Sunday, November 07, 2004

As the dust clears....

8-Article Newsletter Template
The Objects in the Mirror are the Children Left Behind 4LAKids: Sunday, Nov. 7, 2004
In This Issue:
 •  GOOD INTENTIONS, BAD RESULTS: A Dozen Reasons Why the No Child Left Behind Act Is Failing Our Schools
 •  NCLB PRESENTS MIDDLE SCHOOL COMPLICATIONS: 'Highly Qualified' Rule Vexes Teachers
 •  THE PRICE OF CHARTERS: Response to New Yorker Article "THE FACTORY" by Katherine Boo (The New Yorker, Oct 18, 2004)
 •  Save the Date: SPECIAL ED FUNDRAISER (11/19) + WORKSHOP: SCHOOL ACOUSTIC DESIGN (11/19) + GIFTED CONFERENCE (12/4) PLUS 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!) NEXT SATURDAY MORNING!
 •  MAKING SCHOOLS WORK: Get the Book @
 •  FIVE CENTS MAKES SENSE FOR EDUCATION- Target one nickel from every federal tax dollar for Education
As the dust from the election clears and the pundits opine
about what it all means we look to the president for
guidance. He assures us [quoting The LA Times] that he
is eager " to aggressively push his major initiatives
(reflecting) an awareness among senior White House
officials that most second-term presidents enjoyed a small
window of opportunity in which to enact their priorities
before another election season got underway and the
incumbent was hindered by lame-duck status."

Elsewhere in The Times — which in a day-before-
the-election editorial fearlessly labeled his presidency as
failed and flawed but, coming-in-off-the-limb, endorsed
no one — (The Times' owner Chicago Tribune endorsed

"The president vowed to press for legislative action as
soon as possible on ...(among other things)... an expansion of his education program, which requires large-scale standardized testing of students to hold schools accountable.

"But he steered clear of detailing his plans, which are
certain to be controversial." (Ya think?)

"He said [quoting the president] his education proposals
'could move pretty quickly, because there's been a lot of
discussion about education; it's an issue the members [of
Congress] are used to debating'." [end quoting The Pres
and The Times].

Well ...THAT'S settled!

One would hope that part of his unclearly detailed plans didn't include the F-16 from the 113th Fighter Wing
of the District of Columbia Air National Guard that strafed the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School in New Jersey on Wednesday night! It's the long missing deleted scene from "Dr. Strangelove" — the one where Sterling Hayden as Air Force general Jack T. Ripper attacks the hapless
third-through-sixth-grade school for failing to reach its
Adequate Yearly Progress goals!

Hang that banner up at Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School: ANOTHER MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

• LA TIMES: National Guard Fighter Jet Strafes N.J. Elementary School

GOOD INTENTIONS, BAD RESULTS: A Dozen Reasons Why the No Child Left Behind Act Is Failing Our Schools
Reasons Why the No Child Left Behind Act Is Failing
Our Schools

• Forcing upon schools standards dreamed up by
politicians never has been, and never will be, the right
way to create the best education for our children.

By Robert J. Sternberg - from Education Week/October
27, 2004

The federal No Child Left Behind Act mandates national
testing in our nationÂ’s schools in order to assess the
quality of those schools. It was a well-intentioned piece of
legislation passed by Congress to improve education. The
act recognized the need for accountability in schools, as
well as for educational practice to be based upon
scientifically rigorous educational research. But it is
having and will continue to have the opposite effect. The
reason is that it flies in the face of much of what we know
about the science of education. Here are a dozen reasons
why the act is failing:

1. No accountability for standards of accountability.

The New York Times recently reported that schools are
in a state of chaos regarding how they are doing
academically. State standards may show the schools to be
excelling, while under the No Child Left Behind law, they
are failing. The problem? There is no clear standard of
accountability for the standards of accountability. The
standards in the law, despite all the hoopla, are largely
arbitrary and potentially even punitive. So schools are
being held accountable to standards that themselves meet
no standard of accountability.

2. Penalizing schools with children from diverse

We would like to believe that schools are exclusively
responsible for the learning of pupils. But years of
research have shown that, for better or worse, one of the
best predictors, if not the best predictor, of achievement
in a school is the socioeconomic status of the parents.
Schools with children of lower socioeconomic status will
be at a disadvantage in almost any rigid standard of
accountability. The same will be true for schools with
many children for whom English is a second language.

3. Penalizing schools with children having diverse learning
Schools having many children with learning disabilities or
other diverse learning needs will almost inevitably fare
poorly in a rigid accountability system that expects to
have a single yardstick for all students. So these schools,
too, will be penalized.

4. Encouraging cheating.

Because the stakes for high scores are so high, schools
are inadvertently encouraged to fudge the data, give
children answers to tests, or make various attempts to
exclude children from testing who, according to the act,
should be tested. The result is that schools are now under
the same pressure students feel in high-stakes testing, and
act similarly. They have started to cheat. There are many
ways to cheat. For example, one is purposely to exclude
scores of children with special needs and thereby “fudge”
the data.

5. Encouraging schools to promote dropping out.

Ironically, the “No Child” law inadvertently encourages
schools to encourage their weaker students to drop out.
In this way, those studentsÂ’ test scores will not reduce
scores for the school. Student dropouts among low
scorers actually have been increasing, arguably as a direct
result of the legislation.

6. The assumption that what matters is what students
know rather than how they use it.

The tests assessing achievement under the No Child Left
Behind Act largely measure knowledge rather than how
knowledge is used. As a result, the emphasis in schools
regresses to that of the drill-and-kill education of many
years ago. That is, schools are starting again to emphasize
rote learning instead of meaningful understanding and use
of the knowledge students learn.

7. The assumption that knowledge of the three RÂ’s is

Schooling is more and more emphasizing the traditional
three RÂ’s of reading, writing, and arithmetic. There is
nothing wrong with the three RÂ’s. But they are not all that
matters to a sound education. Children, more and more,
are being deprived of learning in art, music, history and
social sciences, physical education, special programs for
the gifted, and the like. In general, anything that might
enrich childrenÂ’s education in a way that would make the
children knowledgeable as well as wise and ready to make
complex decisions in todayÂ’s complex world is largely

8. The assumption that good science should be politically

The act specifies that educational practice be guided by
good, rigorous science. But what is good science? The
current administration, to an unprecedented degree, has
decided to play an active role in deciding what it means
by “good science.” Some of the science thus supported
may indeed be good science. But science has always
proceeded best when it is left totally independent of the
political process, and when competing schools of thought
are left to slug it out on the scientific battlefield free of
political influence or interference.

9. The view that conventional tests are some kind of
panacea for the nationÂ’s educational woes.

Relatively few countries in the world use the kinds of
multiple-choice and short-answer tests that are so popular
in the United States. They believe that such tests can
measure only superficial levels of knowledge. There is
nothing wrong, in principle, when these tests are used in
conjunction with other kinds of tests. But when used
alone, they trivialize the testing of childrenÂ’s skills,
leading to an advantage for children who are skilled in the
kinds of questions that appear on the tests.

10. Turning our schools into test-preparation courses.

Our schools have become, to a large extent,
test-preparation courses. At one time we worried that
high schools were becoming test-preparation courses for
college-entrance tests. Now schools at all levels are
enduring the same fate. Worse, scores on one test often
do not transfer to another test, so that schools are
teaching very specific skills that will be of relatively little
use outside the statewide testing program that has
promoted them.
Schools are starting again to emphasize rote learning
instead of meaningful understanding and use of the
knowledge students learn.

11. Insufficient funding.

The No Child Left Behind Act is essentially an unfunded
mandate from the federal government. The federal
government is now piling up record deficits and is
unlikely to put in the money the act would need to
succeed in any form. But states are also in the red. So we
find ourselves, as a nation, stuck with an act that no one
can afford but that the states are required to enact.

12. Dividing rather than unifying the world of education.

The act, originally passed with bipartisan support, no
longer has the support of many Democrats and some
Republicans. Moreover, it does not have the support of
many of the nationÂ’s schools that are being forced to
adhere to it. Forcing upon schools standards dreamed up
by politicians never has been, and never will be, the right
way to create the best education for our children.

In sum, No Child Left Behind is an act used to produce
the nationÂ’s educational report card. But it, itself, receives
a failing grade. Schools are being straitjacketed in
attaining what is best for our children, and straitjackets
cannot produce the kind of flourishing education system
our children need and deserve.

Does the nation need a national educational reform act?
One could debate the merits of any such legislation. But if
the United States is to have such an act, here are some
guidelines for what it should look like:

• All major stakeholders should have a role in formulating
it, to ensure buy-in from all those who will be affected.
To unify the world of education, a new act must be
formulated in a totally consultative way, rather than be
imposed from above.

• The act should have a clear rationale for its standards of

• Any mandates of the act should be fully funded.

• The act should recognize that different schools face very
different situations with regard to the skills and
knowledge base of the student body, level of parental
support, funding, educational resources, experience of the
teaching staff, and many other variables. These variables
must be taken into account in generating expectations for

• The act should have as its priority rewarding success
rather than punishing perceived failure. It should not be
perceived primarily as punitive.

• The act should recognize the wide range of student
accomplishments that are important for success in school
and in life—the three R’s, but also progress in fields such
as the natural and social sciences, the arts (including
musical and dramatic ones), and athletics, among other

• The act should recognize that achievement is not just
about what one knows, but about how one analyzes what
one knows, creatively goes beyond what one knows, and
applies what one knows in practice.

• The act should recognize that the best testing uses a
variety of different kinds of assessments, including
conventional assessments as well as assessments that
emphasize performances and portfolios.

• The act should indeed stress the importance of science
to the practice of education, but scientists alone should
decide what constitutes good science. And we must
recognize that science is not prepared at this moment to
provide answers to all of the problems schools and the
teachers in them face.

Most importantly, schools should be places that optimize
education—that provide each student with the best
possible education. They should not become
test-preparation centers. •

• Robert J. Sternberg is the director of the Center for the
Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise and
the IBM professor of psychology and education at Yale
University, in New Haven, Conn.

EDUCATION WEEK ONLINE (free registration required)

By Bess Keller - from Education Week/November 3, 2004

The news this past spring shook public confidence in
Pennsylvania's teachers: Almost two out of three
Philadelphia middle school math teachers had failed an
exam to gauge their mastery of the subject, their peers in
the rest of the state hadn't done very well either, and
neither the state education department nor any other
district intended to make public the pass rates of teacher

Pennsylvania at the time had seemingly decided to make
veteran teachers show that they, just like new teachers,
had satisfied the "highly qualified" requirement of the No
Child Left Behind Act by having college majors in the
subjects they taught or passing a state-set test.

Two months later, though, the state school board opened
the door for an alternative route for some classroom
veterans, most notably middle school teachers. State
officials say that the plan had been in the works for
months, and that the test results didn't bring any new
urgency to the project.

Still, the events suggest how worrisome the federal
mandate to have a highly qualified teacher in every
classroom by 2006 can be when applied to middle

Almost since President Bush signed the law in January
2002, local and state education officials have voiced
concerns that middle-grades teachers would be affected
by the "highly qualified" provision far more than teachers
at the elementary and high school levels. Disruption and
perhaps shortages would result, especially in urban and
rural settings, where teacher labor pools are smaller.

Proponents of the provision, on the other hand, warned
that states might use the legislation's flexibility to relax the
standard where it is needed most. That, the critics say, is
what happened in Pennsylvania.

Kate Walsh, the president of the National Council for
Teacher Quality, says she worries that the test results for
Pennsylvania middle school teachers are "the only glimpse
we're going to get of how serious this problem is." The
Washington-based council, which advocates for reforms
in teacher policies, has examined the requirements states
have set for their veteran teachers and found many of
them wanting.

It's not, Ms. Walsh stressed, that Pennsylvania's teachers
are less qualified than their peers in other states. "If any
state is under the illusion that they are immune to what
Pennsylvania found out, which is that many middle school
teachers don't have 10th grade subject-matter knowledge,
I think they are misleading themselves," she said.
'End Run'

Under the federal law, teachers beyond the elementary
grades who were in the classroom two years ago may
show their knowledge of academic content by having a
college major in the subject, passing a test, or meeting
alternative requirements set within broad federal
guidelines by the states. Those requirements—known by
the acronym HOUSSE for high, objective, uniform state
standards—vary among the states, as do certification

In Arizona, for example, a course in adolescent
psychology can help fulfill the requirement for teaching
middle school math, according to the teacher-quality
council. In Illinois, a teacher with elementary certification
can be deemed highly qualified to teach a core subject in
middle school after taking what is essentially the test
given to aspiring elementary teachers, said Deborah A.
Kasak, the executive director of the National Forum to
Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, a nationwide coalition
of organizations concerned with middle school.

"I think there are states doing an end run around the
requirements," Ms. Kasak said.

Federal officials say they have begun monitoring the rules
the states have put into place and some changes might be
in order.


Experts generally give two reasons that more teachers in
middle schools than in elementary and high schools do not
meet the standards to be judged highly qualified. First,
many states have allowed teachers with elementary
certification, which generally requires less evidence of
depth of knowledge than secondary certification, to teach
in middle schools.

And second, the organization of many middle schools has
favored assigning teachers to teach more than one
subject. To make sure that children are known by their
teachers and that subjects are not artificially cut off from
one another, middle-grades teachers often operate in
teams. Within the teams, teachers may be responsible for
more than one subject.

In both cases, fret middle-grades advocates, including
many teachers at that level, the cure will be worse than
the illness. For one thing, experienced teachers with
elementary certification could depart rather than jump
through the new hoops, and would take with them
competence and commitment.

Cossondra George, a middle school teacher in Michigan's
Upper Peninsula, laments the future loss of two
colleagues who don't meet the "highly qualified"
standard—one who will go to the district's elementary
school and the other, "probably the best teacher I ever
met," who plans to retire. Ms. George noted that it is not
easy to pick up another major when your community is
100 miles from a university.

Linda T. Rossman, the teacher who has decided to retire
from the Tahquamenon Areas district, in Newberry,
Mich., at the end of next school year, says she might have
considered trying to accumulate points for professional
development under Michigan's alternative to a major or
taking a test if she had been in her current
assignment—science—longer than two years.

But a big part of her decision, says Ms. Rossman, who
was named teacher of the year by the Michigan
Association of Middle School Educators in 1992, is
emotional. "I felt really hurt," she said. "They are telling
me I'm no longer qualified."

Barbara Lazar, who teaches at Cleveland Middle School
in Albuquerque, N.M., worries that the federal law
threatens the teaching teams that many consider an
important feature of middle schools.

In her own case, she has been half of a two-teacher 8th
grade team responsible for 60 to 70 students annually for
the past seven years. But that's bound to change, she
wrote in an e-mail, because she is highly qualified in just
one subject, as is her partner. So her team will have to get

"We will be teaching more kids, students will see more
teachers, they will have a chance to 'get lost' in these
larger communities," she predicted.

Ms. Kasak of the middle-grades forum said it is largely up
to administrators to avoid such potential consequences of
the law while making use of it to strengthen teachers'
mastery of content.

But she agrees with many classroom teachers that the law
sends the wrong message, not because it requires subject
mastery or because it mandates the dismantling of
interdisciplinary teams of teachers—it does not naysay
teams—but because it ignores so much about high-caliber
teaching. Such teaching, middle-grades advocates often
contend, takes into account the developmental needs of
early adolescents.

"I think people want both and the kids need both Â… high
affect and high content, and the legislation doesn't
promote both," Ms. Kasak said. State licensing laws are
not yet the answer, she argued, because only 22 states
require a specialty credential for middle school, although
more than 40 recognize one.


Other advocates fault the law and policymakers for doing
little to ease the situation of urban and rural middle
schools as they try to find enough good teachers who also
meet the standards for being highly qualified.

In the 72,000-student Denver district, the No Child Left
Behind law has made credential-tracking more
complicated, but it hasn't led to greater teacher shortages
for middle schools, said Robin C. Kane, the
human-resources chief. It hasn't eased the challenge of
staffing the schools either.

A recent study by the Southeast Center for Teaching
Quality, in Chapel Hill, N.C., found that school leaders in
many urban and rural districts, and particularly at middle
schools, struggle to compete in the teacher labor market.
If teachers in such schools leave because of the federal
law, it's more likely than in wealthier districts that they
will be replaced by people whose skills and knowledge
are inferior.

At the same time, as the Pennsylvania test of middle
school teachers showed, schools serving poor and
minority children are already more likely to be burdened
with teachers who lack content mastery.

The Education Law Center in Pennsylvania originally
protested state education officials' plan for allowing some
teachers, especially in middle schools, to bypass the
initially required college major or exam, and meet the
"highly qualified" standard by means of an alternative,
called the NCLB Bridge Certificate program.

"Our concern is that the Bridge program is going to be
used significantly in hard-to-staff schools and perpetuate
their hard-to-staff nature," said Baruch Kintisch, a lawyer
with the Harrisburg center.

It's possible under the Bridge regulations, now in draft
form, to rack up the needed points to be deemed highly
qualified through classroom experience, tutoring
experience, self-assessed professional development, and
awards. That doesn't match the rigor of a test or a major,
critics argue.

"A rigorous alternative standard is a reasonable goal,"
Mr. Kintisch said. "The problem with the choices
Pennsylvania has made is that they are rushed."

The state board, which gave tentative approval to the
program in June, is expected to have the final regulations
by Nov. 1. Teachers would have 1½ years to comply.•

LA Times Opinion: ARE SCHOOLS BUILDING MINDS OR MACHINES? by 5th grade teacher John Gust "I am employee #610282. I am a teacher in the LAUSD. I am..."

THE PRICE OF CHARTERS: Response to New Yorker Article "THE FACTORY" by Katherine Boo (The New Yorker, Oct 18, 2004)
• smf notes: The debate on charter schools is heating up
as parents, educators and school districts throughout the
nation struggle with underperforming public education,
the slow rate of promised reform, school district
bureaucracies and the missteps of NCLB. Two weeks ago
The New Yorker featured a fourteen page essay on one
program: The Academy of the Pacific Rim in Boston appellation for the geographically-challenged!

It's important to note three things at the outset:

1. Charter schools are public schools, taxpayer-funded
and publicly-accountable — with different governance
structures than school-district-run programs.
2. Boston, though troubled with the same issues and
challenges of every other urban school district, has a
proud history of innovation in public education. Boston
Latin was the nation's first public grammar school with a
college preparatory curriculum.
3. The charter school program in California is similar to –
but not the same as – the Massachusetts program.

A link to the complete New Yorker Article follows.

• Katherine Boo notes that the entire Class of 2003 at the
Academy of the Pacific Rim, in Boston, passed the
Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test on
the first try in 2001 ("The Factory," October 18th). But
there were only fourteen students in the class. It's clear
that charter schools such as Pacific Rim can do wonders
with a small number of students; it seems equally clear
that, given their skimpy extracurriculars, their lack of
services for students with severe special needs, and their
overworked staffs, what they do is riot replicable on a
large scale. It doesn't diminish the achievement of the
students Boo met to ask whether the amount of energy
and resources going into charter .schools is worth it from
a public-policy standpoint. At Boston's non-charter public
English High School, forty-three per cent of the Class of
2003 passed the English M.CAS. and twenty-five per cent
passed the math-woeful numbers, except that they
represent ninety-five students and sixty-eight students,
respectively, dozens more than at Pacific Rim. Which
school is sending more educated citizens into the
community? Which deserves more attention and help?
— Brendan Halpin
Jamaica Plain, Mass.

• The students at Pacific Rim are mentored and
encouraged to be their best selves. This is something we
all know must happen if a school is going to be
successful. But at Pacific Rim it seems to have been
achieved at the expense of idealistic teachers who work
days, nights, and weekends for low wages. That cannot
be a sustainable model. Charter schools are taking
advantage of our nation's young, newly graduated
teachers (it's no surprise that the turnover rate at Pacific
Rim is thirty per
cent), while, under the mandate of No
Child Left Behind, the states give millions of dollars to
private testing companies. Surely, something is wrong
—Miriam Morgenstern
Westford, Mass

• Pacific Rim deserves Boo's praise for its
accomplishments, but it's worth asking what role
self-selection plays in its success. The students, though
they come from disadvantaged backgrounds, are
distinguished from their peers in regular public schools by
their parents' unusual commitment to education-they have
sought out this school, after all. Thus it would be wrong
to draw sweeping conclusions about bringing Pacific
Rim's methods to other schools serving poor minority
students. The correlation between parental values and
academic performance.

—Walt Gardner
Los Angeles, Calif.

• "THE FACTORY" by Katherine Boo (The New Yorker, Oct 18, 2004)

by Dr. Dorothy Rich — from Connect for Kids Weekly

November 1, 2004 - Education is a messy business. I am
not talking about the educational "mess" rhetoric that is
much in the news. I am talking about the messy quality of
even good education.

Education is not a sleek, mechanistic enterprise of "I
teach and you learn." It would be very nice if it worked
that way. Instead, education is an emotional set of
experiences. That's what makes it so messy. It involves a
lot more than good texts or even quality teachers. They're
important, and yet so much about good education rests
on what is inside of every student. This includes student
motivation, willingness to work hard, to persevere, to

These emotions are deeply connected to school abilities.
They rise and fall and come together at times and fall
apart at others: This "soft stuff" can be as hard as any
rock and often is the cause of the toughest obstacles to

• First Day Fears & Class Cliques

School itself is a very emotional place. Many of us
remember our first days at school as scary and
frightening. Tears were shed. We did not want to let go
of our parents' hands. We were heading into a strange
world with lots of people who did not know us. We were
on our own.

These are memories that stay with us as adults.

Then our children (especially our first child) head off to
school for the first time. Those early memories come back
to us, unbidden. As we watch our child cross the school
threshold, we are crossing it too. The feelings our child
feels are ours. We are right there, looking around at all
those new faces, just as our child is and we feel emotions
doubly – both our child's and our own.

And we remember the low times in school – often easier
to remember than the highs. About the time you were
snubbed at recess and told by the class clique, "You can't
play here." About the time everyone else got invited to a
classmate's birthday party and you weren't and you
thought that the kid was a friend of yours.

Parents hurt when their children go through the same rites
of passage at school. My grown daughter found herself
with tears in her eyes when her three-year-old son didn't
get invited to a schoolmates' party. She was surprised by
her emotions.

As a grandparent. I counseled the usual banal rationality:
"Don't over-react. It's not tragic." But, the truth is that
these memories from our own school days are very
powerful. They bubble up when we see our own children
suffer through similar rejections. "Get over it," we say to
ourselves and to our children. But, these memories stay
with us.

• The Emotion-Achievement Connection

That's why we can't overlook the power of emotion when
it comes to children's achievement and to working with
parents. Inside all of us is that frightened kid who first
went through the school door. Children experience these
feelings anew and they inherit their parents' feelings too.

How I wish that education reform could be accomplished
in the easy, simplistic ways that legislators presume. We
teach. Students learn. We test. Success! If this were really
how it all happens, it would be grand. But the problem is
that this is a romance novel version (not even a Grimm's
fairy tale) of the complexities involved in teaching and

As a longtime teacher and teacher trainer, I don't want to
minimize the impact of school reform initiatives, but all
depend on the attitudes, behaviors and habits that
students bring into and learn in the classroom. These are
what I have come to call MegaSkills and they are taught
and reinforced in the home and community as well the
classroom. We can teach these. But first, we have to
recognize their importance.

In a bookstore recently, I saw an exhibit of very young
children's books – The Berenstein Bear series. I was
pleased by the multitude of titles about emotions related
to school including: bullying, teasing, bad report cards.
These issues are vital to improve test scores, yet, within
the school setting, even at PTA nights, they can get

We build test scores when we build students. It's as new
and as old as that. The child who feels unmotivated or is
hungry and tired will have difficulties getting high test
scores no matter which legislators have "taken over the

It doesn't surprise me when I read that a mayor takes over
the school and test scores don't improve. But, it's always
a headline as though somehow the mayor could wave a
magic wand.

Education is about a lot more than contracts with outside
authorities. Education is a contract with ourselves, with
our motivation, our perseverance, and our optimism and
yes, hope. That's what makes it so messy.

• The Overlooked Emotional Curriculum

It's difficult to talk emotions in school because that is
what not school is "supposed" to be about. It is supposed
to be about academics – "That's it, go forward, achieve."
Yet, many of our low achieving children are being held
back because they are not equipped with what it takes
emotionally to do well in school. They need practice not
just in phonics but in paying attention, working with
others, keeping at what they need to accomplish.

By and large, kids, like everyone else, want to succeed.
That's why we have to keep finding ways to affect the
inner core of the habits, attitudes, behaviors that
determine children's capacities to do well in school and to
get higher test scores.

I don't want to turn teachers into therapists. Yet, we're
working with people not robots, with all too human
students, who have to pass the tests and parents who have
got to get involved to help. This is the human factor. This
is very messy. This is what we have to address as we
struggle to reform education.

•• Dr. Dorothy Rich is founder and president of the
nonprofit Home and School Institute. She is the author of
MegaSkills and the MegaSkills teacher and parent
education programs which are used by more than 4000
schools across the nation. ( and •

—from Connect for Kids Weekly


Clay Aiken from American Idol to assist with inclusion
issues for kids with developmental disabilities. The
foundation serves to bridge the gap now existing for
young people with developmental disabilities between full
inclusion and today's reality.

The Bubel-Aiken Foundation will have a celebrity benefit
fundraiser on Friday November 19th in Century City.
Check out the event website at


Intended for: Educators, Architects, school facilities
designers and parents.

Students and teachers need good acoustics to learn.

This Workshop will discuss:
• Why good acoustics are needed
• What is “good acoustics” for schools?
• What the ANSI standard on school acoustics
S12.60-2002 requires.
• What architects and school designer need to know about
• How to implement good acoustics in new design and
• Examples of successful and not-so successful school
acoustic designs

This Workshop is presented in connection with the 148th
meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. A day-long
series of papers on classroom acoustics will take place on
Thursday November 18th at the Town and Country

When: November 19 2004 9 am to 4 pm
(On site registration starts at 8 am) Registration: $75

Town & Country Hotel
500 Hotel Circle North
San Diego CA 92108

For information and registration, contact Dave Lubman,
phone: 714.373.3050 or e-mail:

• 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.
E V E N T S • T H I S • W E E K:

Monday Nov 08, 2004
• D O G G I N G • F O R • D O L L A R S •
Mayor Hahn + 65 cent Chilidogs = $ for LAÂ’s BEST!
Mayor Hahn will be serving hot dogs at PinkÂ’s to celebrate the standÂ’s 65th Anniversary! Chilidogs will be 65 cents each and all money will go to the Mayor's charity of choice, LA's BEST - supporting afterschool progams in LA Schools!
Date::::::::::Monday, November 8, 2004
Time::::::::::5:30 p.m.
Address:::::::PinkÂ’s Famous Hot Dogs
709 N. La Brea Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038 (Just north of Melrose Ave.)

Monday Nov 08, 2004
Aragon Elementary School Addition
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Please join us to celebrate the completion of your new classroom building!
Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.
Aragon Elementary School
1118 Aragon Avenue
Los Angeles CA 90065

Monday Nov 08, 2004
Stanford New Primary Center
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Please join us to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of your new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Stanford New Primary Center
3020 Kansas Avenue
South Gate, CA 90280

Monday Nov 08, 2004
Local District 1
Presentation of Phase III Project Definitions
At this meeting we will:
* Present and discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITIONS that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval
* Review the factors used to identify new school projects, including community input
* Go over next steps in the school construction process
This is the final meeting on Phase III Project Definition before we go to the LAUSD Board of Education for approval!
6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Winnetka Avenue Elementary School
8240 Winnetka Avenue
Winnetka, CA 91306

Wednesday Nov 10, 2004
East Valley Area New Middle School #1 (also known as Valley Plaza site)
Groundbreaking Ceremony
Please join us to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.
East Valley Area New Middle School #1
6501 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601

Wednesday Nov 10, 2004
Local District 6: Bell School Family
Construction Update Meeting
Please join us at a community meeting for an update on all the new schools being built in the Bell community.
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Gage Middle School Multipurpose Room
2880 E. Gage Avenue
Huntington Park, CA 90255

Wednesday Nov 10, 2004
Local District 4: Belmont School Family
Phase III Informational Community Meeting
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Virgil Middle School Auditorium
152 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Wednesday Nov 10, 2004
Valley Region Elementary School #8
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.
Morningside Elementary School Auditorium
576 N. Maclay Avenue
San Fernando, CA 91340

*Dates and times subject to change.
Phone: 213.241.4700
Phone: 213.633.7616


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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