Sunday, June 10, 2007

Setting the agenda

4LAKids: Sunday, June 10, 2007
In This Issue:
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.
"The mayor, a former UTLA organizer and committed union liberal, has insisted his agenda puts teachers first." —from a Daily News story "Union Leaders in a Bind" about the role of UTLA in school reform [below].

►PLEASE RAISE YOUR RIGHT HAND AND REPEAT AFTER ME: Until the mayor, the union, rank-and-file teachers, principals, the superintendent, the board of ed, the media, the district and city, county, state and federal governments put CHILDREN first on the agenda we are on a fast track to failure.

This is an article of blind faith. It does not require data, standards, rubrics, benchmarks or scientific proof.

Parents get this and I think almost all teachers and school site administrators do too. For the rest it needs to be a mantra repeated until either belief or other employment sets in. —smf

"News reports high dropout rates," Ivan said. "In my magnet class every senior graduated in the last four years. Why not not report those statistics?"

►UNION LEADERS IN A BIND: Reform-minded UTLA chiefs struggle to win over teachers

by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

6/10/2007 - With momentum growing for drastic reform at Los Angeles public schools driven by the superintendent and mayor, the politically powerful teachers union finds itself on the front lines of a potentially divisive battle.

United Teachers Los Angeles' own crew of reform leaders is walking a tightrope between privately backing reform efforts it has long sought, while publicly defending the rights of a rank-and-file that is being described as staunchly rigid and unaccepting of change.

Led by President A.J. Duffy, the small team of advisers is keenly aware that it must quickly and smoothly work to engender the support of its membership or risk jeopardizing the unprecedented alignment of leaders to spark a revolution at the beleaguered school district.

After decades of failed reforms, achievement scores lagging well behind the state averages and dropout rates estimated between 24 percent and 50 percent, the lives of more than 708,000 students and teachers hang in the balance - and with that, the health of the city itself.

"I don't think it's the union leadership any longer. It's a battle between the leadership being more reform-minded than the membership and the membership dragging down what the leadership wants to do in political and classroom advances," said Jaime Regalado, director of the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.

"It's a tussle with the staunchly rigid rank-and-file where the reformers are on top, but they're being held back by a fear of change in the predominant majority of members."

Los Angeles teachers, who have been on the receiving end of countless promises while little has resulted from previous reform efforts, have become mistrustful of the district even as they have wielded considerable clout in district politics.

The divide is deep, especially in the wake of the backroom deal struck by the mayor with the union leadership to create Assembly Bill 1381, which would have given the mayor a substantial role in the school district.

Maclay Middle School algebra teacher Tim Henricks, who considers himself new to the profession with seven years experience, said what he sees is a membership divided, particularly between newer teachers and their more senior colleagues.

Younger teachers seem more receptive to ideas like charter schools or getting charter-like freedoms, while those who have been in the Los Angeles Unified School District system far longer may be more complacent.

"With charters, there's more freedom to do what you want without the LAUSD breathing down your neck. But the major concern is, what happens after five years and the issue (arises) of getting rid of teachers with just cause?

"It's the parents and the teachers - nothing really gets done without that, anything that's productive anyway, that moves in the right direction. Without our support, it's going to go nowhere."


At Cleveland Humanities Magnet High, teachers have a long record of classroom success by working together closely to help students do well in core classes.

But they said that despite getting 40 percent of their graduates last year into University of California schools, they are facing increasing pressure to follow a standardized approach.

"Teachers are skeptical of the reforms that would seemingly help them because of all the strings attached," said Gabriel Lemmon, a 10th-grade philosophy teacher in the magnet program.

"Bureaucracy should fit itself around good teaching. Teaching should not fit itself around a bureaucracy."

For Duffy, the key to winning broad support for reform is local control.

"I've seen this district reorganize every four and a half years for a new reform, and teachers are tired of putting their time and energy, their hearts and their souls into reforms that are not going to bring better student outcomes and more support for teachers in the classrooms and health and human service professionals at the school sites."


With a union election coming next February, Duffy and his team will likely be treading carefully, especially with the district facing a deficit that might jeopardize its ability to win further increases on top of the 6 percent raise won this year.

"The union's leaders are not strongly moving forward with any reform agenda because it's a very fine line with the upcoming election," Regalado said.

And although AB 1381 is dead - defeated in the courts, with the mayor announcing he won't pursue appeals after he secured a majority on the school board - the sentiment of a "hostile takeover" is very much alive among the members who were split down the middle on support for the legislation.

As school board officials and the Mayor's Office are working quietly to develop a plan for Villaraigosa to oversee a "demonstration project" of low-performing schools, the union has sent a clear message to them: Let the schools come to you with the overwhelming consensus of teachers or we will be forced to oppose the move.

"The mayor has a nasty habit of jumping too quickly," said one official, who asked for anonymity. "What we're trying to get him to understand through back channels and get him to do is not move so quickly."

At a recent news conference announcing the mayor's decision to give up the legal fight for AB 1381, Deputy Mayor Ray Cortines emphasized that the mayor's team will not actively "pick" schools. Rather, it will look to schools that ask for the office's involvement.


The mayor, a former UTLA organizer and committed union liberal, has insisted his agenda puts teachers first. He has formed an alliance with new Superintendent David Brewer III, won majority control of the school board control and embraced union leaders.

But it will take all his powers of persuasion to assuage fears of the rank-and-file.

"The public schools in Los Angeles are not going to be able to change unless you have buy-in on the part of the teachers, administrators, and parents," said Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center.

"The fact that the mayor came out of the teachers union, and the fact that he's a very persuasive, charismatic leader, the potential still exists for the mayor to play an important role in shaping the discussion on how to best improve the schools in Los Angeles and getting buy-in from the teachers to make that happen."

Villaraigosa said he believes any reform effort has to come from the "ground up, not from the top down," and that the union is "key to any effort to reform our schools."

He admitted there will be challenges with the union, but he repeatedly emphasized one point: his long-standing relationship with the powerful organization.

"I've got a long history with them and we go way back, and my expectation is that we'll be able to work just fine," he said. "Challenges are opportunities and I can't tell you that there won't be some challenges, but I can tell you that I've got a long history with them, a very, very long history, and I think it's one that will provide the foundation for a successful partnership."


Brewer insists he wants to work with the union but also made clear he means those who share the reform vision.

"Believe it or not, there are people inside the union that really understand that they need to change, and we just have to work with those people," he said.

What the mayor, Brewer and the union are seeking to achieve are the same core reform concepts: Small schools, greater local autonomy with teachers and principals having more control over budget and curriculum, and streamlining the bureaucracy to redirect those funds to classrooms.

Few can deny that teachers would embrace all those ideas, but the key to getting their support will likely come down to the process and showing teachers they are valued as professionals who have something to say about the reform proposals.

Wong said with public education on the forefront of public discourse, teachers feel under attack.

"There is a concern on the part of many teachers that their input is not being fully appreciated, so they resent it when people use the discussion about school reform as an opportunity to make disparaging remarks about teachers, that it's their fault," Wong said.

Union leaders believe their fatal political misstep was the decision to strike the backroom deal on AB 1381 with the mayor without involving UTLA's governing bodies.

Now they are working hard to educate teachers about the different reform options and what they would mean to them.

"These changes cause so much uncertainty for many teachers - we're not the most revolutionary of folk - and uncertainty causes folks to get very conservative in their thinking," Cleveland High's Magnet Program coordinator Lemmon said.

"So I don't know. I hope that we do something, but it seems that bottom-up or top-down, at the end of the day, it all seems about the same."


►DISCOVERY SCHOOL FAILURE: LAUSD gets tough, but only on charters

Daily News Editorial

6/10/2007 — It's hard to fault LAUSD officials for wanting to shut down the Discovery Charter Prep School in Pacoima. A school that can only claim 1 percent of its students at grade level in math doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

But it's amusing to see the district that's long dismissed test scores as a measure of education citing test scores to shut down one of the charters it so loathes and fears.

It would be nice to see the district as concerned about failure within traditional public schools. Does anyone remember the last time the Los Angeles Unified School District tried to close down one of its own underperforming campuses?

We don't either. But with charters, failure has consequences. Unlike the rest of the LAUSD, only good charter schools stick around, and for that, the students benefit.

This just in: LAUSD PAYROLL SNAFU'S COSTS SOARING by Joel Rubin | LATimes | Widespread problems and delay adds more than $46 million to tab


►LAUSD LOCKS DOWN LOCKE? District officials say teachers changed their minds about turning their school into a charter. In any case, the board should let them go Green Dot.

LA Times editorial

June 6, 2007 — Just When It Looked like the rebel forces at Locke High School were going to wrest their school from the inept clutches of the Los Angeles Unified School District and convert it to a Green Dot charter, the empire struck back. The district invalidated the charter application last week, saying the petition no longer had the requisite majority of teachers on board. Seventeen teachers, the district says, want to rescind their signatures because they misunderstood what they were signing.

Can't they read? Didn't they do their homework and speak to colleagues at other Green Dot schools? At this point, the school board should step in and rap its administrators on the knuckles — because only it has the authority to reject a petition for lack of signatures. And if it doesn't do so, we hope that this will be the first order of business for the new school board, which takes over next month. Voters want charters, and they want the school district to clear the way for them to happen.

District officials are adamant that they did not pressure teachers at Locke to change their minds, suggesting that teachers had opted for Green Dot partly out of ignorance about the district's alternative plans for reform. What alternative plans? The district — along with the teachers union — has had decades to give students and parents a better school than Locke. Having failed to deliver, the district now owes them the chance to try something else.

That is the great promise and potential of charters, which create laboratories for innovation, places where educators can put more money into the classroom and test educational theories — such as longer days, uniforms for students and more latitude for principals. Not all of those ideas will work, but if the district welcomes rather than fights them, it too can learn and adapt.

Instead, the district has resisted change. The result: There may be genuine confusion at Locke about Green Dot, but there's also a real atmosphere of fear at the school. After the principal attended a Green Dot meeting and spoke disparagingly of the LAUSD, he was ousted from his job and escorted from campus — ostensibly for having allowed teachers to use class time to sign the charter petition. Even if teachers didn't read the petition carefully, that's the sort of handwriting on the wall anyone could see.
It's still unclear whether the teachers at Locke can rescind their signatures. One lesson Green Dot should take from this is that it must ensure that teachers truly are informed about the changes coming their way when they sign a charter petition. State statutes, however, clearly give school boards authority to deny charter applications if there aren't enough signatures. The current school board still has the chance to get this right. If it cannot bring itself to supervise a fair process, it should defer final judgment on Locke's petition and turn this matter over to a board that will — the new school board.


A teacher's inside look at the district's aggressive campaign to keep Locke High School from going charter.
by Bruce William Smith, opinion from the Los Angeles Times

Smith teaches English at Locke high school.

June 7, 2007 — I am one of the leaders of the teacher revolt at Locke High School. Locke was, for many years, the ashcan of the Los Angeles Unified School District, mismanaged in every way. Things have improved here, but not enough, and efforts to do more have been frustrated by district interference.

Now, after a majority of teachers expressed a desire to break away from the LAUSD, the district has revealed to everyone how little regard it has for teachers, majority rule or state law.

Conflict, controversy, despondency — all are present in full measure these days at Locke, a 2,500-student campus in Watts, as we wrestle with the future of the school. Green Dot Public Schools, the most prominent charter school operator in Southern California, negotiated with the district for months about the fate of Locke. But then, on April 13, the Los Angeles Board of Education — showing little concern for our current students and teachers — approved eight Green Dot start-up schools for the surrounding neighborhood, which would certainly bleed Locke dry.

But another option emerged a couple of weeks later: Alain Leroy Locke Charter High School. This would keep the charters on our campus but under a Green Dot umbrella, funded directly by the state. Founder Steve Barr and Green Dot fully realize what many teachers here have long known: The only satisfactory solution is to save Locke but remove it from LAUSD control.

To that end, I and other teachers last month circulated a petition that documented our support for the new Green Dot plan. A majority of our tenured teachers — 41 out of 73 — signed it. On May 8, the day we finished collecting signatures, Principal Frank Wells was escorted off campus by an LAUSD official. Three days later, when the petition was filed with the district, I was relieved of all my non-teaching duties (coordinating assessments and writing our school improvement plan) and was assigned to supervising our legion of rebellious, tardy students. I lost my summer employment too, and thousands of dollars in pay.

The district's disinformation campaign was launched the next week. We had a mandatory after-school meeting, at which representatives from the LAUSD and the teachers union attacked the plan for three hours. Green Dot was barred from participating. Mat Taylor, the United Teachers Los Angeles rep from Fremont High School, told our faculty: "You fired yourselves when you signed that petition." Others said that Green Dot offered no healthcare benefits (a falsehood retracted after I objected), that a continual stream of unhappy Green Dot teachers reapply to the LAUSD and other distortions.

After all that, some teachers withdrew their signatures.

In the following week, six hours of meetings (time originally scheduled to prepare for reaccreditation) were spent hearing about five new rival proposals for Locke's future — as if we'd never made a choice. An anti-Green Dot petition was circulated persistently until, having cajoled, confused and intimidated our teachers, the LAUSD was satisfied: 17 had rescinded their signatures.

When the LAUSD threw out our charter petition, district officials, including Supt. David L. Brewer, insisted that no one was pressured or coerced. This simply strains credulity.

The LAUSD has proved again and again that it can't manage urban high schools. Test scores are low. Student attendance is low and declining. Parents have no confidence that they're sending their kids to safe campuses. There's massive teacher and administrative turnover, so improvement plans are drawn from scratch year after year.

Among the attacks launched against Green Dot is that the charter plan is all about money. Well, that's true. This is about money. If Locke — and then maybe Santee or Taft, where teachers are also talking to Green Dot — withdraw from the LAUSD, district enrollment will continue to decline. Funding is based on enrollment, so if that keeps dropping, then how will the district pay for its bloated bureaucracy?

The LAUSD doesn't have the right to summarily reject our charter. State law is clear: A petition can be discarded by the school board only if it "did not contain the requisite number of signatures at the time of its submission to a school district." On May 11, the date in question, ours did. By acting as if our petition never happened, the LAUSD keeps it from reaching the Los Angeles Board of Education. Without a board vote, the LAUSD's reasoning goes, a rejection can't even be appealed to the county or state boards of education.

This is a shameless ploy by a desperate district. Like any party to a dispute, we are entitled to a fair hearing before an impartial body. The district bureaucrats should let the members of the newly elected Board of Education, their new bosses, consider and vote on Locke's charter. If the LAUSD is to have any credibility in educating our young people about open, democratic government and fair play, it must.



from the AALA (Administrator's Union) newsletter for the Week of June 4, 2007

The following article was printed in the Los Angeles Times on May 26, 2007:

"Retired Principal Neal B. Kleiner, a losing candidate in this month�s school board race, was asked to be interim principal at troubled Locke High School, but the offer was rescinded when he showed up for work, district officials confirmed.

"Kleiner said Local District Superintendent Carol Truscott apologized and told him that her superiors had nixed the arrangement. Filling in instead will be retired Principal Travis Kiel.

"Truscott did not return calls. Kleiner lost a hard-fought race to Richard Vladovic, who will represent the district that includes Locke."

AALA wants to be clear up front. We have the utmost respect for the integrity and capability of Travis Kiel, and our concern regarding this incident in no way is a reflection on his ability to lead Locke.

However, AALA is concerned when unnamed �superiors� nix an interim principal assignment made by a local district superintendent when the interim candidate is clearly qualified for the position. Neal Kleiner worked directly for Local District 7 Superintendent Carol Truscott as principal of Muir Middle School and was highly successful by all accounts in a school with demographics and needs similar to Locke. In addition, Mr. Kleiner taught at Locke for many years and was respected by teachers and community alike. There was no better person to help the troubled school.

So, that begs the question, why was a political decision made to nix the assignment?

When AALA got involved in opposition to mayoral control of the school district, one of the main reasons was the potential for politicizing the assignments of school-site administrators. Is every administrator going to need to undergo a political litmus test regardless of professional accomplishments and capabilities? Many years ago, the tenure laws were instituted to protect teachers from the politicizing of the curriculum. School administrators need political protection NOW and it must come from the Superintendent of Schools. He is the only person who can stand up and protect his site administrators from unwarranted political influences.

It certainly is the right of the Superintendent to make administrative assignments, but they must be made on sound educational grounds and not for purely political reasons. This sorry situation undermines the morale of all administrators and the general public who want the highest ethical standards to guide our schools.

►4LAKids 2¢: The handling of the Locke/Green Dot revolt has all the earmarks of amateur hour in Dixie – and I apologize to everyone South of the Mason-Dixon line for the slight! Green Dot's stealth campaign to organize the teachers and LAUSD's efforts to undo the damage was shocking and awful. These sort of shenanigans played against the backdrop of utter adult failure at Locke is almost enough to drive one to drink the AB1381 Kool-Aid …as advertised in the LA Times!

The Times quotes Kleiner as quoting Local District Superintendent Truscott saying 'her superiors' had nixed the arrangement. My reading of the LAUSD org chart/chain of command shows Truscott as having only one superior: the superintendent — who in turn reports to the board of education.

MAKING RETIREES' SECOND ACT A CLASS ACT by Howard Blume, LA Times Staff Writer| Governor & Sherry Lansing unveil effort to hire math+science teachers

NOTE: Proposed Legislation AB683 (Sharon Runner) changes, from December 2 to September 1, the date by which a child must turn 5 years old to enroll in kindergarten in California , beginning with the 2009-10 school year.

AB1236 (Mullen) moves up the date by 3 months by which a child must be 5 years old to enroll in kindergarten and 6 years old to enroll in first grade, beginning in 2011-12; makes kindergarten compulsory, beginning in 2010-11; and establishes the Kindergarten Readiness Program, beginning in 2011-12.

There is an excellent long form article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine by Elizabeth Weil - an article 4LAKids reader and friend Sandra Tsing Loh calls "well researched and heartbreaking" even as she questions whether the issue isn't really more about class than age.

WHEN SHOULD A KID START KINDERGARTEN? - by Elizabeth Weil from the New York Times Magazine - Sunday, June 3, 2007

While Newsweek's ranking of the 1200 Best High Schools in America is, as reported earlier, suspect - and 4LAKids apologises to Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (SOCES) for leaving them off the list (#4 in LAUSD/#281 in the nation) the article on the role of the principal at successful schools accompanying the list was excellent!

It too is too long for this format, but definitely worth a read!

THE ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL by Barbara Kantrowitz and Jay Mathews Newsweek May 28, 2007 issue

Thursday I went to the groundbreaking for the new gym at San Pedro High - it was a beautiful day and a beautiful event; SPHS will have a beautiful gym!

Everyone who attended was given a sting of beads to wear.

I am old enough to remember when you were busted for wearing beads to school ...but what goes around, comes around. And sometimes not nearly soon enough!

(warning: if hippie peace-creepiness offends you, read no further!)

Last weekend we had a Community Talent show at the local elementary school (the community of Mount Washington has a lot of professional talent and our show really rocked!). A woman I have known for about four years from our work on the neighborhood council went on stage and sang some peace songs from the youth she and I shared in the sixties. She has a clear soprano, a beautiful voice. Some of the other acts were selling CDs and doing a brisk business; Maggie isn’t in their league. She chose to be a school teacher or perhaps that profession chose her.

She sang:
Last night I dreamed the strangest dream
I'd ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.

I dreamed I saw a mighty room
The room was filled with men
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again

And when the papers all were signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands end bowed their heeds
And grateful prayers were prayed

And the people in the streets below
Were dancing round and round
And guns and swords and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground

I enjoyed all the other acts, I bought someone else’s CD – but it was Maggie’s song I took away with me. The song was written in 1950 in protest to the ‘oh dear, here we go again’ Korean War by folk singer Ed McCurdy; it’s been recorded by just about everyone since from Pete Seger and The Weavers to Simon & Garfunkel, John Denver, and Johnny Cash.

Somewhere along the line we’ve stopped singing that song and dreaming that dream. But to quote Pete Seger’s one improvement to King James’ Ecclesiastes, “….I swear it’s not too late.”

I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
or driven to its knees
but it's alright, it's alright
for we lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the
road we're traveling on
I wonder what's gone wrong
I can't help it, I wonder what has gone wrong
— Paul Simon: “An American Tune”


We agonize in the country about the age of majority.

• In California one must go to school until one completes the twelfth grade or reaches 18.
• One can’t buy tobacco products until one is 18.
• One can start driving at 16, but the real driver’s license doesn’t come ‘till 18.
• You can’t vote or join the army/navy/air force/marines or move away from home ‘till 18.
• You can’t drink ‘till you’re 21.

You can’t go to adult jail or prison ‘till you’re 18 – although we chafe at this and try to try minors as adults rather capriciously based on the reprehensibility of the offense and the politics of the moment. A 17 year old who fails to go to school will be called to account in juvenile court along with his or her parents. Ironically a 15 year old who does his parents in quickly becomes emancipated in more ways than one!

I’m a PTA leader and PTA was instrumental in advocating for the juvenile justice system at the beginning of the last century. I have a problem with this flip-floppery. Not a solution, just a problem.

This brings us to child soldiers and the majority/majority conundrum.

THE MAJORITY OF FOLKS IN THIS COUNTRY OPPOSE THE CURRENT CONDUCT OF THE WAR this nation is embarked upon, at least the Iraq portion of it. We’re tired of the Afghan part too, but we seem resigned to that: bin Ladin, al Qaeda and the Taliban are bad guys we understand.

We Americans also don’t like child soldiers or the idea of them. The best seller status of the book “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah, an autobiography about child soldiers in Sierra Leone proves this out. (If booksellers and chat show/TV newsmagazine commentary are barometers of public opinion …and why not?)

Yet in Guantánamo Bay we hold a Canadian subject/child soldier arrested in Afghanistan for being a war criminal at 15 years old. The US accuses Omar Ahmed Khadr of murder for killing an American soldier, not in an ambush but in a firefight. Khadr was held in a CIA secret prison until he was 16, then he was sent to Gitmo. Guantánamo Bay has become our Devils Island …except that the French had due process before prisoners were sent to Île du Diable.

Go rent the move “Patton”. George C. Scott as Gen. Patton delivers that rousing speech at the opening of the film – truly heroically, the flag behind him. “Your job is not to die for your country; your job is to make sure the other poor dumb bastard dies for his country.”

That, like it or not, is what war is all about. And you’re not supposed to like it.

To take a fifteen year old, hold him for five years in solitary confinement and accuse of murder under a statute that didn’t exist until a year before seems both cruel and unusual and a violation of the (Article I, Clause 3) US Constitutional prohibition of ex post facto prosecution. Not to mention the niceties of international law and the Geneva Convention.

There was a firefight on that day in July 2002 near Khost, Afghanistan. Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer, the US soldier Kahdr killed was a combatant. After the fight Khadr, who was wounded, was captured. From then on he was a prisoner of war — the Geneva Convention applied along with international law holding that child soldiers are victims rather than criminals.

Except that in 2002 President Bush declared that the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war doesn’t apply to Guantánamo Bay detainees because they are, by his declaration: “unlawful enemy combatants”.

On Monday a military judge disagreed, finding Kahdr to be simply an “enemy combatant” and therefore outside the scope of his court’s jurisdiction. The judge said Khadr hasn't been declared an "unlawful" enemy combatant with no right to fight in Afghanistan -- something required by the Military Commission Act passed by Congress last year. Under the Geneva Convention enemy combatants are accorded rights currently being denied – though not to a trial because being a combatant is not in itself a crime.

Certainly if Guantánamo detainees are complicit in crime – such as suspected Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – or of true war crimes – they warrant trial and punishment. But not torture or the endless charade of indefinite confinement and semi-secret show trails that fail to get off the ground.

THERE ARE SAD HISTORICAL PARALLELS IN CHILD SOLDIERY. The lowest ebb in the middle ages was the Children’s Crusade of 1212. A ‘crusade’ and a ‘jihad’ are the same ‘holy war’ (a most obscene oxymoron) from the other side of the battlefield.

The last defenders of Chapultepec Castle (‘The Halls of Montezuma”) during the Mexican War of 1847 were six teenage cadets. According to legend, the cadets fought the Americans until, refusing to be captured, the last survivor hurled himself off the castle walls to his death on the rocks below, wrapped in the Mexican flag. The six cadets are known in Mexico as the "Boy Heroes of Chapultepec." A century later President Harry S Truman laid a wreath at the Niños Héroes monument. When US reporters asked him why, Truman replied: "Brave men don't belong to one country."

Indeed. —smf

Read more | CURRENT EVENTS: Child Soldiers, Guantánamo & International Law

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Thursday, June 14, 2007 — 9AM
John Liechty Middle School
650 S. Union Ave @ Wilshire., Los Angeles. CA

High school youth from South Los Angeles will lead walking tours, open to the public, of the Vermont corridor neighborhood. Focusing on local economic health and transportation issues, the youth will tell stories of the neighborhood's history, connecting it to conditions today. The tours will highlight community landmarks and cultural institutions as well as significant historical changes
Saturday, June 16 (Transportation)
Tours at 10:30 a.m and at 1 p.m.
Southern California Library
6120 S. Vermont Avenue, L.A. 90044
(between Slauson and Gage)
•Tours are about a mile in length and last approximately one hour. Comfortable walking shoes strongly recommended.
For more information and to reserve a spot
Phone: (323) 759-6063, ext. 17

•Wednesday Jun 13, 2007
CEQA Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) Meeting
LAUSD has completed a Draft EIR for this new school project. This report evaluates the potential impacts the project may have on the surrounding area. The purpose of this meeting is to present the Draft EIR to the community, and receive comments and questions regarding the results. Your input is very valuable.
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Fulton College Preparatory - Auditorium
7477 Kester Avenue
Van Nuys, CA 91405

•Thursday Jun 14, 2007
► SOUTH LA AREA NEW HIGH SCHOOL #3: Presentation of Design Development Drawings
At this meeting we will present the design of the new school and discuss the next steps in the school construction process.
6:00 p.m.
Budlong Elementary School
5940 S. Budlong Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90044

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-893-6800


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! • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• 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.
• 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.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.