Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Deal Done; a Done Deal. Dum-de-dum-dum.

4LAKids: Sunday, June 25, 2006
In This Issue:
LAWMAKERS GRADE MAYOR'S SCHOOLS PLAN -- Mayor Travels Monday To Sacramento
THIS IS REFORM? Mayor Villaraigosa pledged to take over L.A. schools. But what he's getting is something less dramatic -- and less helpful.
GOLDBERG, CORTINES OPEN TO L.A. SCHOOLS CHIEF POST: Pair emerge as possible successors to Roy Romer as the mayor works to gain clout in the district.
ACTIVISTS SLAM MAYORAL CONTROL: N.Y.C., Chicago parents warn against L.A. plan
Beyond LAUSD: OVER 1.2 MILLION STUDENTS WILL NOT GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL: In 2006, Report Warns; Freshmen the Most Likely to Drop Out
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 Mayor's/Legislator's/Teacher's Union Deal is a step in the right direction …for all the wrong reasons.

GOOD NEWS: The mayor has set down the gun he has been toting in his self-declared "war" with the school district and is at least talking to people.

BAD NEWS: He's talking to the wrong people at the wrong time in the wrong venue.

A back room deal that creates a blueprint for paradise is no less a back room deal.

The UTLA/Mayor's/Legislator's Plan is a pure political compromise to salvage an doomed-to-failure agenda — struck with state legislators and union leaders in Sacramento – 400 miles from LAUSD – upon which it is imposed. The Board of Education wasn't in the room. Parents and Principals – the folks theoretically being empowered – were not in the room. Students? Students are never in the room!

After a year of rhetoric, bombast and a "leaked" 42 page draft plan that even the mayor wouldn't endorse we are left with a "done deal" …and legislation that will be hastily written in the hours before the legislative deadline.

This isn't "No Agenda Left Behind." Antonio's plan – or lack thereof – should be mercifully allowed to fail.

Wednesday night Mayor Villaraigosa was scheduled to meet with the mayors of six other cities in LAUSD– six of his Council of Mayor partners – for a long scheduled public discussion of his plan – and their plan - with the mayors, parents, students and community members. [4LAKids: Town Hall on LAUSD Governance TONIGHT ] The other mayors were there. Parents, students and community members were there. The Mayor of Los Angeles didn't show up.

AB 1381 is being 'gut and amended', transformed as you read this from a bill about school gardens to a takeover of LAUSD. I spoke with UTLA President Duffy Friday evening. I appreciate his outreach, honesty and candor – though we have respectfully agreed to disagree. Duffy was invited to Sacramento by the Mayor for discussions on Monday and found himself drawn into the maelstrom – with the Mayor offering concession after concession.

One never wants to look too closely at sausage being made, but what came out looks like victory to Duffy.

• UTLA at the table. • Mayoral takeover downgraded. • No more talk of 100 new charter schools. • The District's bureaucracy reined in. • Teachers and school sites involved in decision making and curriculum selection. • The Pilot Schools Project (which both Duffy and Romer have said they liked …but never could agree upon) to be implemented as the Los Angeles Mayor's Community Partnership for School Excellence (Duffy believes the LAMCP4SE is not a mayor controlled mini-district because it's run by a consortium). • The Board of Education is retained – but restrained. Board members can't meddle and micromanage. Things will go more smoothly under a more powerful superintendent • To Duffy the Council of Mayors appears to be Representative Democracy. • And the whole deal looks like a Boston headline at the end of the Civil War: "The Union Preserved!"

The questions are: • Why Sacramento? Shouldn't decision making about LAUSD be done in LA? • The plan, the Mayor and Duffy talk about partnerships, community and parents; but where were the parents, community organizations, principals, school staff and other mayors? Where were Duffy's traditional partners AALA and SEISU? Where were (and are) the UTLA rank and file? • If it isn't a mayor controlled project, why is it called LA MAYOR'S Community Partnership for School Excellence? The proposed legislation doesn't specify who the mayor's partners are – one would expect he gets to pick and choose which parent and community organizations he wishes to partner with – just as he has in this whole process • The plan specifically authorizes the Mayor of All of Los Angeles to raise funds for the schools in his partnership at the exclusion of others; where is any pretence at equity there? • Since when has an 80% one person : 20% everyone else division of power been representative of democracy? • Under the plan the superintendent –nominated by the board, must be ratified by the council of mayors (controlled by the Mayor of LA) …who also ratify his or her contract, compensation and term of employment. It is unclear whether the CofM can call for the Superintendent's dismissal. • I don't want to bore my readers with the consequences this plan has to the $19 Billion LAUSD building program; but ugly is a word that springs to mind.

With due respect to all the good intentions and the unintended consequences: This plan is Mayoral Control Lite.

THE CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION SAYS: "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. Other parts of the Constitution say that that the legislature's power over education is plenary unless modified by the constitution – it can only make general laws applying to all school districts, NOT special ones over specific ones. This legislation says right there in Article 6 Section 3 that it is a special law.

What part of "No" is it that the mayor, the legislature and union leadership don't understand?

►THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IS A TWENTY MINUTE WALK ACROSS THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE FROM THE AFT/NY (teacher's union) HQ. Before NYC Mayor Bloomberg went to Albany and got the state legislature to give him control of NYC schools he negotiated a generous contract with AFT/NY – buying their compliance with his plan. They may as well have bought the bridge along with the plan because Bloomberg and AFT/NY haven't agreed on anything since. To my UTLA friends – including Duffy – I suggest you e-mail, call or write your colleagues in NYC and ask them how it is and how it came to be.

►ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE SCHOOL GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL there was a lovely piece of legislation. It was well meant, filled with schoolchildren learning and playing and growing vegetables and growing wise in the gardens of schools. It was Green. Not euro-political vegan in-your-face green; but God's own chlorophyll green – with edible things that taste good and are good for you – goodness for all the class to share. It was a bill to make all these things possible – school gardens and learning and healthy food. Its name was AB 1381 and it was a wonderful thing beloved by Good Legislators and opposed by only the Unenlightened who Avoid Sunshine and Favor Dark Places.

But one day, a day we shall call Thursday, it was changed. It was gutted and it was amended - because that is what happens to good little bills when legislators and special interests want something else. And on Friday AB 1381 emerged as Something Else – a changeling – a bill that would strip authority from elected officials and unemploy their staff and disenfranchise voters, disempower parents and make children into test subjects. It would claim to do one thing while it actually did another. And no gardens were built and darkness and despair fell upon the land. - smf

LAWMAKERS GRADE MAYOR'S SCHOOLS PLAN -- Mayor Travels Monday To Sacramento

...and so it began! - smf


June 19, 2006 -- LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa visited the state capital Monday to try to persuade holdout Democrats and other powerful lobbyists that his bold plan to take control of the Los Angeles Unified School District will work.

The plan is in danger of collapsing in the Legislature, where Democrats are deeply divided over its reach and potential impact on teachers.

Villaraigosa met Monday morning with Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, D-Los Angeles, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, and state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, three of the plan's biggest supporters. He also was expected to meet with the California Teachers Association and business leaders.

The mayor wants to give the superintendent of schools more responsibility and more accountability and strip some powers from the school board, which he said is hurting efforts to improve the district because of its micromanaging.

"This is a bill that will fundamentally reform our schools," Villaraigosa said at a news conference. "We will not allow any individual to deter this. This has to be a collective effort. ... Let's be clear about this: The opposition to this bill was about the general principal. There are those who believe that we shouldn't have accountability."

Villaraigosa has anchored his mayoralty to his proposed takeover of the 730,000-student system -- the second-largest in the nation -- which includes schools in Los Angeles and more than two dozen smaller, suburban cities.

The plan is modeled on similar takeovers in New York City and Chicago.

Some lawmakers have hinted they believe it's a decision that should be decided locally rather than at the state level. Sunday night, a group describing themselves as "angry parents of Los Angeles Unified School District students" issued a statement echoing those sentiments.

"Mr. Mayor, please don't go to Sacramento to take our parental rights away," said Scott Folsom, president of the 10th District Parent Teacher Student Association. "If there is a decision about parents' involvement in our kids' future, I want it to happen in L.A., not the back rooms of Sacramento.

"There is no role for the mayor in the governance of LAUSD. There is a role for the mayor in coming to the table, discussing how the city and the school district can interface and work together toward a common goal. The state constitution is pretty clear that only officials elected to run schools can run schools."

LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer said there is room for the mayor to contribute, but school officials are best suited to address the district's issues.

"I think the mayor could help in some ways, but to have him take over the system and revise it the way he's talking about would be harmful to the district," said Roy Romer. "Frankly, I think we have a very good expertise on how to improve education here. I don't think City Hall really has that tradition.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

THIS IS REFORM? Mayor Villaraigosa pledged to take over L.A. schools. But what he's getting is something less dramatic -- and less helpful.

EDITORIAL from the Los Angeles Times

June 22, 2006 -- Antonio Villaraigosa's one-year anniversary as mayor almost perfectly coincides with what he is heralding as the signature achievement of his term. But what he calls a grand compromise to bring greater accountability to the city's schools is better described as an ill-advised plan that cedes too much to teachers unions, offers too little to students and relies too much on the mayor's talent for consensus.

Since he took office last July, Villaraigosa has promised to take control of (actually, he prefers the phrase "bring oversight to") the schools, and in many ways he has staked his mayoralty on it. His passion for the issue is clear, and he says the deal he struck Wednesday with unions and state lawmakers is the best he could have hoped for. If that's the case, he would have been better off leaving Sacramento, declaring defeat and living to fight another day in L.A.

Under the proposed bill, details of which are not yet public, the school board would be in charge of student achievement — or at least parts of it — while the mayor would control about three dozen poorly performing schools. Both would have a role in hiring the superintendent. Schools would be in charge of their curriculums. Instead of creating a clean line of accountability — the chief advantage of having a mayor run the schools — this deal divides responsibility so confusingly that even the main players would have trouble figuring out who's in charge of what.

The school board would be a "broad policymaking body," the mayor says, "not a management body." Yet decisions about curriculum would be made at the local school level. The superintendent, meanwhile, would be charged with carrying out the policy set by the board — but he or she could be fired by the mayor. The superintendent would have power to sign contracts — except the biggest contract, with the teachers union, which would be negotiated by the board.

Most schools would be under the authority of the elected board, but a few dozen would be essentially run by the mayor. The mayor says that if these schools improve, the Legislature may be more willing to give a future mayor more direct control. Maybe so. But the rest of the plan would so damage the district that this experiment hardly seems worth it.

"Fragmentation is failing our kids," the mayor explained in his State of the City address in April. "Voters need to be able to hire and fire one person accountable to parents, teachers and taxpayers. A leader who is ultimately responsible for systemwide performance." Under this plan, fragmentation is increased, accountability diminished. Who's in charge of the schools? Any answer that requires more than one subject and one verb is no answer at all.

Consider a school whose students are failing at math. Who could responsible parents see to address the problem? The teachers picked the curriculum, but they can't be voted out of office. The school didn't decide its budget; the superintendent did that. But both the board and the mayor have a say in it. The board can't hire and fire the superintendent on its own; the mayor can say the board selects the superintendent. And because the board loses power in this deal, it has little interest in seeing it succeed.

The mayor has never been shy about wading into controversies, so he would almost certainly offer those concerned parents a hearing (actually, he could do so now). But how much he would be able to do is an open question. And the larger problem, as the mayor himself is fond of pointing out, is that this quest to improve L.A. Unified's schools is not about the mayor. It's about providing accountability — and accountability shouldn't depend on who happens to be sitting behind the mayor's desk.

"We're going to be responsible," the mayor said Wednesday. Unfortunately, this deal spreads responsibility so thin that it's hard to know who has it.

GOLDBERG, CORTINES OPEN TO L.A. SCHOOLS CHIEF POST: Pair emerge as possible successors to Roy Romer as the mayor works to gain clout in the district.

By Joel Rubin and Nancy Vogel, LA Times Staff Writers

June 24, 2006 — As aides to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state lawmakers continued to sculpt legislation that would dramatically reshuffle control of Los Angeles public schools, two prominent education figures said Friday they were open to becoming the next superintendent.

State Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles), a former member of the Los Angeles Unified School District board, said she had received numerous calls urging her to seek the position.

And Ramon C. Cortines, who was the district's interim superintendent in 1999 and 2000 after leading school systems in New York, San Francisco and Pasadena, said he would take the job if the mayor and school board called on him.

Their emergence highlights the jockeying and confusion swirling around the school board's search to replace retiring Supt. Roy Romer during a time of possible upheaval for the district.

Villaraigosa struck a deal with the state's powerful teachers union this week, clearing the way for legislation that would give the mayor considerable sway over the troubled school district — including the right to veto the board's choice for superintendent. He has made district reform a centerpiece of his year-old administration.

Goldberg, 61, laughed when asked Friday if she was interested in being schools chief. When the laughter subsided, however, she said slowly, "Well, I don't know. A lot of people are calling me and saying I should think about it."

A former Compton high school teacher who was elected to the Board of Education in 1983, Goldberg must leave the Assembly this year due to term limits. Initially, she had been a vehement critic of the mayor's takeover push, vowing to torpedo his bid for state legislation that would gut the board's power and give him control. At the time, she publicly denied any interest in succeeding Romer.

But this week's compromise deal, which preserves some power for the board, makes the superintendent's role more appealing, she said.

"If this were a complete mayoral takeover, I would definitely not want to be involved in it. But this is a sharing of power. That's different … and that could have some interesting possibilities."

Goldberg said her change of heart on the takeover wasn't an attempt to receive favorable consideration by Villaraigosa, nor had she talked to the mayor or his close ally, state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) about the job.

Goldberg would not identify those urging her to seek the position. "It's not the school board, I assure you. I'm not sure they would even want me."

Asked to comment, L.A. Unified board President Marlene Canter would only say that she spoke to Goldberg on Friday and urged her to formally apply if she was interested.

Cortines, 73, expressed concern that the mayor, teacher union officials and lawmakers had cut a deal to revamp the district without involving the school board. That would complicate the search for Romer's replacement, he said.

"It's fraught with problems from the beginning and is going to be very difficult to get the best individuals to come forward," Cortines said. "I would tell the mayor he will be remiss if he doesn't find a way to involve the board."

Pointing out his experience as chief of the New York City school system, interim head of L.A. Unified and his close ties to the mayor and school board, Cortines said he could navigate the complicated power-sharing model called for in the mayor's plan.

"I don't mean to be arrogant," he said, "but I could make it work."

Cortines was adamant that he would not apply for the job but would serve if the board and Villaraigosa approached him. Neither has contacted him, although L.A. Unified officials and the mayor's staff have sought his guidance amid the debate over district control.

Goldberg echoed Cortines, saying she too could handle the balancing act. "Some people say because I have a unique relationship with the mayor and school board and various employee unions … I should think about [that]," she said. Goldberg also once served on the Los Angeles City Council. "It's going to be a lot more complicated to be a superintendent, and it's already complicated."

Goldberg said she had not formally nominated herself for the job but had nominated Maria Casillas, a former administrator in the district and president of a respected education nonprofit. Casillas said Friday she was not interested.

Some education leaders have speculated that another candidate was Thomas Saenz, Villaraigosa's attorney at City Hall, who helped shape the reform plan and is president of the Los Angeles County Board of Education. Saenz, however, said he had no interest in the superintendent's job and had not been approached by anyone, including the mayor. "I'm not an educator," Saenz said.

Whoever applies, Canter said, the board is pushing ahead with plans to select a new superintendent by late September or early October.

But it remains uncertain whether that process will be altered by the mayor's bill, which is expected to be submitted to the Legislature next week and, if passed, would quickly be signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The legislation will call for creation of a "council of mayors" to include Villaraigosa, the mayors of 26 other cities served by L.A. Unified and some county supervisors. The panel would be empowered to help select the superintendent and veto candidates chosen by the school board.

But if the bill is to take effect immediately, lawmakers would need to add an "urgency clause." Otherwise, it would take effect Jan. 1. An urgency clause would require passage by two-thirds of the Legislature instead of a simple majority. Although Democrats hold majorities in both houses, they would need some Republican support.

"There is absolutely no way we are postponing our search," said Canter, who met in closed session with the board Friday to discuss possible legal challenges to the mayor's plan. "This has to be about kids, not politics."

* Times staff writer Duke Helfand contributed to this report. Rubin reported from Los Angeles and Vogel from Sacramento.

►smf notes: Two weeks ago Goldberg told the 10th District PTA she was uninterested in the superintendency …of course, much changed in the fortnight. In the following week the LAUSD parent group that visited NYC to see mayoral control first hand saw that Big Apple Mayoral Control is focused on undoing the decentralization + local control reforms initiated by Cortines in his chancellorship there – much as Romer's centralization was focused on undoing Cortines devolution in The Big Orange. As 4LAKids quoted Yogi Berra on déjà vu last week I am backed into the corner with only Vin Scully to go to: "Experience is the art of recognizing your mistakes when you make them again." Or maybe it’s just Groundhog Day.

ACTIVISTS SLAM MAYORAL CONTROL: N.Y.C., Chicago parents warn against L.A. plan

District Dossier: from EdWeek by Lesli A. Maxwell

June 21, 2006 -- In the mounting fight over who should run the sprawling Los Angeles Unified School District, parents from other big cities are joining the fray.

Hundreds of parent activists from New York City and Chicago have signed and are circulating an open letter to Los Angeles parents, urging them to reject Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s bid to take control of the 727,000-student district.

Mayoral control, they argue, has not delivered greater accountability and transparency in New York and Chicago. Even more troubling, they say, is that Los Angeles parents who feel disenfranchised now by the district’s bureaucracy and elected school board will be shut off entirely from the decisionmaking process if the mayor is in charge.

“The mayors of our cities and their appointees now feel empowered to ignore the priorities of parents, teachers, and other stakeholders in the system,” says the letter, which is dated June 1.

Leonie Haimson, a New York parent activist and the founder of Class Size Matters, wrote the letter with Julie Woestehoff, who heads Parents United for Responsible Education, an advocacy group in the 424,000-student Chicago district.

“We are the three largest districts in the country and share many of the same issues,” Ms. Haimson said in an interview. “Both New York and Chicago have a lot of lessons learned to share with Los Angeles about mayoral control, and the big one is that the mayor gets more power while leaving the public at large with little ability to give any input.”

A prime example, said Ms. Haimson: the cell phone ban in the 1.1 million-student New York district. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has refused to lift a controversial ban on such phones in schools, despite pleas from parents and rallies by members of the public urging him to do so.

Mr. Villaraigosa, a Democrat, is staking his first term as mayor on his plan to run the giant school system that educates children who live in Los Angeles and 26 other cities. He has proposed that he and a “council of mayors” be given authority to hire and fire the superintendent, control the budget, and adopt curricula. ("L.A. Mayor Seeks Role in District," April 26, 2006 --

The mayor has been campaigning for his plan at the state Capitol in Sacramento, where lawmakers could vote on the matter later this summer.


Beyond LAUSD: OVER 1.2 MILLION STUDENTS WILL NOT GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL: In 2006, Report Warns; Freshmen the Most Likely to Drop Out


EdWeek Press Release

WASHINGTON—June 20, 2006—One of the most fundamental tasks of public education is to ensure that students graduate with a diploma that prepares them for future education, work, and citizenship. But for the school year now ending, an estimated 1.2 million U.S. students, most of them members of minority groups, will fail to graduate with their peers, according to a new analysis conducted by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. That’s about 30 percent of the class of 2006.

The analysis by the EPE Research Center is included in a special issue of Education Week, Diplomas Count: An Essential Guide to Graduation Policy and Rates. The report, the first in an annual Graduation Project series, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, provides detailed data on graduation rates for the 2002-03 school year, the most recent data available, for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and in the nation’s 50 largest school districts.

“Our research paints a much starker picture of the challenges we face in high school graduation. When 30 percent of our 9th graders fail to finish high school with a diploma, we are dealing with a crisis that has frightening implications for our country’s future,” said EPE Research Center Director Christopher B. Swanson, who oversaw the development of the report.

In addition, the EPE Research Center has created a powerful new online mapping service, at Produced in collaboration with the Redlands, Calif.-based ESRI, a leading designer and producer of geographical mapping applications, it allows users to zoom in on each of the nation’s individual school districts and create a special report for that district, including comparisons with state and national figures.


A more detailed analysis of data for the school year 2002-03, the most recent available, finds large gaps in graduation rates across racial and ethnic groups, and by gender. Nationally, about 7 in 10 students graduate from high school with a regular diploma. But about half of American Indian and black students graduate, compared with more than three-quarters of non-Hispanic whites and Asians. The Hispanic graduation rate is 55.6 percent. Male students are consistently less likely to graduate than females, a pattern that holds true across every racial and ethnic group examined. While 57.8 percent of black female students graduate, that’s true for only 44.3 percent of black males. This nearly 14-percentage-point gender gap is the widest among racial and ethnic groups. For Hispanics, the female and male graduation figures are 59.9 percent and 50.1 percent, respectively.


Graduation rates were calculated by the EPE Research Center using the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) method, developed by Mr. Swanson. Using information from a federal data set, the CPI estimates the probability that a student in the 9th grade will complete high school on time with a regular diploma. The report found that graduation rates vary widely across the nation’s largest districts, from a high of 82.5 percent in Fairfax County, Va., the nation’s 14th largest district, to a low of 21.7 percent in the Detroit Public Schools, the nation’s 11th largest district.

On average, 60 percent of all students in urban districts graduate from high school, a rate 10 percentage points lower than the national average and nearly 15 percentage points lower than the suburban average. Districts where most students are members of racial or ethnic minorities have graduation rates almost 20 percentage points lower than majority-white districts. School systems with high levels of racial segregation also have much lower graduation rates (56.2 percent) than those with low levels of racial segregation (75.1 percent).

The patterns that emerge based on the poverty level and economic segregation of school districts mirror those found for racially segregated districts.


The Cumulative Promotion Index method of calculating graduation rates can be used to estimate the numbers of students who fall off track for earning a diploma at various points between the 9th grade and the expected time of graduation. Nationally, more than one-third of the students (35 percent) lost from the high school pipeline fail to make the transition from the 9th to the 10th grade.

And for every 100 students in 9th grade, 89 will remain in the education pipeline until sophomore year, 81 until junior year, and 75 until senior year. Only 70 of those 100 freshmen earn a regular diploma within four years. The rate of student loss during the freshman year is more severe for more-disadvantaged groups and school systems. About 40 percent of the student loss in high-poverty districts occurs at the 9th grade, compared with only 27 percent in low-poverty settings.


The report found that state graduation rates for the 2002-03 school year, using the Cumulative Promotion Index, range from a high of 84.5 percent in New Jersey to a low of 52.5 percent in South Carolina. Official state-reported rates for that same year were almost always higher, sometimes much higher. In New Mexico and North Carolina, state-reported rates exceeded the CPI by over 30 percentage points (89 percent vs. 57 percent, and 97 percent vs. 66 percent, respectively). Washington was the only state that reported a lower rate than the EPE Research Center found using the CPI. A major reason for these differences is the variety of methods states use to calculate their own graduation rates.


Because earning a diploma is so crucial, Congress made high school graduation rates one element for measuring school and district performance under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which President Bush signed into law in 2002. By making graduation rates part of the calculations for whether high schools and districts make adequate yearly progress (AYP) under the law, federal legislators hoped to discourage schools from pushing out students who were unlikely to meet achievement targets. But the U.S. Department of Education has allowed each state to choose its own method for calculating graduation rates and to set its own goals for how much improvement schools and districts must make each year. As a result, the report identified eight different (and often misleading) methods states are using to calculate graduation rates this school year.

The report also found that while states must bring 100 percent of students to proficiency on state reading and math tests by the 2013-14 school year, states have set much lower targets for high school graduation rates. Nevada has set a target of 50 percent for that year; New York state, 55 percent. Several states have yet to set a final target for graduation rates.

Moreover, 33 states will permit schools and districts that miss the current graduation-rate target to make adequate yearly progress if they show any improvement in graduation rates, however small. In Delaware, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Vermont, schools and districts can fail to improve graduation rates at all and still make AYP.


In addition to tracking graduation rates, Diplomas Count includes information on four areas of state policy tied to high school completion. Among the findings: • For the 2005-06 school year, students nationwide are expected to earn 20.5 total credits, on average, to earn a standard diploma. State requirements range from a low of 13 total credits in California, Wisconsin, and Wyoming to a high of 24 total credits in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

• States differ considerably in the variety of credentials they offer to students who successfully complete a high school program. While 17 states offer only a single credential—a standard high school diploma—six have multiple standard-diploma options. Also, 24 states offer students exceeding the standard requirements special recognition, such as an honors diploma. In 26 states, students not meeting all the requirements for a standard diploma may receive an alternative credential, such as a certificate of attendance.

• Between 2002 and 2006, the number of states with exit or end-of-course exams increased from 17 to 23. During that time,s the exams also became more rigorous. In 2002, only six states based their exit exams on 10th grade standards or higher. By 2006, that number had climbed to 18. The number of states financing remediation for students failing exit exams, however, remained flat.


■ Diplomas Count Offers Online Extras

• Do you want to compare your district’s graduation rate with those of neighboring districts?

• Are you interested in how your school system’s graduation figures stack up against state and national statistics?

Diplomas Count: An Essential Guide to Graduation Policy and Rates, the first edition of what will be an annual graduation-research project produced by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, harnesses the power of the Web to complement the findings in the report with a special online interactive research tool and Web-only content. Available at, the report offers a powerful online mapping service that permits users to zoom in on each of the nation’s school districts, and produce a standardized report that compares district, state, and national figures. Users can navigate easily to school districts they are interested in analyzing, download reports that include maps and tables with relevant data, and see how their district compares with others in the state and nation.

In addition, the EPE Research Center has prepared “State Graduation Briefs” with policy indicators related to important graduation-rate issues as well as state-level graduation rates for specific subgroups, broken out by race and gender.

These online extras are all available for free at The online mapping application was developed in partnership with the Redlands, Calif.-based ESRI, a leading designer and producer of geographical mapping applications

DIPLOMAS COUNT: An essential guide to graduation policy and rates

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

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


What can YOU do?

State Capitol, Room 2082
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651-4021
Fax (916) 324-7543

215 N. Marengo Avenue, Ste. 185
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 683-0282
(818) 558-7940
Fax (626) 793-5803

►CONTACT YOUR ASSEMBLYPERSON AND STATE SENATOR [link below to find them]. 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 and will never survive a court challenge. Their time, the mayor's time, the board of education'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 • 213-241-6180 ¡Welcome Monica! • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6383

...or your city councilperson, mayor, 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.
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