Saturday, January 06, 2007

Take heart, take hope.

4LAKids: Sunday, Jan 7, 2007
In This Issue:
WHY YOU SHOULD LEARN ALGEBRA: Those who complain about its impracticality ignore that math teaches the mind how to think.
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
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.
"We need to get back to teaching and stop the social experimentation and agenda-driven educational programs. We need educated people too keep this state viable, and that includes college-bound students and career-oriented students who want to fast-track from high school to career and skip traditional college. The people of California need to speak out loudly and clearly saying 'We want quality education now! No more political correctness, no more wasting time and money. Get the job done and get it done right!'"
— An anonymous writer to the Sacramento Bee on the plethora of bad news public education studies released this week.

Gentle readers, I too am inclined to throw open the window and shout; I too am as mad as hell and refuse to take it anymore.

• But there is Hope in governor's call for a post-partisan approach to government; we can find confident encouragement in his appeal for universal healthcare for all California children.
• There is Promise in new state requirement for dental examinations for all incoming students; children without healthcare or dental care cannot be good students.
• There is Good in the dialog between the City and the School District about safety around schools; children who cannot safely get to or from school or who do not feel safe at home or in school cannot be good students.
• Take to heart the Hopi prayer cited by the governor's wife at his inaugural Friday: "Be good to one another and do not look outside yourself for the leader. The time of the lonely wolf is over."

Take heart, go boldly. Together onward! – smf

THE GREAT RIVER: This is The Hour. The Hopi prayer complete.


by Jim Boren, Editorial Page Editor, The Fresno Bee

Friday, January 05, 2007 - When Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected California governor in the 2003 special election, few thought he would be much more than a celebrity toying with the governor's office. Critics suggested that professional wrestler Jesse Ventura's uninspired tenure in Minnesota would be the model for Schwarzenegger's governorship.

But California's chief executive began tackling some of the state's toughest issues, first as a combative reformer and then as a bipartisan dealmaker. The latter strategy was much more effective. It helped get him easily re-elected in November.

Now Schwarzenegger thinks he has the formula to change the course of California by working with Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature to push an agenda to improve the quality of life in the Golden State.

As Schwarzenegger begins his second term, his handlers are touting ambitious plans: offering health insurance to every Californian, reforming the public employee pension system, fixing a transportation system that's approaching gridlock in the most populous parts of the state and building on his environmental initiatives.

But while the governor is trying to establish a legacy for this final term, a report card on California's children shows that the state has a long way to go before this truly will be a state that meets the needs of its youngest residents.

"If significant children's policy changes are not made in health care and education, current and future generations will be far worse off than previous ones and pay costs, directly and indirectly, for many years to come," says a news release from Children Now, which offered the report card last week.

This could be the state motto: "California is a great place to raise children - but not if they're poor."

Too many California children lack basic health care, do poorly in school and end up dropping out. Many will head for the unemployment lines, public assistance and prison. They'll soon have children they can't afford and those children will be locked in the same poverty cycle of their parents and grandparents.

Schwarzenegger's insurance program should help improve the health of California's children. But he is doing little to make the state's public schools figure out how to serve children growing up in poor neighborhoods.

California's public schools continue to teach children in the same way with the same poor results. The only answer being suggested is to throw more money into a system that's not working. Our public schools may need more money, but they also need fundamental reform.

But that would mean Schwarzenegger taking on a powerful special interest _ the California Teachers Association _ that beat him unmercifully in the 2005 special election. He doesn't want another piece of the CTA.

The Children's Now report card says that about 60% of students in the second through 11th grades didn't meet state goals for math and reading proficiency in 2006. But you only get shrugs from most in the public education establishment when you ask why they haven't been able to do a better job of teaching disadvantaged children.

Fixing public education should be at the top of the governor's list if he really wants to leave a significant legacy.

Schwarzenegger has launched an initiative to improve career technical education, but he is not pushing significant reform of the state's public schools. That's where most poor children are failing to get the education they deserve.

This isn't to put the entire problem on the backs of the schools. The parents must take responsibility for their children's education. Unfortunately, too many of them won't.

If we created more jobs in this state and offered more economic opportunity, there would be fewer children growing up in poverty.

Test scores follow the poverty line. But that can't be used as an excuse. Our schools must find ways to teach children who don't have all the opportunities of children growing up in affluent households.

Schwarzenegger has an opportunity to lead a major reform of the public schools. Instead of being threatened by the CTA, he should put union leaders on a blue ribbon commission, along with others, to come up with a plan to make our schools more relevant to the state's diverse population.

The commission needs to represent every part of the state, and it should hold hearings throughout California to find the best methods of teaching our children. Hold hearings. Take testimony. Write a report. Then pass legislation to implement the findings. It all could be done this year.

If the governor wants to leave a real legacy, then fix the public schools. That would be doing something.

►STUDY: CALIFORNIA'S CHILDREN NEED MORE - Improvements in health, education issues necessary

by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

January 3, 2007 - Despite heightened attention to children's health and education issues, a greater investment needs to be made in California's 9.7 million youngsters so they're prepared to compete as adults, a study released Tuesday says.

The annual California Report Card, released by Children Now, says the state has made progress in reducing drug and alcohol use, decreasing teen pregnancies and lowering mortality rates.

However, the percentage of children covered by their parents' work-based health insurance is declining; while the rates of smoking, obesity, asthma and autism are on the rise, the report said.

"Despite some progress, when you measure that against the big picture of how kids are faring, we still have a long ways to go," said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization.

"We felt progress was made. But while important, it was not bold enough given what the needs are facing kids today in terms of their health and education."

School board member David Tokofsky noted that Los Angeles Unified has taken the lead in banning soda and junk food on its campuses while initiating full-day kindergarten classes.

"L.A. Unified on health issues and on early education is ahead of the state in general," he said. "I think it's time for the state and mayors and school boards to pursue more revenue for children and more efficiency in terms of what we're teaching."

In recommending the promotion of healthier food choices and improved access to dental care, the report noted that one in every three school-age children in California is overweight or obese.

The report also recommended voluntary, high-quality preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds and a comprehensive overhaul of the state's public schools to ensure quality and equitable access.

In addition, it recommended the continued expansion of after-school programs.

Tokofsky noted that Children Now released its annual report just before the governor's State of the State address, when he will lay out his plans for the upcoming year.

"I think this report by Children Now is telling us that before we spend all of our new revenues on roads, buildings and other physical structures, that any state or nation depends upon how you invest in the children themselves," Tokofsky said.

Lempert said he hopes the report's findings offer a reality check to the state's leaders.

"You can't say you're for the kids unless you're aggressively addressing these issues and working to improve the overall health and education of the state's kids," Lempert said.

"We can make some major change in the state, but there needs to be that commitment."


• Costly Societal Outcomes Linked to Children's Current Health and Education Status

(Children Now Press Release)

January 3, 2007 - OAKLAND, CA--If significant children’s policy changes are not made in health care and education, current and future generations will be far worse off than previous ones and pay costs, directly and indirectly, for many years to come. These are among the findings of a new study from Children Now, a leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to assuring all children thrive.

The 2006-07 California Report Card: The State of the State’s Children, a research report released today, identifies critical issues affecting children’s well-being and threatening to compromise public health and the economy. The report assigns letter grades to individual issues, such as a “C-” in early care and education, a “C-” in K-12 education, and a “B-” in health insurance. One bright spot, a “B+” in after school programs, reflects the state’s ability to resolve systemic children’s issues through focused, bipartisan effort.

“Our aim is to present a complete, nonpartisan analysis of the components of our children’s well-being, so as policy agendas are set we have an accurate measuring stick to assess what’s being done,” said Ted Lempert, Children Now president. “All of our children’s issues are interconnected, so it is absolutely critical that we begin to look at them together.”

The report presents the most current data available on the status of California’s children, who represent 27 percent of all Californians and 13 percent of the nation’s kids:

* 760,000 California children, ages 0-18, don’t have health insurance.
* One in three of California’s 6- to 17-year-olds is obese or overweight.
* About 58 percent of California’s 3- and 4-year-olds do not attend preschool.
* About 60 percent of California’s 2nd- to 11th-graders did not meet state goals for math and reading proficiency in 2006.
* As many as 30 percent of the state’s children live in an economically-struggling family, able to pay for only the most basic needs.

“We need to recognize that comprehensive changes to the systems themselves are needed now,” said Lempert, “such as overhauling our state’s K-12 finance system and aggressively pursuing school-based health services, to really improve things for our children and ultimately every one of us.” Lempert added, “If we ignore the warning signs, California will be forced, at a minimum, to cover higher costs of remedial health services and confront the lack of a well-educated workforce needed to compete in tomorrow’s economy.”

In November 2006, Children Now released a bipartisan poll that found 86 percent of California voters were looking for “significant and comprehensive changes” to the K-12 public education system.
Children Now is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization working to raise children's well-being to the top of the national policy agenda. The organization focuses on ensuring quality health care, a solid education and a positive media environment for all children. Children Now's strategic approach creates awareness of children's needs, develops effective policy solutions and engages those who can make change happen.

The 2006-07 California Report Card: The State of the State’s Children is available for free online


by Mary Engel, LA Times Staff Writer

January 6, 2007 - Kindergartners and first-graders who haven't seen a dentist in the last year have until May 31 to get a checkup under a new state law requiring an oral screening within the first year of entering California public schools.

The law is "a baby step in the right direction" in fighting tooth decay, a chronic disease that afflicts more children than the better-known epidemics of asthma and obesity, said Wynne Grossman, executive director of the nonprofit Dental Health Foundation.

The Oakland-based foundation surveyed kindergarten and third-grade students at schools statewide last year and found that two-thirds had experienced tooth decay. More than a quarter of these had untreated cavities.

The new law, which went into effect Monday, seeks to raise public awareness of the role oral hygiene plays in overall health, Grossman and other supporters said.

"We always hear, 'They're only baby teeth — they'll fall out anyway,' " said Dr. Paul Reggiardo, a Huntington Beach dentist and a past president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. "Long before they fall out, they can cause a child a lot of problems. More kids miss school because of dental problems than any other single health cause."

Tooth decay was especially pervasive in children from low-income and minority families, the survey found.

The new law does nothing to counter the lack of insurance, dearth of free clinics and other barriers that limit access to dental as well as medical care. Supporters, however, hope that it will prod eligible families to sign up for Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, which cover dental visits. More than half of California's estimated 800,000 uninsured children qualify for these public insurance programs but are not enrolled in them.

The law carries no penalties, but families who opt out will be asked to fill out a form explaining why. Grossman and other oral health advocates hope that data collected under the new law will lead to new approaches for reaching low-income children.

"We want to find out what the specific barriers are," said Gayle Mathe, a community health advocate with the California Dental Assn., which sponsored the law. "Is it that you have Denti-Cal but can't find a provider who will take it? You don't have [insurance] coverage? We want good, locally specific data for counties, the PTA, whoever wants to look at it, to bring it down from 'California has this problem' to 'Who in our community, our kindergarten, isn't getting care?' "

Some rural areas of California are short of dentists, Mathe said. In urban areas dentists are plentiful, but not all private practices accept Denti-Cal patients, and others limit the number they treat. As with Medi-Cal, California's reimbursement rates are among the lowest in the country.

Dental care advocates say the state's reluctance to raise those rates is short-sighted. Poor early habits often carry over into adulthood. Toothaches that once hurt school attendance can later cost jobs, and lost teeth can hinder speaking and eating. Researchers are studying the connection between gum and heart diseases and have linked periodontal disease during pregnancy to premature births.

A severe tooth infection can land patients in an emergency room, "and we all know what impact that has on society," said Dr. Santos Cortez, a pediatric dentist in Long Beach. A three-day hospital stay with intravenous antibiotics and pain medication can cost up to $20,000 and still not solve the underlying problem, he said.

"The reasoning behind this assessment is, 'Let's catch those kids early, or at least earlier,' " Cortez said. "We'd like to see them at age 1. But as a safety net, we'll catch them at kindergarten age, reducing costs to families, hospitals, society and government-sponsored programs."

Habits children learn when young "are going to affect their place in society for the rest of their lives," the Dental Health Foundation's Grossman said.

"If you look at gang members, one of the most noticeable things you see are the state of their teeth," she said. "It's really hard to participate fully in society if your teeth are rotted out."

"Mommy, It Hurts to Chew": The California Smile Survey

WHY YOU SHOULD LEARN ALGEBRA: Those who complain about its impracticality ignore that math teaches the mind how to think.

By David Eggenschwiler, Op-Ed in LA Times

January 5, 2007 - Every year, as many California high school seniors struggle with basic algebra, which is required for graduation, Times readers complain, "Who needs it? How many students will ever use it?" Well, I use it every day; I'm using it now, even though I haven't worked an algebraic equation since my son was in the seventh grade several years ago.

Mathematics and science are unnatural practices. As physics professor Alan Cromer has brutally and elegantly written, "the human mind wasn't designed to study physics," and of course mathematics is the language of physics. "Design" here does not indicate an intelligent designer, which would suggest a creator with a math phobia. Rather it indicates evolutionary processes by which the human brain and mind have come to be what they are.

During the approximately 2 million years that it took for our Homo forebears to progress from habilis to sapiens, they had little use for mathematical reasoning abilities. Their sapientia seems to have been more suited in a good Darwinian sense to the immediate demands of their survival, such as eating, mating and avoiding premature death. Whether for good or ill, as time may tell, our situations have changed much in the last few thousand years, and so have demands on our poor, lagging minds. I don't mean only the obvious and oft-repeated claim that technical jobs require greater skills. That is clear enough in auto mechanics and computer programming. I mean the need to think abstractly, systematically and rationally in various ways.

Science and mathematics have the most exacting demands for such thinking, but there are many other disciplines that require it. Even the practices of critical reading and writing that I teach are soft but still demanding forms of rationality, and I occasionally fear that the human mind was not designed to study them either.

Fortunately, however, the mind can be altered; the brain can learn to function in different ways. We can even, if pushed hard enough, learn to think in what physicist Lewis Wolpert has called "the unnatural nature of science." Because our minds are not greatly civilized into reason (as political speeches show), we need some hard instruction to learn to do what we do not do naturally, and as the ancient Greeks discovered, mathematics is a fine schoolmaster (or mistress) for that purpose. In most scholastic and academic disciplines, what you learn to think about is not as important as how you learn to think.

I encourage my college honor students to think in odd, even deviant ways, but I couldn't do that if they had not already learned how to think abstractly and systematically. They have taken their algebra and physics and are ready to think still differently, even while becoming creative writers and musicians.

One of the most brilliantly wacky English professors I know once studied engineering. I was going to be a physicist before I was seduced into the pleasant valleys of the social sciences and humanities.

So let us not hear repeatedly that high school algebra is a waste of time because it does not directly train students for the job market. Even in a vocational program, it teaches the mind how to think. In some cases it might even teach students to think about the universe, which is a very nice way to spend one's life.

Let us instead ask the harder question: How can we better prepare students to study algebra? It would surely not be easy, but it is worth doing.

• David Eggenschwiler is an English professor emeritus at USC.

smf opines: My hat's off to Professor Eggenschwiller for his eloquent and elegant justification of algebra, though on second and third reading it seems a bit of the drawbridge-up defense of the besieged ivy-clad walls of academe. Latin and Greek too taught other ways of thinking and cemented the rules of Latin grammar like concrete shoes into English usage – where Shakespeare, who never found an infinitive he couldn't split – proved they didn't fit.

The truth is that academe in the United States is failing to produce teachers who can teach math to our children – let alone algebra. Students transferring into US schools from abroad, whether from the former Soviet Union, Europe, Asia or rural South America universally outperform their American contemporaries. This is true in LAUSD and every school district nationwide. That is the challenge – and to expect our children to learn algebra from teachers who don't know how to teach math is expecting the impossible.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
- from City News Service

Jan 3, 2007 - NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. Police and Los Angeles Unified School District officials urged motorists Wednesday to be more vigilant near schools as children head back to class.

Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Michel Moore, standing with school officials outside Coldwater Canyon Elementary School in North Hollywood, said motorists continue to speed near campuses, despite efforts to encourage them to slow down.

"They still have crossing guards at both these signals. They have cones in the street, and they have a black-and-white (police cruiser) right there, but yet we'll still have the motoring public on Coldwater traveling 40-45 miles per hour at 8 o'clock in the morning," Moore said. "The public in the San Fernando Valley needs to slow down."

According to LAUSD officials, 192 students were injured in traffic collisions near schools last year.

That was down slightly from 208 in 2005, when one student was killed.

Those numbers were sharp increases from 2004, when only 41 students were injured, KCAL9 reported.

"At the end of the day, it's the responsibility of the motoring public, of that driver, to improve our safety record and to make these schools safer than they are," Moore said.

LAUSD Superintendent David L. Brewer said motorists also need to be aware that children can dart into traffic unexpectedly.

"Children are children," Brewer said. "They will sometimes get out in front of cars, so you have to be very, very vigilant when you are in the vicinity of a school."

▲ Dear Mayor Villaraigosa, Superintendent Brewer, Chief Bratton and LAUSD Police Chief Manion:

Rather than photo ops putting up signs creating safe school zones let's actually create Safe School Zones!

California State PTA supports legislation to double traffic fines in school zones; schoolchildren are every bit as important as highway workers (if not more so) - and fines are doubled by state law in construction zones. They have been for years.

If the mayor proposes and the City of LA passes an ordinance doubling traffic fines in school zones in LA I in my capacity as District PTA President will carry that law to every other city in LAUSD and to the County Supervisors. I suggest that the increased revenues from the fines go to school safety education or crossing guards.

It's not a panacea but it's a start towards school traffic safety.

As to the gang situation, see the tag line in the Dental Health piece above.

"If you look at gang members, one of the most noticeable things you see are the state of their teeth," [Wynne Grossman, executive director of the Dental Health Foundation] said. "It's really hard to participate fully in society if your teeth are rotted out."

Healthy bodies. Healthy minds. Healthy communities. - smf

- San Jose Mercury News Editorial

Jan. 2, 2007 - This could be the year that the Legislature and Congress finally fix major problems in public schools -- some of which they created -- and get education policy right. Or it could be the year that politicians just gab about reform proposals. The debate will be worth following, one way or the other.

STATE REFORMS: In Sacramento, the long-awaited recommendations of the Governor's Advisory Committee on Education Excellence will coincide with the public release of ``Getting Down to Facts,'' 23 studies conducted by some of the nation's best experts in education and funded by the Hewlett, Gates and other foundations.

The aim is to significantly change the financing, governance and operations of schools. Other states have done this only piecemeal or through lengthy lawsuits with, at best, mixed results. Underlying the efforts is one basic question: What needs to be done to produce college-bound or work-ready students who are proficient under California's high academic standards? Getting there will require dismantling obstacles to effective schools, starting with cumbersome state regulations and overlapping bureaucracies, and creating new models and systems of authority based on successful schools and districts.

Some of the strategies that the 20-member advisory committee is discussing are exciting and potentially controversial. They include weighted student formulas to direct more money to low-income English learners, and new programs to retain teachers and to better train principals. It's a safe bet that the governor's committee and the foundation studies will advocate more money for schools, while not citing a specific figure.

On one point, all members of the advisory committee -- Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals -- agree: The public's and legislators' focus should not be on dollars but on the package of reforms. Simply layering more money on top of the existing system would create only an illusion of reform.

Gov. Schwarzenegger may include the first part of the committee's recommendations -- better tracking of student data and making more school information publicly accessible -- in his State of the State address next week. But education appears to be taking third billing this year, behind prisons and health reform, as his priorities. And the spring release of the report and the Hewlett-Gates-funded studies might push off adoption of the recommendations until 2008.

That might be just as well. California will have a once-in-a-generation chance to reshape education. Compromises will be needed. The public must be involved. Reaching a consensus around major reforms will be hard. If it takes a year to reach it, so be it.

NO CHILD REVISED: In Washington, this is the year to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act. Or not. Some observers already are predicting that Congress will let it alone until 2008 or even 2009, when a new president can recast it.

The basic law doesn't appear in jeopardy, even with the Democrats taking over Congress, because President Bush's signature education law had bipartisan support. And there remains widespread agreement over its goals: placing qualified teachers in all of America's classrooms, testing all students, and holding schools accountable for the progress of poor and minority kids. All are supposed to be proficient in math and English by 2014.

Still, there will be a lot to talk about because there's a lot to fix. The basic paradox is that the law's demands are too rigid, and enforcement is too loose.

In states like California, with demanding standards, the law doesn't discriminate enough between excellent and troubled schools. Even the best schools risk sanctions. California has proposed an alternative yardstick, which would credit gradual but steady progress toward proficiency; a reauthorized law should incorporate it.

Other states, including Texas and Illinois, have dodged the law by lowering standards of proficiency so that all kids appear above average. And many school districts nationwide have dodged penalties. They haven't told parents about their right to change schools or the availability of tutoring money. Districts with the worst schools have ignored the ultimate sanction: restructuring, converting to a charter school, firing the staff or closing schools down.

One strong defender of the law's principles, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, now favors a different tack: the adoption of national tests with high standards (no more dumbing down by the states) coupled with a hands-off approach to sanctions (an acknowledgment that Washington can't win a guerrilla war with the states).

Many states have fought national testing, but might buy it in exchange for less micromanaging by the feds. The concept is worth considering, as long as it doesn't lead to the abandonment of children in chronically bad schools.

by Tony Castro, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

1/4/06 - A nationally recognized charter school in South Los Angeles has defaulted on a $9.9 million loan extended by the Los Angeles Unified School District using voter-approved bond funds, documents and interviews show.

The Accelerated School, an elaborate, high-tech campus where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa delivered his State of the City address last spring, made a $200,000 payment about two weeks ago - but only after district officials received a memo alerting them the campus was in default. The school previously had made two payments totaling about $1 million, the last in October 2005.

"They made a payment, but they're still way behind," school board member David Tokofsky said. "Why we haven't foreclosed, I don't know."

Michelle Meghrouni, the district's assistant general counsel, said Wednesday the loan is in default, and that district and Accelerated School officials are discussing a possible resolution, including renegotiating terms of the deal.

Meghrouni said she believes the loan, made in June 2004 using revenue from voter-approved school construction bonds, is the only one of its kind extended by LAUSD to a charter school.

Jonathan Williams, the founder and co-director of the school as well as a member of the State Board of Education, said campus officials are trying to work through the financial crisis.

"We're in the process of renegotiating fair terms with the LAUSD, and that, I think, is all I can say right now until I confer with the chair of our board," said Williams, who is also a member of Villaraigosa's Council of Education Advisers and his appointee to the city's Parks and Recreation Board.

"We took out a $10 million line of credit with the district in order to finish construction of our school (and) we were hopeful and ambitious of our fund-raising."

Although the school has close ties to the Mayor's Office, there is no indication that Villaraigosa has been involved in the loan or in the renegotiation discussions.

Williams said the original terms of the loan required repayment of the loan within five years. The payments included interest, which Meghrouni said was calculated based on the district's bond rates.

Meghrouni said the loan was approved by the school board in 2002 as part of the construction package involving the Accelerated School, but that campus officials did not take out the loan until two years later.

NO ACTION TAKEN: At that time, she said, the board did not have to take action on the loan.

"This (the loan) is not something we normally do," said Meghrouni. "We try to come up with other creative ways to allow other charter schools to operate. But this is not typical of what we do."

Meghrouni said she was unsure of how the credit line for the school originated, but believed it was included in the construction package as a way to cover cost overruns.

Williams said the school requested the loan when Accelerated School officials realized that fundraising from corporations and foundations would fall short of expectations.

Meghrouni said she understands the Accelerated School's fundraising has picked up with a recent corporate commitment for $1.2 million over two years that will help the school in its operation and in repaying the loan.

APPROVAL NEEDED: Meghrouni said any renegotiation of the loan terms would have to be approved by the school board.

"We remain optimistic and hopeful that we'll have (the negotiation) wrapped up in the next couple of weeks."

According to Tokofsky, collateral for the loan is the school and the 4-acre site on which it was constructed.

Accelerated, which serves 1,200 Latino and African-American students from pre-kindergarten through high school, was named Time Magazine's Elementary School of the Year in 2001 for "having found the most promising approaches to the most pressing challenges in education." Situated about a mile southeast of the University of Southern California, the Accelerated School has a college-like campus lined with palm trees and filled with amenities such as high-tech science labs, top-of-the-line workout equipment and an outdoor amphitheater.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: Williams and Kevin Sved, like Williams a former teacher, opened the school in 1994 with 50 students in grades K 4, renting space from a Catholic church where every Friday the founders and parents packed up and stored the school equipment so the space could be used for church services.

Its expansion a decade later was made possible by $28.1 million from the LAUSD and a credit line with the district of $11.3 million, of which the school used $9.9 million to complete its growth, according to district documents.

According to Tokofsky, the loan was necessary because the school founders' vision for their construction - "more detailed, more elaborate, more spectacular" than anything the LAUSD has built - exceeded the budget allotted by the district and the state.

▲smf: There is little doubt that lending bond funds to a charter school was a poor idea; there is some question as to whether it was legal and/or legally done. And Johnathan Williams, in addition to being a co-director/co-founder of Accelerated School, a member of the State Board of Education, a member of the mayor's Council of Education Advisers and his appointee to the city's Parks and Recreation Board is also a candidate for the LAUSD Board of Ed.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

Both Meetings in the Board Room @ 333 S. Beaudry, Los Angeles, CA 90017

Members of the public who wish to address the Board should call the Board Secretariat at (213) 241-7002 or toll free (877) 722-6273 prior to 5:00 p.m., the Tuesday before the meeting to determine if they may be added to the speakers' list. Visitor parking is available at 1219 W. Fourth Street (surface Lot), located one block west of District headquarters.
*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.
• 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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