Sunday, August 15, 2004

Help Is In The Way!

8-Article Newsletter Template
4LAKids: Sunday, August 15th, 2004
In This Issue:
 •  LA Times Op-ed + Letters: KINDERGARTEN
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  4LAKids Book Club for August & September—THE HUMAN SIDE OF SCHOOL CHANGE: Reform, Resistance and the Real-Life Problems of Innovation—by Robert Evans
 •  What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
 •  THE 4LAKids ARCHIVE - Past Issues and added features
 •  MAKING SCHOOLS WORK: Get the Book @
 •  FIVE CENTS MAKES SENSE FOR EDUCATION- Target 5¢ from every federal tax dollar for Education
LAUSD and Los AngelesÂ’s schoolchildren need all the
luck they can get – and the District needs to be careful in
making agreements, especially on Friday the thirteenth!
Governor Schwarzenegger comes from show biz where
Friday the 13th has been lucky at the box-office ....but of
late public education in California has had no luck – let
alone box-office!

On Friday at a carefully orchestrated press conference the
governor announced the settlement of “Williams v.
California”, the pending landmark court case about the
level of education funding in California’s poorest – and
poorest performing – schools.

Some “settlement”. Some landmark.

In essence the litigants and the governor's office have agreed to let the legislature sort out the sorry mess in the next two weeks or so — hopefully following a script they worked out in lawyer's offices and closed conference rooms. The principal actors are now the selfsame legislature that should have solved the problems long ago!

The so-called Williams Settlement provides the scenario for legislation; if the legislature follows along with an acceptable performance the ACLU will drop the case.

• If they can do it before September 1st when the
legislators go home...
• an election year..
• .....during the Olympics and the Republican National
• ....finding and committing nearly a billion dollars in
todayÂ’s budget situation without raising taxes.
• Otherwise by implication: It’s back to court!

That certainly leaves lots of time and a conducive arena
for open, reasoned debate!

The Daily News reports that about 450,000 — nearly half
of the state's low-performing students that the lawsuit is
designed to help — attend school in Los Angeles Unified.
ItÂ’s going to be very hard to convince lawmakers in
Sacramento that this isnÂ’t a bailout for LAUSD.

And it isnÂ’t! When the dust settles, the settlement settles
nothing in LAUSD; instead it questions the voter-
approved and fully-funded priorities if Prop. BB and
Measures K and R. LAUSDÂ’s $14 billion program of
building and modernization – which is just now beginning
to show fruit – may be held hostage to the unfunded
Williams settlement. LAUSDÂ’s legal counsel finds nothing
to love or hate in Williams.. WednesdayÂ’s statements to
the Daily News (See: LAUSDÂ’s LAWSUIT SHARE
FridayÂ’s official District position (see: LAUSD
POSITION... following) seem diametrically opposed.

Stay tuned! —smf

• From the AP wire on the Governor's Performance
Review Panel which proposes - among other things - to
eliminate County School Boards and Offices of
Education, charged in the proposed Williams settlement
with oversight of the settlement.

"Last week, Schwarzenegger said he hadn't seen the ideas
in the report but promised to push some to the ballot as
initiatives if the Legislature doesn't cooperate."

Hopefully he will take time to take a look at them first!

Visit the 4LAKids Archive to get information about obtaining the entire proposed settlement package, a 65 page .pdf file.

• from the Superintendent: LAUSD POSITION ON

Friday, August 13, 2004 - The Williams case
agreement that was signed today by various school
districts across the state reinforces many of the
practices that have already been put into place by the
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). If
approved by the Court, and if the legislative package it
sets forth is passed by the Legislature, the Board and
Superintendent believe this settlement has the potential
to assist the District continue it ongoing efforts to
provide better instruction on the StateÂ’s most
challenged campuses.

Issues in the suit include:

• Textbooks. The settlement calls for legislation that
would require that textbooks be available to students
in sufficient numbers to have textbooks in class and to
take home to complete assigned homework. This has
been the DistrictÂ’s policy, but was reinforced by
adding specific language to the contract with the
teachers union in 2001. This established a formal
procedure giving every teacher the ability to ensure
adequate texts in their classrooms. Additional funding
from the state will enhance our ability to meet these
needs, especially in multi-track schools.

• Teachers. The settlement focuses on ensuring
qualified teachers in the classroom and teachers who
are trained to address the academic learning needs of
English Language Learners. This has been a priority
for the District and we have made significant strides in
hiring credentialed teachers, especially in the last two
years. We have been using Title III funding to train
teachers in effective practices geared to English
Language Learners. We have also made greater
strides in assigning credentialed teachers to the lower
performing schools. In the last round of hiring 93% of
the teachers hired for positions in these schools are
highly qualified. District-wide 85% are now highly
qualified. The most recent tests measuring the
proficiency levels of English learners is also showing
improvement at all levels, as high as 31% at the middle
school level.

• Facilities Conditions. The settlement requires
inspections and a responsive complaint process. Our
Maintenance and Operations Division has maintained a
bathroom hotline since 2000. The Office of
Environmental Health and Safety operates a school
inspection program with the ability to receive
complaints by telephone, in writing and over the web.
All information regarding the results of inspections is
readily available on its website. This program is
currently being used as a nationwide model by the
Environmental Protection Agency. The District has
also made a substantial commitment to repair and
modernization in all three of its recent school bonds.
With a combination of local and state bond dollars, the
District is currently engaged in a $6 billion renovation
and repair program. Additionally, the Superintendent
placed special emphasis on bathroom repairs, with a
$21 million Clean Bathroom Initiative instituted in

• Facilities Inspections. The settlement requires
districts to inspect its schools no less than annually for
safety and cleanliness. Again, the DistrictÂ’s Office of
Environmental Health and Safety has instituted a
nation leading inspection program, with results readily
available on the Web.

• Pest control. Our schools do not have what is
termed as infestations. We respond to trouble calls
that are reported on an individual basis. We have 23
technicians who make monthly inspections and who
respond within 48 hours to any report of a pest
problem. As in other densely populated urban centers,
Los Angeles is challenged with pest control
throughout the community. We have prevention plans
in place to prevent rodents from entering school
buildings. Additionally, we inspect our cafeterias on a
monthly basis as a preventative measure against pest
infestations. If we receive calls concerning pests in
food service areas, we respond immediately.

• Overcrowding – The District is currently engaged in
a $9 billion school building program. In 2002 the
$3.35 billion Measure K bond addressed the need to
eliminate the 163-day school year (Concept 6) and
returning schools to the full 180-day school year.
Additional money to complete this goal was provided
in 2004, with the $3.87 billion Measure R bond, which
reinforced and broadened our commitment to
providing the two-semester, summer-free schedule to
as many schools as possible. The District is already
well on the way to eliminating the Concept 6 calendar.

We recognize the importance of these issues --
textbooks, teachers and cleanliness – and factor in all
these elements in our primary focus on the academic
achievement of the students. The settlement of this
case will allow us to focus more intently on this work,
and provide additional funding to achieve our goals in
these areas.


By Jennifer Radcliffe - Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - The pending settlement
of an ACLU lawsuit challenging public school
conditions for poor students could bring hundreds of
millions of dollars to the Los Angeles Unified School
District, but officials worry they might be forced to
divert some of the money away from students to fund
costly administrative procedures.

"I'm concerned that it's going to raise the bureaucratic
costs," Superintendent Roy Romer said Wednesday. "I
think as they get this into final legislation they ought to
reduce the amount of bureaucratic record-keeping."

While final details of the plan are not due before
Friday, early signs indicate the LAUSD could receive
at least $50 million for textbooks and hundreds of
millions more over the next several years for campus

But LAUSD leaders fear that proposed oversight
measures to ensure that districts make necessary
improvements will duplicate existing efforts and create
expensive, administrative redundancies.

School board member David Tokofsky said the
proposed settlement is inadequate.

"A lot of groups have just contingently approved it
because the glass -- after eight months of negotiation
-- is just more than half full," he said. "What it's full of,
I don't know, and if you gave it to a public-school
child to drink, whether it would be good for them is
not known."

The 4-year-old class-action lawsuit, known as the
Williams case, claims that California neglects its
poorest students by sending them to decrepit schools
with inadequate textbooks and less-qualified teachers.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office and the ACLU
announced earlier this week that they have tentatively
settled the lawsuit, but terms must now be passed as
legislation, which officials hope can happen before the
session ends Sept. 1.

Kevin Reed, Los Angeles Unified's general counsel,
said he has issues with some of the settlement terms.

"There are still very significant unanswered questions,"
he said. "How they're answered could make this a very
goofy process."

For instance, the state has yet to disclose how a $20
million emergency maintenance fund will be divided
among as many as 2,400 eligible, low-performing

The more than $1 billion settlement package is
expected to include new county-level annual audits and
facility report cards. It will require that students have
textbooks within two months of the start of school and
that strict timelines be set for districts to return
students to 180-day calendars.

Currently, students at 131 overcrowded Los Angeles
Unified schools attend class only 163 days a year.

Lawyers said the settlement will also include $138.9
million for textbooks, $20 million for districts to
survey facilities at low-ranking schools, $30 million to
expand the roles of county superintendents and money
to expand the number of schools eligible for a special
$400-per-student stipend.

LAUSD board President Jose Huizar said he is hopeful
the settlement will help close achievement gaps
between poor and minority students and more-affluent

"I was the minority on this board. I agreed more with
the plaintiffs," he said. "Through this whole process I
found that we were coming up with excuses rather
than trying to come up with solutions."

Huizar said, however, that the money alone won't
solve the problems, especially since it will be spread so
thin by the time it reaches classrooms.

CRAFTED: ACLU accused state of failing to provide
an equal education to the disadvantaged.

By Jim Sanders -- SacramentoBee Capitol Bureau -
(Published August 11, 2004)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has tentatively settled a
landmark lawsuit that accused California of providing
many of its most disadvantaged students with
run-down and poorly equipped campuses.

An "agreement in principle" was announced by the
Governor's Office on Tuesday, more than four years
after the American Civil Liberties Union filed Williams
v. California on behalf of nearly 24,000 students in 18
school districts.

Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the Southern
California ACLU, characterized the tentative
settlement as the "first shot in a revolution for public
education in California."

The suit, named after a San Francisco student,
complained of rotting classrooms, locked bathrooms,
uncredentialed teachers, an inadequate supply of
textbooks and myriad other problems that deprived
students of their "constitutional right to a free,
common and equal public school education."

Schwarzenegger did not comment personally about the
settlement Tuesday, but his office released a letter to
the San Francisco Unified School District in which he
called the deal "a very important step toward bringing
quality services, facilities and instruction to the kids
that are most underserved."

Details of the tentative agreement will be amended into
legislation that is expected to be acted upon quickly by

The pact would affect more than a million elementary,
middle and high school students attending campuses
that rank in the bottom 30 percent statewide in
academic performance.

Key provisions of the proposed settlement, outlined by
a senior administration official who asked not to be
named, call for California to:

* Provide $138 million to bolster textbook and other
instructional materials.

* Provide $50 million for an assessment of facility
needs at the 2,400 targeted schools - from broken
locks to run-down bathrooms - and to bankroll some
critical repairs immediately.

* Agree to reimburse school districts in coming years
for fixing deficient facilities. Cost projections have
ranged from a few hundred million dollars to more
than $1 billion.

* Phase out a controversial year-round program,
Concept 6, in which students attend school for 163
days rather than the standard 180. The program is
offered primarily in Los Angeles.

* Require school districts to collect and release to the
public data about the adequacy of schools, such as
whether all students have books and whether facilities
are in good repair.

* Allow county offices of education to intervene if
school districts fail to provide children with textbooks
within four weeks after the start of a new semester.

The proposed pact also would allow county offices of
education - or the state superintendent of public
instruction - to intervene if districts fail to respond
adequately to urgent facility needs or chronic teacher

Hoping to resolve minor problems quickly, the
tentative settlement calls for families or teachers to
receive a response within 30 days to complaints about
textbook shortages or other campus problems.

One of the primary complaints in the ACLU lawsuit
was that many of the state's lowest-performing schools
had difficulty attracting the state's best and brightest

The tentative pact does not guarantee that every
classroom in California will have a credentialed

But the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that
students in core content areas - such as English,
science or mathematics - be taught by "highly
qualified" teachers by the end of the 2005-06 school

Rosenbaum said improving school facilities and
materials would improve prospects for attracting
top-notch teachers.

"I think that when kids haven't performed well, it's
because they haven't been supplied with the basic
resources," he said.

The proposed pact also calls for expansion of an
existing principal training program to include issues
such as teacher recruitment and retention.

John Affeldt, managing attorney of Public Advocates,
which teamed with the ACLU in filing the suit, said the
settlement would "make a huge difference in the lives
of poor kids."

"But as all the parties acknowledge, it's the first step in
making sure that all kids have equal opportunities in
this state," Affeldt said.

The deal would fall apart if lawmakers fail to adopt the
required legislation.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez has not yet reviewed
final documents, but he is aware of the key provisions
and "we expect to do whatever necessary to facilitate
passage," spokesman Nick Velasquez said of the Los
Angeles Democrat.

State Sen. John Vasconcellos, a Santa Clara Democrat
who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said he
supports the pact.

"While I'd like a few more things in the settlement, I
think it's a step forward," he said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack
O'Connell said he is pleased that a settlement is near
but that it relies heavily on "bureaucratic solutions and
cataloging inputs."

The California Teachers Association, the California
School Boards Association and the Association of
California School Administrators declined Tuesday to
comment publicly on the deal until they see it in

• SF Chronicle Editorial: CLASSROOMS vs. COURTROOMS

Thursday, August 12, 2004 - SEVERAL PARTIES
are to be commended for reaching an agreement on a
class-action lawsuit charging the state with reneging
on its constitutional obligation to provide students
with the bare essentials necessary for an adequate

The first is the American Civil Liberties Union, which
filed the case more than four years ago. The second is
the San Francisco law firm of Morrison and Foerster,
which spent thousands of hours at no cost on the case.
The third is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who
abandoned the futile and costly strategy of his
predecessor, former Gov. Gray Davis, who chose to
hire the private Los Angeles law firm of O'Melveny
and Myers to fight the charges, instead of dealing with
the substance of the allegations.

The lawsuit illuminated totally unacceptable conditions
in many of the poorest schools in the Bay Area and
elsewhere -- a lack of textbooks, a shortage of
qualified teachers, and health and safety conditions that
no child should have to endure.

Catherine Lhamon, an ACLU staff attorney, told us
that the case was compelling from the start, making
Davis' strategy to fight it so inexplicable. "We thought
it was very clear that the state has a constitutional
obligation to ensure educational equality for all
students," Lhamon told us.

The agreement gets at the heart of the messy
governance structure of K-12 education in California:
whether the state or local school districts are
responsible for poor conditions in the schools. Davis'
lawyers had tried to argue that the guilty parties were
the local school districts, not the state. "It (the
agreement) makes clear what the state's responsibility
is, and ends the facade that this was simply a local
responsibility," said Michael Kirst, a professor of
education at Stanford University.

Under the agreement, the state will spend $38.7
million for textbooks over the next year in the state's
poorest schools. For the first time, the state will
establish minimum health-and-safety standards for
schools. County superintendents of schools will be
empowered to intervene when local schools fail to act.
Schwarzenegger has agreed to spend up to $1 billion
to remedy those health and safety problems -- although
it is far from clear where that money will come from.

No one should be under the illusion that the agreement
will solve the larger educational challenges facing
teachers, principals, students and parents. It establishes
minimum conditions in the schools, but does not deal
with issues, such as whether the state is adequately
funding the schools so as to ensure that students reach
the high educational goals set by the state and federal
government. It does not address the stubborn
achievement gaps between students from various racial
and ethnic groups that exist even when they attend the
same schools. "The agreement gets you from the
basement to the first floor, but there are still three
more floors in the house," said Kirst.

What's tragic is that nearly $20 million, most of it to a
politically connected law firm, were wasted on
unnecessarily fighting a suit that simply aimed to tackle
the most visible deficiencies in our schools.


by Nick Madigan

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12 - If 16-year-old Eliezer
Williams has his way, rats will no longer scurry
through classrooms in California, and every student
will have books, a place to sit and a clean bathroom to

Eliezer is the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit
filed in 2000 by the American Civil Liberties Union on
behalf of 1.5 million California students, most from
poor neighborhoods.

The lawsuit accused the state of denying poor children
adequate textbooks, trained teachers and safe

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, plans to
announce Friday that California has settled the suit by
agreeing to the demands that the students receive
equal access to basic instructional materials in all core
subjects and that they be taught by qualified teachers in
sound and healthy schools.

The proposed settlement, which is subject to approval
by a judge, would require the state to devote as much
as $1 billion to repairs and upgrades to 2,400
deteriorating, low-performing schools.

It would also provide almost $139 million for
textbooks this year alone.

"This means that every child counts," said Mark D.
Rosenbaum, legal director of the Southern California
branch of the A.C.L.U.

The deal, Mr. Rosenbaum said, ends "decades of
neglect and indifference."

"We were in classrooms where kids had to share space
with rats," he said. "We saw essays posted on a board
in an elementary school where kids had written about
the prevalence of rats in their classrooms."

While touring schools to research the lawsuit, Mr.
Rosenbaum said, he found children who had defecated
in class because restrooms were out of order.

In some classrooms, he said, rain poured through holes
in ceilings.

Citing a Harris poll, Mr. Rosenbaum said that one
million to two million students did not have books for
use in school or to take home for study, and that
schools with high concentrations of black and Latino
students were 74 percent more likely than
predominantly white schools to lack sufficient

In Eliezer's case, books were so scarce at the Luther
Burbank Middle School in San Francisco, which he
attended when the lawsuit was filed, that the books
had to be shared, and teachers were forced to
photocopy texts so students could do homework.

He said a dearth of desks meant that students often
had to push desks from one classroom to another.

"It was strange," Eliezer said in a telephone interview
on Thursday. "This is a pretty big state and I thought
we'd be able to afford enough books for everybody."

He said that the bathrooms were sometimes "filthy and
dirty" and that ceiling tiles were missing in the
gymnasium, prompting fears that some of the
remaining tiles could fall and hit someone. In the
locker rooms, he said, doors were bent and locks
broken. Eliezer said he took pictures of the damage.

The school he attends now, Balboa High School in San
Francisco, where he will be a senior in the fall, is "a
little bit better," Eliezer said, but not perfect.

"The boys' bathroom was closed for half the year, at
least, last year," he said. "It was out of order, flooded,
just messed up. It took time to fix."

The administration of Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat
who was ousted last year in a recall election, spent
about $18 million fighting the lawsuit.

Lawyers for the state argued that poor students were
unlikely to do better in school even if they had the
same educational benefits as children who were not
poor. They also said the responsibility for ensuring
educational equality belonged to local governments.

But the plaintiffs argued that the state had denied
thousands of children their fundamental right to an
education under the California Constitution.

"Children who lack the bare essentials necessary for an
education," said Mr. Rosenbaum, the A.C.L.U. lawyer,
"can hardly be expected to achieve."

• Classroom teachers pay for an an awful lot of classroom
stuff out of their own pockets, stuff school districts
should be paying for. Now Uncle Sam and the Franchise
Tax Board aren’t even going to allow those expenses as a tax deduction! —smf


By Erika Hayasaki - Times Staff Writer

August 15, 2004 - Ka-ching. A packet of sparkling sea
life stickers for $1.99. Ka-ching. A stack of happy
birthday certificates for $2.99. Ka-ching. Ka-ching. Forty
metallic pencils for $10.40, and a spelling workbook for

By the time Jennifer Gile, a teacher in the Redondo Beach
Unified School District, checked out of the Teacher
Supplies of Long Beach store, she had charged $78.67.
This was on top of nearly $200 she spent in the last few
days buying other supplies.

"I'm trying not to go overboard," she told the cashier.

With the loss of state and federal tax breaks designed to
repay the many teachers who buy their own classroom
supplies, Gile and other educators across California say
they have good reason to be more frugal.

Gile, who earns a little more than $48,000 a year, spends
at least $2,000 of that on school supplies each year. She
was counting on the state Teacher Retention Tax Credit,
which repays teachers up to $1,500 in taxes, to cover
some of those out-of-pocket expenses. But it was
suspended last month under the state budget plan, for a
savings of $400 million over two years.

Making money matters worse, a federal tax deduction for
up to $250 for teachers' extra expenses expired this year.

Educators say it's a bad time to halt such tax breaks
because school districts across the country have chopped
spending for basic supplies like copier paper and tissues.

"It is a miracle what our teachers are doing every day,"
said California Teachers Assn. President Barbara Kerr.
"They spend thousands of dollars in their classrooms."
The tax benefits' end, she said, represents "a tax increase
for teachers, people who don't deserve a tax increase."

Some teachers are rationing their money as the start of
the school year approaches.

Science teacher Martine Korach, of Robert A. Millikan
High School in the Long Beach Unified School District,
started shopping in increments. So far, she has bought a
mop, a bucket, Lysol, ink remover and gum cleaner. Since
the district cut down on janitors with budget cuts, she
said, she does most of her classroom cleaning.

For projects that make class fun for students, she will
need to pick up: Ziploc bags, baking soda, vinegar,
ammonia, a variety of soaps, and cheese to test for
chemicals. Although the school provides some of these
materials, Korach said, they run out fast, with 20 science
teachers on campus.

In years past, Korach spent hundreds of dollars buying
rock, mica, sulfur and quartz mineral samples. Once, she
purchased 10 stopwatches at $14 each because the ones
the school provided broke. She also spends about $40 a
month to feed and take care of the classroom pets: a
leopard gecko, a corn snake, a rabbit and some slimy

It all adds up to about $3,000 a year, she estimates.

Korach, a teacher for more than 10 years, earns about
$55,000 a year. She got state and federal tax breaks in the
past, and will feel the pinch this year.

"The general public doesn't really understand how much
we spend out of our own pockets just to be able to do our
jobs," she said. "But we all do it because it's the best for
the kids, and that's why we are here."

Long Beach Unified spokesman Chris Eftychiou said
some items had been scaled back because "budgets are
tight, and many of our teachers reach into their own

The California Teacher Retention Tax Credit was first
offered in 2000. It was aimed at encouraging teachers to
remain in the classrooms by repaying them a portion of
personal money spent on supplies. Teachers with four to
11 years of experience could receive $250 to $500. Those
with 11 to 20 or more years could receive $1,000 and

It was suspended in 2002, when state lawmakers were
grappling with a budget gap, and then revived the next
year. During the 2003-04 tax year, the state spent $180
million on it. Last month, the legislators agreed to
suspend it once again, until 2007.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of
Finance, said that it was a difficult decision for the
governor and the Legislature to suspend the tax credit,
but they agreed it was necessary.

The National Education Assn. and some lawmakers are
trying to resurrect the federal teacher tax deduction for
supplies, which was first offered in 2002 but expired last
year. The NEA is asking teachers to save their receipts in
hopes that Congress will approve the proposed Teacher
Tax Relief Act, which would make the expense deduction
permanent and increase the maximum deduction to $400
or $500.

The Los Angeles teachers union has teamed up with a
local Latino radio station, KSCA-FM, to raise money for
teachers' supply wish lists this school year. It's frustrating
to read teachers' letters, said Angelica Urquijo, a
spokeswoman for the union, because many of their
requests are so basic.

For example, a Canoga Park Elementary teacher asked
for paper, pencils, crayons, construction paper and paper

A Micheltorena Street School teacher asked for scissors,
highlighters, glue sticks and white-board erasers.

Mark Shrager, deputy budget director for L.A. Unified,
said the district reduced funding by $50 per student
during the 2003-04 school year, which may have caused
some schools to cut back on supplies.

A survey conducted by the local union, United Teachers
Los Angeles, showed that its members spent an average
of $1,047 of their own money on school supplies last
year. Across the country, the National School Supply and
Equipment Assn. found that teachers spent an average of

On a recent day, Gile of Redondo Beach Unified sat
cross-legged on the floor of the Long Beach store, sifting
through workbooks.

She said she buys pencil pouches each year for her
students from poor families so they have the same little
treasures as students from wealthier families. She also
gives her students name tags and stickers that read
"Hooray!" or "Wow!" for good behavior. She buys
activities and learning guides for special education
students who lag her regular students academically.

Gile is afraid students will suffer from the cuts to
education and suspension of the state tax credit because
teachers like her may not be able to afford as many

This is the time of year when Teacher Supplies of Long
Beach is filled with shoppers stuffing baskets with glittery
stickers, fake dollar bills and fraction games shaped like
pepperoni pizzas. But Dorothy Cohen, the owner for 32
years, said business is down this summer.

She blamed the tax changes and cutbacks in the decrease
of schools' purchase orders.

At her shop, Steve Israel, a special education teacher at
Huntington Park High School, browsed workbooks with
themes such as chocolate and sports. Israel, a sixth-year
teacher, spends at least $1,500 a year on materials and
was hoping to get a tax break this year. Even an extra
$250, he said, "would go a long way."

It's hardest for young teachers, said Michael Day, a
veteran teacher in Long Beach. Most of them are still
paying college loans and are at the bottom of the pay
scale, he said, yet they are expected to beautify their
classrooms mostly on their own. He added that many new
teachers are placed in schools with many students from
low-income families. "Some kids have a tough time
bringing a pencil to school," he said.

Day, a teacher at Eugene Tincher K-8 School, received
$1,000 in state tax credit last year.

"Over the past few years, pay raises have been virtually
nonexistent. We've been fighting to keep health benefits,"
he said. "This is just another thing that cuts into their

LA Times Op-ed + Letters: KINDERGARTEN
EDITORIAL: Picking on Little Kids ...

August 14, 2004 – The recommendation of Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger's California Performance Review to save
money by having children start kindergarten later has
triggered a raging debate. Unfortunately for the state
budget, doing the shift correctly won't save a penny.
Doing it cheaply could undermine the futures of some
children, especially those from families that don't speak

Kindergarten isn't about cookies, milk and naps anymore,
and California should stop treating it that way. The state
should make the crucial year compulsory and join the 45
other states that require children to turn 5 before they
start kindergarten. It should also widely offer free
preschool, especially for those who need it most.

The modern kindergarten is like first grades of old,
complete with work sheets and phonics drills. Yet
California allows children to skip the year and enroll in
first grade with no preparation. State education officials
have no idea how many parents choose not to put their
children in kindergarten, though old, unofficial estimates
put the figure at 5% to 9% — and that's way too high.
Education reform that rearranges curriculum and debates
textbooks but ignores enrollment in the increasingly
important first year of school is missing something

Unfortunately, the California Performance Review team
got lost in the trees and missed the forest.

The review team, whose aim was to streamline state
government and save money, recommended requiring
children to turn 5 by Sept. 1, the usual beginning of the
school year, to enter kindergarten. The current
requirement is that they turn 5 before Dec. 2.

The change makes some educational sense. Kindergarten
teachers already are required to do the near impossible:
Give very young children a full dose of academics while
adjusting them to the rules and routines of school and
exposing many of them to English for the first time — all
in half a school day. With 4-year-olds, many of whom
have yet to develop the hand coordination to even wield a
pencil, this can be a recipe for early failure.

Yes, each child is different, and some are more than ready
at an earlier age. But public schools are based on norms,
and studies show that the average 4-year-old is less ready
for school — socially, behaviorally or academically —
than a 5-year-old. That will be especially true as more
kindergartens morph into full-day programs. Los Angeles
is rolling out its own full-day kindergartens over the next
few years.

Where the review board makes its mistake is not in
excluding some younger children but in failing to plow the
savings back into English-immersion programs for
preschoolers. The initial $660-million statewide savings
from delaying kindergarten will be blown on remedial
education and, ultimately, lost economic opportunity if
more children fail as soon as they hit kindergarten,
stumbling in English and unready to learn.

The Purpose of Kindergarten

August 11, 2004

• As one who taught kindergarten for over 20 years, I
read with interest the article "A Question of Age, Ability"
(Aug. 7). I believe the real problem is that we have lost
sight of the purpose of kindergarten and have instead, in
our zeal for high test scores, pushed many children into
reading and writing before they are ready. Kindergarten
should enhance social skills and reading readiness skills
through activities that recognize the individual differences
in children. Children who have had preschool and other
enriching activities may be ready for an academic
kindergarten, but a growing number of children lack these

Children who have not been taught basic skills and have
not been exposed to books at home may not be ready for
the curriculum and homework that is offered now. If we
are going to teach reading in kindergarten, then the
schools should have pre-kindergarten classes to help
those who are not ready for an academic program, rather
than making them wait to start school. Changing dates of
entrance will not solve the problem.

Elaine Babbush
Long Beach

• It's too bad that the issue of kids entering kindergarten
as 5-year-olds is being propelled by the state's budget
situation. This decision shouldn't be about money at all.
The only factor that relates to the birth date issue is
readiness: being socially and developmentally ready for
school. Federal and state mandates are continuously
raising the standards and skills expected for each grade
level — and as a result, the youngest kids in each
classroom are at a growing disadvantage.

As a second-grade teacher I witness the consequences of
starting kids in school who are simply too young and not
ready. My district's first day of school is Aug. 19. The
youngest students in my class might not turn 7 until
almost four months of school have passed. Yet these little
guys have to struggle with second-grade standards, such
as probability and comparative fractions. My youngest
students are most often the ones who are not
developmentally ready for this kind of abstract thinking.
They really try, but because they are still very concrete
learners, abstractions are outside their grasp.

This is an unfair situation that many children with autumn
birthdays become trapped in throughout their entire
elementary school years. California needs to offer
universal quality preschool. Give our children a chance to
first grow up, not spend every school year playing

Brenda Tzipori

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

WED., AUGUST 18th @ 10AM

Agenda Items Include:
Phone: 212.241.4700

Monday Aug 16, 2004

• Nevin Elementary School Addition
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Please join us to celebrate the completion of your new classroom building!

Ceremony will begin at 1:00 p.m.
Nevin Elementary School
1569 E. 32nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90011

Tuesday Aug 17, 2004

• 10th Street Elementary School Playground Expansion
Ribbon-cutting Ceremony
Please join us to celebrate the completion of the playground expansion project at 10th Street Elementary School!

Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
10th Street Elementary School
1000 Grattan Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015

• Central Region Middle School #7
Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District 5

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.
Twentieth Street Elementary School
1353 E. 20th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90011

• Central Region Middle School #5

Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District 4

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.

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

*Dates and times subject to change.
Phone: 213.633.7616


4LAKids Book Club for August & September—THE HUMAN SIDE OF SCHOOL CHANGE: Reform, Resistance and the Real-Life Problems of Innovation—by Robert Evans
Publisher: Jossey-Bass Paperback: 336 pages ISBN: 0787956112

This book was pressed into my hands by a senior
educator, high in the DistrictÂ’s hierarchy.

We were wary of each other. She undoubtedly viewed me
as a wild eyed parent activist — intent on upsetting the
apple cart. I am a proponent of the bottom-up reforms
espoused by William Ouchi in “Making Schools Work”; a
would-be empowerer of parents and school site

I viewed her as the protector of the status-quo of slow,
steady improvement as measured by test scores — and
the great top-down centrally-driven bureaucracy that is

WeÂ’d both be right. I have no respect whatsoever for
apple carts; I come from the film industry and apple carts
are always the first to be smashed in the big chase scene!
I press Bill OuchiÂ’s book into as many hands as I can. She
and I discussed at length the LEARN reforms at LAUSD,
a too-brief wrinkle-in-time where principals and parents
were empowered ...until the interest waned and the
political will and money ran out. Until other agendas
took hold. Time passed LEARN by before it had a chance
to work or fail.

I expected EvansÂ’ book to be an apologia for things as
they are, instead I found a truly enlightening vision of
where we are in public education and just how difficult
the very necessary change will be. I returned the borowed
copy with many thanks and bought my own.

Evans is a psychologist - and his analysis is of the
teaching profession and the business of public education.
Imagine youÂ’re a teacher. Imagine you are faced with the
challenges of the classroom, the politics of the schoolsite
and the dynamics of the administration, children, parents
and school district. Now mix in the politicians – right, left
and center – and activists, bureaucrats and theorists. All
call for every flavor of reform imaginable ...and embrace a
new one with every lunar cycle! Even if youÂ’re a good
teacher every successful practice you have and every
decision you make is second-guessed and compared to a
rubric that measures success – or lack thereof – in a new
way every day. And all the while your friends from
college are making three times more money than you!

Evans analyzes management styles and models of reform
and suggests strategies for building a framework of
cooperation between leaders of change and the people
they depend upon to implement it. He is no fan of
top-down central-control — but he truly abhors
‘change-of-the-month-club’ reform! Evans does not tell
us to be slow in school reform, only to be thoughtful,
thorough and respectful of the true instruments of change:
Those in the classroom working with young minds.

Two thumbs-up, one for Ouchi and another for Evans!


• Dr. Robert Evans is a clinical and organizational
psychologist and director of the Human Relations Service
in Wellesley, Mass. A former high school and preschool
teacher, he has consulted to hundreds of schools and
districts throughout America and around the world and
has worked extensively with teachers, administrators,
school boards, and state education officials.

• Editorial Reviews:
"A unique, superb, and penetrating analysis of the human
side of educational change. Evans knows the human
realities of change and portrays them vividly in both
individual and organizational terms. His discussion of
hope and realism in the final chapter is a gem." —Michael
Fullan, dean, Faculty of Education, University of Toronto

"Evans certainly understands what gets in the way of real
school change and what the simple, key elements are that
can make it happen. No board member, superintendent, or
school principal should make one more decision or host
one more meeting without reading this book." —Judy
Cunningham, principal, South Lake Middle School,
Irvine, Calif.

"Evans has written a realistic yet hopeful book that sets a
new standard for providing the leadership needed to
implement school improvements. An engaging and
much-needed update of the critical, but often overlooked,
human side of change." —Thomas J. Sergiovanni, Lillian
Radford Professor of Education and senior fellow, Center
for Educational Leadership, Trinity University

"School leaders will find this book realistic about the
difficulties of change, rich in practical advice about school
improvement, and useful in showing how to transcend the
limits of their own experience to practice effective
leadership." —Thomas W. Payzant, superintendent,
Boston Public Schools

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

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