Sunday, March 26, 2006

Another brick in the wall

4LAKids: Sunday, March 26, 2006
In This Issue:
 •  UC STUDY SEES 'HUGE BARRIERS' TO COLLEGE: It finds high schools deficient on counselors, course work.
 •  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.
In college I was trained for a career in political science � this served me well when I became an unwitting cog in the show biz dream machine. However Hollywood politics is nothing compared to the political dynamic I later found in public education. There is no political microclimate like a modern urban elementary school �where the interests of parents, children, teachers, central office, community and principal meet everyone else's plans, interests, curricula and agenda � with nothing less than the future in play!

The lessons unlearned or forgotten from the principal's office, staffroom, parent center and classroom play out on a larger scale in the hallways, cubicles, conference rooms and the board room at school district HQ. Mix well with union politics and a large dose of big-city-meets-small-town government � stir in billions of dollars (when billions aren't nearly enough!) � shake with a hefty dash of ambition and ego � and you have the adventure we living out in LAUSD.

OUR MAYOR PLANS TO SORT THIS WHOLE SORRY MESS OUT. Never mind that there are other sorry messes on his plate. Never mind that other mayors in dissimilar cities but with similar visions � mayors who actually had discretionary funds to infuse into schools � have not been successful in anything other than taking over the schools.

Taking over schools is politics, improving performance is education.

The data is there: Test scores, accountability, drop-out rates and outcomes hover at unacceptable before and after mayoral takeover in New York and Chicago.

The UC/ACCORD & UCLA IDEA Study [UC Study, below] reports below that schools in California are failing across the board in preparing kids for higher Ed. The mayor is sure to add this report to his litany of failure. So will Senator Romero, Assemblyman Richman and the LA Times.

But drill down; take a look into the survey. Take a representative Assembly District � the 43rd. I pick the 43rd because it includes LAUSD, Glendale and Burbank Schools. I pick the 43rd because my child goes to a school in it � I said 'representative', I didn't say 'random'!

� Hoover High in Glendale graduated 80% of year 2000 9th graders in 2004. This is outstanding!
� Marshall High School in LAUSD graduated 69% of year 2000 9th graders in 2004. Not as good? Except that 68% of those year 2000 Marshall 9th graders graduate having met the A-G requirements, they took and passed the classes and are prepared and qualified for admission to CSU and UC. Only 21% of Hoover Grads met that standard.

I bring this up because, criticism from the mayor, senator and newspaper editorial boards notwithstanding, LAUSD is five years into a reform program that is already demonstrating progress. We have a long way to go �but we have come a long way. Marshall High School, overcrowded, year-round-calendar, 87% minority/73% Free and Reduced Lunch is representative-if-not-typical � but it is exemplary of what LAUSD can, is and must be doing!

Test scores throughout LAUSD are improving, across the board. LAUSD has made a commitment to require that all LAUSD High School Grads meet the A-G requirements described above. And Jeannie Oakes � the author of the UCLA IDEA study � is a member (along with a lot of other of the 'right folks') of the LAUSD A-G task force!

Mayor, leave the kids alone.


►VILLARAIGOSA, OTHER MAYORS DISCUSS L.A. UNIFIED TAKEOVER: He seeks advice from the leaders of Carson, South Gate and other cities served by the district.

By Duke Helfand, LA Times Staff Writer

March 24, 2006 � Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and leaders from several neighboring cities met at City Hall on Thursday to strategize about a mayoral takeover of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Villaraigosa pledged to give his counterparts from Carson, South Gate, San Fernando and other cities served by L.A. Unified a hand in drafting legislation that would open the door to him controlling the schools.

The district's 727,000 students come from Los Angeles and 26 smaller cities, whose leaders want a role in a possible Villaraigosa-led school system.

Villaraigosa said that any takeover plan must have a "voice that includes proportionality and decentralization."

The Los Angeles mayor and the other officials also echoed a call for an independent "financial and performance" audit of the school system.

City Controller Laura Chick has sought to audit L.A. Unified, a move district leaders call unnecessary.

The mayors and council members of the neighboring cities said their meeting with Villaraigosa was productive, even though it did not yield specific power-sharing proposals.

"We're waking up to the fact that the bureaucracy has to be pared down," said Carson Mayor Jim Dear, who works as an L.A. Unified teacher part time.

Councilman George Cole of Bell said his city and others southeast of Los Angeles share a common perception of neglect at the hands of the school system. He hoped the budding collaboration with Los Angeles would change that.

"This meeting was a positive first step to repair a system that is badly broken," Cole said.

Los Angeles schools Supt. Roy Romer defended the school system, saying it has accomplished far more than critics recognize. Among other things, he said, the district has built new schools, introduced full-day kindergarten classes and raised elementary school test scores.

"There are massive changes occurring in this district," Romer said. "It is not complacent. It is not status quo. It is not overloaded with bureaucracy. We're remaking the face of Los Angeles. And it's not [the mayor's] structure that is doing it. It is our structure."

Romer said that an outside audit would duplicate several independent reviews already underway. Two existing audits, he noted, are looking at district finances, and a third is examining the district's organization.

Romer threw an olive branch to the officials from the 26 cities, saying he would meet with them and seek their ideas on how to make the district as transparent as possible.

►ANTONIO GETS SCHOOLED: The mayor�s vision of L.A. schools encounters reality
by David Zahniser � LA Weekly

March 22, 2006 - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa didn�t drop any huge policy bombshells during his three-day Mayoral Takeover tour of New York City�s public-education system. There was a friendly meeting with a teachers� union representative, a tour of a high-achieving school and the obligatory photo ops with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who now runs his city�s school system.

Each leg of the tour seemed to reinforce Villaraigosa�s belief in his No. 1 policy objective � taking over the Los Angeles Unified School District, a sprawling bureaucracy that encompasses more than two dozen cities stretching from the San Fernando Valley to South Gate.

The problem was, Villaraigosa had upstaged himself days earlier by announcing � or letting slip, depending on whom you ask � that he planned to keep the elected school board after months of talk about appointing them.

Villaraigosa, who first told a state legislative panel last June that he wanted to handpick each of the board�s seven members, suddenly had a new, more nuanced message: Appointing school-board members would deny the voting rights of the 26 other cities in the school district � and, by the way, the idea wasn�t polling so well, either.

Despite the rewritten plot, the mayor managed to stick to the outlines of his original script. He still promised to diminish the school board�s power, even if its members are chosen by the electorate. And he still wants the power to hire and fire the superintendent, as well as oversight of the district�s $6.8 billion operating budget, and maybe even some decisions on the curriculum.

�It�s about saying that one person should be in charge, so that when things go right or wrong, you have one person to blame,� Villaraigosa told KCRW�s Which Way L.A., shortly before flying back to Los Angeles. �Right now you have seven people that point the finger at one another and don�t take responsibility for the fact that half the kids are dropping out of school.�

The irony is, the six school-board members � M�nica Garc�a won�t be installed until after the June 6 runoff � have been largely united in their opposition to the mayoral takeover, and in defending the district�s slow but steady progress in raising test scores and building schools. Almost in concert, board members quickly dissected Villaraigosa�s latest school proposal, saying that it would allow some educational decisions to be dictated by City Hall and others left to L.A. Unified.

School-board member Mike Lansing said such a concept would disperse responsibility, not focus it.

�To me, it would almost be like... the school board picking the police chief, the director of the DWP, the head of Rec and Parks and the rest,� said Lansing, who represents communities on the southern end of the district. �That doesn�t make sense. It wouldn�t hold anybody accountable. We would blame them for making bad selections [of L.A. Unified staff], and they would blame us for making bad decisions.�

The response was even harsher from the Los Angeles Times, which has pressed its editorial foot on the accelerator in the drive toward a mayoral takeover. Even before Friday�s policy shift, Villaraigosa had a somewhat complicated relationship with the city�s largest newspaper, vowing at various moments not to let the paper bully him on the issue of school reform. By the time Villaraigosa showed up for his first appointment in New York City, the newspaper had lobbed its own grenade � an editorial demanding that he go all the way on a mayoral takeover or drop the issue entirely. [A is for Accountability � next]

At regular intervals, the debate has been propelled forward by the two public pronouncements from Villaraigosa � first during his mayoral campaign, when he said he wanted �ultimate control� of the district, and again in June, when he told a state legislative hearing headed by L.A.�s Democratic state Senator Gloria Romero that he wanted the power to select the school board. Those statements have driven the mayor�s policy agenda and dominated the campaign of the March 7 school-board election, where the candidate endorsed by Villaraigosa � M�nica Garc�a � garnered 47.3 percent of the vote.

Villaraigosa actually sped up his takeover bid earlier this year, saying he�d decided to seek control more quickly after viewing a poll from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor that showed him with an 82 percent approval rating. Last week, Villaraigosa said his polling apparatus had produced another key finding: Voters actually like the idea of electing their school-board members � even though, in practice, few of them show up at the polls to do so.

Los Angeles Councilman Alex Padilla, who assembled a 30-member commission to change the governance of L.A. Unified, said he fears the debate over the school district is becoming too dominated by Villaraigosa, whose larger-than-life media presence dramatically increased the civic interest in education. Skeptics also point out that Villaraigosa, who is being touted as a candidate for governor in 2010 or possibly even a vice presidential nominee in 2008, has not committed to a full eight years as mayor and could easily be gone within two years after a mayoral takeover.

�Let�s not confuse mayoral control with Antonio control,� Padilla told the council on Tuesday. �If the city and the school district move in the direction of mayoral control, that�s a systemic change... and would we be as excited about this proposal if it was Mayor Hahn, if it was Mayor Riordan?�

Villaraigosa, For His Part, argued that he is the one with the urgency to improve the district. To hammer his point home, the mayor pointed out that Los Angeles provides the district with 88 percent of its students. Representatives of the 26 other cities that make up L.A. Unified counter that they make up one-fifth of the district�s residents. And they sent strong hints to the mayor that he shouldn�t enhance his powers at the expense of an elected school board.

�We just don�t want to be run over,� said West Hollywood Councilman Jeffrey Prang.

Lost in the shuffle, yet again, is the 30-member Commission on LAUSD Governance, which has been studying such proposals as expanding the size of the school board and raising the annual salaries of school-board members beyond the paltry $24,000 they currently receive. Councilman Jose Huizar � a former school-board member himself � said last week that the commission is evenly divided, with one-third supporting mayoral control, one-third supporting a full-time school board and one-third seeking a massive decentralization of the district.

Villaraigosa will send his in-house attorney, Thomas Saenz, to the commission to lay out the mayor�s current views on school governance. That could be just the ticket to finally lure television and print reporters who have missed the commission�s eight months of deliberations but found a way to travel with Villaraigosa to New York.

The mayor won�t be there, however. On Thursday, he will make his own pitch to the mayors of the 26 other cities that belong to the school district. If nothing else, the debate has prompted Prang to propose one microscopic reform � dropping �Los Angeles� from the name of the school district.

�If we called it �Metropolitan Unified,� people would know it�s not tied to one city or another,� he said.


Editorial - from the Los Angeles Times

March 20, 2006 - Wn mayors take over complex urban school districts, suddenly there is one clear line of authority � and accountability. That's one of the best reasons to advocate mayoral control for the schools in Los Angeles, where parents complain that no one listens to their concerns, voters are unsure who is responsible for the schools' shortcomings and decision-making gets stalled in endless board discussion and micromanagement.

The model for mayoral control advocated Friday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, though, threatens to muddle things further, not clear them up.

The mayor proposed a kind of split-powers arrangement with the school board. The elected board would continue but with more narrowly defined responsibilities, which the mayor has not yet specified. The mayor would be able to hire and fire the superintendent and would oversee other school matters, such as the district's budget.

So who's really in charge? Even the superintendent is bound to be uncertain on that question, and parents and the public will be downright befuddled.

Moreover, the board will not give up powers easily. Even if its authority were officially limited, board members would seek as much involvement as possible. They didn't run for public office to take care of housekeeping chores, and their constituents didn't elect them to be weak players. The greater the board's power, though, the lesser the mayor's.

Unlike mayors who run schools in other cities, such as New York or Chicago, Villaraigosa faces a complicated legal landscape. The district's strange boundaries, spilling over city lines into more than two dozen other municipalities, create barriers to change. Why should the voters of, say, Carson, which has about 17,000 students in the district, cede control to a mayor they did not elect? The mayor obviously sees keeping an elected board � which gives people throughout the district a chance to vote, as they do now � as the way around this dilemma.

It's a noble attempt, but it's practically unworkable. It may be no more realistic to suggest that the mayor ask the state to give him full administrative authority and reduce the board to an advisory role. Yet that's the way the governance system works in other cities with mayoral control: There is one person clearly in charge, with one clear mission. Mistakes are still made, of course. But they can generally be corrected more quickly.

Under the partial-control model that Villaraigosa has suggested, it's easy to imagine the board pointing to the mayor as the source of problems, while the mayor complains that his plans are being undermined by the board. Parents and lobbying groups will ask the board members they elected for help if the mayor denies their requests (and will ask the mayor if ignored by the board). As the district seeks a replacement for retiring schools Supt. Roy Romer, candidates would undoubtedly size up a confused situation like this and say: No thanks.

Villaraigosa is in New York today to see how strong mayoral control works. The best lesson he could learn from Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Go for full charge of the schools � or none at all.

▲LETTERS TO THE LA TIMES: Mayoral control of L.A. school district

� The mayor wants to control the Los Angeles Unified School District, but he has yet to spell out in detail what he plans to actually do with such power. The issues facing the classroom � the place where education actually happens � are enormous, but this only skims the surface of key concerns. It doesn't touch on the bigger issues that affect education outside the classroom, such as poverty, crime, lack of parental support and so forth. It's these issues that the mayor needs to focus on; that's where he could make a difference. That's what he was elected for and why I (to my chagrin) voted for him.

Phil Brimble
Los Angeles

� The Times is right on point in its analysis of school governance needs for the Los Angeles Unified School District. A key purpose of mayoral control is streamlined accountability: a single entity responsible for boosting the academic success of 741,000 schoolchildren.

L.A. Unified desperately needs leadership that instills confidence and consistency, not further confusion. Any hybrid leadership scheme would only exacerbate the tangled octopus of school governance wherein everyone points fingers and no one takes responsibility. Leaders cannot straddle the fence on this one. It's all or nothing.

Gloria Romero
State Senate Majority Leader
(D-Los Angeles)

� Mayoral control, New York and Chicago have utilized the coaching model in schools. Taxpayers in Los Angeles probably don't know that L.A. Unified has had the coaching model in place at the elementary level for seven years. At my tiny school of 300 students, we have one principal, two assistant principals, two half-time literacy coaches, a half-time math coach and a coordinator � seven administrators to oversee a staff of 18 teachers. We have seven highly paid administrators who never teach but who spend the day pretending to be experts. The coaching model is a fantastic waste of money.

Why not hire qualified teachers and expect them to teach? Is there a shortage? Why not let the experts fill the gap and teach? They can model their expertise instead of pulling teachers out of classrooms to tell them how to teach.

Will Olliff
Richland Avenue Elementary
School, Culver City

� The mayor's plan is not the answer. Giving the mayor total control over the district's billion-dollar budget and the appointment of the people to run its daily operation, choose its curriculum and chart its future is too much power to give one man. Besides, how long will he be the mayor � three more years? What happens when his political ambitions take him elsewhere? Villaraigosa may be an honest, hardworking man, but will the next mayor have our children's best interests at heart?

Tom Iannucci
Los Angeles

� smf piles on: The LA Times' dueling Op-Ed Page format [The editorial board on the left(!) everyone else on the right(!!)] has never seemed more polarized than on this issue �witness the following from Saturday's 'Op' ...and Stern is a "pro-voucher" reformer, not a theoretician I often agree with!


by Sol Stern, Editor of City Journal

Residents of Los Angeles and other cities in the L.A. Unified School District are understandably frustrated by the sorry state of their public schools. But before they turn over control of the school system lock, stock and barrel to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, they ought to consider the New York City experience with mayoral control. It's not quite as rosy as Villaraigosa would have you believe. [article continues - see link below]

►Original City Journal Article: CITY�S PUPILS GET MORE HYPE THAN HOPE | Test scores show little payoff for mayoral control.


UC STUDY SEES 'HUGE BARRIERS' TO COLLEGE: It finds high schools deficient on counselors, course work.

by Eric Stern � Sacramento Bee Staff Writer

March 23, 2006 - High schools statewide are not providing enough counselors or college preparatory courses to adequately prepare students for four-year universities, according to a University of California report issued Wednesday.

"These aren't just speed bumps. These are huge barriers on the pathway to college," said Jeannie Oakes, director of UCLA's Institute for Democracy Education and Access and author of the College Educational Opportunity Report.

California ranks 37th in the nation in a count of students who receive bachelor's degrees within six years of completing high school, Oakes said.

Researchers at UCLA and the UC All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity used the study to call for a boost in education spending, although increases in K-12 state spending are largely restricted by funding formulas. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed spending $40 billion, or about one third of the state budget, on K-12 schools next year.

"So many students begin high school saying they want to go to college," Oakes said. But the decision is often taken away from them because of lack of guidance or insufficient course offerings, she said.

"There are not the opportunities there to pursue their own dreams," Oakes said in a conference call Wednesday with reporters.

The study shows that California has the worst counselor-to-student ratio in the country - one counselor for every 790 students, or almost three times the national average. Teacher-student ratios also are higher in California, the study says.

Researchers also said more than a quarter of California high schools assign improperly trained teachers to college prep courses, particularly math classes.

A more rigorous curriculum is appropriate for all students, even those not college-bound, Oakes said. But for those attending a state university, "many students show up at the door with the paper qualifications but aren't prepared to do the work," she said.

One in eight schools in California faces all three "roadblocks" - limited access to counselors, lack of college prep courses and ill-trained teachers, said John Rogers, associate director of the UCLA institute involved in the study.

Those problems are four times more likely to occur in high schools serving minorities, the poor and immigrants still earning English, Rogers said. The study did not identify those schools.

College officials have already taken notice with outreach programs to steer low-income and first-time college-bound students toward the UC and California State University schools. But they are fighting a proposed $7 million state budget cut to keep those programs intact.

Community colleges also are trying to help struggling students catch up. The Sacramento-area Los Rios Community College District began a tutoring and intensive counseling program this year for "at-risk" college students in the 18-20 age group.

"They have huge barriers to overcome and they're not prepared for college," said Brice Harris, the Los Rios chancellor.

UCLA I.D.E.A. 2006 College Educational Opportunity Report


San Jose Mercury News Editorial

The clock is down to the last tick for tens of thousands of high school seniors in California. Wednesday was their final, and, for many, agonizing chance to pass the high school exit exam in time for a diploma this spring.

Their struggles have created a quandary for their school boards. Trustees must decide what, if anything, districts should do for students who fail the exit exam but have enough credits to graduate. The state says they won't get a diploma, but do they deserve something else?

Milpitas Unified says yes. Trustees will award a certificate of completion, because ``these students deserve a public celebration that recognizes the significance of their achievement.''

The district next door, East Side Union High School, says students who fail the exit exam will be excluded from all graduation activities and will get no ``diploma lite.'' Each of them will receive an individualized plan detailing their options to pass the exam: summer school, adult-education remedial courses or, if they choose, an extra year of high school.

East Side Union's message is blunt and firm: Students should take the exit exam seriously, because life's doors will close for them if they don't. But a more subtle policy, like what Sunnyvale's Fremont Union High School District has adopted and San Jose Unified trustees will consider tonight, might be the wiser one.

Some Fremont Union students with credits to graduate will get a certificate of completion and walk at graduation, but only after going through some hoops. They must have taken the exit exam several times, and have taken an online or after-school remedial program. They must meet face to face with an administrator who will explain that a certificate of completion technically is worthless.

Under San Jose Unified's proposed policy, students with enough credits to graduate also must have taken Saturday or after-school exit-exam prep classes. If they take a summer class and pass the exit exam, they can then swap a certificate of completion for a diploma.

The exit exams tests 10th-grade English skills and math through beginning algebra. Students must get 55 percent of the questions right.

Although the state is projecting that 10 percent of seniors won't pass it, many of these students won't have the credits to graduate anyway. The number of students for whom the exit exam will be the only barrier to a diploma is smaller: an estimated 60 students, or 3 percent of the class of 2006 in San Jose Unified. (Special-education students are not required to pass the exam under a one-year state exemption.)

The proportion will be greater in East Side Union, which is projecting that 339 students with enough credits -- 6.5 percent of seniors -- won't pass the exit exam. But that's still smaller than the 484 seniors who have passed the exam but lack credits.

More than half of those who haven't passed the exam are students still learning to speak English. This week, Mercury News reporters Luis Zaragoza and Becky Bartindale profiled some of the struggles: the recent Philippine immigrant at San Jose High who gets A's and B's but can't pass the English section; the math-phobic girl from Fremont whose parents have spent thousands of dollars on math tutors.

Those stories are heart-rending. And yet, by forcing students to focus on skills they lack, the exam has had a powerful impact.

The overriding question is how best to motivate students to take the exit exam seriously. Will East Side Union's hard-and-fast policy scare kids straight or lead some to give up early and drop out? Would allowing seniors who haven't passed to party with their peers and walk on stage send a conflicting message?

It's too early to tell. But districts can learn from each other, and they should be willing to alter their policies next year, based on what they find.

▲smf notes: According to The Los Angeles County Office of Education about 90% of LA county school districts have addressed the problem of those students who meet all graduation requirements yet fail the CAHSEE, usually by granting Certificates of Completion and allowing students to participate in graduation ceremonies. LAUSD is not among them.

By Lisa M. Sodders, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

3/20/2006 -- For the first time in 13 years, Taft High School in Woodland Hills won the California Academic Decathlon on Sunday and will go head to head with some of America's sharpest young minds at the national meet next month in Texas.

Taft Coach Art Berchin led the nine-member team to an emotional victory over two-time national champ Moorpark High School and perennial Woodland Hills rival El Camino Real High, which won the national title for the fourth time last year.

Taft's decathletes - Zachary Ellington, Michael Farrell, Farhan Khan, David Lopez, David Novgorodsky, Julia Rebrova, Atish Sawant, Dean Schaffer and Monica Schettler - leapt from their seats into a jubilant group hug after hearing their team named state champ at an awards ceremony at the LAX Marriott Hotel.

"It was worth giving up literally everything to get to this moment," said Ellington, 18, of Woodland Hills. "I have never looked more forward to giving up six more weeks of my life to more studying."

But Berchin said the victory won't be complete until after the team takes the national title at the U.S. Academic Decathlon in San Antonio, Texas, from April 26 to 29.

"It's a moment in time because we have a national competition to enter," Berchin said modestly. "We're going to do our best to represent California - particularly since the other (California) teams put in so much time and effort. We want to show them the same kind of respect by doing well at nationals."

Taft, a two-time national champion that had the highest regional score in the nation going into state competition, scored 50,912.4 points in the 10-subject academic competition out of a possible 60,000 to clinch the title. Taft beat out 54 other teams from around the state over two days of competition that ended Saturday.

"I'm in awe," said California Academic Decathlon state director Ken Scarberry, who noted that Taft's state score is again believed to be the highest in the country. "I know we've got the best team going (to nationals)."

Last year, Taft also won the regional competition only to come in second place at state to El Camino, which then went on to win the 2005 national competition.

But not this year. El Camino came in second, with 49,101.5 points.

Taft team member David Lopez, 16, of Woodland Hills, noted that he and five of the nine team members were on last year's team, making this year's victory all the more sweet.

"It's so surreal," Lopez marveled. "Two years of work has paid off. That's what makes this victory so much more valuable: we know what defeat feels like."

Los Angeles Unified School District schools dominated the competition, winning eight of the top 10 positions. Two-time national champion Moorpark High School, of Ventura County, came in third, followed by Edison High School of Fresno; Granada Hills Charter; Los Angeles High School; Palisades Charter; North Hollywood High School; two-time national champion Marshall High School; and Garfield High School.

Los Angeles High School also was named as the overall winner of the written and oral relay portions of the Super Quiz, and Edison team member Elspeth Hansen received a standing ovation when she was announced as the highest-scoring individual student in the state with 8,917.9 points out of a possible 10,000.

"They gave everything they had, and as a coach you can't ask for anything more," Lissa Gregorio, one of the El Camino coaches, said of her team. "Taft is an amazing powerhouse of a team and they will represent California well, and they'll bring home another championship for California."

California has won 12 of 24 national competitions, including eight victories for LAUSD teams. Marshall High School won in 1986 and 1994, El Camino Real in 1996, 2001, 2004 and 2005, and Taft in 1988 and 1993.

In accordance with El Camino's long-standing tradition, Gregorio also revealed the secret motto, this year written in Gaelic, on the back of the team's black satin jackets: "Eternity was in our lips and eyes, bliss in our brows' bent," a quote from "Antony and Cleopatra," one of the plays the teams studied.

Throughout the two ceremonies - one for Division I, another for the smaller Division II and III schools - parents were giddy with pride, eagerly snapping photographs and videotaping their children receiving their medals.

Frank Rebro, 55, of Woodland Hills, was overwhelmed with joy as his son, El Camino student Franciscus Alex Rebro, 17, received nine medals, including a gold medal for the highest varsity student score in Division 1.

"He's achieving my dreams for me," said Frank Rebro, who fled Czechoslovakia in 1969 after the Soviet Union invaded, to settle in California.

"I'm speechless," the proud father said. "I cannot express in my heart - that this country has the ability to provide for and recognize kids who are gifted and give them the opportunities to advance in their future life."


HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
▼LOCAL MAYORS BACK LAUSD AUDIT: Lomita, Carson and Gardena officials aren't as excited about Villaraigosa's plan to take over the district.

By Brandy Underwood, DAILY BREEZE [LAX to LA Harbor]

25 March �While South Bay mayors aren't exactly rushing to support Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's takeover of the Los Angeles Unified School District, they are endorsing his call for an independent audit of the LAUSD.

The mayors shared their concerns about LAUSD at a meeting hosted Thursday by Villaraigosa at Los Angeles City Hall.

Many indicated they want to chisel away at what they say is a behemoth school-system bureaucracy that has at times limited their ability to control what happens in their community schools.

"We need some representation," Lomita Mayor Don Suminaga said.

"We need a way for our city to be placed in a position where we can have some say in our city's schools."

Some South Bay mayors resisted backing a takeover by Los Angeles' mayor, though others echoed Villaraigosa's call for city control of the schools. The district serves 26 cities in addition to the city of Los Angeles, and there has been criticism that a Los Angeles takeover would disenfranchise the other cities.

Representatives from 16 of those cities attended the meeting.


►VICA BACKS LAUSD BREAKUP: Bills would create 15 or more districts

by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

March 25, 2006 - The influential Valley Industry and Commerce Association plunged Friday into the political maelstrom surrounding school reform by endorsing legislation calling for breakup of Los Angeles Unified into at least 15 smaller districts.

The group that represents about 300 corporate members across the San Fernando Valley area supports the identical bills proposed by Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Granada Hills, and Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, to split the 727,000-student district by 2010 into districts with no more than 50,000 students each.

VICA's support, coming at a time when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is getting ready to unveil his own reform plan, is a sign of growing support for structural change in the way local schools are run.

"There's no question about it. It's a school reform symphony and the more people there are on the same page singing the same song, we're more apt to get something done," said VICA Chairman Bob Scott, who said they're looking for a meaningful reorganization of the district.

"We have the charter-school movement going on. We have the possibility of mayoral control and breaking up/reorganizing the school district. There are a lot of ideas out there with varying degrees of merit, but we all agree that something has to be done."

▲ smf opines: Poor thinking never goes out of style. Perhaps this proves that when someone comes up with a bad idea, someone else can do worse. Is this a subplot by the Mayoral Control Conspiracy to complicate things �or does it complicate their thing?

Are the legislators proposing to break up all school districts of more than 50,000 students? And how willing are the 300 members of VICA to pay taxes for school construction, modernization and repair in the 14 (or more) school districts they will have no vote in? Do the letters BB, K, R & Y ring a bell? That is precisely what they are advocating.


California Chronicle - Labor Desk

March 23, 2006 - (Los Angeles) � Delegates to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO voted unanimously Monday night to support efforts to name Central High School # 10 after the late Executive Secretary-Treasurer Miguel Contreras. A similar resolution was also approved to name East Los Angeles High School #1 after the late Congressman Edward Roybal.

As part of it�s efforts to encourage the naming of school site #10 after Contreras and site #1 after Roybal, the Los County Federation of Labor has started a letter writing campaign. Through the campaign, they are encouraging union members and the public to write letters to the members of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education urging them to support such measures.

�Very few dedicate their entire lives to serving working men and women who need it the most, said John Connolly, National President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. �Miguel and Congressman Roybal were some of those few, therefore it�s fitting that these school sites be named after these great men.�

Contreras began his career in the labor movement at the tender age of 17 in Dinuba, California where he and his family became United Farm Worker (UFW) activists after laboring in the fields for years. Due to his strong leadership skills and natural organizing ability, he caught the eye of UFW founder Cesar Chavez, who asked Contreras to join his union staff - eventually leading him to become a union negotiator. During the years, Contreras moved up the ranks, becoming International Trustee of H.E.R.E. Local 11 in Los Angeles, and eventually the first Latino Executive Secretary -Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. It was under his leadership, that the federation eventually became one of the strongest and politically effective in the country.

�Miguel had a contagious type of passion for the issues affecting working families in Los Angeles, and throughout the country� said Marvin Kropke, Business Manager for IBEW Local 11. �He had a special way of motivating people to fight for what was right for workers. Whether it was making sure they received living wages or health care, Miguel was there motivating people to care. It would be all too fitting to name Los Angeles High School #10 after a man who did so much for the working families of Los Angeles.�

Congressman Roybal began his career serving the residents of Los Angeles in 1949 when he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council. During his tenure on the council, he gained attention for his vote against the Subversive Registration Bill, which required a written oath as a measure of loyalty for employment purposes. In 1962, Congressman Roybal was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first Latino to be elected from California since 1879.

On Tuesday, March 28th the LAUSD is expected to decide on a date for when they will take this matter up for vote.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

■ Tuesday Mar 28, 2006
6:00 p.m.
Leland Elementary School - Student Cafeteria
2120 South Leland Street
San Pedro, CA 90731

■ Wednesday Mar 29, 2006
Please join us to celebrate the completion of your new classroom building!
Ceremony will begin at 1:00 p.m.
Bryson Elementary School
4470 Missouri Ave.
South Gate, CA 90280

■ Thursday Mar 30, 2006
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Virgil Middle School
152 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

■ Thursday Mar 30, 2006
6:00 p.m.
Wilmington Park Elementary School - Auditorium
1140 Mahar Avenue
Wilmington, CA 90744

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213.633.7493
Phone: 213.633.7616


What can YOU do?
� E-mail, call or write your school board member: � 213-241-6387
[office vacant] � 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.


►C A L L � T O � A C T I O N ◄

AB2560 � SCHOOL HEALTH CENTERS IN THE NEWS: It�s our time for action!

Dear CSHC Friends,

This is an exciting time for school health centers in California! This week the San Francisco Chronicle published two editorials on school health centers and on April 4th, AB2560: The School Health Centers Act of 2006 will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee.

Have you written your letter of support for AB2560? If so, thank you.
If not, we encourage you to share these editorials with your organization and with others to keep the momentum going and to generate letters of support for AB2560 before the hearing on April 4th.

The first editorial, �UNHEALTHY KIDS CAN'T LEARN: Definition of school reform must include health care� appeared on Sunday, March 19th, 2006 featuring two of Oakland�s school health centers at McCastlemont and McClymonds high schools.

The editorial:

� HIGHLIGHTED services offered and
� SUGGESTED that the Oakland school district needs to focus on children�s physical and mental health as part of the vision for school reform; and
� CONCLUDED that funds from a potential $435 million bond measure for school building improvements and construction should be earmarked for building comprehensive clinics at Oakland schools.

The second editorial, �LINKING HEALTH AND SCHOOLS� appeared on Thursday, March 23, 2006 and featured Balboa Teen Health center, the first school health center in California.

This editorial:

� DESCRIBED school health centers as an �obvious benefit to a student's physical and mental health, playing a crucial role in promoting academic success.�
� ENCOURAGED California to provide state support to school health centers; and
� SUPPORTED Assembly Bill 2560, calling it �an important first step toward getting schools more involved in promoting student health, which in turn is essential to their academic success.�

Congratulations to California�s school health centers! We�re on a roll!

Please share these editorials with your organization and with others to keep the momentum going and to generate letters of support for AB2560 before the hearing on April 4th.

Thank you for your support.


The California School Health Centers Association promotes the health and academic success of children and youth by increasing access to the high quality health care and support services provided by school health centers.

Questions or comments about AB2560?
Contact: Kristin Curran, Policy & Finance
Phone: 510-268-1160

Contact Information
phone: 510-268-1260

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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