinated by three organizations: Great Public Schools Now, an education reform group formed in 2015  from a plan to expand charter schools in Los Angeles Unified; Families in Schools, which offers training that helps families become more engaged with students’ academics; and the Center for Equity for English Learners at Loyola Marymount University.  While it was funded by Great Public Schools Now, the poll was independently conducted by consulting firm Gotham Research Group.

The respondents were a representative sample of 500 L.A. Unified families, which were defined as biological parents, foster parents, relatives and other guardians. It was conducted over the course of several weeks, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 24, and most families were interviewed by phone.

The poll data also shows significant disparities in how families feel about the mental support offered to their children. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of very low-income families, which the poll defines as families making below $37,000 annually, along with 61% of Black families, reported feeling less satisfied than those with higher income (93%) or who identify as white (80%).

Recent reports have echoed the findings in the Family Insights poll released today:

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This is not the first report of students needing mental health support to cope with the pandemic and of the disparities between racial and ethnic groups. A recent survey of L.A. Unified students found that mental health support was a top priority among the nearly 800 students surveyed. A report earlier this year recommended that schools use some of their federal Covid-19 funding to support efforts related to mental health and equity in schools. Federal Covid relief funding is partly aimed at funding those programs that many California districts have indicated they plan to offer as they receive their share of the funding.

While a majority of all families said they felt supported by their schools in coping with Covid-19, a trend emerged in several of those questions: Black, lower-income people and families who responded to the questions in Spanish tended to give lower marks to the support they got from their schools.

“It was disappointing but not surprising that this was the experience particularly of the very low-income families and of Black families,” Ponce said. “It’s very alarming because that also raises the issue of: How are we supporting students and families through this recovery phase in terms of their social-emotional well-being.”

The poll was conducted in English and Spanish, with bilingual interviewers reaching out to families via phone and online. According to the report, the poll showed increases in “the number of responses from households typically labeled as ‘hard-to-reach.’” Those households included families of English learners.

When asked if they felt their perspective is represented at the district level, only 64% of Black and 68% of English learner and very low-income families said yes compared with 81% for all respondents and 95% for white families.

Other poll findings include:

Support for tutoring and mental health programs was strongest among Black families, with over 50% choosing each category.
The majority of respondents, 96%, believe low-income communities should receive more public school funding.
82% of higher-income families reported that the quality of education improved with distance learning, but only 30% of very low-income families felt the same way.
43% of families would like to see public education look the way it did prior to the pandemic. and 57% would like to rethink what it could look like, which could include adding academic learning opportunities during the school day or after school, such as tutoring.

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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