Sunday, June 13, 2004

4LAKids: Sunday, June 13th, 2004

View Large Image 4LAKids: Sunday, June 13th, 2004
In This Issue: Two Maps

A MAP, A BUDGET AND THE MEETING THAT NEVER ENDS ...and then there were eight!
4LAKids Book Club for June & July –CHOOSING EXCELLENCE: “Good Enough” Schools Are Not Good Enough
EVENTS: Coming up next week...

I am trying something a little different as to format this week because 4LAKids' two lead stories – which are inextricably and hopefully not-inexplicably linked – deal with maps.

I'm a 'word person' — but I know my limits! One of them is describing maps ...My wife would be delighted to fill you in on some of the rest!

A picture's worth a thousand words and all that ...if you've ever had to deal with a legal document where the attorneys describe boundaries, borders and maps you understand the challenge!

Next week 4LAKids should return to the usual excessive verbiage! - smf

Target just one nickel of every tax dollar for education!
A MAP, A BUDGET AND THE MEETING THAT NEVER ENDS ...and then there were eight!
The Board of Ed met ALL Tuesday night and into
Wednesday morning:

• They agreed on a budget, albeit $49 million short.
• They agreed on a number of local districts; eight
being the number. This was not a universally popular
decision among the Board - there was teeth gnashing
and insinuation of dirty dealing ...but it was agreed to!
[Click on small map at right to view larger map]
• The $500 per student budget cuts were restored.
• The Psychiatric Social Workers, Nurses and
Counselors previously cut were restored ... or at least
almost all of them were. (Some counselors at non-Title
I Schools - the programs with the lest discretionary
funding - are apparently being laid off!)
• Some positions continue to be victims of some
“funny accounting”, a number of jobs at year-round
schools continue to be paid as if the school was on a
traditional calendar. So school librarians, coordinators,
nurses, counselors, etc. – needed all the time – will be
taking ‘enforced vacations’ — and “B” and “C” track
programs will continue to be adversely impacted.

• LA Times: SCHOOL BOARD VOTES TO PARE SUBDISTRICTS FROM 11 TO 8: Compromise keeps much of the current decentralized structure intact but allows for millions in savings.

By Cara Mia DiMassa and Jean Merl - Times Staff Writers

June 9, 2004 - In a compromise that allowed Supt. Roy Romer to keep much of a local administrative system intact while still instituting cost-cutting measures pushed by the teachers union, the Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday night to reduce the number of geographic subdistricts from 11 to eight.

The board's 5-2 vote capped a day of protests outside the Los Angeles Unified School District's downtown headquarters and weeks of negotiations and lobbying behind the scenes. While United Teachers-Los Angeles did not get the local districts abolished as it originally sought, the union nonetheless got a partial symbolic victory that is expected to cut about 165 administrative jobs and save about $17 million.

Romer earlier had sought to maintain all 11 subdistricts but said he came to the conclusion that a reduction to eight subdistricts would not harm the academic progress the school system has made in recent years.

"I felt I had to come to the table and propose a solution that would … put us in a position to save some dollars and defend this district," Romer said before introducing his compromise solution.

Voting for the measure were board members Jose Huizar, Marguerite Poindexter-La Motte, Jon Lauritzen, Julie Korenstein and David Tokofsky. Marlene Canter and Mike Lansing voted no.

Lauritzen, who earlier had introduced a union-backed motion to replace the 11 districts with four, five or six subdistricts, told his fellow board members why he now supported Romer's plan for eight.

"We've gone through the rhetoric time and time again," Lauritzen said. "The superintendent made a good case for eight districts. We have gained much from the discussion. The time is right to get on with the issue and go forward."

However, Canter, who introduced a motion to keep all 11 subdistricts, chastised other members for placing what she called rhetoric and politics before the needs of children.

"This is not a spectator sport," Canter said. "As seven board members, we are talking about dismantling a district that is not only succeeding but succeeding at rates people didn't even expect."

Canter's motion failed by a vote of 3 to 4. Only Lansing and Tokofsky joined her in supporting it. But Tokofsky later voted with the majority to approve the plan for eight subdistricts.

The debate had been underway for about two hours but stalled shortly after 9 p.m., when board member Lansing questioned whether some of the behind-the-scenes discussions had violated the state's open-meeting law. The board adjourned into closed session to hear from its lawyer whether it could legally proceed with a vote Tuesday night and emerged 20 minutes later with board President Huizar saying he was satisfied that no violation had occurred. The final vote came around 10 p.m.

Under the plan, the eight local districts each would serve student populations of between 63,000 and 116,400. Each would have a local superintendent, three elementary directors, two middle-school directors and two senior high directors.

The new configuration will retain some of the geographic characteristics of the 11, but each obviously will be larger. For example, instead of three local districts, the San Fernando Valley will now have two. Romer said district officials drew the map with an eye toward maintaining community identity and distributing as evenly as possible the low-performing schools.

Romer said he would begin his work to restructure the district today when he meets with the 11 local superintendents. Before the month is out, he must decide who among them will keep their jobs and who will be bumped down a notch in the district hierarchy to a director position. That will set in motion a complicated procedure that might eventually see a school principal or two displaced and returned to teaching in the classroom.

At UTLA's bidding, several hundred teachers, both retired and active, showed up to support the union in its fight to abolish the subdistricts.

Dressed in the red shirts that designate them as UTLA members, they circled the district's headquarters, chanting, "Hey, hey, what do you say. Mini-districts go away" and "Hey, hey what do you say. UTLA is here to stay."

The teachers union had sent postcards to its 45,000 members urging them to "heat up the board" by demonstrating in front of school district headquarters.

Some teachers hoisted a giant red and black sign at the corner of 3rd Street and Beaudry Avenue that read "LAUSD Hands Off Kids' Funds."

The 126-seat board room was filled to capacity, and about 100 people watched the proceedings on a television monitor in a room nearby.

Phyllis Hart of the Achievement Council California, a nonprofit education organization based in Los Angeles, told the board that in her 30 years in public education, the district structure has been reorganized 10 times.

But none, she said, had made a difference before the subdistrict system, which she credited with helping narrow the achievement gap between black and Latino students and their white and Asian peers.

The local subdistricts, each of which currently oversees between 59,000 and 80,000 students, were introduced to L.A. Unified in 2000 by then-Interim Supt. Ramon Cortines.

Cortines pushed for the subdistricts as a way to reduce central district bureaucracy. But many saw a political motivation as well: The nation's second-largest school district was under pressure from various groups working for its breakup and the subdistricts were seen as a way to help quiet those voices by putting administration closer to parents and schools.

Cortines spent six months drawing the boundaries of the 11 subdistricts to reflect community identity and even gang affiliations.

UTLA had pushed hard in recent months for eliminating the subdistricts, alleging that they represented L.A. Unified's misplaced priority on administration instead of teaching.

UTLA President John Perez had repeatedly assailed the subdistricts in public meetings as symbols of a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy.

With lobbying and rallies, the union had increased its pressure on Romer and the seven-member board, five of whom were elected with at least some financial support from UTLA.

However, on Tuesday night, Perez said his union would accept the plan for eight subdistricts as long as the savings were passed on to schools and parent ombudsmen were appointed for each subdistrict.

"I think eight is acceptable to our members," Perez said.

The school board has struggled in the last few months to bridge a roughly $500-million gap in its $5.7-billion operating budget. It made cuts in central and local district administration and in clerical and support staff.

But about $49 million more in cuts must be made to balance the budget by June 30.

Last week, the district offered the teachers union a proposal that seemed to back away from a potential confrontation over healthcare benefits and some other issues.

In a letter to Perez, Richard Fisher, the district's representative in the contract negotiations, wrote that healthcare benefits would remain unchanged and that some funds for classrooms and counseling programs that UTLA wanted would be restored.

The district previously had sought to force teachers to pay for more of their healthcare costs with higher deductibles and other measures.

• LA Times: LA SCHOOLS SHUFFLE STAFF AROUND SUBDISTRICTS: In new structure, with three fewer districts, some superintendents will get extra territory while others will leave.

By Cara Mia DiMassa - Times Staff Writer

June 12, 2004 - Los Angeles Unified School District's game of musical chairs began Friday as Supt. Roy Romer announced which of the current 11 subdistrict chiefs would remain as their numbers shrink.

Earlier in the week, the Los Angeles school board voted to reduce the number of administrative subdistricts from 11 to eight as a cost-saving measure. The new configuration was suggested by Romer as a compromise with the teachers union, which originally sought to abolish the subdistrict system altogether. The latest map was drawn with an eye toward maintaining community identity and distributing as evenly as possible the district's low-performing schools, officials said.

Romer said he was heartened that the school board had given him latitude in carrying out details of the reorganization.

"That's the way they should treat a superintendent, and I will deliver a product that will be fully as efficient as the 11 we had — and, I hope, even better," he said.

In the new eight-district structure, seven of the current subdistrict superintendents will remain and get extra territory: Robert Collins (District 1, west San Fernando Valley); Sue Shannon (District 2, east San Fernando Valley); Richard Alonzo (District 4, central and northeast Los Angeles); Rowena Lagrosa (District 5, East Los Angeles); Dale Vigil (District 6, southeast cities); Sylvia Rousseau (District 7, South Los Angeles); and Myrna Rivera (District 8, Harbor area).

Sharon Curry is being promoted from director of elementary school services for a subdistrict to become head of District 3 in west and central Los Angeles. Ronni Ephraim, who had been the local superintendent in the former District D, in West Los Angeles, will become the district's chief instructional officer, in part to replace Merle Price, the current deputy superintendent of instructional services, who is about to retire.

Deborah L. Leidner, who had been local superintendent of District A, in the northwest San Fernando Valley, and Sharon V. Robinson, local superintendent of District G, in South Los Angeles, will be reassigned. Edgar Seal, who had come out of retirement to run District E, in the Hollywood area, will not stay on past the transition.

A lot more shifting is ahead. Over the next few weeks, before the new fiscal year begins July 1, district administrators must decide which three offices will be closed and who will staff the remaining ones.

They have said that 165 positions will be eliminated and that, with bumping rights, some administrators may return to the classroom as teachers.

"We said we were going to do this quick, and we are going to do this quick," said Glenn Gritzner, special assistant to Romer. "The superintendent is working feverishly with local superintendents to decide on the next round of staffing."

• The July-August issue of The Atlantic Monthly carries
an article “Resegregation’s Aftermath” that discusses
the issue of race and educational opportunity. Based
on a study by Dr. Jeannie Oakes at UCLA’s Institute
for Democracy, Education and Access (UCLA IDEA -
cited below) it uses a map of LA County to develop
Oakes hypothesis of “opportunity to learn” indicators.

Oakes contends that there is a trend towards
resegregation that has been going on for more than a
decade and that educational opportunities for Black
and Hispanic children are decreasing while those for
White and Asian children remain superior.

Oakes tracks three negative indicators:

poorly if fewer than 80% of teachers are certified by
the state.

• CURRICULUM: a school scores poorly if less than 2/3 of
available courses prepare students for a four-year

• FACILITIES: a school scores poorly if it is so
overcrowded that it shortens the school year to
accommodate overcrowding (The Concept 6

I have no serious arguments with any of these - though
I must qualify that I believe we are overconcentrated
on the four-year college goal . There simply isn’t
capacity in the nation’s colleges for all high school
graduates and four year college or university for every student is an unrealistic goal! I suggest that this goal should be more realistically addressed that students need to be prepared for quality post-secondary education
including community college and trade school, etc.
(And, short term, with 50% of LAUSD students not even
making it through high school, an 100% high school
graduation rate is a far better goal!) And going after
Concept Six in itself is shortsighted also. Concept Six
is a Band-Aid solution to overcrowding; the so-called
“180 Day Calendar” - which institutionalizes
overcrowding - is just as egregious. Overcrowding is
solved by building schools!

Oakes study applies her three indicators to a map of
LA County. [Click on small map at right to view larger map] High schools with no indicators are white
dots, those with one or two are varying shades of gray,
all three are black. When this map is overlaid on a
demographic map that shows concentration of
Hispanic and Black Students in varying shades of
brown the concentration of dark gray and black dots
on a brown background is obvious - as are the white
dots on a field of green.

If one were to take the next step and overlay the new
LAUSD Local District maps over the above we see
this: The new Local Districts 6 & 7 (Central Los
Angeles and the Southeast) have the greatest
concentration of Dr. Oakes ‘problem indicators.

This situation is partially addressed in the new local
district alignment, Districts 6 and 7 have the fewest
number of students — to better to concentrate
resources upon the problem. And those areas also have
the greatest concentration of new schools being built.
That addresses the Facilities indicator, but the
challenge remains on how to address Teacher
Qualification and Curriculum.

That is going to require real leadership. Leadership
from downtown, in the local districts, from the
community and untimately and most importantly: In
the school and in the classroom.


Mapping the stark difference in the quality of education between predominantly white and predominantly minority schools by BRAD HOLST

Fifty years ago in May, Brown v. Board of Education
made segregated public education illegal. By 1990 the
complexion of the nation's public schools had changed
dramatically: individual schools more closely reflected
the racial balance of the district in which they were
located, and black students attended class with nearly
twice as many white children, on average, as they had
two decades previously.

But integration had already begun to lose momentum
in the early 1970s. ill fact, by some measures public
schools have now been resegregating for more than a
decade. Partly as a consequence, white children today
have access to much better educational opportunities,
on average, than do their minority counterparts.

Consider Los Angeles County. The accompanying map
was generated by Jeannie Oakes, the director of the
Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access at
UCLA., using data she has collected on a range of
"opportunity to learn" indicators. A white dot
represents a high school with no significant problems.
A gray dot identifies a school that has a serious
problem with its teachers (fewer than 80 percent are
certified by the state), its curriculum (fewer than two
thirds of the available courses prepare students for a
four-year college), or its facilities (buildings are so
crowded that students must attend school in shifts,
effectively shortening the academic year by seventeen
days or more). The more areas in which a school has
problems, the darker the dot.

A quick glance at the map reveals that problems are
more common in schools located in predominantly
black and Hispanic neighborhoods. The worst
schools-the seven exhibiting serious problems with
teachers, curricula, and facilities-collectively educate a
population that is 94 percent black and Hispanic.
Meanwhile, not a single LA County school that is
more than 90 percent white and Asian exhibits any
serious problems with teachers, curricula, or facilities.
Only 16 percent of the region's black and Hispanic
students attend a school with none of the serious
problems Oakes tracks; more than half (58 percent) of
the region's white and Asian students do.

Numerous studies show that the caliber of teachers,
the rigor of curricula, and the quality of facilities vary
according to the race of the student body in public
schools throughout the country. Teachers in
predominantly black schools, for example, are less
likely than teachers in predominantly white schools to
have proper credentials or extensive teaching
experience, to hold even a minor in the relevant
subject, or to have attended a competitive college.

Not surprisingly, these differences matter. In L.A.
County, graduation rates and college-preparedness
rates for all races rise steadily with school quality.
Indeed, both graduation rates and
college-preparedness rates are twice as high in the best
schools (those with no problems on Oakes's scales) as
in the worst (those with problems in all three areas).
Nationwide, 75 percent of white ninth-graders will
graduate from high school in four years; barely half of
black and Hispanic ninth-graders will.

And even among those twelfth-grade black students
who do graduate from high school the average score
on the standardized National Assessment of
Educational Progress test is lower than the average
score of white eighth graders. This puts minority
children on an unequal footing not only while they're in
school but later in life as well .

DOWNLOAD Louis Harris/UCLA IDEA Study: Separate and Unequal 50 Years after Brown—California's Racial

• By Dan Basalone

Historically, one of the best ways to close the
"Achievement Gap" among all students has been to
provide preschool age children with a quality learning
experience prior to entering kindergarten. For many
students preschool education is provided by their
family by means of private preschool experiences.

However, one of the best kept secrets in the Los
Angeles Unified School District is the early education
program at centers throughout Los Angeles and in the
School Readiness Language Development Program
(SRLDP) classes.

As a former elementary school principal who can attest
to the readiness of students in these programs to be
successful kindergarten students, I firmly believe that
the work being done by preschool educators is most
instrumental in student success.

In my experience it was the children who had preschool experiences who set the learning tone for kindergarten classes.

Our Early Education Centers are staffed by some of
the most dedicated teachers and aides, and they are led
by highly competent site principals. Most early
education principals supervise two or more sites that
can be miles apart; yet, they maintain outstanding
programs at all sites regardless of the time needed to
accomplish their tasks. Our goals as a District should
be to enhance the early education program for as many
students as possible and to assign one site per principal
in order to maximize their success. Thanks to all Early
Education staff for the tremendous work that they do
to close the achievement gap.

• Dan Basalone is a former elementary school principal, retired from LAUSD. This article is from the from the May 31st AALA Update Newsletter. AALA, The Associated Administrators Los Angeles, is the "Principal's Union".

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

Pick up CHOOSING EXCELLENCE from your public library or bookstore - or click here to order it online

Choosing Excellence Image
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Monday Jun 14, 2004

Central Los Angeles Area New High School #9 (450 N. Grand) Design Update Meeting

6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Esperanza Elementary School
680 Little Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Community Organizer: Wanda Flagg

• Tuesday Jun 15, 2004

South Region Elementary School #1
Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District I

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.
75th Elementary School
142 W. 75th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90003

Community Organizer: Carlas McCauley

• Wednesday June 16, 2004


9:30 AM
New Bell Middle School Library
N/E corner Florence & Grafton Avenues
Cudahy, CA

more info:
Phone: 212.241.4700

• Thursday Jun 17, 2004

South Region High School #2

Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District I

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.
Miramonte Elementary School
1400 E. 68th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90001

Community Organizer: Carlas McCauley

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


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