Sunday, November 19, 2006

Changing the pilot

4LAKids: Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006
In This Issue:
JACKIE GOLDBERG: The longtime legislator on 23 years in office, term limits, and going back to a lifetime concern: Education
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.
This week marked the change of superintendents at LAUSD as on Tuesday Roy Romer left his tattered chair on the horseshoe at Beaudry to David Brewer. As soon as he was gone from the dais Romer took the microphone facing the Board and began: "I want to take my three minutes of public speaker time to criticize the previous administration…" Godspeed.

By Wednesday the Times and Daily News were on about the current regime – at the Ed Summit (see below) Supt. Brewer acknowledged that the honeymoon is apparently already over.

OTHER DEPARTURES OF NOTE: Rumor has it that Education Secretary Alan Bersin approached Gov. Schwarzenegger on a trade mission to Mexico last week to say he wanted to make sure that Education was the administration's first priority this year. Schwarzenegger said it was not – he would focus on infrastructure and healthcare. Bersin resigned on Thursday.

City Beat notes the impending departure of Jackie Goldberg from politics – perhaps back to a Compton classroom. (This may start a trend: 4LAKids is doing our best to return Boardmember David Tokofsky to a Marshall HS classroom. The kids at JMHS – my daughter among them – need the once-and-future AP History teacher on the faculty!)

The dilemma of too many tests, too much time spent on testing and not high enough scores is apparent in PE and Science.

And business seems to have noticed education. 4LAKids usually shuns press releases, but the only press coverage of the Ed Summit were rewrites of the release, so we're just going with the original. The conference was interesting – but featured equal amounts of LAUSD boosting from the District and bashing from the Business Community – with a love bordering on infatuation for the charter school movement. There is good much thinking and many good things going on out there – but the business leaders were pretty united that these are exceptional …with a subtext that only The Mayor Might Fix Things.

I was speaking to Mayor Riordan at the summit and he posited that it might not be necessary to eliminate ALL the LAUSD bureaucrats at to shake things up. Just get rid of one of 'em – fire the worst of the worst rather publicly - and the rest may fall unto line! (Riordan tends to have ideas punctuated with exclamation points – it makes him dangerous but I like that about him!) This solution – right out of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Mikado" ("They'll none of 'em be missed…") has a certain resonance. I have candidates of my own …but I'm open to further suggestions!

…And the reason why the business types care? See "LA Wants a Piece of the Pie"… and show me the money! - smf



By Chris Coates - San Fernando Valley Business Journal Staff

11/20/2006 - Retired Navy Vice Admiral David L. Brewer III doesn’t hesitate to admit that becoming superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District was never his list of career goals growing up.

Instead, he spent 36 years crisscrossing the globe on ships, working his way up to leadership positions around the world and in Washington, D.C.

It was a long and decorated career – he earned three stars – and when Brewer was preparing to retire last year, he thought he would finally have the time to devote himself fully to one of his life’s passions.

“I committed myself to serving disadvantaged youth in the later part of my life,” he said.

So when he heard about the opening to replace the retiring LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer, Brewer on a whim applied – even though he had never taught in a classroom and his educational experience was limited to his stint as vice chief of naval education and training for the U.S. Navy.

Surprisingly, the search committee called Brewer in and after a series of interviews, he made it to the final five, then the final two.

Then, on Oct. 12, the Board of Education approved Brewer as the next superintendent of the LAUSD despite a law going into effect Jan. 1 giving L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa more control over the system, including hiring and firing the superintendent. (The mayor, who was in Asia on a trade mission when Brewer was nominated, had wanted to have a say in who was picked as the new superintendent.)

Since then, Villaraigosa and Brewer – who is paid a $300,000 salary – have pledged to work together to improve the district, which includes more than 700,000 students in L.A. and several surrounding cities.

A week before his contract went into effect Nov. 13, Brewer, who staffers have taken to calling “the admiral” without a hint of irony, sat down with the Business Journal in the LAUSD’s downtown headquarters to talk about what he wants to fix, who he wants to help him and how the business community fits into the picture.

“Did I want to be superintendent of schools?” he said. “Absolutely not. But, as will happen in life, things evolved.”

Question: It’s been a month since the announcement. Where are you at right now with plans?

Answer:We’re still very much in the listening and learning mode. It’s not very much learning the technical stuff. Any leader will say you have to learn the culture that you’re dealing with. There’s a different culture here politically; there’s a different culture here academically, culturally. With the number of (non-)English learners and homeless children.

You have 35 fabulous schools here, 17 in the Valley, so that’s a great benchmarking opportunity right there. That fits very well with my “world class” goal. So I already have 17 of 35 schools that I know are already on the path to being world class. So my job there is to make sure they are indeed competitive globally.

I want to go multilingual. Why not put Japanese, Chinese, other languages into these schools? With technology being what it is, why not create some virtual classrooms between some of our best-performing schools and some of the best-performing schools internationally? Those are some of the ideas I have right now.

Q: What about the business community?

A: I would like to see more partnerships with business. Clearly, I’ve got to have that.

Some of my ideas are going to have to be funded outside district funds. Because we’re for the core academics. But if I want to take some of the students from a high-performing high school (on a field trip) … to Singapore, I’m coming to the business community. I can’t do that out of district funds. I can’t just ask all the parents to do that.

Q: Have other school districts done this type of thing, where they go to the business community?

A: Absolutely.

Q: What other ones?

A: Seattle. John Stanford (a former Seattle Public School superintendent, who, like Brewer, came to that position in the late 1990s with no formal teaching background). A business alliance he formed. I’m probably going to do something similar to that. I don’t know exactly what.

Q: But why would businesses be responsive to that?

A: Because they have a stake in the education of every child (and) because you want a world-class workforce. If you have a world-class workforce, then you have a greater tax base. You now have people who can build your business. You have a better customer base. You have a lower tax base because you don’t have to pay for other things.

It costs a lot of money to run an urban school … because in addition to the core academics, we have to tack on sociological, mental health units, outreach coordinators, truancy officers. All of these we have to attach to that school. It costs money.

Imagine if you reduce the crime in L.A. how much less you would pay in taxes.

Q: Is it just money? What about businesses helping develop curriculums?

A: Yes. Business academies. Having people come in as leaders. A child needs to be able to relate in the classroom what they eventually want to be in life.

In the Navy, we found that the average high school graduate in this country could not balance a checkbook. So we had to add a course (about personal finance) for our sailors. I could move that back earlier and start a banking services module, say in the middle school level. But the business community is the one I’m going to depend on to come and show these children how to do their banking.

Q: Why did you want this job?

A: Passion. I have a passion for helping disadvantaged youth. Here are 700,000 kids, a large number of them disadvantaged. It’s the best of both worlds. We have some of the best schools in the nation here. So I can go out and touch some of the best schools and get some of the benchmarks and best practices into the poorer performing schools.

It’s just a great job.

▲SNAPSHOT - David L. Brewer III

Education: Bachelor of science degree from Prairie View A&M University and master of arts degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College, Newport, R.I.

Personal: Married for 29 years to Deanie Brewer, a public school teacher in Loudoun County, Va.; daughter, Stacey, 26, a lawyer in New York.

Career Turning Point: After being appointed chief engineer for the USS Okinawa, when he had to overcome racial issues and leadership challenges.

Most Admired Person: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Robert Lusetich, - The Australian - Los Angeles correspondent

20nov06 — AFTER decades in decline, the bloated and beleaguered Los Angeles public school system has turned to a can-do retired navy admiral to save what has become a $US13billion-a-year ($AUS16.9 billion) sinking ship.

David Brewer III, an energetic and well-regarded 60-year-old, today inherits a once mighty school system that produced some of the brightest minds in the US but which is now plagued by apathy and failure despite annual funding exceeding the entire budgets of 20 of the 50 USstates.

"To everyone in this community, I say I am not a reformer, I am a transformer," Mr Brewer said after being introduced last month. "We're going to shoot for world-class."

That would qualify him for miracle-worker status to the Los Angeles Unified School District's many critics.

Graduation rates among the nearly 750,000 students - who make up the second-largest school district in the US, behind New York - are less than 50 per cent, with test scores among the worst in the country.

Exams testing basic understanding last year showed only 27per cent of the students were proficient in maths and just 33per cent of students made the grade in English.

This year, a university that serves many students who come from the LA school district, California State Dominguez Hills, will have 33 remedial reading and writing classes as professors throw up their hands in disgust at the social promotion of students without the basic academic skills.

"Had the school district been an independent contractor with the County of Los Angeles, it would have been given its walking papers years ago," said Leron Gubler, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and a critic of the system.

"Our members who attempt to hire (LAUSD) graduates complain with greater frequency and frustration that many of the applicants they encounter can't complete a simple job application, and are unable to pass standard job proficiency tests for entry-level positions - skills that require a modicum of knowledge in composition, maths and problem-solving."

Turning to Mr Brewer is seen by many as the desperate act of a desperate organisation.

"By bringing in someone from the military, it's basically an admission that the way schools have been governed and administered by educrats is just not working," said Lance Izumi, director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute think tank.

Mr Izumi, a member of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's California Education Coalition, said Mr Brewer needed to surround himself with similar reform-minded advisers to make any positive changes.

"The Los Angeles Unified School District is incredibly top-heavy. There is one bureaucrat for every teacher (a ratio which was 1:7 40 years ago), so you've got a lot of people who are interested in saving their jobs," he said.

"Brewer needs to start cutting the fat, and there's a lot to cut, and to go outside of this culture for advice or it'll just be more of the same."

As parents who have had to endure underperforming schools know, more of the same means declining standards and rising exasperation.

"What really irks me is that they spend $US11,000 a year to basically not educate our kids," said Mary O'Connor, a mother of two.

"That's my taxes at work. And on top of that, parents have to pay for a private school because they can't send their kids to a public school."

The refrain is heard throughout the city, but despite popular support, voters turned against a voucher system, in which schools, public and private, compete for students who are given the power to choose a school with the money the state would normally spend on them.

"The fact that the school system here is not reforming itself means that eventually we will need to look again at something like vouchers, which makes a lot of sense to a lot of people," said Mr Izumi.

It makes little sense to the teacher unions, however, which pull the strings on much of what happens within LAUSD.

The influence of the unions has meant that bad teachers are virtually immune from being sacked.

"You can have a person committing educational malpractice in the classroom every day but they can't be removed," Mr Izumi said.

"It costs something like $US400,000 to remove a single teacher from the system with all the appeals and hearings, so it's really the dance of the lemons, shuffling them from one school to another, or in some instances, promoting them."

Many critics of the school system admit that the influx of Hispanics, who represent three of every four students within LAUSD and do not always speak English well, has provided an educational challenge.

But the system's decline can be traced back to the 1960s, when teaching universities began to move away from tried and tested methods of education such as phonics in search of more modern, though flawed, approaches, such as the disastrous language experiment.

"Students going into teaching were subjected to a whole lot of psychobabble about how children needed to discover their own knowledge," Mr Izumi said.

"That's fine, but teach them to read and spell and write and add up first.

"Instead, we got all these faddish ideas like 'whole language' and 'fuzzy math', which really made it impossible for kids to learn.

"And now we're bearing the fruits of that."

JACKIE GOLDBERG: The longtime legislator on 23 years in office, term limits, and going back to a lifetime concern: Education
Profile and Interview by Marc Haefele - CityBeat

Nov 16, 2006 - Her district office in the labyrinthine old Highland Park Masonic Temple is emptying out, and supplies and keepsakes are being packed in cardboard boxes. On November 30, state Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg surrenders her office to newcomer Kevin de León. Can this really be the conclusion of a 23-year political career for the often-controversial and outspoken Goldberg, who was defeated not once in a bid for elected office? Yes, it can, and Goldberg, who held two terms with the LAUSD Board, two terms in the L.A. City Council, and three two-year terms in the assembly, doesn’t seem unhappy about it. She doesn’t want to take another term-limited career step. She could have chosen to run for state senate and held office for another eight years, until she is 70.

“This was enough” she says now, reclining her imposing, well-dressed frame into the office chair she will soon leave behind. “Now I want to go back into education.”

She was asked to throw her hat in the ring for the LAUSD superintendent’s job, she says, but didn’t make the cut of finalists. Now she wants to do some research-oriented classroom teaching. Those who know the details of her past may recall that her political career really began with the Free Speech movement at Berkeley, where she was a student over 40 years ago. And she’s strongly considering going back to work where she taught first and longest – in the tough and severely underserved school district of Compton – before her surprise win for an L.A. School Board seat in 1983. Then, after a brief stint in Supervisor Gloria Molina’s office, she snagged the 13th City Council District seat that has long been the city’s legislative radical center, before charging on to fill her term-limited six years in the Assembly 45th District. It’s been a wonderful ride. But at heart, she says, she remains an educator. “Where else to work but Compton?” she asks. “What difference can anyone make teaching in Beverly Hills?”


A: Jackie Goldberg: I want to help find out how we can reach the children who are truly left behind. I want to be on campus, in schools; I want to find and promote new ideas in education. To change, to try new things. For instance, mentoring. Now we have experienced teachers watching beginners. But I think that’s backwards: beginners should watch experienced teachers, to learn what works and what doesn’t. We need to change our assumptions.

It seems that one growing assumption is that classes need to be more scripted. Like France’s schools, where the national superintendent knows what every teacher is doing at any moment.

Too much scripting drives out good teachers, I think. “No Child Left Behind” has done this to us. The average [LAUSD] teacher retirement age is now 62 – despite the draconian fiscal penalties [the teacher pension system] imposes for retiring before 65. That tells you what kind of teacher discontent you have. Then there is the overemphasis on test scores.


Testing should be used as a tool to tell how well you are succeeding. Instead, we’re using it as a club to punish students. It’s not the goal of education. The one-size-fits-all model of “No Child Left Behind” isn’t right.

Speaking of school reform, this summer you didn’t seem very enthusiastic about Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to take over the Los Angeles Unified School District. How do you feel about it now that it has passed?

Antonio is a brilliant and charismatic leader. Now the LAUSD board is presented with a fait accompli. What I don’t like is how he “pulled a Riordan” to pass the measure. He trashed the LAUSD so bad to pass it that he made the district seem like it was the enemy. That’s what Dick Riordan did to get elected in 1993. He spread so much bad propaganda about Hollywood’s decline that it fell into a slump; theaters closed.


I think it would have been better if the mayor had taken a year or so to sell the idea to all involved parties, including the LAUSD and teachers. That way he would have avoided much of the opposition to the plan. And I like some of the ideas Villaraigosa has, like three-school complexes. But his method to get his AB 1381 passed ended up with natural allies fighting one another, forgetting that the main point was to benefit low-income kids. To make the system care about dropouts. To educate all students. And we are ignoring that the schools need more money. That somehow, to get better schools, we have to raise taxes. To invest in the city’s future – a safer, more prosperous future with better-educated children.

I was a little surprised that you didn’t seem to get as much done legislatively in the Assembly as you did in about the same amount of time you spent in the L.A. City Council, where you made huge strides on issues such as the Living Wage. What was the difference?

Well, the Assembly isn’t set up like the City Council. You’ve got 120 people in the legislature and if each proposes just 10 bills a session, that’s 1,200 bills to contend with. I’m proud of our legislation on matters such as equalizing school district expenditures. But with term limits, you rarely get to do big bills on the most important issues – like water quality. The members don’t have time to develop genuine expertise, and in the end, only lobbyists will have that expertise. That’s bad for the process.


And that defeat inspired quite a course correction for our governor, who was, after all, elected as a moderate. Then he acquired the Pete Wilson people, and the big money interests. He went to the right. Then there was the big initiative defeat. At least the Wilson people are gone now. He fired them. But let’s not forget that Arnold is still not a moderate. Let alone a Democrat. He’s still pro-business and anti-union. He’s still very weak on the environment – he personally and strongly opposed the [Assembly’s] Fran Pavley-Fabian Núñez anti-greenhouse gas bill until it passed. Now he’s claiming it was his idea. Any Democrat who votes for him has to be kidding himself.


My partner [writer, poet and activist Sharon Stricker] is winding down her responsibilities at her non-profit. My son Brian, is married and living in Highland Park. He’s been coaching girls’ high school basketball.

Suddenly, a loud, rolling jazz drum solo comes bursting out of her cell phone and, ever poised for action, Goldberg excuses herself to take the call. An assistant bursts in, clutching a large, loose bundle of papers, and in an instant, Jackie Goldberg is at work again, spending her last days in office exactly like all the rest: crazily busy, responsible, a public servant right up until the final moment.



Press Release Source: Los Angeles Business Council

Wednesday November 15 - LOS ANGELES (PRNewswire) -- Some of the state and city's most influential education leaders today joined over 300 business executives and community leaders to discuss the state of education in Los Angeles and business-education partnerships as a way to improve student achievement and educational outcomes in Los Angeles. The event was co-hosted by the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC), the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) and Loyola Marymount University (LMU).

"Transforming our schools so that every child succeeds is our job as a community -- and one that goes well beyond the classroom," said Superintendent Brewer. "If you are from Los Angeles, you have a stake in the education of the children in this District. I am committed to finding a role for the greater Los Angeles community -- and I'll enlist everyone, from parents to business leaders, to continue the proven reforms and help in the transformation of this District."

During the 2006 Education Summit, the Los Angeles Business Council highlighted innovative business-education partnerships and programs. Specific programs highlighted at this year's event included:

LAUSD Office of Civic Engagement: LAUSD recently established the Office of Civic Engagement within the Office of the Superintendent. This Office, headed by Beverly Ryder, coordinates all of the District's business and community partnership activities and works closely with the Adopt-A-School program. Recent initiatives include the development of an online program that matches schools with prospective volunteers and Donors Choose, a nationwide program that matches teachers' needs with philanthropic resources.

Vons eScrip Program: Vons highlighted its innovative eScrip program, which connects parents, teachers and communities to support schools and education programs. The program enables Vons to give back up to four percent of a customer's purchases to a local school of their choice. Through the Vons eScrip program, Vons has donated $1 million to more than 200 public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). To participate in the program, customers simply register their VonsClub cards with eScrip and identify the schools or organizations they would like to support. Throughout the year, Vons makes ongoing contributions to the designated schools based on customer purchases. More than 435,000 families throughout Southern California are currently enrolled in the Vons eScrip program.

LAUSD-Loyola Marymount University Family of Schools Partnership: Loyola Marymount University (LMU), the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and the Westchester/Playa Education Foundation highlighted a five-year partnership with the Westchester Neighborhood Council and other community groups to improve seven local schools in the Westchester area. LMU adopted the area schools after encouragement from community members and parents hoping to have their children receive excellent public education in their own community. During the first year of the partnership, LMU's School of Education will assess the local schools and examine student/teacher placement, intern placement, targeted professional development and tutoring. The partnership aims to boost classroom performance and lower the dropout rate.

"Strong education leadership and creative partnerships are ushering in a new era of collaboration in education," said Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council. "Through the joint support of education leaders and the business community, we are improving student achievement and helping to grow the future workforce and economy of our region."

In order to encourage business participation in education at the 2006 Education Summit, the LABC issued a call to action for its members to support education, and unveiled a list of 100 ways business can support students, teachers and schools. The list was highlighted at the event and is available on the Los Angeles Business Council Web site (www.labusinesscouncil.og). The LABC will also publish a list of members and summit sponsors who are supporting education in specific ways, in the December 11-15 edition of the Los Angeles Business Journal.

For more information about the Los Angeles Business Council, the 2006 education summit and the 100 ways business can support education visit

About the Los Angeles Business Council

The Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) is a nonprofit organization working to address critical issues and concerns that impact the business climate and economic health of Los Angeles. The LABC serves as a policy link between the public and private sectors through advocacy and educational events.

About the Education Summit

The Education Summit is an annual event hosted by the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC), which aims to improve student achievement and educational outcomes in the Los Angeles region. The event brings together leading government, civic and business leaders to discuss education issues and build support for students, teachers and schools. Education Works 2006 is co-hosted by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Los Angeles Community Colleges and Loyola Marymount University (LMU).



• AEROBIC FITNESS IS IMPORTANT FOR MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH, BUT THE LATEST ANNUAL TEST OF CALIFORNIA 5TH, 7TH AND 9TH GRADERS SHOWED THAT MANY ARE STRUGGLING IN THAT AREA. The state is pouring additional budget funds into school programs in an effort to reverse the trend. The image of lean Californian youths rollerblading or playing beach volleyball is strictly made in Hollywood. In reality, most of the state's young people may be overweight and unfit, test results released Friday suggest.

by Nicole Weaver | Daily News Central: Health News

19 November, 2006 - The test is given on a yearly basis to students in the fifth, seventh and ninth grades to assess their physical fitness. The latest scores indicate that more than two-thirds of the 1.4 million youths who took it failed to meet the minimum health standards for percentage of body fat, abdominal strength and flexibility.

Three-quarters of the students tested were unable to complete all six of the tasks, such as sit-ups, push-ups and stretches, required to achieve a passing grade on the fitness exam.

Almost half of the ninth graders tested were unable to run -- or even walk -- a mile within the time allotted.

Jack O'Connell, Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the numbers are an indication of a growing trend among young people toward sedentary lifestyles and poor nutritional habits that have resulted in an epidemic of childhood obesity.

He called for a ramped-up effort to improve physical fitness programs in the schools, and measures to ensure compliance with the state's minimum requirements. Currently, students in elementary schools are supposed to be scheduled for at least 200 minutes of physical education for every 10 school days. Students in middle school and high school are supposed to have 400 minutes of P.E. for every 10 days.

But not all schools comply with those requirements, and the state's enforcement is weak.

California's latest budget includes extra funding to the tune of $40 million to pay the salaries of additional gym teachers for K-8 grade schools. There's another $500 million earmarked for additional supplies, equipment and teacher training for physical education, as well as visual and performing arts.

Teachers will receive extra training in such areas as nutrition, exercise and sports.

Kids of certain ethnic backgrounds tended to do better or worse on the tests than their counterparts of other ethnicities. For example, only about 15 percent of Samoan American students and 21 percent of Latinos met all six fitness benchmarks.

Japanese American students did much better, with close to 45 percent achieving passing scores on the test.

In general, kids who lived in the suburbs outperformed those who resided in urban areas.

Students who perform well on physical activity tests also tend to do better on academic achievement tests, O'Connell pointed out.



By Caroline An Staff Writer, Whittier Daily News

Test scores released last week offered a grim assessment of science learning in American fourth- and eighth-grade classrooms.

Ten urban school districts, including Los Angeles and San Diego, volunteered to test students as part of the 2005 Trial Urban District Assessment, the first time student achievement in the large school districts was compared with public school students nationwide.

Los Angeles fourth- and eighth-graders scored 126 and 121, respectively, on a 300-point scale, ranking them near the bottom of the list. The national averages for the two grades are 149 and 147.

Education officials said Wednesday that high poverty rates and a large percentage of limited English speakers contributed to the low scores in Los Angeles.

As officials at the national and state level grapple with a growing crisis surrounding the future of science education, local school districts are trying to find ways to inspire future scientists and engineers.

Azusa High School has partnered with Northrop Grumman Corp. to give 20 students a chance to work on a yearlong project with the company's junior engineers.

The Youth Science Center, a Hacienda Heights-based nonprofit organization, sees its work as being vitally important to educating K-8 students.

Ron Chong, the group's chairman, said that while they're not trying to produce scientists, the activities and classes are about getting students interested in science.

Additionally,the summer program - the group's signature event - provides after-school classes.

Fairgrove Academy in La Puente has a "Fun With Electronics" class given to 20 fifth-graders.

While districts continue to make an effort to present science in a positive light, the task may be too daunting for some. Some teachers are afraid to teach science or may not understand how to present it to students, said Paul McLaughlin, a math teacher at Suzanne Middle School in Walnut.

"Some teachers are not necessarily qualified to teach this, and they can't make the connection to the kids," he said.

Fern Sheldon, curriculum specialist for Rowland Unified School District, said students spend 25 percent of their week in a science-related activities, such as a traditional lab project or writing a report analyzing an experiment. Sheldon said the NAEP test scores are not surprising given the complexity of state science standards.

Narrowing the focus and allowing teachers to spend more time on harder science concepts - a practice in other countries - may alleviate some of the frustration expressed by teachers, Sheldon said.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of urban public school systems, said education officials may need to explore implementing national standards in science, as is done for reading and math.

Currently, each state creates its own assessment standards.

"This country has got to get itself serious about science," Casserly said. "The notion that each state sets their own standard is no way for the country to remain pre-eminent in the scientific professions."

Experts say the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001, has focused more attention on reading and math assessment, pushing science instruction to the background. State science testing under the law will not begin until the 2007-08 school year.

California education officials were disheartened by the results of the assessment.

"Clearly, as we enter a technology driven global economy, science is more important than ever and the proficiency levels measured by this assessment are unacceptably low," state Superintendent of Education Jack O'Connell said in a statement.

O'Connell noted while the NAEP assessment standards were not aligned with the state's curriculum, the results should serve as a call for teachers to do a better job preparing students.



By Clea Benson – Sacramento Bee Capitol Bureau

November 17, 2006 - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's secretary of education and his press secretary have resigned, becoming the latest high-level members of his staff to leave following his re-election.

Education Secretary Alan Bersin and Press Secretary Margita Thompson both said Thursday that they have found new jobs.

The governor's principal liaison to the Legislature, Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Costigan, announced Wednesday that he was accepting a job at a law firm in Sacramento.

Schwarzenegger said he was not surprised by the departures.

"I totally understand it," he said Thursday. "And I always tell them, I said, 'Be my guest and leave,' because I wouldn't want anyone to hold me back from the career moves I make. I don't want them to be held back, either."

Schwarzenegger hinted that his senior adviser, Bonnie Reiss, also would be departing the administration soon.

"And they are still going to work with us, but not any more in that same way," he said. "Or Bonnie Reiss, for instance. She's always going to work for me, whatever she does, in one way or the other."

Reiss' staff referred questions to Schwarzenegger's communications director, Adam Mendelsohn, who did not return a call seeking comment.

Thompson, who has served as the Republican governor's press secretary since late 2003, said she would become vice president of corporate communications at Health Net, the Woodland Hills-based health maintenance organization.

"It's been a fabulous three years," Thompson said. "It's a natural time to reflect about what the future should hold."

Thompson will be the second top Schwarzenegger administration official to join Health Net. The governor's former chief of staff, Patricia Clarey, took a position as chief operating officer of the California division of the company in April.

Bersin, a former superintendent of education in San Diego, said in a statement that he will return to San Diego to serve on the regional airport authority.

►L.A. WANTS PIECE OF THE PIE - County agencies set to seek share of $43 billion in statewide bonds, LAUSD seeks $1 Billion

by Harrison Sheppard, Sacramento Bureau, LA Daily News

Nov. 13 - SACRAMENTO - With voter approval of $43 billion in statewide bonds last week, Los Angeles County officials are preparing to seek a massive cash infusion that could mean multibillion-dollar construction projects to relieve overcrowded highways and schools.
While there is no comprehensive list of projects to be funded, Los Angeles Unified School District alone expects to seek more than $1 billion for its new construction and modernization program.

Transit officials said they will seek assistance for billions of dollars in projects to relieve congestion and improve public transportation and air quality. And hundreds of millions of dollars more are expected to flood into local housing and water quality needs, according to an informal survey by the Daily News.

The county, however, will face fierce competition from hundreds of municipalities across the state and some critics are concerned that the money will be doled out based on political muscle rather than need.

"I'm not convinced the money will be spent wisely," said George Passantino, a senior fellow at the Reason Foundation. "Many of the descriptions provided on how the money would be spent are vague and subject to legislative interpretation, which smells to me of a shopping spree.

"These folks are going to be lining up to get their piece of the pie, and I'm not convinced those decisions will be made based upon what's best for the state."

State officials said that in most cases, agencies will be following long-established, merit-based procedures to allocate the new funds. And most - including the California Transportation Commission and the State Allocation Board - already have standing commissions that meet publicly to approve expenditures.

"We will have a great deal of oversight to make sure the bonds are spent in a manner consistent with what the voters approved," said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

Palmer noted that each of the bond measures also established new committees to make sure the new funds are spent carefully, even as state agencies use varying methods for distributing funds.

Other bond funds must conform to new regulations that will be drafted in the next few months, and in some cases projects may need a green light from the Legislature and the governor.

But already, Southern California agencies have accelerated plans to push for a piece of the $19.9 billion in transportation bonds, $2.85 billion in housing bonds, $10.4 billion for school construction, $4.1 billion for flood prevention and $5.4 billion for water quality and flood control.

Mark Pisano, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, said the region has roughly $98 billion in transportation needs alone, and is about $65 billion short of funding.

The new transportation bond might bring in another $9 billion to help fund some of those needs, he said, and that money in turn can be used to leverage other funding sources such as the federal government and the private sector.

"Our goal is to keep (traffic) from getting any worse," Pisano said.

Officials with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have a list of priority projects they plan to submit for funding including the car-pool lane on the northbound 405 Freeway between the 10 and 101 freeways and a car-pool lane on the 5 Freeway between the 170 and 134 freeways.

For the housing bond, Los Angeles County officials said it is hard to determine how much the region might get. At a minimum, he said, the bond would help with $30 million to $40 million worth of affordable housing units, as well as shelters for battered women and housing for those with mental and substance abuse problems.

"Unless you have affordable housing that's accessible to people, they cannot live within a reasonable distance of their jobs," said Gregg Kawczynski, a manager in the Los Angeles County housing program. "It actually hurts the economy if you do not have housing for employees."

Bill Higgins, a senior staff attorney and housing expert for the California League of Cities, said the last big housing bond measure, Proposition 46, was distributed under several formulas including geography and individual projects.

At least 36,000 housing units were built with assistance from that bond, he said.

On the school bond, LAUSD officials expect to qualify for more than $1 billion for the district's massive building program.

The district estimates they would qualify for $475 million in new construction funds, including $40 million for charter schools, $10 million for career and technical education and $340 million for overcrowding relief.

They also expect to get $585 million to modernize existing facilities, including $60 million for seismic safety repairs and $20 million for removal of portable facilities.

"It will help us finish our job," said outgoing Superintendent Roy Romer.

The state distributes funding for school projects through the State Allocation Board, whose members include the state finance director, the director of the Department of General Services, the superintendent of public instruction, six state legislators and one appointee by the governor.

Chris DeLong, a policy manager with the Office of Public School Construction that staffs the SAB, said new construction funds are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis if they meet basic criteria.

"Districts have to demonstrate that they have unhoused people to get funds from the state," DeLong said. "Not just overcrowding, but that they don't have the seats necessary to house kids within the 5-year projections of enrollment."

Funds for modernization of existing school buildings are also provided on a first-come, first-served basis, provided they meet certain criteria, like a facility that is more than 25 years old. The state will provide up to 60 percent of funding for those projects.

On the new construction program, the state still has $2.4 billion remaining from an earlier bond authorization, Proposition 55. But the program to modernize existing facilities has already run out of funding for approved projects.

The SAB has a list of $221 million in approved modernization projects that will be first in line for the new funds. They include $5.4 million for LAUSD, $5.6 million for Burbank Unified, $4.2 million for Whittier Union High and a total of $40.5 million for all districts in Los Angeles County; $33.4 million for various districts in San Bernardino County; and $1.4 million for districts within Ventura County.

The two flood control bonds are expected to primarily help the Sacramento Delta and Central Valley regions. But the Los Angeles region gets a large portion of its water supply from the Delta, officials noted.

Tom Erb, a spokesman for the Los Angeles city Department of Water and Power, said the city will seek money for restoration of the Los Angeles River, integrated regional water management planning and for water recycling and conservation projects.

Another major project is the rehabilitation of Big Tujunga Dam, which would help capture rainwater and channel it to the groundwater supply.

"We've been anticipating that if these bonds pass, we'd definitely want to be involved and active to try and make sure the city and region gets our fair share, and we're working on these things right now," Erb said.

Staff Writer Rachel Uranga contributed to this report.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
►Monday Nov 20, 2006
Central Los Angeles New Learning Center #1 (Ambassador Hotel) Groundbreaking Ceremony

Please join us to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new community school!

VIP Reception at 9:00 a.m.
Groundbreaking Ceremony at 10 a.m.

Central L.A. New Learning Center #1 (Ambassador)
701 S. Catalina St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005

Tuesday Nov 21, 2006
►Arleta High School (East Valley Area New HS #2): Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Please join us to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of your new community school!

Ceremony will begin at 2 p.m.

Arleta High School
14200 Van Nuys Blvd.
Arleta, CA 91331

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


What can YOU do?

• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6387 • 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.
• In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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