Sunday, October 15, 2006

Admiral's on the bridge.

4LAKids: Sunday, October 15, 2006
In This Issue:
BEYOND NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND Bigger Issues in the Room We Can’t Ignore While Debating the Federal Law
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 @!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
Unlike the Mayor and the Senator quoted in the article below, I'm writing this after having met Admiral Brewer — LAUSD's new Superintendent. Like the mayor I would have liked to see more transparency in the selection process – but the mayor himself made that impossible.

On first impression Brewer is impressive; though neither a professional educator nor a politician he proved himself adept at both – charming the press, parents and the Beaudry crowd …and reaching out to the greater community, the mayor and the council of mayors.

Governor Romer has said of his appointment as LAUSD Superintendent six years ago that his seeking and acceptance of the job caused many to question his judgment. Brewer faces no less a challenge (…or opportunity – depending on your view of how full or empty the glass!) The admiral does enjoy the unanimous support of the Board of Education …and as Romer shared at the press conference: That was not true of his appointment!

• Brewer promises not reform but transformation.
• He says the No Child Left Behind is a star too low.
• And he proposes that LA have a world class school system for a world class city. Who can argue with any of that?

I certainly wish the admiral well and will give him such support as I can – and I ask that all of us – parents, teachers, students, administrators, community members, taxpayers, citizens and non-citizens – and politicians - do the same.

Admiral Halsey said there are no great men; only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstance to face. There can be no doubt that LAUSD in the current climate presents a great challenge in extraordinary circumstances. —smf


by Joel Rubin and Howard Blume, LA Times Staff Writers

October 13, 2006 — The Los Angeles Board of Education unanimously selected retired Navy Vice Adm. David L. Brewer III to be the next superintendent Thursday amid a battle for control of the school system between the board and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Brewer, 60, who left the Navy in March, is a non-educator who, school board members say, impressed them with his intelligence, accomplishments and leadership skills. He recently headed the Military Sealift Command, where he oversaw the supply chain for equipment, fuel and ammunition for U.S. forces worldwide. He was in charge of more than 8,000 military and civilian personnel and about 120 ships.

"I'm honored and humbled to be selected as the next superintendent of L.A. Unified and look forward to working with all the stakeholders in the city for the children of Los Angeles," said Brewer, who spoke briefly when reached by phone. The school board intends to introduce him at a morning news conference.

Despite broad management experience, Brewer has never run a school district, let alone one which is the scene of a rhetorical and legal war between Villaraigosa and the school board.

The mayor, who is in Asia on a trade mission, said he hoped that the new superintendent would be an advocate for change in the district but that he was disappointed with the board's selection process.

Members of the committee that turned over the names of five finalists for the job predicted that the admiral would have the skills and experience to take charge.

Running the Los Angeles Unified School District is about "managing a complex organization with limited resources. That's what it comes down to," said Scott Plotkin, executive director of the California School Boards Assn. "That and inspiring, leading people. Brewer will be a true leader for the district and a force in the community on behalf of the district, which is something they badly need."

After meeting all day in closed session, members of the school board unexpectedly announced their unanimous decision just before 7 p.m. Thursday in a brief public session before a virtually empty boardroom.

Board President Marlene Canter called Brewer "a giant of a man" who has "education in his DNA" — his mother was a teacher for more than four decades. His wife is a middle school teacher with a doctorate. Canter predicted that Brewer, who will move from the Washington, D.C., area to take the job, would become a civic leader in Los Angeles.

"His leadership capabilities, his intellect, his experience led us to believe, without really any doubt, that this man will be able to take on the second-largest school district and represent every single kid," Canter said.

She said Brewer could take control of the district in as quickly as a month. The length of Brewer's contract and his salary remain to be negotiated. Canter indicated, however, that she expected the board to offer Brewer a multiyear contract.

"Longevity is important," she said, adding that Brewer "made it very clear to us that he understood that this is not a short-term job."

Before he departed, Villaraigosa insisted that the board should await his return and include him in the selection process. He wanted to review the entire list of potential candidates.

But Villaraigosa and the school board were unable to agree on a role for the mayor. The school board's last and best offer was to let Villaraigosa interview finalists and provide input, much like a school board member — provided that he ultimately supported the board's choice.

The mayor declined, insisting on a role more consistent with new powers he would have as of Jan. 1, when a law giving him substantial authority over local schools is scheduled to take effect.

Under the Villaraigosa-backed legislation, the mayor would be able to veto the hiring and firing of superintendents through a council of local mayors that he would dominate. The fate of the law itself is in limbo because of a legal challenge filed Tuesday by the school district and others.

Canter said she notified the mayor's office immediately after the board's decision.

The reaction from City Hall and district critics was immediate.

"I am deeply disappointed that the school board would move ahead with selecting a superintendent without the participation of the council of mayors, parents and the Los Angeles community," Villaraigosa told The Times. "I'm hopeful that I will have the opportunity to meet with Mr. Brewer and discuss his qualifications and philosophy about education reform. I'm looking forward to working with him, parents and teachers to improve our schools."

The response was less measured from state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), who co-sponsored the legislation that gave Villaraigosa his sought-after authority.

"Maybe they got it right choosing an admiral because this is like the Titanic, a sinking ship," Romero said. "I don't know the admiral, and I will meet the admiral. But this is a complete mockery, a complete snubbing of the mayor and the will of the Legislature. This is the school board thumbing their noses in the most horrendous way. They're going to get their guy without giving a damn about anything that has occurred in Los Angeles or in California in the last year and a half."

The school board was in no mood to wait for the new rules to take effect or even for the mayor to return from abroad Oct. 22. It delivered its verdict less than two weeks after a search committee turned over five names.

"The timing of the mayor's trip had nothing to do with this," Canter said. "The mayor has his job; he has his calendar; he has his agenda. He's doing his work. We have our work, our own schedule. We started this in February."

In choosing Brewer, with his commander's bearing and impressive resume, the school board hopes to insulate itself from complaints that it acted hastily.

The mayor, in turn, if he is perceived as unfairly critical of Brewer, who is African American, runs the risk of backlash, particularly in the black community. In the last mayoral election, large numbers of voters in South Los Angeles switched from incumbent James K. Hahn to Villaraigosa in part because Hahn fired African American Police Chief Bernard C. Parks. And support for Villaraigosa's move for control of the school district is mixed among members of the black community.

Brewer, a native of Farmville, Va., who was raised in Orlando, Fla., began his Navy career in 1970 after graduating from the historically black school Prairie View A&M University in Texas. At the time, only 250 of 72,000 total officers were African Americans.

"I had a tough time. I had to overcome a lot of what I considered to be inherent bias in the Navy toward African Americans. But I did have a lot of role models along the way, both African American and white, and they really sustained me throughout my career," Brewer said in an interview last year with The Black Collegian magazine.

His first assignment was as an electronic warfare officer aboard a guided missile cruiser. He moved up quickly through the ranks, holding a wide variety of positions including minority recruiting officer.

Late in his Navy career he earned a series of command roles, culminating with his sealift role in August 2001. He also served briefly as vice chief of naval education and training, which offers academic and naval training to sailors. In October, 2002, he was promoted to vice admiral.

Among board members, Brewer won the support of Monica Garcia, who is considered a staunch ally of the mayor.

"I would have liked to see a more transparent process and would have liked the mayor to have a role in the selection," Garcia said.

But Brewer "presented an attitude of inclusion and an understanding that the district isn't going to do this alone."

Non-educators, including former military leaders, have a mixed record running school districts. The most notable example of a military leader who ran a school system is Army Maj. Gen. John Stanford, who headed the Seattle public schools from 1995 until his death from leukemia in 1998.

"John Stanford did an outstanding job of changing the perception of the school district of the business community and even the community of parents from quite negative to quite positive," said Dick Clark of the Seattle-based Institute for Educational Inquiry.

Brewer will succeed another non-educator, former three-term Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, who had announced plans to retire from L.A. Unified as soon as a successor could be named.

Romer had some advantages — he had been considered a leader among governors on education issues and had substantial experience dealing with teacher unions in Colorado.

But Romer, for one, expressed no doubts about Brewer.

"Great decision," Romer said. "He'll be a great leader."

• Times staff writer Stuart Silverstein reported from Los Angeles; Times staff writer Duke Helfand reported from China.

►David L. Brewer III
Age: 60
• Hometown: Farmville, Va. Raised in Orlando, Fla.
• Previous job: Recently retired after 36 years in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of vice [3 star] admiral. In his last post, he headed the Military Sealift Command, where he oversaw the supply chain for equipment, fuel and ammunition for U.S. forces worldwide. He was in charge of more than 8,000 people and 124 ships.
• Awards: Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (three), Meritorious Service Medal (two) and the Navy Achievement Medal
• Education: Graduate of Prairie View A&M University; attended Naval War College
• Family: Married; one child
Sources: U.S. Navy biography, Who's Who in America, Times reports.

LOVE + SPIN: All The News/Much more up to the minute than above on Superintendent Brewer – from the Daily Breeze to the International Herald Tribune!


On Tuesday the school district, California School Boards Association, The League of Women Voters, the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, both PTA Districts in LAUSD, Congressperson Diane Watson and a number of LAUSD parents filed suit challenging the constitutionally of AB 1381 – Mayoral Takeover of LAUSD – and questioning the impact upon the voting rights of citizens and the equity of education within the Mayor's demonstration project at his three clusters of schools. Here's what I said at the press conference as a representative of PTA …and I'm sticking with my story:

"The Parents, Teachers and Students of LAUSD – PTA's constituency – are about witness the third act in a very quick dramatic civics lesson about government in our state and nation – made famous in the '70s PBS series Schoolhouse Rock – and the episodes "Three Ring Government" and "I'm Just a Bill".

• We saw how a bill works it way through the LEGISLATIVE BRANCH; we witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly of the legislative process.
• We saw it go the Governor's Desk in the EXECUTIVE BRANCH, we heard him promise to sign anything in advance, we saw him sign it, and we've heard him promise to sign others like it in the future.
• Now we are going to see it through the JUDICIAL BRANCH. Hopefully, for the sake of the children, as quickly as it went through the first two.

"We in PTA would have preferred to see the bill stopped in the legislature, or at the governor's desk; but that was not to be.

"In 1946 PTA signed the ballot argument and campaigned for Proposition 3, the constitutional amendment that passed by 74% and set the stage for California Education's Golden Age of the 50's and 60's — and removed municipal governments from school district governance. That state constitutional amendment has stood the test of time, unchallenged, for sixty years – until now. Now it is being challenged and we are here with other parents, with our friends in the School Boards Association and the Administrators, with elected officials and the school district and the League of Women Voters to defend that constitutional separation of powers. We are not defending LAUSD or the status quo or this Board of Education — but the very (small "d", small "r") democratic and republican principle that ONLY WE THE PEOPLE can change the state constitution – AT THE BALLOT BOX!

"We believe that PTA was right in 1946 ….and we believe we are doing the right thing now, in 2006."

►"The bottom line here is that we already have a school governance structure in place that has resulted in marked improvements in student achievement, and this lawsuit is all about protecting our school boards from disruptive and unnecessary takeovers like this one," said Paul Chatman, vice president of CSBA.

Assembly Bill 1381, the enabling legislation that Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez pushed through the state Legislature shortly before it adjourned in August, violates California school governance laws, the lawsuit argues.

Article IX, Section 6 of the California Constitution states that no "part of the public schoolsystem 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."
Mayors and city councils derive their authority from other sections of the constitution and have no part in the "public school system," the plaintiffs assert.

"The speaker needs to realize that his legislation skirted the law, that it circumvented our
state constitution, and that’s why were going to court over this issue," said Scott P. Plotkin, executive director of CSBA. "The last thing anyone wanted was a drawn-out legal battle, but the mayor’s plan clearly violates both the letter and spirit of the law."

►AALA president, Michael O’Sullivan, made the following statement as to AALA’s purpose for joining the suit:

"The Associated Administrators of Los Angeles represents nearly 3000 middle managers of this District including all the principals and assistant principals in our nearly 800 school sites.

"We are joining this action for three reasons:

1. We believe in the concept of a democratically elected school board, which is fundamental to the concept of true accountability to the parents and communities of this District.

2. We believe that solid observable and quantifiable progress has occurred in this District over the last six years, and it would be foolhardy to even consider any sudden disruptive changes when the system is finally working.

3. This poorly crafted piece of quasi-legislation does not absolutely guarantee the due process rights that our members have a right to expect under California law.

"Our differences of opinion are not with the Mayor per se or with UTLA or any other entity. We simply have the right to seek an impartial legal opinion in this matter, and we choose to exercise that option."

►"Decisions about local governance belong first with those people directly affected," the League of Women Voters said in a statement.

Xandra Kayden, a former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the said in an interview with the Daily News: "Sometimes people are surprised when we take a position, but they forget we're the gold standard. We don't take a position unless we've really studied it.

"In the case of Assembly Bill 1381, the league was troubled that voters didn't get a say in such a major shift in governing Los Angeles Unified. A committee met with experts on the City Charter and the state Constitution before the league decided to join the lawsuit challenging the legislation.

"We are an independent organization and part of our credibility is that people know we're not doing it for political reasons. For us, being accused of being partisan would tarnish our image. Taking on controversial issues doesn't."


BEYOND NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND Bigger Issues in the Room We Can’t Ignore While Debating the Federal Law
Commentary by Thomas Sobol in EdWeek | Published: September 20, 2006

It’s a new school year, and the No Child Left Behind Act partisans are oiling their muskets and forming their ranks. The pros are out to close the achievement gap, to shame people into accountability, to change the public system if necessary (or if possible). The cons attack the clumsy testing systems, the diminished curricula, the one-boot-fits-all approach to education reform. In both camps, arguments are sharpened, strategies devised, conscripts recruited. All are ready for the 2007 reauthorization of the federal law—or the 2008 reauthorization, if politics dictate. The battle will dominate education policymaking for at least the coming year, perhaps longer.

Which is as it should be, given the sweeping nature of the legislation and its effects. But some of us are concerned that this preoccupation with the No Child Left Behind law, understandable as it is, will cause us to do nothing or little about other important, far-reaching educational issues—issues at least as important as those arising from No Child Left Behind. It would be unwise not to give such matters the continuing attention they deserve.

A loosely organized cadre of currently serving and recently retired school superintendents, called Public Schools for Tomorrow, has been discussing these issues throughout the past year. We believe that superintendents with a lifelong commitment to educating all children can bring a unique perspective to the dialogue. Here are six of the issues we have identified.


Equal educational opportunity is the great promise of American life. Most of us grew up believing that if you worked hard enough and got good grades in school, you would get a good job and raise a prosperous family, no matter what your parents’ race, class, or creed. We have often failed to keep that promise. The test results associated with the No Child Left Behind law show that, despite scattered gains, school achievement continues to be closely tied to family background. Taken as a whole, what we are doing to break that connection is not enough.

The “adequacy” litigation undertaken in recent years in many of the states is one promising initiative. Litigants identify the resources and conditions students need to meet the learning standards in their states, and seek judicial authority to compel the provision of those resources and conditions. Whether by this route or some other, government—local, state, and federal—must see that all children have access to the means they need for educational success. You cannot achieve equity of outcome without adequacy of input. As the New York Times columnist and best-selling author Thomas L. Friedman writes, “[T]he biggest challenge and opportunity facing us today [is] the flattening of the global economic playing field in a way that is allowing more people from more places to compete and collaborate with your kids and mine than ever before.” Let’s make sure that all our children get what they need to compete in this new world.


From the time of its origins to the present day, our public school system has had as one of its chief tasks the integration of immigrant children into the mainstream of American economic and civic life. “E pluribus unum” did not happen by accident. By and large, our efforts have been effective. A quick scan of the day’s news is all that is needed to make us thankful that our country is not coming apart at its seams—as appears to be the case in the Middle East, in Africa, in the Balkans, in the former Soviet Union.

In an era of presumed education reform, we hear little about what the substance and method of our teaching and learning should be.

What is salutary in the long run may be controversial in the making. Today we are experiencing an influx of “foreign” children, largely from Asia and Central America. How we handle these children—soon to become a majority in large parts of our country—will determine what their lives will be, and what ours will be in turn. The stakes are high, so the questions abound. How can we best get these children to speak, read, and write English? Who goes to school, and with whom? How should schools communicate with non-English-speaking parents? What kinds of tests should immigrant children be required to pass? How can we close the achievement gap between these children and those in the majority population? How can we make “Americans” of these children in their own lifetimes, while respecting the cultural identity of their families?

We need to raise and debate these questions now, or leave the outcomes to blind chance and happenstance. One way or another, our nation will be changed.


As Jefferson tells us and most of us know, our form of government and ways of life depend upon an educated citizenry. Preparing young people for effective participation in a democratic society is a fundamental purpose of our public schools. In recent years, however, our preoccupation with the basic skills of math and reading has limited our attention to this larger purpose. Of course children should learn the basics of math and reading, but there are other basics as well. In a world in which democracy is under attack—both at home and abroad—students should build a solid foundation in the theory and practice of democracy. Sample questions: Why does so much of the world hate the United States? What should we teach our children to think and do about the matter? How can we develop our schools to be learning communities in which the adults and the children model democracy by participating in significant decisions about their schools?


What should we teach, and how should we teach it? In an era of presumed education reform, we hear little about what the substance and method of our teaching and learning should be. We have mapped the stars and the human genome, set foot on the moon, and harnessed the power of nuclear energy—but our multiple-choice tests measure recall of factoids from the curriculum of the 1950s. We need vibrant discourse about what the new (perhaps competing) curricula should be. And we need also to debate the issue of who should decide: the federal government? the states? local school districts? teachers?

In recent years, the states, first on their own and then at the behest of the federal government, have established standards of curriculum content and student performance. Potentially, such standards can improve the quality of students’ education. But in most cases thus far, states have simply codified existing practice, fixing in place an increasingly obsolete curriculum. We have defined accountability as compliance, when what we need is the imagination to conceive bold new systems of inquiry. To paraphrase Robert Frost, we need to go to school to learn the future as well as the past.


Most people understand that if children are to learn better, they must be taught better. There is no more important variable in children’s schooling than the quality of their teachers.

While we’re paraphrasing, we might as well quote this apocryphal line from Julius Caesar: “I came, I saw, iPod.” The coming of the iPod and its siblings and clones symbolizes our ability to place in each child’s hands the key to all existing knowledge— and to openings of worlds to come. Thus far, the schools have merely scratched the surface of new communications capacity. We have used the technology as a prop for existing curricula and operations, when its power lies in creating new curricula and fundamentally different ways of organizing for teaching and learning. In our charter schools and small, theme-based high schools, we have created opportunities for bold new technology-centered ventures. Where are they? Why is it so hard to transcend what the education historians Larry Cuban and David Tyack call “the grammar of schooling”? Are our own standards and testing programs getting in our way?


Most people understand that if children are to learn better, they must be taught better. There is no more important variable in children’s schooling than the quality of their teachers. The No Child Left Behind law and similar approaches attempt to shame teachers into doing better. They assume that teachers know what to do to be more effective, but for some perverse reason decline to do so. But often teachers do not know what to do to be more effective. They need opportunities to learn from one another and from expert practitioners, and they need time to integrate new knowledge and methods into their own teaching practice. As Susan Fuhrman, the new president of Teachers College, Columbia University, notes: “If we want improvement for all students, at scale, we’d better think less about new, different reform approaches and more about investing in the necessary capacity to bring about coherent, sustained, instructionally focused strategies.”

In short, we need to find ways to attract able and effective people into the profession of teaching, to educate teachers well in both the content and methods of their work, and to support practicing teachers with professional development linked to their daily work with standards and students. The piecemeal, underfunded initiatives that exist at present are inadequate to the need. We need a national, systemic, adequately funded program to develop the capacities of our teaching corps.

These are issues that will affect our children’s education long after the No Child Left Behind Act has had its day. They should not be neglected now.

►Thomas Sobol, a former state commissioner of education for New York, is the Christian A. Johnson professor, emeritus, at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the executive director of Public Schools for Tomorrow. Information on the group is available by writing .


by Karen Karbo | New York Times Op-Ed

October 10, 2006 - Portland, Ore. - If you find yourself short of overpriced wrapping paper, scented candles, gourmet popcorn or coupon books for discounted meals at restaurants you never frequent, you’re in luck. Fall is here and with it school fund-raising season, when seemingly every elementary and middle school student from sea to shining sea is sent home from class with a glossy catalog and a complicated order sheet and told to go forth and squeeze money out of their friends, relatives and neighbors.

School fund-raisers pulled in $1.7 billion dollars last year, but over the last five years or so, sales have dropped 11 percent. As a fund-raising fatigued parent who’s spent the last nine years overseeing the peddling of everything from holiday greens to frozen cookie dough to custom water bottles, I predict the downward trend will continue.

I do not think I’m alone in panicking when the doorbell rings, fearful that it is the adorable second grader down the street trafficking in cheesecake. I bet I’m not the only one who hides behind the sofa after peeking through the curtains and discovering the person on the front porch is four feet tall and accompanied by a disgruntled grown-up.

Enlisting families as fund-raisers may have been a fresh idea for supplementing school budgets last century, but it’s rapidly evolved into an onerous duty that’s fun for no one, especially parents who are already overwhelmed by chauffeuring, playdate wrangling and science-project managing duties.

But woe to the parent who ignores his child’s fund-raiser; in these belt-tightening times, selling stuff doesn’t just raise money for new uniforms for the marching band — it also keeps the computer lab up and running and the heat on in the winter. To blow off the fund-raiser is tantamount to being anti-education. On the other hand, avid participation guarantees that your neighbors and co-workers will run when they see you coming.

The best way to endure the fund-raising season is to leverage your own child’s (sibling’s, niece’s, nephew’s ...) fund-raiser; when a co-worker intercepts you on the way to the washroom to sheepishly shill his first grader’s Domino’s discount cards, you agree to buy two if he’ll buy your third grader’s English toffee in a decorative tin.

Unfortunately, that gets trickier on a block where there are several children in the same class at the same school. Everyone is selling the same junk, and you wind up springing for the same tub of chocolate-mint caramel corn you buy from your own child.

If you have more than three children, nothing works and you must accept the reality that you’re doomed. I knew a family with five children, one in each grade of grammar school, and by mid-October the parents were hollow-eyed and twitching. They just gave up and bought $50 of whatever from each child and gave it out as Christmas presents.

It’s telling that by the time the first fund-raiser is done, most students hate the whole thing. No first grader quite gets why Mommy goes off to work with the pretty book with the pictures of candy, then brings it back again, accompanied with slips of paper called checks.

Just last week, two older girls showed up on my front porch selling coupon books. You could tell they’d been fund-raising for years. They were so weighed down with existential ennui they could barely get through their spiel. I asked, "Now what is this for again?" One girl answered, "We have no idea."

She may not have any idea, but parents, when we stop and think — which we don’t do often, so busy are we madly organizing the checks, order forms and actual orders, once they arrive — know exactly what’s going on. Rather than directing our energy toward lobbying local and federal governments to cure the growing and chronic problem of inadequate school budgets, we’re busy applying Band-Aids in the form of selling magazines and junk food. As long as we race around headless chicken-style making up each year’s shortfall, budgets will continue to shrink and more students will find themselves having no idea why they’re being sent door to door, or cubicle to cubicle, like a character out of Dickens.

Fixing national and statewide financing is a staggering long-term project. Fortunately, I can suggest a far easier, more immediate cure for the madness, one that would also assure every fund-raiser is a great success. Every year the top five sellers in each class are rewarded with a pass; then next year they don’t have to participate in the fund-raiser. Likewise, the name of every customer will be entered in a drawing, where the grand prize is to avoid being contacted by any student in the school, as long as you both shall live.

It’s a perfect solution. But it would work, of course, only until everyone in the nation ran out of wrapping paper.

• Karen Karbo is the author of "The Stuff of Life: A Daughter’s Memoir."

►GO STRAIGHT TO COLLEGE: Students who don’t pass the Exit Exam can attend Community Colleges

Our | Los Angeles

by Cynthia E. Griffin, OW Staff Writer

Friday, Oct. 13, 2006 - Among the 1,700 or so bills that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved or vetoed by Oct. 2, was a simply-worded piece of legislation crafted by Senator Richard Alarcon and passed easily by both the Assembly and the Senate that would have allowed community colleges in the state to concurrently award an associate degree and a high school diploma.

The governor vetoed the bill and in his message said he feared the proposed bill circumvented the California High School Exit Exam. “I must reject such a change in policy,” he wrote. “If a high school diploma is to mean anything then those who earn diplomas must demonstrate their mastery of a common core of knowledge by passing an exam explicitly designed to test that mastery: The CAHSEE.”

Currently, there are hundreds of high school students concurrently enrolled in the state’s community colleges. These students have repeatedly passed the much more academically rigorous coursework and testing provided in a higher education institution such as a community college, and are awarded a high school diploma concurrently with the associates degree.

This year, right in the heart of South Central Los Angeles, seven seniors at Middle College High School, located on the campus of Los Angeles Southwest College, received their associates degree a week before being awarded a high school diploma.

Perhaps the governor and Superintendent Jack O’Connell fear students will eschew high school and the exit exam and rush to community colleges to finish their secondary education. If the end result is for students to master the material, then earning the much more difficult two-year college degree would surely mean they have mastered high school material.

According to the director of the high school diploma program at City College of San Francisco, most high school classes teach subjects from one book, one point of view in comparison to a similar college course which entails multiple points of view as well as a much more detailed analysis.

Former Los Angeles Unified School Board member Genethia Hayes called the governor’s move “wrong and short-sighted.”

“That is a very narrow interpretation of what Alarcon was trying to do. I don’t see any huge exodus of young people leaving high school to go to community college concurrently. And let’s talk about the dropouts. What about the person who drops out in the ninth grade, works for a while, and then sees they are not going to reach the middle class working the jobs they’ve had? So the individual decides to go back to school and enrolls in community college.

"You’re telling me something is wrong with that youngster receiving a high school diploma and associate arts degree so they can transfer to a U.C. or Cal State?” asked Hayes, who believes Alarcon’s bill would have increased the pool of young people interested in continuing their educational experience.

▲Shhhhh! - don't tell Arnold, but under California law, any student eighteen or over, whether or not a high school graduate, can enroll in community college — CAHSEE or no. Many returning servicemen after WWII enrolled in college under the GI Bill and graduated without ever receiving high school diplomas. I had a government/civics teacher in high school – as responsible for my interest in the subject as anyone (…with the possible exception of the misbehavior of one R. M. Nixon) who was NOT a high school graduate. —smf


from City News Service

LOS ANGELES – Oct 13, 2006 – (CNS) - The final deadline for eligible Los Angeles Unified students to enroll and receive free math or reading tutoring during the current school year is next Friday, Oct. 20, district officials said today.

More than 270,000 students in the district qualify for the assisted instruction from one of 55 state-approved tutoring services under the terms of the No Child Left Behind Act. Students can sign up if they are in their second year or later in a school that has not met its academic achievement goals for three years in a row.

Depending on the provider, tutoring is offered after school, on evenings, weekends and during periods school is not in session. Tutoring is offered to individuals and to groups.

"This is an unbelievable offer -- free tutoring in reading and math for thousands of our neediest students,'' Board of Education President Marlene Canter said.

Applications are available at eligible schools or by calling the LAUSD's Beyond the Bell branch at (213) 241-7900 or Families in Schools (866) 747-2275.

►TEENS EVEN LIE ABOUT LYING: A survey from the Josephson Institute shows that teens lie a lot, even on surveys.

LA Times Editorial

October 14, 2006 — Michael Josephson, that "Character Counts" character with those ubiquitous radio commentaries and that eponymous institute of ethics, has polled teenagers and once again found them to be liars, cheats and thieves. In other words, they're horribly … well, just like the rest of us.

Josephson has been surveying high school students about ethical behavior every two years since 1992, and this year he's grousing, justifiably, that they're just as morally unattractive as they were 14 years ago. Three-fifths said they cheated on a test within the last year; a third used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment; 62% lied to a teacher. Outside of class, they're hardly better: A little more than a fourth said they stole, and 57% said they'd lied to their parents. At least twice.

That's outrageous. Only 57%? Were these kids lying on the survey? As it turns out, 27% admitted doing exactly that, which probably means that the rest were lying about lying about their lying.

Think back, if it's not too painful, to adolescence. Did you ever make it through an entire year — or an entire month — without at least a few juicy untruths to Mom and Dad about where you'd been and what you'd been doing? For that matter, the pesky family dog who's been eating homework all these years has been alive longer than most Americans.

Some of us are so old that we didn't have the Internet. But when reports were due, plenty of kids handed in barely reworded (we preferred the phrase "carefully edited") passages from the Encyclopedia Britannica.

No doubt imitating the words they have heard from parents and teachers, high schoolers say ethical behavior is crucial. Three-fourths boast that they are far more upstanding than most people they know. At least they have a strong sense of self-esteem.

Yet many adults are equally self-deluding. We cluck at the public wrongdoing of others while we try to convince the IRS that our Salvation Army donation of used underwear was worth $150. (It's a good thing editorials are written anonymously.)

We can bemoan the misdeeds of teens, and indeed they're troubling. But before we disdain adolescents too fast, we should remember that, luckily for us, Josephson doesn't do a similar survey of adults.

►In a great test of ethics and morality the survey results are posted on the internet marked embargoed until October 15, 2006. You didn't read it first here!


EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Monday Oct 16, 2006
Please join us to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of your new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.
Maywood Academy High School
6125 Pine Ave.
Maywood, CA 90270

• Monday Oct 16, 2006
SOUTH REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #10: Presentation of Recommended Project Definition - At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:00 p.m.
Menlo Elementary School - Auditorium
4156 Menlo Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90037

• Monday Oct 16, 2006
VALLEY REGION SPAN K-8 #2: Presentation of Recommended Project Definition
At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:30 p.m.
Beckford Elementary School
19130 Tulsa St.
Northridge, CA 91326

• Tuesday Oct 17, 2006
SOUTH REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #14: Presentation of Recommended Project Definition- At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:00 p.m.
Peary Middle School
1415 W. Gardena Blvd.
Gardena, CA 90247

• Tuesday Oct 17, 2006
CENTRAL REGION MACARTHUR PARK PC ADDITION: Presentation of Recommended Project Definition- At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:30 p.m.
Charles E. White Elementary School
2401 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

• Tuesday Oct 17, 2006
VALLEY REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #13: Presentation of Recommended Project Definition - At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Vista Middle School
15040 Roscoe Blvd.
Panorama City, CA 91402

• Wednesday Oct 18, 2006
SOUTH REGION HIGH SCHOOL #13: Schematic Design Meeting
At this meeting we will:
* Present schematic design drawings
* Receive community input on the design of the project
6:00 p.m.
Charles Drew Middle School
8511 Compton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90001

• Wednesday Oct 18, 2006
VALLEY REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #14: Presentation of Recommended Project Definition - At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:30 p.m.
Columbus Avenue Elementary School
6700 Columbus Ave.
Van Nuys, CA 91405

• Thursday Oct 19, 2006
Please join us to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of your new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 1 p.m.
Cahuenga New Elementary School #1
225 S. Oxford Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

• Thursday Oct 19, 2006
SOUTH REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #9: Presentation of Recommended Project Definition- At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:00 p.m.

South East High School – Auditorium
2720 Tweedy Blvd.
South Gate, CA 90280

• Thursday Oct 19, 2006
VALLEY REGION BELLINGHAM ES ADDITION: Presentation of Recommended Project Definition - At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:30 p.m.
Bellingham Primary Center
Multi-Purpose Room
6728 Bellingham Ave.
North Hollywood, CA 91606

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
in the Board Room, 333 S. Beaudry Ave, LA 90017
Phone: 213.241.5201
Phone: 213.633.7616


What can YOU do?

• 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.
• Register.
• 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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