Monday, July 05, 2004

4LAKids: Monday, July 5, 2004

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4LAKids: Monday, July 5, 2004
In This Issue:
LEMONADE: Responses to:: 'Lemon' Teachers Plague LAUSD, (LA Times, June 26 - reprinted in June 26 4LAKids)
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
LAUSD has a budget ...but NOT the State of California!

Of course it is the State budget that provides and
allocates the K-12 Funding all school districts need; and
of course many of our schools are in session now,
spending money they don’t have now. But it’s a
beginning. Principals at least know how much money the
District thinks it has for them to spend. Budgets are not
gospel; they are plans based on assumptions and
projection; ‘what-ifs’ made by prognosticators,
statisticians, demographers, educated-guessers and
political tea-leaf readers; folks who alternate between
‘through a glass darkly’ and ‘rose-colored-glasses’ 20-20
vision. Subject to – and needful of – revision.

From an Official LAUSD Statement on the Budget:

• The $50 per student ‘reduction’ has been rescinded.

•• smf notes: Last time I asked, this ‘reduction’ was actually never ‘taken’ ....but neither has it been "returned’! And there seems to be a question as to whether it has been (or will be) ‘returned’ to the same budget accounts at the local school as it was ‘taken”! Stay tuned!

• The Superintendent has returned counselors to all Title I
schools. This means that there should be no change in counselor to student ratios at Title I schools for the 2004-05 school year.

•• smf notes: This also means that counselors at non-Title
I schools – those schools with the least discretionary
income – those schools already getting the least funding
and that can least afford to make up the cut – HAVE
been cut! In a Catch 22 worthy of Yossarian and Co.,
LAUSD is cutting services to students at schools that get
no help from the federal government [Title I Schools]
BECAUSE they are Title I schools! To claim that these
cuts in the Counselors Office are somehow far from the
classroom is an absurd technicality! Counselors (when
they are doing their jobs and not running tardy sweeps
and after-school detention) are the one-on-one/ educator-to-student mentors that can make a difference in secondary education. In most school districts the student-to-counselor ratio is less than 100:1; in the schools effected by this cut it will be something like

• $108 million in cuts to central and local district offices,
where the Board cut 510 positions and other expenses.
• An additional $17 million and 165 positions in cuts to
local district offices through local district reorganization
• $170 million in cuts from achieving efficiencies and
changing the way the District funds its construction and
maintenance projects.
• $60 million in savings to the general fund by shifting
general fund costs to other sources.

•• smf notes: These previous two items are by no means
“done-deals”. Some items require state approval and/or
the concurrence of the Bond Oversight Committee; the
BOC has already expressed questions and very real
concerns about using bond funds to supplant the
District’s operating budget.

• These shifts will not result in any service level changes
but allow the District to address the general fund budget
• $62 million in cuts to school sites.
• The bulk of the $62 million comes from shortening
summer school.

•• smf notes: students who need remedial attention
will get less?

• $10 million from cuts and efficiencies in special
• $8 million from allowing for staffing adjustments based
on reduced enrollment at mid-year (mid-year renorming)

•• smf notes: Renorming essentially allows for staff
reduction as students drop-out during the year. We hate
dropouts... but we save money when they do!

• $7 million from efficiencies in school-site and

•• smf notes: ‘Efficiencies” is such a lovely word; these
are CUTS in maintenance! Every indicator shows that
previous such ‘efficiencies’ have led to poor upkeep and
deterioration of services and facilities; falling ceiling tiles,
closing down of bathrooms and showers in gyms,
decrease in janitorial staff, service and supplies, etc.
LAUSD is embarked on the largest school construction
program in history (...and we are building showers in
those new gyms) yet we are cutting down on maintenance?

• L.A. Unified board completes the tough job of making
cuts in preparation for submitting a balanced spending
plan today.

By Cara Mia DiMassa - Times Staff Writer

June 30, 2004 — After three months of wrangling with a
$500-million budget shortfall, the Los Angeles school
board brought the extended cutting process to an end
Tuesday through $75 million in budget adjustments and
increased revenue.

"I've got to have a zero at the end of the page at the end
of the day," Los Angeles Unified School District Supt.
Roy Romer reminded the board, referring to a one-page
summary of the remaining cost cuts that his office had
prepared. The district must present a balanced budget to
the Los Angeles County Office of Education by 5 p.m.

The budget gap was covered by, among other things,
paring down the local subdistrict structure, a move made
earlier this month; reducing the cost of consultant
contracts; improving student attendance; and drawing
from state funding that will come to the district once a
state budget is approved by lawmakers in Sacramento.

After the final cuts were made, the school board approved
the district's provisional 2004-05 budget by a vote of 5 to
1, with board member David Tokofsky voting against it.

Board member Mike Lansing, present for part of the
meeting, was absent for the vote.

The $6.8-billion operating budget adopted by the board
Tuesday reflected a change in district bookkeeping, due in
part to a complicated accounting process and confusion
about whether categorical, pass-through and other special
funds should be included.

In all of its public relations information, the district had
been using a figure of $5.7 billion for the overall budget, a
number that has been used by The Times and other

But with the arrival of a new controller, Richard Knott,
the district chose to report costs for specially funded
programs such as regional occupational centers and
magnet schools — money that the district is obligated to
spend in certain ways — as part of the operating budget.

In an interview after the vote, board President Jose
Huizar called this year's cuts "one of the most difficult."

But he praised the board's initiative in making most of the
cuts from central offices and local districts while
preserving funding for school sites, which he said would
allow the schools to continue improving student test
scores and achievement.

Eventually, Huizar said, "Californians have to face up to
the fact that they need to invest more money in public

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

July 2, 2004 — Members of the Los Angeles school
board reelected Jose Huizar as board president Thursday
at their annual meeting. Huizar, an attorney, represents
District 2, which includes downtown Los Angeles, Boyle
Heights, Lincoln Heights, Pico-Union and Chinatown. He
is in his fourth year as a board member.

Before the unanimous vote, board member Julie
Korenstein told Huizar that he had held the board
together "through an extraordinarily difficult school year."
The board just completed a round of budget cuts that
shrank the district's $6.8-billion operating budget by
about $500 million.

• Last-minute cuts made to LAUSD annual budget

By Jennifer Radcliffe - Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - The Los Angeles Unified
School District board voted to slash another $52 million
from its $6.8 billion budget -- in items such as consulting
contracts, administrative costs and substitute teacher
expenses -- just 24 hours before the provisional budget
was due to the county Office of Education.

But on the eve of its submission, district officials concede
that meeting the budget's savings target could prove
difficult, as a $21 million gap relies on student and teacher

The district would gain $14 million in state funding if
student attendance increases 1 percent, and the district
would save $7 million if teachers miss fewer than 10 sick
days per year -- which some officials call unrealistic.

"It's difficult to approve a hypothetical budget because
there's so much in here we just don't know," board
member Marguerite LaMotte said.

The flurry of cuts, made during a five-hour meeting, were
the last needed to close the gap on what began as a $500
million deficit for the 2004-05 fiscal year, which begins
July 1. The reductions come on top of the $1 billion in
cuts LAUSD has made in the last three years.

Jannelle Kubinec, an LAUSD budget consultant, told the
board that savings included in this provisional budget for
increased student and teacher attendance seem overly

"There is very little margin for error," she said. "If any of
the assumptions aren't quite right ... this budget does not
hold together."

In fact, LAUSD's budget will only be balanced if the state
provides an additional $9 million in per-student funding
and allows LAUSD to spend $14 million less on building
maintenance -- legislative actions expected next month.

Under this budget, Superintendent Roy Romer will be
required to cut an additional $8 million from central
administration expenses, such as professional
development and conference expenses.

Board President Jose Huizar said that children remained a
top priority throughout this difficult budgeting process.

"I think we are relying on some items that are not
absolute and we're hoping things go our way in the state
Legislature," he said. "We did the best we could to
preserve the advances we made at the school site -- where
it matters, where the real work gets done."

The Los Angeles County Office of Education will either
approve or deny the budget in early September.


By Jennifer Radcliffe - Staff Writer

Thursday, June 24, 2004 - Hoping to give children a
jump-start on their education, Los Angeles Unified
School District officials urged parents Thursday to enroll
their children in full-day kindergarten that starts next
week at year-round schools.

The first phase of the four-year effort to provide full-day
kindergarten districtwide will begin at nine San Fernando
Valley schools on Thursday, with an additional 45 Valley
schools offering the voluntary program in the fall.

"This is a really good day for kids," Superintendent Roy
Romer said at a news conference at Harrison Elementary
School in Los Angeles.

The extended classes will be offered at a total of 173 of
the district's 434 elementary schools by September.
Kindergarten is voluntary for students up to the age of 6.
The district will not offer half-day kindergarten at any of
the schools that adopt the full-day program.

The pilot schools were chosen based on available space.
To make room at the rest of LAUSD's elementary
campuses, Romer vowed to complete more than $100
million in construction for the program within four years.

Officials said it's a program needed for children to catch
up academically when they come from low-income
households and homes where English isn't routinely

"We're not just going to close the achievement gap; we're
going to eliminate the achievement gap," board vice
president Marlene Canter said.

About 60 percent of school districts nationwide already
offer full-day kindergarten, and LAUSD officials said
studies show it helps improve academic performance.

"This is a dramatic change that is decades in coming,"
board member David Tokofsky said.

Parents said they're grateful the district is implementing
full-day kindergarten in time for their children.

"I feel it's a great opportunity for students so they can
advance their careers earlier," Harrison Elementary parent
Yajaira Roja said through a translator.

In the San Fernando Valley, full-day kindergarten classes
will be offered beginning next Thursday at Beachy and
Sharp in Arleta, Broadous in Pacoima, Gridley in Sylmar,
Lankershim in North Hollywood, Napa Street in
Northridge, San Fernando, Victory in North Hollywood
and the North Hollywood Primary Center.

"I think our parents are going to be very interested and
pleased in the new program," said Elizabeth Cervantes,
principal of Chatsworth Park School in Chatsworth, who
is gearing up for full-day kindergarten in the fall.

• YOUNG TEACHERS WALK THIN LINE: Increasingly common in L.A. Unified, instructors in their 20s connect with teenagers but must remember to keep an emotional distance — By Erika Hayasaki, Times Staff Writer

July 3, 2004 - A Gompers Middle School student asked
an administrator recently: "Where's Mr. Clay?" The
administrator scanned a student-filled auditorium in
search of the English teacher. He pointed to an
eighth-grade boy wearing a baby blue T-shirt and baggy
jeans and replied, mistakenly: "Isn't that him?"

English teacher Brandon Clay is 23 years old. Like many
of his students, he wears oversized Roca Wear and Sean
John outfits, and listens to rapper 50 Cent.

He's "like a teenager," said Jasmine Davis, 13, a student
at the South Los Angeles school. "He understands us."

Clay is part of a growing league of young teachers in
America's schools. They are fun, fashionable and under
30. They have baby faces and are sometimes confused
with teenagers on campus.

But these teachers know they have to straddle being
students' buddies as well as the person who sends them to
detention. And teacher training programs are increasingly
preparing new instructors on how to handle such issues
and keep a proper emotional distance from the teenagers.

Despite his appearance, Clay says he makes sure his
students respect those boundaries. "I'm still in the phase
where I wear the backward hats," he said. "I'm from their
generation. But I'm also a professional."

The Los Angeles Unified School District relies heavily on
young teachers. Because the district faces chronic
shortages of math, science and special education teachers,
it frequently recruits instructors fresh out of college from
teacher training programs and internships.

The district employs nearly 8,000 certified full-time
teachers, counselors and administrators under 30 — a
third of the total pool. And that doesn't include hundreds
of other interns and student teachers.

Over the next 10 years, about 700,000 older teachers will
retire, according to the National Commission on Teaching
and America's Future. They constitute nearly 40% of the
country's teaching force and most were hired in the 1960s
and '70s, when they were the same age as their new

Already, the number of teachers in their 20s is rising.
They made up 14% of teachers in 2001, up from 11% in
1996, according to a National Education Assn. study.

These young teachers say their students often talk freely
to them about problems, but it is sometimes hard to be
seen as an authority figure.

When 28-year-old Nimat Jones — a freckle-faced
screenplay writer with curly braids — started working as
an English teacher at Crenshaw High School in South Los
Angeles last year, she tried to look older by dressing up.

It didn't help. Security guards regularly mistook her for a
student, telling her to "get to class." Teenage boys asked
for her phone number. Teenage girls looked up and down
at her sleek clothes and treated her like a snobby new girl.

Now, most students and staff know her as the smiling
teacher who lets them listen to Nas and Jay Z during
creative writing class (she likes those rappers too, along
with singers Usher and Kelis). Jones admits: "I'm not
much different from them."

Students still pry about her personal life, asking: "Who is
your boyfriend?" and "What did you do this weekend?"
Jones often has to remind them she's a teacher, not a

"When you get too close to them, or develop too close a
friendship," she said, "kids take advantage of that."

The flirtatious boys, however, don't give up.

On a recent afternoon, a teenage boy with puffy hair saw
Jones near the bungalows in her black chunky-heel
sandals and black leather jacket.

"Hey, Ms. Jones," the student said, approaching her with
his arms open for a hug. "Your hair is beautiful."

"Thanks," she said, patting his back lightly and walking

University High School teacher Kyle Moody, 24, said it's
not so much his appearance that students connect with,
although he is 5-feet-3 and wears baggy Phat Farm jeans
and sneakers to class.

Rather, it's his similar experiences. Moody's parents are
divorced. His father was killed in a car accident when
Moody was 14. As a teenager, he was depressed and
suicidal. He lost friends to drugs.

When Moody starts to share these personal stories, his
students don't want him to stop. They in turn tell him
about divorced parents, pregnant girlfriends and getting
robbed at gunpoint.

"I have to get a balance between how much I can help
them individually," Moody said, "and how much I have to
be their teacher."

In class, Moody's name is written in graffiti tag letters by
students and posted on the wall. A student gives him a
special handshake — pounding fists with a finger snap.

Student Jude Fernando, 16, said he told Moody about a
friend with drug problems; Moody tried to counsel the

"It's like talking to another kid," said Jude. "We need
more teachers like him."

In a culture with so much emphasis on youth, teacher
training officials and campus principals want to make sure
new educators keep both that personal touch and their

Mary H. Lewis, director of the Los Angeles school
district intern program, said young teachers are reminded
that students have their own social circles — and staff
should not be part of them.

She said teachers in the program are advised to avoid
talking, joking or dressing like students.

Monroe High School Principal Gregory J. Vallone said he
prefers hiring veteran teachers instead of 21-year-old
rookies, although he appreciates the energy young
teachers bring to their classrooms.

He said he does not worry much that young teachers,
often idealistic and eager to please administrators, might
cross the line into romances with students. In fact, he said
past cases of inappropriate relationships that he can recall
involved middle-aged teachers.

Still, he once scolded a young female teacher for wearing
a shirt that revealed her mid-section, telling her "if kids
can't dress like that, you can't dress like that." He reminds
young teachers to never be alone with a student. He tells
them not to give them rides home. Instead, he tells
teachers to let students borrow their cellphones to find a

Clay, from Gompers Middle School, said he may dress
stylishly and casually, but students know he's in charge.
He doesn't hang out with them outside of school, he said,
adding: "I don't let them think for one minute that I am a

Clay took over his classes midyear, after a teacher quit.
He earned a reputation for being strict. He barely smiled.

He knows most of his students' tricks, because he was a
"rabble-rouser" and "class clown" at their age.

Student Rayshawn Thomas, 14, said Clay is no-nonsense,
but he also knows how to engage them.

"He assigned us an essay on rap once," she said. "Old
teachers might give us assignments like to write about
how a car works, or something boring like that. But Mr.
Clay gives us stuff we want to talk about."

Clay attended public schools in Inglewood. He was raised
by his grandmother, and grew up in a rough
neighborhood, like the one in which his students live. "I
would rather work for these kids any day of the week," he
said. "They are who I am."

The "rocker" students at Roosevelt High School gather in
groups in teacher Erica Huerta's classroom during lunch
to hang out, talk and watch videos. Huerta, 27, teaches
Chicano studies, as well as Aztec dance after school. She
dresses like so-called rockers, she said, in Dickie pants
and dark colors. She talks to her students about social
protest and civil rights, as well as music by Slipknot and
Rage Against the Machine.

"The school is so overcrowded that students go through
the day without any communication with an adult," she
said. "Being able to connect with a teacher who has a lot
in common" with students may keep them coming to

Griffith Middle School teacher Alex Avilla, 28, uses his
connection with the media culture to reach youth. He
started a group on campus in which students produce and
star in short films.

There's one about Cesar Chavez, one about a ghostly
mother, and another about a teacher who turns into a
superhero. "It makes school more fun," he said, "and if
we can make school more fun, kids get more engaged."

Avilla wears a black T-shirt and baggy blue cargo pants
that hang over his black boots. His cellphone peeks out of
his left pocket. He keeps his Palm Pilot in a carrying case
attached to his hip. He says "it's all good" and "that's
messed up" when trying to get his point across.

"The day I'm not relating to my students anymore," he
said, "is the day I need to retire."

At the other end of a teaching career is Kit Paull, 64,
retired recently after 40 years, most of them spent at
Sylmar High School in the San Fernando Valley.

She became a teacher at 22. In the decade that followed,
she had fun with her students. They connected over the
Beatles and Bob Dylan music. They talked about the
Vietnam War, the draft and revolution. She helped them
decorate floats for homecoming parades.

"I was much more chummy with kids. I talked openly
with them," she said. "There still wasn't that huge age
gap. I didn't start to distance myself until I got a little

That was when she started focusing less on "trying to be
their friend" and more on the curriculum and teaching.
Paull said she became preoccupied with "what are these
kids learning?," rather than "how are they feeling today?"

She looks back on the later years of her career with a
twinge of regret.

"I think kids, to some extent, want to feel that you're their
friend," she said. "They want to be understood."


July 2, 2004 - Eighteen-year-old Victor Soltero grew up
speaking Spanish at home. He read books in Spanish by
Pablo Neruda and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But at school,
he wanted to learn a different language, like Italian or

But at North Hollywood High School last year, those
languages weren't options.

Spanish is the only foreign language offered to most
teenagers at the 5,000-student campus, where 71% of
students are Latino. Only 300 students, enrolled in the
school's highly gifted magnet program, have the option of
taking French.

The North Hollywood campus is one of two Los Angeles
Unified School District high schools that offer Spanish as
the sole foreign language for most students. Franklin High
School in Highland Park, where 88% of students are
Latino, offers about 45 Spanish classes, but no other
foreign language.

Most L.A. Unified high schools offer French to all
students. Some offer German, Italian, Japanese, Korean
or Mandarin, in addition to Spanish. But principals at
both North Hollywood and Franklin high schools said
there was not enough room or interest to add more
language programs on their campuses.

But Soltero said the interest exists — and about 200
other North Hollywood students who wrote letters
recently or signed a petition for another language class
option agreed with him. Some Franklin High School
students have also complained about the lack of options.

"Why are they limiting our choices?" said Soltero, who
wants to travel the world and meet people from different
cultures. "I'm Mexican, and it's putting my race down. It's
like they're saying, 'You guys aren't smart enough to take
anything else.' "

Many students and teachers said Latinos enrolled in
Spanish classes more frequently than others because they
wanted to learn about their culture or study a subject they
already understand. Sometimes, they expected it would be
easier to get a good grade.

But other students said they wanted to challenge
themselves by learning a language different from that
which their parents speak at home.

Natalie Gonzales, a native Spanish speaker and
11th-grader, wrote a letter to the administration that
stated: "It is illogical to obligate students who speak
Spanish to sit in a room for an hour every day to 'learn'
Spanish. Where is the challenge? The purpose of learning
a foreign language is to enlighten and motivate and
elevate the soul, and a large percentage of fluent Spanish
speakers are robbed of this experience."

Non-Latino students have also complained, asking for
more options.

North Hollywood senior Anca Giurgiulescu wrote: "How
do you hope to improve the performance of students
attending North Hollywood High School by limiting the
availability of foreign language classes to just one
language? … If students are not allowed to choose from
challenging classes, how do you hope to inspire them to
strive beyond just the minimum requirements, or in other
words, to strive beyond mediocrity?"

North Hollywood Principal Randall Delling said there is
no room for another language class on his overcrowded
campus. "My God, where would we put it?" he said.
"Every single room in this school is used every single
hour of the day."

A few years ago, the campus offered French classes, but
the former principal closed the program because of a high
dropout rate and purported problems with the instructor.
But the school's Spanish program, Delling said, is
superior. The program has talented teachers and
Advanced Placement students who are mastering Spanish

Delling said it was absurd to claim that his campus was
discriminating against Latinos by offering only Spanish.

"I've always said I would be willing to look at a French
program, or a German program or Armenian program.
That's fine," he said. "But it's got to be a program that …
students want to stay in. Yes, there are students who
want to take all these languages, but are they willing to
continue with the program, or will we end up with all of
these classes and no one in them?"

According to state data, most California campuses offer
Spanish, along with at least one other foreign language.

Arleen Burns, of the California Department of Education,
said: "We do realize there are often constraints such as
resources. In the ideal world we would be able to offer a
variety of languages to every student in California." But
she added that the situation at North Hollywood and
Franklin was rare.

Bud Jacobs, director of high school programs for L.A.
Unified, said the district encourages schools to add as
many foreign language programs as possible. But "foreign
language teachers are hard to find," he said. "It's an area
that could probably use a lot more attention."

In overcrowded schools like North Hollywood, space for
core curriculum classes, such as math, science, social
studies and English, take precedence over foreign
language classes because they are graduation
requirements, Jacobs said. Foreign language is not a
requirement, though most colleges and universities
require two to three years of it for admission.

Any Los Angeles high school students who want to take a
foreign language class that their campus does not offer
can enroll concurrently in a local community college to
study it, Jacobs said. That can be complicated, however,
because it requires rearranging schedules and finding

At Franklin High, Principal Sheridan Liechty said her
campus had offered French and Mandarin in the past, but
that students were not interested in those subjects.

"Most of our kids' primary language is Spanish. They do
beautifully on AP Spanish exams," she said. "If all of your
students are selecting Spanish, you can't support hiring a
French instructor."

But at the overcrowded Belmont High School near
downtown, where 89% of students are Latino, there is
always a demand for the school's two Mandarin and 16
French classes, as well as Spanish, said counselor Lewis
McCammon. French classes, he said, are packed.

"A lot of them think it's a very strong academic subject,"
he said.

Franklin High student Stephanie Vasquez, 17, said she
would love to take French.

"I went to Europe just this past March, and when I went
to Paris," she said, "I wish we had a [French] class so I
could have been prepared."

The options, she said, limit students like her.

"I don't think it's fair," she said. "Yeah, Highland Park is a
Spanish-speaking area. But [another language] makes you
prosperous in life. It looks better on your resume."

LEMONADE: Responses to:: 'Lemon' Teachers Plague LAUSD, (LA Times, June 26 - reprinted in June 26 4LAKids)

July 3, 2004 — In response to Alfee Enciso's column
"'Lemon' Teachers Plague LAUSD," (Voices, June 26) I
agree that our schools are desperately in need of dynamic
leadership and competent teachers. As a fifth-grade
teacher and former United Teachers-Los Angeles chapter
chair, I have seen students suffer under teachers who yell
at them, encourage copying from textbooks because
"that's how kids learn English" or let them play
noninstructional games during the literacy period.

I believe that teaching is one of the most demanding jobs
out there, and the kids in the Los Angeles Unified School
District deserve the best that we can offer. The teachers'
contract protects those who might be better suited (and
do less damage) to other professions, such as a coffee
barista. As for Enciso's plan to allow principals to recruit
their staffs, I would agree if the pickings weren't quite so
slim. Unfortunately, precious few professionals would
ever consider an administrative position, which means
that our current pool is woefully underprepared for the
rigors of the principal role.

Katherine Borda
Los Angeles


July 5, 2004 — Re "'Lemon' Teachers Plague LAUSD,"
Voices, June 26: What about "lemon" principals?
Unfortunately, there are principals who do not have the
management skills, people skills or common sense to
build or run any kind of cohesive educational
environment. In a perfect world, Alfee Enciso's
recommendation would make sense, but to give
inadequate principals more power only escalates the

Local district superintendents, as well as the teachers
union, need to get out of their offices and visit their
district campuses on a regular basis to talk to the
hundreds of superlative teachers, staff and volunteer
parents to make sure the principal of any given school is
accountable for his or her behavior.

Sioux Falcone
Los Angeles

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
•• Wednesday Jul 07, 2004
• Valley Region Hesby Span K-8
CEQA Public Meeting and Design Meeting

Please join us at this meeting to give your comments and ask questions about the Draft Environmental Impact Report for this school project. This report evaluates the potential impacts the school project may have on the surrounding environment.

Also at this meeting we review the proposed design for this school project.

6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Hesby Street School
15530 Hesby Street
Encino, CA 91436

•• Thursday Jul 08, 2004

• Barton Hill Elementary School Addition
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Please join us to celebrate the completion of your new classroom building!

Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.

Barton Hill Elementary School
423 N Pacific Avenue
San Pedro, CA 90731

• Meeting of the LAUSD Special Augmented Facilities Committee

1 PM - Boardroom of LAUSD Headquarters
333 S. Beaudry Ave.
Los Angeles

Revised Project Redefinitions and Amendments to the New Construction Strategic Execution Plan — and identification of the preferred sites for:

* South Region Elementary School #1 (Main St between 88th Pl and 90th St)
* Valley Region High School #5 (Valley Swap Meet)
* Central Region Elementary School #16 (NE corner Main St & 58th St)
* Central High School #13 (Glassell Park/Taylor Yards Parcel F)

• Central Region Middle School #5
Phase II Site Selection Update
Local District 4

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

6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Ramona Elementary School
1133 N. Mariposa Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029

*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