Sunday, December 14, 2014



4LAKids: Sunday 14•Dec•2014
In This Issue:
 •  Tuesday @ the Boord of Ed: MISCONDUCT, iPADS, MiSiS, CHICKENS, SCHOOL POLICE & IMMIGRATION POLICY …but no money for violence + abuse prevention
 •  ANOTHER SUPERINTENDENT, ANOTHER REORGANIZATION
 •  WHY THE DEMISE OF FIELD TRIPS IS BAD NEWS: Children who attend a live theater show—and don't just read the play in class—do better in school.
 •  ACADEMIC DECATHLON NEEDS VOLUNTEERS
 •  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.
Associated Press: PORTLAND POLICE MAKE ARREST IN SCHOOL SHOOTING

Dec 13, 2014 :: Police in Portland have arrested a suspect in the shooting that injured three people outside an alternative high school.

Authorities said they stopped a vehicle around 1:30 a.m. Saturday at North Interstate Avenue and Going Street and arrested a 22-year-old man. A handgun was found in the vehicle.

Police were searching an apartment about half an hour later as part of the investigation. The apartment is about five blocks east of the shooting near Rosemary Anderson High School.

Detectives are investigating and will release the suspect's name and charges after he is booked into the Multnomah County Jail.

Witnesses told police there may have been a dispute outside the high school on Friday, just before the shooting occurred at a street corner.

The assailant and two other people fled, and the wounded students went to the school for help, a police spokesman said. A 16-year-old girl was critically wounded while two males were hospitalized in fair condition. Another girl was grazed by a bullet.

“Based on the investigation thus far, the shooting appears to be gang-related,” Sgt. Pete Simpson said Friday night in a statement.

Police gang investigators “feel comfortable saying this is a gang-related shooting based on some of the people involved,” Simpson added in an interview. Police said they believe the shooter has gang ties. “Simpson declined to say which victims might be linked to gangs.”
_______________

IT WAS AN ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL … FOR ‘THOSE KIDS’. The cops are “comfortable” that it was gang related. “Simpson declined to say which victims might be linked to gangs.” Because, gentle readers, victims linked to gangs are perpetrators after all.

Look inside the paper:
Some kids are being shot
The bullets - they are flying -
It should give us food for thought.

But it isn’t in our neighborhood
Though it really is a shame;
And the Feds might take away our guns
When it’s just the gangs to blame.

And I’m sure it wouldn’t interest
Anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends.

- With apologies to Phil Ochs


Today marks the second anniversary of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Sandy Hook had state-of-the art security. A locked entrance door with a remote ‘buzz-in’ opener and closed circuit TV surveillance of the front entrance. There was a schoolwide intercom system and a staff well prepared and rehearsed in emergency procedure. The staff performed as rehearsed. It took the police two minutes to respond. In that time the shooter killed twenty six-year-old first-graders and six adults.

In the two years since there have been 21 deadly school shootings in the U.S., - about once a month – not counting the one in Portland Friday …which had no fatalities and was buried on page A13 in the Times.

• Since Sandy Hook total of 32 victims have been killed in school shootings (not including shooters).
• 11 additional victims were injured.
• 5 shooters were killed (including four who committed suicide, and one shot dead by police).
• The school shootings occurred across 16 states.
• 14 attacks occurred at K-12 schools, and 7 occurred on college or university campuses. One was in Santa Monica.
• During the same period, there have been dozens of other gun incidents on school grounds that caused injuries, as well as seven additional cases where someone committed suicide with a firearm, but no one else died. | http://bit.ly/1yNapSU

In that time the federal government has done zero/zilch/nada to prohibit/limit/restrict firearms purchases to the mentally ill or to restrict the size of ammunition magazines or the sale+transfer of assault weapons. In that time LAUSD has sent two part-time Security Aides to every elementary school, armed with a roll of yellow stickers, a clipboard and an orange vest. And while those folks are supposed to work exclusively at school security, they end up doing clerical work, filing, making copies, answering phones, etc.

Take a look at these two videos: http://bit.ly/1wF9qE7 + http://bit.ly/16cwFtx They show what we’re doing and what we aren’t doing. They hint at what we should be doing. Let’s do it.

IN OTHER NEWS the database software that controls London’s Heathrow Airport went south and they had to close down the airport …I guess because all the retired administrators and counselors LAUSD uses to patch its MiSiS system were otherwise employed. On the subject of recalling retired staff: How many RIFed and retired front office clerks and data entry folk have been called back by LAUSD to work the MiSiS Crisis …or are we letting the administrators do their own input?

LAUSD HAS A NEW ORG CHART. The old one can be filed with the previous policy on distribution of deck chairs and steamer blankets on RMS Titanic.

LAUSD’S PUSH FOR ETHNIC STUDIES as a graduation requirement http://lat.ms/1qJNsgK has gained (Positive, for once!) national attention: http://wapo.st/1qJNMMp. The Times editorial board predictably weighs in otherwise: http://lat.ms/1qJOrgI – and 4LAKids - proudly from an ethnic heritage of painting ourselves blue and being so fearful that the ancient Romans built a wall rather than attempt conquest, supports the move. (The plaid skirts and bagpipes came later.) A Times letter writer wisely suggests requiring Women’s Studies also: http://lat.ms/1qJN01T - Both the boys and the girls have a lot to learn from+about women.

ON TUESDAY THE BOARD OF ED took positions on MISCONDUCT (against it) , iPADS+CHROMEBOOKS (buy more for testing), MiSiS (fix it) , ANTIBIOTIC-FREE CHICKENS (buy ‘em), SCHOOL POLICE (maybe we don’t need more) and IMMIGRATION POLICY ( more deferred action). The Board and Superintendent invested $2.5 million in ARTS EDUCATION …but committed no funding for VIOLENCE+ABUSE PREVENTION! | http://bit.ly/1x1Ovus

THE DEMOCRATS IN THE FCC voted more money for the E-Rate program to provide broadband access to schools+libraries – but the Republicans in the next Congress may not vote the appropriation. Because E-Rate reimburses rather that funds-up-front it’s going to take a lot of faith (as in tooth fairy belief) for schools to go down that road.

THE LA TIMES’ SERIES about migrant farm laborers and child labor in Mexico is heartbreaking. http://bit.ly/1DwvwM8 These people are raising food for our tables; their stories echo Steinbeck and ‘Harvest of Shame’ and the work of Cesar Chavez. It is globalization gone grossly awry.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

_______________

PS:
The LA Times has rolled out a new platform for student journalism: HS Insider - promoted as a forum for young journalists to develop their skills and share their experiences and connect the community with stories told for and by students. “Our goal? To connect the region using the strength of the L.A. Times brand and to get young people engaged in their communities through journalism.”

Aside from the claptrap about “the strength of the LA Times Brand” this a truly laudable enterprise – ever since the demise of the late lamented LA YOUTH there has not been a platform of student journalism in LA.

Currently HS Insider is exclusively about sports and sports related goings-on. Sports writing is an excellent entry point into journalism because sports writing is about Life+Death & Conflict+Drama on a deadline minus the body bags – but 4LAKids looks forward to a little more depth from the reportage. Good student journalists write about things that make adults uncomfortable at times – things beyond the gym and the gridiron; the Friday night lights shine on the things they want you to see. And who are “they” anyway?


HS Insider



Tuesday @ the Boord of Ed: MISCONDUCT, iPADS, MiSiS, CHICKENS, SCHOOL POLICE & IMMIGRATION POLICY …but no money for violence + abuse prevention
LAUSD BOARD ORDERS SUPT. CORTINES TO ANALYZE PAST MISCONDUCT INCIDENTS IN THE DISTRICT
By Stephen Ceasar LA Times | http://lat.ms/1simatn

10 Dec, 2014 :: In the wake of the Miramonte Elementary School child abuse scandal, the Los Angeles school district will analyze past incidents of misconduct to determine how to better safeguard students in the future.

The Board of Education on Tuesday approved the proposal, brought by board member Monica Ratliff, directing Supt. Ramon Cortines to analyze the circumstances of previous misconduct events — including the number of adults present during the alleged misconduct, the work history and previous complaints against the accused employee, and when and where such incidents occurred.

Ratliff initially had called for a study on the feasibility of staffing all classrooms with two adults while children are present. That idea, however, was not included in the measure that the board approved.

The move is the latest in a series of board actions following the arrest of a Miramonte Elementary School teacher for sexual misconduct in 2012 that led to changes in state law and district policies. Teacher Mark Berndt pleaded no contest last year to 23 charges of lewd conduct, including feeding children his semen in what he called a tasting game. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The L.A. Unified School District last month agreed to pay more than $139 million to settle claims related to the case, drawing to a close the lengthy case. L.A. Unified already has paid about $30 million in claims to the families of 65 Miramonte students.

Another proposal by Ratliff would have directed the superintendent to provide a report to the board detailing the district's annual expenses over the last five years for the costs of litigation, awards, settlements and other costs related to criminal actions at district schools. It would have required that the report project the costs of additional safety resources on district campuses — including more cameras, police officers and school safety officers.

But Ratliff decided to pull that measure after speakers strongly opposed additional police officers on campuses.

United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said students would be better served by finding ways to fund additional counselors and mental health professionals and by lowering class sizes.

"That's the report that we need generate — not something that will increase policing," he said.

Board member George McKenna signaled that he would not support the measure.

"I would not be in favor of expanding the role of police in making our schools safe," he said.

There was no discussion of the portion of the resolution that would have required an accounting of legal expenses related to recent criminal actions.

Also Tuesday, the board unanimously approved more than $11 million in additional funds to address problems caused by a new and faulty student records system.

The system caused problems districtwide this fall, with thousands of students unable to enroll in classes required for graduation or college. Teachers were unable to record attendance, and grade information was lost or corrupted.

"We are starting to see evidence that the system is stabilizing," Cortines said at the board meeting Tuesday. "We are looking at the issues that plague our schools, counselors, teachers and administration. We aren't saying they don't exist, but we are trying to resolve them."

A staff report said the system continues to have performance issues and new bugs arise on a daily basis. "The system, as it stands today, does not meet the needs of our schools," the report said.

The district has spent more than $130 million trying to develop a fully functional student records system, known as My Integrated Student Information System, or MISIS.

In other action, the board approved spending about $23.2 million for additional computers to use for students to take new state standardized tests.

The purchases are expected to include 21,665 iPads ($552 each) and separate keyboards ($29 each) as well as 7,770 Chromebooks ($305 each). The money also will cover some staffing and other costs.

The district won't purchase the new devices under a controversial, recently suspended contract for iPads that is now the subject of an FBI probe. Instead, the district will use an older, already available contract with Apple for the iPads. Chromebook contracts were negotiated recently under a separate process.

________

L.A. UNIFIED AND 5 OTHER DISTRICTS TO BAN THE PURCHASE OF CHICKEN RAISED WITH ANTIBIOTICS
By Teresa Watanabe, LA Times | http://lat.ms/1sinhsZ

10 Dec 2014 :: Aiming to bolster student health, Los Angeles Unified and five other major urban school districts announced plans Tuesday to ban the purchase of chickens that have been raised with antibiotics.

The action by the Urban School Food Alliance -- which collectively buys more than $552 million of food and supplies annually to feed nearly 2.9 million students daily -- will give the food industry a major market incentive to reduce the use of antibiotics in school meals, supporters said.

The widespread presence of antibiotics in food has produced bacteria resistant to it, increasing vulnerability to disease, according to health experts. The Centers for Disease Control has called antibiotic resistance one of the world’s most pressing health problems.

“This is a critical piece of ensuring the safety of our children,” said Mark Izeman of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental nonprofit that helped develop the alliance plan. “LAUSD and other districts are pushing the entire food industry to move away from chicken and other animals raised with excessive antibiotic use.”

Izeman added that healthful school food is especially critical for the largely low-income students in the six alliance school districts of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orange County in Orlando, Fla. School meals often provide more than half the food consumed by many of the students daily, he said.

The districts joined forces last year to adopt eco-friendly practices and leverage their collective purchasing power for lower prices and more healthful fare. They have replaced polystyrene and plastic with biodegradable trays and flatware, for instance.

Under the alliance plan, all chicken must be produced with no antibiotics and animal by-products in the feed, be raised on an all-vegetarian diet and treated humanely. If food vendors cannot supply the full volume of chicken under that standard, they will be required to submit a written plan on when they can meet it.

In a separate action Tuesday, the Los Angeles Board of Education unanimously adopted a requirement that chicken purchased for school meals be free of antibiotics and hormones. The poultry rule was added to the district’s 2012 “good food” policy that encouraged more nutritious school meals, sustainable environmental practices, more purchases from small, local farmers, humane treatment of animals and safe and fair working conditions.

Laura Benavidez, L.A. Unified’s deputy food services director, said the requirement would be included in requests for proposals to supply the 2.3 million pounds of chicken purchased annually at a cost of $4.8 million. The school system serves 115 million school meals yearly, second only to New York’s 170 million. It was unclear when schools would begin serving antibiotic-free chicken.

The action marked the district’s latest move toward more healthful school meals. Over the past few years, the district has removed flavored milk from menus, banned soda in vending machines and overhauled school menus to increase fresh produce and reduce salt, added sugars and fat.

“Having antibiotic-free chicken is not a privilege, it’s a right,” Benavidez said.

________

LAUSD SCHOOLS AMONG FIRST TO ADOPT ANTIBIOTIC-FREE CHICKEN STANDARDS
By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1siqQPW

The LAUSD is pledging to serve only antibiotic-free chicken to students. Five other large school districts are set to follow. (Photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos reproduced under the CC by-NC license)

Posted: 12/09/14, 5:22 PM PST :: Los Angeles Unified’s school board Tuesday adopted standards that poise the district to become the first to solicit food vendors for antibiotic-free chicken to serve students.

Five other large school districts will soon follow LAUSD with standards set by the Urban School Food Alliance to curtail antibiotic-resistant sicknesses, which the world’s leading health organizations have called a crisis.

“These six school districts are saying in effect, ‘we’re not going to play chicken with our children’s health, we’re going to move forward with protective standards,’” said Mark Izeman, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit health advocacy organization that helped create the standards.

To reach its goal, LAUSD will solicit offers for suppliers to provide chickens raised without antibiotics, said LAUSD’s Deputy Food Services Director Laura Benavidez. Tuesday’s board vote would only require cafeterias to serve antibiotic-free chicken if it’s available.

While raising chickens without the drugs that fight diseases inside hen houses is more expensive, demand created by LAUSD and the 700,411 meals served to students per day will create purchasing power that should force suppliers to streamline the processes and bring the price down, Benavidez said.

“We’re confident we cannot help but reduce that cost and improve availability,” Benavidez said.

Schools in Orlando will follow in the spring, and the nation’s largest district in New York City plans to implement the standards in 2016, when its current contracts for food expire. Including other districts that also plan to join the initiative — in Chicago, Dallas and Miami – more than 3 million students will have antibiotic-free chicken on their plates in the coming years, said Eric Goldstein, chief executive officer of School Support Services for the New York City Department of Education

The six districts create purchasing power, Goldstein said, that will force food suppliers to change their practices even as legislators in the nation’s capital fail to pass regulations.

“It’s incumbent for us to take the lead because nobody’s doing this for our schools,” Goldstein said. “As the leading cities in America we have to show through action that we can move forward.”

Chicago public schools encountered supply problems when officials replaced two of four monthly chicken meals with antibiotic-free meat about three years ago. However, district officials struck a deal to buy chicken legs from a nearby Amish farm that sells breasts and other parts of antibiotic-free chickens to Whole Foods and Chipotle, said Leslie Fowler, executive director of Nutritional Support Services at Chicago Public Schools.

“It means that the farm can sell the whole bird without any scraps and it gets us prices we can afford,” Fowler said. “While it’s not enough quantity for us to serve on a weekly basis or as often as we would like, it’s moving us in the right direction.”

________

LAUSD COMPUTER SYSTEM FIXES SOAR TO ANOTHER $2 MILLION PER WEEK
Annie Gilbertson, KPCC | http://bit.ly/1sitnJR

December 09, 08:10 PM :: The Los Angeles Unified School District board approved another $12 million Tuesday to fix the student data system that failed to schedule classes, take attendance and track students with special needs beginning last fall.

Under the new plan, the district will spend up to $2 million per week from Jan. 1 to Feb. 15 to have technology companies, including Microsoft, debug the system, stabilize servers, and expand use of the system known as MiSiS at charter schools, among other tasks.

The money will also pay for oversight of the work by an outside party and expansion of the help desk.

The new spending brings the total cost of the software system to $45.5 million, three times as much as was initially invested in it.

When the six weeks are up, the board will be presented with another, pricier spending plan for MiSiS improvements. Earlier estimates submitted to the school construction bond oversight committee showed the price of addressing the system's problems could double to about $85 million.

"I still believe it will take a year to resolve the issues with MiSiS,"said Superintendent Ramon Cortines. "We are beginning, though, to see evidence the system is stabilizing."

The school board also approved $22 million ($13 million in new funds) to buy more iPads and Google Chromebooks so students can take new digital state tests in the spring. The purchase brings the number of district tablets and laptops to 120,000 – a figure that does not include equipment in computer labs, which are are not tracked in district's central inventory.

Both funding measures passed unanimously without discussion by board members, even though just a week ago the FBI seized boxes of district documents in criminal probe of the district's iPad program. The newest iPads will be purchased under another agreement than the Apple and Pearson software contract under investigation.

When students showed up for fall classes, hundreds found their class schedules had been botched by the MiSiS system. Many piled into auditoriums and cafeterias waiting days or weeks for officials to fix their schedules. At Jefferson High School in south L.A., some students waited until October and after a judge's order to get a full day of classes.

School counselors then noticed errors in students' transcripts and rushed to correct them before November college application deadlines. The district hired retired educators to help check the transcripts manually.
________

LAUSD BOARD, UNIONS VOW SUPPORT ON OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION ACTION …according to a press release
by Craig Clough, LA School Report | http://bit.ly/1sizHRy

December 9, 2014 4:58 pm :: The LA Unified school board and union leaders moved today to help ensure that district schools are “safe havens” in support of President Obama‘s recent executive orders on immigration.

The orders, announced last month, potentially give deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants and their children.

A resolution introduced by board members Steve Zimmer and Monica Garcia pledges that the district will develop a plan to assist any students needing help with immigration records or applications.

The district today also announced plans to send a letter home with students advising their their parents and guardians “to be cautious of ‘so-called ‘notaries’ and dishonest lawyers (who) prey on the hopes of individuals and families seeking a better life,” according to a district press release.

The letter was signed by representatives of LAUSD, SEIU Local 99 and UTLA. Before the board meeting, Garcia and Zimmer held a press conference with leaders of the two unions, according to the release.

“The President’s Executive Action will bring great relief to students and their families,” said SEIU Local 99 Lilia Garcia, according to the press release. “I work with our school community every day and I see how much it impacts students when their mother or father is deported. The children come to school with fear or sadness. The President’s action will mean more stability for families, and this will mean students can focus on their education. I am proud that our union will be working with the District to ensure that parents can access information and resources in our schools.”

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl also pledged the union’s support in the release, saying, “As educators, we care about the whole child— not only their academic achievements, but also the social and economic wellbeing of our students. We support the School Board’s resolution on immigration reform and accountability. Students and their parents need our help and we are ready to do all we can inside and outside of the classroom.”


ANOTHER SUPERINTENDENT, ANOTHER REORGANIZATION
Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Update, Week of December 15, 2014 | http://bit.ly/1z2FqRJ

Dec. 11, 2014 :: Under the leadership of Superintendent Ramón Cortines, the Central Office and the Educational Service Centers have been restructured (see chart, following).

Notably, ESC Superintendents will oversee both instruction and operations. The Office of the Chief Operating Officer and the Divisions of Intensive Support and Intervention, Talent Management and Risk Management have been eliminated. Their functions have been absorbed by Human Resources (HR), the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and School Support (OCISS), the Office of the General Counsel and the new Educational Services Office.

Parent and Community Engagement and Operations will now report to the leadership of the Educational Service Centers (ESCs). An Office of Educational Services has been created and will be led by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Thelma Meléndez, formerly an administrator with Beyond the Bell and superintendent of Santa Ana and Pomona school districts. Educational Services will oversee many of the operations functions which were under the Office of the Chief Operating Officer, such as Food Services, Transportation Services, Procurement Services, School Operations, Student Health and Human Services, Adult Education, OEHS and Beyond the Bell. The options schools will report directly to the ESC in which they are located with the exception of Ramona, McAlister, Riley and Carlson which will report to OCISS.

The Division of Intensive Support and Intervention, led by Dr. Donna Muncey, will be absorbed by OCISS. Dr. Muncey will now serve as the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, Dr. Ruth Pérez, former superintendent of Norwalk-La Mirada School District. The Office of Risk Management is now part of the Office of the General Counsel. Matt Hill will remain Chief Strategy Officer, but will oversee ITD. The responsibilities of the Talent Management Division have been split between OCISS and HR.

These changes were effective December 1, 2014, and were “made to help the District operate more effectively and efficiently,” according to Superintendent Cortines.

Those who have been around a few years recognize that as the superintendency changes, so does the organizational structure. Each new chief needs the system to be structured in a manner in which he/she feels is logical and manageable. Many of these changes make perfect sense, particularly to move most options schools under the ESCs. These students deserve the right to be on the same educational trajectory as their peers in comprehensive middle and high schools, despite their challenges. The one reorganizational change with which we are puzzled is the inclusion of adult education under Educational Services. Isn’t adult education a function of instruction? Don’t adult students take courses which could lead to a GED or diploma? Why is this critical concurrent and community program lumped with support services?


The New Org Chart: You can't tell the players without it!



WHY THE DEMISE OF FIELD TRIPS IS BAD NEWS: Children who attend a live theater show—and don't just read the play in class—do better in school.
By Emily Richmond in The Atlantic | http://theatln.tc/1ww2qGB

Dec 9 2014, 9:00 AM ET :: In Watertown, New York, the local school district recently debated scaling back field trips for students, with administrators citing the cost of providing transportation and chaperones—money that instead needs to be devoted to more purely academic endeavors.

"The issue right now for us, mostly, is the fact that we don’t really pay for field trips unless they’re very, very tied into the curriculum," Superintendent Terry Fralick said at an October meeting of the Watertown school board.

Watertown is just one example of what’s become a familiar development in districts nationwide: cutting field trips in favor of more instructional time, or simply because there’s no money to cover the cost of the excursions.

But what if those field trips actually had a proven, tangible benefit to student learning? That’s the premise set out in a new study by Jay Greene, a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas.

Anything that isn’t directly related to test scores doesn’t attract as much of schools' attention or resources.

Greene evaluated 670 students, who were divided into two groups. The first group of students was chosen at random to see a live theater performance of either Hamlet or A Christmas Carol. The second group either read the texts of the plays or watched film versions.

When compared with their peers in the second group, the students who attended live theater scored significantly higher on a vocabulary test that incorporated language from plays, and they were also better able to answer questions about the plot and characters, according to Greene's findings.

The live theater group also scored higher on tests that measured their tolerance of diverse points of view and ability to detect emotions in other people. Those gains were still measurable six weeks after students attended the live theater performance, Greene said.

"Schools are increasingly focused on the things that we’ve told them to be focused on, namely improving math and reading test scores," Greene told me. "Anything that isn’t directly related to that doesn’t attract as much of their attention, their resources, or their time."

In metro Atlanta, field trips are being used as both a means of reinforcing classroom instruction and providing students with new experiences.

"It’s important for [students] to learn the standards and perform well on these standardized tests," Jason Marshall, a principal at an elementary school in the Atlanta area, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "But I think the way we’ve always approached it is the day they take a test is really just a snapshot of what they learn. We’re interested in them learning much more about their community, … their state, country, world and how all those things are interconnected."

But in a growing number of schools, field trips are now an incentive for good behavior, perfect attendance, or improved grades rather than cultural enrichment. That means the symphony takes a back seat to the local amusement park or bowling alley, Greene said.

The new study’s findings "demonstrated that there can actually be lasting and sustainable outcomes, educational outcomes, that are produced through students participating in these one-time, culturally enriching experiences," said Sandra Ruppert, the director of the Arts Education Partnership, a national nonprofit coalition. "It’s an important factor to take into consideration for schools and others that are thinking about reducing or eliminating field trips, thinking that they don’t add any educational value."
The symphony is taking a back seat to the local amusement park or bowling alley.

The study also speaks to the important role schools play in youths’ overall development—not just their academic knowledge, Ruppert said.

"These kinds of enriching experiences actually connect students and the school to the community in very meaningful ways," she said.

The methodology of the University of Arkansas study does raise a few questions, however. For example, researchers didn’t keep tabs on which film version of Hamlet students watched. (Might Sir Laurence Olivier be more effective than Mel Gibson, perhaps?) And it’s not clear how carefully students actually read the required texts.

Additionally, the study was conducted in a limited number of schools in Arkansas, and the student groups were fairly homogenous: Most were white and selected from advanced academic classes.

Greene said he’s hoping to replicate the study in a large urban area such as Chicago, which has a more diverse student population and a wealth of fine arts opportunities. And while his studies have revealed the short-term benefits of field trips, Greene believes there’s more at stake than just improving students’ vocabularies.

"The point of culturally enriching activities is to take students to a place they don’t yet know they like and allow them to discover it’s something they might want to do on their own," Greene said. "That’s how we create cultural consumers for the future."

• This post appears courtesy of The Educated Reporter: Emily Richmond is the public editor for the National Education Writers Association. She was previously the education reporter for the Las Vegas Sun.


ACADEMIC DECATHLON NEEDS VOLUNTEERS
The Los Angeles Unified School District’s 2015 Academic Decathlon will again be a two-day event.

You are invited to assist with this outstanding academic competition that has produced many state and national champions.

Your help is needed on one or both of the following dates: ●Saturday, January 31, 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., or
●Saturday, February 7, 2015, 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (or 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. for the Super Quiz), at Roybal Learning Center, 1200 Colton Street, Los Angeles 90026.
●Help is also needed to read essays on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., at the Beaudry Building.

For more information, please contact Cliff Ker at 213.241.3503 or cliff.ker@lausd.net.


Click here for a volunteer application and additional information.



HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES $2.5 MILLION FOR ARTS ED | http://bit.ly/1wksh5x

Lawbreaker? …or Whistleblower?: LAUSD LAWSUIT AGAINST MIRAMONTE SEX ABUSE DOCUMENT LEAKER MOVES FORWARD | http://bit.ly/1GkNgs0

ADULT EDUCATION & AB 86 | http://bit.ly/1zKsKPA

ANOTHER SUPERINTENDENT, ANOTHER REORGANIZATION ...you can't tell the players without another Org Chart! | http://bit.ly/1w0sif3

FCC APPROVES MAJOR E-RATE FUNDING INCREASE ON PARTY-LINE VOTE + smf’s 2¢ | http://bit.ly/1w0jt4P

POLL SHOWS DECLINING PUBLIC TRUST OF DEMOCRATS IN EDUCATION | http://bit.ly/1wKc7EC

Sandy Hook+2: LAST YEAR, ZERO CHILDREN WERE KILLED BY MONSTERS UNDER THE BED. | http://bit.ly/16cwFtx

Sandy Hook+2: LOCKDOWN | http://bit.ly/1wF9qE7

Politico: “PEARSON TO REVAMP PISA” …because the tower isn’t crooked enough?” | http://bit.ly/1vHTeLn

Yesterday at the LAUSD Board of Ed: MISCONDUCT, iPADS, MiSiS, CHICKENS, SCHOOL POLICE & IMMIGRATION POLICY | http://bit.ly/1x1Ovus
Yesterday at the LAUSD Board of Ed:(cont.) ...but no money for violence + abuse prevention! | http://bit.ly/1x1Ovus

LAUSD PREPARES STUDENTS FOR HIGH-TECH FUTURE …BUT MAY NOT BE READY FOR NEXT YEARS’ ONLINE TESTS | http://bit.ly/1330FH4

LAUSD WILL SEEK OUTSIDE LEGAL ADVICE ON FED iPAD PROBE. Cortines: Inquiry may take long time; LAUSD will cooperate | http://bit.ly/1yLOdYb


EVENTS: Coming up next week...


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


• LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION & COMMITTEES MEETING CALENDAR



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


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




Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and 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.
• To SUBSCRIBE e-mail: 4LAKids-subscribe@topica.email-publisher.com - or -TO ADD YOUR OR ANOTHER'S NAME TO THE 4LAKids SUBSCRIPTION LIST E-MAIL smfolsom@aol.com with "SUBSCRIBE" AS THE SUBJECT. Thank you.


Sunday, December 07, 2014

The FBI comes to call



4LAKids: Sunday 7•Dec•2014
In This Issue:
 •  The FBI at the door: WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?
 •  FOUR REASONS TO BE GLAD A FEDERAL GRAND JURY IS INVESTIGATING L.A. UNIFIED'S iPADS + smf’s 2¢
 •  AB 29: STATE BILL WOULD CLARIFY THAT YOUTH UNDER 18 CANNOT LEGALLY CONSENT TO SEX WITH ADULTS
 •  LAUSD, COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD MARCH 3rd ELECTION LINEUP SHAPING UP
 •  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.
To not note that this date, Sunday, December 7th, is the anniversary of that Date That Will Live in Infamy would be to forget.

Before that Sunday in 1941 the events of history were not so immediate. Sure, the generations previous probably remembered where they were and what they were doing when they heard the Titanic was lost or the archduke shot; when Lindy landed at Le Bourget. But national consciousness had never been awakened so collectively, so immediately – in an instant everyone knew the world had changed. An entire generation of Americans was baptized in the moment in the fire of Pearl Harbor.

There have been similar moments, similar days of infamy since: Nov. 22nd, 1963. Sept 11, 2001. Oddly, I remember the dates and where-I-was+what-I-was-doing, but the days of the week are not so indelible. (Nov 22, 1963 was a Friday; it was Tuesday, September eleventh.)

My mother never forgot where she was and what she was doing on Dec. 7, 1941; my father remembers that Sunday still.

The winter sailing weekend in Newport, the slatting of the halyards against the wooden masts. Someone’s tinny radio crackles on the dock: "We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin..."

“Oh my God! …have you heard?”

Their memories become our memory; in remembering them we remember then. The circle is unbroken.


MONDAY THE FBI CAME TO CALL AT LAUSD BEAUDRY. To hear the story told it was a surprise, G-men on a raid, search warrants and badges flashed – a strike force of special agents seizing and boxing-up and carting-off evidence.

►KPCC: “The investigation came as a surprise to district officials and will delay the rollout of iPads to more students in the district.

“Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he first learned about the investigation when 20 boxes of documents were seized by FBI agents Monday afternoon.”

►LA Times: “The FBI visit surprised school officials, according to L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines.

“‘They stopped by late yesterday afternoon,’ Cortines said Tuesday. ‘I found out at 4:30 in the afternoon on Monday.’ Cortines said he then alerted the district's general counsel to notify the Board of Education.”

All very dramatic. In actuality it was all much more mundane.

I have written my share of screenplays; the creating of drama is stock-in-trade. Leave drama to the professionals: LAUSD is never in need of a prompt to take logos, pathos and ethos all the way to bathos.

This was not an FBI “fishing expedition”.
The subpoena for the material was issued to the LAUSD General Counsel nine days before on Friday, November 21st and was served no later than Monday November 24th. The subpoena [http://bit.ly/1zqTdj1] didn’t just request the files, it actually described them:

“All originals and copies of all and any records and documents related to Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Request for Proposal 1118 (RFP 1118), The Common Core Technology Project (CCTP), Apple, Pearson Incorporated …”

and specified where they were:

“…that are located in Room 22-125 at 333 S. Beaudry Ave, Los Angeles CA 90017 in the LAUSD Office of Inspector General. “

“As a convenience to you, you can produce the demanded documents by mail or in person to Special Agent Liana M. Jensen ……” And if there were any questions, the office and cell phone numbers of the FBI Special Agent in Charge were provided.

There was a request that the existence of the subpoena not be disclosed outside parties – but that provision would not and could not have applied to the superintendent and/or board of education.
This wasn’t a federal raid; it was the transfer of files in the custody of the Inspector General to the U.S. Attorney.

In all likelihood the Federal Grand Jury didn’t delve into the files on Friday morning at 9:30 AM in Room 1346 on the 13th floor of the U.S. Courthouse. There’s a lot of cataloging and photocopying and the adminsitrivia of the mundane legal process remaining; there is homework to be done. Leads to be followed. Don’t expect indictments, perp walks and the issuance of orange jumpsuits any time soon. There was far too much urgency in the iPads for All initiative; I don’t expect the same from the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.

If this was a 60 Minutes story, it would be about iPads and MiSiS. It might even be about education and kids. Because it’s an FBI story it’s only about the iPads and the content.

QUOTE O’ TH’ WEEK (from LA School Report): “Andy Bowman, a spokesman for Apple, said the company declines to comment on anything that relates to LA Unified”.

Watch this space.



ON FRIDAY MORNING I attended a breakfast hosted by the Tri-Cities Consortium, an AB86 [http://bit.ly/1wcQaO3] collaboration of the Adult Ed divisions of Compton, Lynwood and Paramount School Districts with the Compton Community College District to work together to provide adult education, Career Tech Ed and higher education in those communities.

(Coincidentally, a Paramount USD teacher-turned-legislator was named chair of Assembly Ed this week: 20 YEAR TEACHER/FRESHMAN LEGISLATOR NAMED CHAIR OF ASSEMBLY ED COMMITTEE | http://bit.ly/1CTHgrT)

What we are seeing there – and in the other 70 AB 86 consortia, is a genuine paradigm shift, driven by the recession and changes in state education funding but motivated by true mutual interest, collaboration and a common interest in the common good. City officials, adult educators, college faculty and community groups – organized labor, chambers of commerce, veterans' advocates - local, county, state and federal governments: In the room, at the table and on the same page.

In the Tri-Cities this is an effort focused on “College Ready and Career Prepared” - neither as either/or nor ‘the first is preferable to the latter’…but rather in the clear realization that the first is one of multiple pathways to the latter. And that what was once K-12 Public Education now goes from preschool to post-doctoral study.

I heard the same joke repeated twice in the morning: “I went to college so I could afford to pay my plumber.” The second time it was “…my air conditioner repair person”- but it was an AC tech student telling the joke.

We heard from a community member who successfully benefitted from local adult ed and community college collaboration; from a young student who is currently attending a career tech program, and from Assembly Member Anthony Rendon who went from high school drop-out to GED to Community College and into the California State University and UC system – eventually getting his Ph.D. Without ever amassing more than $2500 in debt! The Hon. Mr. Rendon may just be the poster child for the California Master Plan for Education.

Former LAUSD Boardmember, Community College trustee and Assemblyman Warren Furitani put it all in perspective – and into the moment: The cases we are seeing all around us of Black men falling victim to police deadly force on the street are instances first+foremost of ignorance. Racism is ignorance. Fear-of-the-Other is ignorance, Violence is ignorance. Poverty in the end is a symptom-of, cause-of and perpetuator-of ignorance.

The remedy for ignorance is education. The possibility, opportunity, availability and accessibility of low-cost/high-quality education take the Travon Martins and Michael Browns and Eric Garners off the street. Education arms the George Zimmermans, Darren Wilsons and Daniel Pantaleos with better weapons than guns+chokeholds.

Black Lives Matter. Latino Lives Matter. Asian Lives Matter. White Lives Matter. Policemen’s Lives Matter …not because they are Black or Latino, or Asian or White or policemen …but because they are lives and Every Life Matters.

We the People. We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident ….and Among These are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Together. We. Can. Will. Must.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


The FBI at the door: WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?
FBI AT THE DOOR IS JUST THE LATEST BAD NEWS FOR L.A. SCHOOL DISTRICT
By Steve Lopez | Los Angeles Times | http://t.co/KxNgWy0p1r

Dec 7, 2014 :: With three weeks left in December, I'm hesitant to jump the gun and suggest that we've seen the last of this year's troubles for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

As you might have heard, there was a knock at the door of district headquarters last Monday.

It was the FBI.

I'd like to tell you the federal agents were there for a mentoring program or some other educational purpose, but that wasn't the case.

Agents marched in and seized 20 boxes of documents relating to the district's $1.3-billion iPad fiasco, making clear that a criminal investigation is underway. A federal grand jury would have plenty to look at, given a bidding process that smelled like a red mullet fish kill, with cozy relationships between top district officials, Apple and curriculum provider Pearson.

I'm wondering why the feds didn't kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. While they were rummaging around at district headquarters, they could have grabbed another 20 boxes of documents related to the disastrous multimillion-dollar electronic student tracking system that created chaos in August and still hasn't been fixed.

And speaking of the FBI, district officials were oddly complacent about the storm troopers, if you ask me. You'd think someone would have enough self-respect, even if it was just for show, to put up a fuss or demand an explanation for the raid. But I watched a district lawyer tell a TV reporter, with a smile, "I have no idea what it's about."

I'll tell you what it's about.

It's about a disastrous year for the nation's second-largest school district, which has managed — thanks to bungling, sloth and political squabbling — to let down more than 600,000 students.

And the iPad and MISIS (My Integrated Student Information System) failures were not the only things that went wrong. The district paid out a staggering $139 million last month to settle claims against a teacher who fed his own semen to elementary school students, among other monstrous behavior, some three decades after the district received its first complaint about him.

It's still not clear how he was able to pull off his crimes after protections were put into place because of a previous sex abuse scandal, nor is it evident that adequate steps have been taken to diminish the chance of such a thing happening again. District officials have had maddeningly little to say about any of it.

And while I'm on the subject of abuse, KPCC was the first to report last month that in 2013, a district-contracted lawyer argued in court that a girl who sued the district was mature enough at 14 to have consented to the sexual affair she had with her 28-year-old middle school math teacher.

If stupidity and rotten leadership were federal crimes, the FBI would still be lugging boxes out of Beaudry.

The records removal, of course, harks back to Supt. John Deasy. He was supposed to lead the district to new heights when he took over three years ago, but he left under a cloud, in part due to his monumentally botched iPad plan.

After that, the Board of Education lured former Supt. Ray Cortines out of retirement to play quarterback, and he's a capable and energetic guy at 82. But the board has given no indication as to how long he'll be at the helm or whether anyone has begun serious conversations about recruiting a long-term replacement, should anyone be brave enough to take the job.

Meanwhile, teachers aren't happy about going years without raises, and their union is locked in bitter negotiations with the district. And unresolvable political divisions remain as to who should be running the district: the school board or the superintendent.

Is there anything good to say about LAUSD?

Yes, as a matter of fact. For all the distractions, most teachers and principals care about their jobs and do them well, and students have continued to show gains in recent years. And as for graduation rates and go-to-college rates, UCLA education professor John Rogers says the numbers "seem to have improved significantly."

But clearly, there's a long, long way to go.

"What we have right now is complete dysfunction," said Antonia Hernandez, director of the California Community Foundation. She and other community leaders have tried to agitate for better leadership, and she thought Deasy, despite his missteps, was rattling many of the right cages.

So what next?

"We don't know what to do anymore," she said.

But doing nothing, as she knows, is unacceptable.

A Friday headline in this newspaper reiterated an obvious reality: The Southern California economy is stuck in low-wage mode, in part because of an under-educated workforce. There's no way out of that rut without doing a better job of preparing 600,000-plus youngsters to become fully invested contributors. Every one of us stands to benefit, including employees, employers and taxpayers.

Despite continued school funding issues, money from Proposition 30 and Gov. Brown's plan to redistribute the wealth to needier districts makes for an opportunity that can't be wasted. So the first order of business is to find the right superintendent.

And if the LAUSD board thinks it can take the holiday season off, or wait until after the March elections to get serious about that conversation, someone else should do the job for them.

Who should that be?

As Rogers pointed out, the challenges in school districts like LAUSD are largely about socioeconomic issues, and that's the purview of county officials. So why is it that L.A. County supervisors, whose constituents fill L.A. schools, act as if LAUSD is somebody else's problem rather than everybody's responsibility?

We don't need a politician to hijack the district, as former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tried to do, or to stock the board with lackeys. But there's middle ground between Villaraigosa's hostile takeover bid and Mayor Eric Garcetti's unapologetic invisibility.

Where's the leadership and collaboration in one of the richest cities in the world, home to some of the greatest universities on the planet, as well as some of the largest nonprofits devoted to lifting up communities?

I'm not a fan of blue-ribbon panels that have no authority and produce voluminous reports nobody reads. But I'd be willing to temporarily waive my bias if a team of good people got together to help the district find a new superintendent and map out a plan to turn things around in 2015, especially if no one on the school board is going to lead or get out of the way.

There's too much at stake to plod along, business as usual, as a horrible year ends with the FBI at the door.
___________________

IS LA UNIFIED THE TARGET OF FBI PROBE, OR COULD IT BE A CONTRACTOR?
by Michael Janofsky, LA School Report | http://bit.ly/1yC6uHe

Posted on December 3, 2014 1:04 pm :: Twenty boxes of documents now in hand, the FBI is examining records from LA Unified that bear on its digital technology program.

By terms of a subpoena, the documents will go before a federal grand jury Friday morning, and evidence of criminal wrong-doing could lead to indictments.

But what exactly are investigators looking for, and is it even possible that LA Unified might not be the central focus of the probe, that it could, instead, be its partners in the iPad program, Apple and Pearson?

The subpoena, dated Nov. 21, requested “all originals and copies of all and any records” related to the district’s request for proposals for the digital device program, the Common Core Technology Project and the two companies.

Among other records requested were those relating to other companies involved in the bidding process and to district personnel involved with the bidding and review processes.

Further, the authorities wanted records related to Apple and Pearson before the bidding process, a clear indication they have interest in the emails between Apple and Pearson and former superintendent John Deasy and his deputy at the time, Jaime Aquino.

Marc S. Harris, a former deputy chief of the Public Corruption and Government Fraud section for the Central District of California, told LA School Report that one of the companies, rather that the school district, could be a focus.

“It’s conceivable,” he said.

Pearson, the world’s largest educational publisher and developer of products for the Common Core curriculum, has run afoul of the government before.

A year ago, the Pearson Charitable Foundation, the company’s nonprofit, agreed to pay almost $8 million to New York state for using “charitable assets to benefit their affiliated for-profit corporations,” the state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said at the time.

Brandon Pinette, a Pearson spokesman, said today in an email that in regard to LA Unified the company was “not aware of the FBI action before it happened and we have not been contacted by the FBI or anyone else in law enforcement.”

Deasy, too, said he has not be contacted by the FBI.

Andy Bowman, a spokesman for Apple, said the company declines to comment on anything that relates to LA Unified.

If the focus of the investigation is, indeed, LA Unified, Harris said evidence of wrong-doing could lead to an indictment under statutes known as “honest services fraud,” a relatively new category (since 1988) that reflects “a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.”

The reference is to employees found with such violations as bribery, kickbacks or gratuities at the expense of a public agency.

But here’s why one of the companies cannot be ruled out as a focus of investigation: In 2013, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. ruled that the mere offer of a quid pro quo can lead to a conviction. That could turn the focus away from LA Unified, to one of its contractors.

Hard to know at this point. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office involved in the case, said in an email: “Federal grand jury proceedings are secret, therefore I cannot comment any aspect of grand jury proceedings, including whether a particular matter is being investigated by a grand jury.”

Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI, also declined to comment.
_________________


LAUSD STUDENTS HOPE FOR IPADS, PREPARE FOR DISAPPOINTMENT
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC | http://bit.ly/1G0HMAD

Audio from this story 0:39 Listen | http://bit.ly/1G0I36v

December 04 2014 :: It's been a roller coaster ride for Los Angeles Unified School District students who were promised iPads that would usher in a new chapter in how they'll learn and take tests in the digital age.

The latest dip in that ride came Tuesday with news that LAUSD is canceling the latest purchase of iPads.

The announcement came after the FBI seized boxes of district documents, revealing a criminal investigation into LAUSD’s $1.3 billion iPad program.

King Drew Medical Magnet High School was scheduled to receive iPads along with 26 other schools that were part of the next phase of the program designed to place a tablet in the hands of each district student.

Eleventh-grader Maria Delgado says her teachers told her the iPad would replace most everything in her heavy backpack.

"Classwork and assignments were due and given on the iPads so that we wouldn’t carry our binders and none of that — only the iPad, and the iPad was going to carry all the supplies and materials we needed," she said.

Jritza Marquez, a fellow 11th grader, had also looked forward to the day when everyone had a tablet.
Popular now on Pass / Fail
Five years ago, popular El Monte educator Bobby Salcedo was shot and killed while vacationing in Mexico. School officials say travel to Mexico by students with family ties to the country is now almost non-existent.
Immigrant families skip Mexico travel over fears of violence

"Because there’s some students that can’t afford the technology and teachers are really strict on the essays and stuff like that," he said. Finishing assignments would be easier with an iPad.

Word that students will have to wait for their iPads didn't please 11th grader Rebecca Borden. “I think that it sucks. We should have gotten them,” she said.

At least one student, however, thought the school-issued iPads would be a distraction.

"It would be an advantage, but then again it would just make us more dependent on technology and there’s other sources that could help us much more," said 11th grader Michelle Rosales.

For 10th-grader Jazmond Summers, the latest development with the iPads program is yet another unfulfilled promise from school officials.

"We’re so used to, like, rejection. Like it doesn’t always happen, we’re so used to that. It’s just like, oh, they might be coming. But we weren’t surprised that they didn’t," she said.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said Tuesday the iPads purchase program would be restarted with a new contract to buy iPads and another agreement to acquire Chromebooks. But students will need to wait until the 2015-2016 school year before they get the tablets.


FOUR REASONS TO BE GLAD A FEDERAL GRAND JURY IS INVESTIGATING L.A. UNIFIED'S iPADS + smf’s 2¢
CONFIDENCE IS WANING OVER WHETHER L.A. UNIFIED CAN INVESTIGATE ITSELF
• AN INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION OF THE L.A. UNIFIED iPAD PURCHASE IS WELCOME


By Karin Klein, LA Times Editorialist in Opinion LA | http://lat.ms/1yC8LCb

Dec 3, 2014 | 12:13PM :: There was a lot to dislike about the proposal to buy $500 million worth of iPads for Los Angeles Unified School District students (plus $800 million for the necessary broadband at schools): The price, the incomplete curriculum, the paucity of serious questions about whether all of these devices were necessary, the failure to plan for obvious things that could go wrong.

But the news this week that it’s now the subject of a federal grand jury investigation, with 20 cartons of materials seized by the FBI, was a big surprise.

But possibly a good surprise, in its way.

Though L.A. Unified’s own inspector general is also conducting his second inquiry into the iPad purchase—this time into the emails among former Supt. John Deasy, his deputy Jaime Aquino and representatives of Apple and Pearson, which at first appeared to be the early and only winners of the technology contract—there’s reason for the public to lack confidence in the district’s ability to investigate its technological missteps.

1. --A first investigation into the iPad contract, by L.A. Unified’s Inspector General Ken Bramlett, covered only the bidding process and never even found the controversial emails that appear to indicate a close working relationship between the two district leaders and the two future contract bidders, a good year before the contract went out to bid.

2. --The school board refused to make that first investigative report public, though it had the authority to do so. Meanwhile, after public records requests revealed the emails, the inspector general began a second investigation into those and whatever earlier relationship might have existed between Deasy and the winning contractors.

3. --Another, separate audit by the inspector general’s office, into the catastrophically troubled student tracking system, never questioned Deasy about a series of bungles up and down the line, despite numerous earlier complaints that he had been warned repeatedly that the software was not ready to be implemented and went ahead anyway. That left a glaring gap in the probe. It’s unclear why Deasy wasn’t interviewed, but he’s still in the district’s employ until the end of 2014; it would seem that part of his job would be to help with any audits.

4. --When the school board reached a severance agreement with Deasy in October, it issued a statement that board members do “not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts” in regard to the emails. That statement was completely inappropriate considering that Bramlett’s investigation into the emails was still underway—as it is now. The board has no authority to direct the inspector general’s investigations—but it can hire and fire the person heading the staff office, and controls his office’s budget. (In fact, just a week or so before the board made its statement, Bramlett’s office pleaded for more funding, according to a KPCC report.) The statement could be seen as pressuring the inspector general not to find wrongdoing; in any case, board members are in no position to prejudge the matter.

For that matter, none of us are in that position. The emails could be perfectly legal and appropriate—or not. It’s unknown whether even a federal grand jury will be able to ferret out the full picture, since many earlier emails were apparently deleted and aren’t available. And if it uncovers ethical rather than legal problems, the public might never know; the grand jury is looking for evidence of crime. Federal crime at that. This might not be the best mechanism for examining the iPad purchase. But the investigation at least ensures that an independent authority is examining the matter, unimpeded by internal politics or pressures.


●● smf’s 2¢: Let me add a Fifth Reason to be Glad:

5. The Inspector General, the Board of Education and the Bond Oversight Committee do not/cannot/should not investigate or prosecute alleged criminal or civil wrongdoing by individuals and/companies - especially multinational corporations worth hundreds of billions of dollars. These are not alleged ‘bad teachers”; they very well may be ‘bad actors.’

The line in the article: “The board has no authority to direct the inspector general’s investigations…” is open to question and interpretation. The IG is a direct report to the Board of Ed - they, not the superintendent, are his bosses. Obviously they interfere in the IG’s work at their political peril – but previous boards have done so in the past with other Inspectors General.

In this case the IG is investigating the expenditure of bond funds – and he is expending bond funds in making that investigation. The Bond Oversight Committee expects him to report to the Bond Oversight Committee in our oversight capacity (please excuse the first person) and generally we have a very cooperative+ symbiotic working relationship. But, to paraphrase Ms. Klein: “The oversight committee has no authority to direct the inspector general’s investigations…”

And, to be quite frank, we also have no authority to demand the IG’s investigative work product such as the report referred to in bullet #2 above – which we have politely requested – but have been denied by the board, not the IG.


AB 29: STATE BILL WOULD CLARIFY THAT YOUTH UNDER 18 CANNOT LEGALLY CONSENT TO SEX WITH ADULTS
MEASURE TARGETS LEGAL DEFENSE USED BY L.A. UNIFIED THAT A 14-YEAR-OLD GIRL COULD CONSENT TO SEX WITH TEACHER

By Teresa Watanabe , LA Times | http://lat.ms/1G0AOvw

1 Dec 2014 :: Aiming to close a legal loophole that allowed L.A. Unified attorneys to argue that a 14-year-old girl could consent to sex with her teacher, a state assemblywoman introduced a bill Monday that would bar that defense in civil cases.

Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose) said she was outraged when she learned that the district successfully used the argument to combat claims for financial compensation filed last year by the girl.

The student said she suffered emotional trauma after her then-teacher at Edison Middle School in Los Angeles lured her into sex for several months four years ago.

Campos' measure, AB 29, would make the age of consent 18 in civil cases involving sexual intercourse between two parties. That would clarify state law, which some California courts have interpreted as allowing those as young as 14 to consent to sex with adults. Criminal law generally holds that sexual activity between adults and those under 18 is illegal.

"It’s ridiculous to argue that a child can consent to sex," Campos said in an interview. "No victim of sexual abuse, especially a child, should ever be blamed."

A jury last fall found L.A. Unified was not liable for damages in the case. District officials argued that school staff did not know of the abuse and that the eighth-grade teacher and student took pains to conceal their relationship until it was reported to a science teacher by the victim's friend.

When notified, the district removed the teacher, Elkis Hermida, from the classroom; he was subsequently convicted on criminal charges of lewd acts against a child and sentenced to three years in prison in 2011.

But L.A. Unified officials came under fire after their legal defense was reported in a radio broadcast this month by KPCC. The district subsequently severed ties with W. Keith Wyatt, the outside attorney who had represented L.A. Unified on this and other cases for 27 years.

Jennifer A. Drobac, an Indiana University law professor and expert on consent laws, said the Campos measure did not go far enough. She said, for instance, that the abuse of boys by men might not be covered because the measure does not apply specifically to sodomy but only "sexual intercourse," which courts have generally interpreted as heterosexual acts.

Campos said she is open to refining her measure.

The loophole over underage consent to sex was opened by a 2001 California Supreme Court decision, in which the justices noted that the Legislature had removed non-forcible sex with minors from the state’s rape laws in 1970, Drobac said.

In doing so, the court said, legislators "implicitly acknowledged that, in some cases at least, a minor may be capable of giving legal consent to sexual relations." That language has been picked up by other courts in other cases, Drobac said.

"It’s a duplication of errors that is creating this horrific situation in California and other states," Drobac said.

But Campos said her measure will clear up any ambiguity over legislative intentions on the issue. "It’s not a gray area," she said. "It’s black and white."


LAUSD, COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD MARCH 3rd ELECTION LINEUP SHAPING UP
By Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1G0EFIX

[Edited from a longer article]

Posted: 12/04/14, 3:49 PM PST :: The coming city elections could be marked by rematches and returns based on the final list of candidates who filed nominating petitions Wednesday to appear on the ballot in the Mar. 3 primary

LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION

On the L.A. Unified board, George McKenna is unopposed in District 1.

Third District incumbent Tamar Galatzan, who represents the San Fernando Valley, qualified for re-election, and she was to face teacher-scientist Ankur Patel. Children’s advocate Elizabeth Badger Bartels, businessman Carl J. Petersen, businessman-professor Filiberto Gonzalez and retired teacher and school administrator Scott Mark Schmerleson filed petitions on Wednesday.

Incumbent Bennett Kayser filed petitions to keep his 5th District school board seat. He is being challenged by educator-parent Andrew Thomas and educator Ref Rodriguez.

In the 7th District, incumbent Richard Vladovic is seeking re-election. Public school teacher Lydia Gutierrez qualified for the ballot, and principal-adjunct professor Euna Anderson filed petitions to run.

LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES

And over on the Community College board, Seat 1 incumbent Mona Field was running for a new term against professor Maria “Sokie” Quintero and community college professor Andra Hoffman. Teacher and radio host Mark Isler filed his petitions to run as well.

For Seat 3, which was vacated by Veres in his bid for the City Council, candidates include Jozef “Joe” Thomas Essavi and Sydney Kamlager, both no profession listed. Others who filed petitions: community college professor Yolanda Toure and neighborhood council board member Glenn Bailey.

For Seat 5, incumbent Scott Svonkin is seeking re-election, and environmental-science instructor Steve Schulte filed petitions to run.

Candidates for Seat 7 were to be educational job trainer Mike Fong, community college faculty member John Burke and Joyce Burrell Garcia, no occupation listed. College student board member John Noyola and community organizer Rodney D. Robinson filed petitions.


HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
20 YEAR LOCAL TEACHER/FRESHMAN LEGISLATOR NAMED CHAIR OF ASSEMBLY ED COMMITTEE | http://bit.ly/1CTHgrT

GOOGLE MAY BE THE BIG WINNER IN THE L.A. iPAD SCANDAL | http://bit.ly/1Iihxts

Field Poll: CALIFORNIANS STRONGLY IN FAVOR OF PRESCHOOL …but at what cost? | http://bit.ly/1zugPTN

Tweet: Dec 4 - THIS AM @ 9:30AM on the 13th floor of the Federal Courthouse a grand jury convenes to look into LAUSD iPad fiasco & the Apple/Pearson contract

ALL THE SUPERINTENDENT’S MEN: Everybody had long since gone home | http://bit.ly/1rVRmEa

FBiPADS: FBI “RAID” ON LAUSD WAS HARDLY A SURPRISE | http://bit.ly/1zqTdj1

5 stories this AM: LAUSD, iPADS, THE FBI, THE U.S. ATTORNEY + A FEDERAL GRAND JURY || http://bit.ly/1tEsN9z

Cortines: iPAD CONTRACT CANCELLATION NOT BASED ON FBI RAID. Decision made after reading material over Thanksgiving http://bit.ly/11Qm3yf

Tweet:Dec 2 - FBiPADS: 11:41 a.m.: FBI probing LAUSD? 10:58 a.m.: Feds take iPad-related documents from LAUSD 1:01 p.m.: Cortines cancels iPad contract

LAUSD+FBiPADS: CORTINES CANCELS APPLE/PEARSON CONTRACT AFTER FBI SEIZES DOCUMENTS IN RAID | http://bit.ly/1pP6lOQ

FBI SEIZES LAUSD iPAD DOCUMENTS; 20 boxes carted away in surprise visit | http://bit.ly/1vHeky7


EVENTS: Coming up next week...

• REGULAR BOARD MEETING – Tues. December 9, 2014 - 10:00 a.m. (Rescheduled from 12-2-14)
• CURRICULUM, INSTRUCTION AND ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE – Tues, December 9, 2014 | 4:00 pm
• BUDGET, FACILITIES, AND AUDIT COMMITTEE – Thurs. December 11, 2014 | 9 a.m
• EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION COMMITTEE – Thurs. December 11, 2014 - CANCELLED

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


• LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION & COMMITTEES MEETING CALENDAR



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


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




Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and 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.
• To SUBSCRIBE e-mail: 4LAKids-subscribe@topica.email-publisher.com - or -TO ADD YOUR OR ANOTHER'S NAME TO THE 4LAKids SUBSCRIPTION LIST E-MAIL smfolsom@aol.com with "SUBSCRIBE" AS THE SUBJECT. Thank you.