Sunday, October 17, 2004

4 Things

8-Article Newsletter Template
4LAKids: Sunday, September 17, 2004
In This Issue:
 •  SOUTHEAST COLLEGE CONFERENCE — Next Saturday October 23rd
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  4LAKids Book Club for October & November — ACHIEVEMENT MATTERS: Getting Your Child the Best Education Possible, by Hugh B. Price
 •  What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
 •  READING TO KIDS: Read to some kids one Saturday morning a month. Make a difference. Change some lives (including your own!).
 •  MAKING SCHOOLS WORK: Get the Book @
 •  FIVE CENTS MAKES SENSE FOR EDUCATION- Target 5� from every federal tax dollar for Education
Tomorrow, Monday September 18th is the last day to
register to vote in the November 2nd election. Even if
you are undecided, please go register!

Then decide. Then vote.


1. I don't pretend to begin to comprehend the funding
mechanism for public education in California; I'm
certainly not going to try to explain it here! Mark Twain
said "First God created idiots, that was for practice. Then
he created school boards." I think the same logic applies
to school funding: "First Politicians created the Tax

You can see where I'm going.

One of the strangenesses in California school funding is
that the money comes to school districts and charter schools this year based on last year’s attendance figures. This is why a falloff in attendance this year at — let's just arbitrarily select LA Unified — hammers next year's budget.

(LAUSD's attendance has declined this year – and of course the tea-leaf-readers have prognosticated long-term unrestricted growth ....but that's a whole other story! - see #2)

The same result is perversely true if attendance grows;
there simply is no up-side when you're insufficiently paid
a year late! Growing districts still get hammered with not
enough money – they just get hammered sooner! LAUSD
reels from these fluctuations — now imagine how it is at
a charter school with a couple of hundred kids if they
suddenly grow by a hundred or so more?

Obviously the thing to do is not grow unexpectedly, but
charter operators are not primarily Harvard Business
School educated entrepreneurs fresh from "Dealing with
Unexpected Success 101" — they are educators! They
didnÂ’t study the business models of Krispy Kreeme; they
were taking classes in Classroom Management.

The charter schools that failed this week in Los Angeles
went under because they were set up by the system. They
were small, growing, and successful schools in neighborhoods with great need. Then the State
moved in and removed their competition by closing the
first bunch of charters earlier this year —closed because
the State failed to regulate as they should have.

Students and parents rushed from the closed schools to
the ones still in business. And in trying to meet the need
those surviving schools made a fatal mistake: They tried
to do the best thing for kids!

They took in the students that wanted in. They grew
faster than their projections. The cash flow didn't keep up.
The balance sheet went red. And the county regulators
closed 'em down because the rules said they had to.

Now there are even more kids looking at even less charter
schools! Catch 22 leads to Catch 23 to Catch 24.

And here's a new issue: The state pays its per-student
attendance fee (the ADA) based on the number of
students at a school, charter or otherwise, on Norm Day
(Oct 8 this year). That day is past and the schools these
students were going to are closed forever. Now maybe
I’m missing something here (besides my keys) but it seems to me the students from the shuttered charters – no matter where they end up – bring no money for this year's
education to school they end up at! Catch 25!

2. (Really #1A!) For the second year in a row (a
phenomenon known as a ‘trend’ by business school
types!) attendance forecasts for LAUSD have missed by a
number no one can agree upon. It depends if one
subtracts the shortfall from the projections (a drop of 8,
799) or from last yearÂ’s actual attendance numbers (a
drop of 4000)

HereÂ’s the bottom line: Less Students = Less Money for
LAUSD ....about $22 million less. One shouldnÂ’t think
about it this way, but for the past few years the District
budget office always has: ThatÂ’s $31. per student in the
District. A field trip? A book?

Can you say budget cut? Stay tuned.

3.. The interesting but not very well thought out idea that
starting the school year in August and ending in late May,
rather than staring in September and ending in late June
might improve test scores collapsed and was abandoned
by the Board of Ed on Thursday. There was a near total lack of support – growing to out-and-out opposition as the plan was discussed – opposition from schools, administrators, teachers, parents and the Daily News!

To be fair, no one asked the kids — but one would suppose they would prefer to attend school during “June Gloom” than the sunny days of September! This “Early Start” calendar has merit at high schools and some charters may follow it — time will tell. And if it works it may be back ...which is exactly as it should be!

4. The Ambassador Hotel: The Board of Education voted
4-3 Tuesday to follow the SuperintendentÂ’s compromise proposal and demolish almost all of the old hotel to build badly needed schools. The proposal also will preserve a few
architectural and historic landmarks at school
construction bond expense — something the Bond
Oversight Committee opposed. State law forbids the
Oversight Committee from filing suit ...but both the
Preservationists and the Demolish-and-Build Schools
Now folks are already unhappy with the “compromise” they
werenÂ’t involved in.

Again, stay tuned. —smf




presented by
Senator Martha M. Escutia
and the
Southeast Community Development Corporation

• Come and learn about university admission requirements

• Speak to recruiters from over 80 universities and receive
information about financial assistance resources and

Saturday, October 23, 2004
8am to 2 pm

Bell Gardens High School
6119 Agra Street
Bell Gardens, CA 90201

For more information or to RSVP, please call (562)929-6060.

In last weekÂ’s 4LAKids I mistakenly called the press
accounts of the LA Chamber of CommerceÂ’s
endorsement of the SuperintendentÂ’s Ambassador Plan a
“District press release”. There was no such press release.

I apologize for misunderstanding and for contributing to
anyone elseÂ’s misunderstanding.

• On a similar front last week 4LAKids quoted an October 9th LA Times story :

“In their Ambassador campaign, [Los Angeles
C]onservancy officials erected a 48-foot billboard
Tuesday on the hotel's Wilshire Boulevard grounds urging
school leaders: ‘Teach History. Don't Erase It’.“

“But the message was removed Friday, angering
preservationists who paid $5,000 to rent the billboard
from an outdoor advertising company that leases the sign
space from the school district. Glenn Gritzner, a special
assistant to L.A. Unified Supt. Roy Romer, said school
officials did not request the removal.”

A subsequent (October 11th) story in the Downtown
News “Ambassador Hotel's Fate Could Be Decided
Tuesday” reported:

“Last Tuesday, the Los Angeles Conservancy, which has
been leading the fight to save the hotel, paid for space on
a billboard hanging over the hotel property. The billboard
read: "Teach history, don't erase it."

“Three days later, the ad was removed.”

“Edward Van Ginkel, senior development manager for
LAUSD, said the district did not request the ad to be
taken down, though he acknowledged that the school
district's property manager had complained to Clear
Channel, which operates the billboard.”

• As Clear Channel moved so promptly and decisively in responding to the property manager's call a
reasonable person might possibly interpret such a
“complaint” to be a “request”! — smf

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

The Oversight Committee meets next Wednesday
afternoon, September 20th at 4:00 PM at:

152 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles

Agenda items include:

• Charter School facilities funding policy
• Air conditioning in year 'round schools
• Technology funding
• Early Education program funding
• Joint Use Policy
• New & Existing Facilities monthly program updates

The public is invited to attend.
Phone: 213.241.4700

Tuesday Oct 19, 2004
Central LA Area New Middle School #4 and Jefferson
New Elementary School #1
Construction Update Meeting

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Adams Middle School
151 W. 30th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

Tuesday Oct 19, 2004
Central Region Elementary School #16
Schematic Design Meeting

Please join us for a community meeting regarding the
design for Central Region Elementary School #16.

At this meeting we will:

* Present schematic design
* Collect community input on the design of the project

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

Tuesday Oct 19, 2004
Local District 7: Locke Family of Schools
Phase III Community Meeting – Defining New School

Please join us at a community meeting regarding the
additional new school seats for your area.

At this meeting, you will:

* Hear about new school projects being built in your area
* Learn about new opportunities to alleviate school
* Continue to help define new school construction
projects in your community
* Find out the next steps in this process

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Locke High School
Hobbes Hall – Multipurpose Room
325 E. 111th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90061

Tuesday Oct 19, 2004
Valley Region Elementary School #8
Phase II Site Selection Update
Local District 2

As a result of further analysis and evaluation, the site
presented in August 2004 as the recommended preferred
site can no longer be considered a suitable site for this
new school.

Please join us at this meeting where we will:

* Review why previously presented site is no longer
* Review criteria used to select potential sites
* We will present and discuss the most suitable site(s) for
this new school project

6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Gridley Street Elementary School
1907 Eighth Street
San Fernando, CA 91340

Wednesday Oct 20, 2004
Ramona Opportunity High School
Community Update Meeting

6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Ramona Opportunity High School
231 S. Alma Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90063

Wednesday Oct 20, 2004
Local District 8: Banning, Narbonne and Carson School
Phase III Community Meeting – Defining New School

Please join us at a community meeting regarding the
additional new school seats for your area.

At this meeting, you will:

* Hear about new school projects being built in your area
* Learn about new opportunities to alleviate school
* Continue to help define new school construction
projects in your community
* Find out the next steps in this process

6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Carson High School Auditorium
22328 S. Main Street
Carson, CA 90745

Thursday Oct 21, 2004
Local District 7: Fremont and Manual Arts School
Phase III Community Meeting - Defining New School

Please join us at a community meeting regarding the
additional new school seats for your area.

At this meeting, you will:

* Hear about new school projects being built in your area
* Learn about new opportunities to alleviate school
* Continue to help define new school construction
projects in your community
* Find out the next steps in this process

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Bethune Middle School (Multipurpose Room)
155 W. 69th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90003

Thursday Oct 21, 2004
Valley Region Elementary School #7
Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District 2

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.
Sun Valley Middle School Auditorium
7330 Bakman Ave.
Sun Valley, CA 91352

*Dates and times subject to change.
Phone: 213.633.7616


• Gifted Ed Conference: IMAGINE, ACHIEVE, BECOME. MAKING IT HAPPEN - Saturday Dec. 4th

LAUSD is conducting a one-day conference on
gifted/talented education in December to provide
educators and parents/guardians with an opportunity to
discuss issues of importance to the development of quality
educational opportunities for students designated as

The 31st Annual City/County Conference "Imagine,
Achieve, Become: Making It Happen" will be held
Saturday, December 4, at the Los Angeles Convention
Center in downtown Los Angeles. The event is sponsored
by the LAUSD Specially Funded & Parent/Community
Programs Division, Gifted/Talented Programs;
Professional Advocates for Gifted Education (PAGE),
California Association for Gifted (CAG), Central Cities
Gifted Children's Association and the Eastside
Association for Gifted Children.

More than 40 sessions will be offered to parents, teachers,
administrators and community members. Guest speakers
will include Diane Paynter, James Webb, Karen Rogers,
Sandra Kaplan, Dr. Paul Aravich and the Perez family.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Pre-registration is
required. Early bird registration must be postmarked by
November 19. Cost is $65. The cost to register after the
November 19 postmark will increase to $75.
Checks should be made payable to PAGE. School
purchase orders will not be accepted. There will be no
refunds after November 15, 2004. On-site registration is
available on a first-come/first-served basis.
Contact Sheila Smith at (213) 241-6500 for additional
Translation will be available.

HARDSHIP: Check with you School’s Title I or Bilingual Coordinator — or with your Principal, GATE Coordinator or Parent Center Director for information on obtaining meeting vouchers.

A flyer is available on the LAUSD Master Calendar ( and contains the registration tear-off.


4LAKids Book Club for October & November — ACHIEVEMENT MATTERS: Getting Your Child the Best Education Possible, by Hugh B. Price
Publisher: Dafina Books, 256 pages ISBN: 0758201206

Hugh B. Price is the President of the National Urban League. On the face of it his excellent book is about closing the Achievement Gap that seperates poor children and children of color from high performing “white” students.

But his message is loud and clear — and every
parent can learn from it: Parents from underperforming schools must insist upon the same level of performance as suburban parents do. Every parent has a right to expect and insist-upon excellence from teachers, administrators and the school district; we must also insist-upon and expect excellence from our own children.

Price lays much of the responsibility for the Achievement
Gap off to what he calls the “Preparation Gap”; the
dearth of adequate pre-school programs in inner city
neighborhoods. But he is not easy on parents. All must
follow the example of archtypical "pushy" suburban parents: Be Involved in Your ChildrenÂ’s Lives and Education Every Step Of The Way!

This isnÂ’t about race and economics; itÂ’s about hard work at home and in the school and in the community!

• from Chapter Eight: DEMANDING – AND GETTING
– GOOD SCHOOLS: What Parents Can Do

Entrenched bureaucracies sometimes change out of
enlightened self-interest. In other words, they see the light
and reform themselves before it's too late, before a more
compelling alternative comes widely available. Other
times, it takes concerted external pressure to force
bureaucracies to change-for the sake of their "customers"
as well as themselves.

For far too long, public educators have kept their heads in
the sand, like ostriches, in the face of an urgent need to
improve urban and and rural schools. Parents, politicians,
and business leaders have grown restless with the sluggish
pace of school improvement. I urge parents, caregivers,
and community leaders to keep up the relentless pressure
to create straight “A” schools for your children and every
American child.

Even parents in comfortable suburbs must stay right on
the school's case. "I made an assumption that in suburbia
the school would place my child where she needs to be,"
says Mane, a stay at home mother from a well-to-do
community in New Jersey: “We moved here from
Brooklyn where my daughter, Taisha., was in an
overcrowded, understaffed kindergarten class. One of the
reasons we moved to this town was for its highly rated
school system When Taisha was in third grade, the school
sent me a notice that she was reading and doing math at
an eighth grade level. I called her teacher and asked him if
there were any special classes my daughter could take at
the school that would encourage her academic talents. He
said, 'Oh well, we do have a gifted and talented

“I didn't RECEIVE that call — I MADE that call!"

"My daughter was testing in the 90th percentile nationally, and if I hadn't found out on my own that she was eligible for advanced classes, she would never be there now."

So regardless of where you live and what your family
circumstances are, here's what you must do in order to
make sure that your children are well served by their
schools and placed squarely on the path to academic

1. BE VIGILANT. Make it your business to ask your
children what's going on at school. Look for possible
trouble spots such as teachers' negative attitudes,
tracking, discipline problems, safety issues, and so on.
Stay in touch with your kids and pay attention to what
they are telling you-and keeping from you.

2. BE INFORMED. Educate yourself about what your
children are learning in school and what the school offers.
Find out if the work they're doing is grade level or better
and whether it meets the academic standards imposed by
the states. Familiarize yourself with the standardized tests
your children are expected to take, when they must take
them, and how they should prepare properly to do well on
them. One school superintendent has the parents of
fourth-graders actually take the state reading exam from
the prior year so they'll better understand what their
children are expected to know for the exam. Read up on
national and state educational policies and regulations,
with an eye to how they will directly affect your children.

3. BE INVOLVED. Join the PTA. Attend parent-teacher
conferences and "meet-the-teacher" nights. Vote in the
school board elections — maybe even run for a seat on the board yourself. No one can fight harder than you for your children's right to a good education.

4. BE VOCAL. Speak up if you see a problem with your
childÂ’s schooling, even if you think there may be
repercussions because of your activism. Go to your child's
teacher or principal if you detect. unfairness in the way
your child is being treated. If you feel you — or your
child or your child-are being punished for your
outspokenness go to your pastor, the local Urban League,
or another community organization.

5. BE VISIBLE. Make sure the school knows that your
are actively involved in your child's education. Become
involved in the governing process of your local school
system. Attend school board meetings and get to know
your local elected representatives

6. ORGANIZE. Meet with other parents to discuss how
you can work as a group to help your children. Start on a
the grassroots level with neighbors, relatives, friends.
Many voices are stronger than one, and work in unison to
ensure that achievement matters much to your children's
school as it does to you.

* * * *

Children want to do well. When large numbers of them
fail its because adults-school administrators, teachers,
parents and their larger community-have failed them.

We all know it doesn't have to be this way. Lousy public
schools can be turned around if the adults mobilize to do
so: If adults will say: “No more excuses for school
failure!” I'm not downplaying the many problems that
many schools and the families they serve face. -Just the
opposite. While these problems may not go away. they
neednÂ’t defeat the efforts of determined parents and
educators to close the Preparation Gap and ensure that
children achieve, regardless of their family circumstances.

Get ACHIEVEMENT MATTERS 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 of 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 three 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.
 Â• THE 4LAKids ARCHIVE - This and past Issues are available with interactive feedback at

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