Saturday, August 04, 2007


4LAKids: Sunday, August 5, 2007
In This Issue:
MAYOR SPENT MILLIONS ON SCHOOL BOARD RACES: Villaraigosa's efforts to gain school allies breaks record. He won't have to cover LAUSD legal fees.
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.
Pronunciation: 'in-fr&-"str&k-ch&r, -(")frä-
Function: noun
1 : the underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization)
2 : the permanent installations required for military purposes
3 : the system of public works of a country, state, or region; also : the resources (as personnel, buildings, or equipment) required for an activity
- from Merriam-Webster Online.

INFRASTRUCTURE is the word o' th' week this week.
• The collapse of the I35 West bridge in the Twin Cities leads the news.
• Dictionary definitions #2 and #3 color the Iraq War debate; we have pounded Iraq's definition #3 infrastructure into dust and at times seem about to replace it with definition #2. When we took over in Baghdad the Iraqis had electric power about ten or twelve hours a day …now it's down to about one.
• At the other end of the Mississippi the Katrina Disaster was more about infrastructure failure than the force five winds and rising tides.

In the new book THE WORLD WITHOUT US, author Alan Weisman envisions New York City without people and forecasts how quickly the infrastructure fails. Without pumps the subways fill with water in a matter of days, within years Lexington Avenue collapses into itself and re-becomes a river. We have seen this week what happens when bridges aren't maintained and retrofitted; we have come far too close in recent memory to seeing how our old school buildings fail without maintenance, upgrade and repair. Never mind failing to build to accommodate growth.

When LAUSD set out on the $20 billion building campaign now underway it was because of the near failure of our educational infrastructure – not the system, not the program, certainly not the kids! We had been thirty years putting kids in "temporary" bungalows on abbreviated schedules and wondering why the end result was consistently poor.

'Year Round School' sounds like more education… but it's always less – less packed into a smaller box!

The voters in LA saw this when they voted for the four bond measures, BB, K, R and Y - and the state matching bonds Propositions 47 and 55 passed by both LA and state voters. Last year the governor championed more infrastructure bonds – including Prop 1D for schools.

But, because of a technicality, LAUSD could be denied any of that new school bond money! We in LA will pay the taxes for the bonds – but we won't get the benefit. Because, according to the formula, our schools are not overcrowded! (I invite the legislature – a mere 120 occupying the four square block state capitol to join the students at Garfield or Belmont …or on any LAUSD campus at lunchtime!

Through other technicalities and just plain inflation the promised state match hasn't been the 50% promised – but closer to 40% – and earlier this year the governor proposed to institutionalize that mismatch. In 2012, when the current construction program is complete –when every student in LAUSD has a seat in his or her neighborhood school and is attending school on a traditional two semester calendar – two hundred thousand of them will be in a temporary portable classroom!

And gentle reader, that's IF the state comes up with the promised match AND we get the Prop 1D money! And those classrooms, whether permanent or temporary, will be loaded at the current class sizes. And those class sizes are far/far too/too big!

Again, Small Schools and Small School Learning Communities are not smaller class sizes!


Track down your State Senator and Assemblyperson; each and every one of us has one of each. They are among us right now, every man and woman Jack and Jacqueline of them are on vacation back at home from their strenuous labor of not passing a budget! Tell them you want them to support AB 1014 (Bass), tell them the children of Los Angeles need them to support AB 1014.

This one's a no brainer. I stood on the steps of the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday morning with Superintendent Brewer, Mayor Villaraigosa, Assemblymember Bass, Board President Garcia and a lot of the movers & shakers and the moved and shaken …and we all championed AB AB 1014. (Garcia showed a bit of the old Freudian slip when she endorsed AB 1014 as AB 1381 to much feigned hilarity!)

Tell your neighbors and your legislators: We need this bill – or we won't be able to keep the promise we made to the voters and the taxpayers and the parents …and The Kids.
Because it is The Kids that fit definition #1 of our word o' th' week.

How can they possibly realize their promise if we don't keep ours?

► CORRECTION: In Overcompensating (4LAKids 7/29) smf wrote of Salary Review Committee member Debra Silbar:
"And the parent member of the (School Board Salary Review Committee) committee is a charter school parent at a school outside the purview and authority of the board of education."

Another parent from the school in question writes:
"Okay, Mr. Parent, Topanga Elementary is an affiliated charter. It IS under the direct purview of the Board of Education. And, by the way, Debra is a MASSIVELY committed parent who has given hundreds of hours and countless dollars to Topanga."

With apologies to all: Readers, writers, Topanga ES and Ms. Silbar I stand corrected!

Onward - smf

By Rick Orloff, Staff Writer | LA Daily News

August 2 - Warning that Los Angeles Unified's school construction program could lose $1.6 billion in state money, a coalition of business and city leaders announced support Wednesday for legislation that would change funding formulas for urban areas.

California now allocates money for school construction based on complex enrollment-projection formulas, often providing less funding to large, overcrowded districts that may be experiencing declining enrollment.

A measure by Assembly Majority Leader Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, would seek to change that and allow LAUSD and other districts to use enrollment projections for a 10-year period instead of the current five years.

"The bill has passed every step of the way and we are optimistic it will pass," Bass said.

The five-year formula was part of a plan to implement Proposition 1D, the $10.4 billion statewide chool bond approved by voters last year.

Brewer said he immediately realized the impact on Los Angeles.

"As a numbers guy, I saw this was going to cost us $1.6 billion," Brewer said. "We are talking about bringing our building program to a halt. This will mean we will not be able to build 32 schools."

Garry Toebben of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, said the business community is concerned because it undermines efforts to work with the LAUSD.

"We are trying to build a 21st century school system and our taxpayers have voted to ... construct new schools, but those projects are at risk and our visionary plan for new schools is at risk," Toebben said.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the state needs to be pressured to change.

"We went out and urged our residents to support this state bond measure," Villaraigosa said. "We are only asking for our fair share. This is another case of promises made, promises kept.

"Sacramento continues to rely on outdated formulas that disadvantage urban areas."

LAUSD was forced to begin holding year-round classes about 25 years ago to accommodate all of its more than 700,000 students. While the district has built dozens of new schools to try to ease crowding and get students on a single track, Villaraigosa said 182 schools are still on multi-tracks and more than 200,000 students are taught in trailers.

"We are buckling under the weight of decades of neglect," Villaraigosa said.

The potential loss of school funding is only the latest hit for cities in the state budget.

The details: AB 1014 (Bass)

MAYOR SPENT MILLIONS ON SCHOOL BOARD RACES: Villaraigosa's efforts to gain school allies breaks record. He won't have to cover LAUSD legal fees.
by David Zahniser and Joel Rubin, Times Staff Writers

August 1, 2007 - Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spent $3.5 million on behalf of three candidates who recently won seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, breaking the record set eight years ago by then-Mayor Richard Riordan, another politician who installed a board majority, according to reports filed Tuesday.

Villaraigosa turned in spending reports for his school board campaign committee, Partnership for Better Schools, on the same day his newly installed board allies abandoned a plan to ask a court to force the mayor to reimburse the school district for up to $300,000 in attorneys' fees incurred during a legal battle over mayoral control.

L.A. Unified prevailed twice in court, securing two rulings that found the state education bill that Villaraigosa won in the Legislature last year was unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the board on Tuesday voted 5 to 2 behind closed doors not to seek some of its attorneys' fees in court, deciding instead to ask Villaraigosa to contribute $250,000 to the district voluntarily.

School board President Monica Garcia, a close Villaraigosa ally, said she wanted to move past the acrimony that had marked the bitter battle between the mayor and the school board.

"This is absolutely about us being focused on our work and moving forward," she said. "This is not about not wanting to challenge the mayor."

The board backed down on its legal bills even though the Committee for Government Excellence and Accountability, the fundraising committee set up by Villaraigosa to defend his education bill in court, has $347,000 left in its account. Since April 28, the committee has spent at least $17,000 on polling.

Even before the new board members took their seats, the district had missed the chance to seek an estimated $700,000 reimbursement from Villaraigosa for legal fees it paid earlier this year during the court battle.

"It is inconceivable that L.A. Unified … would stick taxpayers with this bill when it has the option to seek private money," said David Wolfe, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. legislative director.

Villaraigosa campaign treasurer Stephen Kaufman said the mayor was not prepared Tuesday to spend any of his campaign money on L.A. Unified's legal bills — but insisted the funds would go toward education.

Villaraigosa allies gained a majority on the board last month, when nonprofit group administrator Yolie Flores Aguilar, retired Supt. Richard Vladovic and city prosecutor Tamar Galatzan joined Garcia, until then the mayor's one ally on the board.

Partnership for Better Schools spent at least $2.2 million on behalf of Galatzan, just shy of the $2.3 million that Riordan paid in 1999 to elect a slate of four new board members.

The mayor's campaign committee also helped Vladovic, who won a seat that was vacated by departing board member Mike Lansing. Vladovic received more than $544,000 from the committee — two-thirds of the total spent by his campaign.

To help his candidates, Villaraigosa turned to an array of companies seeking to do business at City Hall, including real estate developers, media companies and potential tenants at Los Angeles International Airport.

Partnership for Better Schools received $25,000 from Entravision Communications Corp., a Santa Monica-based Spanish-language media firm that, according to its lobbying forms, is seeking new "advertising opportunities" with the city.

The committee also took $50,000 from Panda Restaurant Group, which hopes to obtain restaurant concessions at LAX. And it received $100,000 from New York City-based Fig Central LLC, which is seeking permission from Villaraigosa's appointees on the Planning Commission to build an 860-unit condominium complex across the street from Staples Center.

The Planning Commission will meet Aug. 9 to discuss the project, which consists of two towers and calls for a 222-room hotel. Fig Central wrote the mayor two checks: one on March 5 and a second on May 14 — one day before Galatzan's runoff election against incumbent Jon Lauritzen and Vladovic's runoff against retired administrator Neal Kleiner.

Another campaign contributor doing business with City Hall was Thomas Unterman, who gave Villaraigosa's school board committee $35,000 between January and April. Unterman heads Rustic Canyon Partners, which went last year before the city's pension board — four of whose seven members were appointed by Villaraigosa.

The pension board voted in January 2006 to commit $5 million to a partnership of Rustic Canyon and Fontis Partners, a private-equity venture fund focusing on businesses in Latino and emerging ethnic markets.

The size of the contributions dismayed Robert Stern, who heads the Center for Governmental Studies, a campaign finance watchdog group. Stern argued that a majority of the contributors did so because they want something out of City Hall, not the school district.

"City contractors are obviously giving because the mayor is asking," Stern said. "It's a business decision. It's not because they're interested in the school board."

Kaufman sharply disagreed, saying donors to the committee gave money because they're concerned about education.

"They share the mayor's belief that we have to fundamentally reform our schools," he said.

▲ smf's 2¢:
Thumper asks, "What's the matter? Did the young prince fall down? Is he hurt?"
As Bambi rises, wobbling, his mother answers, "No, he's all right."
Thumper continues, "He doesn't walk very good, does he?"
"Thumper!," Mother Rabbit reprimands.
"Yes, Mama?," says Thumper.
"What did your father tell you this morning?," asks his mother.
Thumper sheepishly repeats, "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all."


by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Associated Press | LA Daily News

August 3 - WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate passed legislation Thursday to add 3 million lower-income children to a popular health insurance program in bipartisan defiance of President Bush's threatened veto.

The 68-31 vote, one day after the House passed a more ambitious and expensive version over bitter Republican opposition, handed Democrats a solid achievement to trumpet as they leave Washington for a summer break.

It also gave Democrats, who secured a veto-proof margin, a chance to draw a stark distinction between their priorities and Bush's on an issue that resonates with voters.

"For the life of me, I can't understand why the president would want to veto this legislation," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the Finance Committee chairman. "It's moderate, it's bipartisan, it helps low-income kids. ... It's just the right thing to do for the country."

Bush has proposed spending $5 billion to extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program. He says the Senate's $35 billion expansion would balloon the decade-old program beyond its original mission of covering working poor children and would move more people toward government-run health care.

The program expires Sept. 30.

The Senate measure now must be reconciled with the House-passed $50 billion expansion, which was paid for partly by cutting government payments to Medicare health maintenance organizations.

Both bills include hefty tax increases on tobacco products to pay for the spending increase.

Architects of the legislation "have seized the reauthorization of SCHIP as a license to raise taxes, increase spending and take a giant leap forward into the land of government-run health care," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader.

He was one of 31 Republicans to oppose the measure, while 18 Republicans joined 48 Democrats and two independents to support it.

The health program is designed to subsidize the cost of insurance for children whose families earn too much to participate in Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance.

Through federal waivers, the program has expanded in many states to include middle-income children and adults. That has led Republicans to argue that it has become a backdoor way to extend government-provided health care to an increasing number of people.

National polls show overwhelming majorities of voters support expanding the children's health program and are more likely to support candidates who back it.

by Diana Jean Schemo | New York Times

July 31, 2007 - WASHINGTON, July 30 — The chairman of the House education committee, an original architect of the federal No Child Left Behind law, said Monday that he wanted to change the law so that annual reading and math tests would not be the sole measure of school performance, but that other indicators like high school graduation rates and test scores in other subjects would also be taken into account.

"Our legislation will continue to place strong emphasis on reading and math skills," the chairman, Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, said at the National Press Club. "But it will allow states to use more than their reading and math test results to determine how well schools and students are doing."

In the speech, Mr. Miller described an array of criticisms that have emerged over the past year in hearings on renewing the education law. But he repeated his commitment to the law and spoke passionately of its goal of raising the achievement of poor and minority students.

His comments were the first public disclosure of changes he would make to the law, which was put together by President Bush with strong bipartisan support in 2001. Although business leaders and education and civil rights advocates praised Mr. Miller's vision for renewal, they also said they would reserve judgment until an actual bill appeared. Mr. Miller said that would probably occur in September.

In response to questions about his proposal for broadening the measures of student achievement, Mr. Miller said additional indicators of progress could include participation in Advanced Placement or college preparatory curriculums, high school graduation rates and statewide tests in subjects other than reading and math.

Students "would still have to do very well on reading and math," he said, adding, "This is not an escape hatch."

Still, Mr. Miller's remarks provoked immediate reaction from the ranking Republican on the education committee, Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, who said any changes that would weaken "accountability, flexibility and parental choice will be met with strong opposition from House Republicans and are likely to be a fatal blow to the reauthorization process."

The White House referred questions to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who hinted that the administration would rather see no bill at all than one that "rolled back the clock on school accountability."

"While we all hope to see action on reauthorization soon, a comprehensive bill that has bipartisan support and holds firm to the goal of every child reading and doing math on grade level by 2014 is worth the wait," Ms. Spellings said in a prepared statement.

In his speech, Mr. Miller acknowledged the many complaints about the No Child Left Behind law from school districts nationwide, saying: "Throughout our schools and communities, the American people have a very strong sense that the No Child Left Behind Act is not fair. That it is not flexible. And that it is not funded. And they are not wrong."

Mr. Miller said he would also propose so-called pay for performance, which would pay teachers more based in part on how much their students improved, and a system to reward schools if students were on a trajectory to reach proficiency within a few years, even if they were not actually on grade level. He also said a new law would differentiate between schools that failed on a broad scale and those in which only one or two groups of students came up short, allowing solutions tailored to each school's specific deficiencies.

Currently, the law requires annual testing in reading and math for students in Grades 3 to 8. High school students must be tested once. Schools must report results to show that each demographic group — low-income, minority and special education students, along with students for whom English is a second language — is showing sufficient progress toward 100 percent proficiency by 2014. High poverty schools that fail to show sufficient progress, which currently number more than 9,000, face steadily more severe penalties, including possible closure.

Susan Traiman, director of education and workforce policy at the Business Roundtable, a coalition of companies closely involved in the passage of the original law, said the group was encouraged by Mr. Miller's remarks but hoped to see a bill with bipartisan support.

"We need to see the details on what he means by these multiple measures and how these would work," Ms. Traiman said.

Links we are tempted not to follow: NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT IN NEED OF SUPPORTERS IN CONGRESS - - Aug 2, 2007

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
►36 Days without a budget: HOMEWARD BOUND

The Roundup for Friday, August 3rd from

A day after Don Perata threw up his hands and sent the upper chamber home until August 20, the prospect of a serious budget standoff affecting vendors set in.

"With no resolution in sight, the longest state budget standoff in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's tenure is alarming hundreds of organizations that provide healthcare and other services throughout Southern California," writes Evan Halper in the Times.

"Child-care providers aren't getting paid. Directors at healthcare clinics, whose survival depends on state Medi-Cal payments, warn that bankruptcy is looming. Officials at facilities that care for the developmentally disabled worry that they will be unable to hang on more than a couple of weeks.

"The pain is not felt equally. Hospitals, community colleges and other big institutions may have reserves to fall back on or easy access to bridge loans. But for the hundreds of smaller, community-based providers throughout Southern California that often provide a lifeline for immigrant and low-income populations, the impasse is more than an inconvenience. It's a financial crisis."

In a legislative year that was supposed to be dedicated to health care, Halper reports that health clinics themselves are the hardest hit.

"'It's a disaster,' said Elizabeth Benson Forer, chief executive officer of the Venice Family Clinic in Venice. 'Clinics can't afford for the legislative folks to be on break.'"

Clearly, they don't understand that family vacations to Europe are nonrefundable!

"Absent a state budget, the clinic will not receive about $260,000 in assistance this month.

"'We're all struggling to stay even this year, operating on a very tight margin,' Forer said. 'Anything upsetting really makes it difficult to provide care.'

"'I'm already living on borrowed time, as far as my bills, insurance and payroll,' said Daniel Rojas, general manager of Midway Care Medical Transportation, an Artesia company that shuttles about 300 dialysis patients from their homes or nursing facilities to treatment centers. Rojas, who employs 25 people, said 95% of his funding comes from the state

▲smf notes: Vendors? Approximately 200,000 kids are now attending school in LAUSD on year round calendars and in summer school programs. The state is not paying for their teachers salaries, textbooks and academic support …the state is not paying the bills! Payroll IS going out (such as it is!) but it's quite clear that the legislature is not going to get back to its work until August 20th! In Texas the governor would send out the Texas Rangers to haul the 'lege' back into session – but I don't think our governor made any cowboy movies.



"The California Education Code recognizes dyslexia as a learning disability, but the state does not require testing or have established programs for dyslexics", said Christine Pittman, an administrator in the special education division at the California Department of Education.

by Shirley Dang | Contra Costa Times

July 30, 2007 — WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — After years of struggle, Emily Davies finally cracked the ranks of “The Tiara Club.”

In the popular series of books, royalty in training at the Princess Academy learn to ride silver ponies, cope with drenched ball gowns and make the right choices when faced with magic wishes.

The 9-year-old girl has devoured all but one of the slim tomes, each decorated with a picture of a young girl in a crown and sparkles.

“I love reading,” said Emily, clutching her cache of “Tiara” books.

That wasn’t always the case. Four years ago, Emily could barely recognize letters in the alphabet despite three years in preschool and a year of kindergarten.

Emily suffers from dyslexia, a hereditary learning disability that makes it hard for her to match printed letters with sounds, read with ease or recall specific words even if she knows the definitions.

Her parents, Judy and Tom Davies, searched long and hard for programs aimed at helping dyslexics but found few options. >>>more>>>


by Margaret Kamara | from Diverse Online

Jul 30, 2007 - The perception of Asian American and Pacific Islanders as the “model minority” because of their exceptional educational achievement needs reevaluation, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are categorized as one big group, masking the challenges faced by students in some of the Asian subgroups, according to “Information Sharing Could Identify and Address Challenges That Some Asian American and Pacific Islander students Face.”

If Asian and Pacific Islander students were grouped into a more specific demographic categories -- Indian, Chinese, Laotians, Hmong, Samoan, for example-- the report suggests then educators would see that the needs of certain students are similar to that of Blacks and Hispanics. >>>more>>>


by Mike Swift | San Jose Mercury News

07/29/2007 — Preschool teacher Sara Porras leans down to speak, first in English, then in Spanish, to one of the toddlers she cares for at the Parkway Child Development Center.

"Which one do you want?" Porras says to 2 1/2-year-old Alicia Molina Correa, holding up a game and a puzzle with children on it. "Cuál quieres, el juego o los niños?"

State demographers predict Latinos will be a majority of Californians by mid-century, but in preschool classrooms like Porras', the future is now.

For the first time in modern history, most of the babies being born in California are Latino, according to an analysis of state birth records through 2005 by the Mercury News. Population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau also show that for the first time in 2004 more than half of the children under age 5 in California are Latino. >>>more>>>>


►SCHOOL PRINTERS MAY POSE HEALTH RISK: Harmful particle emissions found in study of several common laser printers

From eSchool staff and wire service reports

August 3, 2007 - Some of the laser printers used in classrooms, dorms, and school administrative offices could pose serious health risks as a result of the harmful emission of toner particles, according to a study by Australian researchers.

According to the study, released Aug. 1 by the Queensland Department of Public Works and first published by the American Chemical Society's Environmental Science & Technology journal, "various types of printers ... [that] have become standard indoor electronic equipment ... are a potential source of indoor pollutants." In one case, researchers reportedly found that a printer can expel as much particle matter as a cigarette smoker inhales. >>>more>>>




From Scientific

August 3, 2007 - Between the ages of one and two, toddlers typically rapidly expand their vocabularies. Tots seem to suddenly go from babbling hesitantly to confidently chatting up a storm. But it turns out the leap from mama to precocious follows a simple mathematical pattern: the bell curve. >>>more>>>

All of the above, two book reviews, Harry Potter and more in THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT!

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
*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: • 213-241-6383 • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385

...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 immediate past 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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