Saturday, June 19, 2004

4LAKids: Saturday, June 19, 2004

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4LAKids: Saturday, June 19, 2004
In This Issue:
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
4LAKids Book Club for June & July –CHOOSING EXCELLENCE: “Good Enough” Schools Are Not Good Enough
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
THE 4LAKids ARCHIVE - Past Issues and added features
FIVE CENTS MAKES SENSE FOR EDUCATION- Target 5¢ from every federal tax dollar for Education
• Happy Father's Day out there to everyone who is a Dad ...or knows somebody who had one!

• Also congratulations to those who have finished up a
traditional calendar year - lucky you!

• And 'Con-graduations' to the graduates, metriculators and culminators – and their parents, teachers and administrators – education is a team sport and you are all champions!

I have been out of town for the end of this week, so
this week‘s 4LAKids will be a trifle thinner than usual.
This issue had a Wednesday evening deadline ...should
something dramatic have happened after that (LOST

Part of the new restructuring of the District calls for
there to be a parent ombudsman/ombudsperson in each
of the eight new local districts. Exactly who this
person is, what he-or-she does, how they will be
selected and who reports to whom is yet to be worked
out. If the ombudsperson becomes another layer in the
bureaucracy between parents and decision makers that
would be a bad thing; If each ombudsperson is an
effective communicator and conduit between parents
and the district that would be good. And if the
appointment of ombudspeople is the full extent of the
Districts improved committment to parent outreach we
are still in trouble. Stay tuned. — smf

The following article is from the March ‘02 Urban
Educator: The Journal of the Council of Great City
Schools — an organization of urban school district
superintendents and boards of education.

By Henry Duvall

When most Americans hear of an ombudsman, they
associate the position with newspapers or government
offices — or they’re not sure what it is at all.

Louisville’s Courier-Journal became the nation’s first
newspaper to create the post in 1967, which is the
same year the State of Hawaii established the first
public sector office.

Citizen demands for civil rights and good government
in the mid-‘60s spearheaded efforts to create an
independent entity to address the aggrieved and
advocates for open government.

More than 30 years later, the position of ombudsman
has expanded, and appears to be growing in the
nation’s big-city public school systems, where reform
efforts have driven demands for increased

“The public school ombudsman position has
proliferated over the last 10 years,” says Dan
Rodriguez, chairman of the U.S. Ombudsman
Association’s public education chapter.

As a measure of growth, Rodriguez, who serves as
ombudsperson for Minnesota’s Saint Paul Public
Schools, has seen the USOA education group grow
from four to six school districts represented two years
ago, when the chapter started, to 12 today.

So, what is the role of a public school ombudsman? In
Rodriguez’s position, he receives, reviews,
investigates, and responds to complaints lodged
against the school district from parents, students and
others who may question district personnel actions,
policies or procedures.

Working in the Saint Paul school system’s
communications department, Rodriguez serves as an
independent, impartial third party to help families find
a solution to a problem, and reports to the
superintendent. “My job is to facilitate. I don’t have
the power to mandate a solution. I have the power to
make recommendations,” he explains.

• Ombudsman's Goal

“The goal is to come up with a solution that meets the
complainant’s needs, using the art of mediation and
persuasion,” he emphasizes in an Urban Educator

Rodriguez notes that people call quite angry and upset
sometimes, and that he receives several calls a day. He
handled nearly 300 cases last year, ranging from
student discipline issues to concerns about teachers
acting inappropriately. Complaints can come through
the district’s 24-hour “comment line” or web site in
addition to direct telephone calls to him.

His work, however, does not replace the school
district’s grievance procedures or other appeal

Besides Saint Paul Public Schools, other big-city
school districts that have ombudsmen include Chicago,
Little Rock, Fort Worth as well as three in Ohio –
Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, according to

He also points out that there are other individuals and
offices in school districts that do similar work as
ombudsmen but don’t use the ombudsman title. He
says, as an example, that Seattle Public Schools has an
office of customer service.

In Dayton, the ombudsman’s office was founded by
the county, city commissioners and elected school
board some 30 years ago as a multi-jurisdictional
office that takes complaints from citizens regarding
any government agency on issues ranging from school
matters to nursing home complaints, as well as tax and
transportation issues.

Diane Welborn, ombudsman for Dayton and
Montgomery County, Ohio, notes that independence
and impartiality are key elements for the ombudsman
to conduct investigations of complaints. “The more
independence the office is given, the better for the
citizens,” she stresses.

“It does take school board confidence to establish an
ombudsman office,” Welborn continues. “It’s a gift to
the public. It’s government accountability and a
willingness to undergo self-criticism or assessment.”
Big Chicago Office

In 1995, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s school
reform management team created the Chicago Public
Schools’ ombudsman office so parents and the public
would have an office to call for assistance. Today, the
ombudsman’s office also conducts community
outreach efforts, with staff members going to city and
community events to distribute information.

The office features a case management system, which
includes a database that gathers information about
particular issues. “We handle about 100 cases a
month,” says Mary Koblas, director of the ombudsman
office, noting that ombudsman service representatives
take these cases and can provide language translation.

What are the biggest issues the office faces? Says
Koblas, “The time of year makes a difference. We
handle a lot of enrollment issues, transfers,
suspensions, discipline issues, student/teacher
relations, transportation, residency or boundary

“For example, in a case about a child having trouble in
school fighting and being picked on, after talking to
the parent we call the school and ask the teacher and
principal what’s been done about the situation,”
Koblas explains. “Then we set up a meeting among
parent, teacher and principal. We listen to both sides of
the story. We get a lot of cooperation from our

Many cases are resolved this way. “Parents want to
feel like someone is listening to them,” she emphasizes.

The office is equipped to capture problems right away.
The district’s main call-in center is connected with the
ombudsman office, so when the operator takes the call
and there’s a beef, she can turn it over to an
ombudsman service representative. The office also
features a student hotline for violence prevention and a
homework assistance line. “We are really a 24-hour
operation,” says Koblas.

Concerned about adequate accountability, especially in
addressing complaints, the Saint Paul school board in
1997 established the office of the ombudsperson. “The
creation of the office was a signal to our citizens that
the board cares about their concerns and wants to be
sure they are heard and responded to in an objective,
respectful manner,” said then-board chair Becky
Montgomery in a Minnesota School Boards
Association Journal article last spring.

Rodriguez responded to an announcement about the
newly created position in Saint Paul. He had been
studying at a seminary to become a Roman Catholic
priest before taking a leave of absence to care for his
ailing father in Chicago. It was then that he had met
an ombudsman for senior citizens and nursing homes
for the state of Illinois.

He views his job today as satisfying and rewarding
because it gives him the opportunity to resolve issues
and work toward keeping the school system
accountable to the public. “As an ombudsman, the
right thing to do is to make sure families have recourse
when disappointed with a school action, policy or

As chair of the U.S. Ombudsman Association,
Rodriguez believes one of the biggest concerns facing
urban school ombudsmen is multicultural issues. In his
own district, he has concerns about the Hmong, who
come from Southeast Asia and compose about
one-third of Saint Paul’s student population. Although
he has conducted outreach efforts, he says there are
still cultural and language issues.

But is there indeed a growing trend in the number of
big-city school districts that are creating ombudsman
positions? Says chief ombudsman Koblas of Chicago
Public Schools, “Urban school districts are becoming
more familiar with the term ombudsman. I think there
will be an even bigger increase, as it becomes more
popular. But a lot of people still don’t know about it.

“We have a saying in our office: We spell ombudsman
20 times a day, and explain it a dozen times a day.”

- Urban Educator Associate editor Tonya Harris
contributed to this report.

Website of the US Ombudsman Association:

Washington, D.C. -- The picture of American education is clear. Investments in public schools are not keeping pace with the needs of our children, according to an education funding report released today by the National Education Association (NEA).

Last fall, nearly 400,000 additional children entered the nation's classrooms, representing the 19th consecutive rise in school enrollment. Yet, annual school revenues and spending are stagnant, as is the average salary necessary to attract an estimated 16,000 qualified teachers needed for this wave of students.

The report, Rankings & Estimates: Rankings of the States 2003 and Estimates of School Statistics 2004, shows slight increases from the previous year in the average expenditure per student enrolled in a K-12 school, the average revenue that communities collect for school expenses and the average salary of a public school teacher.

The report, which analyzes data from state education departments, suggests that troubled times may lie ahead.

State and local governments -- in the midst of budget crises and struggles to comply with the rigid demands of the so-called No Child Left Behind law -- still provide the lion's share of education funding. On average, revenues from those state and local coffers have shown little growth over the past year or over the decade. The average teacher salary has not kept pace with inflation. Since 1993, salaries have actually declined in a third of the country.

President Reg Weaver, on behalf of 2.7 million NEA educators, said the annual study begs an answer to two important questions: Can spending keep up with students' needs, and are we focusing our limited resources in the best areas?

"Public schools are the cornerstone of our democracy," he said. "We must make them places where students can-and will-succeed. Funding is fundamental to reform."

Weaver added that financial sanctions, expensive bureaucracy and mandatory testing required by the federal law threaten to drain scarce state and local school resources and hinder the ability of public schools to keep quality educators and maintain vital student services.

"Too often, educators are asked to fulfill an important mission, but they are not given the support and compensation to remain in the profession," Weaver said. "It is unrealistic to expect student achievement to improve while cash-strapped states and local districts are forced to lay off public school employees or eliminate enriching classes and activities."

NEA continues to praise the goals of No Child Left Behind, but called on policymakers to support reforms with proven track records: reduced class sizes, early childhood education, parental and community involvement, professional development for educators and after-school programs. The Rankings and Estimates report has presented statistics on school spending, revenues and staff salaries since the late 1960s.

Key Facts from this year's report:


* The average expenditure per-student in K-12 public schools was $7,875 in 2002-03, a 4.6 percent rise over the previous year. In comparison, spending for this school year, 2003-04, was estimated to increase by 3.6 percent.
* The average public school teacher salary for 2002-03 was $45,891, a 2.8 percent increase over the previous year. In comparison, the average salary for this school year, 2003-04, was estimated to increase by 2.0 percent.
* The average local, state and federal government revenue per K-12 student in fall enrollment, 2001-02 was $8,718. Total revenues for public schools increased 4.3 percent in 2002-03 from the previous year. Totals for 2003-04 were estimated to increase just 4.9 percent from the previous year.


* States with the highest per-pupil spending for 2002-03: New York ($11,588), Connecticut ($11,378), New Jersey ($11,103), Massachusetts ($10,353) and Delaware ($10,270).
* Lowest per-pupil spending for 2002-03: Utah ($4,907), Arizona ($5,197), Alabama ($5,418), Arkansas ($5,789) and Mississippi ($5,822).
* States with the highest average teacher salary for 2002-03: California ($56,283), Connecticut ($55,367) and New Jersey ($54,158).
* Lowest average teacher salary for 2002-03: South Dakota ($32,416), North Dakota ($33,869) and Mississippi ($34,555).
* Average teacher salaries declined in 18 states over the past 10 years in real, inflation-adjusted dollars. The largest declines were Alaska (-16.6%), Connecticut (-10.3%), Kansas (-9.9%), New York (-7.7%), Wisconsin (-6.7%) and Vermont (-6.7%).

The full report, "Rankings & Estimates: Rankings of the States 2003 and Estimates of School Statistics 2004," (PDF, 127 pages, 1 MB)

• The debate described is made even more important by California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell's inititiative to get the state into the business of approving high school texts - right now their authority ends at eighth grade.

For more background and detail into the power and practices of textbook publishers please read: "The Language Police" by Diane Ravitch. - smf

By Jessica Portner
from the Dan Jose Mercury News, Jun. 12, 2004

Cost-conscious school districts around the country are watching closely as the California Senate prepares to debate a bill this month that would compel the state's board of education to weigh price for the first time when adopting new textbooks.

With 6 million public school students, California is the second-largest market in the $4 billion national textbook-publishing industry. A discount secured in California would have a ripple effect on some smaller states that routinely purchase books tailored for California because they lack the financial size and clout to commission texts specifically for them.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Canciamilla, D-Martinez, is set for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on June 23. It was prompted by a 2002 Mercury News investigation that revealed the cost of state-adopted textbooks nearly tripled in the previous decade -- largely because the state board failed to negotiate for the best price.

The bill already has passed the Assembly on a 50-10 vote.

``If California can negotiate so the price goes down, everyone will benefit,'' said Jody Gehrig of the Denver public schools, which had to seek a bond to pay for schoolbooks this year.

For years, state board members have determined what academic standards and content -- from Shakespearean sonnets to robotics -- belong in textbooks. School districts must abide by those choices if they use state money to buy the texts. The bill being debated would explicitly add cost to the decision-making equation -- meaning the state, for the first time, might choose a cheaper book that is almost as good as a more expensive one.

Publishers, who are lobbying hard in Sacramento against the measure, said the bill could force some booksellers to abandon the California market.

``This would trigger a national reaction that could cost us millions,'' said Stephen Driesler, the executive director of the Association of American Publishers. A multi-state compact called ``Most Favored Nation'' prohibits booksellers from charging a different price for the same book sold in other member states. The legislation is ``an idea with many downsides.''

The bill, AB 2455, also mandates that publishers offer a 30 percent discount on second sets -- allowing schools to give students books to take home and keep a spare set for use in the classroom each day -- and asks them to submit new English and math titles to the board every eight years instead of six. This new schedule would delay by two years the ability publishers have to raise prices when new books are adopted.

Don Iglesias, the superintendent-elect of the San Jose Unified School District, said savings are critical at a time when the state budget deficit has prompted schools to choose among scrapping art classes, sacking librarians or waiting another year or two to buy new textbooks.

``We aren't asking for anything outrageous,'' said Iglesias, ``just a quality product at a reasonable price.''

The 2002 Mercury News analysis of state records showed that sixth-grade English/language arts textbooks cost $20 in California a decade before. By 2002, the price had jumped to $57, outpacing the rate of inflation and the spike in Bay Area home prices in the 1990s.

Driesler said textbooks are expensive in California because they must be fashioned for the state's rigorous academic standards.

``It not like buying some suit off the rack,'' he said. ``Customized textbooks mean additional costs. That's the trade-off.''

If the bill passes, California wouldn't be the first state whose textbook decisions dictate what districts pay or students read in schools hundreds of miles away. Other large states that adopt texts on a statewide level -- notably Texas -- have a huge influence.

Sometimes, Texas' books have been criticized for what's between the covers. This year, the Texas board of education decided to include the discussion of creationism alongside evolution in its science books, which prompted some other consumers of Texas-approved books to bristle.

But as major player in the textbook market, Texas also sets a maximum price for the books it buys, which is good news to schools and districts that buy books created originally for Texas.

``We have been dogmatic in holding the price down,'' said Alma Allen, a Texas state school board member. ``I would be glad to see California do that. Hopefully, lots of other states will follow.''

Bud Williams, a deputy superintendent of Montana's education department, said cost savings decided in Sacramento could mean more materials for that state's 150,000 students.

``Our budgets have gotten tighter and tighter,'' said Williams, whose districts choose their titles from publisher's catalogs that market some California-tailored books to other states. ``If textbook companies have to be mindful about cost, prices across the country will change.''

Several members of the Senate Education Committee who are poised to consider the bill are initially supportive.

``We have a limited budget,'' said Sen. Dede Alpert, D-San Diego. ``And if we aren't able to stretch those dollars, that would be a bad mistake.''

Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn, D-Campbell, noted that throughout debate in the Assembly there was strong backing of the bill.

``Publishers are taking advantage because no one is paying attention,'' she said. ``We have to be more responsible. Taxpayers are demanding it.''

• from the current issue of Education Week - American Education's Newspaper of Record: Fewer--but better--tests could give "accountability" real meaning, writes Betty Sternberg, Connecticut commissioner of education.

It is 2006. The full testing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act are kicking in. Across the country, approximately 26 million students in grades 3-8 and one high school grade are being tested. Roughly 1.3 billion test pages—5.8 billion test items—are being pumped out by a handful of testing companies.

Compare this to the 2.6 million young people who currently take the SAT and the ACT each year. A stunning 10 times this number will be tested in 2006 to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.

And what will this massive testing tell us that we don’t already know? Nothing.

States that test their students in a consistent, high-quality way already know that, in general, wealthier students do much better than poorer students, nonminority students do much better than minority students, students without disabilities do much better than students with disabilities, and that there are significant gaps between urban, suburban, and rural students. Performance between male and female students varies too, depending on the subject.

What do we need, instead, to close the many gaps in achievement we know exist? We need to establish a system of education reform that begins with accountability—a reasonable amount of accountability—and provides to all children programs we know will work to close the achievement gaps.

Such an accountability system would allow rich, authentic assessment—more open-ended-response items that require critical thinking and articulate response—rather than multiple-choice-style tests that may be easier, faster, and cheaper to score, but don’t tell us nearly enough about our students. Such items require students to demonstrate deep understanding, and are more reflective of what they will encounter in life beyond the K-12 classroom.

Such an accountability system would allow us to continue to disaggregate our data in more ways than are required by the No Child Left Behind legislation—by male/female designation, for example. Most important, it would allow us to continue to emphasize and refine the use of results to change instruction to improve student achievement. This is the essential part of ensuring that gaps in achievement are addressed.

Such a system also would allow state education departments and testing companies to determine how to test students using computers. In the area of writing alone, to require the use of the laptop to compose a piece of written work and assess students on their ability to do that, rather than the current practice of having students write using pencil and paper, would cause a revolution in classroom instruction and transform our practice to reflect the real world. Where else, other than the K-12 classroom, do people compose in longhand anymore? Such a practice would require that all students have access to laptops and, thus, would address another gap, the digital divide between richer and poorer children.

Assessment is useful only to the extent that we test what is important, reasonable, and challenging. In the 1980s, Connecticut was the first state to incorporate the calculator into parts of its mathematics test. Only then did the calculator become an integral part of instruction. Only then did instruction and assessment reflect the reality of the world beyond the classroom. It is well past time to do this with the computer. But that will require energy and resources now being directed toward creating and administering more of the same tests.

I worry, in fact, that with the impending federal assessment requirements, we will not be able even to maintain the same rich assessment system we have developed for grades 4, 6, 8, and 10. Why? The annual testing of every student in seven grades presents an unprecedented crisis in the making. Testing-company insiders will admit that this is an industry whose personnel constantly move from one company to another—with firms "stealing" staffers from each other and from state education departments. Since each state negotiates independently with these companies, no one has looked comprehensively and asked if they have the resources necessary to generate results for 26 million students in a few months’ time.

Less, but better, testing would allow us to focus more on creating comprehensive education reform: efficiently and effectively devoting resources to programs that we know work to close the gaps we know are there. There are at least five elements to such a reform.

First, numerous studies demonstrate that preschool gives young children what they need to do well in school. In Connecticut, 18,000 children do not attend preschool; 14,000 of them reside in our poorest towns. I would rather take the resources we must devote to creating, scoring, and administering additional tests at grades 3, 5, and 7 (we already test in grades 4, 6, 8, and 10) and establish preschool slots for these youngsters. By lessening the gaps among students before they enter kindergarten, we have a real chance to close the gaps that increasingly manifest themselves over the K-12 continuum.

Second, we must listen to and understand the students whose achievement we are trying to raise. What do they and their parents think contributes to success? Given more choices, what kinds of schools would they attend? What kind of support do they need from families, schools, and neighborhoods?

Assessment is useful only to the extent that we test what is important, reasonable, and challenging.

In one major study, students in Philadelphia identified a caring teacher as most helpful to their academic success. This leads to the third part of a comprehensive approach to closing the achievement gaps. We must attract and retain high-quality teachers in general, and especially in areas (both academic and geographic) that are most challenging. We must attract a teaching force more reflective of our students’ races and cultures. We must attract educators who have the energy, commitment, passion, and belief that all students can learn—educators who signal to students and their parents that it is their responsibility, along with their teachers’ and administrators’ to work hard to achieve at high levels.

While the No Child Left Behind law attempts to address teacher quality, for a state like Connecticut its requirements are so minimal that they are essentially irrelevant. Just under 80 percent of our educators have at least a master’s degree. We require substitute teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree, but all regular teachers must earn a master’s within eight years of beginning teaching. We have been testing our prospective teachers since 1989, and we have a nationally acclaimed induction system tied to continuing certification. We pay our teachers well, and in return, we expect them to meet the high standards we have set for entry into and continuation in the profession.

So in Connecticut as well as some other states, the baseline issues of teacher quality raised by the No Child Left Behind Act were addressed years ago. It is the tougher issue of attracting and retaining high-quality teachers in light of the impending exodus of teachers that each state and the nation as a whole must urgently address.

Over the next decade, about half of Connecticut’s 50,000 educators will retire. The same will happen throughout the nation. This will leave us all with the challenge of meeting a tremendous need while other professions are vying for the same limited number of people. We must think differently about the profession—remake the profession—in order to attract, support, reward, and retain educators who have a passion for and a commitment to what we do.

One approach worthy of serious consideration is giving teachers who have substantially increased their students’ achievement a differentiated role: mentor to new teachers. They should be tangibly rewarded for this role. Such teachers might be retired, but interested in giving back to the profession and maintaining contact with teachers and students. Others might be currently employed, hired as recently as five years ago, and have the necessary commitment, energy, passion, and success. Funds appropriated for student assessment should be used to identify and pay such teachers differentially.

Fourth, we must take a very close look at what we are teaching and how we are teaching it. We must ensure that what we are teaching and testing are important, reasonable, and challenging to every student. We must ensure that every student has the benefit of a planned, ongoing, systematic, up-to-date, research-based program of instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies—plus a full course of study in a language other than English, as well as the arts and health and physical education. While the federal legislation provides a large amount of funding to address this need in reading, minimal funds are provided for mathematics and science, and no funds are provided for the other areas of the curriculum.

Fifth, we must keep an equally strong focus not only on the academic achievements of our students, but also on their social, emotional, physical, and mental health. An intense focus on high academic achievement for all students is the heart of what we do. This is necessary, but not sufficient, to produce informed, respectful, and respected citizens. We need an equally strong effort to improve student ethical achievement. High academic honor without high ethical behavior is no honor at all.

How likely is this balanced focus, when states, districts, and schools are judged solely by the No Child Left Behind Act criteria in reading, writing, math, and science? How likely is it that educators will resist the narrowing of their curricula to a relentless focus on just these areas tested? How likely is it that schools will focus equally on the social, emotional, and health needs of their students?

I support balanced assessment that informs curriculum and instruction. But I fear that the assessment requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act have tipped that balance. Rich, meaningful teaching will get crowded out. Curriculum development will get crowded out. Innovation and connection to the whole student will get crowded out. Renewing the profession will get crowded out.

Where, then, will the children be? Without some modifications in the No Child Left Behind law, they’ll be somewhere far behind.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Tuesday Jun 22, 2004

Local District F New Elementary School Construction
Community Update Meeting
Join us for an update meeting about new elementary school construction in Local District F including the following projects:

* Alexandria New Elementary School #1
* Belmont New Elementary School #6
* Cahuenga New Elementary School #1
* Belmont New Elementary School #9

6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Alexandria Elementary School
4211 Oakwood Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004
• Wednesday Jun 23, 2004

Central Region Elementary School #18
Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District H

At this meeting we will present and discuss the site that will be recommended to the LAUSD Board of education for this new school project.

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
28th Street Elementary School
2807 Stanford Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011

South Region Span 6-12 #3
Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District J

At this meeting we will present and discuss the site that will be recommended to the LAUSD Board of education for this new school project.

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Middleton Elementary School
6537 Malabar Street
Huntington Park, CA 90255

• Thursday Jun 24, 2004

Central Region Elementary School #14
Phase II Site Selection Update
Local District F

Your participation is important! Please join at this meeting where we will review:

* Criteria used to select potential sites
* Sites suggested by community and by LAUSD, and
* We will present and discuss the most suitable site(s) for this new school project

6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Rosemont Avenue Elementary School
421 N. Rosemont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Central Region Elementary School #16
Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District H

At this meeting we will present and discuss the site that will be recommended to the LAUSD Board of education for this new school project.

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Main Street Elementary School
129 E. 53rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90011

South Region Span K-8 #2
Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District G

At this meeting we will present and discuss the site that will be recommended to the LAUSD Board of education for this new school project.

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Foshay Learning Center
3751 S. Harvard Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

*Dates and times subject to change.
Phone: 212.241.4700
Phone: 213.633.7616


4LAKids Book Club for June & July –CHOOSING EXCELLENCE: “Good Enough” Schools Are Not Good Enough
John Merrow - the documentary filmmaker and
corespondent behind the Merrow Report series of
education broadcasts on NPR and PBS - spoke to the
California State PTA convention last month about his take
on public education issues. Much of what he said was
reported a month ago in 4LAKids (see: May 9th: “NOTES

Merrow’s thinking is further developed in CHOOSING
EXCELLENCE (Scarecrow Press, 207pp) — first
published in 2001 but is still very applicable today. Some of
his thoughts re: charter schools (which at the time were
totally unproved) probably need reworking as the data
becomes clearer – but his take is 98% on!

(‘Choice’ in LAUSD means particpation in the magnet
school program - the ultimate choice is often made by a
lottery – ‘choice’ becomes a matter of chance!)

“Choice” has become a political buzzword in education,
often it really means school vouchers and the privatization
of public education. Not here. Merrow’s call is for
nothing-less-than excellence in education, and his mantra
that “‘Good Enough’ Schools Are Never Good Enough”

His critique of multiple choice standardized tests, his
description of the roles of parents, students and educators,
and his premise that excellence is a choice parents must
make – and his step-by-step guide on how to make the
choices – are well worth the read.

This is good stuff! —smf

Get CHOOSING EXCELLENCE from your local library, bookstore - or order it by clicking here.

What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member. Or your city councilperson, mayor, assemblyperson, state senator, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think.
• 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.
• Vote.

Contact your school board member

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is Vice President for Education in Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and governance council member at two LAUSD schools. He is also the elected Youth & Education boardmember on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
• In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited.
• This and past Issues are available – with interactive feedback — at