Saturday, December 02, 2006

It!/Not it!

4LAKids: Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006
In This Issue:
PRINCIPAL TURNOVER HITS RECORD: More may leave as standards rise; many new ones inexperienced.
WHO'S IN CHARGE IN LA?: A battle for control between the school board and mayor goes to court
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
smf4LAKids: The political campaign - Scott Folsom for School Board!
4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
THE GREAT TAG CONTROVERSY IS UPON US. PTA has staked a position; so has USA Today. The Times (both LA & NY), Daily News, UTLA, the Principals' Union, the School Board and the Council of Mayors will be there before you know it! Where is the Parents' Union? Is banning tag a school-based decision …or is it better left to (bloated) central office bureaucrats? Or is 'a bad decision' all we need to know?

IT'S HAPPENING HERE TOO: "Thousands of districts across the Carolinas and nationwide face a leadership problem," writes Deborah Hirsch of the Charlotte Observer. "Principals – who must drive academic achievement, hire good teachers and ensure safety at their schools – are leaving at a record rate… as potential candidates shy away from the growing demands of the job." Though "[i]nstruction should come first," as Jimmy Poole, former principal of North Mecklenburg High in Huntersville, North Carolina, notes, "You have discipline issues to deal with, then the e-mails and paperwork and ballgames and after-school activities. How do you get… the paperwork done, as well as be there at the school visible to the kids and teachers? You could work 24 hours and never get it done." Last year, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district [161 schools, 129,000 students, slightly larger than an LAUSD local district] had to hire 45 new principals, accounting for nearly a third of its district-wide principal positions, and 80 percent of the new hires had no previous experience as a principal.

THE MAYOR AND THE SUPE ARE SEEING EYE TO EYE on expanding Saturday School (which is funded by the Feds) and lengthening the school day (which isn't). Superintendent Brewer's quote that "three days of Professional Development isn't enough" rings true …but I do believe we have been averaging 14 PD Tuesdays per year in LAUSD! And the quote that the mayor has not been allowed into schools since the bill was passed is a bit disingenuous – he's been visiting schools fairly consistently – recognizing Blue Ribbon Schools, honoring teachers, promoting safety and whatnot. A November 14 LA Times article about the mayor not riding public transport (by sometimes education beat reporter Duke Helfand) went so far as to say: "No one, of course, expects the ultra-busy mayor to step on a bus or train every time he visits a school or holds a news conference, as he travels from one end of the sprawling city to the other." So he does visit schools …but not on the bus!

A national magazine for superintendents of schools asks the question: "WHO'S IN CHARGE IN LA?" As Philanthropist Eli Broad donates $10.5 million to Green Dot Public Schools (see: PHILANTHROPIST GIVES $10.5 MILLION…) and promises more to others, including KIPP, it may be him. Or Green Dot Founder Steve Barr. Or it just may be Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra I. Janavs, who decides on December 15th if not once-and-for-all at least first-and-for-now whether AB 1381 and the mayor's plan is legal.

Onward! - smf

Click for picture of the mayor taken at LAUSD School Nov 13

• Remember when recess was the best part of the school day? Not any more!
In some parts of the country, that carefree half-hour — when kids could run, jump, scream and play tag or other games — is on the endangered list. Two opinions from USA TODAY | 27 Nov.


Two-fifths of American elementary schools have either eliminated recess or are considering doing so, according to a National Parent Teacher Association survey. And in many places where recess survives, play has become an intensely overregulated event.

Tag and other "unsupervised chasing games" have been banned or discouraged at schools from Massachusetts to California. "No Running" signs have been posted at school playgrounds in Broward County, Fla. Tall slides, swings and teeter-totters have been removed.

The motives for all of this — promoting safety, avoiding litigation, protecting feelings, providing more learning time — are well-intentioned. But something more important is being lost in the process.

Undirected play "allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts" and to learn how to stick up for themselves, a report last month by the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded.

Recess also promotes fitness and health. It allows kids to blow off steam, particularly fidgety boys who have trouble sitting behind desks all day and are falling behind girls academically. Cutting recess is especially troubling considering that 30% of kids ages 6 to 11 are overweight and that 15% are obese.

Despite these statistics, too many educators view recess as a nuisance or as precious time taken away from reading and math instruction that can help their schools achieve better test scores.

Highly restricted recess, meanwhile, sends the message that children are weak, are incapable of caring for themselves and should passively wait for instruction.

It's true that playgrounds can be dangerous — 200,000 people injured on them wind up in hospital emergency rooms each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. But the answer is to make playground surfaces and equipment safer, not to eliminate play.

It's also true that games such as tag and dodgeball, where weaker players can be quickly eliminated, are exclusionary and might damage a child's self-esteem. But learning how to overcome hurt feelings and rejection is an important part of growing up.

Children are sometimes cruel to each other, and adult supervision of school playgrounds is necessary to control bullying. But supervision shouldn't turn into a straitjacket. Scraping a knee or becoming "it" in tag won't scar anyone for life. Being smothered by overprotectiveness just might.

by Richard Alonzo

• To play tag, or not to play tag, that is the question. Who would have ever thought that the answer to this quandary would become a national debate? The chalk lines are being drawn across the country's playgrounds to either ban the game, or embrace it as a civil right for all children.

Tag has been played by children around the world since "time for play" began. It's a simple game, no set rules, no timed periods of play, no winning point or designated teams. It ends when the bell rings, or when Mom calls you in because it's gotten too dark outside, or when someone has gotten hurt.

While I don't support banning tag in our district, I certainly discourage it from being played at my overcrowded large urban elementary schools. There is little space for play activities that are not well organized and well supervised. Most playground accidents occur around free play and lack of adult supervision.

I was principal of a newly constructed school with a beautiful playground that was surfaced in a product similar to that applied to tennis courts. The new surface was used to cushion the abrasive asphalt surface.

One morning, a group of children resisted playing hopscotch or four-square. Instead, they began an impromptu game of tag. The momentum of the game began to spill into the play areas that were designated for organized play. A tag somehow became a slap, or a hit, or a shove, which resulted in a student falling, breaking her glasses and fracturing her arm. First aid was administered, parents were called, playground personnel were questioned and students were reminded of school rules. No tag!

A few days later, the parents of the injured child presented me with the bills for the eye glasses and the broken arm. They had no health insurance to cover the costs. The school district does not reimburse these expenses. The parents were forced to sue for negligence and unsafe conditions. Although investigators found adequate supervision and ideal playground conditions, parents won their suit plus damages. Liability continues to be the primary reason for banning tag. Student safety is also a major factor.

I'm on the side of this controversy that says tag should be played at home or at parks. Places with plenty of grass and space for kids to run and hide and have fun. Let schools continue to offer supervised play that teaches children to follow rules, and to treat each other with respect and fairness.

• Richard Alonzo is superintendent of Local District 4, Los Angeles Unified School District.


►smf opines: A 2004 study showed 77% of principals and 61% of teachers say their colleagues avoid decisions they think are right (ie: 'Best for kids') because they might be challenged legally.

Richard Alonzo is without a doubt one of the great guys in LAUSD, he's a thoughtful caring administrator – a former arts teacher …it pains me when he's as flat out wrong as he is on this one!

His argument is that of the risk management beancounter and insurance actuary. Superintendent Alonzo is assuredly not one of those …but he's obviously been listening-to-or- reading-pink-memos-from them. (I realize I've just alienated actuaries and counters-of-beans from coast-to-coast; I should know better but I don't!)

Most LAUSD schoolchildren don't have homes with plenty of grass and space. Los Angeles is one of the most park poor cities in the US. Many parents do not feel that their kids are safe in the few parks we have, they certainly are less safe traveling to and from them. We can all moan and groan that the fun and independence has been taken from being a kid with scheduled supervised programmed play dates – but that is the world we and our kids find ourselves in.

School playgrounds are great public urban resources and they need to be used during and after school and on weekends for what they are intended: Play. Running and skipping and jumping and dodge ball. Games without rules invented by kids for kids. Adults need to stand back and allow tag to happen.

Yes, some children will fall and be hurt. At my daughter's elementary school we had a really old playground apparatus – a great iron rocket ship/jungle gym from the sputnik era. It was old and beloved and inevitably condemned and dismantled as dangerous …though no children were actually ever hurt playing on it. New equipment replaced it; state of the art, colorful, safe equipment surrounded with approved rubber matting. Within a week a girl had fallen and broken her arm.

The lesson to be learned? Growing up is fraught with peril, danger, risk and irony. Things happen. Actuarially we as parents, educators, administrators (and actuaries) must come to terms with the concept of an acceptable level of risk – our kids already have! I submit that tag and running on the playground is within it; running in the hallway with scissors is not.

Sometimes Pink Floyd has it right: "Teacher, leave the kids alone!"

And, as our kids take back recess, we adults must take back the parks and the pathways between them and our homes and schools. Not with signs that say "Safe School Zone" but with real safety. – smf

▲WHAT'S GOIN' ON? More than you ever wanted to know (from the media and the PTA) about the adult plot to get rid of Tag & Recess!

PRINCIPAL TURNOVER HITS RECORD: More may leave as standards rise; many new ones inexperienced.

by Deborah Hirsch, Charlotte Observer

Wed, Nov. 22, 2006 - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman has a leadership problem.

Principals -- who must drive academic achievement, hire good teachers and ensure safety at their schools -- are leaving at a record rate. Many new hires are in their first full year.

Thousands of districts across the Carolinas and nationwide face the same issue as a large group of principals reach retirement age. The constant churn can mean dramatic changes for parents and students.

Despite existing turnover, Gorman may create even more vacancies as he sets a higher bar for principals and fires those who don't measure up.

He says finding good principals is a priority, and his success hinges on meeting the goal.

That might not be easy as potential candidates shy away from the growing demands of the job.

"The market's tougher and tougher and tougher," Gorman acknowledged.

His plan: Train assistant principals and groom teachers for the jobs. The district hopes to pull the community more into the hiring process. Gorman will provide more details Nov. 29 when he releases his 100-day plan.

Last year, CMS hired nearly a third of its principals. Of those 45 hires, 80 percent were new to the job. The new superintendent, the creation of smaller high schools and a change in state retirement law could have contributed to an already high number of vacancies.

Filling those posts has been hard.

"I can't imagine any other business replacing such a high percentage of their leadership," said spokeswoman Nora Carr. "Ten years ago, you may get 20-30 applicants (per job); now you're getting five to 10."

This year, the district has had 18 openings since July 1. One came up last week when Gorman demoted Waddell High Principal Edward Ellis to an assistant principal position at Providence High.

In addition, 21 CMS principals are eligible to retire.

Assistant Superintendent Kathy Auger, the district's director of human resources, said the newly promoted principals had been talented teachers and assistant principals.

But there is something to be said for experience, former principals say.

Community House Middle Principal Gif Lockley headed his first school at age 32.

"Was I ready? Not even close," said Lockley, 45, president of the district's principal association.

It takes time to learn the job, said Jimmy Poole, former principal of North Mecklenburg High who now coaches new principals as a consultant.

Instruction should come first, he said, but "you get hit with the unexpected."

"You have discipline issues to deal with, then the e-mails and paperwork and ballgames and after-school activities. How do you get ... the paperwork done, as well as be there at the school visible to the kids and the teachers? You could work 24 hours and never get it done."

Poole said assistant principals once had to wait years before moving up, which gave them extra time to observe and learn.

Now, school districts are forced to gamble on promise rather than wait for experience.

An unattractive job

It's not that there aren't enough people certified to be principals. They either aren't choosing to take the job or aren't staying with it very long, according to a study by the University of North Carolina system's Principals' Executive Program.The job has become more difficult as principals have become more accountable for the academic success of their schools.

Once, principals served more as building managers than instructional leaders, Lockley said. Now, "I have to be able to show teachers that I can still teach."

Brad Sneeden, director of the UNC system's principals' program, which helps train administrators, likens the job to a football coach. "If the team's not winning ... then they get a new coach," Sneeden said. "Years ago you didn't have that kind of pressure."

Then, there's the pay.

Averaged per month, administrators may not earn much more than veteran teachers. In CMS elementary schools, for example, assistant principals make $400 less per month than national board-certified teachers with master's degrees.

"It's just not worth it," Sneeden said.

Poole, who retired in June at 60, said he thinks many principals aren't ready to retire after 30 years of service but feel it doesn't pay to stay.

"I've seen them, they go back and do something else," he said, or cross the state line for another principal post.

CMS's solution

CMS could change its principal hiring process as early as January, said Ruth Perez, chief academic officer.

Instead of accepting applicants for a principal "pool," positions will be advertised for specific schools. The communities and staff of those schools will participate in the search.

Two-year training programs for assistant principals could begin by summer, Perez said. The district will also start pairing principals with business community mentors.

Further in the future, the district will create an incentive program to identify teachers who would make good principals, similar to programs in South Carolina, including York, Lancaster and Chester counties.

In the meantime, Gorman says he's willing to shake things up.

Who stays and who goes, he said, will be determined by "my faith in the person to move (the school) to the next level."


by Ana Beatriz Cholo, Associated Press

Wed, Nov. 29, 2006 - LOS ANGELES (AP) - More students in the Los Angeles Unified School District may end up with longer school days and have to go to class on Saturdays, new Superintendent David L. Brewer III said Wednesday after a meeting with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The district's bureaucracy will also be trimmed down, resulting in more money for students, Brewer promised.

It was the second formal meeting for Brewer and the mayor, who has been given some authority in the nation's second-largest school district. Brewer, a former Navy admiral, assumed the role of superintendent two weeks ago after former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer stepped down.

"Saturday academies is one thing we are looking at right away," Brewer said in an interview after the meeting.

"We have to look at the ones that we have and improve those. That's one change we can do right away and then we have to look at longer school days."

Last year, about 61,000 students participated in Saturday schools. District officials say getting them to class on their off day is a struggle.

A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said some teachers may welcome the opportunity to help students after school for reasonable pay, but it should be up to them.

"These things need to be negotiated," Duffy said.

Villaraigosa said that, like their first meeting several weeks ago, his talk with Brewer was marked by their compatibility. Both men have agreed to meet weekly.

"It was funny because we were almost completing each other's sentences today when we talked about what we wanted to do in partnership," the mayor said.

Brewer said he plans to order an outside agency to conduct a comprehensive performance and management review of district employees. He said he conducted a similar audit during his time in the military in which departments were restructured, redundancy was eliminated and millions of dollars were saved.

Bad teachers were also a topic of discussion during Wednesday's meeting.

Although Brewer denied it, he appeared to back away from earlier statements he made to the press regarding his desire to fire incompetent instructors.

"I am going to support having the best teachers in the classroom period," Brewer said. He said three days of professional development training per year is not enough.

Teachers may end up being transferred to schools they are better-suited for, he said.

"After you have done all of that and some people are not performing then you gotta do what you gotta do," Brewer said, alluding to possibly terminating teachers.

During the hour-long meeting, the men also discussed providing safe passage for students in violent neighborhoods and making visits to Washington, D.C., and Sacramento to pursue more funding for schools.

In two weeks, the constitutionality of a state law that gives the mayor a measure of authority in the school district and the superintendent more power, will be decided in court. The lawsuit, filed Oct. 10, challenges the law, which is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.

Villaraigosa, who said he has not been allowed into schools since the bill was passed, was also promised better access to schools by Brewer.

WHO'S IN CHARGE IN LA?: A battle for control between the school board and mayor goes to court

By Alan Dessoff, Contributing Editor | District Administration – The magazine for K-12 Education Leaders | December 2006

It's up to California's state courts to settle a bitter tug of war between the mayor and school board of Los Angeles over who will run the city's public schools.

Unless a court rules otherwise, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will assume substantial control of the schools on January 1 under a bill he pushed through the state legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed in September, calling it "a great day for children."

But it wasn't a great day for most board members of the Los Angeles Unified School District, who vowed even before the measure was enacted to challenge it on the grounds that it violates the California state constitution.

The challenge was launched formally October 10, when a coalition led by the school district filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Partners in the litigation include the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, the California School Boards Association, the school district's two PTA groups, the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, representing the district's school administrators, and several parents.


Although they did not join the lawsuit, rank-and-file members of the powerful Los Angeles teachers union voted to back the school board, bucking their own union leaders who sided with the mayor.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the politically tinged brouhaha, the board hired in October a new superintendent, retired Navy admiral David L. Brewer III, to succeed Roy Romer, who is retiring after six years at the helm of the country's second largest school district.

Even the search was swept into the dispute over control, with Villaraigosa charging that he was kept out of the process of suggesting and reviewing candidates. Villaraigosa was away on a trade mission to Asia when the LAUSD announced its selection. But under the new law, he would have considerably more influence in future hiring and firing decisions.

In statements his office issued in his absence, Villaraigosa stated he still was "deeply disappointed" in the selection process but had invited Brewer to meet as soon as he returned home.

The Mayor's Unconstitutional Move?

Villaraigosa, a former leader of the California Assembly and seen by some as a potential Democratic candidate for governor, kicked off an all-out campaign at the start of 2006 to wrest control of the schools from the school board, arguing that the system was failing its 727,000 students.

He said that if he was in charge, he would cut bureaucracy, invest more money in the classrooms, create "a culture of innovation," support charter schools and "do something to improve achievement and lower the dropout rate."

Villaraigosa pursued his objective through the state legislature, with a bill-AB 1381, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles)-that called for a change in the governance structure of the school system as a foundation for fundamental reform.

Leading Los Angeles business groups, religious leaders, community organizations, other elected local leaders and the governing board of the teachers union quickly endorsed the legislation. But even as the measure moved through the California capitol with little difficulty, caution flags were being raised over its legality. The state's nonpartisan legislative counsel, Diane F. Boyer-Vine, said in August that it probably was unconstitutional.

The key provision of the California constitution states "No school or college or any other part of the public school system shall be, directly or indirectly, transferred from the public school system or placed under the jurisdiction of any authority other than one included within the public school system."

Nevertheless, the legislature passed the bill in August with bipartisan support, and Schwarzenegger signed it. "Today we are proclaiming a victory for the students of LAUSD and their parents," he said at the time. "With this bill, schools with the biggest problems can get the most attention and direct oversight by the mayor, so he can focus on what counts-moving test scores up and dropout rates down."


Essentially, the new law gives the mayor veto power over the hiring and firing of future superintendents through a new council that would be comprised of mayors of the 26 other cities in the LAUSD. The council also would have oversight over other functions, including budget review and campus safety efforts.

Further, the mayor would gain direct authority over three low-performing high schools and their feeder elementary and middle schools-potentially 40 schools altogether.

The superintendent, meanwhile, would gain more authority over a number of functions previously controlled by the board, such as personnel, business operations and budgeting. Villaraigosa sees this move as providing a centralized point of accountability.

The signing ceremony was emblematic of the political intrigue swirling around the school control issue. Schwarzenegger, a Republican who was running for reelection and was courting Latino voters, was a strong backer of Villaraigosa, who had endorsed Schwarzenegger's Democratic opponent. Villaraigosa himself is seen as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2010.

In a statement following the signing, LAUSD Board President Marlene Canter said although she strongly opposed the new law, she looked forward to "moving beyond this discussion and working together with the mayor." She said she hoped for a quick resolution of the constitutional questions.

But those questions became murkier because the legislature framed the future new council of mayors as a "local educational agency" that would be part of the public school system itself, which would seem to make it constitutional.
Like New York and Chicago

Whatever the ultimate outcome in Los Angeles, the move for mayoral control of the schools follows earlier similar takeovers in New York and Chicago, where mayors Michael Bloomberg and Richard Daley, respectively, have cited improved accountability and school performance.

They both backed Villaraigosa's move. Shifting authority to their offices has allowed for "fundamental changes that are breathing new life into our public schools," they said in a joint statement in early August. "We have brought back standards, empowered principals, improved safety and created innovative programs to support struggling students and schools."

With control in their hands, they also were able to "allocate resources far more efficiently and effectively, shifting money out of the central bureaucracy and into the classroom," Bloomberg and Daley said.

Unlike New York and Chicago, however, the new law in California does not give the Los Angeles mayor total authority over the schools. The school board will maintain limited control, and the new mayors' council will be able to weigh in on key issues. But as leader of the largest city in the district, the Los Angeles mayor is expected to dominate the council's decisions on issues like hiring or firing school superintendents.

A key problem, as Canter sees it, is that the superintendent will report to both the school board and the mayor, which "blurs accountability and diminishes transparency." One result, says Canter, is that the superintendent "will have a huge responsibility to allocate $19 billion worth of contracts and $17.5 billion worth of general fund money without the purview of the public or the board."

Meanwhile, in New York, where the law giving him temporary control four years ago is slated to expire in 2009, Bloomberg has already launched an aggressive campaign to make it permanent. In September, he visited Los Angeles and joined Canter, Romer and other local officials in launching a new school safety initiative. And earlier in the year, Villaraigosa traveled to New York to learn what Bloomberg had done to reduce crime in schools there.
Countdown to January

In California, lawyers were gearing up for the court battle over the basic constitutional issue of whether the mayor can assume control of the schools. While the state attorney general's office prepared to defend the law, Villaraigosa reportedly was hiring his own lawyer as well.

Canter says that legalities aside, turning school control over to the mayor is wrong for another reason. "School board members are the only local officials whose job is solely to represent the children and the schools. We focus on those issues 100 percent of the time," while the mayor's job responsibilities are "much broader," Canter says.

While there is a "nexus" where the board and the mayor meet, "I do not feel that in order for education or achievement to accelerate, the mayor has to take over. In fact, I believe it will dilute education because it will become one of many things he is responsible for," Canter declares.

But that argument takes a back seat to the constitutional issue for now. In its suit, the school board sought a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from taking effect as scheduled on January 1. Control will shift to the mayor on New Year's Day unless the Superior Court leaves authority with the board, at least temporarily. But the case probably will go all the way to the California Supreme Court for a final ruling in the months ahead.

DA-District Administration Magazine


►PHILANTHROPIST GIVES $10.5 MILLION TO CHARTER SCHOOL GROUP: Eli Broad's donation will help Green Dot open campuses near troubled L.A. Unified high schools.

By Joel Rubin, LA Times Staff Writer

November 30, 2006 - Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad has donated more than $10 million to a leading charter school organization that will help its bid to triple in size as it continues to establish itself as an alternative to traditional public schools.

The $10.5-million gift — thought to be the largest contribution ever to a California charter group — by Broad's education foundation comes as a strong signal that he believes the best chances of improving the city's troubled public schools lie with charters and not reform efforts from within the Los Angeles Unified School District or even those proposed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The money is earmarked to help Green Dot Public Schools carry out a plan to open some 21 new high school campuses and enroll about one of every 10 high school students currently in L.A. Unified by 2010. The donation, to be announced today, gives Green Dot founder Steve Barr a major boost as he continues to jockey for a dominant role in the volatile landscape of Los Angeles public education.

District leaders "will clearly have to take notice of Green Dot's successes," Broad said in an interview, "and that [Barr] now has the financial resources to make it all happen."

Charter schools are publicly funded but are run independently, outside the regulations and restrictions of school districts. In exchange for the freedom to innovate in the classroom, charters are expected to improve student performance and serve as incubators for school reform.

Green Dot currently operates 10 high schools — eight of them within L.A. Unified boundaries in poor neighborhoods near low-performing district campuses. The nonprofit organization runs its schools around six basic tenets, including giving principals and teachers control over budgets and curriculum and capping enrollment at about 500 students.

The model has produced some promising results. Last spring, Green Dot officials said 78% of seniors graduated and, among those, three of every four went on to four-year colleges. And, of the five campuses opened long enough to generate scores on the state's 1,000-point accountability index, four have posted scores of 700 or higher, outpacing nearby district schools.

Broad's donation, Barr said, gives Green Dot about half the funds it needs to carry out its major expansion. The group aims to open about seven new schools near each of three of L.A. Unified's large, traditional high schools, in an attempt to draw students from those campuses.

The first set of new schools will open in August and will probably surround Locke High, Dorsey High or Crenshaw High, each of which has a large number of African American students, Barr said.

The following year, he is eyeing a more middle-class and racially mixed school such as Marshall High in Silver Lake or Fairfax High.

And finally, he plans a return to heavily Latino neighborhoods, where several of Green Dot's first schools opened, Barr said.

The organization will hold off on finalizing any decisions until Villaraigosa announces which three high schools he intends to take over under a new law that gives the mayor increased control of the district. Barr said he hopes the mayor will invite Green Dot to reform at least one of the schools.

Villaraigosa's education advisor, Ramon Cortines, recently visited some Green Dot campuses, but discussions remain informal, Barr said.

Cortines said he was impressed with what he saw and is "very much open to partnering with Green Dot," but added that he will not recommend to Villaraigosa that he hand over complete control of any of the schools to Barr or any other charter operator.

Regardless of what happens with the mayor, Barr and Broad voiced hope Wednesday that the district would offer space on the campuses that Green Dot targets.

"This is not about a hostile takeover and throwing everybody off campuses," Barr said. "It's about doing an assessment to see what is working and what is not."

Julie Korenstein, one of the Board of Education's skeptics on charters, indicated that she was opposed to making room for Barr on district campuses. "To go into our existing schools and our new ones and take seats, it does not help us," she said.

To be certain, the infusion of cash from Broad will rekindle tensions in the increasingly heated debate over charters in L.A. Unified. As the number of charters in the district has passed 100, board members have increasingly questioned whether the alternative schools on the whole offer a better education than district schools. Also of concern is the financial toll charters take on the district as state funds follow students from district schools to charters.

Broad's gift "will make things more difficult for us. We need the additional funds to be competitive," Korenstein said. Charters "are still a gamble without really knowing what impact it is going to make on students. You have to start wondering if it's a good idea to gamble with students' education."

Barr expressed doubt that the district would open its arms to him, saying he was disheartened that new Supt. David L. Brewer had not yet agreed to meet with him.

Green Dot recently left its imprint on a district high school, when it opened five South Los Angeles campuses this autumn around troubled Jefferson High. Barr sparred aggressively with school board members and then-Supt. Roy Romer over Jefferson, calling on the district to relinquish control of the campus to Green Dot. Romer and board members rejected Barr's demands, saying district reforms were taking hold at the school. In the end, Romer agreed to lease space on nearby district properties for Green Dot to open two of the five charters.

Broad's gift is the second he has made to Green Dot; he gave $2.8 million in 2004. In all, his education foundation has contributed more than $40 million to charter organizations, and he indicated that he was willing to give more. He said, for example, that he has told leaders at KIPP, another successful charter group, that he would be willing to write a similar-size check if they agreed to expand from just one Los Angeles school.

Broad denied that his Green Dot gift should be viewed as a rebuff to the district and the mayor, but he has had an uneven relationship with both. The philanthropist has backed off considerably from his support for district efforts since coming under criticism over his involvement in the bid to build an arts high school. And in July, he wrote a stern letter to Villaraigosa after the mayor watered down his plans to take control of the district, saying he could not support the less ambitious route.
FOR THE RECORD: Broad donation: An article in Thursday's California section on a donation by philanthropist Eli Broad to Green Dot Public Schools stated that Green Dot graduates 78% of its seniors. In fact, 78% of students who enter Green Dot schools as ninth-graders go on to graduate in four years. Also, the article said that another charter organization, KIPP, operates one school in Los Angeles. It operates two schools. —

by The Associated Press

December 1, 2006 (AP) - Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, who has already given millions to boost educational opportunities for inner-city students nationwide, said Thursday that he is willing to give more -- but only to those programs with a history of success.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Broad said not all charter schools are good and that donors like himself will support only those that have proven themselves.

"What I like about charter schools is if they don't work, you close them down," Broad said. "If a public school doesn't work, try closing it down."

In particular, Broad pledged to do "whatever it takes" to bring more schools from a highly regarded, national charter program to Los Angeles.

KIPP, an acronym for Knowledge is Power Program, currently has two schools in the city and 52 around the country. Broad, who first saw KIPP in the South Bronx years ago, said the difference between the students there and at neighboring schools was "night and day."

The program is usually geared toward middle schoolers, stressing longer school days, classes every other Saturday and a system of rewards and consequences. Each student is told college is an expectation and not just a possibility.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

SATURDAY, DEC 9, 2006 from 8:00 am - 12:00 noon at Cal State Los Angeles. Receive information about Magnet programs, Public School Choice (PSC), Gifted/High Abiility/Highly Gifted Magnets and Permits with Transportation (PWT) Program.

For more information please contact the Specially Funded Programs Division. Phone: 213 241-6572 or 213 241-6500. FAX 213 241-8483

Download a registration form at

Cost: Free
Where: California State University, Los Angeles. 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90032

Sandra Tsing Loh, having taken on LAUSD (...and the Magnet Program ... and the CHOICES brochure — is nothing sacred?) and brought all to its knees, now takes on Christmas!

Sandra Tsing Loh's

Written and Performed by STL
Directed by David Schweizer and Bart DeLorenzo

The autobiographical tale of one 12 year-old’s disastrous foray into the Nutcracker, Sugar Plum Fairy pokes playful fun at the kitschy excess of the holiday season. Anyone who has ever said, "I hate Christmas" will enjoy this delightfully festive, wickedly funny one-woman tour-de-force.

At the Luckman Fine Arts Complex (The Intimate Theatre)
Cal State Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive (just east of downtown LA)

Sugar Plum Fairy runs Dec. 1-10.
Six performances: Fri. 8:00pm, Dec. 1, Dec. 8
Sat. 8:30pm, Dec. 2, Dec. 9
Sun., 3:00pm, Dec. 3, Dec. 10

Ticket price: $35
Call the box office at
(323) 343 6600 or log onto

MONDAY DEC 4, 2006
The purpose of this meeting is to inform and obtain input from the community on the types of issues to be considered in a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This report evaluates the potential impacts that this project may have on the surrounding environment.
Your comments and concerns are very important. Please join us!
6:00 p.m.
Charles Drew Middle School
8511 Compton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90001

SOUTH REGION HIGH SCHOOL #12: Project Update Meeting
5:00 p.m.
93rd Street Elementary School Auditorium
330 E. 93rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90003

Please join us to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of your new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 1 p.m.
4th Street New Primary Center
469 Amalia Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90022

CENTRAL LOS ANGELES HIGH SCHOOL #2: Construction Update Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Salvin Special Education Center
1925 Budlong Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

VALLEY REGION BYRD HS RECONFIGURATION: Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA) Hearing
Please join us at this public hearing to discuss the findings of the Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA). The PEA determines if an environmental clean up action is necessary to ensure the health and safety of our children. We will be collecting your comments and questions regarding the PEA for this project.
6:30 p.m.
Byrd Middle School
9171 Telfair Ave.
Sun Valley, CA 91352

EAST VALLEY AREA NEW HIGH SCHOOL #1A: Groundbreaking Ceremony
Please join us to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
East Valley Area New High School #1A
8401 Arleta Ave.
Sun Valley, CA 91352

*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 the Superintendent of Schools • David L. Brewer III • (213) 241-7000

...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:
• Call or e-mail Mayor Villaraigosa • 213/978-0600 •
• 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.
• 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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