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March 12, 2014 | By Larry Gordon
The College Board's decision to make the essay portion of its influential SAT exam optional is setting off a national debate among colleges and universities about whether to require applicants to take it. Beyond the potential effect on students, the March 5 announcement about the upcoming test change is stirring soul-searching about the importance of writing in higher education and how best to evaluate that ability. The new College Board policy also has raised concerns about setting up a possible barrier to college entrance, especially if the separate essay writing exam requires an additional fee. Many colleges will face a serious problem in considering whether to keep mandating the essay test after the change goes into effect in 2016, said Jerome Lucido, executive director of the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice, a national think tank on college admissions issues.
March 10, 2014 | By Anthony York
As California Republicans prepare to gather outside of San Francisco for their semi-annual convention this weekend, at least one of the party's gubernatorial candidates wants to debate. Republican Tim Donnelly wants to debate his GOP gubernatorial rival Neel Kashkari at the state Republican Party convention in Burlingame. But party officials and Kashkari's campaign say there are no plans to put the two onstage together. Donnelly issued a debate challenge in an open letter addressed to Kashkari and sent to reporters on Monday.
March 10, 2014 | By Eric Sondheimer
 If there's one big lesson learned from last week's arbitration victory by four private schools over the CIF Southern Section, it's that the section will no longer decide to move private schools from their sports areas for competitive equity reasons. Twice the Southern Section has tried to move La Verne Damien and Glendora St. Lucy's, believing its bylaws provided authority to do so. Twice the schools have won legal decisions to stay put. "There's a message, and we have to accept that message," Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod said.
March 9, 2014
Crying foul over baseball issue A whole Travel section (March 2) devoted to baseball is just not right. Many have no interest in sports whatsoever. There is already another whole section devoted to sports every day in the Los Angeles Times. You have really disappointed me and many others, I'm sure. Leslie Daniels Palm Springs Local vs. longer trips The reader letter on Feb. 23 expressing great disappointment at The Times' selection of featured locations was perplexing.
March 7, 2014 | By Karthick Ramakrishnan
Is the debate on affirmative action versus race-blind policies mainly about principle, or mostly about preserving narrow group interests? We are beginning to find out in California. A bill passed by the state Senate and pending in the Assembly would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would overturn portions of Proposition 209 to exempt public college and university admissions from the ban on racial, ethnic and gender preferences. There are principled reasons to support as well as to oppose affirmative action in higher education.
March 6, 2014 | By Lisa Mascaro
WASHINGTON - An ambitious bill seeking to stem the rise of sexual assaults in the military died Thursday after senators from both parties refused to limit the role of commanding officers in deciding whether to prosecute such cases. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) pushed the issue to prominence during this congressional session, arguing on behalf of victims who testified that they feared retaliation for pressing assault allegations up the military chain of command. Her bill - which won support from 17 of the 20 women in the Senate - would have shifted sexual assault investigations to military prosecutors.
March 5, 2014 | By David Zahniser and Marisa Gerber
Frustrated by the lack of federal data on electronic cigarettes, the debate among Los Angeles City Council members Tuesday over whether to restrict their use quickly turned personal. Members of the council -- which ultimately voted to treat e-cigarettes just the same as regular cigarettes, banning their use in parks, restaurants and most workplaces -- recounted their own experiences and struggles with smoking, adding to a passionate debate at the hearing. Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who pushed for the new restrictions, recalled his days breathing secondhand smoke as a waiter in a downtown restaurant.
March 2, 2014 | Lalita Clozel
Federal Prohibition agent Eliot Ness' legendary campaign against Chicago mob boss Al Capone inspired the 1960s TV series "The Untouchables," a blockbuster Hollywood movie, countless books and perhaps even the comic-strip hero Dick Tracy. But a recent move in the Senate to name the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' glassy new Washington headquarters after the 1930s lawman has sparked an acrimonious debate over whether the storied crime fighter really deserves the honor.
February 27, 2014 | By Robert Faturechi
At a closed-door debate in front of rank-and-file deputies, the candidates for Los Angeles County Sheriff acknowledged that the department must be reformed, but blamed management for the problems plaguing the agency. In a recording of the members-only union event obtained by The Times, the candidates mostly took a diplomatic tone with the deputies, and at times served up the kind of red meat not often heard in front of general audiences. Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who has been criticized for helping foster a culture of abuse inside the jails, criticized the department's inmate education program.
February 25, 2014 | By Tony Perry
SAN DIEGO -- After years of wrangling, delay and study, the City Council on Tuesday approved a zoning plan that will allow less than three dozen medical marijuana dispensaries within the city. The plan will allow no more than four dispensaries in each council district. With one of nine districts already off-limits because of the density of its housing, that would allow a maximum of 32 dispensaries for a city of more than 1.3 million. The plan presented to the council, developed after months of meetings, would have allowed 131 dispensaries spread throughout the city, according to a study by the San Diego Assn.
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