Sunday, August 02, 2015

In the unlikely event of a collision with an iceberg, your deckchair can be used as a floatation device.



4LAKids: Sunday 2•Aug•2015
In This Issue:
 •  L.A. UNIFIED BEGINS SEARCH FOR NEXT LONG-TERM SUPERINTENDENT
 •  First new meeting of the new LAUSD Board of Ed: PLENTY OF COMPLAINING/PLENTY TO COMPLAIN ABOUT
 •  A LOOK AT LATINO CHARTER SCHOOL STUDENTS IN CALIFORNIA
 •  E. L. DOCTOROW ON WRITING A NOTE TO THE TEACHER
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?


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 •  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 Times headline says it all: L.A. UNIFIED BEGINS SEARCH FOR NEXT LONG-TERM SUPERINTENDENT.

LAUSD hasn’t had a ‘long-term-superintendent’ since Roy Romer; when Roy left he had been supe six years and was the longest-serving superintendent in L.A. County. …and he wasn’t done with the work he set out to do. Romer was forced out by politics – he had led the block on the unconstitutional District takeover of LAUSD by Mayor Tony – but Tony would win the extraconstitutional takeover and Roy could read the handwriting on that wall.

The next superintendents were short term:

• David Brewer – who ultimately was fodder for Villaraigosa’s nascent political machine;
• The ‘second coming’ of Ray Cortines, direct from the mayor’s office but quickly in Tony’s disfavor (In Ray’s defense, he had done battle with Mayor Giuliani in NYC – Tony must’ve seemed an unworthy adversary!)
• If Ray had been the Superintendent-in-Waiting from City Hall, John Deasy was the anointed Superintendent-in-Waiting from the Gates Foundation by Way of The Broad Academy. His term was not short enough. [●●4LAKids Quote o’ th’ Week – by the superbly pseudonymous online commenter Edward Groovy in the L.A. Times: “J(ohn) D(easy) could not have led a pack of cats if he was wearing a tunafish suit”.]
• …Cortines ‘third coming’ has been totally occupied with cleaning up the mess Deasy left behind.

Cortines v 3.0 made it clear from the outset he is not the “interim superintendent”; the budgetary/fiscal/educational/ethical/legal quagmire he continues to address is too great for provisional leadership. But at the same time he made it clear to anyone who was listening that his tenure would+should be limited.

When I asked last October if there was anything I could do to help him he asked that the succession be urgently addressed.

Giving the prior and current Board of Ed a slight benefit-of-doubt: ‘Urgency’ is perceived to be the problem of the prior regime. That… and Hubris, Ethical Deficit Disorder and Sociopathy.

In the Board’s favor: They are in a unique position in that they have two serving board members who were themselves superintendents; Drs McKenna & Vladovic. They have witnessed firsthand how superintendent searches work.

I am tickled that Sarah Angel of the California Charter Schools Association says: "We want a superintendent who won't let politics drive decisions and policy.” Someone has to believe in unicorns; it’s charming that it’s an angel.

Doing the right thing is preferable doing nothing at all. Eventually is better than never.

THESE DAYS:
“Well I'll keep on moving, moving on
Things are bound to be improving these days, one of these days
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don't confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them”

smf: This is a strained musical segue in search of a destination I have been avoiding.

Jackson Browne is 15 months younger than I; he was a kid hanging out at the Troubadour in West Hollywood when I was an 18 year old attempted adult. He had obvious talent; I was hanging out. He had two really good original songs in his repertoire at that time when he played on Monday/Talent Nights – “These Days” was one of them. Counting time in quarter tones and unforgotten failure calls to me over all those years …but what could a sixteen-year-old possibly know of failure?

Talent night at the Troubadour in ’65-‘67 was about talent: There was Linda Ronstadt and guys who would be Eagles and Buffalo Springfield and Poco – and the Dillards were the house band Steve Martin was the MC. Jim Morrison was drunk in the bar and that tall skinny guy with Peter Asher was James Taylor …but we didn’t know it yet. Arlo Guthrie came one Monday night and played eighteen-an-a-half minutes of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walked out. That was the scene.

This blog is rarely about me. It’s about what I publicly think and think-about – and what I see+hear while paying attention in my strange insider/outsider role in LAUSD and public education. I’m a writer and we are most dangerous when we are listening, less so when we are writing and safest when we are saying something. I am essentially a private person who writes carefully and tries to make it seem spontaneous.[See Doctorow, following] When I say this blog isn’t about me it’s balderdash of course; when one writes about oneself and refers to oneself as oneself it is totally about one!

I have pushed aside the curtain because I’m in a bit of bother.


A year ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, one-in-every-two-men/pretty mundane. Get a check-up.

Ever the overachiever mine was pretty advanced+aggressive. I met many doctors who put on purple gloves and got far friendlier than I ever wanted/expected. I had lived a life on the straight+narrow, consciously eluding jail just to avoid this particular level of unwanted familiarity!

My Brave Fight Against Cancer has been at the most inconvenient. For eight weeks I got irradiated by giant machines that evoke Richard Brautigan’s poem “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” http://bit.ly/1KIDrXc. Every day we cancer patients would gather at the crack-of-early in an atrium at Kaiser and exchange pleasantries, waiting to be called+irradiated. There was even a LAUSD contingent - “I know you!” - who gathered and compared notes. Solzhenitsyn and “Cancer Ward” it was not! Sometimes I felt a little tired, but it was nothing sleep couldn’t fix.

Unfortunately that didn’t work as well as we (the first person plural of “one” that includes an entourage of medical professionals) and my cancer metastasized (a word oncologists avoid until one says it oneself) spreading to my bones.

The treatment for this is chemotherapy and I have begun that regime. They pump poison into your bloodstream to kill anything that might be growing too fast. Dissent and Cancer are all the same to Docetaxel.

“How bad could it be?” one asks hypothetically. (“Your hair will grow back” I am assured, even though I haven’t lost any yet.) The hypothetical answer is “pretty bad” – sometimes I feel like I was run over by a truck on the day after I was run over by a truck. I move like a little old man and sometimes sitting still hurts almost as much as getting up and moving around. If you’ve ever cracked a rib it’s like that; coughing and sneezing and laughing really hurts and I used to enjoy that last one a lot.

I really wish Mayor Eric would hurry up and fix all these potholes Mayor Tony left behind!

I write this not because I want your sympathy or prayers - but to say I’m going to be fine even if move slow or I look like hell or wince at the funny jokes. The idea of folks squeezing my arm and sincerely asking “How you doin’?” seems abominable to me. Don’t worry about me; worry with me about all these kids who need worrying about.

Don’t confront me; I haven’t forgotten.


VIOLENCE AS AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE: When you can’t sleep and the endless cycle of FoxNews/CNN/MS-NBC is so much angry teasing for the next segment’s repeated revelation, the plummy-modulated BBC becomes your friend. Somewhere between the news of impending invasion of refuges via the Chunnel and the cricket scores I picked up a story that essentially said like the great infectious diseases throughout human history, violence can be understood and treated better scientifically as an epidemic disease, and the result must be a new strategy.

The Cure Violence Health Model uses the same three components that are used to reverse epidemic disease outbreaks.
1) Interrupting transmission of the disease.
2) Reducing the risk of the highest risk.
3) Changing community norms.

I like this thinking and I invite you to follow up with me on it: http://bit.ly/1ICJcX6


WHICH GOT ME THINKING of those earnest young people who disrupted the LAUSD Board Meeting Thursday evening. [First new meeting of the new LAUSD Board of Ed: PLENTY OF COMPLAINING/PLENTY TO COMPLAIN ABOUT | http://bit.ly/1KG0X7t]

First: in my misspent youth, student protests may have been facilitated by teachers who left the mimeograph machine unlocked – but they were not coordinated or organized by them …or by Community Organizers from named groups with acronyms. And, I suspect, a salary+a budget.

The protesters Thursday had matching t-shirts+bullet-proof-vests and a point …and they made it: Why does LAUSD School Police need 51 M-16 rifles obtained for free under the federal 1033 program?

Had the protesters+organizers really been paying attention rather than chanting their rehearsed chants there might have been an opening for future dialog …but disruption was the goal and the outcome.

Dr. McKenna addressed their demands and answered their questions. He would rather have the tools he might need and never need them – than need the tools and not have them. The bad guys, he pointed out, have more+better guns than the school police. They have AK-47s and I daresay more than 51 0f them.

And he reminded us all: “I have held dying children, shot by each other.”

The hashtag #100Days100Nights threat may be a Twitter/Instagram hoax [http://thebea.st/1OW2WG7], but it rings a little too true in communities where children sleep in the floor because it’s safer down there.

And LA School Reports commentary on the same board meeting makes a great point as the District scrambles to find “convenient” meeting times: “School board meetings, by their nature, are inconvenient. Whether they are scheduled at 1 pm, 4 pm or 6 pm, they disadvantage large numbers of people whose jobs and family responsibilities deny them the ability to attend.

“That’s why televising and live-streaming them makes so much sense.

“It educates. It allows for participation, It builds trust. It provides transparency.”

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


L.A. UNIFIED BEGINS SEARCH FOR NEXT LONG-TERM SUPERINTENDENT
SELECTING A NEW LEADER FOR THE NATION'S SECOND-LARGEST SCHOOL SYSTEM IS A HIGH-STAKES DECISION FOR A POLITICALLY DIVIDED L.A. BOARD OF EDUCATION.

By Zahira Torres | L.A. Times | http://lat.ms/1fTmgHQ

1Aug2015 4AM :: The next superintendent will have to take charge of a system that has long struggled to find a unified vision to focus on improving student achievement and teacher performance, and developing a palatable plan for adapting to more technology-focused classrooms.

Nine months after Los Angeles Supt. John Deasy resigned under pressure, the school board is beginning its search to find his long-term replacement.

After meeting late into the evening Thursday behind closed doors, the seven-member board directed staff to seek out companies qualified to conduct the search. Selecting a firm to help identify potential candidates could take until mid-September, board President Steve Zimmer said.

A timeline has not been set for the lengthy search process, which includes crafting the selection criteria for the new superintendent and gathering public input. But under a scenario posed by Zimmer, the Los Angeles Unified School District's next long-term superintendent would not start until the 2016-17 school year.

That schedule raises questions about the staying power of current Supt. Ramon Cortines, who came out of retirement in October to take the reins after Deasy stepped down. The 83-year-old Cortines agreed to a contract that runs through June 2016, but has said he'd prefer to leave by the end of this year.

The school board has largely relied on Cortines to quietly guide the district as it decides how to move forward after Deasy's high-profile tenure.

The board said it was waiting for newly elected members to take office before beginning the months-long search process. Zimmer said the delay was also part of an effort to get the district back on track.

"We had to approach this from a sense of stability," Zimmer said.

Cortines helped the district mend a malfunctioning online student records system, balance the budget and work out a contract agreement with teachers that avoided a threatened strike, Zimmer said.

Board members must rally several political factions and find common ground in selecting a leader who is not only a capable administrator but whose ideology reflects their goals for the district.

Zimmer said differences among board members will not hinder the search because they agree on the broader issues of providing an equitable education and improving teacher performance, even if some disagree on the approaches to reach those goals.

"Some of the ways that we might address a particular issue around a labor contract or how we might approach a particular initiative around teacher accountability may be different," Zimmer said. "But there is no daylight between us in terms of the overall mission, and when you have a decision and a process that has the weight of the superintendent search, the individual conflicts and approaches will be overwhelmed by the task before us."
cComments

Deasy had the backing of some school board members and wealthy donors who wanted to overhaul public education through a set of priorities that included supporting the growth of charter schools and using test scores as a factor in teacher evaluations.

United Teachers Los Angeles, which contributed to the election campaigns of some board members, led the charge against Deasy's leadership style. The union sought a different set of changes, including smaller class sizes and better teacher training.

"We do not want another person cut from the same cloth as John Deasy," UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. "The next superintendent has to be collaborative and connected."

Deasy's resignation last year followed a series of missteps including a failed $1.3-billion effort to provide iPads to all students that became the target of an FBI investigation, the troubled rollout of a new records system that put students at risk of not graduating on time and frequent conflicts with school board members and the teachers union.

Cortines managed to work with ideologically different sides to find compromise, said Sarah Angel, a managing director with the California Charter Schools Assn. The group expects the same type of leadership from the district's next superintendent.

"We want a superintendent who won't let politics drive decisions and policy," Angel said. "We want a superintendent who will help create more high-quality options for families. We want a superintendent who believes that families have the right to choose the best learning environment for their children."

Board member Richard Vladovic said the board feels a sense of urgency but wants to conduct an extensive search that's transparent and gives a say to parents, teachers and others who have been clamoring for a chance to help select the next leader.

But Vladovic said the board also has to do some soul searching of its own.

"We need to know where we're steering the ship, have a destination in mind, before we hire a captain to get us there," Vladovic said.


First new meeting of the new LAUSD Board of Ed: PLENTY OF COMPLAINING/PLENTY TO COMPLAIN ABOUT
from LA School Report

▲LAUSD BOARD MEETING LOST IN TRANSPARENCY

by Michael Janofsky, Editor, LA School Report | http://bit.ly/1MXYaq8

Posted on July 31, 2015 10:33 am :: For more than a year, students, parents, community groups and even LA Unified members, themselves, have demanded greater transparency in how the board conducts the business of the nation’s second-largest school district.

Too often, critics say, the board moves with no apparent effort to broaden the conversation or even allow the public to watch the process unfold, let alone participate.

And now it’s happened again.

Maybe it’s only a small example, but it’s a perfect metaphor that illustrates the sometimes cavalier approach the school board takes to informing the public, thus strengthening community participation, input and trust.
“School board meetings, by their nature, are inconvenient. Whether they are scheduled at 1 pm, 4 pm or 6 pm, they disadvantage large numbers of people whose jobs and family responsibilities deny them the ability to attend.”

The LAUSD board had a meeting last night — an open session, followed by a closed session. The agenda went up early in the week, along with the reminder that the open session would be televised on KLCS and live-streamed over the internet. Closed sessions remain private.

But when 6 pm came, time to start, screens stayed blank.

No video. No audio. Nothing.

A parent, a student, a community member who might have wanted to see what the members were up to were shut out. And so they missed an update on the federal government’s efforts to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. They missed a flurry of committee assignments.

And they missed seeing a vivid example of democracy in action, a real, live event of students protesting a federal program that has delivered military-grade weapons to school districts across the country, including LA Unified.

OK, so maybe these weren’t Man-Bites-Dog moments. But they were part of a public agency’s work with publicly-elected officials in charge. That means taxpayers have the right to see what’s up, but they got to see nothing.

What happened? It’s not entirely clear, but it was hardly an anomaly. Sometimes when the open part of a meeting is pre-judged to be too short to turn on cameras and microphones, the people in charge of these things decide not to turn them on. Saves money.

Last night, a decision was made to skip the video but provide audio. Then word came from a district official, “The TV crew failed to throw the switch to broadcast the audio.”

And so, we got blanks. And silence.

School board meetings, by their nature, are inconvenient. Whether they are scheduled at 1 pm, 4 pm or 6 pm, they disadvantage large numbers of people whose jobs and family responsibilities deny them the ability to attend.

That’s why televising and live-streaming them makes so much sense. It educates. It allows for participation, It builds trust. It provides transparency.

The opposite of all that happened yesterday.
__________

STUDENTS FACE LAUSD BOARD, DEMANDING END TO MILITARY WEAPONS
by Mike Szymanski | LA School Report | http://bit.ly/1VRHzum

Posted on July 31, 2015 9:24 am :: The LA Unified board endured a long and unusual protest last night as about 50 students demanded specific actions to get military-style weapons out of the hands of district school police.

The students, some of them wearing bullet-proof vests, chanted for 20 minutes at the start of a meeting — “Back to school, no weapons” and “We want justice for our schools” — in protesting the federal 1033 Program, a federal effort that provides school districts with surplus military-grade weapons. LA Unified has been a recipient.

Board president Steve Zimmer let the chanting continue and at one point said, “Let them go on.”

The demonstration inside the board meeting followed two hours of drumming and shouting outside LA Unified headquarters, with students holding signs bearing the face of President Obama and Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

Manuel Criollo, a protest organizer from the Labor Community Strategy Center, told the board that he wanted an end to the program, which had given the district a tank, three grenade launchers and dozens of M-16s. The district returned the tank and grenade launchers last fall, but has kept the M-16s. In a June letter the Criollo’s group, Cortines said the district had ended its involvement with the program.

Brillo called for the board to be more public about the weapons and demanded that they be returned.

“It’s ironic that we have surplus weapons but we do not have surplus books,” he said.

Inside, the crowd called out to the only black school member, George McKenna, and he responded by recalling his own experiences with civil unrest while defending the need for school police to be prepared for any occasion in which student safety is at risk.

“First of all, in 50 years of going to schools from Inglewood to Compton, I have never seen such weapons,” McKenna told the crowd. “I have always seen gang members with weaponry that exceeds the police. I have held dying children shot by each other, not by police.”

He challenged, “I have not seen this school police with M-16s on school site, and neither have you. I would hate the school police to make a 911 call because they cannot stand down to an over-armed person on campus.”

In response to the crowd’s calling for more money for books and not weapons, he said, “If weaponry is given to us, we’re not paying for it, we’re not taking it away from book money.”

Then, he said, “I would rather have what we don’t need than need it when we don’t have it.”

McKenna talked about teaching at Jordan High School in 1965 when the Watts Riots broke out. “We did not have police officers,” he said. He pointed out he was against metal detectors at schools, but then saw the proliferation of violence and then changed his mind.

“I saw Tookie start the Crips right there in my neighborhood,” he said, referring to the notorious gang leader Stanley (Tookie) Williams, who was convicted for two murders and executed in 2005. “It kills me that they may not be safe in schools, but they will not shot by police.”

Board member Mónica García also addressed the students.

“I have to tell you, you are effective,” she said. “You may not get the ‘yes’ now, but you were heard, we heard you. You are right to be leaders.”

She pointed out that the school district has fewer suspensions and fewer expulsions than ever before.

“You have caused that to be true,” Garcia said. “You young people have cause that to be true, and I have the pleasure of chairing the School Safety Committee and we will take this up. We also have solution; it’s called literacy. When kids read they chose different.”

After the meeting, Criollo said he was disappointed that Zimmer didn’t take more of a stand. “Silence says a lot, and only one board member spoke in public, and they seem to be supporting the arming of their police,” he said.

Ashley Franklin, who helped organize the students, said it was a good civics lesson, even though they may be walking away disappointed. She held a debriefing with the students where they expressed feeling helpless, and talked down to, or even ignored.

“You were vocal, you were more vocal than those who have to power to be vocal, and that is a good thing,” she told the students.

Then, she added, “We are a starving army, and we are out maneuvered at this time. So, let’s go get some pizza.”


A LOOK AT LATINO CHARTER SCHOOL STUDENTS IN CALIFORNIA
by Natalie Gross |Latino Ed Beat Blog at the Education Writers Association | http://bit.ly/1hdkx0U

July 28, 2015 :: “The spread of charter schools throughout the East Bay and California is often viewed as a blessing or curse, depending on whom you ask,” a recent Contra Costa Times article begins.

But among Latinos in the area, it would appear to be the former, according to the newspaper’s analysis of charter school demographics in Oakland, California, where charter schools have seen their enrollment nearly triple over the past decade.

The article in the Contra Costa Times reveals charter schools in the state’s eighth largest city enroll a higher percentage of Latino students than the district’s public schools: 53 percent compared to 44.

The numbers reflect the growing push by Latino families to improve their children’s education without turning to pricey private schools, Noel Gallo, a city councilor and former school board member, told the newspaper.

Studies have shown that Latinos in the United States place a high value on education, and with groups like the Walton Foundation-funded Chicanos Por La Causa (Chicanos For The Cause) working specifically in Latino communities to educate parents about school choice, Gallo’s assertion is certainly plausible. The National Council of La Raza, a prominent Latino advocacy organization, is also pro-school choice, and so is the Florida-based Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, to name a few.

The organizations look at school choice as a way to close the achievement gap between Latinos and their peers, and according to 2012-13 data reported by the California Charter Schools Association, the strategy might work. According to their “Portrait of the Movement” report, most Latino, English-language learner and black students in California attend charters that are among the top-performing schools in the state.

According to the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best charter high schools in the nation, three of the top 10 are in California. American Indian Public High School, ranked third, is 20 percent Latino; Pacific Collegiate School is No. 4 on the list, and 13 percent of its students are Latino. Coming in ninth with a student population that’s 69 percent Latino is Preuss School.

The six California charter schools that are ranked among the 10 best high schools in the state average a Latino student population of nearly 31 percent.

According to information on the California Department of Education’s website, approximately 6 percent of the state’s public school student population attend charter schools, which tend to reflect the demographics of their communities. In Oakland’s case, about a quarter of its residents are Latino.


E. L. DOCTOROW ON WRITING A NOTE TO THE TEACHER
Interviewed by George Plimpton in the Paris Review, Winter 1986 | http://bit.ly/1HfzAvW

●●smf: The author E. L. Doctorow had passed away last week at the age of 84. His novels, vibrant+alive with historical and fictional characters, blended history and social criticism

GEORGE PLIMPTON, Interviewer:

You once told me that the most difficult thing for a writer to write was a simple household note to someone coming to collect the laundry, or instructions to a cook.

E. L. DOCTOROW:

What I was thinking of was a note I had to write to the teacher when one of my children missed a day of school.

It was my daughter, Caroline, who was then in the second or third grade.

I was having my breakfast one morning when she appeared with her lunch box, her rain slicker, and everything, and she said, “I need an absence note for the teacher and the bus is coming in a few minutes.”

She gave me a pad and a pencil; even as a child she was very thoughtful.

So I wrote down the date and I started, Dear Mrs. So-and-so, my daughter Caroline . . . and then I thought, No, that’s not right, obviously it’s my daughter Caroline. I tore that sheet off, and started again. Yesterday, my child . . . No, that wasn’t right either. Too much like a deposition.

This went on until I heard a horn blowing outside. The child was in a state of panic. There was a pile of crumpled pages on the floor, and my wife was saying, “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe this.”

She took the pad and pencil and dashed something off. I had been trying to write the perfect absence note. It was a very illuminating experience.

Writing is immensely difficult. The short forms especially.


HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
ELI’S COMIN’ …better hide your heart girl
http://bit.ly/1Dgw5ub

First new meeting of the new LAUSD Board of Ed: PLENTY OF COMPLAINING/PLENTY TO COMPLAIN ABOUT
http://bit.ly/1KG0X7t

LAUSD SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH FINALLY UNDERWAY
http://bit.ly/1SoL8Jj

SIR IAN McKELLAN, HAL HOLBROOK JOIN PAST+PRESENT STUDENTS IN VIDEO APPEAL FOR “TEACHER-JAILED” RAFE ESQUITH
http://bit.ly/1IrgAeP

BLOOMBERG IS NO LONGER NYC MAYOR, BUT HIS/MURDOCH/KLEIN/STUDENT FIRST’s SCHOOLS ®EFORM AGENDA THRIVES IN ALBANY
http://bit.ly/1MysieS

AGENDA FOR THURSDAY’S SPECIAL MEETING OF THE LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION
http://bit.ly/1ghALWI

The price of testing: HARLEM PRINCIPAL, A SUICIDE, SAID SHE FORGED 3rd GRADERS TEST ANSWERS, NYC ED. DEPT. SAYS
http://bit.ly/1ghyCKP

CHARTER SCHOOLS: Division in some communities, others begin to embrace the independent campuses
http://bit.ly/1LM75MS


EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Nothing scheduled,

*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 • 213-241-6386
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 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. 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 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 12 years. He is Vice President for Health, 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, July 26, 2015

A good IDEA and wasted time



4LAKids: Sunday 26•July•2015
In This Issue:
 •  Ravitch + Zimmer: THE NEXT SUPERINTENDENT
 •  “You have nothing to worry about”: TEACHER JAIL + THE SSIT + smf’s 2¢(x2)
 •  STATE SUPERINTENDENT TO FORM TASK FORCE FOR NEW ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN
 •  Rhymes with Bingo, Gringo!: THE SHOES CONTINUE TO DROP IN THE ¡VOTERIA! STORY + smf’s 2¢
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?


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Today marks the 25th anniversary of IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – the federally mandated program that requires schools to serve the educational needs exceptional students.

IDEA promises that the feds will finance 40% of the excess cost of providing special education and related services for students with disabilities and those with gifts and talents – and mandates that all public schools educate all children.

The promise of funding has never been kept.

IDEA is currently funded at about 16% and the underfunded mandate is questionably and unevenly followed; that requirement for eligibility being a bureaucratic and administrival minefield.

IDEA ensures students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), just like all other children. Schools are required to provide special education in the least restrictive environment. Schools must teach students with disabilities in general education classroom whenever possible.

Under IDEA, parents have a say in the educational decisions the school makes about their child. At every point of the process, the law gives parents specific rights and protections called procedural safeguards.

Every child is special. The Individual Education Plan and those Parent’s Rights shouldn’t be a contested goal for special ed students; that plan and those rights should be a right of every child and their parent.

But the plan isn’t funded and God bless the child who has his own.

::

ALL LIVES MATTER. Going to a movie or changing lanes without signaling or being a military recruiter shouldn’t carry a death sentence.

::

IT SEEMS LIKE THE SEVEN MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION must’ve have had something else better to do in the last month then begin the process of hiring the next superintendent.

There were, we are told, scheduling conflicts that needed to be accommodated.

“Scheduling conflicts” got on the way of every Man-Jack/Woman-Jill of them in addressing the one issue facing them for the month of July.

Superintendent Cortines said he would like to leave by December.

The Council of Great City Schools said the search+hiring process should take about eight months.

They had the opportunity to get started July 1. Did no one do the math?

Instead they took the month of July off and reluctantly agreed to start July 30.

“So you can get on with your search, baby,
and I can get on with mine.
And maybe someday we will find,
that it wasn't really wasted time.”


¡Onward/Adelante! – smf


• The view from 4:36 light hours away away, left over from last week: MORE FROM PLUTO



Ravitch + Zimmer: THE NEXT SUPERINTENDENT
►Ravitch: THE SURVIVAL OF PUBLIC EDUCATION IS AT RISK. HERE'S WHAT LAUSD NEEDS TO DO.
Op-Ed Commentary by Diane Ravitch | L.A. Times | http://lat.ms/1OFog2r

July 23, 2015, 4:23 AM :: The Los Angeles Unified School District has at most a year to replace Ramon C. Cortines as superintendent. This is a crucial time for the district, which has weathered many controversies in the last decade. It is also a crucial time for American public education, which has been under assault for 30 years.

What should the next superintendent bring to the job? Start with the vision and skills to revive public confidence in Los Angeles' public schools. The ideal superintendent would have the courage, and the support of the board, to resist those who seek to undermine and privatize public schools.

I write as a historian who has studied American education for almost 50 years. There has never before been a time such as now, when the very survival of public education is at risk. A powerful coalition of billionaires, libertarians and religious zealots has converged to challenge the legitimacy of public education in Los Angeles and across the nation.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was California's governor, he appointed a majority of charter school advocates to the state school board, even though at the time only 5% of the state's children attended these privately managed schools. The Legislature and the state board strongly supported the creation of more charter schools, and the California Charter Schools Assn. became a major player in Sacramento, pushing pro-charter policies.
During the last school year, of LAUSD's nearly 644,000 students, 138,672 attended 264 charter schools, more than any other city in the nation. Some charters are good schools, but what is the value of having two publicly funded school systems? In general, charter schools operate with minimal oversight, receiving public funds but not necessarily acting like public schools.

Even in California, where charters by law are supposed to accept all comers, many find loopholes that allow them to shape their student bodies in a way true public schools cannot. They boast about their good test scores, but it is easier to get high scores when you're not necessarily educating all comers.

Charter schools have plenty of influential cheerleaders, including U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and businessmen/philanthropists Eli Broad and Bill Gates, and a host of high-profile conservative governors (and presidential candidates) such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

There needs to be a countervailing force in Los Angeles that bolsters the core American tradition of public education: schools that are controlled not by private, unaccountable boards but by the public, through elections. LAUSD needs a superintendent who will scrutinize charter schools for their use of public funds and subject them to regular public audits. It needs a superintendent willing to fight to impose a moratorium on new charters to stop the flow of funds and students from public schools.

The next superintendent must double down on LAUSD's classroom deficits. First, he or she should go to the mat for the funding to reduce class sizes, which is especially important for children who are struggling with their studies. The next superintendent must ensure that every school has a full and rich curriculum: history, geography, civics, the arts, science, foreign languages and physical education, as well as reading and math. Los Angeles has one of the most vibrant arts communities in the world, yet many of its public schools have lost their arts teachers. This is shameful.

The new superintendent must also work to reduce the importance of federally driven standardized testing. California administers new Common Core tests although it is not yet using the results to rate students and teachers. Several other states have rejected the new exams because they test students on material they were never taught and set the passing standard at an unrealistic level, sometimes two grade levels above where the children are.

But all children — especially poor children and English learners — aren't going to reach a standard that is arbitrarily rigorous. Nor does it encourage or motivate students to label them as failures beginning in third grade. After 13 years of No Child Left Behind, we've learned that more testing doesn't improve educational outcomes. The new LAUSD superintendent should advocate for minimal state standardized testing, for reasonable passing standards and for teacher-made tests instead.

Finally, the next LAUSD superintendent must create an atmosphere of respect for the district's teachers, who all too often are expected to work without adequate resources or support. Teachers should be treated as professionals, not harassed, bullied or threatened. To be sure, bad teachers should not be protected; they should be removed, with due process.

Contrary to the popular myth that traditional public schools are failing, students in affluent districts nationally do very well indeed. What works is schools that are well resourced, have strong family support and hold their teachers in high esteem. That is what Los Angeles should be trying to replicate in all of its schools, making sure the neediest students get the human and financial resources to succeed.

We cannot afford to write off the guarantee of a good public education for all. Countries that do the best job at educating their citizens — Finland, Korea, Japan, Singapore and Canada — do it with strong and equitable public school systems, not charter schools or private school vouchers. LAUSD needs a leader who believes in restoring and strengthening public education, which society counts on to develop citizens with the talent, skills and knowledge to sustain our democracy.

●Diane Ravitch is the author of, most recently, "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools."


▲ DIFFERENT VIEWS OF LAUSD NEEDS | letters to the Editor 7/25
Re “To lead LAUSD,” Opinion, July 23

Thanks to Stanford education historian Diane Ravitch for the unobstructed view of what Los Angeles Unified School District should be looking for in its next superintendent.

Ravitch believes the new superintendent should place a greater emphasis on public schools and should be suspicious of the claims for charter schools, which, according to her, “operate with minimal oversight, receiving public funds but not necessarily acting like public schools.” Ravitch maintains that countries who do the best job of educating its citizens — she names several — do it with strong and effective public schools, “not charter schools or private school vouchers.”

When we the citizens hear the claims and counter-claims of those supporting alternate school systems like charter schools, we should at least be aware of the possibilities that in some cases we are sadly watching resegregation at work, and charter schools are not always as inclusive as they might seem.

RALPH MITCHELL
Monterey Park

::

Ravitch’s view on what the next superintendent should bring to L.A. Unified is too rooted in the past to be meaningful. The standardized testing to which she objects was designed to determine whether students were acquiring the basic skills for even modest jobs. The tests have demonstrated that the type of leadership for which she yearns have failed to deliver at this most basic level.

The leadership we need will not come from looking at the last 50 years, as Ravitch has done, but by trying to look forward 50 years. If that vision leads us to charter schools and higher standards, then we need to accept that and stop trying to live in the past.

In L.A. Unified, about 20% of the students are attending charters, and most operate on a lottery system because there are so many parents opting out of the traditional and into charters. Our leaders on the district’s Board of Education and in administration need to be open to these changes and embrace them.

KEVIN MINIHAN
Los Angeles

::

DON’T PUT FREEZE ON CHARTERS

Re “To lead LAUSD,” Opinion, July 23 [Letter from 7/26 LA Times]

As the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education takes on the challenge of finding a new superintendent, I hope it solicits input from the wide spectrum of students and families it serves. While I agree with Stanford education historian Diane Ravitch that our next schools’ chief should go to the mat for small class sizes and arts education, a moratorium on new charter schools would be detrimental to learning.

The next LAUSD superintendent should embrace multiple learning environments — from charters to magnets to co-located schools — and hold all schools accountable for learning and spending outcomes. No matter where we find innovations that help our neediest students make gains, the new superintendent should focus on scaling those solutions across the system.

More than anything, the next superintendent should view students in all schools authorized by LAUSD as his or her students.

LIDA JENNINGS

Los AngelesThe writer is executive director of Teach for America in Los Angeles


▲ZIMMER SETS LAUSD BOARD MEETING TO BEGIN SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH

by Mike Szymanski | LA School Report | http://bit.ly/1MP1CDw

July 22, 2015 1:23 pm :: “The board will meet on July 30 to start just the technical part of the [search] process,” board president Steve Zimmer said in an interview with KPCC. (follows)

“I can’t say for sure what the calendar will be until the board meets and is able to discuss it together,” he said. “But I can, in broad strokes, outline that there will be a period of listening, there will be a period of search, there will be a period of winnowing down from that search.”

Just after Zimmer was elected board president last month, he tried to schedule a meeting with all the members for some time in August, well before the first regular meeting of the new school year, on Sept. 1, but there were scheduling conflicts that needed to be accommodated.

Zimmer has stressed that finding a new superintendent is the most important task facing the board for the upcoming school year. He insisted that there was no “shortlist” of candidates for the position.

“There will be the deliberation over the group of finalists, all of whom I hope will be consensus builders, collaborators, and will have the proper balance of urgency and periphery to understand that to move forward it has to be all of us together,” Zimmer said in the radio interview. “There’s no shortlist.”

He also said that he has not yet set a schedule for when the new superintendent will get chosen.

“I don’t have hard and fast deadlines,” he said. “What’s really important to me is that we kind of listen to the soul of the process, that we’re not thrust forward artificially but that we are exacting in our work, that we are professional and that we understand the urgency at hand.”

The district has no real blueprint for how to select a new superintendent. Since 1937, 15 men — and all have been men, by the way — have served in the position, including three separate terms for Cortines.

The replacement process has been done with large-scale community input, as the case with David Brewer, who was hired in 2006. His hiring culminated an eight-month process that the district said included “extensive outreach to thousands of parents, staff, and community leaders to identify the qualities they wanted to see in the next superintendent.”

A search committee of community and business leaders, elected officials and faith-based representatives interviewed candidates and winnowed the list to a group of five candidates that were presented to the Board of Education, from which Brewer was selected.

On the other hand, as Cortines was stepping down after his second period as superintendent in 2011, the board eschewed a national search in favor of elevating a Cortines lieutenant, John Deasy. It was a decision not universally appreciated.

“Our concern is that the school board did not go through a transparent process of doing a national search,” Judy Perez, then the president of Associated Administrators Los Angeles, told the LA Daily News at the time. “This was done behind closed doors.”

He said he would like to be at “a final stage” by early 2016, adding, “If we’re able to arrive there sooner, we’ll know it. If it feels that we need more time and we’re truly listening while moving, we’ll know it.”

Zimmer has not made public his preference for how the search should be conducted. But he told KPCC he favors transparency in the process.

“I expect that the type of transparency we’re hoping to have will lend a certain confidence to finding the right mix of velocity and care,” he said.
____________

5 QUESTIONS WITH LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT STEVE ZIMMER
By Mary Plummer | KPCC 89.3 | http://bit.ly/1KiB8wL

July 21 2015 :: Steve Zimmer won the backing of his colleagues on July 1 to step in as Los Angeles Unified's new school board president and his plate is already piled high.

Zimmer, who has held a seat on the school board since 2009 and served as a teacher and counselor at Marshall High School for 17 years, takes the helm of the seven-person board in the midst of ongoing troubles with the district's student data system, a burst of new state education funding, and questions about expansive, wasteful spending in the district's food services division.

Those are just a few of the items on a long to-do list for the school district, which is charged with educating over 540,00 students and is the country's second largest.

Education reporter Mary Plummer sat down to speak with Zimmer on Friday at KPCC's studios. The Q&A below has been edited for length and clarity.

1. WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES FOR THE SCHOOL YEAR AHEAD? WHAT DO YOU WANT THE SCHOOL BOARD TO TACKLE?

The most important task that the school board has in the coming school year is the search for the next superintendent of LAUSD. This search, both in process and outcome, is in many ways an assessment of the board and our ability to work together collaboratively, our ability to ensure that we have genuine public input into the process.

We are at a defining moment in public education. The definitional battles of the last five or six years about the role of public education, the role of democratically elected school boards, I think have largely been played out. I think that there is a collaborative sense of mission around public schools and particularly around our school district. We need to capture this moment. We can't transform outcomes fighting over different agendas. We can only transform outcomes by coming together and working collectively on behalf of kids. Our process has to really capture that.

The board will meet on July 30 to start just the technical part of the [search] process. I can't say for sure what the calendar will be until the board meets and is able to discuss it together. But I can, in broad strokes, outline that there will be a period of listening, there will be a period of search, there will be a period of winnowing down from that search.

And then there will be the deliberation over the group of finalists. All of whom I hope will be consensus builders, collaborators, and will have the proper balance of urgency and periphery to understand that to move forward it has to be all of us together. There's no shortlist.

I don't have hard and fast deadlines. What's really important to me is that we kind of listen to the soul of the process, that we're not thrust forward artificially but that we are exacting in our work, that we are professional and that we understand the urgency at hand.

We know roughly the first part of 2016 is when we need to be at a final stage. If we're able to arrive there sooner, we'll know it. If it feels that we need more time and we're truly listening while moving, we'll know it. I expect that the type of transparency we're hoping to have will lend a certain confidence to finding the right mix of velocity and care.

2. KPCC RECENTLY REPORTED A TEACHER UNION EXECUTIVE'S ESTIMATE THAT THERE COULD BE UP TO 7,500 STUDENTS WHO RECEIVED INCORRECT TRANSCRIPTS RECENTLY.

That number has gone way down, I don't have a precise number. There were problems. There has been some trouble producing transcripts where students took courses at institutions other than LAUSD institutions. There have been some cases where certain tabulations were off. We're trying to understand how that happened and rectify that.

The problems weren't only due to MiSiS [the district's student data system]. In this instance, it really allowed us to do a deeper dive into oversight around transcripts and diplomas and critical end-of-school-career documents that I think is going to help us a lot moving forward.

That's not to say that any mistake is forgivable. These are kids' lives, and we're doing everything we can. We really put a team in place this summer to rectify the situation. I'm confident that by the time school starts this part of the situation will be resolved to the point that we will be sure it won't happen again next year.

This is not a full blown catastrophe or crisis. This is a fixable situation and I'm confident that we've got a team in place and that team together, I think, has really done some great work to resolve this over the summer.

Do I wish this never happened? Of course. We're trying to understand exactly what happened, how much of this was purely system error, how much might have been for whatever reason human error, and how much of it is kind of a hybrid of the two.

Superintendent [Ramon] Cortines has assembled the right team to understand what we need to learn to move forward and make sure this doesn't happen again.

3. HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU IN MISIS'S ABILITY TO NAVIGATE THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR. DO YOU THINK THE ISSUES WE SAW LAST YEAR ARE RESOLVED?

I don't use words like resolved. I use words like progress. I use phrases like we are really working on this and are attentive to it. I don't think it's going to perfect. I still think there are going to be struggles. There is no way we will see what happened last year.

4. WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THE FOOD SERVICES DIVISION AUDIT RECENTLY RELEASED BY THE DISTRICT'S INSPECTOR GENERAL THAT CITED MISMANAGEMENT, ETHICAL VIOLATIONS AND WASTE?

I'm not going to comment publicly on the food audit until I have the chance to meet with the entire board, other than to say it is something that is very serious and we're taking [it] very seriously.

What I will say in general is that our oversight and accountability actually affects the credibility of this district. Whether it is food services, construction management, instructional technology, our processes for procurement and our outcomes under that procurement are not at all separated from instructional outcomes.

It's an important thing to clear the fog around procurement processes and raise the level of stakeholder understanding of what these processes are. Only positive things will happen for kids when we do that.

5. WHAT WILL YOUR APPROACH BE AS SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT? DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO RUN THINGS DIFFERENTLY?

I want to make sure that I continue [former school board president Richard] Vladovic's style of making sure that all voices are heard.

In terms of running things differently, I think that there's always a desire for kind of the nexus of greater efficiency, but also for the board to really perform the collaborative oversight role that we're charged with.

We are going to try and make committee work and the board meetings focused but also effective in terms of making sure that every minute that we spend is about children, about our schools and about the necessary roles that the board has to play to make sure that LAUSD is able to function.

That is a responsibility that's both awe-inspiring and awesome. I think each of us really has a sense of the weight of that and every indication that I've had so far is that there is a definitive collaborative spirit on this board and we understand that our work on the tasks at hand has to match the power of the dreams that every family in our school district has for their children.


BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: Sarah Angel, the California Charter Schools Asso Managing Director, Regional Advocacy—L.A., offers a different view.



“You have nothing to worry about”: TEACHER JAIL + THE SSIT + smf’s 2¢(x2)
L.A. DISTRICT CONTINUES TO PERSECUTE ONE OF THE NATION’S BEST TEACHERS + smf’s 2¢
By Jay Mathews | The Washington Post | http://wapo.st/1TOCL75

July 19, 2015 :: Fifth-grade teacher Rafe Esquith’s worst nightmare began March 19, during a puzzling meeting in his principal’s office. Hobart Boulevard Elementary School’s principal indicated something had happened, but Esquith says that he was told he had nothing to worry about.

That was wrong. I consider Esquith to be America’s best classroom teacher. The Los Angeles educator’s annual Shakespeare productions, real-life economics lessons, advanced readings and imaginative field trips are phenomenal. Yet he has been removed from his classroom since April and told by his school district to say nothing about what is going on.

Fortunately, his attorneys have prepared a detailed account of the administrative incompetence and wrong-headedness that created this situation as Los Angeles Unified School District investigators continue to search for anything they can use against their most-celebrated teacher.

At that March meeting, according to their account, the principal told Esquith: “You have nothing to worry about. This is a bump in the road. I need to counsel you that you need to be careful what you say in front of students.” Esquith said fine, still not knowing was they were talking about. He went back to teaching and preparing for “The Winter’s Tale,” as acted, danced and musically accompanied by his students, mostly from ­low-income Hispanic and Korean families.

Three weeks later, Esquith learned that the district had forwarded a complaint to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, but the teacher still didn’t have details. Esquith said the principal told him he had nothing to worry about and that “this is about nothing.”

The next day, Esquith learned the truth: A school staffer had reported to administrators that Esquith made a joke about nudity that she thought might offend students and their parents. Esquith had read to his students a passage from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in which a character called the king comes “prancing out on all fours, naked.” Esquith reminded the students that the district did not fund the annual Shakespeare play, and if he could not raise enough money “we will all have to play the role of the king in Huckleberry Finn.”

Esquith was told that the district was pressuring him for an apology. Esquith wrote and signed one: “I am deeply and sincerely sorry that any comment someone heard, or thought they heard, has anyone uncomfortable.” Nonetheless, two days later, April 10, the district removed him from his classroom — giving no reason — and sent him to an office for disciplinary cases commonly known as the teacher jail. (He was later allowed to stay home, with pay.)

On May 27, the state credentialing commission rejected the district’s complaint. That same day, investigators met with Esquith and asked him bizarre questions, such as did he know any teachers who didn’t like him and which women he dated in college.

Investigators eventually said they found a man who said Esquith had abused him when he was 8 or 9, during a time when Esquith was a teenage counselor at a Jewish summer day camp. The alleged incidents happened 40 years ago. The man told the Los Angeles Times that he reported this to a Los Angeles school board member and the police in 2006, but nothing came of it. Esquith has denied wrongdoing.

Los Angeles Times reporter Howard Blume revealed recently that cases like Esquith’s had previously been left up to principals, but after a 2012 molestation scandal, the district began to suspend and investigate hundreds of teachers for even small alleged infractions.

Esquith is being treated like a Wall Street cheat. On July 8, the district’s investigators asked him for all of his tax returns, loan and bank records since 2000, giving no reason. Many other teachers being similarly targeted are asking Esquith’s lawyers for help.

This is an investigation gone rogue. If it continues, the Los Angeles school district — previously devoted to helping its students — is at risk of not only losing an exceptional teacher, but also its very soul.


●Jay Mathews is an education columnist and blogger for the Washington Post, his employer for 40 years.
_________

●●smf’s 2¢: WaPo columnist Mathews is not some Washington Beltway pundit opining on LAUSD from three thousand miles away. He knows of who+what+where+when+why he speaks. Mathews is the journalist who ‘discovered’ Jaime Escalante: JAIME ESCALANTE TURNS STUDENTS INTO CALCULUS WHIZZES (Dec. 12, 1982) http://wapo.st/1JeGmYX

From Mathews 2010 obit for Escalante: “From 1982 to 1987 I stalked Jaime Escalante, his students and his colleagues at Garfield High School, a block from the hamburger-burrito stands, body shops and bars of Atlantic Boulevard in East Los Angeles. I was the Los Angeles bureau chief for The Washington Post, allegedly covering the big political, social and business stories of the Western states, but I found it hard to stay away from that troubled high school.

“I would show up unannounced, watch Jaime teach calculus, chat with Principal Henry Gradillas, check in with other Advanced Placement classes and in the early afternoon call my editor in Washington to say I was chasing down the latest medfly outbreak story, or whatever seemed believable at the time.” | http://wapo.st/1DsWS13

Mathews’ 1988 book ESCALANTE: THE BEST TEACHER IN AMERICA traced Jaime Escalante’s career from his native Bolivia to Garfield High School in East Lost Angeles, where he taught advanced mathematics courses to disadvantaged high school students, mostly Latino. Escalante’s story was the subject of the film STAND AND DELIVER (1988), which starred Edward James Olmos.

__________

TO SPEED UP PROBES, LAUSD HAS DOUBLED INVESTIGATION TEAM: The staff that investigates allegations against inmates of LA Unified’s “teacher jail” has doubled since the team started last year, with the aim of clearing cases faster.

by Mike Szymanski | L.A. School Report | http://bit.ly/1MtYaBe

July 20, 2015 9:28 am :: The Student Safety Investigation Team (SSIT) now has 15 members, including six full-time investigators, four LA school police, two forensic specialists and one supervising investigator. The team is directed by Jose Cantu, who has worked at LAUSD for more than 30 years, including 14 years as a principal at Eastman Avenue Elementary School.

“This is unique for a team like this in any school district in the United States,” said district spokeswoman Shannon Haber.

The backgrounds of the staff working on the SSIT reflect expertise in police policies and investigative education.

One of the investigators is formerly from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department. Three investigators once worked for the Los Angeles Police Department.

One of the investigators has had FBI experience and one is from the Department of Social Services.

The SSIT investigates employee misconduct against students while the subject of the investigation, a teacher or staff member, is moved from the classroom to “jail.” The team responds to complaints from a variety of sources, such as students, a fellow teacher or a parent. If an investigation produces evidence of criminal misconduct, the SSIT will take it to the proper authorities.

As of July 1, SSIT members were investigating 174 district employees, most of them teachers. The total includes 65 accused of questionable sexual abuse or harassment while the rest face accusations on a variety of other issues, including 55, who have been cited for acts of violence.

The total reflects 151 certificated employees and 23 classified, such as teacher assistants, library aides, janitors and other support staff.


●●smf’s 2¢: It’s a cheap shot too easy and politically incorrect to pass up: The acronym starts with SS and the German translation is Schüler Sicherheitsuntersuchungsteam. If the irony of ‘Schüler’ is lost on you I apologize …the story is so last year.

I remain unclear as to what exactly the role of the SSIT is.

Are they law enforcement?
Are they private detectives, LAUSD’s own Pinkertons?
Do they report to the district attorney?
The LAUSD general counsel?
The superintendent?
The board of education?
The citizens+taxpayers?
Do they have the power of arrest? Subpoena?
Are they like the LAPD Internal Affairs Group, hidden away in plain sight the Bradbury Building? (Was that a secret?)
Or are they like the TV NCIS, off the base with quirky characters and trendy haircuts?
What does the word “extrajudicial” mean to you?


STATE SUPERINTENDENT TO FORM TASK FORCE FOR NEW ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN
By Sarah Tully | EdSource | http://bit.ly/1JmyWmB

Jul 24, 2015 :: The state’s superintendent announced today the formation of a new task force to help overhaul California’s accountability system, along with a new plan to guide public schools.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled the Blueprint for Great Schools 2.0, a 20-page document that outlines plans for everything from early education and English learners to funding and teacher preparation.

This is the second blueprint for second-term Torlakson, who released his original plan in 2011 shortly after his first election.

The task force comes at a time when the state’s accountability system is changing.

At the time of the last blueprint, students were still taking the paper-and-pencil California Standards Tests, the basis for the three-digit Academic Performance Index, or API, assigned to every school that is now suspended. This past spring, students took for the first time the Smarter Balanced Assessments, which measures their learning based on Common Core standards. The results are expected next month.

The task force is expected to come up with a recommendation for a new accountability system based on multiple measures, including the new assessments.

Torlakson said he expects to present a plan to the State Board of Education within the next 12 to 14 months. The new plan will be more like a dashboard with measures, such as dropout, graduation and absence rates.

“We’re going away from the era where two test scores were like the obsession of school districts and principals and teachers, just to concentrate on their math and language arts test scores,” Torlakson said. “We want a broader definition of success.”

The blueprint has five focus areas for the next four years: California standards; teaching and leading excellence; student success; continuous improvement and accountability systems; and “systems change and supports for strategic priorities.”

It addresses some of the major changes in education since 2011. At the time, schools were reeling from the budget cuts tied to the recession, when about 30,000 teachers were laid off.

This year’s budget, however, contains record money for education, yet schools are facing an emerging teacher shortage. The blueprint calls for addressing the impending teacher and principal shortage by figuring out the causes and building up the “pipeline” into the profession.

The first blueprint alluded to an idea of a funding system to address students’ needs, which now has turned into the Local Control Funding Formula. Schools now must develop Local Control and Accountability Plans to show how they are using money to improve achievement for students. The blueprint calls for more support and parent involvement as schools develop their plans.

Torlakson said he also wants to emphasize future standards in science and social studies, as well as career preparation.

The co-chairs of the task force are Eric Heins, president of the California Teachers Association, and Wes Smith, executive director of the Association of County School Administrators. The other members have yet to be named.

• Sarah Tully covers Common Core and early education in the Los Angeles area


• The Blueprint for Great Schools 2.0



Rhymes with Bingo, Gringo!: THE SHOES CONTINUE TO DROP IN THE ¡VOTERIA! STORY + smf’s 2¢

●●smf’s 2¢: Call me old fashioned, but I like to read my news on the news pages and get other peoples’ opinions on the Op-Ed pages. But the Times Editorial Board got the outcome they advocated-for (the election of ‘upstart Ref Rodriguez’) …even if they didn’t like the process. And there was a lot more process than the ‘gimmicky lottery of sorts’ not to like!

Here we find – for the first time – that Mr. Rojas was the first runner-up in the ¡Lotteria!

It's not just noteworthy, it’s newsworthy that the first winner threatened to call the FBI because she didn't believe the contest was legitimate. Eventually, she turned down the money when told that her name would be made public.

The questions of the contest’s legitimacy persist.

WHATEVER YOU CALL IT, BRIBING VOTERS IS A BAD IDEA
By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board |http://lat.ms/1OkQFdn

21July2015 :: Perhaps the leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles will learn a lesson from the May election defeat of school board incumbent Bennett Kayser, whom they backed, by upstart Ref Rodriguez. Unfortunately, that lesson may well be that they must back up their next candidate for office by offering voters a cash prize to entice them to come to the polls.

That's the problem with the Voteria, a gimmicky lottery of sorts run by the Southwest Voter Registration Project. The organization, which works to boost voter turnout, especially among Latino voters, dangled a $25,000 prize to anyone who voted in the Kayser-Rodriguez election. Late last week it was announced that the prize went to Ivan Rojas, a 35-year-old security guard.

Rojas was the second person selected for the prize. It's noteworthy that the first threatened to call the FBI because she didn't believe the contest was legitimate. Eventually, she turned down the money when told that her name would be made public.

That's an understandable reaction. The civic act of voting for elected representatives doesn't readily mix with cash prizes and lotteries. It's true that too few people vote, especially in local elections, and more should be done to help potential voters understand what they stand to win or lose at election time. But bribing them is a bad idea; and as pure as the contest organizers' motives may have been, there is too much about the Voteria that is redolent of bribery.

After all, when every voter is automatically entered, every voter has a shot at winning, and a monetary value can be assigned to that chance. The Voteria organizers weren't promoting any particular candidate, but the Southwest Voters Registration Education Project does have a constituency — Latino voters. The organization is adept at communicating with those voters, some of whom, presumably, were on the fence about bothering to cast their ballots but did so after they heard of the contest. In this election, the Latino candidate defeated his non-Latino opponent. Voters who were aware of the prize were more likely to vote for Rodriguez by 2 to 1, according to the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University.

Suppose that next time the organization offering cash payments to lucky voters is indeed pushing a particular candidate and does its outreach among voters likely to back that particular candidate. Suppose it's UTLA, for example. Or the police union, a real estate developer, a political party or anyone else. Or all of them at the same time.

Cash contests like the Voteria leave too much space for mischief and require careful examination and perhaps rule-making. That's something the Legislature should consider during the remainder of its term.


HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
CHARTER SCHOOLS TAP THE MUNI BOND MARKET: With enrollments rising, they find it easier to borrow to expand
http://bit.ly/1OtgAzx

MAN ON A MISSION: Carl Schafer works to get California to enforce its own arts education law
http://bit.ly/1gW2qMX

LAUSD FOOD SERVICE AUDIT ALLEGATIONS STILL UNDER INTERNAL REVIEW
http://bit.ly/1U0grHz

NCLB/ESEA REWRITE INCLUDES DEBATE OVER SEX ED, FUNDING
http://bit.ly/1gW248U

CA LOTTERY SALES TO HIT $6 BILLION: record contribution set for schools
http://bit.ly/1IvJssB

LA Times OpEd by Diane Ravitch: WHAT LAUSD NEEDS IN ITS NEXT SUPERINTENDENT :: http://fw.to/woCMwBQ

L.A. DISTRICT CONTINUES TO PERSECUTE ONE OF THE NATION’S BEST TEACHERS + smf’s 2¢
http://bit.ly/1ef9h28

5 QUESTIONS WITH LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT STEVE ZIMMER
http://bit.ly/1HHeCd0

THE SHOES CONTINUE TO DROP IN THE ¡VOTERIA! STORY –or– Whatever you call it, bribing voters is a bad idea + smf’s 2¢
http://bit.ly/1CTRBVk


EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Thursday July 30, 2015 - 6:00 p.m. :: SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION - - Including Closed Session Items

*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 • 213-241-6386
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 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. 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 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 12 years. He is Vice President for Health, 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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