Sunday, July 23, 2006

25 hours in the 43 days to August 31st

4LAKids: Sunday, July 23, 2006
In This Issue:
ON THE ROAD IN THE WESTSIDE TRAFFIC (in - ahem - rush hour delays caused by road construction) WITH THE MAYOR'S REFORM/TAKEOVER/MAKEOVER PLAN
SUPT. ROMER LASHES OUT AT VILLARAIGOSA FOR CRITICISM: The schools chief says the L.A. mayor's repeated claims of failure is propaganda
14% OF LAUSD SENIORS FLUNK EXIT TEST: Results may affect district leadership tussle
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 chose a back room in a Sacramento hotel to craft his plan to take over LAUSD; he chose the lobbies, cloakrooms and hearing rooms of the state capitol – and the tent where the governor smokes his cigars - as the battle ground for his "war". Good generals choose battlefields wisely – Napoleon chose Austerlitz and Marengo – but he also chose Waterloo. LAUSD leadership seems content to fight the battle Antonio has chosen where Antonio has chosen.

The LA Times [below] says John Burton and Richard Polanco have been hired to lead LAUSD's defense. Experienced politicians in the Sacramento trenches.

But where is the fight here in LA? Who's in charge here? Roy Romer is a consummate politician – but he is a Colorado politician and a lame duck. The fight in Sacramento will be one of amendment and compromise; the fight that needs to be fought here for the hearts and minds of Los Angeleños must be over a "Profiles in Courage" line in the sand: No Compromise/None of this is acceptable!

This is not a fight about charisma or statistics or API scores or anyone's political future; this is a fight about this generation of 730,000 school children …plus future generations of unnumbered, unborn schoolchildren. Our children and their children.

• The mayor won't put this on the ballot – where are the signature gatherers to put it on the ballot anyway?

• Where is the text of AB 1381 translated into Spanish? ... or Korean, Russian, Chinese, Armenian, Tagalog?

• Where is that table where like minded individuals – Parents, disaffected UTLA members, politicians, school board members, businesspeople, educators and civil rights attorneys; progressives, liberals and conservatives; Democrats and Republicans and declines-to-states who oppose this wretched mess for lots of differing reasons come together because we agree on only one thing: This Is A Bad Deal!

ANTONIO'S BATTLE SOMETIMES LEAKS OUT BEYOND SACRAMENTO TO LOS ANGELES where it really matters – that happened this week. The 25 hours between 6PM Wednesday and 7PM Thursday saw three acts of political theater played out in the tragicomedy that is the Mayor's attempt to takeover/makeover/reform LAUSD in his own image.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT saw the Mayor's first Town Hall Meeting in South Central at Victory Baptist Church. The evening was hot and the pews were filed. Busloads of Parents were bused in from charter schools. Anticipation hung in the air, palpable and moist in the humidity. Despite an advertised 5PM start things started at 5:45 and the schedule ran later as the evening ran on.

A video presentation opened the evening – equal parts of [hopefully rights-secured] video clips of from Oprah, 60 Minutes (neither about LA) and "Stand and Deliver" (about LA in 1982) intercut with the Mayor's State of the City address delivered from The Accelerated School – his photo-op charter school of choice.

A panel discussion followed, in reality a series of three-minute-only prompted-if-not-scripted comments from a charter school parent, a charter school student and UTLA member teacher. The student praised the mayor's plan, the teacher praised the plan and the charter school parent praised charter schools as the only answer for the much ballyhooed failure of LAUSD. Charts and graphs were PowerPointed next as a city employee on the Mayor's staff (no doubt on her own time) described the wonderfulness of the Mayor's Plan and the flawlessness of the Mayor's Statistics. Drop outs are bad. Middle schools are failing. Education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. The mayor's plan – not the old plan but the plan as compromised-today-and-will-be-rewritten-and-tweaked over the next six weeks in Sacramento – is the answer.

City Councilperson Jan Perry was trotted out and introduced. Senator Gloria Romero didn't take much coaxing to make a speech. Education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century.

And then Mayor Villaraigosa, to a standing ovation from half the crowd, took the pulpit from which Martin Luther King first addressed Los Angeles. That symbolism was explored and exploited. And the Mayor began the set piece/stump speech – from the failing student kicked out of Catholic school whose talents were recognized by one teacher to the drop out redeemed. Education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. We were told he short version of the story of how the mayor-elect turned around Jefferson High School when the faculty, administration and school district could not or would not. The Mayor was flustered a bit when the translation equipment didn't work – but he came though in English and Spanish. He answered a few pre-screened questions, avoided specifics, referred to PowerPoint slides deleted long ago from previous versions of the set piece – and was gone. Half the crowd rose to applaud – and directions were given to the bused in parents on how to find their buses. A solid "B" performance.

THURSDAY MORNING found same of the same folks and many other folks at Santee High School, Roy Romer's photo-op high school of choice for his Second Annual State of the Schools Address. After an intro by Connie Rice and State Schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell, Roy Romer showed why a good presenter who's already been governor - working with real charts and graphs - can outperform an equally good performer working from a PowerPoint presentation that exists only in the audience and presenter's memory.

Romer's charts and graphs were there, in his hands, shiny and new; he knew them inside out: "Just look at the data!" Romer produced new data, described new studies – and point-by-point refuted the Mayor's tired definition of LAUSD failure.

"This is a district that has more success than any other metropolitan district in California in the last six years. This is a district that has been driving up some of the scores of the whole state.

"We have certain people in this community who continue to describe this district as failing. This has tremendous consequences for our city. As a gifted politician, the Mayor knows that if he continues to use propaganda and mistruths long enough to describe our schools, the community will believe it. Instead of celebrating our progress, the Mayor's continued inaccuracies damage the work of the students, classroom teachers and principals who are committed to increasing academic achievement everyday in our schools.

"We obviously are not serving our children well when we argue about who should be in charge of our schools as opposed to rolling up our sleeves and getting the work done. We ought to not have Assembly Bill 1381, which would diminish accountability in our schools. Instead, we need to enter into more creative and workable partnerships with the City, particularly the mayor, County and community organizations.

"I challenge city government and the civic community to come and work together with the District. We have a great challenge in this community to keep our children safe going and coming from school, to make sure they have adequate health care, to make sure teachers can afford to purchase a home in the neighborhood where they teach.

"There are some heights that we can reach for. I think that it is time that everybody recognizes that we have made very strong gains. We have a very strong program moving forward, but we need everybody's hand.

Romer characterized the mayor's attack as "propaganda" – not necessarily a bad choice of word …and then equated the damage of the mayor's propaganda with that done in interning Japanese-Americans during WW2 …maybe going a bridge too far.

Maybe not. Romer speaks from his heart and from experience here – as a youngster in Colorado he saw internment camps and the effect of the propaganda first hand. In telling that story he stayed "on message" – but he gave the press and the mayor a side track they both gladly took.

A link to Romer's speech is below. It's being rebroadcast wall-to-wall on KLCS Channel 58. You can watch it on your computer. It's worth a look or a read. An "A" performance …but not an "A+".

THURSDAY EVENING found the Mayor and Co. at Westwood United Methodist Church. Same Video, same PowerPoint, different staffers and a different panel. Same white buses, many of the same parents on them. A member of the mayor's staff explained the intentional half-an-hour-later start than advertised to Assemblymember Goldberg - she had no patience with this institutionalized tardiness.

Instead of a charter parent we cut to the chase: Steve Barr himself. Steve pitched his parent union, his charter schools, bemoaned lack of parent involvement in LAUSD, called the district bureaucracy "29 floors of perpetual coffee breaks" and said there are 35,000 unneeded district staff downtown. As 35,000 is the grand total of District's non-classroom-teacher-employees one most suppose that Steve (and by illogical extension, the Mayor) proposes to do away with Principals, Custodians, Lunch Ladies, Bus Drivers, Nurses, The Board of Ed, the Superintendent, School Police, Crossing Guards, Parent Center Directors, the people building all the new schools, the staff of the Charter Office and the folks who write the check to Green Dot Public Schools.

And then, for good measure, Steve slammed PTA. (see below).

Gloria Romero was on the agenda this time: Education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. And Councilman Weiss described a recent funeral he and the Mayor attended for three Hamilton High School students shot off campus. (I'm sorry, but exploiting that kind of tragedy for political gain crosses certain lines of propriety …especially as the Mayor and the City are the ones ultimately responsible for public safety off campus.)

The Mayor gave his same set piece, expanded on his dramatic intervention at Jefferson High School – adding the part about the student writing graffiti and a female teacher's revealing outfit. He referred to the data no longer in his PowerPoint again: "You saw that …didn't you?" And he refuted Romer's data as tired statistics celebrating the status quo and lacking in "urgency". He revisited the dirty bathroom controversy of five years ago. He gave no specifics and remained inexorably on message – going as far as to say that this is not the time for specifics, this is the time for vision. And this is also not the time to take this to a vote of the people: that time may come in four or six years.

And he was shocked – shocked! – that Governor Romer was attacking him personally. He has never once mentioned the Superintendent or the Board of Education in his unrelenting litany of LAUSD failure. He's above such things. And unspoken: That is what staff, consultants and surrogates are for.

The Mayor was more relaxed this time, the translation equipment worked. Half the audience stood and applauded before and after; no hearts and minds were won or lost. A "B+".

Most telling was his answer to a question that challenged Mayoral Control in New York, Boston, Chicago, etc.: The results in those places are no different after mayoral control than from before. The Mayor reminded the questioner that he, Antonio Villaraigosa, is not Mayor of those cities. – smf

▲ In the interest of the appearance of fairness: If anyone has a link to Mayor Villaraigosa's speech 4LAKids will gladly post that.


ON THE ROAD IN THE WESTSIDE TRAFFIC (in - ahem - rush hour delays caused by road construction) WITH THE MAYOR'S REFORM/TAKEOVER/MAKEOVER PLAN

At Mayor Villaraigosa's Town Hall Meeting in Westwood last Thursday evening charter school advocate and would-be parent's union founder Steve Barr – speaking for the Mayor's Plan, chose to attack PTA – characterizing the organization and its meetings as – and I think I've got this right: "monthly fights and shouting matches".

I've been to more than my share of PTA meetings, I've seen some where honest disagreements have broken out – democracy is like that.

But Steve, your child will never know a child with Polio. That's because PTA fought in the 1950's. You have seatbelts in your car because PTA fought in the '60's. Your child rides in safety in a car seat because PTA fought in the '70's. The federal government is engaged in Public Education because PTA fought. PTA fought for those Title One funds your Green Dot Schools receive. Poor children get free and reduced price school lunches and there are kindergartens in public schools because PTA fought. School Zones and Child Labor Laws and Parental Involvement ….and those infuriating safety caps on medicine bottles because we fought.

Week before last Governor Schwarzenegger recognized PTA's advocacy for the Arts, Music and Physical Education in California at an event at Hamilton High School …and came though with nearly a billion dollars in funding for those programs.

And yes: Bake sales and after school programs and the Fall Carnival. All from those monthly fights from those meddlesome moms and dads.

There already is an independent parent's union - and it has grass roots locals at school sites, it has councils, districts and state organizations in every state. It has a national office. It has six million volunteer dues-paying members nationally; one million in California, 60,000 in LA.

It is PTA ...and we are not just punch and cookies. Join the fight.

Scott Folsom
President, Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA


►CORRECTION: RE THE GREEN DOT CHARTER APPLICATION IN THE 7/16 4LAKids - On July 12 the State Board of Ed DID NOT VOTE on the Green Dot petition for a statewide benefit charter. It was obvious they did not have the 6 votes needed. Steve Barr agreed, at the suggestion of members who support the petition, to put it over until the next meeting.

The issue is still alive and unsettled.

California State Board of Education | 916-319-0827
1430 N Street, Suite #5111
Sacramento, CA 95814

KLCS-TV offers newly scheduled broadcasts of the State Senate Education Committee Hearing on AB 1381 with Secondary Audio Program (SAP) in Spanish.

SUPT. ROMER LASHES OUT AT VILLARAIGOSA FOR CRITICISM: The schools chief says the L.A. mayor's repeated claims of failure is propaganda

By Joel Rubin and Duke Helfand, LA Times Staff Writers

July 21, 2006 - As Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stumped across Los Angeles on Thursday to drum up support for his proposed takeover of the public schools, Supt. Roy Romer unleashed a stinging rebuke of the mayor and a forceful defense of the embattled school district.

Romer lashed out at Villaraigosa, challenging the frequent attacks the mayor has leveled against the Los Angeles Unified School District during his yearlong push for control. Romer repeatedly called the assault "propaganda" and likened it to the U.S. government's campaign to justify its internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

"It has tremendous consequence for this city because if you indoctrinate — propagandize — a population long enough into a mistruth they believe it," Romer said during his annual state of the schools address.

"This is not a failing district. This is a district that has more success than any other metropolitan district in California in the last six years."

Villaraigosa fired back, holding an afternoon news conference at City Hall to counter Romer's sanguine assessment of the district and lambaste him for his comments.

"What [Romer] said was outrageous. I think we all know that. He should immediately retract his remarks," Villaraigosa said. "To compare the facts of what is going on here in L.A. Unified to the internment of the Japanese is absolutely wrong."

Some Japanese American leaders demanded an apology from Romer, calling his remarks insensitive. Former school board member Warren Furutani said he learned about Romer's comments when a member of Villaraigosa's school takeover campaign committee called and faxed him the remarks. Furutani and others in the Japanese American community then held a hastily arranged news conference at the Japanese American National Museum.

"I thought it was pretty offensive to try to connect Antonio to the same propaganda machine that put Japanese in internment camps during World War II," said Furutani, who is a member of the community college board. "I thought that was out of bounds."

In a statement, Romer stood by his criticisms of the mayor but apologized to anyone offended by his comments.

Romer, who will depart this fall after six years as superintendent, spent much of his 35-minute speech using figures and charts aimed at picking apart the mayor's characterization of the district as a failure. He pointed to strong gains district students have posted on state test scores, while presenting data that indicate the district is performing on par or better than New York and other large urban systems.

Speaking to about 200 people in the library at the new Santee Learning Complex, Romer touted the district's $19-billion construction program that aims to build about 150 schools and renovate hundreds of others. Romer appeared confident, roaming the small stage with large photos of students hanging behind him. Absent were the mayor and teachers union chief A.J. Duffy.

Romer also assailed Villaraigosa for the deal he struck with the state's powerful teachers unions last month to make way for the proposed legislation that would give him considerable control of the district.

"How can we allow elected officials to get together at midnight in a hotel room in Sacramento and on the back of an envelope begin to dictate the future of your children based on false information?" Romer said.

To help shape their strategy in fighting the bill, district officials said Thursday they have hired political heavyweights John Burton and Richard Polanco, both former state senators. In addition, political consultant Sue Burnside is expected to coordinate outreach to parents. Burton and Polanco, who each are being paid $35,000, joined school financing expert John Mockler, who was hired at $10,000 a month.

The superintendent's barrage did nothing to quiet the mayor. At his news conference, he cited several recent studies that concluded that only about half of the students in the L.A. system graduate on time. Villaraigosa has used the studies repeatedly to hammer district leadership for failing to increase graduation rates.

Later Thursday, Villaraigosa visited a Westwood church to discuss his school reform plan with about 500 people, some of them bused in by the mayor's campaign committee.

After an aide outlined the proposed legislation, AB 1381, Villaraigosa spent about 45 minutes answering a wide range of questions, some of which he has encountered repeatedly. Audience members, for example, asked why Villaraigosa decided to seek legislation instead of putting the issue to a local vote and questioned how his plan would retain teachers in the district's worst schools.

Villaraigosa said he sought the legislation to avoid a costly local fight and pledged to provide incentives to attract senior teachers to troubled schools.

"If we don't do something about our schools, we're not going to be able to compete for the good jobs. We're not going to be able to support a middle class," Villaraigosa responded when asked why he wanted to take responsibility for the school district.

On Wednesday, Villaraigosa delivered a similar message to about 1,000 parents packed into Victory Baptist Church in South Los Angeles. He told the mothers and fathers — whom he called "the silent majority" — that they were indispensable in his effort to transform L.A. Unified.

The school takeover bill calls for a complex power-sharing arrangement in which Villaraigosa, the elected school board and the superintendent would be responsible for overseeing different aspects of the 727,000-student district. The mayor had initially sought complete control but was forced to back away by union leaders who opposed the idea.

If the bill is approved by legislators in August, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has promised to sign it into law. It would give Villaraigosa the power to hire and fire the superintendent and to control three clusters of low-performing campuses.

Repeating ideas he has trotted out frequently in his education campaign, Villaraigosa called Wednesday for every school to have a parent resource center and a parent coordinator, though he did not say how he would pay for any of the new services.

Several parents said they were encouraged by Villaraigosa's proposed school reforms.

"The school district has been very rude with parents," said Martha Sanchez, a parent of three district students and a member of Acorn, a grass-roots organization supportive of the mayor. "We have to put our potential with this bill. We don't have any other option."

But Cheryl Razor said she wasn't convinced that a Villaraigosa-led district would improve circumstances for her 10-year-old son, a special education student. "I thought it was a show," Razor said of his appearance.


By Duke Helfand, Times Staff Writer

July 19, 2006 - The Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., one of the San Fernando Valley's leading business groups, announced Tuesday that it opposes the legislative compromise Villaraigosa struck with teachers unions in Sacramento, saying the deal would deny local voters a direct say over the fate of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The Independent Cities Assn., which represents Los Angeles and most of the other 27 cities served by the school district, registered its protest last weekend.

It cited, among other things, concerns about Villaraigosa's controlling vote on a "council of mayors" that would oversee the school district.

The California State PTA also gave a thumbs down to the mayor's plan last weekend, questioning whether the proposed division of power among the mayor, superintendent and elected school board would adequately serve parents already bewildered by L.A. Unified's mammoth bureaucracy.

"Even the people who are advocating for the bill have trouble explaining exactly who is accountable for what," said Pam Brady, the state PTA's president-elect. "It's just confusing."

The mounting opposition builds on concerns raised recently by Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad, who told Villaraigosa in a letter that he opposed the effort because it would not truly empower the mayor to run the schools.

The concerns from different quarters come at a delicate time for Villaraigosa, who is trying to drum up support for his school legislation by lobbying local business groups and parent organizations as well as lawmakers in Sacramento.

Tonight, Villaraigosa plans to hold the first of four local town hall meetings to sell his district takeover plan to parents.

Villaraigosa's aides insisted that his vision for L.A. Unified enjoys the support of a growing constituency. On Tuesday, his staff released the names of several groups and individuals they said have endorsed the school initiative, including the Youth Policy Institute, Green Dot Public Schools, the Service Employees International Union and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

"From state leaders to local parent groups, Mayor Villaraigosa is assembling a broad coalition of support for his proposal to reform our public schools," said spokeswoman Janelle Erickson. "The mayor's education reform proposal continues to gain support because people are recognizing it as a historic opportunity to fundamentally reform our schools by strengthening accountability and empowering parents and educators."

The head of the county labor federation said Villaraigosa's plan offers the true promise of a quality education for the children of Los Angeles' working-class families, those most affected by the public school system.

"The effort to improve public education for all our children can only be achieved by forging a broad alliance of organized labor, community members, elected leaders, parents and other civic-minded leaders," said Maria Elena Durazo, the federation's executive secretary-treasurer. "We believe that [this plan] embodies the essential elements of fundamental reform and partnership and is a strong step in the right direction."

Still, Villaraigosa's aides have been scrambling in recent days to amend the school takeover legislation, AB 1381, to satisfy state lawmakers and win their support when they return from recess in early August.

It is unclear what effect the opposition of community and business groups will have on the legislation, in part because of Villaraigosa's powerful allies in Sacramento, including Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles), who co-wrote the bill, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has pledged to sign it.

The measure passed through the Senate Education Committee last month and now faces votes in the Senate Appropriations Committee and full Senate.

One lawmaker said it is likely to win the support of the Democratic majority in part because of goodwill toward Villaraigosa, a former Assembly speaker.

"It's juiced up and it's happening," said Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles), chairwoman of the lower house's Education Committee.

Goldberg said she hasn't decided yet whether to support the bill and hopes to hold at least one informational hearing in Los Angeles.

In the coming weeks, Villaraigosa will have to fight on two fronts, one in Los Angeles, the other in Sacramento.

Several local civic groups, including the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, are watching the unfolding debate as they ponder their own positions.

The Valley organization's directors said Tuesday that they doubted that Villaraigosa's plan would lead to an increased role for the mayor or a path toward breakup of the district, the two viable options in its view.

"There is no evidence that this plan has been thought through," said Bob Scott, the Valley group's chairman. "This seems to make everything more complicated rather than simpler."


From BoardBuzz, the WebBlog of the National School Boards Association

July 18, 2006 - Lest anyone doubted that private school vouchers would be front and center in the debate to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) a leading group of senators and representatives joined U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today to announce otherwise. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and John Ensign (R-NV) and Representatives Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), who chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and Sam Johnson (R-TX), introduced legislation today to establish a national voucher program proposed by President Bush in his FY2007 budget request to Congress.

Although the House Appropriations Committee voted last month to provide no money for the program and the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to do likewise this week, the introduction of legislation to establish the program is a new front in the battle to create vouchers on a broader scale. The president has requested between $50 million and $100 million for voucher programs in each budget he has sent to Congress but lawmakers have refused to go along. NSBA opposes private school vouchers.

The new legislation is linked to NCLB as it would offer vouchers worth up to $4,000 per student for students in public schools identified for "restructuring" because of not making "Adequate Yearly Progress" in NCLB. Although public school performance under NCLB would serve as the trigger for the voucher, private schools would be eligible to receive taxpayer dollars without facing equal public accountability.

Asked point blank today about the bill's chances in a Congressional session whose days are rapidly dwindling, Chairman McKeon said he does not see the measure passing this year but that proponents are looking ahead to NCLB's reauthorization, scheduled for next year.

New NAEP study generates talk
Meanwhile, the public release last Friday of a new U.S. Department of Education study examining public and private school students' math and reading scores on the 2003 NAEP continues to generate heat, and reporters at today's voucher press conference wanted to know more. The study found that after controlling for socioeconomic and demographic factors public school students perform about evenly with private school students. Specifically, public school students outperformed private school pupils by a statistically significant margin on 4th grade math, were outperformed by private school pupils by a statistically signficant margin on 8th grade reading, and performed about equally to private school students on 4th grade reading and 8th grade math. The new findings build on 2005 research showing public schools outperforming private schools when student/family characteristics are considered.

The findings also undercut an underlying argument for vouchers that private schools, simply by being private, are superior to public schools. Sensing that, and apparently quite unhappy with a Wall Street Journal article headlined "Long-Delayed Education Study Casts Doubt on Value of Vouchers," top voucher advocates have responded swiftly, attempting to downplay the study.

Among the arguments put forth by detractors of the study is that public schools outspend private schools and that may have something to do with the difference in achievement. Seriously. Voucher advocates are actually raising the issue of spending on education possibly having an impact on student achievement. Spending on private school education anyway.

This whole flare up over NAEP scores has an eerily similar feel to it, as well as the interesting arguments by common critics of traditional public schools. Remember the great charter school NAEP brouhaha from two years ago? Refresh your memory here.

Seems to us that the bottom line is actually a pretty simple one. Schools, be they traditional public, public charter, private or religious, all come in different flavors. Some are excellent, some are good, some are just plain okay, and some are lousy. But the country's primary responsibility is to ensure that the public schools, open to all students and which for decades have educated 90 percent of the nation's students, are as good as they possibly can be. Divesting in them by channeling public dollars to private schools that do not accept all students and are not publicly accountable is counterproductive.

14% OF LAUSD SENIORS FLUNK EXIT TEST: Results may affect district leadership tussle
by Rachel Uranga, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

July 22, 2006 - North Hollywood - In the first year of mandatory testing, 14 percent of LAUSD's senior class failed the High School Exit Exam, compared with 9 percent statewide, fueling the debate over the district's future leadership.

The latest figures were released Friday and reflect the results of math and English-language exams administered in May, the final testing date before 2006 commencements. Statewide, some 40,000 students did not pass the test in time to graduate with their classmates.

"These are the students who have multiple opportunities to pass," said Esther Wong, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District. "This is a challenging group of students, but our district refuses to give up (on) these students."

California Schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell, who announced the state results at a news conference at North Hollywood High, said the state will be adding testing dates, including some Saturdays, throughout the year to provide more opportunities for students to pass.

The scores come as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa jockeys for greater control over LAUSD, which is struggling to bring up student test scores and lower its dropout rate.

And while local figures were unavailable, statewide results show that poor students and English-language learners continue to lag behind their classmates.

Still, O'Connell maintained that the controversial test will help LAUSD and other districts laser in on problem areas.

"I credit the High School Exit Exam with bringing more focus, more attention and more sunshine to the work that still needs to be done," he said.

But for some of the students attending summer school Friday at North Hollywood High, the goal of getting a diploma seems unattainable.

"It's so frustrating for me, it seems impossible," said Celia Benegas, a 21-year-old Honduran immigrant who has taken the CAHSEE six times and was studying to take it again next week.

"We come here and we don't know English and the English we do know is so different," she said.

Students in the Class of 2006 were the first who must pass the exit exam, administered to 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders.

Students can take the test a total of seven times, once their sophomore year and three times each in their junior and senior years. If they don't pass by June, they must attend summer school, with another opportunity to pass the test after that.

If they don't pass the test after summer school, they must attend adult school and take the test until they pass.

The state has poured about $70 million into boot camps and other after-school programs intended to boost test scores. Still, about 5 percent of all the state's students did not graduate this year because they failed the test.

▲smf notes 2 things: 1. "Tussle" is the 4LAKids vocabulary word of the week! When before did you ever see "tussle" in a headline? 2. Do the math: One needs to pass the test to graduate. 9% of the state's seniors failed he test, but "about 5 percent of all the state's students did not graduate this year because they failed the test." What happened to the other 4%?


DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ IN 4LAKids! Due to some extraordinary parliamentary maneuvering, political arm twisting and extreme hardball by the Speaker of the Assembly and the Mayor of Los Angeles – both committed beyond doubt to involving parents and the community in public debate - the three Assembly Education Committee Hearings on AB 1381 – The Mayor's/UTLA/CTA Plan for LAUSD Governance - previously scheduled and reported in 4LAKids as being next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday throughout LA have been reduced to a single hearing on Thursday:

Date: Thursday, July 27, 2006
Time: 5:30 to 8:30 PM

This meeting is the only opportunity for parents, classroom teachers principals and other community members to address legislators about AB 1381 in the Los Angeles area. Make your voice heard.

Irving Middle School
3010 Estara, LA 90065

For more information: 213-241-7000 or 323-258-0450

The hearing starts at 5:30 BUT PLEASE PLAN TO BE THERE EARLY (BEFORE 5 PM) to sign up if you want to speak. THIS IS THE ONE CHANCE TO HEAR AND BE HEARD ON AB 1381 IN LOS ANGELES.

Be one with the tussle!

[map to Irving Middle School]

What can YOU do?
►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 • 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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