Sunday, April 23, 2006

Knock, knock, knocking on Arnold's door.

STOP THE WAR: Villaraigosa Out of LAUSD Now! 4LAKids: Sunday, April 23, 2006
In This Issue:
 •  ANTONIO ACCELERATED: The mayor cuts a few corners � and a bothersome election � on his school takeover plan
 •  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.
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA: Article IX, �6, �3: "No school or college or any other part of the Public School System shall be, directly or indirectly, transferred from the Public School System or placed under the jurisdiction of any authority other than one included within the Public School System."

In Tuesday's State-of-the-City address Mayor Villaraigosa said he would knock on doors to get approval for his plan to takeover � not his word, but the right word � LAUSD. If he wants to do that he's going to have to knock on doors in Sacramento, because that's where the support will have to come from.

The media picked this up without having to be told.

� The LA Times' (whose editorial board supports the plan) headline: MAYOR'S SCHOOL TAKEOVER WOULD BYPASS LOCAL VOTERS.
� The San Jose Mercury News, the San Diego Union Tribune and the Riverside Press-Enterprise: LA MAYOR URGES LEGISLATURE TO GIVE HIM CONTROL OF SCHOOLS.
� On another front Assemblyman Richman (R-Northridge) and Senator Runner (R-Lancaster) propose to break up LAUSD from Sacramento before Antonio can even take over. ABC News, and San Jose Mercury News & Riverside Press Telegram (again): ASSEMBLY SENATE BILLS WOULD DISMANTLE LA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
� �And the Governor � running for reelection with his personal popularity at Bushian levels � is jumping on board.

The Mayor has not involved Parents or the school district itself in his dialogue to date �monologue is more the word. He's shown no interest in what the Joint City/LAUSD Governance Commission has to say; he's cut the School Board and the City Council out of the loop. And he plans to circumvent the voters the same way.

The state constitution is pretty explicit; to get what he wants that will have to be amended. That's a two-thirds vote in both houses a statewide referendum.

When a politician says it's not about money or power, it's likely both.

I am not unguilty of heating the rhetoric � proven by the preceding line � but the Mayor's promise that this will be "a war" is truly unsettling. In war there is "collateral damage" � and this could well be suffered by the very kids both sides are trying to save. The Mayor's plan � which is really only a vision - is a six year plan �but we are currently six years into a continuing reform plan instituted by Roy Romer and the current and recent Boards of Education.

LAUSD's institutional paradigm for failure has always been that it abandons one flavor of reform in search for another before completing the last.

Before Romer centralized there was decentralization though LEARN/LAMP/School Based Management. Romer's program is beginning to show educational results beyond the successful building program. The growth in test scores (and I'm no fan of that criteria) in Elementary, Middle and High School exceeds all other California urban school districts. They exceed those cities with mayoral control of schools. Because the state Department of Education (in Sacramento) is incapable of tracking the data no one really knows what the dropout rate is. [see: "Study Says Dropout Figures Exaggerated"/below] It's not good; but it too is improving, and as faulty as the data is LAUSD still outperforms New York and Chicago � exemplars of mayoral control!

Recent discussions with current District leadership - Board, Parents, Superintendent's staff - promise a return to more decentralized school based management as the small school learning communities roll out � with greater budget, staffing and decision making flexibility and accountability at successful school sites within the current model. Done without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Continuing and building upon the progress must be the mission of the next superintendent no matter who picks him or her.

Mayor Villaraigosa should look at the school district governance model in San Francisco, where the mayor is effectively engaged without control � and within the existing governance framework. And that fact that some say 'too-engaged' may actually prove that Mayor Newsom's activism is working!

However, Antonio Villaraigosa's finest hours were spent in Sacramento as Assembly Speaker. He's chosen the battlefield on his own turf � it's there where he's going to make his stand in his war. �smf


ANTONIO ACCELERATED: The mayor cuts a few corners � and a bothersome election � on his school takeover plan

Written by David Zahniser for the LA Weekly

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 � Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan for seizing control of L.A. Unified came into sharper focus Tuesday, with the mayor mapping out his strategy for hiring the superintendent and radically reducing the responsibilities of the seven-member school board. The plan, unveiled with great fanfare at Villaraigosa's annual State of the City Address, came with an unexpected twist: voters across L.A. Unified won't get to decide the fate of the district, despite previous statements from Villaraigosa that they would get an election on mayoral takeover.
Standing before an audience of roughly 400 at the Accelerated School, a charter school in South Los Angeles, Villaraigosa said he will ask the state legislature to create a 28-member Council of Mayors � a panel representing each community within L.A. Unified, from massive Los Angeles to microscopic Lomita � and promptly assign it the job of hiring and firing the superintendent. If such a bill passes, the mayors could be running the district starting Jan. 1, a year ahead of the mayor's previous schedule.

Yet there was a catch. Since each vote on the mayoral council would be weighted by population, Los Angeles would be the 800-pound gorilla in any hiring decision. With Los Angeles comprising 83.1 percent of the district's residents, Villaraigosa would control more than four-fifths of any vote, giving him an overpowering advantage over all of the other cities combined.

With some television stations broadcasting the speech live, Villaraigosa described his plan for an emasculated school board, leaving that elected body with a relatively puny list of duties. The board would be allowed to decide whether to allow kids to transfer from one school to another, resolve some student discipline cases and conduct a parent survey once a year. But the important decisions � budgets, curriculum, school construction, union negotiations � would all be transferred to the superintendent and his or her new bosses: Villaraigosa and 27 powerless mayors.

"We need to preserve the voters' voice in an elected board, with that board's powers designed to serve the needs of parents, not politicians," said Villaraigosa, standing before a quartet of glossy photographs of himself � one speaking with school children, one posing with firefighters, and so on.

Villaraigosa promised to reach consensus with the 27 other mayors on major hiring decisions. Still, it was hard not to wonder � with so few powers left for the school board, why bother electing them at all? The answer was left to Thomas Saenz, the mayor's in-house attorney, who revealed in a separate City Hall briefing that as long as the school board, even a neutered one, is chosen by the voters, the mayor can take over the district without having to amend the City Charter � a process that would trigger an election, and quite possibly an ugly political campaign. The very existence of a powerless school board would keep the mayor from having to wage an election battle against his longtime allies, the powerful teachers' union.

School board member Mike Lansing quickly attacked the mayor's strategy, saying it shows that Villaraigosa doesn't believe he can win at the ballot box. "Given that he has more political capital with his cronies at the Sacramento level, he's trying to do an end-run around the people of Los Angeles, and the communities that surround it," Lansing said. "He's running a little bit scared, and he's figuring this is the only way he can get anything through."

United Teachers Los Angeles, in turn, said its own lawyers concluded that a mayoral takeover cannot occur without an election. Union president A.J. Duffy said his representatives are already heading to Sacramento to push their own alternative to Villaraigosa's takeover.

"Not every legislator believes in his plan," Duffy said. "There's room to maneuver, and we're going to be going upstate, talking to the legislators that we know."

Others in the audience applauded the move, from State Senator Gloria Romero � who has been riding Villaraigosa hard over the need for a mayoral takeover � to Councilman Bernard Parks, who declared himself ready for a change at the top of L.A. Unified.

"The greatest failure of the school district is their lack of accountability," Parks said. "And their second biggest failure is their inability to educate kids, which just happens to be the business that they're in."

What would the mayor's various changes mean? Parents, teachers and children could easily be left with an Imperial Superintendent, one charged with the responsibilities currently decided by the school board � approving textbooks, building new schools, bargaining with the unions and creating new charter schools. The Council of Mayors would likely meet only two or three times a year, to approve a budget and evaluate the superintendent's performance, Saenz said. That would leave the superintendent as a one-man, or one-woman, judge and jury on curriculum, teacher pay or even eminent domain.

Talk of a coming battle in Sacramento clearly unnerved the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, which put out some cautionary words only a few hours before Villaraigosa's speech. The chamber concluded that the mayor and the school board should not be "at war," citing a quote made by Villaraigosa just last week.

"No good will come over a heated fight that focuses exclusively on governance," the business group stated. "We'll lose time and we'll lose students."

Villaraigosa disagreed sharply, saying in his address that too many children in South Los Angeles had been robbed of their childhoods, denied the opportunity to attend good schools, go to good colleges and find good jobs. Backing him up were the advocates of charter schools, who called the mayor's school reform strategy a courageous move.

"He has a lot of detractors in the audience," said Steve Barr, who heads the charter school organization known as Green Dot. "It's the second biggest district in the country, so to take it on like that I thought was very brave. We're going to build an army for it."


California Chronicle | California Political Desk

April 19, 2006 - Washington, DC � Congresswoman Diane E. Watson issued the following statement in response to Mayor Villaraigosa�s proposal to take control of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD):

�I applaud the Mayor for his determined efforts to find solutions to the education challenges confronting the Los Angeles Unified School District. We all agree that teachers and parents must be given a greater stake in the decision making process as we strive to provide students with the education they so richly deserve.

�In my opinion, a mayoral �takeover� would mean control of LAUSD that would not resolve the complex problems facing the district. There is no clear evidence that mayoral control will significantly affect student achievement. Many residents feel that a �takeover� by the Mayor would be relative to �taxation without representation�. Consequently, I recommend that the Mayor avoid this controversial and costly approach to school governance.

�I would like to offer a �win-win� alternative. The City of Los Angeles could partner with LAUSD without supplanting the elected members of the School Board by establishing a commission to provide oversight and evaluation processes. I recommend a collaborative culture in which the mayor, city council members, elected officials, the superintendent, school board members, administrators, teachers, students, parents and other stakeholders work closely together to develop a strategic plan of action that will significantly improve the quality of education for all children within the Los Angeles Unified School District.

�The City must provide the school district with the following:

� Peripheral police protection at every school before, during lunch time, and after school hours and finance training for school peace officers.
� Mentoring programs for all at-risk students.
� Effective after-school programs with tutoring services provided by paid college students.
� References to LAUSD in its national search for a new superintendent.
� Insurance coverage not only for after school activities but for educational field trips.
� Funding for infrastructure repairs and bus maintenance.
� Auditing of bond measure revenues and construction costs.
� We are all responsible for the education of our children. The time for collaboration, not supplanting, is now.


California Chronicle | California Political Desk

April 21, 2006 - Governor Schwarzenegger has joined forces with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in his bid to take control of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The takeover move has been opposed by district officials, teachers and the union; however some view the move as a power grab by the mayor and election year politics for the governor.

The LAUSD is the nation�s second largest school system and the district has been plagued with many problems including a high drop out rate, low test scores and administrative problems; the district is ranking among the worse in the nation.

Similar district takeovers have occurred in districts with great success however critics believe this is not the best solution for the LAUSD and would strain relations with district officials.

Stewart Alexander, a candidate for lieutenant governor, says, �Governor Schwarzenegger�s involvement is strictly political and this take over is not good for the district, the teachers, students or parents. The governor should have been thinking about our children when he was cutting funds for education.�

Stewart Alexander attended George Washington High in Los Angeles and he says, �There were problems in the district in the late 60�s, and a high drop out rate, but students had something to look forward to; a free college education, after school jobs, and much assistance in making career plans. Today many of our kids have no vision and are losing hope.�

Alexander is opposed to the takeover and has a plan that he believes will fulfill dreams and create hope for our children. His plan is to develop programs that will involve schools, businesses, industry and government. In the 8th and 9th grades the district would have a program to assist in identifying a student�s career interest and goals.

At the high school level all students would participate in a program that would have the student actively involved in On the Job Training, OJT. Students in the 10th grade would spend 2 hours weekly in real work environments, 11th grade students would spend 4 hours weekly in OJT, and 12th grade students would spend 8 hours weekly in OJT.

Students would spend productive time with doctors, attorneys, engineers, clerks, accountants, builders, government officials, administrators and employees. This program would provide mentoring, school credits for graduation and advancement into college or a trade school.

The program is designed to help our kids gain a head start and to encourage responsible behavior. Alexander says our kids have too much free time and too few after school jobs; they have no vision to motivate them to move in a positive direction.

When Alexander was 18 he participated in a school program that allowed him to be a Judge for a Day; for one day he was Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Max Deuce. He sat on the bench with Judge Deuce, spent the entire day with the judge touring the court system and Downtown City Hall. That experience was very rewarding for Alexander and directed his interest to get involved in government.

Alexander says, �I am hoping the governor, the mayor and Sacramento allow the district to operate independent of the mayor�s control and leave election year politics out of this debate.�
▲Stewart Alexander of Riverside County is running for Lieutenant Governor on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket.


By Becky Bartindale, San Jose Mercury News

Apr. 20, 2006 -- A national study released Wednesday says current estimates of high school graduation rates significantly overstate the dropout ``crisis,'' especially when it comes to African American students.

Its conclusion: Only about one-quarter of African American students drop out -- about half the current estimates of 50 percent. It also found that Latino students are graduating in larger proportions than recent estimates suggest.

Dueling graduation rates are a way of life in California. The state Department of Education estimates that 12.5 percent of California high school students drop out, while several independent analyses put the figure closer to 30 percent.

But those competing numbers may eventually be resolved. After years of planning, California is implementing a system to track the progress of individual students over time, allowing more accurate estimates within several years. It has assigned individual identification numbers to each of the state's 6 million students and is beginning to gather data.

The study released Wednesday by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., questions what has become conventional wisdom -- that about two-thirds of all high school students graduate, and only about half of African-American and Latino students. The study used a variety of data sources, including several national studies that track specific students over time, which is considered the gold standard among researchers. It also looked at students who went on to receive a GED certificate instead of a regular diploma.

``To say that 25 percent of African-American students don't complete high school is still worthy of concern,'' said Lawrence Mishel, EPI president and one of the study's authors. However, he said, the conventional wisdom ``misstates how the world is and does not take into account progress over time.''

Among the study's conclusions is that the overall high school graduation rate, with a regular diploma, is 80 percent to 83 percent. It found the graduation rate for African-Americans is 69 percent to 75 percent, with the best study showing 74 percent, and about half go on to obtain a GED. The graduation rate it found for Hispanic students, with a regular diploma or GED, was 81 percent in 2004.

The new study criticizes an approach now being used by many researchers: comparing the number of entering ninth-graders to the number of diplomas awarded three years later to determine a graduation rate.

``I think there are arguments on both sides,'' said Paul Warren, an education policy analyst who has studied graduation rates for the California Legislative Analyst's Office. ``Counting ninth-graders and graduations is the best measure for California we can obtain right now.''

Full Text of the Book: RETHINKING HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES AND TRENDS by Lawrence Mishel and Joydeep Roy (Economic Policy Institute 2006 | 99 pp)


By David A. Lehrer in the LA Times

April 22, 2006 � Schools are always a contentious issue. Parents want the best for their kids, while educators face challenges as diverse as tight budgets and kids with wildly varying skill levels. Solutions are in short supply, and in L.A. as elsewhere, accusations invariably fly back and forth between the stakeholders.

Angelenos can now expect another pitched battle as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa begins his effort to take over the Los Angeles Unified School District and its multibillion-dollar budget and bureaucracy. Test scores, dropout rates, the rights of teachers, the needs of immigrant students, the power of administrators � these are all potent issues that must be discussed in the months ahead.

What ought not enter the debate are allegations that the school district and its officials care less about minority children than they do about white kids. A debate that injects allegations of ethnic bias into the mix will quickly devolve into charges and countercharges that ultimately can't be proven while the essential point of the debate � how to ensure that all kids achieve as much as they possibly can � will be lost.

That's why it was particularly distressing to hear Villaraigosa's speech last weekend to about 400 parents at a local charter school. In it, the mayor implied that the district doesn't much care about the future of its Latino students or think very highly of their potential.

He proclaimed to the parents: "I will rescue your children from a public school system mired in complacency." Then he went on: "I'm tired of those who would say 'pobrecito.' You know, 'Oh, they can't learn English, they can't graduate from high school, they can't go on to college, they can't go on to City Hall and be the mayor of Los Angeles.' 'Cause that's what they said to me and people like me a generation ago, and we're here today to say 'Ya basta!' Enough is enough."

The mayor's charge is not totally off-base � but not in the way he thinks. Today, low expectations don't come from the kind of dismissive bigots who were around when he was an L.A. Unified student 40 years ago.

Today, long after Brown vs. Board of Education and 30 years after school busing was first ordered in Los Angeles � and by virtue of court orders, the No Child Left Behind Act and demographic changes � the district is necessarily invested in the success of all its students. After all, 70% of the students in L.A. public schools are Latino, as are about 29% of teachers and 26% of administrators. Two of the last four superintendents have been Latino. The idea that the district is unconcerned about the success of nonwhite children is ludicrous.

There still is a rhetoric of underachievement, but today it comes from those who believe that they are helping Latino and other minority students. It comes from well-intentioned liberals who regularly lower the goals set for public school students. For instance, state leaders such as Assembly members Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles) and Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) have sought to eviscerate the state's high school exit exam requirement because they believe that minorities can't cut it. They unabashedly claim that minorities won't perform well on a high school exit exam that already tests for only junior high school skill levels, that can be retaken six times and that requires only 60% and 55% correct answers (depending on the section of the exam) to pass.

African Americans and Latinos do pass at lower rates, but the answer is not to deny that an educational achievement gap exists, but to address it. The soft bigotry of low expectations that the mayor rightfully attacks argues that these kids can never make it so we should eliminate the source of the bad news. But that solves nothing.

The district may not be sure of the best methods to achieve success for its students � large districts seem to be forever tinkering with the curriculum, the size of schools and "areas," the ratio of administrators to students, the role of parents, etc. � and it may be ham-handed in how it deals with many of its constituent groups. It may seem mired in political infighting. Nevertheless, the impending debate will be far more open, honest and fruitful if we all concede that the vast majority of the players in this drama are motivated, at a minimum, by a shared goal of wanting the kids in L.A. to succeed and reach their full potential. They may have very conflicting agendas after that, but they are in the education field, for the most part, because they care about kids.

There are no easy answers, no quick fixes, no rabbits that Villaraigosa or anyone else can pull out of a hat. But no one should seek easy scapegoats or invoke ethnic boogeymen when the going gets tough � as it surely will.
▲David A. Lehrer is the president of Community Advocates Inc. (, an L.A.-based human relations organization.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
►PANEL VOTES TO CUT MONEY FOR STATE EDUCATION BOARD: Assembly members seek to slash $1.6 million for staff members and to allow schools to spend government funds on unapproved texts.

By Carla Rivera, LA Times Staff Writer

April 19, 2006 � A state Assembly budget panel moved Tuesday to strip funding from the state Board of Education and to allow school districts broader discretion in buying textbooks for students.

The action, led by the Assembly's caucus of Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander and African American legislators, comes a day after a divided board voted to adopt new textbook guidelines for elementary and middle schools that detractors contend are ineffective for students who speak little or no English.

Board staff members and advocates for English learners had been negotiating for months to find common ground but had been unable to agree on how much leeway school districts should have to tailor reading curriculum for their diverse student populations.

Tuesday's motions in the budget subcommittee on education were passed on a 4-2 party line vote and will be up for reconsideration next week before moving to the full budget committee as part of the May budget revision.

One motion would delete $1.6 million in state funding for the board's nine staff members. The other would allow school districts to use state instructional funds � about $400 million in this year's budget � to purchase materials not on the state-approved list.

A petition sent last month to Board of Education President Glee Johnson, state Supt. Jack O'Connell and state Secretary of Education Alan Bersin and signed by 32 legislators threatened to remove staff funding from the Board of Education and the Curriculum Commission in the 2006-07 budget unless a compromise could be reached on textbook criteria and another reading issue.

Tuesday's action was a political shot across the bow.

"We feel this is a way to send a message to the state Board of Education that it needs to pay attention to the needs of English learners in the state," Assemblywoman Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) said. "We have been trying for several months to talk to them in these meetings and in fact thought we were making some progress. But to our dismay, we found that the board was totally going to ignore the needs of these students, despite evidence that the achievement gap is increasing."

Neither Johnson nor the board's executive director, Roger Magyar, returned calls seeking comment on the legislative action. O'Connell has not taken a public position on the textbook issue.

Bersin, who is also a member of the Board of Education, voted against adopting the textbook guidelines.

He argued for a delay to gather more information on the merits of providing school districts with further options.

At Monday's board meeting, Magyar defended the board's efforts to reach a consensus.

"We have devoted more time to this issue than a new bicycle gets on Christmas morning," he told the packed meeting.

"We realize we're not addressing every concern, but I can honestly say that what we have adopted, when put into practice and implemented correctly, will be very successful in helping English learners."

Currently, districts are required to spend instructional funds on books, teaching guides and other materials from state-approved book publishers.

Supporters of the status quo contend that it ensures equity and one set of rigorous standards.

The state is in the process of setting criteria for publishers who will supply the books. Selections would be made in 2008 and would govern purchases through 2014.


By Lisa Trei for the Stanford University Report

April 18, 2006 -- As American high schools confront demands for reform, the most critical factor influencing student achievement remains the quality of teaching, California Secretary of Education Alan Bersin said April 5.

"It's about the teaching, in order to improve the learning," Bersin told an audience attending the Cubberley Lecture at the School of Education, a semi-annual series established in 1933 to deliberate on current issues in education. "We can restructure our high schools as much as we like, but unless we improve the quality of teaching in our schools, we will not see student achievement improve."

Bersin is teaching a seminar this year with Linda Darling-Hammond, the Charles E. Ducommun Professor in the School of Education, on applied policy analysis. He discussed prospects for change in a lecture titled "Reinventing the American High School: Back to the Future?" From 1998 to 2005, Bersin was superintendent of public education for San Diego City Schools, the nation's eighth-largest district, where he helped improve student achievement and modernize the system's business infrastructure. School of Education Dean Deborah Stipek, who introduced Bersin, described his role in San Diego as "leading the most innovative and important district reform effort that the country has ever seen."

Bersin gave an overview of the American high school during the 20th century and how increasing access has influenced its structure and goals. In 1900, 10.2 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds were enrolled in high school; that figure jumped to 99 percent by 2000. According to Bersin, modern-day reform efforts began with Brown v. Board of Education, a Supreme Court decision that called for a quality education for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. "Now, 51 years later," he said, "we have still not delivered [the promise of] equal education to the children of America."

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s, judges micromanaged American schools as they enforced court-ordered desegregation decrees, Bersin said. "When education was returned to educators in the mid-1980s, it was done within the regime of standards-based reform," he said. Instead of the traditional practice of comparing the performance of students against other students along a bell curve, students were compared against fixed standards at each grade level in core subjects. "That was a revolutionary notion," Bersin said. "Much of what we are doing in American public education today is attempting to build capacity to deliver on the promise of the second part of Brown v. Board of Education: to provide a quality education for each of our students."

Although progress based on standards has moved forward in the elementary and middle grades, high school achievement rates have stalled, Bersin said. "Staying in high school does not seem to do much to increase the capacity of our students," he said. For every 10 students who start high school in California, only seven will graduate, and fewer than four will go to college, he said.

Only 54.1 percent of Latino and 54.6 percent of African American males who entered public high school in California graduated four years later in 2004, according to Bersin. In contrast, 74.8 percent of white and 86.8 percent of Asian males graduated during the same period.

In addition to the academic achievement gap, the unequal distribution of quality teachers in America remains a serious problem for public education, Bersin said. "Unlike any other profession I know, we send the newest practitioners into our toughest schools � and then we wonder why 50 percent of them leave the profession within the first five years."

Schools need strong leaders, and monetary and nonmonetary incentives must be introduced to encourage teachers to stay in their jobs, Bersin said. "That's what every other sector does and every other profession relies upon," he added. "The real issue is about how quickly we can accelerate the quality of the teaching profession."

Bersin said he wants to make the high school curriculum more engaging and relevant for more students without retreating from established academic standards. "When the California high school exit exam involves a 10th-grade English language arts standard and a sixth- to seventh-grade math standard, with some algebra in eighth grade, we should see that we have a long way to go," he said. "The answer is not to retreat from the academic mission but rather to build capacity and deliver it to more students."


April 21, 2006 --WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congressional leaders and a former Bush Cabinet member said Tuesday that schools should stop excluding large numbers of minority students' test scores when they report progress under the No Child Left Behind law.

The Associated Press reported Monday that schools have gotten federal permission to deliberately not count the test scores of nearly 2 million students when they report academic progress by race as required by the law. The scores excluded were overwhelmingly from minorities, the AP found.

Some leaders said Congress may need to intervene. The Education Department and others owe the public an explanation, said the Republican House Education Committee chairman's office.

"All stakeholders involved in the discussion should be willing to step forward and explain to parents and taxpayers why they have asked for special accommodations," said Steve Forde, spokesman for committee chairman Howard McKeon, R-California.

The reaction came as President Bush, visiting a school in Rockville, Maryland, said his signature education law is helping to identify struggling children early on. He singled out the importance of closing a test-score gap between white and minority children but did not mention excluded scores.

Lawmakers who helped pass the law in 2001 said the system that lets states get exemptions to exclude large numbers of test scores from the required racial categories must be addressed.

"If states are simply gaming the system and harming students' chances for a better education, they must not be allowed to continue to do that -- period," said Rep. George Miller, D-California, a sponsor of the law.

Miller, the top Democrat on the House Education Committee, said he would ask Education Secretary Margaret Spellings how she plans to correct the problems.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, another backer of the law, said test scores should only be excluded if the reliability of the data is in question. He said the Bush administration should be making sure of that -- or Congress might step in.

Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, the Republican Senate Education Committee chairman, said the way student data are used would be closely examined when the law is reauthorized next year.

Former Bush administration Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who now serves on a private commission studying the law, and commission co-chairman Roy Barnes issued a joint statement calling the AP's findings alarming.

"If the goal of the No Child Left Behind Act is to ensure that all children meet state standards, then allowing large numbers of the most disadvantaged children to fall between the cracks is unacceptable," said Thompson and Barnes.


April 21, 2006 -- WASHINGTON (AP) -- Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is pledging to scrutinize a loophole that allows states to exclude nearly 2 million student test scores under the No Child Left Behind Act.

"When children are not part of the accountability system, then that's a problem," Spellings said in an interview Thursday at the conclusion of four-day Associated Press series that highlighted the excluded scores.

Spellings said the AP report amounted to a "truth-in-advertising" exercise for state policymakers, parents and federal officials. She declined to specify exactly how she will address the excluded scores, noting the issue will come up with the law's renewal next year and with pending federal reviews of state education plans.

At least 10 states are seeking permission to change the numbers of students whose scores do not have to be counted in required racial categories.

"Do we need to move forward to include more and more children all the time? Yes, we do. I think you'll see we're going to continue to look at that issue," she said.

Under the law, schools are required to test students in math and reading and report their scores by group, such as race, disability, English language ability or economic situation. If one group of students fails to meet standards, an entire school can face penalties.

States, however, are allowed to set minimum numbers of students to ensure statistical reliability and privacy. The Associated Press found that states have set wildly different minimum standards for how many children must be counted, allowing schools to exclude 1.9 million scores in required racial categories.

One idea to be considered is "whether a one-size-fits-all solution makes sense or not, and I don't think we know that yet," Spellings said. She emphasized her agency will look at a state's entire education plan, not just the way it sets its group sizes.

Spelling also emphasized the law's accomplishments.

Before Congress passed it in 2001, she said, federal officials had no way to track state progress of roughly 50 million children who attend public school.

Now, she said -- even with nearly 2 million uncounted -- parents, teachers and educators have a better idea of how 23 million are doing because of the law's requirement that children be tested annually in third grade through eighth grade and once in high school.

Spellings also said the law marks a watershed for closing the racial achievement gap. In previous tests, she said, schools could always produce better results by reporting test scores for an entire grade or building. Now, schools are required to report test scores and show progress for different groups.

The schools, she said, "are working on those student groups as they never have before, and that is because of No Child Left Behind. Yes, we need to continue to press them to serve each and every child, but we have made huge progress."

The AP investigation also found:

� Many education officials are concerned that the law's reporting requirements will discourage schools from integration efforts.
� A huge gap between teacher expectations and parental expectations regarding the law. An AP-AOL Learning Services Poll found teachers are more pessimistic than parents about getting every student to succeed.
� The law has been a boon for educational consultants, teachers and service companies. One estimate puts the burgeoning industry's revenues as high as $22 billion annually.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
►Monday Apr 24, 2006
Please join us to celebrate the completion of your new classroom building!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Oxnard Elementary School
10912 Oxnard St.
North Hollywood, CA 91606

►Tuesday Apr 25, 2006
SOUTH REGION HIGH SCHOOL #7: CEQA Scoping and Schematic Design Meeting
The purpose of this meeting is to inform and obtain input from the community on the types of issues to be considered in a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This report evaluates the potential impacts that school projects may have on the surrounding environment.Also at this meeting, schematic design drawings will be presented to the community for feedback. Schematic design drawings show the general layout, form and overall appearance of the school and the site.Your comments and concerns are very important. Please join us!
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Middleton Elementary School
6537 Malabar Street
Huntington Park, CA 90255

►Wednesday Apr 26, 2006
SOUTH REGION HIGH SCHOOL #4: CEQA Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) Meeting
LAUSD has completed a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this new school project. This report evaluates the potential impacts the project may have on the surrounding area.The purpose of this meeting is to present the Draft EIR to the community, and receive comments and questions regarding the results of the Draft EIR. Your input is very valuable.
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Dominguez Elementary School - Multipurpose Room
21250 S. Santa Fe Avenue
Carson, CA 90810

►Thursday Apr 27, 2006
CENTRAL REGION MIDDLE SCHOOL #7: Presentation of Design Development Drawings
At this meeting we will present the design of the new school and discuss the next steps in the school construction process.
6:00 p.m.
20th Street Elementary School
1353 E. 20th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90011

►Thursday Apr 27, 2006
EAST LA STAR ADULT EDUCATION: Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) Meeting. LAUSD has completed a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this new school project. This report evaluates the potential impacts the project may have on the surrounding area.The purpose of this meeting is to present the Draft EIR to the community, and receive comments and questions regarding the results of the Draft EIR. Your input is very valuable.
6:30 p.m.
Elastar Community Hospital Building
319 N. Humphreys Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90022

►Thursday Apr 27, 2006
6:30 p.m.
San Fernando Middle School - Auditorium
130 North Brand Blvd.
San Fernando, CA 91340

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


What can YOU do?
►WRITE YOUR ASSEMBLYPERSON AND STATE SENATOR [link below to find them: "Who are your elected....."]. Tell them what you think about their wasting their time, effort and the taxpayer's money on the mayor's attempt at takeover or makeover � an effort that is patently unconstitutional (California Constitution: Article IX, �6, �3) and will never survive a court challenge. Their time, the mayor's time, the board of education's time, the court's time � all of our time, thinking and hard work - is better spent working together rather than at odds to continue and support the very real efforts at reform already begun. Their time is better spent helping LAUSD find a new superintendent, guaranteeing an improved funding stream for all California schools and helping kids in the classroom, on the playground; during, before and after school.

� 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.

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.

  Unsubscribe | Update Profile | Confirm