Sunday, April 23, 2006

Lipstick apocrypha. 4.2.06

4LAKids: Sunday, April 2, 2006
In This Issue:
 •  STATE SAYS NO TO SCHOOLS' PROTESTS PLEA: Immigration Walkouts Could Cost LAUSD Almost $1 Million
 •  QUESTION OF STABILITY: Tough crowd hears Mayor V�s lawyer talk about school-takeover plan
 •  Center for Educational Policy Report: FROM THE CAPITOL TO THE CLASSROOM � Year Four of the No Child Left Behind Act | Summary & Recommendations
 •  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.
ACCORDING TO A NEWS REPORT, a certain school in Garden City, MI was recently faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the washroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints. Every night, the maintenance man would remove them and the next day, the girls would put them back. Finally, the principal decided that something had to be done. He called all the girls to the washroom and met them there with the maintenance man. He explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night.

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, he asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet bowl, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

The Moral of the Story: There are teachers, and then there are Educators

■The words "according to a news report" - like "based on a true story" prefacing a TV movie - should always be a warning: Balderdash follows �or worse! The forgoing was lifted from an urban legend email making the rounds; like all good urban legends it is so good one wants it to be true �no matter how preposterously apocryphal!

The student online gathering place of the moment,, was filled towards the end of this week with plans for another mass school walkout in support of immigrants rights, there were also counter messages in spport of toughening immigration policy that threatened violent retaliation if students walked out.

� Senior District Staff began battening down the hatches on Thursday, claiming "intelligence" forewarned big trouble.
� A noted right wing blog denounced LAUSD for sending buses on Monday to return protestors to their schools � even though the buses had been actually called for by the Sheriff and Police Chief.
� And on Friday there was a dubious online news story about how students at a Colorado school weren't allowed to display American flags ...but immigrant students could display Mexican ones.

Perhaps the best "intelligence" shown was by those students who realized that everyone was reading MySpace�including your correspondent, their parents and Senior District Staff. Maybe Cardinal Mahony's pleas for kids to stay in school worked. Or perhaps the blustery weather on Friday just wasn't conducive for taking it to the street.

The film reviewer Kenneth Turan in his review for "Crash" noted that the LA of the movie is a melting pot where the melting never happens. There cannot be no "us" or "them", there can only be "we" in a city as diverse as this one. We need to be very careful what we believe as the rumors fly, we need to be very careful what we say to our kids � and what messages they pick up.

I'm going to let Cardinal Mahony have the last word. � smf


There have been further rumors that a possible school boycott would be held on Friday, March 31st. As one who is deeply engaged in the overall efforts to have Congress pass just and humane immigration reform legislation, I am urging all students in the greater Los Angeles area to stay in school tomorrow. I am urging all parents to speak with their sons and daughters this evening and in the morning impressing upon them the need for to remain in school and not on the streets.

Our goal is a shared one: work together effectively to educate the entire community about the issues, join in efforts which help change people's minds and hearts to embrace sound immigration reform, and take only those steps that lead to this goal.

In my opinion, student boycotts of school and other activities on our streets do not produce meaningful immigration reform. On the contrary, such activities tend to polarize groups in our community and to create a negative backlash against decent immigration legislation.

Consequently, I am pleading with all of the students in both public and private schools across Southern California to go to school tomorrow, and stay in school during the entire school day. It would be far more effective to achieving our goal if the students remained in school, engaged in debate and discussion about immigration reform, and spent time writing letters to California's U.S. Senators and House Representatives. Such activities will be effective in obtaining our overall goal.

Parents, your children are enjoying the opportunity to get a good education so that their future lives will be meaningful and successful. Urge them to remain in their classrooms and at school to receive what many of you were not privileged to receive when you were growing up.

I will be praying fervently that God will continue to bless our community and our nation, and that working together in positive ways, we will be able to have Congress approve meaningful immigration reform legislation.


News Report, City News Service Wave Newspapers

Mar 30, 2006 � LOS ANGELES � Despite school lockdowns and rainy weather, thousands of students from nearly two dozen campuses rallied for immigrant rights this week.

Spokespersons for the Los Angeles Unified School District said about 6,000 students were absent from school Tuesday and that students from 20 to 24 campuses were taking part in protests across the area.

Students also marched in Bellflower, Wilmington and Compton.

It was the third day of student protests about the immigration reform legislation being debated by the U.S. Senate.

More than 36,000 students from 26 school districts throughout the county skipped classes Monday and marched through streets and on freeways to protest an immigration bill

Last Friday, more than 2,000 students from various schools staged a walkout. Roughly 1,000 students walked out of Huntington Park High School early Friday morning.

As the day progressed, hundreds more students left class from King-Drew Medical Magnet, South Gate, Garfield, Roosevelt, Montebello and South East high schools, according to the LAUSD.

Some South East students threw rocks and bottles at Los Angeles Unified School Police officers, according to the district. Five officers were taken the hospital for treatment and released.

South Gate police and the California Highway Patrol said the students� march caused some traffic congestion, but no other major problems. Some minor vandalism was reported in Huntington Park.

Students told television reporters that they didn�t necessarily fully grasp the nuances of the bill, but said they opposed any measure to deport immigrants.

�They�re making laws for all immigrants to go back to their countries and we just think that�s not right,� student Francisco Velazquez said. �We all want to stay here. We all want to get a good education.�

�They want to send all the people from Mexico � who came from Mexico without papers � they want to send them all back, and we don�t want that,� another student said.

One girl, when asked if she understood the bill, looked at her friends and responded, �We don�t know, but we want to stay here.�

About 1,000 students rallied for much of the day at Los Angeles City Hall, with several representatives meeting privately with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The mayor later spoke to the students, saying their voices were being heard, but urging them to return to class.

The immigration issue was also the subject of a massive demonstration in downtown Saturday.

Police estimated that as many as 500,000 people marched and demonstrated downtown. Despite the numbers, police said there were no arrests or injuries during the day.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addressed the crowd.

�We cannot criminalize people who are working, people who are contributing to our economy and contributing to the nation,� Villaraigosa said.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu�ez, D-Los Angeles, also attended the rally.

�We believe in the American dream, and all we want is that dream to be made available to all who work hard and want to benefit from it,� Nu�ez said. �We don�t want a handout � what we are looking for is sensible legislation.�

LAUSD officials said middle and high school classes throughout the district would have classroom discussions Tuesday on a bill introduced by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., which would crack down on employers hiring illegal workers and people smuggling illegal immigrants into the country.

�We will have in-class teachings for students so that they can have conversations to deal with this issue in a very productive way,� said Rowena Lagrosa, executive officer of educational services for the district.

The class discussions will also address freedom of speech, civil protests and events in U.S. history that have involved public protests, according to a district statement.

In addition to the lockdown, police presence was beefed up on LAUSD campuses, district officials said.

Robert Hinojosa, principal of Huntington Park High School, said his students were staying on campus Tuesday.

�So far it�s quiet. The rain is helping,� he said. �Some of [the students] still have their high school exit exams to pass, and they�re very conscious that it has to get back to business as usual.�

Student Martin Iniguez said his classmates should return to the classroom.

�If we don�t stay in school � we�re marching out when we should be in a learning environment and it seems that we don�t want that � it just looks bad on us,� he said.

The Sensenbrenner bill, HR 4437, would require employers to verify Social Security numbers with the Department of Homeland Security, increase penalities for immigrant smuggling and stiffen penalities for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the United States after having been removed.

Under the bill, approved last December by the House of Representatives, local law enforcement agencies would be reimbursed for detaining illegal immigrants. Refugees with aggravated felony convictions would also be barred from receiving green cards.

The U.S. Senate�s Judiciary Committee softened the immigration reform bill Monday by voting to create a path for some of the nation�s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to become citizens without first leaving the country.

Under the version voted on by the committee, additional foreign workers would be allowed to enter the United States temporarily under a program that also could lead to citizenship.

Additionally, the committee adopted an amendment by Sen Richard Durbin, D- Ill., that would protect charitable organizations and churches from criminal charges for providing aid to illegal immigrants.


By Tony Perry, LA Times Staff Writer

Fr-iday, March 31, 2006 - SAN DIEGO � An estimated 2,000 students skipped school and converged on Chicano Park in the Barrio Logan neighborhood for a rally today. Many of the students continued the march toward downtown San Diego.

Police followed the marchers but reported no arrests. Nor did police try to keep students from leaving their schools. In suburban Oceanside and Vista, schools were closed today because of fears of violence after an unruly incident at Oceanside High School earlier this week as police attempted to enforce a lockdown.

Another 1,000 high school students marched in Bakersfield, authorities said. But there were no reports of school walkouts on the scale of the tens of thousands that began the week.

Six of the Bakersfield protesters were suspended for arguing with police and security guards, said John Teves, spokesman for the Kern High School District.

In Fresno, about 50 middle school students walked out but were rounded up and taken to a truancy center, said police spokesman Jeff Cardinale.

"We've tried to offer the students other avenues to express themselves, like a free speech space and different forums," said Susan Bedi, a spokeswoman for Fresno Unified School District.

In Los Angeles, the school day was passing quietly.

"Nothing. Maybe they're all pooped," said Monica Carazo, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest with nearly three-quarters of a million students.

At Jordan High School in Watts, attendance appeared down compared to a normal Friday, said Adriana McNally, an LAUSD local area administrator, as she watched students arrive.

McNally had an e-mail from the district that contained a posting from the website that called for Los Angeles students to leave school at the end of first period.

Officials had a plan to lock down the school in event of a walkout attempt, but it was uncertain if it would be used. McNally also said that if students wanted to protest, they would be allowed to do so "inside the school walls."

Extra police were on hand to issue truancy citations to students, a tactic that was increasingly used during the week to curtail protests.

At Van Nuys High School, administrators said they were juggling class schedule times in an effort to curtail walkouts.

Some officials expected walkouts because today is the commemoration of labor leader Cesar Chavez's birthday.

On Thursday, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, an advocate of immigrant rights, urged students to honor the labor organizer's memory by staying in school..

STATE SAYS NO TO SCHOOLS' PROTESTS PLEA: Immigration Walkouts Could Cost LAUSD Almost $1 Million

By Susan Abram, Staff Writer, Daily News

03/31/2006 -- Three days of student walkouts could cost Los Angeles Unified almost $1 million in attendance-based funding, which state officials said Thursday they would not reimburse.

California schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell said he has received numerous inquiries from districts statewide about waivers that would offset the cost of students skipping class to demonstrate for illegal immigrants' rights.

But O'Connell said the criteria that would allow reimbursements does not include students who miss school for protests.

"While I am pleased that students are engaging in civic debate and exercising their right to free speech and assembly, we must encourage them to enjoy these hard-fought liberties in ways that will not hinder their or their classmates' education," O'Connell said. "I know you have already shared with your students the fact that missing school not only impacts their education, it also affects school funding."

Waivers can be filed only for emergencies - such as fires, floods or earthquakes - or a labor strike involving transportation services, according to state education codes, O'Connell said.

Los Angeles Superintendent Roy Romer issued a statement expressing disappointment but did not say if the LAUSD would pursue other options.

"It's unfortunate there is little likelihood for appeal for the loss of state revenue resulting from the drop in student attendance during the walkouts," Romer said. "We need every dollar we can get to support our schools."

The state pays school districts $28.60 per day per student. Local school officials estimate 26,955 students walked out of classes on Monday, 7,685 on Tuesday and 211 on Wednesday, including 30 students from Birmingham High School in Van Nuys.

About 90 students were cited for truancy or loitering on Wednesday. No walkouts or citations were reported on Thursday, according to the LAUSD.

Meanwhile, legal experts are gearing up to help fight those citations, saying that many of the students attended public meetings, and can't be suspended for walking out under the California education code.

"We believe there are some defenses to these truancy tickets, including attending a public meeting," said Cynthia Anderson-Barker, a Los Angeles attorney and member of the National Legal Guild.

She believes O'Connell's reluctance to honor district waivers during the walkouts will change. "I don't believe it's a done deal," she said.

▲smf notes: I had a chat with a member of city council staff on Saturday. In addition to the costs in lost ADA/attendance money to LAUSD � and the costs of those school buses sent to pick up and return students to their schools � there is the cost to the City of LA and LA County for additional police, deputy sherriffs and traffic patrols in supervising the demonstrators and keeping things in some semblance of order.

QUESTION OF STABILITY: Tough crowd hears Mayor V�s lawyer talk about school-takeover plan
Written by David Zahniser for the LA Weekly

March 29, 2006 - From the moment Mayor AntonioVillaraigosa won the mayoral election, the whispers began at Los Angeles International Airport: Kim Day, the top official in charge of the airport agency, was a marked woman. It made sense � Day had embraced an $11 billion plan for remodeling LAX that Villaraigosa detested and, in the minds of some airport insiders, was too close to the man Villaraigosa had just defeated, former Mayor James Hahn.

Sure enough, in late September, Villaraigosa�s in-house attorney, Thomas Saenz, showed up at Day�s door with another mayoral aide to deliver a clear message � resign or be fired. With no cards to play, Day stepped down.

Fast-forward six months. Saenz, now Villaraigosa�s top lieutenant on his planned takeover of the Los Angeles Unified School District, went before a 30-member citizen commission last week to make his case for letting the mayor � not the seven-member school board � hire and fire the superintendent. Throughout his pitch, Saenz hammered on one key argument: An elected mayor would bring stability to the district by giving the superintendent full support � freeing the top dog to embark on meaningful, groundbreaking change.

Some in the room weren�t buying it. How could Saenz, who helped the mayor remove the airport�s top executive after the election, argue that school-board elections brought instability to L.A. Unified? And didn�t Saenz play a role in the firing of another city department head, Guerdon Stuckey, whose removal had been promised by Villaraigosa on the campaign trail? (When a top official gets the ax at City Hall, Saenz is usually in the room for legal ballast, sort of like a Grim Reaper who�s really well versed on the City Charter.)

�With every change in the governing board, with every change in the superintendent, there is a change in direction,� Saenz said. �You lack persistence. You lack consistency.�

So began the most lively public debate so far over the planned takeover of L.A. Unified, a concept repackaged by Villaraigosa as �mayoral responsibility.� With roughly a dozen people in the audience, the Joint Commission on LAUSD Governance � a panel created by the City Council and the school board, but largely ignored by the public � grilled Saenz over the long-term effects of pushing educational decisions out of the district headquarters and into the corridors of City Hall.

For some commissioners, mayoral elections look plenty unstable. Nine months into his term, Villaraigosa has forced out two department heads, ejected scores of commissioners and presided over a half-dozen other regime changes � most recently, the abrupt resignation of Greg Nelson, who lacked a stirring endorsement from the mayor as he ran the city�s system of neighborhood councils. Commissioner Bill Clay, an appointee of board member Marguerite LaMotte, flatly told Saenz: �I hear words, but I don�t see facts.

�I disagree with you totally that mayoral control would not cause a change in leadership,� he went on. �This is politics.�

School-board member Julie Korenstein, who joined the board almost two decades ago, sounded equally unconvinced that the major factor undermining reform is too much turnover. Korenstein, who represents part of the San Fernando Valley, pointed to Superintendent Roy Romer, who is wrapping up his sixth year in charge of the district.

�I have served long enough to see four mayors now,� Korenstein added. �But interestingly, Romer has been here for three mayors.�

The Commission on Governance was created last summer, just as the issue of school reform was heating up, and modeled roughly after the process used to reform the City Charter in the late 1990s. But its work has been almost completely eclipsed by the mayor, who identified school reform as the No. 1 issue on his policy to-do list.

Until now, the mayor has relied largely on his own charisma, and a dismal dropout rate, to sell the public on a school-district takeover. But while Villaraigosa insists that he alone brings a sense of urgency to the school district�s problems, he is also walking a fine line. If he is too closely identified with the proposal, then mayoral takeover is no longer about changing the system, it is about Villaraigosa himself. And what happens to the district when he leaves in two, four or eight years?

Saenz, a civil-rights attorney who made his mark working for MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, provided the commission with few new details about how the mayor would structure a takeover. But he did offer a preview of the arguments that will likely be used to advance the cause of a mayoral takeover in the state Legislature and in a districtwide election.

While he praised Romer for his success in building 55 new schools, Saenz also sought to undermine that accomplishment, by portraying it as an aberration from the district�s normal way of doing business. New-school construction would not have happened, Saenz told the commission, without a �perfect storm� of agitation and advocacy. So far, that argument has infuriated district officials, who argue that they played some role in the passage of four school-construction bond measures worth $19 billion.

Saenz also described public schools as the most important activity of government, saying it no longer makes sense to keep city and school bureaucracies separate from one another. And he argued that the superintendent needs �the unwavering support of one individual� to pursue persistent, consistent reform. But he also hedged, saying there is no guarantee that any change in district governance � even the arrival of a mayor � will increase student achievement to the degree that is needed.

Villaraigosa won�t complete his plan for mayoral takeover until later this spring. But even his longtime allies have begun urging him to reach out to those who are growing dismayed by the takeover talk. Commissioner Mary Rose Ortega, who serves as Villaraigosa�s appointee to the governance commission, told Saenz that she is having trouble reassuring the teachers and other school employees who were some of the mayor�s biggest allies.

Said Ortega, �I need more than what you�re giving me to tell people that he�s not just hungry for power.�

▲ smf 2� � THE PLOT - LIKE THE BREW IN MACBETH'S WITCHES' BREW - THICKENS: Saenz is also an appointee to the County Board Of Education � ironically the only appointed (rather than elected) County School Board in California. Last month he attempted to have the County Board circumvent the committee in charge of setting jurisdictional boundaries for Local Educational Authorities (aka: Local School Districts / i.e.: LAUSD). A move preparatory to breaking up and/or taking over LAUSD? Ya think? He failed.


by Sam Dillon, The New York Times

March 26, 2006 � SACRAMENTO � Thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math testing requirements laid out in No Child Left Behind, President Bush's signature education law, by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it.

Schools from Vermont to California are increasing � in some cases tripling � the class time that low-proficiency students spend on reading and math, mainly because the federal law, signed in 2002, requires annual exams only in those subjects and punishes schools that fall short of rising benchmarks.

The changes appear to principally affect schools and students who test below grade level.

The intense focus on the two basic skills is a sea change in American instructional practice, with many schools that once offered rich curriculums now systematically trimming courses like social studies, science and art. A nationwide survey by a nonpartisan group that is to be made public on March 28 indicates that the practice, known as narrowing the curriculum, has become standard procedure in many communities.

The survey, by the Center on Education Policy, found that since the passage of the federal law, 71 percent of the nation's 15,000 school districts had reduced the hours of instructional time spent on history, music and other subjects to open up more time for reading and math. The center is an independent group that has made a thorough study of the new act and has published a detailed yearly report on the implementation of the law in dozens of districts.

"Narrowing the curriculum has clearly become a nationwide pattern," said Jack Jennings, the president of the center, which is based in Washington.

At Martin Luther King Jr. Junior High School in Sacramento, about 150 of the school's 885 students spend five of their six class periods on math, reading and gym, leaving only one 55-minute period for all other subjects.

About 125 of the school's lowest-performing students are barred from taking anything except math, reading and gym, a measure that Samuel Harris, a former lieutenant colonel in the Army who is the school's principal, said was draconian but necessary. "When you look at a kid and you know he can't read, that's a tough call you've got to make," Mr. Harris said.

The increasing focus on two basic subjects has divided the nation's educational establishment. Some authorities, including Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, say the federal law's focus on basic skills is raising achievement in thousands of low-performing schools. Other experts warn that by reducing the academic menu to steak and potatoes, schools risk giving bored teenagers the message that school means repetition and drilling.

"Only two subjects? What a sadness," said Thomas Sobol, an education professor at Columbia Teachers College and a former New York State education commissioner. "That's like a violin student who's only permitted to play scales, nothing else, day after day, scales, scales, scales. They'd lose their zest for music."

But officials in Cuero, Tex., have adopted an intensive approach and said it was helping them meet the federal requirements. They have doubled the time that all sixth graders and some seventh and eighth graders devote to reading and math, and have reduced it for other subjects.

"When you only have so many hours per day and you're behind in some area that's being hammered on, you have to work on that," said Henry Lind, the schools superintendent. "It's like basketball. If you can't make layups, then you've got to work on layups."
Chad Colby, a spokesman for the federal Department of Education, said the department neither endorsed nor criticized schools that concentrated instructional time on math and reading as they sought to meet the test benchmarks laid out in the federal law's accountability system, known as adequate yearly progress.

"We don't choose the curriculum," Mr. Colby said. "That's a decision that local leaders have to make. But for every school you point to, I can show you five other schools across the country where students are still taking a well-rounded curriculum and are still making adequate yearly progress. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask our schools to get kids proficient at grade level in reading and math."

Since America's public schools began taking shape in the early 1800's, shifting fashions have repeatedly reworked the curriculum. Courses like woodworking and sewing joined the three R's. After World War I, vocational courses, languages and other subjects broadened the instructional menu into a smorgasbord.

A federal law passed after the Russian launching of Sputnik in 1957 spurred a renewed emphasis on science and math, and a 1975 law that guaranteed educational rights for the disabled also provoked sweeping change, said William Reese, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and author of "America's Public Schools: From the Common School to No Child Left Behind." But the education law has leveraged one of the most abrupt instructional shifts, he said.

"Because of its emphasis on testing and accountability in particular subjects, it apparently forces some school districts down narrow intellectual paths," Dr. Reese said. "If a subject is not tested, why teach it?"

The shift has been felt in the labor market, heightening demand for math teachers and forcing educators in subjects like art and foreign languages to search longer for work, leaders of teachers groups said.

The survey that is coming out this week looks at 299 school districts in 50 states. It was conducted as part of a four-year study of No Child Left Behind and appears to be the most systematic effort to track the law's footprints through the classroom, although other authorities had warned of its effect on teaching practices.

The historian David McCullough told a Senate Committee last June that because of the law, "history is being put on the back burner or taken off the stove altogether in many or most schools, in favor of math and reading."

The report says that at districts in Colorado, Texas, Vermont, California, Nebraska and elsewhere, math and reading are squeezing other subjects. At one district cited, the Bayonne City Schools in New Jersey, low-performing ninth graders will be barred from taking Spanish, music or any other elective next fall so they can take extra periods of math and reading, said Ellen O'Connor, an assistant superintendent.

"We're using that as a motivation," Dr. O'Connor said. "We're hoping they'll concentrate on their math and reading so they can again participate in some course they love."

At King Junior High, in a poor neighborhood in Sacramento a few miles from a decommissioned Air Force base, the intensive reading and math classes have raised test scores for several years running. That has helped Larry Buchanan, the superintendent of the Grant Joint Union High School District, which oversees the school, to be selected by an administrators' group as California's 2005 superintendent of the year.

But in spite of the progress, the school's scores on California state exams, used for compliance with the federal law, are increasing not nearly fast enough to allow the school to keep up with the rising test benchmarks. On the math exams administered last spring, for instance, 17.4 percent of students scored at the proficient level or above, and on the reading exams, only 14.9 percent.

With scores still so low, Mr. Harris, the school's principal, and Mr. Buchanan said they had little alternative but to continue remedial instruction for the lower-achieving among the school's nearly 900 students.

The students are the sons and daughters of mostly Hispanic, black and Laotian Hmong parents, many of whom work as gardeners, welders and hotel maids or are unemployed. The district administers frequent diagnostic tests so that teachers can carefully calibrate lessons to students' needs.

Rub�n Jimenez, a seventh grader whose father is a construction laborer, has a schedule typical of many students at the school, with six class periods a day, not counting lunch.

Rub�n studies English for the first three periods, and pre-algebra and math during the fourth and fifth. His sixth period is gym. How does he enjoy taking only reading and math, a recent visitor asked.

"I don't like history or science anyway," Rub�n said. But a moment later, perhaps recalling something exciting he had heard about lab science, he sounded ambivalent.

"It'd be fun to dissect something," he said.

Mart�n Lara, Rub�n's teacher, said the intense focus on math was paying off because his math skills were solidifying. Rub�n said math has become his favorite subject.

But other students, like Paris Smith, an eighth grader, were less enthusiastic. Last semester, Paris failed one of the two math classes he takes, back to back, each morning.

"I hate having two math classes in a row," Paris said. "Two hours of math is too much. I can't concentrate that long."

Donna Simmons, his mother, said Mr. Lara seemed to be working hard to help Paris understand math.

"The school cares," Ms. Simmons said. "The faculty cares. I want him to keep trying."

Sydney Smith, a vice principal who oversees instruction at the school, said she had heard only minimal grumbling from students excluded from electives.

"I've only had about two students come to my office and say: 'What in the world? I'm just taking two courses?' " Ms. Smith said. "So most students are not complaining about being miserable."

But Lorie Turner, who teaches English to some pupils for three consecutive periods and to others for two periods each day, said she used some students' frustration to persuade them to try for higher scores on the annual exams administered under California's Standardized Testing and Reporting program, known as Star.

"I have some little girls who are dying to get out of this class and get into a mainstream class," Ms. Turner said. "But I tell them the only way out is to do better on that Star test."

Center for Educational Policy Report: FROM THE CAPITOL TO THE CLASSROOM � Year Four of the No Child Left Behind Act | Summary & Recommendations

The impact of the No Child Left Behind Act continued to broaden and deepen during 2005, the law�s fourth year of implementation. NCLB affects a range of state and local decisions, both small and large�when and how students take tests, which textbook series districts adopt, which children receive extra attention and how they are grouped, how states and districts spend their own money, how teachers are trained, and where principals and teachers are assigned to work, to cite just some examples. Since 2002, the Center on Education Policy, an independent nonprofit organization, has been studying federal, state, and local implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act.

This is CEP�s fourth annual report of the most comprehensive, long-term national study of the Act. This year our findings are based on a survey of all 50 states, a nationally representative survey of 299 school districts, case studies of 38 geographically diverse districts and 42 schools, six special analyses of critical NCLB issues, and three national forums. Four broad conclusions about the impact of NCLB have emerged from our research this year.


FIRST, teaching and learning are changing as a result of NCLB. Administrators and teachers have made a concerted effort to align curriculum and instruction with state academic standards and assessments. Principals and teachers are also making better use of test data to adjust their teaching to address students� individual and group needs. Many districts have become more prescriptive about what and how teachers are supposed to teach. Some districts encourage teachers to follow pacing guides that outline the material to be covered by different points in the school year, while others have hired instructional coaches to observe teachers teaching, demonstrate model lessons, and give teachers feedback on ways to improve.

Moreover, 71% of school districts reported that they have reduced instructional time in at least one other subject to make more time for reading and mathematics�the subjects tested for NCLB purposes. In some districts, struggling students receive double periods of reading or math or both�sometimes missing certain subjects altogether. Some districts view this extra time for reading and math as necessary to help low-achieving students catch up.

Others pointed to negative effects, such as shortchanging students from learning important subjects, squelching creativity in teaching and learning, or diminishing activities that might keep children interested in school.

NCLB has also changed teaching by influencing what teachers must do to be considered well-qualified. Soon, almost all teachers of academic subjects will be highly qualified according to the Act�s definition, which essentially means they have demonstrated knowledge in the subjects they teach by holding a degree in their subject, completing more coursework, or other means. But most district officials we surveyed expressed skepticism that these teacher requirements are improving the quality of teaching.


SECOND, scores on state tests are rising in a large majority of states and schools districts, according to the state and local officials we surveyed. Many states and districts cited the NCLB requirements for adequate yearly progress as an important factor in rising achievement, but far more credited school district policies and programs as important contributors to these gains.

Under NCLB, states and school districts report achievement primarily in terms of the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level or above on state tests. These percentages will rise if students are learning more, and evidence from our study suggests that increased learning accounts for some of the improvement in state test results. But many states have also taken advantage of additional flexibility from the U.S. Department of Education to make policy changes that may result in more students being counted as proficient. These changes include testing some students with disabilities against modified or alternate standards and counting passing scores from students who retake a test they previously failed. It�s not clear to what extent state policy changes have contributed to rising percentages of students reaching proficiency.

To understand more clearly what�s happened with student achievement since the implementation of NCLB, CEP will undertake a study over the next year of student achievement trends in several states. This study will look at evidence from a variety of sources and will be the centerpiece of our year 5 work on NCLB.


THIRD, the number of schools identified for improvement under the NCLB accountability provisions has remained fairly steady since last year, despite earlier predictions that these numbers would soar over time. These are not always the same schools; a modest proportion of schools tests out of improvement each year, while other new schools enter improvement.

But overall, the percentage and number of schools in improvement have varied little. This is partly due to changes in federal and state rules for testing students and determining adequate yearly progress�changes that essentially have made it easier for districts and school to make AYP. Examples include using a statistical technique called confidence intervals that allows some schools to make AYP even if students fall well short of proficiency targets; using index systems to give credit for gains by lower-achieving students; and increasing the minimum number of students that must be in a subgroup in order for the subgroup�s test scores to count for AYP.

The number of students affected by key NCLB accountability provisions has also stabilized. The percentage of all eligible students taking advantage of the NCLB school choice option to change schools remains at less than 2%, while the percentage participating in tutoring programs has hovered around 20% for the past two years.


FOURTH, although all school districts are affected by the Act, urban districts are increasingly experiencing the greatest effects. The majority (54%) of Title I schools identified for improvement nationwide are located in urban districts; this is disproportionate because only 27% of Title I schools are located in urban districts. Greater proportions of urban districts than suburban or rural districts have been identified for district improvement. About 90% of the schools in restructuring, the last stage of NCLB�s sanctions, are in urban districts. The diversity found in urban districts is a major reason why NCLB is having a greater impact. Some urban districts in our case studies must make AYP for 6 to 10 subgroups of students, based on race/ethnicity, income, language background, or disability status, while some rural districts have to show progress for just two subgroups�white and low-income students. Increases in states� minimum subgroup sizes help smaller districts more than larger ones.

Urban districts are also more affected by NCLB sanctions because of their size. They must demonstrate AYP for dozens of schools, while a small district may have just one school for each grade span. Furthermore, poverty affects achievement, and urban districts often have very high percentages of low-income students.

Our study did reveal some good news for urban districts. The proportion of districts that said they are on track to have all of their academic teachers highly qualified by the end of this school year was similarly high across urban, suburban, and rural districts. And for the first time this year, our data showed no significant difference in the percentage of highminority districts and lower-minority districts reporting that all their teachers are highly qualified. Still, some urban districts participating in our case studies said they have trouble hiring and keeping highly qualified teachers.

In another bit of encouraging news, 85% of urban districts reported overall increases in student achievement�a proportion very similar to the percentage of suburban and rural districts reporting achievement gains. The reason why urban achievement can be rising while many urban schools are not making AYP is that urban schools typically had fewer students scoring at proficient levels when NCLB went into effect. So an urban school might post large gains in its percentage proficient but still fall short of AYP targets.


In the summer and fall of 2005, a CEP consultant reviewed California�s state and school district documents on NCLB school restructuring and interviewed officials in the state department of education and in three California school districts: Oakland Unified School District, Palmdale Elementary School District, and Tahoe-Truckee Joint Unified School District. The state of California, rather than prescribing specific steps for restructuring schools to take, instead offers processes to help districts and schools figure out the details of the restructuring plans. Our analysis found that most California districts with schools in restructuring chose to revamp the schools� governance in other, less radical ways than some of the options listed in the law. However, 2% of the schools in restructuring in California chose the law�s option to become charter schools (in contrast with Michigan, where no schools opted to become charter schools as a result of NCLB restructuring). The findings from this study are included in chapter 4 of this report and in WRESTLING THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS: An Early Look at Restructuring in California, issued by CEP in February 2006.

Link to the complete NCLB Year 4 Report [214 pp + case studies on 38 school districts]

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Monday Apr 03, 2006
Please join us to celebrate the completion of your new classroom building!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Crenshaw High School Addition
5010 11th Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90043

►Monday Apr 03, 2006
Join us at this meeting where we will:
* Introduce the Project Architect to the community
* Provide overview of the school facilities, including: number of classrooms, library, lunch area, etc.
* Review LAUSD design principles
* Receive community input on school design
6:30 p..
South Park Elementary School
8510 Towne Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90003

►Tuesday Apr 04, 2006
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Gulf Elementary School
828 W. "L" St.
Wilmington, CA 90744

►Tuesday Apr 04, 2006
Local District 7
6:00 p.m.
Charles Drew Middle School � Auditorium
8511 Compton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90001

►Wednesday Apr 05, 2006
Please join us to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of your new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Maywood New Elementary School #5
5200 Cudahy Ave.,
Maywood, CA 90270

►Wednesday Apr 05, 2006
Local District 3
6:00 p.m.
Mount Vernon Middle School
4066 West 17th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90019

*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
[ Seat 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.
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