Saturday, February 25, 2006


4LAKids: Sunday, Feb 26, 2006
In This Issue:
 •  STUDY SHOWS PROGRAM HELPS GRADUATION RATES: Students in LA's BEST are Less Likely to Drop Out of High School, a Report Says.
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
 •  READING TO KIDS: Read to some kids the second Saturday morning each month. Make a difference. Change some lives (including your own!).
 •  The Blueprint for Effective School Reform: MAKING SCHOOLS WORK � Get the Book @!
 •  THE BEST RESOURCE ON CALIFORNIA SCHOOL FUNDING ON THE WEB: The Sacramento Bee's series "Paying for Schools."
 •  FIVE CENTS MAKES SENSE FOR EDUCATION- Target one nickel from every federal tax dollar for Education.
■ smf opines: Anyone who reads the Daily News when they write about LAUSD knows the drill. The first day they print an article, the next day the Editorial Board puts its own curious spin on the story. Never was that better defined than this week in the quantum leap to confusion that follows.

With apologies to Niccolo Machiavelli and the Plotters of Byzantium � to searchers for conspiracies everywhere when the pure science of Unintelligent Design explains it all � I give you the Tuesday/Wednesday one/two punch:


By Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer LA Daily News

Feb. 21, 2006 � With Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Roy Romer nearing retirement, the game has begun to find his replacement, and the name bandied about town the loudest and most consistently: Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg.

The former school board and City Council member remains coy on the topic, but sources say she has been campaigning hard for months - even before Romer announced his intended early departure - to head up the second-largest school district in the nation.

"It's not something I really want to do. However, depending on who they're looking at and whether or not somebody thinks that I could be useful, I won't say I won't work on the inside," said Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, who will be term-limited out of the Assembly in December.

"I'm not interested in the job. I'm not ready to throw my hat in the barrel at this time. I'm not subtle. If I wanted the job, I'd be out there saying I want the job."

An often controversial public figure, Goldberg acknowledged she has been talking about education issues with business, education and political leaders in town, which may have fueled the rumors.

Others in the running include a variety of current and former Los Angeles Unified administrators, although Romer won't step down until the fall.

But it's the liberal Goldberg who's generating the most reaction. Because of her long and close links to United Teachers Los Angeles, many local leaders believe the job is hers if she wants it because of support of the teachers union. Her nephew David Goldberg was recently elected into the UTLA leadership.

It is her close ties to the union that is the biggest concern of her critics should she become superintendent.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a longtime champion of reforming the LAUSD and a supporter of a mayoral takeover of the school district, avoided criticism of Goldberg but stressed the need for the next superintendent to be a strong administrator - experience that the assemblywoman lacks.

"I get along with Jackie very well, although we often disagree with each other," Riordan said. "I think the district needs a superintendent that can put accountability up and down the line from the parents to teachers to principals."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who for months has bashed the district as "failing" and is working to take control of it, said Monday that he wants to be involved in selecting Romer's successor.

"Jackie Goldberg is a former teacher and school board member and she has a great deal of experience for the job," said Villaraigosa, who held the Hollywood Assembly seat now occupied by Goldberg until 2002.

"I'd like to see an agent for change, someone who will look to ensure lowering the dropout rate, improving scores, empowering parents and teachers and cutting bureaucracy."


A.J. Duffy, president of UTLA, said the union is not pushing a candidate behind the scenes for the position. He added that the idea that the union has any clout in choosing the next superintendent and the perception that it has three board members in its pocket - Julie Korenstein, Jon Lauritzen and Marguerite LaMotte - is completely inaccurate.

"These folks do not belong to us and there are times where they do not represent our views; but when we endorse and support and give money, we believe we're endorsing people who believe in public education and are the keys to reform," Duffy said.

In fact, Duffy said Goldberg getting the job was "highly unlikely," and he believes the next superintendent will be Latino.

"I think that the board and the public may lean that way since it makes sense when a huge preponderance of our kids are Latino," he said. "It makes sense, but again, I would hope that the district would go for the most qualified person."

Board member David Tokofsky believes that with her educational and political background, Goldberg could easily be a finalist.

"Jackie's resume, experience and political network would immediately make her in the final 10, unless of course Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are submitting their resumes if their wives will let them," he said. "She's a Sacramento 'Survivor,' she's an L.A. 'Idol' and maybe she'll be 'Dancing with the Stars.' This superintendent's show is going to be the best reality television show."

Ed Burke, chief of staff for Lauritzen, who's in the hospital recovering from surgery, said Goldberg had the qualities of a good superintendent.

"She's not a bad choice at all. Certainly she has the background. She was on the school board, she's been in education all her life, she was on the City Council so she can certainly work with those people; she was in the Legislature and she has a passion for education," Burke said. "I don't have a vote, but I certainly would put her high on the list. A lot of the people here have positive feelings about her."

Romer, who has 16 months remaining on his contract, announced last week that he would like to leave by fall but would stay until a replacement was found.

The former governor of Colorado and head of the Democratic National Committee came on board in June 2000, taking on a job few wanted to get near.


But he established a significant legacy by driving the passage of four school construction bond measures and a $19 billion construction program to build 160 schools. He has also been credited with turning around decades of failure and beginning to improve student test scores.

The board is scheduled today to appoint Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler Inc. to conduct a nationwide search for the next superintendent. But, already a "usual suspects" list of names is emerging:

� LAUSD Chief Instructional Officer of Secondary Instruction Bob Collins, who was recently up for the superintendent position for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas.
� LAUSD Chief Operating Officer Dan Isaacs.
� Former LAUSD local district superintendent and current West Covina Unified Superintendent Liliam Castillo.
� Former LAUSD Deputy Superintendent Maria Ott.
� Former LAUSD Deputy Superintendent Maria Casillas, who now heads the nonprofit Families in Schools.
� Former mayor of San Antonio, and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros.
� Other names being thrown about include LAUSD local district Superintendent Richard Alonzo; former local district Superintendent Judy Burton; former U.S. secretary of education and Houston school district Superintendent Rod Paige; and Carlos Garcia, who departed in July 2005 as superintendent of the Clark County School District.

"This is an important part of the process. Early on you want to think out of the box and raise the names of all the people that might be good for the job," said Caprice Young, who heads the state charter school association and who had served on the school board when it selected Romer as superintendent.

The board needs to determine its vision and find the best person to carry out that vision, said Young.

"There always are names that get floated throughout the process, but the most important thing is for the board to seriously think about what they need in a superintendent to make their visions for the district actually happen," she said. "The biggest frustrations board members have is to pass a policy only to have it implemented badly or not implemented at all."

Goldberg said she hopes whoever succeeds Romer will have a less top-down management style.

"Romer was great in that he got certain things moving again - he got schools built, he focused at least on the elementary level on academics, which was sorely needed," Goldberg said. "I don't agree with all of his methods, I think he was way too top-down, but I think he deserves a lot of credit for the things he's done."



LA Daily News Editorial

February 22, 2006 - When campaigning for mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa talked a good game about shaking up the Los Angeles Unified School District. Since taking the oath last year, he has talked endlessly about mayoral control without spelling out how he would fix the schools.

Until now.

At long last, the mayor's plan for education reform is starting to take shape, and it's a brilliant bit of strategic gamesmanship. Its top-secret code name: Operation Jackie.

Admittedly, we're still working out the details of this theory, but Operation Jackie's broad outline is quickly becoming clear.

With the mayor's blessing, the school board names Jackie Goldberg - former schoolteacher, LAUSD board member and city councilwoman who is currently a term-limited member of the state Assembly - as new superintendent to replace the retiring Roy Romer, the world's greatest builder of new schools.

Like Villaraigosa, Goldberg is deeply connected with United Teachers Los Angeles, the powerful union that controls a majority of the board, and she brings unquestioned left-wing credentials.

Unlike Villaraigosa, however, the polarizing Goldberg lacks the ability to reach out and work with people on the other side of the aisle. She also has no executive experience, which could be a serious liability for someone trying to manage a massive bureaucracy responsible for the well-being of 700,000 kids.

But this all could be part of the brilliance of Villaraigosa's super-duper, top-secret strategy.

Think about it: The district is in crisis, with a restless public fed up with the slow rate of reform. Villaraigosa hopes to put the LAUSD under mayoral control, and another movement is afoot to break it up.

What better way to hasten reform than to put the LAUSD under the leadership of a superintendent who's not only inexperienced, but also highly controversial? Sometimes you really have to break something to be able to fix it once and for all. It's a corollary to "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Operation Jackie is positively Machiavellian.

At last we know why Villaraigosa has been so slow to articulate his plan for education reform. He's simply allowing it to unfold before our eyes. First the LAUSD's crisis is exacerbated, and Romer and his team abandon ship. Then the mayor rides in on a white horse to save the day.


But Operation Jackie has just one problem: Goldberg has been working the education turf hard in recent weeks but wants no part of it. At least that's what she says. "I'm not interested in the job," she insists. "I'm not ready to throw my hat in the barrel at this time. I'm not subtle. If I wanted the job, I'd be out there saying I want the job."
But wait, there's hope yet!

"I won't say I won't work on the inside," says Goldberg.

Ever the dedicated public servant, if called, she will serve.

And if Villaraigosa wants to take control of the LAUSD, called she will be.

It's all part of his plan.


By Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

Feb 23 - Apparently committed to the $208 million performing arts high school envisioned by billionaire Eli Broad despite its soaring costs, the Los Angeles Unified board hopes to secure money for the project from philanthropists and civic groups.

Finding themselves in a situation they generally concur is irreversible, board members said Wednesday it's time to ask the community to help build and operate one of the costliest high schools in the nation.

"We need to step up the civic commitments from Eli, the mayor and everybody who wants this to be a signature school for the city," board member David Tokofsky said.

"When the Disney Hall was in trouble, everybody in this town came together to make that happen under the leadership of (former Mayor) Dick Riordan, the (Board of) Supervisors and the philanthropists.

"We should do no less for the most central high school in this whole district."

Board President Marlene Canter met last week with Broad to update him on plans for the 1,700-student school, which has skyrocketed to four times its original cost. It was Broad who pushed the board to create a landmark performing arts high school rather than a traditional campus on the site, which sits at the entrance to the $1.5 billion Grand Avenue Civic Center development he has championed.

Broad declined to comment on the meeting, as did Canter. But she said the time had come to turn to others for help.

"As board president, I'm calling on everyone from the architect and contractor to the leaders of the Grand Avenue project and arts community to find new and creative ways to help us fund construction of this flagship school," she said.

The board is expected to approve a $171.9 million bid by PCL construction at its March 7 meeting.

Superintendent Roy Romer has urged the board to accept the bid rather than waste time re-designing the project in the hopes of cutting costs.

"I think we have to approve this contract, then we need to turn to the community and say come down and help us finance this," Romer said. "I don't think it's inappropriate for this district to have one signature place. We're spending $19 billion and we're being frugal, but this one place we're going to make an investment for history and for students."

The architecturally unique, 238,000-square-foot school is designed with four small learning communities - music, dance, performing arts and visual arts - along with a theater, free-standing library and a tower.

Broad has pledged $3.1 million for construction and $1.9 million for operations. That money is contingent upon the school being built as designed by the architectural team hand-picked by Broad.

The project site used to house LAUSD's headquarters until the district moved to a Broad-owned building on Beaudry.

Board member Julie Korenstein, who said she struggled for years to get the money to renovate the auditorium at Van Nuys High School, said she's uncomfortable with the inequity of resources.

"In the San Fernando Valley, there's no school being built that comes close to that in cost or design. It's really frustrating that one school would get so much," she said.

"At this point in time, it's taken on a life of its own, but the problem is we're really far down the way now and to pull back now, we'll lose many years, and students need a place to go to school. I'm very conflicted."

The current plan to complete the Grand Avenue school by 2008, three years behind schedule, needs to be approved now in order to attract donors, said Araceli Ruano, chair of Discovering the Arts and an L.A. County arts commissioner.

Discovering the Arts - created in 2004 by Romer and former school board member Jose Huizar - has taken the lead in developing relationships with elected officials, the business community, philanthropists and foundations to help raise money for both the construction and operation of the school.

"Individuals and foundations who support these types of capital projects, do so for projects that have a vision, a plan, a timeline and a budget for construction," Ruano said. "We're mobilizing and this is the critical next step."

So far the group has committed to raising $1.5 million for the school. With 19 high-profile members from the entertainment, arts and business communities, Ruano said it hopes to expand their network of potential donors.

by Chris Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer

February 22, 2006 - Students who don't speak English have less than a 40 percent chance of becoming fluent even after 10 years in California's schools, researchers studying the effects of Proposition 227 estimated in a report released yesterday.

Voters approved Proposition 227 in 1998 to require English learners to be taught �overwhelmingly� in English for a year and then transferred to English-only classrooms. It allows parents to enroll their children in bilingual education if they visit a school and sign a waiver exempting their children from the law.

The difference in results between English-only and bilingual education instruction is �minimal or nonexistent,� the report found.

Students in bilingual education receive part of their instruction in their native language, and the primary language of 85 percent of non-English-speaking students in California is Spanish.

�We believe that 227 focused on the wrong issue. It's not about the language of instruction. It's about the quality of instruction,� said Robert Linquanti, co-author of a five-year evaluation of the initiative for the California Department of Education.

The report found the state's 1.6 million non-English-speaking students have benefited from Proposition 227 because it cast a spotlight on their underachievement. Since then, English learners have shown steady improvement on state test scores.

Proposition 227 did not occur in a vacuum. In the late 1990s and early this decade California has reduced class sizes in early grades and instituted annual testing to measure students' English fluency, while Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act that requires English learners to improve test scores as quickly as English-speaking students.

Advocates of bilingual education maintain that studies show that becoming fluent in a language takes four to seven years.

The finding released yesterday that said a student has less than a 40 percent chance of mastering English after a decade is based on a sophisticated statistical technique known as survival analysis, commonly used to study the effectiveness of treatments for disease.

Linquanti said the key to increasing the success rate for English learners is teacher training and a greater emphasis on language development in all subjects, not just English classes.

�We have to see every teacher as a teacher of language as well,� Linquanti said. That means, for example, asking students to solve problems through group discussions, emphasizing specialized vocabulary and incorporating more writing into lessons.

Math, science and social studies teachers need to rely less on lecturing � the so-called �sage-on-the-stage� method � and encourage students to write, answer open-ended questions and debate, serving more often as a �guide on the side,� Linquanti said.

Non-English-speaking students are classified as English learners until they pass tests to earn redesignation as fluent speakers. This fluency marks higher functioning than basic conversation. It signifies mastery of what's known as �academic English,� a level that allows students to read, write and speak as well as native English speakers in English-only classes.

The performance of English learners is crucial in San Diego County, where 117,000 students � nearly one in four kindergarten-through-12th-graders in local public schools � do not speak English fluently. About 9.2 percent of local English learners were redesignated fluent last school year.

Proposition 227's call for English-only instruction has been adopted to varying degrees throughout the county. Other than in foreign language courses, Oceanside no longer teaches a single student in a language other than English. San Diego city schools went from teaching 15,000 English learners at least in part in their native language in 1998 to fewer than 6,000 last year.

At the same time, state statistics indicate that an even greater percentage of students in the San Ysidro and South Bay Union school districts are in bilingual education today than when Proposition 227 was passed.

The study's authors report wide variation from district to district in the percent of students who ultimately earn redesignation. Local districts annually report the percentage of students who become fluent but do not compile 10-year rates similar to that calculated in the study.

The authors said it's difficult to make precise comparisons between bilingual education and English-only instruction because the state still doesn't have the ability to track individual students.

REPORT: Effects of the Implementation of Proposition 227 on the Education of English Learners, K�12 Findings from a Five-Year Evaluation

� American Association for the Advancement of Science Press Release

Feb 18, 2006 --There is a good story behind science, but no one is telling it in American classrooms. According to Ursula Goodenough, Ph.D., professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, science continues to be taught from K-12 to the college and university levels, in fragmented, incoherent bits and pieces rather than a coherent narrative, a history of nature.

"What's totally lacking in the teaching of science is what I call a history of nature, what happened from the Big Bang on," said Goodenough. "In the past few decades, the history of nature has really come together as an integrative story, with theories of the Big Bang, plate tectonics and advances in understanding biological evolution all tying the story together. Studies have shown that humans learn best when information is packaged in the form of a story. But the Historical Sciences �cosmology, evolutionary biology and earth science � exist independently in their own domains. There is no linkage."

Over the past year, Goodenough joined five other distinguished scientists in a review of the 50 State Science Standards for a project funded by the Fordham Foundation. She said roughly half of the states failed and another twenty percent graded out as "C."

"What we found was troubling, both as parents and as scientists," she said. "Only 19 states have produced Standards that we would regard as meritorious � as parents, we would be satisfied to have our children educated in such contexts -- while 16 were highly flawed and 15 were flat-out unacceptable. In some cases a lackluster presentation of evolution contributed to a poor outcome, but the dominant and unsurprising pattern was that states with weak Standards overall were also weak in evolution. Moreover, we understand that teachers often tend to 'skip over the evolution sections' so as to avoid conflict � in some cases, conflict with their own views."

Goodenough presented her Plenary Lecture, "The History of Nature: Why Don't We Teach It?" from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Feb. 18, 2006, in the Renaissance Grand Hotel in St. Louis for the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Goodenough said that a primary concern is that students come to understand and appreciate both how science is done and some of what scientific inquiry has discovered. But another basic concern is that science education, both as articulated in the Standards and as practiced in American schools, basically fails to convey to students what Goodenough refers to as the scientific worldview: a narrative account, with supporting empirical evidence, of current understandings of the origins and evolution of the universe, the planet, and life (including humans), as brought to us from what are often called the historical sciences.

The current version of the No Child Left Behind Act requires that states must test student knowledge of science starting in 2007-2008, and Goodenough fears that there will be more emphasis on "teaching the test" and less on overall understanding of the scientific perspective.

"One can find material on the Big Bang and stars in physics sections, and material on plate tectonics in geology sections, and usually some units on fossils and evolutionary theory in biology sections, " she said. "But no attempt is made to bring the historical sciences together into a comprehensive framework in the way that a student taking American History would come away with an overview of what happened during our country's 400 years' existence." The "epidemic" of scientific illiteracy would diminish, Goodenough believes, if such a framework were a mainstay of scientific curricula.
"As things now stand, K-12 students go into science classes and hear about cells one day and atoms another day but lack any opportunity or guidance for integrating these understandings into larger contexts," she said. "While this is not a problem for the 'science types' who soak up cells and atoms no matter what, most students find science classes tedious and boring and drop out as soon as they've met the requirements."

Goodenough co-teaches at Washington University a course called the Epic of Evolution: Life, Earth, and the Cosmos, that presents the scientific worldview to science-disaffected students who take it as a required elective. She and her colleagues have taught it for five years.

"The students report that their interest in, and mastery of, scientific concepts is greatly enhanced when such larger contexts are provided," she said. "We've become convinced that a robust and mindful grasp of the scientific worldview generates a more abiding commitment to scientific inquiry, to environmental sustainability, and to societal responsibility."

Goodenough said that many students report an appreciation for the scientific enterprise that failed to take hold when research was presented solely as the "engine" for technological advancement. They also report that an understanding of their own lives in the vast evolutionary context that made those lives possible instills a new and valuable framework for existential orientation and informed environmental awareness.

"Even our graduate-student teaching assistants invariably express appreciation for having been exposed to the 'big picture' in a rigorous and memorable way for the first time," she said.

She urged educators to think of "Big Picture" science instruction and hopes that high schools might consider a similarly team-taught course as a capstone experience.

STUDY SHOWS PROGRAM HELPS GRADUATION RATES: Students in LA's BEST are Less Likely to Drop Out of High School, a Report Says.

By Tanya Caldwell, LA Times Staff Writer

February 23, 2006 �Officials at a Los Angeles after-school program are touting a new UCLA study showing its students have a slightly better chance of finishing high school than their peers.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, philanthropist Eli Broad and LA's BEST officials plan to release results of the study at a news conference today.

The study found that students in LA's Better Educated Students for Tomorrow, or LA's BEST, were about 6% less likely to drop out of high school when compared to other students. Researchers said that showed a 20% change from what they said is a 36% district dropout rate.

The Los Angeles Unified School District's dropout rate is controversial, however, with some sources putting the figure at closer to 50%.

Denise Huang, who conducted the study for UCLA's National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, compared students in sixth through ninth grades who were enrolled in LA's BEST with those who weren't. Those who participated are now in high school.

Researchers said they think students who participate in the after-school program are on the right track toward graduation.

"If we were to conduct a study right now" on today's sixth-graders, Huang said, "I would expect it to be the same result, or even better."

Carla Sanger, LA's BEST president and CEO, called the program's retention rate one of the most important factors in educational progress. "The predictor of life success," Sanger said, "is more related to years of school than it is to test scores."

LA's BEST is a free after-school enrichment program for children ages 5 to 12. The nonprofit organization, which serves LAUSD students in the city, operates on campuses in which at least 70% of the students get free or reduced-price lunches, Sanger said. In addition to the LAUSD, LA's BEST is supported by the city and the private sector. Nearly a quarter of its funding comes from private donations, Sanger said.

Students receive help with their homework and participate in such activities as drill teams, dance, math clubs and field trips.

"It is far, far more than any kind of baby-sitting," said Sanger, who added that New York and Chicago are starting similar programs.

LA's BEST began in 1988 with 10 schools and one staff person. Today, there are more than 24,000 students in the program.

►Sidebar: TO THE CONTRARY from National Public Radio Online on LA's BEST:

According to law enforcement agencies, the most likely time for young people to get into trouble is between 3 and 4 p.m. The hours immediately after school are when more an increasing number of minors have sex, use drugs, and become violent or are targeted by violence. To respond to this reality, thousands of after-school care programs have been launched across the country at public schools. Among the most successful and long-lived is called LA's BEST.
LA's BEST is a lot more than just after-school care for elementary school students. The three-hour program that runs from 3-6pm every day for some 17,000 kids in low-income neighborhoods is composed of three so-called blocks. The first block is nutrition and homework assistance. The second is cognitive learning programs, such as this workshop run by a NASA rocket scientist, teaching kids about motion and ratios. The third is a variety of activities suggested by the students themselves. At a few LA schools students can participate in folklorico, the preservation of long-standing cultural arts such as native dance and music.
Of the thousands of after-school programs across the country, LA's BEST is one of if not the most thoroughly tested and evaluated. It's been studied, studied and studied again, during its ten-year tenure. Among the findings:
- Students enrolled in LA's BEST for four years or more showed improved scores on standardized math, reading and language tests.
- Kids attending LA's BEST spoke more and better English.
- Kids and parents said the kids felt safer after school in the program than before they joined it.
- A greater percentage of kids told researchers they aspired to attending college after taking part in the program than before they entered it.
Because more American children are raised in single-parent homes, or homes where both parents work, and because there aren't the kind of cohesive neighbor relationships of yesteryear, there's a great need for more after-school programs. Even with significant public and private support, LA's BEST still has a much longer list of kids who want in, than the expanded number it already serves. In the state of California, for example, government-funded after-school programs serve 440,000 kids. But one-and-a-quarter million more children ages 5 to 14 need subsidized care while their parents work, according to a survey of law enforcement agencies.

▲The complete report from UCLA's National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing cited in this story is not yet publicly available.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has created a silly sing-along video and a serious online petition:


For all children to succeed, schools need high academic standards, rich curricula, quality professional development for staff, help for struggling students, adequate funding and a fair system of assessment and accountability.

The No Child Left Behind Act has failed to live up to its promise. Our children are paying the price. Congress and the administration need to listen to parents and teachers. It's time to make some constructive changes and get NCLB right.

Sign the Online Petition


Feb 22, 2006 �The Los Angeles Board of Education yesterday authorized School Board President Marlene Canter to negotiate and enter into a contract with Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler, Inc. (HR&A) to assist the Board in its search for a new Superintendent of Schools who will continue the exceptional progress made under the leadership of current Superintendent and former Colorado Governor Roy Romer. National searches for leaders of this stature typically take nine months or more. Superintendent Romer, who has led the district since July 2000 and whose contract expires in June 2007, will stay on until his successor is found.

"Selecting a Superintendent is the most important job of a board of education. Searches for big city Superintendents are intensive exercises and take a great deal of time. We are acting proactively by beginning our search now for a bold reformer to ensure LA schools continue on their upward trajectory and we realize our vision of becoming one of the top performing urban school districts in the country,� said Board President Canter.

Under Superintendent Romer's leadership elementary test scores have increased dramatically and the Academic Performance Index (API) for the district has grown by 33 percent. He also launched the largest school construction project in the nation to eliminate overcrowding, busing and year round school calendars.

The next Superintendent will build on this momentum of progress and usher in the next phase of reform. HR&A has proven that they are able to identify both traditional and untraditional candidates for one of the most challenging and important positions in the country.

In the coming weeks HR&A will, in consultation with the Board, devise and publish a community outreach strategy to gain valuable input and insight from the diverse community of the 27 cities spanning more than 770 square miles that comprise the Los Angeles school district.

To maintain the integrity of the search process, maintain confidentiality, and to respect the privacy of candidates for the position, Los Angeles Board of Education members and Governor Romer will be referring all inquiries regarding the search to HR&A.


February 8, 2006

� Adequately funding public education is the best investment we can make for our students� future and for the future of California. The Governor�s 2006-07 budget proposal, while a start, falls short of fully funding education and keeping the promise made to public schools and students.

� California�s schools and students need, and voters expect, the Governor to keep his promise to repay the money borrowed from Proposition 98. That money is desperately needed to restore class size reduction programs, to buy up-to-date textbooks, and to attract and retain high quality teachers and other educators.

� According to a 2006 Education Week report �Quality Counts� California ranks 43rd in the nation in per pupil spending. California�s schools also continue to have some of the largest class sizes and the greatest lack of librarians, counselors and other critical support staff.

� The budget proposal fails to address more than $3.2 billion owed to schools for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years. The Governor has a constitutional obligation to fund Proposition 98 and repay the money that was borrowed from our schools and students.

� The budget proposal to fund Proposition 49 with Proposition 98 monies violates the commitment the Governor made to voters in the 2002 election that Proposition 49 would not affect the current budget, and falsely implies that the money owed to schools under Proposition 98 is being repaid.

� The Governor also promised to pay schools for unfunded mandates. Yet his proposal for 2006-07 pays for only a fraction of the unreimbursed state mandates.

� The Education Coalition will continue to work with the Governor and the Legislature to restore the funding that has been cut from our schools and adequately fund all of our classrooms so all students have access to the best education possible.

▲ THE EDUCATION COALITION consists of organizations representing more than a million parents, teachers, school employees, school board members and administrators: Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), the California Association of School Business Officers (CASBO), the California County Superintendent Educational Services Association (CCSESA), California Federation of Teachers (CFT), the California School Boards Association (CSBA), the California School Employees Assocation (CSEA), the California State PTA (CAPTA), the California Teachers Association (CTA), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

►FORCE FOR REFORM: The LAUSD's failures drive public's demand for change

LA Daily News Editorial

WHEN announcing his proposal last week to break up the Los Angeles Unified School District, Assemblyman Keith Richman said, "The district bureaucracy is a behemoth and unresponsive and not accountable to parents or the community."

Then, right on cue, district officials went out and proved him right.

Last Thursday, the LAUSD brass announced that the price tag for paying off the district's unchecked benefits for its employees has doubled since just 18 months ago. Now, district number-crunchers predict, the figure is going to hit $10 billion.

And, of course, the district has done little to sock away money for this eventuality. Money for spiraling benefit costs will necessarily have to come at the expense of everything from teachers to textbooks.

But runaway benefits - the result of a board that's addicted to union campaign cash and can't say no at the bargaining table - are only part of the LAUSD's problem.

Other parts include anemic performance at the middle-school and high-school levels, an unquantified dropout rate that could be as high as 50 percent and a wasteful building program that lacks proper oversight or safeguards. All of which is compounded by a remote bureaucracy to which families have little access let alone control.

Yes, the district has managed to make some improvements at the elementary-school level, but progress has been way too limited and slow to dampen public discontent. No wonder Richman is going ahead with his effort to break up the LAUSD into a dozen pieces.

As long as the LAUSD bureaucracy continues to leave the people of L.A. feeling disconnected, powerless and frustrated, the people of L.A. are likely to latch on to any proposal that might bring them relief.


Re: "L.A.'s costliest school" (Daily News Feb. 16 | 4LAKids Feb 19)):

It's interesting that even with Eli Broad funding the performing-arts school project, costs are doubling and spiraling out of control, with "no other way to go," said the vice chairman of the oversight committee that reviews the LAUSD's construction spending.

But isn't "billionaire Eli Broad" a construction contractor and famous builder? How did he get to be a billionaire? Probably with a wise use of money in building things. Did anyone ask him how to build the performing-arts school of his dreams for a reasonable price? Why can't he do it?

- Denise Nardi
Woodland Hills


From Rick Orlov's column, LA Daily News

Feb 20 � With the announcement by LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer that he wants to leave his job this year, everyone gets a chance to see if the Board of Education has learned any political lessons from the past six months.

The question being posed to them, privately so far, is how they should select a successor and whether they should consult the two most vocal critics of the district - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Controller Laura Chick.

Villaraigosa is expected to soon unveil his plan on how he wants to gain control of the district. And Chick has been poring over boxes filled with audits sent by district officials to try to head off her effort to conduct a separate audit.

Some school board members are said to be adamantly opposed to including either one in the selection process - even as Villaraigosa says he expects to play a role.
However, other officials are urging the board to do what it did when it selected Romer - establish a special panel of a variety of interests that would include Villaraigosa and Chick.

"It's the old adage of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer," one official said. "If they are involved in the selection of the next superintendent, they might be willing to give us some more time to make changes."

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
►► 4LAKids Tune In Tip! ◄◄

with John Cromshow

Friday, March 3, 2006 at 2:00 p.m.
KPFK 90.7 FM and on the web at

� LAUSD School Board Election Special featuring...

� Interviews with the candidates

� "What can a school board member do to improve education?"

� Comments by Los Angeles teachers
Phone: 213.633.7493
Phone: 213.633.7616


What can YOU do?
� E-mail, call or write your school board member: � 213-241-6387 � 213-241-6180 � 213-241-6388 � 213-241-6382 � 213-241-6385 � 213-241-6386 � 213-241-6383
...or your city councilperson, mayor, assemblyperson, state senator, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think!
Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
� 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.

� GET INVOLVED! Click on the [LINK] below to send a letter to the California legislature encouraging them to fully release Prop 98 funding to the California schools.

"To the Honorable Legislators of the State of California:

"California is in a severe budget crisis. It is the driving force behind the decision to once again suspend Proposition 98. We as concerned citizens of California urge you to not suspend Proposition 98 or defer its obligations to future years. Education already holds a large I.O.U. from the State of California.

"The outcome of suspending and deferring Proposition 98 is that it does not provide California Public Education the proper amount of funding and attention it needs so that our children can be competitive in the future global environment. In addition, as the cost of living in California continues to outpace the national average, it is even more important that California Public Schools offer children a superior level of education in order to continue to attract top talent for California businesses. Without a solid state educational system, top talent, and their families, will seek employment outside of California causing businesses to either relocate or rely on outsourcing to find qualified candidates. Rather than compromising education, we, as concerned citizens ask the Legislatures of the State of California to respect and abide by the entire essence of Proposition 98.

"Thank you for taking the time to consider the issues of inequity and inadequate funding for public education. We are confident that you will do what is necessary to address these needs as you deliberate the use of State revenues in developing a balanced State budget."

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or 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. Quoted and/or cited content copyright � the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright � 4LAKids.
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