Sunday, May 24, 2015

It's complicated



4LAKids: Sunday 24•May•2015 Memorial Day Weekend
In This Issue:
 •  NEW LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD HAUNTED BY OLD PROBLEMS
 •  “No one wants to be the next LA Unified.” LAUSD’s iPADS: WHAT WENT WRONG? …AND WHAT DO WE NEED TO LEARN?
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?


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The electorate have spoken.

Probably only in the Electoral College do so few voters decide an election as was decided for the LAUSD Board of Education last Tuesday. 7.64% of eligible voters voted. $726.61 was spent by the campaigns and Political Action Committees for each vote cast. I’m sure I’ve read 20+ words for every vote cast about what it all means.

The most succinct appraisal was Diane Ravitch’s: “It was a wash.”

Being a pundit - if not a card-carrying/fully-fledged member of the pundocracy, at least a member of the pundit class - I can’t leave it at that.

Q: A Kayser staffer at the Kayser “Victory Party” asked me – just as the inevitable (washed down with beer and wine and cheese nibbles) was sinking in: Was I already writing my reaction piece?
A: I was listening and making note – the most elemental part of writing. Driving there I passed multi-car freeway pileup: all firetrucks, twisted metal and dazed survivors standing on the shoulder. Surely that was a metaphor. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Let me add my two-cents worth.


IT’S REALLY VERY SIMPLE. The voters voted the rascals out. It didn’t matter where they stood, how much money they raised or how many fliers they flew. If they were in – they were out. (Note: The previous line is best read with Heidi Klum’s accent.)

It was an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the current situation/the status-quo-of-the-moment/the stasis. And it leaves us exactly where we were …but with a couple of new faces on opposite sides of issues: A celebration of an Opposite Day that lasts for five-and-a-half-years

Two incumbents of completely different political persuasions+(in)sensibilities were defeated. One incumbent survived – but not by all-that-much when one considers that his opponent had little money and a reputation as a whack job. To Lincoln’s admonition “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time” – we need to add the caveat that you can apparently buy some of the people some of the time.

(In the City Council Race David Ryu, the outsider won handily even though his opponent Carolyn Ramsey was supported by the termed-out incumbent, the mayor, the city council president and the LA Times. Mayor Garcetti didn’t do well in his support for Tamar Galatzan either.)

There are some that say it was a referendum on iPads or educational technology. Or perhaps John Deasy. Or testing or Common Core or charter schools or Corporate ®eform. That Deasy supported Tamar Galatzan when her opponent accused her of being a Deasy supporter probably wasn’t $500-worth-of-helpful; Ref Rodriguez took Deasy’s money – but $500 was a meaningless contribution in his multi-million-dollar effort.

IT WAS A STRANGE ELECTION; many of the lessons to be learned are meaningless. We will never have another like it again because of Charter Amendments 1 and 2 - which passed back in March to move city and L.A. Unified school board elections to June, with a November runoff, in even-numbered years along with state and federal elections. No more March and May. No more odd numbered years. No more one or two races on the ballot in regular elections.

• In terms of politics, Scott Schmerelson framed his argument that Tamar Galatzan was a Deasy supporter. Time for a change. He won.
• Ref Rodriguez and his supporters framed his argument that Bennett Kayser was for iPads, against charter schools, brown children and was clumsy with a coffee cup. Time for a change. He won.
• Lydia GutiĆ©rrez got painted as a tea party Republican, had little-to-no money and got a hell of a lot of votes for someone so burdened in her race against Richard Vladovic (who was supported by the unions and the charter folks). Not quite time for that much change!
• In the city council race David Ryu was a Korean from Koreatown - a convincing argument on the face of it ...except Koreatown is predominantly Hispanic. LeBonge was old+old school - he wore us all out and we could vote against him and business as usual without actually voting against him. Time for a change. Ryu won.

The voters who voted – and 65% of them voted by mail, some voting almost a month before Election Day - decided that the incumbents were not effective at governing the District. More of a “I’m-Mad-As-Hell-and-I’m-Not-Going-To-Take-It-Anymore”/”Toss-The-Rascals-Out” mentality than anything else.

Sarah Bradshaw, Kayser’s chief-of-staff, in a moment of pure wit+insight said Bennett’s election was lost in the Absentee Vote ...because the campaign was absent when the voters were voting!

In voting early, early voters were not aware/informed of late developments in the races and of the obscene amounts invested by outside donors. In the Kayser/Rodriguez board race they missed the news that one of Ref’s PUC Charter schools was in serious legal and financial hot water; in all elections early voters missed how ugly the campaigning got. In Kayser’s case the traditional polling place voters skewed+trended in his favor …but the early voters trumped the surge.


THE SWINGING PENDULUM MEETS THE REVOLVING DOOR. In the case of Board District Three, the ®eform Inc. vs. Teachers’ Union incumbents have alternated in the seat. It was Caprice Young’s seat when Caprice was Mayor Riordan’s candidate; Caprice was defeated by Jon Lauritzen, a UTLA stalwart. Mayor Tony ran Tamar Galatzan against Lauritzen and now Tamar has lost to Scott Schmerleson, the union supported candidate.

In Board District Five David Tokofsky first had union and mayoral support, then lost the mayor but won reelection – then left the seat to have it picked up by Villaraigosa candidate Yolie Flores. Yolie was about as pro-®eform as they get, but didn’t run again. UTLA’s Bennett Kayser defeated Mayor Tony+Monica Garcia’s handpicked Luis Sanchez in a squeaker in ®eform’s attempt to buy that election – and now the pendulum has swung back to Charters+®eform Inc. with Ref Rodriguez.

End of the world? Not quite. Armageddon has been avoided, dystopia averted. Looking at the score card it looks like a draw/a wash/a flip-flop. Is a tie a win by more than one side? …or a loss equally shared?


FUTURE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS WILL BE DIFFERENT. It will be a long ballot and school board races will be deep down in it. Congresspeople and assemblymembers and state senators will be on the ballot; the mayor and half the city council. Judges. Initiatives+Referenda. The political money and effort will be spread thinner, the phone banks will be tied up – the political consultants already employed. It will be easier to get folks to vote and harder to get them to pay attention. Or pay money to your campaign.

IT IS ALL VERY COMPLICATED.

• Things are going to be testy on the board as the players figure out what their roles are.
• The current board (with lame duck members) must set the budget the next board – with the ducks long gone – will be accountable for.
• The Inspector General has an investigation ongoing of PUC Charter Schools. PUC’s CEO is now on the Board of Ed. the IG reports directly to the board.
• Who will the next board president be? The rules say it can’t be Dr. Vladovic – but the rules can be changed. In a moment at the last meeting when he didn’t know his mic was on Dr. V. pretty much said he was looking forward to not being the president.
• Mr. Zimmer and Mr. Rodriguez – despite the campaign vitriol – are going to have to figure how they can work together when that makes sense.
• We won’t have the two attorneys from The Valley constantly trying to square off and argue every legal point while their attorney – the General Counsel – waits+watches.
• The political split will continue be generally pro-educator/®eform-averse. There will now be five members on the board with administrator’s credentials and six with classroom teaching experience.
• There will be surprises. Watch this space.


I MUST SAY THIS and then I need to step back from the ledge. This is Memorial Day weekend and the following is in no way In Memoriam: That honor and this holiday is earned+deserved by those who gave us their last full measure of devotion.

TAMAR GALATZAN is sometimes a disruptive force. She was brought onto the board to follow Mayor Tony’s lead and she really isn’t a follower. On occasion – when she wasn’t bored or just angry she could be a voice of reason – especially on issues that sometimes don’t get enough attention like procurement …although she let the iPad procurement slip-through unquestioned and defended it and the leadership that proposed it as it+they descended into chaos. She first won her seat by defeating a man with terminal cancer. That seemed politically heartless …but he really shouldn’t have been the candidate.

BENNETT KAYSER is one of the most decent men I have ever met – and a good friend to me and kids and parents and teachers and public education. There is a crazy selflessness that afflicts middle school educators like a mutant gene: ‘Who, in their right mind, would return there?’ Bennett possesses this in spades. The victory-at-all-costs campaign waged against him was particularly brutal and unnecessarily hurtful to him, his wife Peggy and his friends, colleagues and family. ‘It’s not personal, it’s politics’ is easy to say and tougher to live. Forgiveness+forgetting will be harder to come by from his friends than from Bennett.

“A righteous man does not conceive of himself as righteous; he is ‘only doing what anyone else would do,’ except, of course, that no one else does it.” ― Martin Berman-Gorvine, 36

Nothing to see here. We pick up the pieces and move along.

¡Onward/Adelante! – smf


MEMORIAL DAY, 150 YEARS AGO: An illustrated recounting of the first Decoration Day



NEW LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD HAUNTED BY OLD PROBLEMS
by Annie Gilbertson | KPCC 89.3 | http://bit.ly/1AnpHzT
Audio from this story | 0:58 Listen: http://bit.ly/1LytcVk

May 20 2015 :: When the Los Angeles Unified School District's two new board members take their seats, they'll face this glaring projection for the next school year: the district will have about 5,000 fewer students.

Tuesday's general election swept out two incumbents in a continuing show of voter dissatisfaction with the status quo. But it also swept in board members who are on opposite sides of an ongoing political power struggle between charter school interests and the teachers union.

After millions in campaign contributions and a dismal school board turnout of 7.6 percent of registered voters, the result was a political draw between the two forces.

Declining enrollment makes it all the more challenging for the new board to invest in improvements to stem the exodus. Each student who leaves is a loss of about $10,000 in state funds.

Scott Schmerelson, board member-elect for the West San Fernando Valley's District 3, said piquing parents interest so they send or keep their children in the district comes down to creating successful schools.

"It's not to fight with charter schools, but let them know traditional public schools have a lot to offer – open the doors, let them see," Schmerelson said Wednesday.

L.A. Unified's shrinking student numbers can be attributed in part to fewer school aged-children in Los Angeles County, and the growth in charter schools. Charters serve nearly 100,000 of the district's 650,000 students.

Ref Rodriguez, board member-elect for east Los Angeles and a charter school administrator, suggests all schools start sharing best practices in educating students.

"And, charter schools have a great role around incubation, but this is happening at many schools across this district," he said.

Board President Richard Vladvoic, the only contested incumbent who held on to his seat Tuesday, said the district could start making traditional schools more attractive by presenting parents with more choices.

"We may need, as a board, to offer more thematic schools and more alternatives," Vladovic said. Options may include expanding magnet school offerings that can tailor instruction based on students' interests or creating small learning communities with more individualized teaching.

While Gov. Jerry Brown's latest revised budget calls for billions more in K-12 spending statewide, much of the new funding will be one-time allocations, while falling enrollment has long-term implications.

The new board may find itself facing a choice: find ways to increase enrollment or shave services.

The new board members will be sworn in July 1.


“No one wants to be the next LA Unified.” LAUSD’s iPADS: WHAT WENT WRONG? …AND WHAT DO WE NEED TO LEARN?
WHAT SCHOOLS MUST LEARN FROM LA’S IPAD DEBACLE
Issie Lapowsky | WIRED | http://wrd.cm/1FbNvbX

05.08.15. | 7:00 am. :: When Los Angeles schools began handing out iPads in the fall of 2013, it looked like one of the country’s most ambitious rollouts of technology in the classroom. The city’s school district planned to spend $1.3 billion putting iPads, preloaded with the Pearson curriculum, in the hands of every student in every school.

Less than two years later, that ambitious plan now looks like a spectacularly foolish one. In August, the Los Angeles Unified School District halted its contract with Apple, as rumors swirled that Apple and Pearson may have received preferential treatment in the district’s procurement process, something the FBI is investigating. Then, this spring, the district sent a letter to Apple seeking a refund, citing crippling technical issues with the Pearson platform and incomplete curriculum that made it nearly impossible for teachers to teach. If a deal can’t be reached, the district could take legal action. (Apple did not immediately respond to WIRED’s request for comment.)

Pearson, whose stock tumbled following the news, has publicly defended the curriculum it provided LAUSD, which included digital learning content for math and English courses 1. LAUSD’s director of the so-called Instructional Technology Initiative, on the other hand, denounced the material as utterly unusable in a memo earlier this year.

But while the the parties involved continue pointing the finger and picking up the pieces, the important question to ask now is what this fiasco means for the future of technology in the classroom. If one of the country’s largest school districts, one of the world’s largest tech companies, and one of the most established brands in education can’t make it work, can anyone?


Experts who have been following LAUSD’s troubled tech rollout say that while this does not mean education technology is inherently flawed, it does illustrate just how difficult a program like this is to pull off. Rather than proving these programs are hopeless, they say LA may have provided other districts and tech providers with an unfortunate, yet vivid, blueprint of what not to do. Learning from LA’s mistakes, they say, is critical to ensuring that already resource-strapped schools won’t continue spending precious funding on misguided programs.

“No one wants to be the next LA Unified,” says Michael Horn, executive director of the education program at the Clay Christensen Institute. “I think that’s healthy, and it will get people to pause and learn the bigger lesson.”

‘THE CLASSIC CASE’

According to Horn, who also is author of Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, Los Angeles is a classic case of a school district getting caught up in the ed tech frenzy without fully thinking through why technology is important in the first place.

“LA is emblematic of a problem we’re seeing across the country right now,” he says. “Districts are starting with the technology and not asking themselves: ‘What problem are we trying to solve, and what’s the instructional model we need to solve it?’ and then finding technology in service of that.”

At the crux of the FBI’s investigation into LA’s iPad program are emails exchanged between then-Superintendent John Deasy and executives from Pearson, in which Deasy expresses his excitement about being able to work with Pearson and Apple. The only problem is, the emails were sent a year before LAUSD started the bidding process with other vendors, indicating the deck was stacked before the district had a chance to vet other providers or come up with a comprehensive plan for using and managing the technology.

It’s not unusual even in an above-board bidding process for districts to start by choosing a vendor, instead of first discussing how that technology will be used in the first place

That’s an extreme example, Horn admits. But he says it’s not unusual even in an above-board bidding process for districts to start by choosing a vendor, instead of first discussing how that technology will be used in the first place.

“A lot of schools get into trouble when the conversation starts with the vendor,” Horn says. “Where I’ve seen these programs work is when the school starts off with its vision, and only once they’ve sketched out what the solution should look like do they go out to the hardware and software communities to mix and match to meet those needs.”

THE MILPITAS MODEL

That was the approach that Cary Matsuoka, Superintendent of California’s Milpitas Unified School District, took when he began bringing Chromebooks into district schools in 2012. Milpitas, a town of 70,000 outside San Jose, often is held up as a successful example of how technology can enable more personalized education, even in a district school setting, and that has a lot to do with how Matsuoka went about designing the program. In spring 2012, he challenged principals throughout the district to present a compelling answer to the question: If you could design the school of the future, what would it look like?

The goal, Matsuoka says, was to give principals and teachers the autonomy to determine what would work best for their schools rather than mandating change from the top. “Any time you control things from the top, you get compliance, where people just go through the motions,” Matsuoka says. “We wanted to say: ‘Here’s the model. Come up with your version of it and go test it.'”

Any time you control things from the top, you get compliance, where people just go through the motions.' Cary Matsuoka

It was through that process that Matsuoka realized having one device per student wasn’t actually necessary. Instead, the principals proposed a rotation model, in which students would take shifts on the devices. “Part of that was about cost” Matsuoka admits, “but there’s also the important question to ask, which is, what would you do if you had the one-to-one environment? How would you take advantage of that?”

Instead, Milpitas started with 2,000 Chromebooks, because they’re less expensive than iPads and are cloud-based, so they can be centrally managed and updated. Now, the district has 6,000 Chromebooks for 10,000 students and may continue to scale, depending on which schools and classrooms could benefit from more devices.

THE CURRICULUM PROBLEM

But the abundance of expensive hardware wasn’t the central problem in LA. It was Pearson’s curriculum that proved most troublesome. In her memo, Bernadette Lucas, the initiative’s director, wrote that less than 5 percent of students had consistent access to the content due to technical issues, and that some students had no access at all for months. As of March, all but two schools had stopped using the Pearson curriculum entirely.

In a statement to WIRED, a Pearson spokesperson said, “This was a large-scale implementation of new technologies and there have been challenges with the initial adoption, but we stand by the quality of our performance.”

For Horn, such problems occur when ed tech companies design their software in a vacuum. “A lot of people will say, ‘Our program works great when you use it for this long and in this way,'” he says. “The question is: Do schools use it that way?'”

You can make a change that makes sense on its own, but when it’s introduced to the complex setting of a school, the net effect is negative.' Max Ventilla

That’s one reason startups like AltSchool are working on building schools and technology simultaneously. “It is so hard to be the setting in which a child learns in a school that if you don’t run schools yourself, and deal with all the practicalities around everything from technology to lunch to transportation, you risk missing everything below the water line,” says Max Ventilla, founder and CEO of AltSchool.

“What’s tough about education is things are so complex and connected that sometimes, you can make a change that makes sense on its own, but when it’s introduced to the complex setting of a school, the net effect is negative.”

And yet, according to Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, the stodgy education procurement system isn’t always set up to find the best technology solutions for schools, regardless of how that technology was designed. “There’s a rising tension between the folks who want to move new tools and learning programs into school systems and a pretty archaic procurement system that can easily stand in the way,” she says. “Smaller companies are saying, ‘We just don’t have a chance against the big companies.”

Lake says that is the fatal mistake LAUSD made, but the district is not alone. “School systems in general do not do a good job on R&D,” she says. “They’re built to work with one or two companies that will provide a one-size-fits-all solution, and that’s not how technology is moving.”

Horn agrees, adding that while schools need more thoughtful ways of selecting tech vendors, the vendors need to be more thoughtful about selling to schools. “Of course device companies are trying to sell devices, but if they don’t want this big blowback on edtech, then it’d be prudent to take a long term mindset and really help these districts think through a more strategic planning process before they implement the program.”

Lake says some cities, like New York, have found ways around this procurement problem. In 2010, the Big Apple launched its so-called iZone program, which was designed specifically to connect startups and developers to the city’s schools. “New York said, ‘We actually have to cultivate a marketplace if we want to find these solutions,” says Lake, who hopes to see more cities taking New York’s lead.
Not Giving Up

Los Angeles, for its part, says it’s not giving up on technology in the classroom. “We’re still very much moving forward in technology and continuing to deliver devices to schools,” a spokesperson for the district told WIRED.

For now, the iPads with Pearson’s curriculum are still being used in 58 schools, but students and teachers are using them simply to access other apps. Meanwhile, after cutting short its initial contract with Apple and Pearson, last winter, LA’s school board approved another $40 million for more iPads, as well as Chromebooks. Those devices aren’t loaded with Pearson’s content and are being used exclusively for testing.

The difference is now, under the leadership of Superintendent Ramon Cortines, the district is trying to learn from its mistakes and do some serious strategic planning before expanding the program further. The district has formed a task force, which will develop a new plan for using technology in the classroom and present it to the superintendent and school board next year.

Los Angeles has not given up on technology in the classroom.

The group has four key questions: What will students learn? How will students learn? What resources will be needed? How will it work? These are questions anyone can see the district should have asked long before it purchased a single iPad. But they are critical questions to ask, no matter how late they may be.

During the task force’s first meeting in April, Cortines emphasized how critical this process was in a statement to members, “You have a monumental job ahead of you,” he said. “We have spent more than $100 million dollars on this project and it is now time to regroup and develop a solid plan that allows us to move forward and leverage technology as a tool to improve teaching and learning for our students.”

______________


WHAT WENT WRONG WITH L.A. UNIFIED’S iPAD PROGRAM? To put it simply: There was a complete breakdown in the planning and execution of the initiative.
by Tod Newcombe / Government Technology | http://bit.ly/1KfOMjw

This story was originally published by Governing Magazine [http://bit.ly/1B7A1qE] as:
A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR ANY GOVERNMENT IT PROJECT: L.A.'S FAILED IPAD PROGRAM
How did Los Angeles spend more than $1 billion to buy an iPad for every student and instead end up losing its leader and being investigated by the FBI and SEC?


May 14, 2015 :: Two years ago, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) tried an interesting new experiment: give every student a tablet computer equipped with a digital curriculum. It was a bold move that was supposed to push Los Angeles public schools into the 21st century. It turned out to be a disaster.

The idea was certainly huge, requiring the purchase of 650,000 Apple iPads, networking gear and educational software from Pearson -- all at a cost of nearly $1.3 billion. L.A. Schools Superintendent John Deasy, who launched the program in 2013, also saw it as a way to help the city’s low-income students. Until Deasy’s announcement, students had limited access to digital education tools at computer labs, which couldn’t accommodate all students at the same time.

Today, LAUSD is exploring possible litigation against Apple and Pearson, the world’s largest education publishing company, to recoup millions of dollars; a criminal grand jury is investigating possible ethics violations by district officials; the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission have launched their own inquiries into possible wrong-doing; and Deasy resigned.

So what went wrong? To put it simply: a complete breakdown in the planning and execution of the initiative. The Los Angeles Times labeled the mega-technology project “ill-conceived and half-baked.”

In fall 2012, Deasy announced to school administrators his plan to give a tablet computer to every student. Convinced the highly popular technology was going to be the future of education and that low-income students would struggle academically if he didn’t move quickly, Deasy gave LAUSD only a few months to generate a plan before putting the initiative out to bid in 2013, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education.

In June 2013, the Board of Education approved a contract with Apple and Pearson worth $500 million and set aside another $800 million to improve Internet access at schools. The entire purchase was funded by construction bonds, which are typically used to build and repair schools.

LAUSD bought 43,261 iPads loaded with a curriculum, which the school district selected from Pearson based only on samples of a math and English program available at the time. Problems surfaced immediately during the rollout at 47 schools in fall 2013.

Internet connectivity was spotty at some schools, partly because the district’s facilities chief was not included in the planning process for upgrading school networks to carry the heavy data demands of so many devices connecting to the Internet. Teachers were ill-trained on how to use the iPads and curriculum, and faculty never widely embraced the tablet, according to the Department of Education report. And many students learned how to bypass the security features and just used the iPads to surf the Internet.

With problems occurring almost daily with either the technology or the curriculum, Deasy slowed down the rollout. But criticism of the initiative from teachers, administrators and the local media kept mounting, and under pressure, Deasy resigned in October 2014. In December, LAUSD officially ended the initiative and canceled the Apple contract -- though schools and students continue to use the existing iPads.

In addition to poor planning, the Department of Education's review of the initiative found LAUSD was too “heavily dependent on a single commercial product for providing digital learning resources.” While the district followed state guidelines for purchasing hardware that aligned with Common Core standards, a report released in August 2014 by the LAUSD board showed that the district had added detailed specifications regarding screen size and touchscreen functionality that heavily favored Apple and essentially excluded other technology options.

Media reports also detailed how bid requirements seemed to track with curriculum specifications suggested by Pearson in private email exchanges before the bidding process opened. The FBI has since launched an investigation into questions about whether Apple and Pearson enjoyed an advantage in the bidding process.

Beyond the issue of whether or not Apple and Pearson had an inside track in winning the bid, LAUSD has been faulted for choosing one rather expensive device when less expensive choices were available. Devices with keyboards might have been a better option, for instance, since older students could have used them to write papers. Google’s Chromebook, for example, is a laptop that can cost as little as $200, while LAUSD paid $768 apiece for its iPads, including the software, according to the Times.

The SEC in April also launched an inquiry into whether L.A. school officials complied with legal guidelines in the use of bond funds to finance the iPad deal. Using construction bonds to purchase Internet infrastructure is common, but the LAUSD also used money from the bonds to purchase the iPads, which break down after a few years. Some critics of the plan have said LAUSD should have set aside a sum from its operating budget to purchase the tablets.

Meanwhile, LAUSD took action of its own in April, announcing it would seek to recoup millions of dollars from Apple because it was “dissatisfied with their product.” The district’s demands for a refund stem from materials that didn't adapt well for students who weren't proficient in English and a lack of software tools to analyze how well the curriculum functions.

Government technology projects often fail because policymakers take too long to deploy them, so they miss deadlines and end up with out-of-date technology. But as LAUSD’s fiasco showed, moving quickly can be just as disastrous. Without proper planning, a technology project of this size and scope is bound to fail.

Another important lesson from this story is how a district’s reliance on one type of technology can end up limiting the value of that investment. Students of different ages have different needs and no one device is necessary or sufficient to solve all education problems.

Computers are nothing more than tools that can help educate students when they are used as part of a well-planned curriculum. Unfortunately, that point was lost when Los Angeles let the glamour of a new and popular product cloud its judgement.

• Tod Newcombe | Senior Editor: With more than 20 years of experience covering state and local government, Tod previously was the editor of Public CIO, e.Republic’s award-winning publication for information technology executives in the public sector. He is now a senior editor for Government Technology and a columnist at Governing magazine


HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
NEW CALIFORNIA TEACHING CREDENTIALS DECLINE FOR 10TH SUCCESSIVE YEAR -- Fueling concerns about a teacher shortage that many educators have been worrying about for years, the number of credentials issued to new teachers trained in California has decreased for the 10th consecutive year, according to the latest figures from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Katherine Ellison and Louis Freedberg EdSource -- http://bit.ly/1FIvbWg

CALIFORNIA LAWMAKERS ACT TO MANDATE VACCINES FOR DAY CARE WORKERS -- California lawmakers acted Friday on a measure that would require workers in day care centers to get vaccinated as part of an effort to protect children from preventable diseases, including measles, for which there have been recent outbreaks in the state. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times -- http://lat.ms/1PFqVxl

LAO PREDICTS CALIFORNIA REVENUE WILL EXCEED REVISED BUDGET ESTIMATE BY $3 BILLION | The Sacramento Bee http://bit.ly/1dryjve | ADDITIONAL $660 MILLION MAY BE AVAILABLE FOR CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS - LA School Report http://bit.ly/1GwR8IE Counting chickens before they hatch: “Due to LA Unified’s size as the state’s largest school district, it is expected to receive roughly 10-to-11 percent of the additional revenue, totaling around $72 million, which would be on top of the additional $638 million the revised budget is already setting aside for the district.”

In DISCONNECTED SCHOOL LEADERSHIP: 3 AREAS OF CONCERN Peter DeWitt says in EdWeek that there are 3 Reasons Why Your Faculty Meetings are a Waste of Time:
1. It could’ve been summed up in an e-mail
2. Teachers didn't help co-construct the meeting
3. It didn't focus on learning
Which leads him to this: “If we believe that faculty meetings should be one-sided venues for principals to talk at teachers then we must believe the classroom should be a one-sided venue for teachers to talk at students.”
He says more: http://bit.ly/1BkeU4v

MOMENTUM BUILDS TO FIX PROP. 13 | http://bit.ly/1ReSifa

ON HEAD START'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY, 5 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE PROGRAM | http://bit.ly/1eoliD3

DEMONSTRATORS CALL FOR REMOVAL OF PRINCIPAL AT JOHN W. MACK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN SOUTH LOS ANGELES + smf’s 2¢ | http://bit.ly/1RewEaN

Locals only?: OUT-OF-TOWNERS COULD BE BANNED AT S.F.’S PREMIER ARTS SCHOOL - SFGate | http://bit.ly/1IX2l5y

Calling Dr. Quincy: TWO MORE ELECTION POST MORTEMS | http://bit.ly/1emYKm9

ZIMMER STILL ANGRY ABOUT RODRIGUEZ CAMPAIGN but vows to work together | LASR | http://bit.ly/1dr4BH1

Another Postmortem: LA ELECTION LESSONS - ANATOMY OF A SHAKEUP … IN THE LAUSD BOARD RACES | CITYWATCH | HTTP://BIT.LY/1HNBVUA

NEW LAUSD BOARD HAUNTED BY OLD PROBLEMS | 89.3 KPCC | http://bit.ly/1AnpHzT

GALATZAN'S LOSS? Blame it on iPads, anti-incumbency and Galatzan - LA School Report | http://bit.ly/1F3SFS6

MIXED REACTIONS TO MIXED RESULTS OF LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION - LA School Report | http://bit.ly/1eimpEc

CSEA: LAUSD CLERICAL WORKERS TO GET RAISES IN 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 | http://bit.ly/1FzRZrg

COSTLY LAUSD BOARD CAMPAIGN ENDS WITH NO NET GAIN FOR TEACHERS UNION, CHARTER SCHOOL ADVOCATES | http://bit.ly/1AhzZSq

WHY IS THIS LITTLE GIRL CRYING? | (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times) |http://lat.ms/1HvZY8i

WHY TECHNOLOGY WILL NEVER FIX EDUCATION http://bit.ly/1c7lYe5

Editorial: BACK TO WORK AT LA UNIFIED | http://bit.ly/1Lpqz84

L.A. SCHOOL BOARD SEAT IS A PIVOTAL WIN FOR CHARTER SCHOOL MOVEMENT + smf’s 2¢ | http://bit.ly/1PyMGyU

Early News Reports: THE LAUSD ELECTIONS | http://bit.ly/1PwX8XH

The raw data: UNOFFICIAL MAY 19 ELECTION RESULTS – FINAL BULLETIN http://bit.ly/1efsiC3


Video (on the radio): HOW PACS ARE IMPACTING SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS IN LA | 89.3 KPCC
http://bit.ly/1EUY8cP

Political action committees are spending 15 times the cash they did six years ago on the LAUSD election today | http://bit.ly/1EUY8cP

URBAN SPATIAL SEGREGATION IN SAN FRANCISCO: Living together. Learning apart.
http://bit.ly/1EXy7uj

Q: WHAT WENT WRONG WITH L.A. UNIFIED’S iPAD PROGRAM?
A: There was a complete breakdown in the planning & execution.
http://bit.ly/1HcuSjf

CALIFORNIA STATE PTA SUPPORTS LOCAL INITIATIVE SEEKING TO INCLUDE LGBTQ PERSPECTIVE IN HEALTH EDUCATION | http://bit.ly/1FtHPds


EVENTS: Coming up next week...


*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
• SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE:
http://www.laschools.org/bond/
Phone: 213-241-5183
____________________________________________________
• LAUSD FACILITIES COMMUNITY OUTREACH CALENDAR:
http://www.laschools.org/happenings/
Phone: 213-241.8700


• LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION & COMMITTEES MEETING CALENDAR



What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member:
Tamar.Galatzan@lausd.net • 213-241-6386
Monica.Garcia@lausd.net • 213-241-6180
Bennett.Kayser@lausd.net • 213-241-5555
George.McKenna@lausd.net • 213-241-6382
Monica.Ratliff@lausd.net • 213-241-6388
Richard.Vladovic@lausd.net • 213-241-6385
Steve.Zimmer@lausd.net • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: http://bit.ly/dqFdq2 • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at mayor@lacity.org • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Brown: 213-897-0322 e-mail: http://www.govmail.ca.gov/
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. THEY DO!


Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?




Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and was Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and has represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for over 12 years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT "WHO" Gold Award and the ACSA Regional Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award - honors he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

A little better all the time



4LAKids: Sunday 17•May•2015
In This Issue:
 •  A-through-G: BOARD OF EDUCATION DELAYS ACTION ON COLLEGE PREP REQUIREMENTS SET TO TAKE EFFECT WITH THE CLASS OF 2017
 •  The May Revise: CALIFORNIA EDUCATORS HAIL BUDGET BOOST BUT SAY SCHOOLS ARE STILL STRUGGLING
 •  BIG PICTURE MAKES BIG PITCH TO STAY OPEN, LAUSD BOARD LISTENS
 •  Election 2015: TEACHERS CENTRAL TO DEBATE AS VOTERS HEAD TO LAUSD POLLS
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?


Featured Links:
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 •  4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
 •  4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
The Board of Ed met on Tuesday and did the predictable: THEY RATIFIED THE PENDING CONTRACT WITH UTLA, a vote they had actually taken previously to approve the contract language before it was sent for approval to the rank+file. But they voted again to approve it in the interest of validating the obvious and to keep up the appearances of “We are the Board of Education; we are the Deciders” process. They put their toes on the tape marks and said their lines into the camera, just like in the rehearsal.

Then they had to wait on pins and needles ‘til Thursday morning when the governor announced his MAY REVISE BUDGET. $300-400 million more for LAUSD – so whattayaknow: the money is there for the salary increase and it’s hard to imagine the legislature changing much …or the governor changing much with his blue veto pencil.

• OK, I was a screenwriter, I can imagine those things – but only in a movie with a Zombie Apocalypse in the second act.
• And both sides will change-a-lot-of-it-a-little; re-read my earlier rant on the “We are the Deciders” process.

The board fearlessly suggested that someone else should do the brave thing and change Prop 13 …but most of the meeting was spent dodging hard questions and potential controversy by postponing votes on things like approving contracts for the Inspector General and Board Secretary [both happen to be the board’s actual employees] …or (¡Heaven forfend!) confronting the damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t reality of the A-through-G Graduation Requirements!

Less than 10% of the electorate in 3/7ths of the District will vote next Tuesday – but with so few people making the decisions (< 4.28% of the constituency motivated by > $4.6 million dollars spent on the campaigns ≥$1 million per percentage-point-of-voters) …it’s best not to offend anyone!

A case in point: THE BIG PICTURE CHARTER SCHOOL (read below). A tiny school with less than 100 students. A program that cannot possibly sustain itself according to its own business plan. A school so small that Green Dot kicked them out. BPCS serves a very challenged student body; it’s a good idea – but as the GE commercial [http://bit.ly/1IInss5] reminds us: “Ideas are scary, messy, and fragile…”

Vanessa Romo writes in LASR - (also quoted below; “the truth shall set you free” …and the repeated truth will set you freer repeatedly): “A common complaint by the general public about the school board is that the seven representatives walk into meetings with their minds made up on most issues. While members may have heard from parents, students and teachers on any given issue, the impression at scheduled meetings is that many agenda items are voted on with little discussion. That is especially true on items passed by a single “consent” vote.

“And it’s not uncommon for public speakers to halt their remarks or even interrupt their allotted three minutes to address the board to reprimand board members for behaving like bad students: failing to make eye contact, fiddling with their phones, chatting with a colleague or giving the general appearance of not listening.”

But Tuesday there was an outbreak of humanity …or was it magical reality? And it is reported the board and superintendent (I wasn’t there, I can’t verify it) actually listened to the Big Picture presenters. They listened and they may have done the right thing. Even if doing the right thing is postponing doing the wrong thing.


THERE’S PLENTY TO KEEP YOUR HOPES UP about the State and LAUSD Budget in the news feeds. The California Senate passed the Vaccination Bill and sent it to the Assembly. Notwithstanding the “R.I.P. NCLB” article below (“The body is cold, the obituary written. All that’s left for the federal No Child Left Behind Law is to pull the plug — and, crucially, for the U.S. Congress to agree on what comes next”) - nothing perceptible happened in DC on education policy. The 1% continue to try and buy LAUSD Board Seats like they are seats on the New York Stock Exchange. Except the NYSE stopped selling seats back in 2005. I suppose the Waltons and Gates and Broads and Bloombergs of this world have to sit somewhere.


TUESDAY IS ELECTION DAY: If you are one of the 3/7ths of the LAUSD residents who get to vote – and if you haven’t voted yet – please do it, BECAUSE OUR < 4.8% TRUMPS THE 1% ONLY IF WE VOTE.

Jackie Goldberg pointed out that L.A. has never had an election on May 19th before. With the new election schedule approved in March through Charter Amendments 1+2 we will never vote on May 19th again. This is truly history!

It you are a teacher or school staff member or parent or student at a school in Board District 3, 5 or 7 – or if you live in 3, 5 or 7 - go vote. It’s too late to vote by mail, but if you have a mail in-ballot vote it and take it and five friends with you to the polls. If you teach at a Board District 3, 5 or 7 school even if you don’t live in the area tell five people who do to vote.

Ask them to vote for SCHMERELSON, KAYSER & VLADOVIC because things are getting better in LAUSD; they’re getting better all the time …and we still have a long, long way to go.

If you are a UTLA member wear UTLA red on Election Day, it’s a Tuesday after all. That t-shirt will be perfectly accessorized with an “I VOTED” sticker.

On Tuesday We Are The Deciders. Vote like the future depends on your vote …because they do!

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

___________

SCHMERELSON :: http://www.scott4lausd.com
KAYSER :: http://bennett2015.com
VLADOVIC :: http://www.vladovic4schoolboard.com


A-through-G: BOARD OF EDUCATION DELAYS ACTION ON COLLEGE PREP REQUIREMENTS SET TO TAKE EFFECT WITH THE CLASS OF 2017
NBC4: DEBATE OVER LAUSD GRAD STANDARDS POSTPONED
By Conan Nolan for the NBC4 News | http://bit.ly/1Eay8JM
[Video: http://bit.ly/1Eayiku]

6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Updated at 8:41 PM PDT :: Protesters swarmed a Los Angeles School Board meeting Tuesday, calling for a new approach to college prep classes.

They claim that not all students are getting what they need to make the grade in college.

It was 10 years ago that the LAUSD made national news with a commitment to prepare every student for college.

Tuesday's vote was to be a restatement of that commitment, but it was pulled from the agenda.

"We think it's shameful that the board delayed the motion today," said Elmer Roldan, of the United Way.

At issue is the so-called "A-through-G" curriculum. Established in 2005 and rolled out over 12 years, it requires all high school students go through a series of core classes — four years of English and three years of math, including geometry and algebra — in order to make each student eligible for admission to the University of California and the California State University.

But the rigorous academic standards have come under fire as has the "c" average for graduation to be implemented in 2017.

Under the provision, nearly three quarters of students would fail to graduate.

"We have to deal with a crisis, because we've got a crisis," said Richard Vladovic, the LAUSD board president.

Supporters of the curriculum wanted the board to recommit to the more rigorous graduation standards and dedicate more money for counselors and summer school to help low-income and minority students who need help.

At the last minute the board of education pulled the item, some fearing because a majority wanted to wait until after next month's school board election where the teachers union, the United Teachers Los Angeles is heavily involved.

UTLA is not supporting the "A-through-G" curriculum.

"Justice delayed is justice denied and it bothers me," Monica Garcia, an LAUSD board member.

The graduation standards will be taken up again next month. The new board will be sworn in in July.


______________________

►LA Times: DEBATE OVER L.A. UNIFIED GRADUATION STANDARDS IS POSTPONED
By Howard Blume | LA Times | http://lat.ms/1B3PIPy

May 13, 2015 :: The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday postponed action on new college prep requirements that could deny diplomas to thousands of students.

The graduation requirements are scheduled to take effect for the Class of 2017. But as many as three-quarters of these current sophomores are not on track for meeting the new goals, according to district data compiled in March. L.A. Unified School District officials presented an improved but still foreboding estimate Tuesday, forecasting that 37% of students were likely to clear the hurdles.

Even so, a coalition of community groups has pressed the board to maintain the rigorous college-prep requirements. They argue that students have been well served by the higher standards: More students are meeting the requirements even as overall graduation rates continue to rise.

The groups organized a rally for Tuesday outside district headquarters that they predicted would draw at least 500 participants. The rally was to be held in conjunction with board action on a resolution sponsored by board members Monica Garcia and Steve Zimmer.

The board was scheduled to vote on a proposal calling on Supt. Ramon C. Cortines to develop a plan to ensure students meet the new standards. In an interview last week, Cortines had said that students should not be penalized for failing to meet college-prep requirements if they were otherwise qualified to graduate. The standards are required for students to apply to the University of California and Cal State systems.

Cortines' concerns and those of others prompted Garcia and Zimmer to suggest changes that would allow students to graduate without being eligible to apply to state college. Instead of requiring a C in these courses, students would be permitted to get a passing grade of a D, Garcia said in an email to the Los Angeles Times. The state college systems requires a grade of C or better in each of these classes.

The proposal also included offering a different diploma to students who met the higher standard, known as the A-G series.
Even meeting the lower standard could be a challenge: 52% of the class of 2014 hit the mark of earning a D or better in these classes.

The board voted 4-3 to delay action on the matter. School board members Richard Vladovic and Bennett Kayser argued that they needed to see the revised state budget to understand what resources could be available to help students. Both are running for reelection and could face criticism regardless of how they decided the issue.

Board member George McKenna said he needed time to consider the implications of the new proposal. But McKenna also said he favored using a grade of D as the graduation standard. Monica Ratliff was the fourth vote to postpone.

Tamar Galatzan also is running for reelection, but she was willing to take up the issue Tuesday. Garcia and Zimmer also wanted to move forward.

Garcia said she was especially disappointed that students and other speakers who came to the board meeting would not see the topic addressed.

“There are times when we are bold and courageous,” she said. And “sometimes political consequences cause delays.” Educating children “has not always been the core of what we do.”

▲Also see:
• LA Times Editorial: L.A. UNIFIED NEEDS TO DO ITS HOMEWORK ON A-G COLLEGE-PREP STANDARDS | http://lat.ms/1Qymi5f
• 89.3 KPCC: LAUSD BOARD WEIGHS OPTIONS AS A-G COLLEGE PREP POLICY THREATENS GRADUATIONS | http://bit.ly/1Io55Kx
• SUPT. CORTINES SUGGESTS RECONSIDERING A-THRU-G GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS | http://bit.ly/1JQ8jXE
• A thru G: LAUSD COLLEGE PREP GRADUATION REQUIREMENT PUTS NEARLY 75% OF TENTH GRADERS’ DIPLOMAS AT RISK | http://bit.ly/1JQ8jXE
• Commentary: LA UNIFIED MUST RECOMMIT TO THE GOAL OF COLLEGE FOR ALL http://bit.ly/1F4fiez


The May Revise: CALIFORNIA EDUCATORS HAIL BUDGET BOOST BUT SAY SCHOOLS ARE STILL STRUGGLING
By Teresa Watanabe | LA Times | http://lat.ms/1FfJekM

16 May 2015 :: California educators hailed the $6-billion windfall in funding for elementary, secondary and community college students announced Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown -- but cautioned that it would not make up for devastating cuts over the past several years.

The budget largesse will boost per-pupil spending by $3,000 next year over 2011-12, a 45% increase. It will also provide more money for training in new state academic standards, adult and career technical education and support for students who are low income, in foster care, challenged by limited English or special needs.

But schools are still struggling to recover from $20 billion in budget cuts and the layoffs of 30,000 teachers since the 2007 recession.

"Critical student programs are beginning to be restored, but our class sizes remain the largest in the country, we rank 46th in per-student funding, and dead last in the number of school counselors and librarians," California Teachers Assn. President Dean E. Vogel said in a statement.

In Los Angeles Unified, officials expect an additional $300 million to $400 million, which they say will help close a $160-million deficit projected for next year. But it will not address potential gaps in the following two years, they say.

Other districts that may not meet their financial obligations over the next three years are Glendale Unified, Inglewood Unified and Castaic Union school districts, according to the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

L.A. schools Supt. Ramon Cortines said the additional dollars would particularly benefit the district’s many disadvantaged students. The district enrolls 200,000 students who are homeless, in foster care, have special needs or limited English skills; 80% of the 600,000 students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches, a poverty indicator.

“We have a moral responsibility to provide these impacted students with the tools they need to succeed in life,” Cortines said in a statement. “The governor’s increased investment in schools will greatly benefit these students.”

Los Angeles Board of Education President Richard Vladovic, along with member Steve Zimmer, said that balancing the budget would be the top priority for the new funds. The district has issued 609 layoff notices to teachers, counselors and social workers; it was unclear how many will be rescinded due to the new funding.

Vladovic and Zimmer also said another priority would be greater support for the 63% of tenth-graders who may be deprived of diplomas because they are not on track to complete the district’s college-prep curriculum now required for high school graduation. Vladovic said that such programs as full-time summer school should be considered.

Zimmer called the funding boost “critical and game-changing good news" but cautioned that Californians needed to find a "more systematically viable way to restore long-term investments in public education.”

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Board of Education voted to support efforts to close loopholes in reassessments of large commercial properties, which advocates say could raise billions more for education.

Long Beach Unified expects to gain an additional $120 million, with a third of that going toward needy students and another third for one-time funding of books, technology and staff training. But district spokesman Chris Eftychiou also expressed caution not to overly celebrate.

“While the latest proposal is a significant increase, we caution against characterizing it as a windfall, in light of the decade of repeated and unprecedented cuts that California's public schools faced not too long ago,” he said in a statement. “We are beginning to heal from those deep, painful cuts.”

Some educators were not fully satisfied by the governor's proposed budget. The Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based advocacy nonprofit, said Brown’s decision to allow school districts to use $2.4 billion in additional discretionary funding for either Common Core training or payment for previous unreimbursed mandates would deprive needy children of a guaranteed investment in better academic instruction.

“California runs the risk of exacerbating the achievement gap, since some students will be left with teachers who are unprepared, materials that are inadequate, and classrooms without 21st century technology,” the organization said in a statement.

___________

• May Revise: $6 BILLION MORE FOR K-14/$300-400 MILLION MORE TO LAUSD - ED COMES OUT ON TOP IN NEW BUDGET | 3stories+2¢| http://bit.ly/1A4TRYR
• The May Revise: Funding for early education considered minimal by advocates | EdSource | http://bit.ly/1JPWe1D
• 1989 law sends schools more than 80¢ on every new dollar: PROP 98 MAKES SCHOOLS BUDGET WINNER, BUT IS IT STILL FAIR? http://bit.ly/1e7xFTV
• May Revise: EDUCATION GROUPS ARE HAPPY WITH BROWN’S BUDGET, OTHERS …NOT SO MUCH | http://bit.ly/1KSbNG3


BIG PICTURE MAKES BIG PITCH TO STAY OPEN, LAUSD BOARD LISTENS
by Vanessa Romo on LA School Report | http://bit.ly/1QSuUnk

May 14, 2015 9:49 am :: It wasn’t the first time children wept in front of the LA Unified school board or told horrifying tales of being bullied in school or recalled that spark of hope ignited by a remarkable teacher.

But something in the way students from Los Angeles Big Picture High School on Tuesday pleaded to save their school struck a nerve with the board, which must approve a charter renewal for the school to remain open.

Big Picture is a downtown high school that attracts students with difficult family and social situations and tailors instruction to accommodate their psychological and emotional needs within the curricula. One student told the board she had lived in 14 different foster homes. Another said home life was so chaotic that school was the lone stabilizing force in his life.

After hearing these and other stories from a dozen of the charter school’s students and educators, the board voted to delay action on a recommendation by the Charter Schools Division to close down the school in June. Putting it off gives Big Picture leaders and district officials a three-week window to devise a strategy for keeping the tiny downtown LA school open.

“I was not expecting them to be so open minded and open hearted to really hearing our students’ and parents’ stories and the extreme passion they have for this school,” Nicole Nicodemus, principal of Big Picture, told LA School Report.

A district review of the charter’s operations concluded that the school not only failed to meet enrollment targets but is also losing students at an alarming rate. It currently serves only 87 ninth through 12th grade students when the charter had stipulated that more than 500 would be attending by this point.

Further, the district determined that its growth plan is not viable and, at the time of the audit, the school was financially insolvent.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines made no effort to sugar coat the grounds on which the district should deny the charter renewal application.

“There are major financial problems with your school, and we need to deal with it,” he told school officials who had lobbied to keep the school open in its current format.

“A school that is under 100 cannot have the kind of money that they need to sustain itself,” he added. “We’re at this point today because of some of the financial issues and because of the turnover of students.”

His most stinging remark came after several audience members shook their heads in disagreement. In an apparent reference to a teacher who had told the board that schools elsewhere in California were so impressed with Big Picture’s approach to helping troubled students that they invited her speak, he said, “You should be preaching to students in this district, not all over California because your program is one of kind.”

“But,” he said in a quick u-turn, “if you want to compromise to work with us, we will try to find a place for you on a regular campus. I will work with you.”

A common complaint by the general public about the school board is that the seven representatives walk into meetings with their minds made up on most issues. While members may have heard from parents, students and teachers on any given issue, the impression at scheduled meetings is that many agenda items are voted on with little discussion. That is especially true on items passed by a single “consent” vote.

And it’s not uncommon for public speakers to halt their remarks or even interrupt their allotted three minutes to address the board to reprimand board members for behaving like bad students: failing to make eye contact, fiddling with their phones, chatting with a colleague or giving the general appearance of not listening.

But the olive branch extended by Cortines and the board reflected a willingness to “to do everything in the district’s power to welcome a charter back into the fold,” as board member Steve Zimmer told LA School Report. That’s true especially, he said, for a school offering an innovative program to serve a high-needs population despite the organizational flaws.

Perhaps that is due to Cortines’s personal connection to the school, which initially launched during his second of three tours of duty at the helm of the district.

“I was at your school when I was superintendent the second time,” he told Nicodemus, adding that he admired the instructional model for its approach to helping students who struggled to integrate into the traditional public school model.

“This is a good program, a one-of-a-kind program,” Cortines said. “I support one-of-a-kind programs that rescue students. We are more than willing to work with you but it cannot be a one-way compromise. If you work with us, the district will work with you.”

Big Picture was founded as part of the small learning community school movement that was supposed to help the district turn around failing schools. Later it became a Green Dot charter school until 2010, when it struck out on its own as an independent charter.

But after five years, Big Picture administrators now have three weeks to come up with a new plan, one that will require more outside-the-box thinking and significant compromise. And if the school’s leaders reach a compromise with LA Unified, the school will have gone full circle.

“We don’t care what kind of label or type of school are,” Nicodemus told LA School Report. “Whether we ultimately end up as an independent charter or an affiliated charter or go back to being a district school, that’s not what is important. It’s about being able to provide the components of the Big Picture model which relies heavily on internships.”


Election 2015: TEACHERS CENTRAL TO DEBATE AS VOTERS HEAD TO LAUSD POLLS
By Annie Gilbertson | KPCC 89.3 | http://bit.ly/1FkByPo
Audio from this story: [4:02] - http://bit.ly/1KVm2JM

May 15, 05:30 AM :: Teachers aren't just major political players in this Tuesday's Los Angeles Unified school board election: Their profession is central in the debate over the district's future.

Long the indisputable power block represented on the school board, the teachers saw their influence eclipsed during the administration of former Superintendent John Deasy. Deasy pushed for changes to the district that alienated the school establishment, including teachers.

With Deasy's resignation under fire last October and the appointment of his successor Ramon Cortines, LAUSD saw the return of leadership more sympathetic to the district's 27,000 teachers.

Several of Deasy's initiatives opposed by teachers have been rolled back. Teacher evaluations tied to test scores are shelved, and the California Public Employees Relations Board ruled teachers must be given more say in how they are assessed.

There's been more good news for teachers of late: A hefty contract negotiated by Cortines calls for a 10 percent raise over two years, and a $1 billion-a-year health care package covering district employees adds to the evidence that things have swung back to the teachers' favor.

But come Tuesday, that could all change.

Teachers are at risk of losing their closest ally on the board: Bennett Kayser, representing District 5, covering East Los Angeles. He is up against a well-funded challenger, charter school administrator Ref Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said he supports teacher job protections, just not in their current form. His supporters go further, charging in political attack ads that teacher tenure is keeping child abusers in classrooms and painting teachers as uncaring with suspicious intentions.

Michael Jones teaches government at Marshall High School in Los Feliz and said it’s easy for candidates to say they are the ones who put student first.

“It’s a thread on a sweater,” Jones said. “When you start pulling at it — who isn’t for the kids? If you are for the kids, than you are in the classroom.”

After a day of teaching, Jones joined a fundraiser for Kayser in the backyard of a Marshall colleague, Mike Finn. Each teacher, and several of their students’ parents, donated $50 to the campaign.

“If anybody felt like chipping in more, I would really appreciate that, because we are trying to save public schools,” Finn shouted as guests milled around his deck overlooking the Silver Lake hills.
Allies and adversaries

If Kayser is teachers’ ally, Deasy was their adversary.

While leading the largest school district in the state, Deasy’s helped challenge teacher job protections in the landmark Vergara v. California lawsuit that claims students' rights are violated when teachers deemed ineffective are protected from firings. A judge's ruling in favor of the students bringing the suit is under appeal.

At a recent education reform panel at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, Deasy criticized the use of seniority in staffing decisions.

"If we want to go down that road, I think it is so much easier to just line the teachers up and just fire the short ones," he said, the other panelists chuckling on stage. "Height is completely objective and as completely ridiculous as you would use anything else."

When Deasy took steps to implement changes to tenure, his relationship with his own teachers and board members grew more strained. Together with the dysfunctional rollout of the iPad program, troubles with the student data system known as MiSiS, and Deasy's sometimes abrasive manner, the support on the board for the former superintendent eventually unraveled.

Martha Atwell, an English teacher, said Deasy's actions made teachers feel they were under attack.

“This fight is endemic of what’s going on in the whole country,” she said, a reference to the spreading division between teachers and their union on one side and, on the other, self-described reformers, like Deasy, many of whom support the expansion of charter schools.

Atwell supports Kayser, because, she said, he recognizes teachers as an asset.

“He is not on the agenda to attack our benefits or to attack our tenure rights. He’s not interested in de-professionalizing teaching,” she said.

There's another battlefront in the campaign for the school board: teachers are also fighting to elect Scott Schmerelson to west San Fernando Valley's District 3. He is looking to unseat incumbent Tamar Galatzan, who was one of Deasy's chief supporters.

REFORMS UNDER SIEGE?

Deasy worries the teachers union and their board allies are waging a war against many of the reforms he put in place during his administration.

“Are they all still working? No,” Deasy said during the Milken panel. “A number of them have been rolled back. A number of them have been ended.”

Most California voters believe teachers receive tenure too quickly, according to a poll by University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times. Voters also don’t think time in the classroom should be the sole factor in determining whether teachers keep their jobs during periods of staff cuts.

"No disrespect to Bennett Kayser, but LAUSD needs to change," said Maggie Darett-Quiroz, a Glassell Heights parent supporting Ref Rodriguez.

Darrett-Quiroz believes Los Angeles schools are putting teachers before students. “It's pretty sad,” she said.

Darett-Quiroz moved through a long list of voters with Spanish surnames during an afternoon manning a phone bank at Rodriguez's Highland Park campaign headquarters. A stack of $5 Little Caesars pizzas grew hard as they cooled by the door.

She hit a lot of voicemails before someone picks up a call and she can ask them to “votar por Dr. Ref Rodriguez.” Other recipients hang up before she can finish her first sentence.

She picks up the phone and dials again.


HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
R.I.P. NCLB? | http://bit.ly/1EQtK4i

HOW TO GET DOLLARS TO THE SCHOOLS THAT NEED THEM | http://bit.ly/1d7QrKC

Compare+Contrast:
●CAL TRAILS TEXAS IN LATINO HIGH SCHOOL GRAD RATES | http://bit.ly/1IIzd1S
●TEXAS TO EASE UP ON GRAD REQUIREMENTS | http://bit.ly/1Josk6p

The May Revise: FUNDING FOR EARLY EDUCATION CONSIDERED MINIMAL BY ADVOCATES | EdSource | http://bit.ly/1JPWe1D

EDUCATION DOESN’T NEED COMMON CORE REFORM, TEACHERS NEED THE TIME AND RESOURCES TO BUILD GREAT SCHOOLS /or/ ¿Now that every state has modified the Common Core and cherry picked their tests, are the standards “common"? | http://bit.ly/1d7S0Z5

CALIFORNIA'S MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR ONLINE EDUCATION FLOP IS ANOTHER BLOW FOR MOOCS - The Hechinger Report | http://bit.ly/1B45WID

1989 law sends schools more than 80¢ on every new dollar: PROP 98 MAKES SCHOOLS BUDGET WINNER, BUT IS IT STILL FAIR? http://bit.ly/1e7xFTV

CALIFORNIA EDUCATORS HAIL BUDGET BOOST BUT SAY SCHOOLS ARE STILL STRUGGLING | http://bit.ly/1bWYQix

L.A. Times Editorial: TIME FOR CALIFORNIA LAWMAKERS TO REPEAL CAP ON SCHOOL RESERVES + smf’s vainglorious 2¢ | http://bit.ly/1PoGKIy

GODSPEED B.B. KING: The thrill goes on forever | http://bit.ly/1d828B6

New Report: The Tip of the Iceberg - CHARTER SCHOOL VULNERABILITIES TO WASTE, FRAUD & ABUSE | http://bit.ly/1ID19ph

Inside Philanthropy: “WHAT'S UP WITH THAT BIG GRANT TO THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY FROM THE WALTON FAMILY FOUNDATION?” | http://bit.ly/1H7h9Ky

SPENDING IN RACE FOR THREE LAUSD BOARD SEATS REACHES NEARLY $4.6 MILLION | http://bit.ly/1FiKSmY

May Revise: EDUCATION GROUPS ARE HAPPY WITH BROWN’S BUDGET, OTHERS …NOT SO MUCH | http://bit.ly/1KSbNG3

LAUSD Race: GALATZAN GRASPING AT STRAWS, SCHMERERSON DESERVES YOUR VOTE | http://bit.ly/1KS3eLr

AGE-APPROPRIATE/MEDICALLY-ACCURATE SEX ED FOR STUDENTS IS A PUBLIC RIGHT, JUDGE IN CALIFORNIA RULES + smf’s 2¢ | http://bit.ly/1ELou10


MAY REVISE: $6 billion more for K-14/$3-400 million more to LAUSD - Ed comes out on top in new budget | 3stories+2¢| http://bit.ly/1A4TRYR

City Ethics Commission: INDEPENDENT CAMPAIGN EXPENDITURE IN LAUSD RACES GOES FROM $250K to $2.5 MILLION IN ONE MONTH http://bit.ly/1H5DmZo

Red Queen in (West) LA: RAISING PITCHFORKS AGAINST OUR OWN BEST INTEREST A perfect study of how optics trumps reality http://bit.ly/1FgGZyP

DEASY GIVES $500 EACH TO GALATZAN & RODRIGUEZ CAMPAIGNS | http://tl.gd/n_1sm71bc    ...what else do you need to know?


EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Tuesday 3/19/2015 | ELECTION DAY in BOARD DISTRICTS 3, 7 & 7 & LA City Council District 4 | http://lavote.net/locator for polling place info/hours/etc.

Thursday 5/21/2015 3:30 pm | CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION AND ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE MEETING - Rescheduled from May 26

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
• SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE:
http://www.laschools.org/bond/
Phone: 213-241-5183
____________________________________________________
• LAUSD FACILITIES COMMUNITY OUTREACH CALENDAR:
http://www.laschools.org/happenings/
Phone: 213-241.8700


• LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION & COMMITTEES MEETING CALENDAR



What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member:
Tamar.Galatzan@lausd.net • 213-241-6386
Monica.Garcia@lausd.net • 213-241-6180
Bennett.Kayser@lausd.net • 213-241-5555
George.McKenna@lausd.net • 213-241-6382
Monica.Ratliff@lausd.net • 213-241-6388
Richard.Vladovic@lausd.net • 213-241-6385
Steve.Zimmer@lausd.net • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: http://bit.ly/dqFdq2 • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at mayor@lacity.org • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Brown: 213-897-0322 e-mail: http://www.govmail.ca.gov/
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. THEY DO!


Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?




Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and was Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and has represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for over 12 years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT "WHO" Gold Award and the ACSA Regional Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award - honors he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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