Sunday, May 01, 2016

I've been to the mountaintop



4LAKids: Sunday 1•May•2016
In This Issue:
 •  EITHER 16,000 OR 6,000 SENIORS ARE IN DANGER OF NOT GRADUATING +smf’s 2¢ +a real meaningful opinion about A-thru-G
 •  CHARTER SCHOOLS SHARING LAUSD CAMPUSES: NOBODY LOVES IT, EVERYONE HAS TO LIVE WITH IT
 •  ITI TASK FORCE PREPARING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY PLAN
 •  GRANADA HILLS CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL WINS NATIONAL ACADEMIC DECATHLON
 •  RENOWNED EDUCATOR WARNS THAT LA UNIFIED’S FUTURE IS ‘DIRE’
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?


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 •  4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
There is an uncertain mythology about the community in Northeast Los Angeles that claims to be Mt Washington.

Let’s just say that MW is not a mountain, but a 940 foot anthill. It is Mt Washingtonians who make a mountain of it, perched above Highland Park and Cypress Park and Glassell Park and Eagle Rock, overlooking the railyards and Dodger Stadium with a distant visage of Downtown LA. From other sides of the hill one can see Glendale …or look down the San Gabriel Valley.

The mountain itself forms the aquafer that feeds the spring that is Sparkletts.

The late great LA Times columnist Jack Smith created Mt Washington in his mind and on the pages of The Times – a place not unlike Lake Wobegon: Our women are strong, our men are good looking and our children are above average …with test scores to prove it. Smith populated his MW with characters larger-and-more colorful than life.

If Jack Smith hadn’t come along someone else surely would’ve have noticed the quirky hillside community with marginal economic advantage and undue political influence: Half-a-bubble-off-level.


We have lost a favorite daughter, a strong Mt Washingtonian of the first rate.

PAT GRIFFITH
was not a rabble-rouser or a troublemaker; she was leader-from-the-center who quietly looked at the situation, figured out what needed to be done – and saw that it was done.

Pat was a founding member of the Mt Washington Babysitting Co-op – and kept that organization running – and the mission of Parent+Child Networking going. She was instrumental and getting a second Babysit Co-op started when younger kids and new parents came on the scene.

And she pushed the edge of the envelope and was instrumental in forming the Mt Washington Preschool – first in a church basement and later in a number of venues until it found a home at La Casita Verde. Mt Washington Preschool delivered a low-cost/educationally effective/economically sustainable/ culturally sensitive early childhood education program – a national model – for infants-to-pre-K to the community and surrounding communities.

The preschool eventually expanded to three sites as Mount Washington Preschool and Child Care Center, Inc. – with onsite preschool programs in LA City Hall and the downtown Federal Building as well as La Casita Verde. As president+ board chair of MWP&CCC Pat led the non-profit through hard financial times and difficult transitions in school staffing, consistently delivering a high-quality program and running an effective and tight ship. Getting little kids stared on their educations on the right foot.

Pat did this as a “part-time” volunteer, taking time from her family and daughter and job and life, giving-back and modelling the village it takes to raise our children.

Pat passed away on April 18th quite unexpectedly, leaving her husband, Scott Burleigh, and adult daughter Geneva – and an entire community – devastated.

Thank you Pat and Godspeed. Your example will lead us.


There will be a memorial service for Patricia Eileen Griffith for family+friends this Sunday afternoon (today) at the Denny & Jack Smith Community Center at Mt Washington School. Pat had lots o’ friends, if you suspect you are one of them – there is no past tense – you are!

MEMORIAL FOR PAT GRIFFITH, SUNDAY, MAY 1
Date: Sunday, May 1, 2016
Time: 5:30 p.m. – Potluck
6:30 p.m. – Remembering Pat
Location: Mt. Washington Elementary School
Multipurpose Room
3981 San Rafael Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90065


Potluck suggestions – please bring 8-12 servings of something you love, ideally according to these last-name categories (if the thing you love doesn’t fit the category, bring it anyway):

A-F: salads
G-L: side dishes
M-R: main dishes
S-Z: fruit and desserts
(smf - this is exactly how we did it for Babysit Co-op meetings!)

Beyond this, donations in any amount to the Mount Washington Preschool and Child Care Center, Inc. [http://bit.ly/1YYAs2W] that Pat loved so deeply would be a wonderful way to remember her: 4601 N. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90065.

Bike self-parking will be available courtesy of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. (Please bring your own lock).


_____________


CONGRATULATIONS TO THE DECATHLETES+COACHES at Granada Hills Charter High School for winning the 2016 National Academic Decathlon!


_____________


IN THE SUBBASEMENT of a building at Kaiser Sunset – on a floor called – in an architectural anomaly – ‘The Atrium” – is the Radiation Oncology Lab.

The waiting room is the atrium, the ceiling four or five floors above, all skylit+airy, ranks of seats facing large screens that summon the next patient into Radiation Therapy – into Rooms 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D, plus 2A, 2B, 2C and 2D.

You meet good people in the waiting room – waiting for their names to go up on the screen. We are going to be treated. We are going to get better.

This is not the dismal institutional waiting room from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward.

Also in the seats are those waiting for patients to be treated: spouses and family members, friends and caregivers. Next of kin. They are worried. They have seen the actuarial tables.

My name comes up and I head down the hallway to your room, 2B. or not 2B. Past the lead lined doors and the shielded+reinforced concrete partitions. The path is a maze of turns; radiation travels in straight lines. That stuff I learned in Physics comes in handy. I would imagine that the entry to the Pentagon Situation Room is like this, but with more flags.


2B: The Machine waits, all apple green and huge. A proton beam linear accelerator, to be specific a Varian TrueBeam™ Radiotherapy System. The internet says these puppies cost upwards of $3 million each.

Helpful young technicians are eager to help – after asking a few trick questions to make sure I am who I am say I am. (The danger of someone else getting my radiation therapy must be huge!)

I am laid on a table and aligned with lasers to discrete tattoos on my body: Aim radiation here!
I am a specimen on the stage of a microscope – like the old Monsanto Ride at Disneyland.

The table rises and pushes in, into the center of the Varian TrueBeam™ Radiotherapy System as the helpful technicians all leave the room and the door closes with a click; they will be watching the rest on computer screens – remotely targeting invasive malignancies like drone pilots in the Nevada desert.

(Needless to say your cell phone stopped working the second you left the waiting room; the wi-fi here is for different purposes!)

You are left alone with Your Machine, which whirrs and clicks and buzzes, rotating about you on its multiple axes, delivering death to your enemy – which is ironically you, gone ironically wrong.

Alone with your machine your mind wanders to the poem by Richard Brautigan:

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.
I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.
I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.


And as this seems to make cosmic sense the background music, which has been piped in from the eighties for this particular moment, segues to a new tune:


Well now, I get low and I get high,
And if I can't get either, I really try.
Got the wings of heaven on my shoes.
I'm a dancin' man and I just can't lose.
You know it's all right. It's OK.
I'll live to see another day.
We can try to understand
The New York Times' effect on man.
Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother,
You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin',
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive.


And ironically, with a smf hat-tip to the Brothers Gibb, that’s why we’re all here …wherever here is.


¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


EITHER 16,000 OR 6,000 SENIORS ARE IN DANGER OF NOT GRADUATING +smf’s 2¢ +a real meaningful opinion about A-thru-G
●●smf’s 2¢: according to the two articles below, by the same author on the same day but in two different (but not much) online publications, either 16,000 or 6,000 LAUSD seniors are in danger of not graduating. OMG! But what’s 10,000 twelfth graders among anti-public school provocateurs?


16,000 SENIORS FAILING WITH 6 WEEKS TO GO: THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD OF LAUSD’S RAISED BAR FOR GRADUATION
Posted on LA School Report by Craig Clough | http://bit.ly/1NKudiF

April 28, 2016 6:30 pm :: The LA Unified school board faced a difficult decision in June.

It had previously voted to raise the bar on its graduation requirements starting in 2016 in an effort to get more students into college, but it was clear not enough students were ready for the challenge and graduation rates would plummet if aggressive action was not taken.

The board ultimately chose to stick with the raised bar, and the district is now entering the final stages of that difficult decision.

More than 6,000 seniors are currently failing at least one of their required “A though G” courses, meaning if they can’t raise their grade to a D by the end of the semester in six weeks, they will not graduate on time. Yet these students are considered “on track” by the district because to be labeled on track, a student need only be enrolled in the required A-G courses.

And 10,000 more are considered “off track,” meaning they are missing one or more A-G class.

“While I am encouraged by the recent efforts and commitment (to A-G), it also shows us the gap of the work that we have today,” board member Monica Garcia told LA School Report.

Garcia has been one of the board’s strongest supporters of the A-G standards, and at the June board debate said, “This has been a hard road. Not because we are not committed to a hundred percent for everyone,” but because the district struggles to “improve practice that meets the needs of all kids.”

A recent district report showed that 68 percent of seniors are currently “on track” to meet their A-G course requirements — a number that has been predicted to significantly rise before the semester is over — but 30 percent, or 6,400, of those on-track students were failing a course at the 10-week mark. While district leaders have expressed optimism that many students are getting the help they need, it is clear that a significant number of students who last year would have otherwise graduated with the same final transcript will not do so this year.

Thousands of other students will also graduate having earned D’s in the A-G courses, which means they will not be eligible for California’s public universities because C’s are required. And still thousands more will graduate only due to a massive $15 million credit recovery program that allows them to earn a C if they can demonstrate proficiency in an online course, a practice that has been called into question by some education experts who characterize it as an essentially cheap and faulty way of getting a student to graduate.

A report this month from the Public Policy Institute of California studied the impact the raised A-G standards are having on a number of districts that have taken them on. San Diego Unified, which like LA Unified is also implementing A-G standards for the first time this year, is facing a huge drop-off in graduation rates.* ( The district is undertaking a wide-scale credit recovery program for the first time this year similar to LA Unified’s and it is unclear to what level this could boost the graduation rate.)

The results at San Diego Unified are bittersweet, with more students than ever meeting the A-G requirements, while at the same time graduation rates are set to drop from 87.5 percent in 2014 to 72 percent this year. Ten percent more San Diego students may become eligible to apply to the California public university systems, but 16 percent more may fail to graduate.

“In sum, by increasing graduation requirements, San Diego and other districts have opened more doors to success. Ironically, they have also opened more doors to failure, in the sense that a greater number of students are now at risk of not graduating,” the report stated.

While district leaders are predicting that LA Unified will avoid any graduation crisis due to the credit recovery program, and that graduation rates may even rise to new highs, the district still grapples with the same issues San Diego is facing from choosing to raise the graduation bar. Like San Diego, LA Unified lowered the planned requirement for C’s to be earned in A-G classes for graduation to D’s, even though it meant the ultimate purpose of getting kids into college would not be met.

According to a district memo, as of March, 48 percent of LA Unified seniors were on-track to graduate with C’s or better in all A-G courses, meaning if the district actually meets the predicted rate of 80 percent graduation this year, some 11,000-plus students will be graduating without qualifying for admittance to California’s public universities, which is the entire intent and purpose of the A-G graduation standards.

“You talk about the right to a diploma and this is a debate that we have, and I don’t think there is really one right answer that could apply to all students,” said Sara Mooney, an education program associate at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which has advocated for the district to keep the A-G standards. “For students, the purpose of the courses are not just to make you eligible for college but this is also a conversation about the quality of a child’s education, and that means the quality of their diploma and the weight that their diploma carries after they graduate. We really have to be responsible for this in offering them the resources to be successful in their school and subsequently in life.”

When asked how she weighs the balance between the higher standards and the needs of the students who will not make it to graduation as a result, Garcia said, “For the last 10 years I have represented the kids who don’t get a diploma and who do get a diploma. And every year there have been more young people getting a diploma. So we are not new to dealing with the absence of success for our system to get to everybody. That is not the new piece. The new piece is that we do have a challenge to the system in how do we manage what is a California requirement, and what is an LAUSD requirement. And we have more students completing the courses required for college, which is a very good thing.”

One promising statistic for A-G supporters is that overall the district’s A-G completion rate has gone from 18 percent in 2005 to the projected-and-rising 68 percent of today.

“I am encouraged by what I see for us moving toward higher standards and higher levels of personalization,” Garcia said. “I think it’s very exciting that, yes, we have increased the challenge, and repeatedly our young people have said I need high expectations like that.”

* A previous version of this story said San Diego Unified was not undertaking a large credit recovery program. The report citied includes only data through August before the credit recovery program began.

__________


L.A. SCHOOLS INSIST 6,000 HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS WITH FAILING GRADES ARE ‘ON TRACK’ TO GRADUATE IN 6 WEEKS

By Craig Clough in The 74 - This article was produced in partnership with LA School Report | http://bit.ly/1Y09FmJ

April 28, 2016 :: While the Los Angeles Unified School District’s projected 2016 graduation rate continues to tick up as seniors complete extra credit recovery courses to make up those they previously failed, 30 percent of those now considered “on track” for graduation currently aren’t because they are failing at least one of the district’s A through G classes.

To be labeled “on track” a student need only be enrolled in the A-G courses, which are required for admittance to California’s public universities, and if these failing grades do not improve to at least a D by the end of the semester, six weeks away, roughly 6,400 seniors would not be eligible to graduate on time — which would drop the city’s current projected graduation rate from 68 percent to 48 percent.

Frances Gipson, LA Unified’s chief academic officer, said a number of actions have been taken to get extra help and resources to the students who are failing a course, and the district is still hopeful that last year’s record graduation rate of 77 percent will be surpassed.

“We are seeking to exceed last year’s expectations, that is our goal,” Gipson told LA School Report.

Due in part to a $15 million credit recovery program that has been aggressively implemented this school year, the projected A-G completion rate has risen steadily, up from 54 percent in January and 63 percent in February to now stand at 68 percent. (District officials in February predicted LA Unified may graduate 80 percent of its seniors, which would be an all-time record.)

The credit recovery program was enacted by the school board this fiscal year to help offset a potential graduation crisis, as this year is the first time the A-G courses are required for graduation. The courses, if all are passed with a C or better, would make students eligible for acceptance in California’s public universities, although seniors only need to get a D in order to graduate.

Gipson said the extra help being given to seniors failing an A-G course include having counselors meet with the students and letters sent to the student’s parent or guardian. School counselors “have met with all students in the class of 2016 that are currently on-track but received a fail at the 10-week mark to discuss intervention and supports needed to pass and stay on track,” said an April 18 memo to Superintendent Michelle King from Gipson and Carol Alexander, director of A-G Intervention and Support.

Asked if the number of students currently failing an A-G course was a cause for concern, Cynthia Lim, executive director of LA Unified’s Office of Data and Accountability, said that it was hard to determine what the number meant because “this is new. We’ve never had A-G as a graduation requirement before, so this is all new.”

Gipson added that the current 20 percent number “is relatively consistent with past patterns we have seen with students in terms of, as you think about your own child or your friend’s children, there are always those who may be getting a D or an F and we need find out why they may be getting a D or an F. Is it because of attendance? Is it because they need extra tutorial support? Are they not turning in assignments? Do they need extra assignments? I think there are multiple pathways we can explore.”

Before the credit recovery program began across the district in the fall, the projected graduation rate was only 54 percent, a steep decline from last year’s all-time high of 77 percent.

The credit recovery program involves getting seniors currently not on track to take extra coursework on weekends, after school as well as during holiday breaks. Many of the courses are online and only require students to demonstrate basic proficiency in the subject, which has caused some to question the academic rigor of the online courses. The district and Gipson have previously defended the academic value of the courses.

Over spring break in late March, the district enacted the “Spring Plus” program at 15 high schools that provided resources and dedicated staff to get students back on track, according to Gipson and Alexander’s memo. The program has continued on Saturdays since spring break and is scheduled to be completed May 28. Attendance has varied depending on the day, but 313 seniors showed up at the 15 high schools on the first Monday of spring break.

According to an April 4 memo, 21,729 seniors are currently on-track to complete their A-G requirements, but 6,428 — or 30 percent — received an F at the 10-week mark. There are 4,746 seniors off-track by one or two courses, 1,455 off-track by three or four courses and 3,878 off-track by five or more courses.

In June, when facing the stark graduation projections due to the coming A-G requirements, the school board lowered the required grades in A-G courses from a C to a D for the class of 2017. (The class of 2016 could always receive D’s for graduation.) The A-G course requirements, which were first conceived and passed by the board in 2005, are aimed at getting more LA Unified students into California’s public universities. Despite the lowering of the bar, the district has made significant progress since 2005, according to a March 7 memo by Gipson and Alexander that showed 48 percent of all LA Unified high school students are passing their A-G courses with C’s or better.

“This shows tremendous growth since the class of 2005, when only 18 percent graduated meeting the A-G course requirements with a C or better,” the memo stated.

_____________

●●●ANOTHER …AND FAR WISER OPINION:
Alan Warhaftig [http://bit.ly/1QIs4yz], The English coordinator/counselor at Fairfax High School, writes 4LAKids:

Subject: Re: 16,000 seniors failing with 6 weeks to go: The double-edged sword of LAUSD's raised bar for graduation - LA School Report

MISIS aside, it was obvious from the outset that the A-G graduation requirement would cause problems. I once told Marguerite LaMotte how much I admired her for voting against A-G, and she responded that she’d paid a stiff political price for that vote.

I don’t doubt that there have been examples of low expectations by counselors based on the race of a student, and I’m all for raising standards and making the high school diploma more meaningful, but having worked with teenagers for 25 years, I can tell you that, in general, they could not care less about a School Board mandate for higher achievement. The edicts of elected officials don't outweigh what’s going on in some of their lives.
In the past two months, I’ve had three students in my classes unexpectedly lose a parent.   School is a struggle for them at the moment, but it’s not the most important struggle in their lives.

Declaring that LAUSD would henceforth attempt to emulate Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, where "all the children are above average," was the height of impracticality. A-G is a set of requirements for eligibility for admission to the state’s four-year universities, and the California Master Plan for Higher Education says that the UCs are for the top eighth of high school graduates and the Cal States are for the top third. Why should all high school students be required to meet the academic requirements of the top third in order to receive a high school diploma? Merely meeting the A-G requirements doesn’t gain a student admission to Cal States or UCs. There aren’t enough places for everyone, so admission requires a competitive GPA and SAT score.

Practically speaking, the A-G graduation requirement means that, in addition to previous graduation requirements, students need to pass Algebra 2, Chemistry and two years of a foreign language. Algebra 2 is the problem. With the fail rate for Algebra 1 above 50%, Algebra 2 is a huge hurdle for many students. With the adoption of the Common Core curriculum, math has become substantially more difficult - requiring more problem solving than procedure.

It would be interesting to know how many students aren’t reflected in the charts, having dropped out of school after failing Algebra 1 two or even three times, and seeing no path to graduation. What is the four-year cohort graduation rate?


CHARTER SCHOOLS SHARING LAUSD CAMPUSES: NOBODY LOVES IT, EVERYONE HAS TO LIVE WITH IT

by Kyle Stokes | KPCC 89.3 | http://bit.ly/1VZLnvJ
Audio from this story: 4:23 | Listen: http://bit.ly/26FI6oC (strongly advised)

April 28 2016 :: Martin Wong and Wendy Lau were frustrated. They'd gotten a letter from the Los Angeles Unified School District saying their daughter's school, Castelar Street Elementary in Chinatown, might have to turn over several classrooms to a charter school.

Most frustrating about the letter, dated February 27, was that Wong and Lau could do little to stop Metro Charter School from "co-locating" on the district's property — a California law known as Prop 39 says school districts must open up their campuses to charter schools searching for a building.

"We're thinking, 'What?'" Wong said. "'How can all this happen without involving parents?'"

But unbeknownst to Wong, Lau and many parents at Castelar, leaders of Metro Charter School had their own frustration's with the district's proposed arrangement.

The district said Metro Charter School's request was essentially for 12 classrooms. But L.A. Unified assigned only five classrooms at Castelar to the co-location. The rest of the rooms the district offered were at two other district schools.

"The proposal was for us to split ourselves into three campuses," said Apurva Pande, a member of Metro Charter School's board. Accepting the offer, board members decided, would be neither logistically nor financially viable.

So Metro turned down the district's co-location offer, despite a desperate need for more space.

The political friction between L.A. Unified and charter schools makes it easy to forget the two sides are often so much more than neighbors — they're practically roommates. More than 19,000 students attend a charter school that operates on a school district site. One out of every three independent charter schools in Los Angeles is co-located, many under Prop 39 — and some of the arrangements are peaceful and mutually beneficial.

But the frustrations that ended the Metro-Castelar co-location before it could begin are also common. Some charter school advocates suspect the district is mismanaging the process of assigning co-locations — and have argued as much in court. But district sympathizers say parents at Castelar, or at any school selected for co-location, had a right to be worried.

"There are co-location sites that work better than others when there really is an effort to share space," said L.A. School Board president Steve Zimmer. "But make no mistake: this is a broken system, a broken law, it needs to be changed.

"This is a zero-sum game," he added, "that is set up to create winners and losers. And most often — not always, but most often — it’s the host district school that loses. They lose space. They lose students."

With their passage of Prop 39 in 2000, California voters expanded charter schools rights to district space. No longer would state law only require districts to share unused, surplus space with charter schools; district would have to ensure its facilities could be "fairly shared" by all public school students, including charter students.

Under Prop 39, districts must offer charter schools "reasonably equivalent … facilities that will sufficiently accommodate all of the charter’s in-district students." School districts can't charge rent, but can collect fees from co-located charter schools for expenses like maintenance and security services. The schools' principals negotiate plans to share spaces like libraries, cafeterias, gymnasiums and playgrounds.

Since Los Angeles real estate is expensive, finding suitable space to lease is difficult, city permitting can be a hassle and charters' access to bond money to build their own buildings limited, co-location is often an "expedient" option for many new charter schools, said Myrna Castrejon, executive director of the pro-charter school group Great Public Schools Now.

Castrejon said on some of the most harmonious co-location sites, charter and district-run schools are sharing extracurricular programs and professional development for teachers.
Eloise Wong, a second grader in Castelar Street Elementary's Mandarin dual language program, shows off her classwork during an open house.
Eloise Wong, a second grader in Castelar Street Elementary's Mandarin dual language program, shows off her classwork during an open house. Kyle Stokes/KPCC

But discord from troubled co-location sites can drown out the harmony. At Castelar Street Elementary, for instance, parents protested that the rooms they stood to lose were actually in use. Two house a music program. The principal planned to turn another, currently a science room, into another computer lab for state testing.

Wong and Lau pointed out the loss of six rooms — five for classrooms, one for an office — would make it more difficult for Castelar to grow its Mandarin dual language program, which had become a selling point for the school.

But charter school advocates — while acknowledging the difficulty of L.A. Unified officials' task to find space to offer to all 95 charters that applied for Prop 39 space — aren't convinced their schools receive all of the space to which they're entitled. Last year, the state Supreme Court ruled L.A. Unified officials were "undercounting" the number of classrooms available to share with charters.

In addition, the type of "split-site" co-location offer that Metro Charter found to be logistically and financially unworkable has become more common.

Two years ago, L.A. Unified's made eight co-location offers that involved multiple sites; last year, the district made split-site offers to seven charters, according to a count from the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA).

This year, the district offered 19 split-site co-locations. They've made 24 such offers for next year, according to the association.

Metro Charter School's 200 students cram into a former daycare space on a hospital campus in downtown Los Angeles. Principal Kim Clerx says quarters are tight during lunch, which the school serves in this room.

Metro Charter School's 200 students cram into a former daycare space on a hospital campus in downtown Los Angeles. Principal Kim Clerx says quarters are tight during lunch, which the school serves in this room.
José Cole-Gutiérrez, who heads L.A. Unified's Charter Schools Division and oversees the Prop 39 application process, said it's not fair to read into the higher numbers of split-site offers without considering the locations of these offers. He said in certain areas of Los Angeles, district officials are simply unable to find space where charters can co-locate on a single site.

"L.A. Unified understands and respects its obligation and takes it very seriously that we provide the space under Prop 39," said Cole-Gutiérrez. "Especially in those impacted areas [where available co-location space is already scarce], it will continue to be a challenge where we have to balance the needs of all the students in those areas."

His office's task may be even more difficult if an expansion of charter schools moves forward. A leaked draft of a plan from Great Public Schools Now, which counts the Broad Foundation among its funders, calls for adding more than 130,000 new charter school seats in L.A. The plan's calculations count on Prop 39 space to account for some of those new seats.

"Prop 39 is the epitome of everything that has changed in the charter movement from its inception — to be an incubator for change, and transformation, and innovation — to now being simply an instrument for competition," said board president Zimmer. But he also added the district's past implementation of Prop 39 has contributed to some of the discord.

"In the previous administration, co-location was viewed as a punishment" for underwhelming enrollment figures, he said.

The district could correct for that, Zimmer suggested, by offering host schools in co-locations financial bonuses or priority in maintenance requests. But he also called on state-level officials to correct co-location policies by offering clearer ground rules and a more level playing field.

Castrejon, of Great Public Schools Now, also suggested the state could alleviate some of the pressure on Prop 39 by making it easier for charter schools to access public funds for construction.

Others have suggested, in general, school districts could do more to include charter schools on their facilities bonds.

There are co-location success stories, Castrejon said: "I don't think that it's necessarily by default an option that doesn't work."

But do the troublesome co-locations outnumber the success stories?

"There’s a lot of work left to do," Castrejon replied. "No question."


ITI TASK FORCE PREPARING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY PLAN

from LAUSD Daily by LAUSD Office of Communications | http://bit.ly/1YYVdeJ

Apr 29, 2016 | As it wrapped up its last official meeting of the school year, the Instructional Technology Initiative Task Force prepared to finalize its recommendations for a plan to integrate technology into the classroom.

The group of educators and civic leaders was assembled last year by then-Superintendent Ramon Cortines and tasked with creating a District-wide vision and strategy for how to provide students and teachers with the technology they need to succeed. In the coming weeks, officials will be finalizing a report using the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards as a framework. Developed by the educators representing a wide range of content areas, grade levels, and geographic regions, the ITSE standards guide schools in transforming blended learning environments.

Using this framework, the task force is developing recommendations to guide modernization of teaching and learning along with the necessary supporting infrastructure. The group will share its work with Superintendent King in the coming weeks and aims to present it to the Board of Education in June.

Task force members frequently broke into small groups to engage in intense conversations about the future of technology in education.

“I have a lot of confidence in the work we’ve done so far,” said Task Force member Michael Anderson, who is a National Board Certified science teacher at Los Angeles Academy Middle School in South L.A. “There is a lot of wisdom in this room, and the group is very functional. However, the major work will be in creating culture change. In order to do that we will need to continue listening carefully to what our students, our teachers, our parents and others are trying to tell us.”

Dr. Sharon Sutton, a representative from the Cotsen Foundation for the Art of Teaching, expressed similar sentiments.

“From an outside perspective, it’s just astounding how rapidly and thoughtfully this group has brought this together,” she said. “As we think about communicating recommendations, it’s important to define clearly what we mean by ‘learner.’ It’s not just the students we are talking about. It’s teachers, administrators and parents. We are all learners through this process.”
The district's chief academic officer, Dr. Francis Gipson, was appointed by former superintendent Cortines to chair the ITI task force.

The task force has met semimonthly since its inception. Dr. Frances Gipson, the District’s chief academic officer and the task force chair, hopes to convene group on a quarterly basis in the next school year.

“I am so excited to have been on this journey with you all,” she said. “Thanks to your dedication, we are in the final stages of delivering a list of recommendations that are concise and elegant. Our work is by no means done, but we are in a place where we can have a new beginning.


GRANADA HILLS CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL WINS NATIONAL ACADEMIC DECATHLON
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: received by email

Press are invited to the Welcome Rally on Monday, May 2, 2016 at 8:00 a.m.
School flagpole at 10535 Zelzah Ave., Granada Hills 91344
Contact: Marilyn Koziatek, Community Outreach, (323) 309-4241 mkoziatek@ghchs.com

April 30, 2016– Granada Hills Charter High School garnered its fifth United States Academic Decathlon (USAD) title - in six years – earlier today in Anchorage, Alaska. Granada Hills Charter scored 54,195.1 out of a possible 60,000. This award marks the end of the 2015-16 academic decathlon season in which Granada Hills Charter won all levels of competition including the city, state and national titles.

“It’s exciting to win at this level,” said Mathew Arnold, GHCHS English teacher and Academic Decathlon coach, “This win isn’t just for us. It’s a way to for the whole school to show our strength. I’m proud of our kids and feel fortunate to be a part of this team!”

The Academic Decathlon is a 10-event scholastic competition for high school students that consists of seven multiple choice tests plus a speech, interview, and essay. Granada Hills Charter captured the trophy in the fast-paced super quiz round, signaling the end of the competition on Friday afternoon. The Awards Banquet was held at the Civic Center in Anchorage and the team’s championship was announced to cheers in the packed auditorium, including all the parents of the GHCHS team.
“We are so proud of our son and his teammates for their dedication,” said Sundio Lin, father of Joshua Lin, a member of the team since 2015. “They work so hard. Seven days a week. The coaches and staff, they love our children and sacrifice so much, every year. We are grateful to see Joshua succeed like this.”

The Academic Decathlon divides the competition into three categories based on GPA: Honor (3.75-4.00), Scholastic (3.00-3.74), and Varsity (2.99 or below). Granada Hills Charter won the top individual scores in all three categories.

GHCHS also earned national USAD titles in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015. This year’s winning team of students are Mark Aguila, Julian Duran, Isha Gupta, Joshua Lin, Christopher Lo, Aishah Mahmud, Melissa Santos, Mayeena Ulkarim and Jorge Zepeda. The coaches are Mathew Arnold, Jon Sturtevant, and Rachael Phipps.

# # #

RENOWNED EDUCATOR WARNS THAT LA UNIFIED’S FUTURE IS ‘DIRE’
Posted on LA School Report by Mike Szymanski | http://bit.ly/1SVRqRg

April 28, 2016 4:28 pm :: Internationally renowned education expert Pedro Noguera warned members of the LA Unified school board and superintendent that unless more serious measures are taken, the nation’s second-largest school district is destined to lose more students.

“The future is dire,” Noguera told the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday afternoon. He pointed to entire neighborhoods in Philadelphia with abandoned schools. “It’s not there aren’t enough kids, they lost the commitment to education. I hope that doesn’t happen in this city.”

The challenges LA Unified is facing, he said, include declining enrollment because of the growth of charters and demographic shifts, chronically under-performing schools, structural budget deficits and the need to increase public support for schools.

Noguera has written 11 books and more than 200 articles about education and focuses his research on how economic conditions impact schools. He served as a school board member at Berkeley Unified and is now a Distinguished Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at UCLA.

Committee chairman George McKenna invited the professor to make a presentation to offer advice and give examples of what other schools do.

“I appreciate you coming to tell us the truth, even though we may not want to hear it,” McKenna said. “We have to take this situation seriously, really seriously.”

School board president Steve Zimmer attended the committee meeting although he was on his way to Washington, D.C., for the rest of the week to help lobby for the district. He told Noguera, “There is no more important city in this world for you to be in, and I’m glad that you’re here and work with us.”

Zimmer noted that Noguera discussed the district’s concerns about competition for students between traditional and charter schools. “As you spoke,” Zimmer said, “it was actually quite emotional because I think we have been through a time where we have misunderstood the role of competition and in that misunderstanding have caused some injury and caused it to be potentially more difficult to build the foundation of trust.”

Nearly 16 percent of LA Unified’s students are enrolled in 211 charter schools, and that number would grow significantly under a plan to increase charter enrollment in the district, which the school board unanimously opposed in January.

Noguera said, “Like it or not, schools are competing for kids, and public schools don’t even realize it. Like it or not, that’s the set-up.”

He pointed out his granddaughter goes to a traditional LA Unified school where the parents are only allowed to drop children off between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m., while the charter school around the corner allows drop-offs as early as 7 a.m.

“For a busy working parent, like her mom is, and in a city like this where transportation is a big issue, that is not a small factor,” Noguera said. That alone could be a reason for a family to choose a charter school over a traditional school.

“Public and charter schools are collaborating, but that is not happening enough,” Noguera said. “It has to be OK for principals to say, ‘I need help,’ and not have that being used against them. Otherwise, they will just hope that no one knows what the situation is.”

He called for “collaborative problem solving,” which must come from the central office. “They must let everyone know they are not here to scrutinize, but want to help you and show you how to figure it out and solve the problem.”

That includes the charter school and traditional school situation, he said. “Trust comes from collaboration,” he said.

Superintendent Michelle King asked how to replicate what is successful at schools, and he described a program in San Diego where leaders visit schools once a quarter and offer support to principals and teachers about best practices.

Noguera cited a 90-minute math class he had visited at Hollenbeck Middle School whose teacher had complete control of her class and allowed students to help each other. Meanwhile, a class across the hallway had students who were unable to focus and were being disruptive.

“It took a while for that teacher to establish the class,” he said, pointing out that many of the students were English-language learners living in East Los Angeles. “She had to determine which kids could work together and which ones can’t work together.”

He recommended that the district structure time so teachers can learn from other good teachers. McKenna brought up celebrated teacher Jaime Escalante whose rough approach with students was highly criticized. His story was told in the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver.”

“Why is it so difficult to replicate good work?” asked McKenna, who like Escalante taught math in LA Unified. “Jaime Escalante’s work was frowned upon. What makes it difficult to go across the hall and learn from each other?”

Noguera answered, “That is a common problem, because of the isolation of teachers.”

Among Noguera’s suggestions for the school board were:

• Support and recognize high-quality teaching.
• Focus on morale.
• Provide incentives for teachers and administrators with a track record of effectiveness to work in “high need” schools and communities.
• Publicize your success.
• Prevent educational issues from becoming overly publicized.

Monica Ratliff asked about the bonuses and incentives given some teachers to work in more challenging schools. Noguera said the incentives don’t even have to be monetary but could include more planning periods or other bonuses.

“We should look into this,” Ratliff said.

Noguera pointed out that some answers are within the district already but aren’t being shared. He said some schools might be very good at converting English-language students into the general school population, but the district doesn’t have a way of tracking which schools are better at it.

He and other university education experts are visiting schools throughout the LA Unified district.

“I hope this will be an ongoing collaboration with the district,” Noguera said.


EVENTS: Coming up next week...

Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Equity Committee Meeting - May 3, 2016 - 9:30 a.m.
*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:
Scott.Schmerelson@lausd.net • 213-241-8333
Monica.Garcia@lausd.net • 213-241-6180
Ref.Rodriguez@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 the Superintendent:
superintendent@lausd.net • 213-241-7000
...or your city councilperson, mayor, county supervisor, state legislator, 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. Volunteer in the classroom. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child - and ultimately: For all children.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE at http://registertovote.ca.gov/
• 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 13 years. He currently serves as Vice President for Health, is a Legislation Action Committee member and a member of the Board of Directors 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, April 24, 2016

So 400 years ago



4LAKids: Sunday 1•Jan•2016
In This Issue:
 •  Robles-Wong v. CA: CALIFORNIA APPEALS COURT REJECTS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A QUALITY EDUCATION
 •  L.A. UNIFIED MAGNETS ACCEPTED LESS THAN HALF OF APPLICANTS THIS YEAR
 •  MASSIVE LOSS OF PRESCHOOL SEATS LOOMS FOR LA COUNTY
 •  POLL: VOTERS SUPPORT SCHOOL BOND AND PROP. 30 EXTENSION
 •  HOW O.C. PARENTS LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR SCHOOL DESEGREGATION IN THE U.S.
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?


Featured Links:
 •  ► Friends4smf :: The GoFundMe campaign
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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 royal coincidence of the death of Prince and the 90th birthday of HM The Queen cannot go unremarked upon.

Neither can the 400th anniversary of the seeming simultaneity of the deaths of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra on April 23, 2016.

Cervantes was the father of the novel, Shakespeare the father of the modern English language as an art form.

(OK, technically April 23, 1616 in Madrid was ten days apart from that same date in Stratford-upon-Avon due to differences in the Julian and Gregorian calendars; but differences between legend and fact are always decided in legend’s favor.)
“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!” ― Cervantes, Don Quixote

“Goodnight sweet Prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”/“I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain.”

__________

LAST FRIDAY I was invited to address the LAUSD Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) Parent Advisory Committee (PAC); those parents elected and appointed to represent parents and advise the Board of Education on the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) – also known as the District’s 2016-17 Budget.

Here is what I said:


I have been struggling with what I am going to say today. The other day I was folding laundry, thinking this over. I assure you, no matter what ones health is – how good or how dire – the laundry doesn’t fold itself.

Thank you to the PAC for inviting me.

Thank you all for listening to me.

I want to especially thank Rowena Lagrosa for letting me and empowering me to speak. Rowena and I go back quite a while; she was the director at Mt Washington School where I first practiced my parent activism… and she actually encouraged me to expand my vision+disruptive efforts to the bigger district.

Rowena got me appointed to the Central District Algebra Textbook Selection Committee as the sole parent rep – a job for which I was strangely+uniquely qualified… because in high school I took Algebra I three times!


The topic assigned me today: “Effective and Constructive Parent Engagement on the LCAP: Present and Future” is quite a mouthful and quite a topic. There’s plenty of water under that bridge, present, past and future.

I am an old guy, invited to share an historical perspective – and none of the history is all that good.


Parent Engagement and Parent Involvement are like a bacon-and-egg breakfast:
• The Chicken is involved.
• The Pig is engaged.


LAUSD says a great deal and indeed says great things about parent+community involvement+engagement.

It creates great policy. It fills binders with it. It fills shelves with the binders. (Dr. V – Schoolboard member Richard Vladovic has said – and I have oft repeated: “Nobody fills binders with policy and shelves with dusty binders better than LAUSD!”

It delivers not so well – not through lack of trying – but through lack of follow through. Compliance+Commitment are opposite ends of a broad spectrum.

And when the money gets tight – parent and community services get cut.

And when the leadership at the top lacks a commitment to involving and engaging parents and the community – the real community, not organizations with “community” in their name – the PCSB gets outsourced and rightsized and decentralized.

Once the PCSB was across the street from District HQ; now it it’s a couple a miles away. And the HQ building itself is unfriendly+unwelcoming to parents and all visitors. Parking is problematic at best. And if you are handicapped, forget about it.

Parent Community Involvement and Engagement hit a low under the superintendency of John Deasy and the PCSB chieftaincy of Maria Casillas. Parent groups were disbanded, especially if they were reticent to get with the program. Groups like PTA were ignored.

We parent leaders were disrespected.

Grass roots membership organizations were out of favor, an alphabet soup of AstroTurf single-issue organizations with agendas that agreed with the powers-that-be were favored.


We parents share a common experience. We all first cross that threshold with a small hand in our hand – we come to the school and the District bringing our greatest treasure.

We are met with chain link and a sign that threatens what will happen if we visit the premises without registering with the principal, citing board rules and the criminal code.

Where is the sign that says “Welcome Parents”?

When we come into the office were are greeted with “What Do You Want?” Rather than “How Can We Help You?”

The real question needs to be: “How Can We Help Each Other Help Kids?”

I am all for Parent Centers – but not if they are to be The Place Where Parents Belong.

We belong anywhere we can help. In the classroom. On the playground. Having conversations about our kids and all kids in the office and the staffroom and at the local district and at every floor of 333 S. Beaudry.

Of course, we parents are capable of being real pieces of work. I can be cranky – I have been what Superintendent Romer called a burr in the saddle. We as parents – and especially those of us who are leaders – need to practice some parenting skills – and that means encouraging the District when it does well. We cannot be a succession of three minute public speakers who criticize the district at every meeting …or that’s all we will ever be.


Which brings us to the LCFF, The LCAP and the work of the PAC – now and into the future.

The Local Control Funding Formula is a positive step …but it is NOT the much needed School Finance Reform California needs.

I am here as a representative of the California State PTA, of which I am a former Board of Director. I was Vice President of Health – perhaps because they didn’t have a V.P. of Falling Apart Healthwise.

Half the people on Beaudry think that I am the PTA. “This is Scott, he’s the PTA.” Half the people in California PTA think that I am LAUSD. These are not easy hats to wear; it ain’t easy being me.

We in state PTA, a membership organization with almost a million members – representing six million California schoolchildren – look upon LAUSD as the a ton gorilla in the room – or maybe the dead skunk in the middle of the road.

LAUSD is ten percent of California’s educational establishment. A tenth of the budget. A tenth of the effort. Easily 25% of the drama.

We in PTA, me in PTA, want the LCFF to succeed in LAUSD because if it doesn’t it sets a dangerous precedent and other districts might emulate LAUSD and we’re off the hell in that handbasket.

You in the LAUSD PAC: Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

The Parent Advisory Council you serve upon is a Deasy-era attempt at compliance with the LCFF.

From Dr. D’s viewpoint it was a minimal effort, one in which most of you have put your maximum effort – only to be initially rewarded with threats and intimidation.

I don’t think many of us doubt that the attempt was made for the District to Advise the PAC, not the other way around.

Over the past three years things have gotten better, though not good enough. Thank you for your insistence and perseverance and good work.

The whole world is watching. The job before you, in addition to weighing in and making some noise about the LCAP process AND this year’s budget outcome – is to establish a place for the next Parent Advisory Council to move forward from – and to ultimately succeed.

For the kids.

For the cosmically unfortunately named Unduplicated Pupil Count.
For Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Students.
For the English Language Learners.
For the Foster Kids.
For Every Child.

Ultimately you need to speak for all the children with one voice. Moving forward. Relentlessly Onward!

Thank you …and do good work!


_______


ON MONDAY EVENING I attended the annual meeting of the Hollywood High School Alumni Association, of which I am a member. It was a meeting full of adult conflict and insults: real+imagined. Governed not by Robert’s Rules of Order …but by Stanislavski’s Method …wherein as much drama as can possibly be inserted into the proceedings is, the motion is seconded, accusations of past felonies are repeated and lawsuits are threatened. Nobody asked my opinion and I shared it anyway, complicating the complications.

Bear in mind I am under doctor’s orders and prescription medication. When I am reasonable late-at-night it is me – when I am not so it is morphine.

“Trust in me
Just in me
Put all your trust in me
You're doin' morphine.”
- Michael Jackson – Blood on the Dance Floor/HIStory in the Mix


The HHSAA is a generally senior bunch re-living our past high school glories from a far remove; most have us have been getting the senior discount on our McCafe for a decade.


“(If you'd like to see it, I've been keeping a log of department meetings ranked according to level of trauma, with a 1 indicating mild contentiousness, a 3 signifying uncontrolled shouting, and a 5 leading to at least one nervous breakdown and/or immediate referral to the crisis center run by the Office of Mental Health.)”
― Julie Schumacher Dear Committee Members | http://bit.ly/1Nq0onc


At the meeting I was blessed to sit next to young alumna, a Hollywood High graduate from a year or two back. Before the meeting dissolved into name-calling and parliamentary chaos I had the good fortune to chat her up. She’s a Latina, a college student at a CSU on a pre-dentistry track, filled with hope and living the American Dream on a shoestring – thankful for the small scholarship the HHSAA bestows upon deserving graduates.

(The HHSAA does do good work, we just fight about it while doing it!)

She is a Dreamer - bilingual+biliterate - undocumented since her entry into this country as a toddler. Her parent’s status is complicated.

She is living the HHS motto - Achieving the Honorable - a precious gift from Mexico to this country and fie on those who would send her back!

(Dante reserves the Ninth Circle of Hell for those who betray trust and hosts who betray guests)


“Imagine a place so terrible, so absolutely destructive that you have no better option than to put your child in a tiny boat and travel across an entire sea in an attempt at escape. We’re so completely isolated from the true terror in this world that we can’t even relate to that level of devastation.”
— Summar Kawas on The New York Times’s Facebook page, responding to an article about Pulitzer Prize-winning photos of the migrant crisis in Europe. | http://nyti.ms/1qID61A

So it is.

¡Dream Onward/Sueño Adelante! - smf


Robles-Wong v. CA: CALIFORNIA APPEALS COURT REJECTS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A QUALITY EDUCATION
by Maura Walz | KPCC 89.3 | http://bit.ly/1T6oVdD

April 21 2016 :: A California appeals court has dealt another blow to education advocates arguing the state's system of funding schools is unconstitutional.

In a 2-1 decision issued Wednesday, justices upheld a lower court's decision to throw out the case, which is a consolidation of two lawsuits, Robles-Wong v. California and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. California. The plaintiffs in the case included high-profile education groups, including the California Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), the California Teachers Association and the state's associations of school board members and administrators.

Both lawsuits had argued California's state constitution gives students not just a right to access education but also a right to a "quality" education. They said the legislature has not given schools enough funding to make this level of quality possible.

But justices said the plaintiffs were reading too far into the constitution's language.

"Rather, the constitutional sections leave the difficult and policy-laden questions associated with educational adequacy and funding to the legislative branch," wrote Associate Justice Martin Jenkins in the majority opinion.

In a statement, the plaintiffs said they'll likely attempt to take their case to the state Supreme Court next.


Appeals Court Opinion



L.A. UNIFIED MAGNETS ACCEPTED LESS THAN HALF OF APPLICANTS THIS YEAR
By Sonali Kohli, LA Times | http://lat.ms/1MQZ7FH

April 22, 2016 :: Magnet schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District accepted fewer than half of students who applied for the 2016-17 school year.

The district received about 44,000 applications to attend magnets, which are themed schools that are open to all students, regardless of where they live. Magnets are among the only schools for which the district provides transportation, because they were created as a way to help desegregate the district.

The numbers come as L.A. Unified tries to keep students in traditional public schools and stem decreasing enrollment. The high interest in magnets shows that those types of schools could be a way to bring students back, school board member Richard Vladovic says. Many students have left the district for independent charter schools, which are publicly funded but can be privately run.

The district might be losing students who get waitlisted to charter schools or other districts, said Vladovic. “I’m absolutely convinced there is a flight of children," Vladovic said at a budget committee meeting Tuesday.

Currently, about 101,000 students attend independent charters in L.A. Unified, and around 542,400 attend traditional schools and affiliated charters. And there's an effort by advocates and philanthropists to pull half of L.A. Unified students into charters in the next eight years.

Because the demand is so much higher than the number of spots available, students gain admission to magnets through an intricate lottery system. Students can earn points for every year they apply to a magnet school and get rejected, and they get points for already attending a magnet school. For example, when applying for a middle school magnet, you get points for finishing fifth grade at an elementary magnet.

Some of the most in-demand schools get thousands of applications every year.

Not all the parents applying want their children to attend the following year—at least some apply to the most popular schools every year expecting to get wait listed, but that allows them to rack up points that will count in their favor when they apply to the school they want.

Schools receive funding on a per-pupil basis, so losing students to independent charters means losing thousands of dollars per student.

Expanding magnets might be a way to keep those students in L.A. Unified schools, Vladovic says. Students on magnet wait lists are "the most vulnerable to leave the district" because they're looking for options other than their neighborhood schools, he said in an interview after the Tuesday budget meeting.

The district did not immediately provide data on how many students who are rejected from magnets attend an L.A. Unified school the following year and how many leave the district. The Times has submitted a public records request for that information.

Magnet schools that share their campuses with neighborhood schools could use extra classrooms to whittle down their wait lists, Vladovic said.

"This isn't going to grow enrollment," Vladovic said. "It's going to stop the decline."

The district already expands magnets wherever there is room and demand, said Keith Abrahams, the head of student integration services. There are 146 magnets that share campuses, and 52 with their own campuses.

Some of the most popular magnet schools, though, don't have room to expand.

“We try to open up as many seats as possible every year," Abrahams said. “Our most oversubscribed magnets are full, dedicated magnets."

This fall, 16 new magnet programs will open with about 5,800 seats, and 14 schools will expand by one to three teachers, adding 515 spots.

The Academy for Enriched Sciences recently moved from sharing a campus with another elementary school in Woodland Hills to its own space in Encino, said Amy Petry, the school's magnet coordinator.

For 2016-17, the school, which opened in 2010, will add two kindergarten classes, Petry said.

“The reason we did expand is because parents were asking us," Petry said. "They were the ones kind of driving the decision.”


MASSIVE LOSS OF PRESCHOOL SEATS LOOMS FOR LA COUNTY
by Deepa Fernandes | KPCC 89.3 | http://bit.ly/1TrzJpg

April 19 2016 :: A new report estimates that the economic toll on Los Angeles County from the loss of
funding for thousands of preschool seats later this year will be almost $600 million annually.

► “MORE THAN JUST PRE-K: THE POSITIVE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF PRESCHOOL IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY” | http://bit.ly/1VvYMew

Funding for nearly 11,000 preschool seats is going to run out in June when Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) loses its backing from the public early years agency First 5 L.A. But the report, by the independent research organization the Institute for Child Success, looked at the impact beyond lost educational opportunities.

ICS included in its analysis the preschool seats that LAUSD announced last year would be ending this June through a program called the School Readiness Language Development Program (SRLDP).

“The cost of cutting high quality pre-K in Los Angeles county will exceed the program dollars saved,” said ICS executive vice president Joe Waters.

LAUP currently spends $59.1 million on preschool contracts that fund 11,000 seats. After the First 5 LA funding expires, LAUP's budget will drop from $93.5 million to $29.9 million.

LAUP commissioned (and partly funded) the ICS report to investigate the broader economic impacts of the loss of preschool seats. Joe Waters said LAUP only provided program data his researchers requested and had no editorial input into the reporting process.

The report’s findings, released Tuesday, examine three main areas where the act of a child attending preschool will trickle into the local economy and provide a boost.

It starts with the employment of teachers, aides, cooks and other staff at LAUP funded centers. The report calculates the money these childcare businesses and employees will spend and finds the loss of this purchasing power will be a hit to the local economy.

Secondly, the report calculates the money that will be lost because parents might no longer work due to the loss of their childcare option. This will also mean less buying power and less money spent in the local economy. “When [childcare] is unavailable parents are unable to go work or they have to piece together childcare arrangements, it becomes a great burden on working families and the consequence of that is reduced productivity and reduced economic activity in the broader community,” Waters said.

Finally, the report also calculated longer term economic impact based on researchers' belief that children missing preschool are less prepared for elementary school and may never really catch up, leaving them “unprepared for college or the labor market,” the report states.

“By 2020, two-thirds of U.S. jobs will require at least some post-secondary education," the report states. "But, at present, only 19 percent of L.A. County 11th graders are ready for English coursework at a California state college and only 13 percent are prepared for college coursework in math.” Without preschool, children may be even less successful in school leading to a future of low paying jobs, which also impacts economic activity and productivity.

The report also finds the impact of the cuts will have a disparate impact on women of color who make up the majority of workers in the childcare field impacted by the cuts. Childcare businesses, Waters said, “are often lead by women and started by women, and minority women at that.”

Waters said many of the women of color run centers have been successful because they provide a tailored “service that families need [and families] often want to seek out a center that speaks to them culturally and that’s part of their community.”

Advocates have lamented that losing so many preschool seats will also decimate the childcare infrastructure of the county. “This is not just about the economic impact,” Waters said, “it is also about the quality of the childcare infrastructure in L.A. County.”

Waters predicts workers will leave the childcare field if they can’t find work.

“It will be very difficult should replacement funding become available to move those workers back into childcare jobs a year or two down the road because they might not still necessarily be available in L.A. County," Waters said. "Then what we are left with is a very poor infrastructure should replacement funding become available and what remains will be of lower quality.”

As KPCC has reported, the terms of the First 5 L.A.’s funding to LAUP have been known for some years, and the First 5 L.A. Board reiterated last year that there would be no further renewal funding for the preschool seats.

Since then, LAUP executives and staff have been working with its network of preschool providers to find alternative funding, including support to apply directly for state funding, said LAUP's chief executive officer Celia Ayala.

State preschool contracts from the department of education are being announced and some of LAUP's providers have been selected to receive funding.

LAUP also began targeted work with local school districts and preschool providers to lobby for Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) dollars to be directed to early education slots. “The good news story is that for over 4,000 children we have found other sources of funding," Ayala said.

Yet she laments that thousands of seats will not be refunded come September. “It’s a sad sad day,” Ayala said, “when you have to think about taking apart something that is so wonderful and so beneficial especially to children.”


Here's a map of all of the preschools in L.A. County with LAUP contracts set to expire in June



POLL: VOTERS SUPPORT SCHOOL BOND AND PROP. 30 EXTENSION
By John Fensterwald | EdSource Today | http://bit.ly/1SXSWvZ

April 20, 2016 :: Since the low point of funding during the recession, Californians surveyed expressed increasing confidence that K-12 schools are preparing students for choices after graduation, although they indicated schools are doing a better job with readiness for college than the workforce.

Seven months before the November election, substantial majorities of likely California voters said they would support extending Proposition 30, the temporary income tax on the wealthiest state residents, and passing a proposed $9 billion school construction bond, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California. ► http://bit.ly/1VMkBqH

PPIC’s 12th annual extensive poll on Californians’ view of K-12 education also revealed that majorities believe a teacher shortage is a big problem and funding for K-12 schools is too low. Among other findings:

• Expressing strong support for state-funded preschool, twice as many Californians said they favor directing a potential state budget surplus to fund preschool than to pay down the state debt;
• Most of those surveyed said their local schools are doing an excellent or good job of preparing students for college but they are very concerned that students in low-income areas are less likely to be ready for college.
• Californians are sharply divided over the Common Core, with slightly more adults supporting the new academic standards than opposing them.
• In almost every area of questioning, African-Americans were the most pessimistic ethnic and racial group when asked about the quality of schools and prospects for change.
• Overall support for how Gov. Jerry Brown has handled public schools has increased steadily since he took office, but his approval rating for education is still under 50 percent, and a quarter of adults say they don’t know enough to say.

Telephone interviews were conducted earlier this month with 1,703 adults in California, half on landlines and half on cell phones. The margin of error ranged from plus/minus 3.5 percent for all adults to plus/minus 7 percent for public school parents. Representative numbers of non-registered and registered voters, including those likely to vote, Democrats, Republicans and Independents and racial and ethnic minorities participated.

SCHOOL FUNDING

Funding for K-12 schools has increased sharply during the past three years, mirroring the state’s economic recovery after big cuts in funding during the recession. However, 60 percent of Californians said that there is not enough funding for their local schools. More women (69 percent) than men (53 percent) and Democrats (73 percent) than Republicans (42 percent) said that’s the case.

RELATED

Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget would raise K-12 per student spending to $9,571, about $200 above the pre-recession level – when adjusted for inflation.
Poll shows residents split on whether to extend tax increases

The percentage is actually higher this year than when the question was asked during the recession, noted Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. Now that there is more state revenue, Californians are pausing to think about how the money should be spent, including on schools, he said.

Two revenue options likely will be on the November ballot: Prop. 30 and a state construction bond. Among the subset of likely voters, 63 percent favor the bond and 32 percent oppose it, with 4 percent undecided. Among all adults, including non-registered voters, the support is 76 percent in favor, 21 percent opposed.

Brown has said he opposes a state-funded school construction bond because it doesn’t meet his conditions.

The Prop. 30 initiative, which supporters are now gathering signatures for, would extend the income tax increase on individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples earning $500,000 or more. Among all Californians, 64 percent support the extension, 32 percent oppose it and 4 percent are undecided. Among likely voters, 62 percent back it, 35 percent oppose it and 2 percent haven’t decided. By party affiliation, 82 percent of Democrats support it while only 32 percent of Republicans do.

Brown has not stated his position on extending Prop. 30. “The governor’s approval rating is high, and his opinions will matter to voters” come Election Day, Baldassare said.

School districts do have the option to bring in additional money through a local parcel tax, and about 1 in 8 districts have passed one. Asked if they would approve a local parcel tax, 52 percent of likely voters said yes, 43 percent no and 5 percent gave no opinion. However, parcel taxes require at least a 66 percent majority for passage; asked if they would favor lowering the threshold to 55 percent, only 44 percent of likely voters said that would be a good idea.

PRESCHOOL FUNDING

Eighty-nine percent of all Californians, and 86 percent of likely voters viewed preschool as very or somewhat important to a student’s success in school, and 63 percent of all respondents favor spending a state surplus on additional state preschool funding. However, only 52 percent of likely voters favor using a surplus for preschool funding, with 46 percent saying it should be used to pay down state debt.

Seventy-four percent of all of those surveyed and 71 percent of likely voters said that affordability of preschool is a big problem or somewhat of a problem, and 81 percent of all Californians also said that they are very or somewhat concerned that low-income students will be less likely to be prepared for kindergarten.

TEACHER SHORTAGE

Asked about a teacher shortage – a new PPIC line of questioning – 81 percent of all Californians say it is a big problem or somewhat of a problem. Given several options to attract new teachers to K-12 schools, 45 percent of all Californians said they’d prefer raising the minimum salary for teachers, which is the most expensive of the choices, compared with creating a loan forgiveness program (21 percent), housing assistance (11 percent) or lowering the requirements for becoming a teacher (11 percent).

Turning to the issue of teacher quality, 84 percent of all Californians said they are very or somewhat concerned that there are fewer good teachers in schools in low-income areas compared with wealthier areas.
Asked to grade their local schools, 57 percent of survey participants gave A's and B's, but there were big variations by race and ethnicity, with twice as many Asians and Latinos than African-Americans giving high grades to their schools.

Asked to grade their local schools, 57 percent of survey participants gave A’s and B’s, but there were big variations by race and ethnicity, with twice as many Asians and Latinos than African-Americans giving high grades to their schools.

COMMON CORE

Two-thirds of all adults and three-quarters of public school parents said they know at least something about the Common Core, although 35 percent of public school parents said they were not provided information about the new standards in math and English language arts. Based on what they know, 43 percent of adults favor the standards, while 39 percent oppose them and 18 percent are undecided. More public school parents support them: 51 percent favor, 36 percent oppose. Reflecting a national split on the standards, twice as many Democrats support the standards (46 percent) than Republicans (23 percent).

“Reflecting the 2016 presidential campaign dialogue, Common Core is a politically polarizing issue in California today,” Baldassare said.

Nonetheless, 54 percent of Californians said they are very or somewhat confident that teaching the Common Core will make students college and career ready, and 57 percent said they are very or somewhat confident the new standards will achieve the goal of enabling students to solve problems and think critically.

Nearly three-quarters of public school parents expressed confidence that teachers are adequately prepared to teach the standards. (That view, however, is not held by teachers. In a survey last fall by the research and training organization WestEd, only a quarter of California teachers said they had been adequately trained in the new standards.)

More Latinos (55 percent) and Asians (48 percent) than African-Americans (37 percent) and whites (34 percent) said they favor the Common Core.

LOCAL CONTROL FUNDING FORMULA

Three years ago, the Legislature approved Brown’s school financing reform, known as the Local Control Funding Formula, to shift control over budgets and spending decisions to districts and to provide more money for low-income students, English learners and foster youths.

Only 36 percent of public school parents said they have heard about the new law. However, half said they were provided with information about how to become involved with a key element of the new system: the creation of the Local Control and Accountability Plan for setting a district’s spending priorities. Only 4 percent of parents said they became very involved, and 14 percent said they were somewhat involved with the LCAP.

After being read a brief description of the funding formula, large majorities of Californians (65 percent) and parents (73 percent) said they are at least somewhat confident that the additional money will be spent on low-income children and English learners, and three-quarters of those surveyed said they expect achievement would improve for those students as a result.


HOW O.C. PARENTS LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR SCHOOL DESEGREGATION IN THE U.S.
“DON'T YOU KNOW WHAT WE WERE FIGHTING? WE WEREN'T FIGHTING SO YOU COULD GO TO THAT BEAUTIFUL WHITE SCHOOL. WE WERE FIGHTING BECAUSE YOU'RE EQUAL TO THAT WHITE BOY.”
— Sylvia Mendez, recalling her mother's words on her first day at the white school in Santa Ana

by Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil | LA Times | http://lat.ms/1VMk0VO

April 20, 2016 :: As a child, Sylvia Mendez thought her parents' court case was all about a playground.

That's because in 1944, the bus would drop her off at the white school with the "beautiful playground." But she would have to keep walking down the street to the Mexican school — two wooden shacks on a dirt lot next to a cow pasture.

"We went to court every day. I listened to what they were saying, but really I was dreaming about going back to that beautiful school," Mendez said.

What Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez were fighting for was racial equality.

The family won the landmark case Mendez, et al vs. Westminster School District of Orange County, et al — laying the groundwork for school desegregation throughout California and the nation.

Sylvia Mendez, now 79, is a fierce advocate of her parents' legacy, traveling the country to tell a story that weaves together historic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Earl Warren and events including the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

"This is the history of the United States, the history of California," she said. "Mendez isn't just about Mexicans. It's about everybody coming together. If you start fighting for justice, then people of all ethnicities will become involved."

In the 1940s, Orange County's public parks, swimming pools, restaurants and movie theaters all were segregated, said Gilbert Gonzalez, professor emeritus of Chicano/Latino studies at UC Irvine. Houses often had restricted covenants, stipulating that they could only be resold to whites. And so-called Mexican schools were designed to Americanize the students — speaking Spanish was prohibited — and to train boys for industrial work and agricultural labor and girls for housekeeping.

"We weren't taught how to read and write," Mendez said. "We were taught home economics, how to crochet and knit."

In 1930, a group of Mexican parents in San Diego County had sued the Lemon Grove School District for forcing their children into segregated schools. The parents won in the first successful school desegregation case in U.S. history. But the Lemon Grove Incident, as it came to be known, didn't carry legal precedent for the rest of California.

When the Mendez family moved to Westminster in 1944 — leasing a farm owned by a Japanese American family that had been put in an internment camp — the children were turned away from the nearby 17th Street School. Thinking there had been a mistake, Gonzalo Mendez went to talk with the principal.

"He said, 'I'm sorry, Mr. Mendez, we don't have Mexicans here,' " Sylvia Mendez recalled. "Then he went to the superintendent of schools for Orange County, and he said, 'Mr. Mendez, four cities, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Orange and Westminster, have built two schools, one specifically for Mexicans, and they have to go to that school. I do not have the power to change it.' "

The campus she and her siblings were forced to attend was terrible, Mendez said. The books were "hand-me-downs" and the desks were "all falling apart." An electric fence separated the school from a cow pasture.

After reading about a successful Riverside desegregation case that challenged the rules barring Mexicans from public parks, Gonzalo Mendez hired civil rights attorney David Marcus.

"Let's not do this just for your children. Let's do it for all the children," Sylvia recalled Marcus telling her father. Gonzalo Mendez drove Marcus around Orange County looking for other plaintiffs who could join him in a class-action suit. Four others got on board — Lorenzo Ramirez from Orange, Frank Palomino from Garden Grove and William Guzman and Thomas Estrada from Santa Ana.

The case, which argued that the four segregated school districts violated the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection, attracted attention outside Orange County. Thurgood Marshall, at the time the chief counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, wrote an amicus brief in support of Mendez. The Japanese American Citizens League, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the American Jewish Congress and the American Civil Liberties Union lent their support.

In 1946, Mendez won.

Some schools in Orange County started to desegregate. In Westminster, Sylvia Mendez said, schools were integrated by placing all the older children in the Mexican school and the younger children in the white school. "The white people got so upset to see their children in that horrible school, so they went to the superintendent and they closed it down," she said.

A year later, the ruling was upheld in federal court and, within months, Gov. Earl Warren signed legislation to desegregate California's schools — becoming the first state in the country to do so.

Mendez vs. Westminster would have nationwide ramifications.

The NAACP, which called Mendez a "dry run for the future," used much of the same legal reasoning in 1954 in Brown vs. Board of Education, the landmark case that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. Marshall argued the case before the Supreme Court, which by then included Chief Justice Warren, who wrote the unanimous decision that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

Sylvia Mendez went on to graduate from Santa Ana College; she worked as a registered nurse for 33 years.

In 2000, a new high school in Santa Ana was named after the family — the Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School. In 2007, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the case. And in 2011, Sylvia was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

"When I got it I couldn't stop crying, because I was thinking finally my mother and father are getting the thanks they deserve," Mendez said.


●●smf’s 2¢: It may have escaped the LA Times notice (not being a charter school and all) but in 2009 the Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School/Learning Center – a new LAUSD high school – was dedicated in Boyle Heights.


EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Tues. April 26, 2016 - 2:00 P.M. :: THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION – Agenda: http://bit.ly/26mgAMD

Thurs. April 28, 2016 – 10 A.M. :: APRIL MEETING OF THE BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE – Agenda: http://bit.ly/1SXTCRM

*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:
Scott.Schmerelson@lausd.net • 213-241-8333
Monica.Garcia@lausd.net • 213-241-6180
Ref.Rodriguez@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 the Superintendent:
superintendent@lausd.net • 213-241-7000
...or your city councilperson, mayor, county supervisor, state legislator, 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. Volunteer in the classroom. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child - and ultimately: For all children.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE at http://registertovote.ca.gov/
• 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 13 years. He currently serves as Vice President for Health, is a Legislation Action Committee member and a member of the Board of Directors 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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