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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Politics as (un)usual: As ugly as it gets



4LAKids: Sunday 27•July•2014
In This Issue:
 •  Endorsements by the L.A. Times & AALA: GEORGE McKENNA FOR L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOL BOARD
 •  THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JOHNSON AND McKENNA
 •  QUOTE'S CONTEXT SHEDS BETTER LIGHT ON LAUSD CANDIDATE GEORGE McKENNA
 •  GEORGE McKENNA CAMPAIGN UNDER ATTACK: Community Outraged over lies, innuendo and propaganda
 •  CENSORED. CENSORED. CENSORED. + SOULVINE UNCHAINED
 •  Beyond District One: OTHER STORIES WORTH FOLLOWING
 •  What can YOU do?


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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.
On August 12th there will be an election to determine who gets to fill the final 10½ months of the late Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte’s seat on the LAUSD Board of Education. August 12th is also the first day of school for the new school year. And as the kids head back to the classroom the adults are behaving badly.

There’s a theme here; you will read below differing accounts of the goings on/shenanigans/dirty politics in District One. • The L.A. Times re-endorsement of Dr. McKenna– and that of AALA, the administrator’s union. •Sandy Bank’s attempt to be fair+even-handed …though in telling the truth she cannot help but side with the truth. •The Red Queen’s intellectual outrage. • The L.A. Sentinel’s grassroots outrage – tempered with pure political intimidation, fearful in naming the name of the Powerbroker-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. (Does the name Lord Valdemort ring a bell?) • And the angry censored Soulvine columns of Betty Pleasant; the editor pulled the plug on her L.A. Wave op-eds the past two weeks – lest He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Offended/The Outside-Operator-in-Chief take offense.

4LAKids has already declared our support for Dr. McKenna. In attempted equal-time/fair-play I have yet to find an article supporting Dr. McKenna’s opponent that doesn’t reek of framing, spin and paid political wordcraft. Or just plain lies.

That said opponent has a name, it is Alex Johnson. And he has qualifications: 1. He is the Assistant Senior Deputy for Education and Public Safety to County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas – the overlord of this intrigue. And 2: He has a lot of money backing his candidacy. That money translates into a lot of campaign posters and election mailers and robocalls. He has been promoted, packaged, branded and sold by MRT, the charter school promoters, the Gates and Broads and Waltons and Deasys – the forces of $chool ®eform, Inc. – the very “outside operators” who have been given more schools in District One than anywhere else. Community activist Betty Pleasant says only the Johnson supporters are “preachers who tow [Mark Ridley Thomas’] line because they have charter school and preschool contracts with L.A. County which they believe would be jeopardized if they didn’t back Johnson.”

A special Political Action Committee has been formed to promote Johnson behind the scenes. [“NEW POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE FORMS IN L.A. BD OF ED RACE: PAC is run by Dan Chang, who headed Deasy’s nonprofit”| http://bit.ly/1tNWkz0] At the end of the day Johnson is an attractive empty package, new and shiny and sparkly, who shows some promise. Get some today!

Alex Johnson has no record, as Larry Aubry said in his L.A. Sentinel Op-Ed “Alex Johnson is just carrying his boss’ water.” His experience in education has been that of a student. Not to downplay students - this is all about students - we all have been students and the best of us work at it every day. But as George McKenna says: “I have been a patient in a hospital; that doesn’t qualify me as a nurse or doctor or surgeon or a hospital administrator. Or for a seat on the Board of Directors at the hospital”

If you can’t run on your own record you run against your opponent’s.

Mostly Mark+Alex’s spending of millionaire-donor’s money translates into a lot of very ugly negative campaigning against Dr. McKenna – who has the audacity to be an educator with fifty years of experience holding every job from classroom teacher to superintendent of schools in three school districts – and beaucoup experience in LAUSD as an administrator from principal to local district superintendent. George McKenna has talked-the talk, walked-the-walk; taught-the-class, got-the-degree; been there, done that and got the whole drawer of t-shirts. (This is hyperbolic – I have never seen McKenna in a t-shirt!)


McKenna bristles at being called a called a hero, or at his work being called heroic by Hollywood or others. It may not be good TV movie fare but the heroism practiced in the schools everyday by teachers and administrators and students is what needs to motivate us. Education is not easy, it’s hard. Teaching children to read - and learning to read are the hardest things imaginable – especially for a six-year-old who doesn’t have a book at home, who doesn’t speak English at home – who may not get enough food or sleep – who may not feel safe in his own neighborhood.

There is no hidden agenda here. George McKenna’s heart is on his sleeve – his entire career has been spent preparing young people for successful lives. In so doing he has been preparing for the days after August 12th when he can continue that life’s work on the Board of Education. This election is about children’s promising futures ….not his own.

School starts on August 12th, part of our superintendent’s (just-in-time-for-global-warming) Early Start Calendar. If you live in District One you can outflank the supe and the powers-that-be – the folks who insist on turning over your schools to outside operators. You can start The New School Year and the future of LAUSD even earlier - and better prepared for success - by completing and mailing-in your ballot before Aug 5th.


NOVELIST BEL KAUFMAN HAS DIED; she was 103 – but she will always be the brand new fresh faced turned cynical teacher-cog-in-the-public-education-machine Sylvia Barrett in the novel/memoir “Up The Down Staircase” (1965) – “…shot through with despair and hopefulness, violence and levity, bureaucratic inanity and a blizzard of official memorandums so mind-bendingly illogical as to seem almost Kafkaesque — hailed as a stunningly accurate portrait of life in an urban school.” http://nyti.ms/1xk7bAO

I first read UTDS when a was a student-cog-in-the-public-education-machine - and it helped me realize back in pre-history that Fiction Is Something That Didn’t Happen, Not Something That Isn’t True, that Truth and its sidekick Reality can be as painfully funny as a Roadrunner cartoon …and that there’s no avoiding the forgoing two things – one might as well write them down. UTDS still lives on my Kindle alongside Moby Dick, Anna K. and the columns of Jack Smith.


AND FINALLY: 4LAKids has sadly learned of the death of DIANA DIXON DAVIS – the longtime legislation director for 31st District (San Fernando Valley) PTA a week back.

Diana was a force of nature. She was as powerful an advocate for Kids and Parents and PTA as ever there was in this District ...and as tenacious and authoritative an authority as there could be on matters legislative – and served on many LAUSD Board of Ed committees, commissions and task forces.

Diana was a big part of whatever passed for parent engagement back in the day (as opposed to what passes for it in this day) and was certainly+intellectually engaged in committee work and board business both at 450 No Grand and Beaudry. She was excellent at calling me at all hours and telling me what I should be doing ...and she was invariably right.

As another said of her: Diana was wonderful person.

Godspeed.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf



Endorsements by the L.A. Times & AALA: GEORGE McKENNA FOR L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOL BOARD

GEORGE MCKENNA FOR L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOL BOARD: “McKenna continues to come across as someone whose first consideration is helping kids learn.”

By The Times Editorial Board | http://lat.ms/1ppKAP9

July 21, 2014, 5:10 PM :: Two candidates with different styles and viewpoints are vying to join the Los Angeles Unified school board, replacing longtime board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who died in December. Both of the candidates also hold different beliefs than did LaMotte, who was a fiery opponent of most school reform.

This is an opportunity for voters in District 1, which includes South Los Angeles and sections of West Los Angeles, to make themselves heard. That's especially true, sad to say, because voter turnout on this one-race election day, Aug. 12, is expected to be below 10%. The only good thing that can be said about such low participation is that those who do turn out to vote will be making their ballots count.

When they do, a strong choice for the job is retired L.A. schools administrator George McKenna, who won national attention and praise for reforms he instituted during the 1980s as principal of one of L.A. Unified's high schools, George Washington Preparatory High in Westmont. Thirty years later, McKenna continues to come across as someone whose first consideration is helping kids learn, especially socioeconomically disadvantaged students who for too long have been shorted on classroom space and qualified teachers.

McKenna hasn't always been a successful administrator — his tenure as superintendent of the Inglewood schools was marked by fiscal and other problems that were addressed too slowly — but we think his well-thought-out positions will serve him well as a school board member.

McKenna's opponent, Alex Johnson, also talks about putting students first. But Johnson, an avid reform candidate and education aide to L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, lacks the depth of educational understanding that McKenna would bring to the board. Johnson tends to phrase his concerns in generic political terms rather than thinking through his positions and backing up his assertions with facts.

It's encouraging to see that both candidates support the continued leadership of Supt. John Deasy, who has been a positive force for the school district. McKenna is more likely to question Deasy's proposals when he feels the superintendent is heading in the wrong direction, but he made it clear to the editorial board that he hopes Deasy will continue in the job through the expiration of his contract in 2016. Given Deasy's occasional tendency to make bold moves too hastily — including his original proposal to purchase more than 600,000 iPads — it's a good thing if board members are willing to challenge him when necessary.

Ideology holds little interest for McKenna. As a board member, he is likely to consider each issue on its individual merits rather than follow pre-set allegiances. We trust him to ask serious questions and vote for common-sense solutions.

On Aug. 12 — which is also the first day of school — voters should remember that this year, there's another important part of the day. They should show up at their polling places to help shape the district's future.


McKENNA ATTACKED BY OUTSIDE POLITICAL INTERESTS AND A SMEAR CAMPAIGN

From the AALA Update week of July 28, 2014 | http://bit.ly/1zgXZ2Y

July 24, 2014 :: As the race for the District 1 seat on the LAUSD Board of Education enters its final days, AALA-endorsed candidate Dr. George McKenna is continuing to garner more endorsements (Mónica Ratliff, CSEA Chapter 500, California Title 1 Parent Union, LA School Police Association) while his opponent has resorted to a smear campaign. On the day that the Los Angeles Times printed another editorial supporting Dr. McKenna, in a show of desperation, the opposing side sent out a distorted letter misrepresenting Dr. McKenna’s character and leadership. While the McKenna campaign has focused on his experience, strengths, leadership and knowledge, the opponent can only respond with attacks and negativity.

The Times also reported that a new political action committee has formed to influence the outcome of the election. It is called the Great Public Schools Los Angeles Political Action Committee and is headed by Dan Chang who was the executive director of LA Fund, the nonprofit created by Superintendent Deasy to support LAUSD, as well as an executive with Green Dot and L.A.’s Promise. Clearly, this is another attempt by outside interests and charter schools to get an even stronger foothold into the District.

CSEA Chapter 500 recently endorsed Dr. McKenna and its president, Linda Perez, sent an appeal to her members and leaders of other organizations saying:

…I must also tell you that I was Dr. McKenna's secretary for a couple of years and I got to know him very well! In my humble opinion, Dr. McKenna is the only candidate worth fighting for…Dr. McKenna is a man of integrity, honesty, passion for our students and fairness for LAUSD employees, particularly CSEA Classified Professionals. I know! I was there with him, 5 days a week. I witnessed closely his dedication and love for his profession. I saw how students from decades reached out to him to thank him for "forcing" them to become professional and honest citizens. Now I'm reaching out to you to ask you to please support Dr. McKenna so he can continue supporting our students and staff, not only in District 1 but across the District, because his contributions to the Board of Education will not only affect District 1 but the entire LAUSD.”

Dr. McKenna is clearly the most qualified candidate; one on whom we can depend to make independent decisions that are in the best interests of students and employees of the District. He is not interested in furthering his political career, just continuing to pursue his passion for children and public education. If you live in District 1, it is incumbent upon you to vote. If you do not, please support the campaign by participating in the next fundraising event on July 27, 2014

(see flyer: http://bit.ly/1zgXZ2Y), or joining with CSEA to walk the precincts on July 26 and August 2 (see flyer: http://bit.ly/1tOiyRj).


An appeal for support from Dr. McKenna



THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JOHNSON AND McKENNA

By The Red Queen in L.A. in her blog | http://bit.ly/1jXu8JB

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 :: Did you know there’s an election in three weeks?

If you do not live in LAUSD’s first district, you might be excused from awareness of it, though not if you drive anywhere within that district. You’d have to be blind (inadvisable if driving) to have overlooked the gigantic – and unethical, according to the COLA elections commission – political propaganda polluting public property in proclaiming the primacy of their favorite son, hand-ordained staff-member of Mark Ridley-Thomas, Alex Johnson.

Ginormous and ubiquitous, these signs represent the might of the political machinery backing Mr Johnson, rather than, say, the size of his public support or job qualifications.

At the age of 33, Mr Johnson has accrued basically zero track record in issues educational, either politically or pedagogically or theoretically or practically. He does, however, nicely reflect his bosses’ readiness to assert opinions educational a propos of no experience or background in the matter at all, as this account of County Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, his aide Alex Johnson and chief-of staff, attests. All three politicos cheerfully admit to having never read the thoughtfully crafted 29-page opinion regarding a Culver City charter school – before rejecting outright the school board’s denial of this petition. Without permitting the deliberations of local elected political leaders or education experts to derail their well-buttressed pre-conceived convictions, nary a whiff of public education advocacy was permitted sway. These three officials asserted their right to an unreflective, uninformed support for the rejected petition because of “a philosophical difference [with the Culver City Unified School District board president] about charter schools”.

Just so, this episode accurately encapsulates the arcane board race in LAUSD1 too. It’s about charter schools.

This is a race that has been recapitulated with its underlying distinction over and over and over again all across this nation of ours. In our local school board elections, the body politic has weighed in cumulatively not once, not twice but in the three successive school board elections against the candidates allied with the political – that is not pedagogical but political – ideology of privatizing public education.

The first of these recent elections was won by Bennett Kayser over Luis Sanchez, candidate of privatizing champion, former-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of the moribund Coalition For School Reform. The second of these wins pitted LAUSD board incumbent Steve Zimmer against millions of dollars corralled from across this nation, foremost among them from Mike Bloomberg, school privatizing, billionaire mayor of New York City. And most recent in the LAUSD series was Mónica Ratliff vanquishing challenger Antonio Sanchez, backed by a breathtaking constellation of corporate reformers.

Now we meet yet the latest iteration of this Borg-like incursion of corporatizers intent on subsuming our children’s schooling. Alex Johnson, having shallow education bona fides but deep political patronage roots, must be understood in that context so charmingly articulated by his padrone, as The Candidate From Charter Land. Alex Johnson may not be an educator or parent or theoretician, but his political placement enables those who seek public monies to underwrite essentially private schooling enterprises. That is, Alex Johnson derives utility by enabling charter schools and those who would champion them.

And who is it that champions charter schools in Los Angeles? Apart from the LAUSD board which has approved school charters numbering in the hundreds, rendering the westside of Los Angeles ground zero for the charter school movement? We have more charter schools here in our little ‘hood than in any other spot on the planet.

Superintendent Deasy can be thought of as Enabler Extraordinaire of the charter school movement, graduate of Eli Broad’s “academy”, installed by Antonio Villaraigosa and possibly salaried by his one-time employer the Gates Foundation, sustained by the last leg of the educational reform triumvirate, the Walton Family Foundation.

Note well and carefully: these charter schools are every bit as much a political phenomenon of the 1% as an educational one. In obeisance to neoliberalism, they are tearing apart the very edifice — literally and figuratively — of our democratic public education system.

And that is what, and really only what, this election is about. What flavor of school champion do you favor? Are you inveigled by the corporatizing reformer lining private pockets with money and expertise from the public coffer? Or do you support and extend the oft-reiterated preference of our electorate for the professional educator, one in the mold of Kayser, Zimmer, Ratliff and Marguerite LaMotte herself, represented this time around by former school superintendent George McKenna?

Who holds the intellectual needs of our young citizenry at heart? Teacher or Politician? Who protects their education as a basic human civil right rather than a monetized commodity? Who expresses the voice that we have elected time after time in recent years, the educator’s voice of concern for pedagogy?

George McKenna.

Vote for George McKenna on the first day back at school:
Tuesday, August 12, 2014.


QUOTE'S CONTEXT SHEDS BETTER LIGHT ON LAUSD CANDIDATE GEORGE McKENNA
CAMPAIGN MAILER FROM GEORGE MCKENNA'S SCHOOL BOARD OPPONENT MISUSES QUOTE FROM SANDY BANKS COLUMN

By Sandy Banks in the L.A. Times | http://lat.ms/1mQPAL6

July 26, 2014 :: It was one line from a column of mine about the response of Los Angeles Unified officials to revelations of child abuse by a teacher at Miramonte Elementary.

I'd quoted senior administrator George McKenna telling a community meeting that Miramonte's principal was not to blame and parents "ought to be grateful" for the principal's leadership.

Two years later that "ought to be grateful" phrase wound up on a campaign mailer, suggesting that McKenna — who is running for school board — doesn't care about the safety of students.

The flier is the product of McKenna's opponent, Alex Johnson, who has spent four years working on education issues for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Nobody's questioning [McKenna's] personality or his motives. We're simply raising questions about his performance. - Roy Behr, campaign consultant for Alex Johnson, McKenna's rival

Johnson's campaign says the mailer is aimed at debunking "the myth of McKenna," who drew national acclaim almost 30 years ago, when his tough-love reform of troubled Washington Prep High was made into a TV movie, with Denzel Washington playing McKenna.

"If he's going to take credit for that, then everybody ought to take a look at what he's done since then," said Johnson campaign consultant Roy Behr. The mailer blames McKenna for "FAILED SCHOOLS. FALSE CLAIMS. FISCAL MISMANAGEMENT. FAILURE TO PROTECT KIDS."

I understand that politics is war, and a candidate's words and record are fair targets.

But McKenna wasn't excusing child molesters in that comment from my column. He was defending Miramonte's staff — which was about to be replaced by Supt. John Deasy in a wholesale housecleaning aimed at clearing the taint of child abuse from the South Los Angeles campus.

McKenna didn't agree with that move, but was tasked with carrying it out. He spent hours each week helping teachers-in-exile cope with shock, frustration and grief, and cheered — along with parents and students — when they were allowed to return to Miramonte six months later.

Is McKenna old-school? Yes. He can also be blunt, impatient, demanding and unyielding.

But I have never seen or heard anything that makes me doubt his commitment to students.

::

The race between Johnson and McKenna is for a South Los Angeles school board seat that's been empty since the death seven months ago of Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. The special election is Aug. 12; less than 10% of the area's voters are expected to turn out.

Low turnouts tend to favor the candidate with the most enthusiastic supporters. That would probably be McKenna, who began his career as a teacher in Watts and spent half a century in local school districts loaded with low-income kids. He won 44% of the vote in a crowded June primary, and has adopted the campaign slogan "The community's choice."

But Johnson stands to benefit from his association with Ridley-Thomas, who's considered a kingmaker by politicians in black Los Angeles. He has spent twice as much money as McKenna and relies on savvy political pros for campaign advice.

Johnson's campaign consultant calls McKenna "a status quo guy" who has failed to deliver relief to troubled schools. Behr defended the mailers that portray McKenna as lax on student safety and indifferent to parents' concerns.

"Nobody's questioning his personality or his motives," Behr said. "We're simply raising questions about his performance."

The campaign is relying on a political staple in trashing the front-runner. There's certainly plenty to question in McKenna's 50-year career, which includes mixed reviews of his stints in Inglewood, Compton and Pasadena.

But branding McKenna a "failure" suggests naivete about what it takes to significantly improve perpetually struggling schools. It's painstaking work, marked by huge obstacles and small victories — and problems so deep they can't be fixed by iPads or side-stepped by charter schools.

By the logic of Johnson's campaign, McKenna is suspect because he hasn't always had the kind of success his Hollywood movie projects.

Even Johnson's boss might recognize that perspective has its problems.

Twenty years ago, Ridley-Thomas rose to McKenna's defense when a politically divided Inglewood school board voted not to renew his contract as superintendent.

Board members blamed McKenna for the district's budget problems; they'd granted bigger pay raises than he'd advised and wound up in a hole.

That's what Johnson's mailers now call McKenna's "fiscal mismanagement."

But back then, Ridley-Thomas — then a Los Angeles city councilman described in The Times as McKenna's "longtime friend and colleague" — called the Inglewood decision "just nonsensical."

::

It's easy to pluck a phrase from a newspaper story and make it say what you want.

So for a little context, here are other McKenna comments from my columns that might not make the Johnson campaign's cut.

In 2000, I criticized McKenna for imposing such a strict staff dress code in South L.A. that a male teacher couldn't wear an earring because McKenna considered that a hallmark of gang membership.

I thought that was demeaning to teachers and socially out of sync. McKenna lectured me about students who'd been shot for wearing the wrong thing: "I have an obligation to set standards that are wholesome and safe for students and that's what I'm trying to do."

Two years later, McKenna was an assistant superintendent in Pasadena when a flap erupted over a white teacher's contention that unruly black students were responsible for low test scores and poor teacher morale at Muir High School.

I wrote about a public forum on the comment and included this quote from McKenna: "If children are disruptive, let's say that. Let's not say they're disruptive because they're black."

McKenna reminded the crowd that almost half of Muir's students lived in poverty, one-third came from single-parent homes, and 1 in 10 lived in shelters or group homes. Teachers who couldn't accept that the stress of students' lives might spill onto the campus "ought to be teaching in Beverly Hills," he said.

And two years ago when McKenna retired from L.A. Unified, I interviewed him for hours, retracing the steps and missteps of his long career.

"He wasn't a miracle worker," I wrote then. "But he was a wise and tireless advocate for underachieving, underprivileged kids."


GEORGE McKENNA CAMPAIGN UNDER ATTACK: Community Outraged over lies, innuendo and propaganda

by Danny J. Bakewell, Jr. – Executive Editor of the Los Angles Sentinel | this article also appears in the LA Watts Times of July 24 | http://bit.ly/WIl3KD

Published on Thursday, 24 July 2014 19:24 :: Long time educator and child advocate George McKenna didn’t know his over 40 years of service on the front lines and in the trenches of education in some of California’s poorest and most underserved schools and school districts was a piece of cake compared to the political road that he would need to travel to the Los Angeles Unified School Board – District #1 seat. But not even McKenna or any of the community residents he has spent his life fighting for have could have imagined that the reputation and credibility of one of the nation’s leading educators would have come under attack in such a brutal and shameful way as it has in recent political mailings from his opponent Alex Johnson.

The accusations levied by the Alex Johnson for School Board Campaign and his supporters through an independent expenditure campaign have released a scathing array of accusations against the longtime educator, from blaming him for the child molestation charges which have plagued all of LAUSD for several years, to the state take-over of Inglewood and Compton Unified School Districts (the truth is McKenna left Inglewood Unified in 1994 and the state took over Inglewood in 2013. The State took over Compton Unified in 1993 and the state administrator brought McKenna in to repair the troubled district).

“George McKenna’s track record speaks for itself; he is a man of unquestionable character and integrity who has always put children first,” Congresswoman Karen Bass.

“He has spent a lifetime fighting long and hard to make sure our kids have a level playing field. He has committed his life to insuring equal opportunities for Black and Brown kids and all underprivileged and underserved children in the field of education. His reputation is beyond reproach” stated Congresswoman Karen Bass.”

Rev. Jewett L. Walker, Jr. manager for the Elect McKenna Campaign and who served for years as the campaign director for former LAUSD Representative Marguerite Poindexter- LaMotte who passed away in December 2013 stated, “there's a word to describe this type of dirty campaigning: SHAMEFUL!” The Alex Johnson Campaign is engaging in the worst kind of politics a lie-and-smear campaign or “poli-tricks” – which we can only assume his chief endorsers and sponsors condone.”

“There's a word to describe this type of dirty campaigning: SHAMEFUL!”

“Our community has never witnessed an outrageous smear campaign against a candidate such as the Alex Johnson Campaign is waging against Dr. George McKenna. The community must reject these kinds of lies and distortions against Dr. George McKenna who is a nationally known, successful and respected educator. Furthermore Alex Johnson is neither knowledgeable or experienced or credible as an educator. THIS IS IT. He needs to quit it,” stated Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

George McKenna almost won the June Primary Election outright with over 44% of the vote compared to Alex Johnson’s 24%. He has been engaged in a heated battle to the August 12 special election finish line since the June 3 primary ended. While Johnson has outraised McKenna 2 to 1 in money, mostly coming from large corporate donors and charter school advocate groups, the community and the residents of the district clearly appear to be supporting McKenna. McKenna has received the endorsement of almost all of his opponents from the District 1 primary election including Genethia Hudley-Hayes, LAUSD Board of Education(ret.), School Teacher Rachel Johnson - Gardena Councilmember & Hattie McFrazier-LAUSD Educator/Pupil Services and Attendance Counselor (ret.). McKenna has also been endorsed by former school board member and city council woman Rita Walters, UTLA, The Democratic Party just to name a few.

The latest slate of mailers sent out last week by the Johnson Campaign and other organizations supporting Johnson don’t appear to be promoting Johnson or his qualifications. Instead they are attacking McKenna’s credibility and giving no credence to the years of leadership and service that he has provided to the children of our community. Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Presiding Bishop of the 5th Episcopal District of the AME Church stated that “Dr. McKenna is a man of unquestionable, integrity, character and experience who has always put our children’s best interest first to question or try and taint his integrity is disgraceful.”

“As a veteran campaign manager I can tell you that when a candidate loses a primary by 20 points, like Alex Johnson did, there is no clear path to victory in the runoff,” said Walker.

“Over the last several days Mr. Johnson and his supporters have revealed his plan: smear the good name of George McKenna.”

His powerful boss/political sponsor, has cut deals with billionaires and special interests to raise a boatload of money to flood the district with mailers and doorknockers that seek to trash the reputation that McKenna spent decades building by honorably serving our community. The good news is the Johnson campaign has no defense for McKenna’s greatest weapon: THE TRUTH.”

McKenna’s reputation as an educator is unquestionable. Upon arriving in Southern California from his native New Orleans, he was assigned to Washington High School in Los Angeles in 1979 when the school was besieged with violence, drugs and gangs. When he was done nearly 80 percent of the students went on to college.

This track record of success inspired the award-winning CBS movie, The George McKenna Story, starring Denzel Washington. He is passionate about education and the many children who are trapped in despair. This is a man who has received more than 400 citations and awards from civic, legislative and professional organizations.

In 1989, McKenna received the Congressional Black Caucus’ Chairman’s Award and in 1997 was elected into the National Alliance of Black School Educators’ Hall of Fame. Last week even local advisories joined forces to unify in support of a man so desperately needed that August 12 could not come soon enough.

Some individuals are risking their reputations to tarnish that of McKenna’s. George McKenna when asked about the slanderous accusations stated, “I will not be deterred, I will continue to push forward offering an inspiring message of hope for our kids future. This is the message that is resonating with school age children their parents, teachers and community advocates who are willing to stand up for honesty and integrity. My campaign and the work I have done around here throughout my life stands on its own. I have always stood tallest for kids, for education and for this community and I am not going to let false accusations sway me now.”

Gwendolyn Landry a parent and community education advocate stated that “The trickery and lies being asserted by the Alex Johnson Campaign are terrible. We cannot trust a person who distorts the truth to lead the education of our kids.”

It appears the political wrangling and power politics are just heating up as the campaign enters the last few weeks. Award winning journalist Betty Pleasant had her weekly Soulvine column pulled at the last minute at another local weekly publication because of her support of McKenna and because of her outrage to the tactics being used by the Johnson Campaign to smear McKenna’s good name. However, in today’s world of social media the censured column has now gone viral and was emailed, blasted, tweeted, posted on Facebook and other local mediums by community members outraged by this type of blatant disregard for the truth. Betty has been in the business of community news for a long time and she was totally caught off guard and surprised that her editors refused to run her column. Reverend Joe B. Hardwick president, Western States Baptist Convention and Pastor of Praises of Zion Church in Watts said “people think they can buy this election, but the truth is, our children, our community, and our future are not for sale. George has built his reputation and dedicated his life to working for these kids and we are prepared to fight to insure that his legacy of service continues all the way to the school board.”


CENSORED. CENSORED. CENSORED. + SOULVINE UNCHAINED
●● The L.A. Wave’s always outspoken “Soulvine” columnist Betty Pleasant has never been afraid of going one step too far, that is how the game of agent provocateur is played, no matter the ‘hood. Her last two columns for the Wave have not been published, withheld for reasons unstated. Maybe because they speak for Dr. George McKenna – or against Mark Ridley Thomas? Or both? Maybe.

CENSORED. CENSORED. CENSORED.
By Betty Pleasant [published under John Walsh’s byline in the THE FRONT PAGE ONLINE] http://bit.ly/1ta8dlo

7:00 AM July 18, 2014 :: This Is It! --- For the past seven months, the people of Los Angeles County have been engaged in a great war against the politicians we elected to represent us. For the most part, our battles have been pity-pat encounters to make our local politicians respond to our needs --- rather than to their own obsessions to reign over us as little kings doing everything they can to create and/or perpetuate rich dynasties for themselves, their kin and their sycophants.

Well, nuclear war was declared this week when residents of LAUSD’s District 1 received two sets of campaign mailings in support of the election of Alex Johnson, King Mark Ridley-Thomas’s chosen minion, to the district’s seat on the School Board. These mailings are the worst pieces of campaign literature I’ve ever seen in my lengthy career. They are full of baldfaced and boldfaced lies about the people’s candidate, George McKenna, and constitute the nastiest smear campaign money can buy. I did not believe King Mark could stoop that low.

Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell and I have not agreed on a single thing in almost 50 years --- until now. We both wholeheartedly support the election of McKenna --- who last week received the overwhelming endorsement of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, and today was endorsed by LAUSD Board member Monica Ratliff, who, like everyone else, maintains that McKenna’s “years of experience as a dedicated and successful teacher, principal and administrator will continue to serve the students and parents of District 1 well.”

It’s time to fight nuclear bombs with nuclear bombs. The only people who support Johnson are preachers who tow King Mark’s line because they have charter school and preschool contracts with L.A. County which they believe would be jeopardized if they didn’t back Johnson. They told me that. They told others in the community as well. It’s now common knowledge, particularly in view of what reportedly happened in one of our largest black churches a couple of Sundays ago when the pastor refused to interrupt his service to allow Johnson and King Mark to speak to his congregation. The preachers are getting bold, as they come to realize that the election of the truly qualified candidate, McKenna, would set them free.

Smearing McKenna

The first batch of smear literature against McKenna sported the disclaimer that it was not sent by the candidate or his campaign committee. It did state, however, that it was sent by the African American Voter Registration, Education, Participation Project (AAVREP), which, as we all know, is King Mark’s pet organization. He founded it, and he is, therefore, responsible for viciously maligning McKenna’s stellar career. The offending document lists as supporters, King Mark, Rep. Diane Watson (ret.), Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (ret.), Congresswoman Janice Hahn, L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson and SEIU #99, Education Workers United. Now, it really upsets me when people I like do something I hate. So I called them for an explanation. I called Hahn in Washington D.C. and Watson at her house and both women were appalled that their names appeared on such a raunchy piece of campaign literature. “You know I’ve never participated in anything like that!” Watson said. “Johnson came to my house and presented himself well and asked for my support if he ran for the School Board,” Watson explained. “This was early when the election was finally agreed upon and I wanted McKenna in the seat. But he said he did not want to run for it. So I agreed to support Johnson, not realizing that McKenna would change his mind,” Watson said. “Now that he’s in the race, I definitely support McKenna. I do not like having my name on campaign pieces that attack him. I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” Watson said.

Like Watson, Rep. Hahn said she made an early commitment to support Johnson when he took her to lunch, where he made a decent impression on her. “Politics can get really dirty sometimes and this looks like one of those times,” Hahn said. “I must call over there,” she added. The other supporters named are obvious, as Burke’s support of Johnson is quid pro quo for King Mark’s support of her daughter for the Assembly. Wesson’s support may have something to do with the rumors that Wesson has been anointed to replace King Mark on the Board of Supervisors when he terms out. We will speak of this, and related matters, some more.

The House Is Open --- The McKenna campaign held an open house last Saturday at its Crenshaw area headquarters to which an overflow crowd attended. The people left the morning rally held in Leimert Park to protest the beating of Marlene Pinnock and headed straight to the McKenna party. In addition to good food and great camaraderie, we had the pleasure of hearing rousing speeches from Rep. Maxine Waters, former School Board member Rita Walters, venerable LAUSD teacher Owen Knox and Rep. Karen Bass’s deputy chief of staff, Solomon Rivera, who exclaimed to the enthusiastic crowd: “We will not be owned by anybody.”


SOULVINE UNCHAINED (The 7/24/14 Soulvine column rejected by the Wave)

Received by 4LAKids by email from a secret source.
By Betty Pleasant | Journalist

MEAN MAILERS --- As the Aug. 12 runoff election for the 1st District LAUSD school board seat draws near, potential voters are being inundated with campaign mailers, the overwhelming majority of which are sent by the Alex Johnson campaign and all of which malign education icon George McKenna and shed little light on Johnson.

One woman complained to the Soulvine that she had received nine mailings from Johnson that were nothing but smears against McKenna, and she’s angry about them and said she’s sorry she can only cast one vote for McKenna on Aug. 12.

Civil rights activist Pedro Baez of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, was so angry about the series of mailers Johnson has been sending to the people that Monday, Baez and his group filed a formal complaint with the Los Angeles Ethics Commission demanding “a probe into the false, misleading and slanderous mailers sent by the Alex Johnson campaign.”

While Baez has been upset by previous anti-McKenna mailings from Johnson, he said the mailer that arrived Monday was beyond the pale and was more than he could tolerate. “In it, Johnson verged on labeling McKenna a pedophile enabler as he alleged that McKenna covered up sexual abuses in the school district!” Baez shouted.

In his complaint to the Ethics Commission, Baez wrote: “I and other civil rights leaders formally call upon the Los Angeles Ethics Commission for a probe into the false and slanderous mailings from the Johnson campaign against McKenna. We are demanding that the commission issue a cease and desist order and impose the maximum fine against the Johnson campaign for the fraudulent attacks.”

At Tuesday’s press conference about the mailer, Baez blamed Johnson’s financial backers --- Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Maria Elena Durazo of the L.A. County Federation of Labor --- “for this despicable act” and he said he “also urged the Ethics Commission to charge Ridley-Thomas “with gross violations of ethics and human decency and order him to send out another mailer apologizing to the voters of the LAUSD District 1 --- and for Alex Johnson to withdraw forthwith from the race for this seat.”

The people have given the Soulvine the two most recent Johnson mailers that have upset them so, and I must say they are really raw. Johnson has a one-note theme to his campaign mailings and it appears to be about child molestation as opposed to child education, and in that regard he has accused McKenna of some despicable stuff which I must investigate. And while I’m investigating Johnson’s sex-tinged accusations against McKenna, I will probe Johnson’s lack of delineated credibility in the field of education. In his mailers, Johnson prides himself on having been an assistant district attorney (in the Bronx, N.Y.) “who prosecuted domestic violence, standing up for children and families who were victims of violence and abuse.” If that’s true, then why isn’t Johnson running for Los Angeles County district attorney? Lord knows we need prosecutors in the DA’s office, not on the school board! “Our kids are being prosecuted enough!” declared a group of women Saturday when they found Johnson literature on the windshields of their cars. They’re right. We need experienced educators on the school board, but education is a subject Johnson does not broach in his mailings. After further study we’ll discuss these things about McKenna and Johnson during the next couple of weeks.



Beyond District One: OTHER STORIES WORTH FOLLOWING
• UNION INVITES TEACHERS, PARENTS AND THE PUBLIC TO THE BARGAINING TABLE WITH LAUSD | http://bit.ly/WX1JsO


··         Judges rule against letting public see LAUSD teachers' performance | http://lat.ms/1mSg0fq

• FEDS BACK ENGLISH LEARNER LAWSUIT AGAINST CALIFORNIA, allegation is that 2% of qualified kids slip through the cracks http://bit.ly/WX0idW

• UNION-BACKED BILL SEEKS MORE TENURE PROTECTION FOR SCHOOL EMPLOYEES IN CALIF | http://tl.gd/n_1s2l8jl

• CALIFORNIA LAW CUTS PREP FOOTBALL FULL-CONTACT PRACTICE TIME | http://bit.ly/1xi0DD0

• JUDGE FINDS “EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT” …BUT ALLOWS MAGNOLIA CHARTERS TO REMAIN OPEN - Either LAUSD staff overreacted or the Bd of Ed underreacted. Whichever it was Magnolia Charters get out of jail free.|http://bit.ly/WIrCga

• WRIGHT+ALARCON GUILTY OF NOT LIVING IN THEIR CONSTITUENCIES.Et tu Mónica García? | http://tl.gd/n_1s2l4ks also: ALARCON CONVICTION IS THE LATEST IN STRING OF RESIDENCY PROSECUTIONS | http://lat.ms/WIPaRS

• NEW POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE FORMS IN L.A. BD OF ED RACE: PAC is run by Dan Chang, who headed Deasy’s LAUSD nonprofit | http://bit.ly/1tNWkz0

• FIRE BURNS GREEN DOT CHARTER SCHOOL CAMPUS …as ‘Mystery Drone’ hovers overhead | http://bit.ly/1qAZg4z


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
Marguerite.LaMotte@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 is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten 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 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor 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 as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. 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, July 20, 2014

In 00:32 of 24:00 :: No shortage of bad news



4LAKids: Sunday 20•July•2014
In This Issue:
 •  BETTER EDUCATED PUBLIC SCHOOL KIDS – FOR A PRICE + smf’s 2¢
 •  L.A. SCHOOLS: CALIFORNIA ‘ENGLISH LEARNER’ TESTS INCORRECTLY LABEL BILINGUAL KIDS
 •  TWO LOS ANGELES CHARTER SCHOOL CLOSED WITHOUT INPUT + smf’s 2¢
 •  LAUSD SEES SURGE IN WHOOPING COUGH, URGES PARENTS TO GET CHILDREN VACCINATED
 •  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:
 •  Give the gift of a 4LAKids Subscription to a friend or colleague!
 •  Follow 4 LAKids on Twitter - or get instant updates via text message by texting "Follow 4LAKids" to 40404
 •  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.
In thirty-two minutes of the twenty-four-hour-news-cycle on Thursday all hell broke loose.

At 15:24 GMT the news broke that Malaysian Airlines flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky over Eastern Ukraine.

Thirty-two minutes later Israel announced it was sending ground troops into the Gaza Strip.

One can almost feel the Four Horsemen mounting up as the Last Reel is loaded into the projector.


There is nothing unique about either of these events. Israel has invaded Gaza before. Civilian aircraft have been shot down before. The Soviets shot down KAL flight 007 in 1983 – an act President Reagan called “…a massacre. The attack by the Soviet Union against 269 innocent men, women, and children aboard an unarmed Korean passenger plane, this crime against humanity, must never be forgotten.”

Later in the Reagan administration the guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air flight 655 in 1988 at a cost of 290 lives, mistaking the Airbus for an F-14. Both KAL 007 and Iran Air 655 were jumbo jets; all passengers and crew died in both.

Malaysian Airlines flight 17 is another outrage of unspeakable proportions.

International crises have happened concurrently before.

The Suez Crisis of 1956 –when Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt - occurred the same time as the Soviet invasion and crushing of the Hungarian Revolution – many historians believe the Soviets “got away” with that brutal crackdown because the European powers and the US were distracted by Suez.

And other crises fester at lower levels. Though of course if you are a Syrian or an Iraqi or an Iranian or an Afghan/Ukrainian/Kurd/Pashto/Salvadorian (or a person from Highland Park whose water main has burst) the crisis of the moment/in your intersection of spacetime is The Crisis.

If one is to look at the current crises in the Middle East as a combined crisis the front stretches from the shores of Gaza – where four young cousins playing in the surf were killed in an air raid – to Lahore in Pakistan – where a bus bomb and gun battle between militants and the police killed 9 on Thursday. That’s a front that extends 2,335 miles across three time zones.

And a hemisphere away The War on Drugs in Central and North America sends its young refugees north. In the jungles of Africa Ebola virus mutates.
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”

With apologies to Yeats: My generation, fearful of duck+cover nuclear World War III for half a century now sees the advent of the Third World War; not just slouching towards Jerusalem – but slouching towards Tahrir and the Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev and the Maidan e Shohada in Tehran …and the Plaza Central inTegucigalpa …and Brownsville and Murrieta and Wall Street and Main Street.

We see in this thirty-two minute slice of the present Robert Oppenheimer’s Trinity nightmare/dream/vision of the future played out in super slow-mo; not in the singularity of destruction; not the Big Bang or a cataclysm of apocalypse …but in the hope of a hundred revolutions and the cut of a thousand wounds and the whimper of a hundred million sighs.
“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds’."

It is interesting to note that Isherwood’s translation of the Bhagavad-Gita –which Oppenheimer quotes - gives this line to Vishnu inhabiting his avatar of Krishna. Other translators say a better rendition from the Sanskrit might be: “I am become Time, destroyer of worlds.” One wonders if Oppenheimer and Einstein would have preferred that translation.


Lest we forget - should all or any of this seem too dark and depressing: Forty-five years ago today men, who came in peace for all mankind, first walked upon the moon.

…and the masculine shall be deemed to include the feminine. Thank God.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


BETTER EDUCATED PUBLIC SCHOOL KIDS – FOR A PRICE + smf’s 2¢
By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board | http://lat.ms/1oHUdbq

July 16, 2014 :: Children in the United States get unequal educations; that's unfair but unlikely to change in the near future. Some school districts have more money to spend than others. Wealthy parents can sign up their children for private tutoring. In some districts, not-for-profit private foundations established by parents raise funds for art, music and other programs that the local public schools otherwise couldn't afford.

Public schools shouldn't play along with a system that gives some students an academic head start over others.

It's laudable when parents do all they can to bolster their children's education. But they go too far when their foundations, which supposedly exist to help all students in the district, offer for-credit classes only to those students whose parents can afford to pay for them. Public schools shouldn't play along with a system that gives some students an academic head start over others.

It's happening this summer, according to a story in The Times [Private summer schools prompt debate on education inequality] on Saturday. Parent foundations in generally affluent areas in Southern California are offering academic summer school classes to help students finish required courses so that, during the school year, they can polish their resumes with more Advanced Placement classes or raise their grades in courses already taken. The classes are for the most part conducted on public school campuses, taught by the school's teachers, with full academic credit granted by the school. But they're officially offered by the private foundations, with prices of $600 to $800 each. Sometimes there are scholarships for needy students, sometimes not.

These private classes for public school credit are an end-run around state law that says public schools cannot charge for classes, required course materials or extracurricular activities. Parents, of course, should be welcome to donate money for the creation of programs open to all students within a district, but school districts should not be enabling parent groups to offer for-credit courses that are not available to all students.

Obviously, the problem is lessened if the foundations offer scholarships to any students who need them, and if they guarantee that access to the classes won't go first to those who pay. If scholarships are offered, it is important that they be processed in a way that doesn't stigmatize families or force them to divulge sensitive financial information.

Yet even with those safeguards, it is still troubling that budget woes are prompting public schools, in essence, to privatize their most basic function: offering academic classes for credit to students.



●●smf’s 2¢: A commenter on The Times website opines: “Kids with smart parents are going to get better educations than kids with dumb parents.” There is no arguing with this – and no amount of do-goodery or social engineering will undo it.

It is just as true to say that “Kids with well-off parents are going to get better educations than kids with poor parents.”

Academic summer school programs for credit – when attendance and the grade goes down in that all-important “Permanent Record” – are a far cry from a summer playground program or after school math tutoring or a dance class or chess club.

These inroads made by private educators into public education leverage pocketbook-driven-parent-involvement – whether of the garden variety bake-sale-and-gift-wrap-drive fundraising model or the pay-extra-for-extra-stuff-model for profit. And using public facilities – and with little or no benefit to students whose parents cannot afford for them to participate – is (for lack of a better word): wrong.

Not evil or illegal or immoral or unethical – wrong. The thing we – parents, teachers, the community - need to teach our kids the difference between right and.


L.A. SCHOOLS: CALIFORNIA ‘ENGLISH LEARNER’ TESTS INCORRECTLY LABEL BILINGUAL KIDS
by Annie Gilbertson | 89.3 KPCC | http://bit.ly/1mhhkrZ

July 16th, 2014, 5:00am :: Arianna Anderson is one of 180,000 students enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District's program for English learners.

Over 90 percent of students in the program speak Spanish. Most everyone else speaks Armenian, Korean or Filipino.

And Arianna?

"I'm not an English learner," the 9-year-old said with a shrug.

The daughter of a Hawaiian father and Mexican-American mother, Arianna was raised speaking English, from the breakfast table to bedtime prayers.

Yet, every day for the last five years, she has been pulled out of her regular class at Van Deene Elementary in Torrance for an hour to get special tutoring for children who speak English as a second language.

It's impossible to tell how many other Los Angeles Unified students are mislabeled and receiving the wrong instruction. District officials said Arianna's case is unique — but acknowledge the English learner program has been poorly supervised in the past.

A review of L.A. Unified's program by the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division in 2011 found neither state nor district officials were effectively monitoring student progress, resulting in students labeled English learners falling further and further behind without intervention.

Arianna has spent five years in the program. The district began investigating her case this spring and declined to comment on its status. But it appears she will still be labeled an English learner when she starts 5th grade in the fall.
Easy to get in

A single form triggered Arianna's ultimately being labeled an English learner: a home language survey. It was buried in the stack of forms all California parents have to complete when enrolling kids in school for the first time.

The form asks what languages are spoken at home. School staff use the survey to figure out who needs help learning English.

As one of three and half million immigrants in Los Angeles County, Arianna's mom, Hilda Anderson, indicated that English and Spanish are spoken at home.

“I was an English learner, like, 30 years ago," said Anderson, now fluent in both languages.

Most parents in Los Angeles County speak a foreign language, though often in addition to English. Less than half of the county population speaks English only, according to Census figures.

If a language other than English is reported on the form, California requires schools to gives students an English proficiency test.

New California funding laws give more money to districts with more English learners and other high needs students.

Last year, L.A. Unified tested twice as many kindergartners as the year before and more than four times as many as were tested in 2010.

Census figures do not jibe with the upswing. Since 2007, the number of children born to immigrant families in L.A. County has been on a slow decline.

Of L.A. Unified kindergartners who were tested for English proficiency, 70 percent of scored intermediate or worse on the test, state records show.

Some parents and educators said the test is too hard for most 4- and 5-year-old children, even native English speakers.

“I’ve had plenty of English-speaking kids that don’t pass it just because they are immature," said Cheryl Ortega, who began teaching English learners 43 years ago and recently retired from Los Angeles Unified.

Test questions provided by the California Department of Education ask students to think of rhymes, write simple words and correct basic grammar.

“How is a child that has never been to school going to know punctuation?” Anderson, Arianna's mom, asked.

In 2013, the California Department of Education reviewed the tests and found only one in four questions fit what students were learning in class. Writing tasks differed the most from what students were learning in the classroom: Only one in 10 questions fit California's learning goals for English learners.

The state is developing new tests for the 2016-2017 school year based primarily on listening and speaking skills for the youngest students. Until then, the misaligned test remains in place.

Once enrolled in the program, federal law requires students to receive tailored English instruction as well as access to literacy, math, science, social studies and arts content taught to mainstream students.

Parents and advocates claim schools rarely comply, and English learners are often deprived of enrichment activities and even time in core subjects such as science.

Hilda Maldonado, the director of the Multilingual and Multicultural Education Department at L.A. Unified, said that's not true. California requires teachers to give all students the same content, even if that means recasting a science lesson to meet the needs of English learners, she said.

"In essence, they won't miss out because teachers will be addressing their content while addressing the language demands in the content," Maldonado said in an email.

Last fall, parents at Granada Hills Elementary Community Charter School held a protest to complain about L.A. Unified's practice of separating young English learners from other students.

Parents grumbled that one only needed to show up with the last name Garcia or Rodriguez to trigger the English learner enrollment process, putting bilingual kids behind their English only peers.

"Secluding them in a classroom, the first thing that comes to mind is segregation," said Cindy Aranda-Lechuga, whose child goes to Granada Hills Elementary Community Charter School. "A lot of parents are feeling that way."

Studies show the longer these students stay in the program, the wider the achievement gap grows between them and their mainstreamed peers.
A focus on quality

Several experts said parents should be less concerned with their child being labeled English learners and more concerned with the quality of tutoring that comes with it.

“Why in god's name do we want to get them out of the program as quickly as possible, lose the funding and support rather than examining what we can do for these kids to make sure they are competitive?” asked Patricia Gandara, the director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

Gandara's own bilingual kids nearly got labeled English learners. She raised them speaking English and Spanish. She said the research is clear: Bilingualism can support superior academic gains.

But when the school started asking about English proficiency, Gandara stepped-in, and the process stopped before her children were given the English test. Parents have a limited window of time to dispute the enrollment process, but it's unclear to what degree they are informed of that right or the consequences.

In Los Angeles, where 34 percent of children live in poverty, Gandara said many parents should welcome the tutoring that comes with being designated an English learner.

“My read is that you get labeled [an English learner], which means you are going to get extra support, which means someone is going to provide this targeted English instruction for you and you should get access to every thing every other kids get,” she said.

In Arianna's case, the tutoring isn't helping. She's still not doing well in school. But it's unlikely she'll be leaving the English learner program anytime soon.

Even though Arianna was mislabeled, California law prohibits L.A. Unified staff from moving her over to the mainstream until all proficiency requirements are met.

That means she'll have to pass the California English Language Development test for older students, which has more challenging questions. She'll also have to show she knows the basics of 5th grade reading and writing on the new Common Core test given to all California students.

Her parents think she needs help with school, just not specialized English learner services.

Anderson, Arianna's mom, said if she had known the heartache ahead, she never would have told the district of the family's bilingual background.

"You just start filling this stuff out, and they don't tell you what's going to happen to your kids," she said.


SAMPLE CELDT TEST CONTENT FOR ALL GRADES



TWO LOS ANGELES CHARTER SCHOOL CLOSED WITHOUT INPUT + smf’s 2¢
By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1rgUhni

Posted: 07/20/14, 4:23 PM PDT :: Los Angeles Unified School District officials quietly decided to shut down two schools, both charters that outperform their district-run peers in the classroom, based on the finding of a “draft” audit district officials have yet to release. Some 400 families — the majority of whom enrolled their children at Van Nuys’ Magnolia Science Academy 7 elementary — may need to find a new school if district officials prevail in their efforts to close the charter and its sister institution, Magnolia Academy 6 middle school.

Los Angeles Unified’s school board “conditionally” approved renewing the schools’ charters — contracts allowing them to educate kids — in March, with the explicit direction that should the audit raise any concerns, district staff were to report back to board, documents show.

But district administrators didn’t follow the procedures before revoking the charters and shutting down the schools late last month.

The California Charter Schools Association said in a written statement that district officials acted outside of state law in a “troubling” move that leaves more than 400 students and their families, a majority of them poor, with very little information.

“State law also does not allow the district to conditionally renew a charter, let alone rescind that renewal without presenting its findings or providing the school with the opportunity to correct any issues,” according to a statement from the California Charter Schools Association.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge will consider issuing an injunction Thursday that could stop the district from closing the schools, while Magnolia officials appeal to the Los Angeles County Office of Education and, perhaps, state officials.

Magnolia officials did not return calls for comment.

Superintendent John Deasy declined to comment, stating the matter was being handled by the Office of the Inspector General and school’s legal counsel.

General Counsel Dave Holmquist did not return calls for comment, referring questions to the district’s media department, which did not answer questions.

The Office of the Inspector General, meanwhile, said that the audit prompting officials to close the schools is a “preliminary” draft, making it legally unavailable to the public. since drafts are exempt from the California Public Records Act, according to a letter from the General Counsel’s Office.

Board member Tamar Galatzan, who represents the Van Nuys area and Magnolia 7, declined to comment, citing the legal fight.

Between 1 percent and 2 percent of charter schools across California close due to financial reasons, according to the California Charter Schools Association.

When the school board voted to conditionally approve the charters in March, their lead staff, Director Jose Cole-Gutierrez said the schools didn’t have the recommended 5 percent “rainy day” fund, but that the parent organization had more than that level, 7.3 percent, in its reserves.

At the time, there was a question as to whether schools as small as the Magnolia academies were financially viable. Los Angeles Unified has shut down small schools because of their higher per-student cost to operate.

“The difference is, in each of these cases, they’re responsible for the fiscal viability,” Deasy said, referring to Magnolia being liable for any financial difficulty, at the March 4, 2014, board meeting.


●●smf’s 2¢: This story broke publicly at the July 1 Board Meeting – at which Magnolia’s attorney protested vehemently. LA Schools Report – notoriously charter-friendly – has been all over it – with the LASR’s publisher writing an article last week: “Magnolia charter troubles having an impact beyond LA Unified” - http://bit.ly/1sCjOJu

The real under-reported complications / the herd of elephants-in-the-room - lies in the fact that Magnolia is affiliated with the Turkish Fethullah Gülen Movement charter management organization …and those complications are truly complicated! http://bit.ly/1tovnlp


LAUSD SEES SURGE IN WHOOPING COUGH, URGES PARENTS TO GET CHILDREN VACCINATED
By Susan Abram, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1wL0qru

07/18/14, :: 7:19 PM PDT Fifty Los Angeles Unified School District students have come down with whooping cough since the beginning of June, officials said Friday, with more than a third of them from the San Fernando Valley and many from the South Bay.

A total of 84 cases of the infectious disease have been reported throughout the district since March. That’s triple the number of cases in a normal year, said Dee Apodeca, director of LAUSD nursing services.

__________________________________________

► ALL STUDENTS GOING INTO SEVENTH GRADE NEED PROOF OF A WHOOPING COUGH BOOSTER, ACCORDING TO STATE LAW.
► UNDER A STATE LAW THAT WENT INTO EFFECT JAN. 1, PARENTS WHO EXCLUDE THEIR CHILDREN FROM IMMUNIZATIONS MUST SUBMIT A SIGNED STATE FORM PROVING THEY RECEIVED INFORMATION ABOUT THE RISKS AND BENEFITS OF VACCINES FROM A HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL, WHO ALSO MUST SIGN THE FORM.
_______________________________________

“Most of the children (with whooping cough) are from middle school and high school, which confirms the fact that immunity from the vaccine wanes,” Apodaca said.

Of the 50 cases reported from June to July, 19 were from the San Fernando Valley, and 14 were from the South Bay.

The rise in rates of whooping cough, also known as Pertussis, is a reflection of an overall increase statewide. Latest figures show there have been 5,393 cases in California as of July 8, according to the California Department of Public Health, double the number from last year and enough to prompt state health officials to declare an epidemic. An updated report is expected next week.

Of the cases this year, Latino infants less than a year old were most likely to have whooping cough, according to state figures. But the data show that 64 percent of all 10-to-17-year-olds infected this season where white.

The highest rates are occurring in Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties in Northern California, where data show more parents choose not to vaccinate their children under the state’s personal belief exemption.

Under a state law that went into effect Jan. 1, parents who exclude their children from immunizations must submit a signed state form proving they received information about the risks and benefits of vaccines from a health care professional, who also must sign the form. Parents who are opting out due to religious reasons are exempt from the requirement.

In Sonoma County almost 6 percent of all children who entered child care centers were unvaccinated under the personal belief exemption compared with 2 percent of L.A. County’s toddlers.

Overall, about 3 percent of the parents of California children 2 to 4 years old in child care have claimed a personal belief exemption.

Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist at the Center for Infectious Diseases has said reasons for the soaring numbers are varied: The disease is cyclical, with peaks every three to five years; there’s an increased awareness and better reporting from health departments; and immunity from the Tdap vaccine, which many kids get young, tends to wane with age — a main reason booster shots are recommended for all 10-year-olds.

Health officials fear a repeat of 2010, when whooping cough reached epidemic levels in California, with more than 9,100 cases, including 10 deaths — the most in more than 60 years in the state and across the nation.

“It is too early to say whether or not the disease has peaked because the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) continues to receive reports for past weeks,” Chavez said in a statement Friday. “The department needs data from additional weeks to confirm that case numbers are trending downward.”

Within the LAUSD, 84 percent of all students have proven to be vaccinated with a booster Tdap vaccination, Apodaca said, noting that is about 8,000 students [...who have NOT been vaccinated].

All students going into seventh grade need proof of a whooping cough booster, according to state law.

The district will formally kick off vaccination clinics at several school sites beginning July 28, though only children who are uninsured, are Medi-Cal recipients or are Alaskan or Native American qualify for the program.

Chavez and other health officials continue to emphasize vaccination for pregnant women in their third trimester, regardless of previous Tdap vaccination. Infants as young as 6 months old can be inoculated. And to help prevent babies from sickness, older children, pre-adolescents and adults should also be vaccinated against pertussis, according to current recommendations.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease that can spread by coughing, health officials said. The disease is characterized by persistent coughing fits and gasping.


HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
LEAD LAUSD ATTORNEY IN CHILD ABUSE TRIAL STEPS DOWN TO ASSUME JUDGESHIP | http://bit.ly/1rqtPt7

Politco Morning Ed: CRISIS AT THE BORDER Read: http://tl.gd/n_1s2hde4

Special Ed: BY GETTING IT HALF RIGHT FEDS GET IT ALL WRONG | http://bit.ly/1tXTpYt

Koch High: HOW THE KOCH BROTHERS ARE BUYING THEIR WAY INTO THE MINDS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS | http://huff.to/1mm8yZT

"If there's ever a good time to be an unemployed teacher, this has to be the one." | http://bit.ly/1ribuOR

CALIFORNIA FUNDING FORMULA CREATES TEACHER DEMAND | http://bit.ly/1ribuOR

Breaking News: LAUSD BOARD MEMBER MONICA RATLIFF BACKS GEORGE MCKENNA IN DISTRICT 1 RACE | http://bit.ly/UcBXiu
●●smf U P D A T E: Monica Garcia has endorsed McKenna’s opponent – so now it’s the battle of the Monicas!

LOOKING FOR A NEW SUPERINTENDENT? Check out CSBA's executive search service with McPherson & Jacobsen http://ow.ly/z3rk3 #caedu #supt

Music Ed develops key skills including self-reflection, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation | http://bit.ly/1jy4dYG

HOW MUSIC ED POWERS THE STEAM MOVEMENT | http://bit.ly/1jy4dYG

ARNE DUNCAN FLUBBED ON COMMON CORE …AND THEN HE MADE IT WORSE | http://bit.ly/1p8THoB

LA SCHOOLS: CALIFORNIA ‘ENGLISH LEARNER’ TESTS INCORRECTLY LABEL BILINGUAL KIDS | http://bit.ly/1wvbQj6

"Public schools shouldn't play along with a system that gives some students an academic head start over others." | http://bit.ly/1nJ3Qud

BETTER EDUCATED PUBLIC SCHOOL KIDS – FOR A PRICE | http://bit.ly/1nJ3Qud

●A Picture worth a 1000¢: Retweeted from #BadAssTeachers and the Angry Birds: All the little birdies on Jaybird Street.... pic.twitter.com/xCzNWfmEyH

●●smf: Far better background on L.A. street gangs+their effect on the child immigration crisis than last Sunday's 4LAKids! NPR | http://n.pr/1mhn0Cc


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
Marguerite.LaMotte@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 is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten 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 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor 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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