Sunday, September 09, 2007

Impolitic as usual

4LAKids: Sunday, Sept 9, 2007
In This Issue:
ENGLISH LEARNERS LEFT BEHIND: The current No Child Left Behind Law sets up non-native speakers for failure.
THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION?: Kansas City, Mo., Condenses Schools to Boost Grades, Behavior + DO MIDDLE SCHOOL KIDS FACE 'BERMUDA TRIANGLE'?
LAUSD NEEDS A BREATHER: Falling enrollment shows district isn't on right track
A PASSABLE KIDS' HEALTHCARE PLAN: The Senate's plan to fund health insurance for poor kids is modest but might stand up to a Bush veto.
VILLARAIGOSA'S SPIN CYCLE + Highlights, Lowlights & the News that Doesn't Fit: | CHALLENGE TO PROP R | STUDENT AID OVERHAUL
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.
Madeline d'Engle, the author of young adult fiction ("A Wrinkle in Time") who passed away last week was accused of fictionalizing her own memoirs. "Writing, like fairy tales," she said, "is something that happens somewhere else."

4LAKids exists in another nether world, bearing witness to a land much like that of Alice's Wonderland. LAUSD a curious place populated by couriouser people. Alice may be the only sane one in either setting - and she's trying to get out! The fictional Alice came from the imagination of a Victorian Bachelor / Mathematician / Theologian - a pseudonymous literary genius who may or may not have had a thing for little girls. The real Alice never lived up her potential - with the exception of Victoria herself Victorian little girls never did.

The school district is filled with 700,000+ youngsters whose goal is also to get out - more or less intact, more or less educated; some diplomas in hand - others escaped and/or thankfully/thanklessly forgotten: drop outs.

There are also 77,000+ adults, some driven by the infinite possibilities of the possible, some putting in their time, looking forward to the next paycheck and wondering if it will be - like Goldilock's stolen porridge - too little, too much or just right.

The rules of this place and the universe of public education are absurd: the guiding principle demands the utter impossibly of Every Child At or Above Average by 2013 or we tear the whole thing down and start over! Straight A's and B's on every report card, every kid a high school diploma and in the top ten per-cent of their class so they can go to UC, a degree in four years and on to graduate school. Failure results in promotion. No good deed ever goes unpunished. Principals must be universally loved or be sacked. "Off with her/his head!" No project is adequately funded. The airplane is being built while in flight and there's no blueprint …let alone a flight plan or a destination.

Now boarding at gate 9A, the one with the barbarians awaiting. Children will be boarded first, parents have been waitlisted. Fasten your seatbelts. Safety is job one.

In what I promise is my last literary reference - but the most promising promise - let me give you Umberto Eco: "Apparently one can overcome even a bad education."

Onward! - smf

ENGLISH LEARNERS LEFT BEHIND: The current No Child Left Behind Law sets up non-native speakers for failure.
by David Brewer, Monica Garcia and Yolie Flores Aguilar | Brewer is superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Garcia is president of the LAUSD board, and Flores Aguilar is an LAUSD board member.

September 7, 2007 — California Rep. George Miller recently said what educators have known for years: Congress "didn't get it all right" when it passed the No Child Left Behind Act five years ago.

As the debate about reauthorizing No Child Left Behind gets underway, there are promising signs for reform, such as Miller's call for serious changes and a recently released discussion-draft of the bill. It's important to Los Angeles, which is severely affected by NCLB, that we review and fix this flawed law.

We share NCLB's goal of educating every student to become an active, productive citizen. The law's insistence on measurable academic achievement standards and steady gains -- not just for students but for schools -- can spur change in our under-resourced educational system.

Indeed, the Los Angeles Unified School District has made gains under NCLB. Our teachers are highly qualified, students are making incremental improvements, and we are committed to ensuring that every student graduates college prepared and career ready.

Despite its good intentions, however, No Child Left Behind did not provide the resources or the flexibility to turn vulnerable schools around. By emphasizing standardized testing, NCLB has created an incentive to practice "teaching to the test." At best, such testing offers a one-dimensional measure of achievement, not necessarily indicating the student's true level of mastery.

The greatest challenges are faced by our most vulnerable population: English learners, or "EL" students. Of the more than 700,000 students in district schools, more than 40% don't speak English as their native language. Of those, 94% are Spanish speakers, and the vast majority are native-born U.S. citizens. The NCLB's ill-conceived mandates have set up these students and their schools to fail together. Under the law, if any demographic group in a given school isn't making "adequate yearly progress," the entire school is subject to a list of unproven and inefficient "corrective actions" that could ultimately result in a state takeover of the facility.

In L.A. Unified, 297 out of 1,000 schools were judged to be not making adequate yearly progress in 2006, and the district as a whole did not make adequate yearly progress because, among other reasons, EL students were challenged to meet achievement targets that are unfair and unrealistic.

Students who don't speak English as a first language need three to five years to become fluent. Achieving the fluency to understand subject-matter tests may take several more years.

But No Child Left Behind requires that EL students be tested in English or in their native language to "the extent practicable." Congress and the Department of Education do not define what's "practicable," and many states, including California, have dropped the ball on developing reliable assessments of EL students' academic achievement.

Schools are also hamstrung by the failure of our universities to train future urban teachers in the fundamentals of language development and second-language acquisition. Teachers are trained to teach content alone and often don't know how to instruct those whose first language is not English.

Congress will reauthorize NCLB this year, which gives lawmakers a chance to fix what's broken. At the top of the list: Congress should require and fund states to develop content-based standardized tests for EL students in their native languages. These students should continue to be tested, and schools should be held accountable for how well they're taught. But their test scores shouldn't be factored into decisions about a school's proficiency until solid native-language tests are developed or EL students have time to learn the English they need to perform well.

Finally, Congress should allocate resources to train teachers in second-language acquisition and content-based instruction for English learners. Educators need to develop a repertoire of strategies to incorporate English language skills-building into every lesson plan -- no matter the subject.

Congress didn't get it all right with NCLB -- but it didn't get it all wrong either. Some simple improvements can make a good law better and more fair for all our students.

▲Brewer, Garcia and Flores Aguilar have it correct. Hooray for that! But "not all wrong" doesn't come within a horseshoe's width of good enough! The parts that are right come from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and Goals 2000, the only real improvement is NCLB's insistence on disaggregating data and evaluating all subgroups of students. A fabulous concept/long overdue. But, gentle reader, a function of statistics – not education. Leaving No Cheap Shot Unfired: the taxonomy is Lies > Damned lies > Statistics.

Fixing or tossing out NCLB isn't the answer because NCLB isn't the question. Whatever the question is, it isn't on a multiple choice test. And the scores won't be published any time soon on the Internet, they are posted by succeeding generations in the Book of Life. The true taxonomy we need to engage is Data > Knowledge > Wisdom.

L'shanah Tovah - smf

More on the House Education Committee's draft revision of No Child Left Behind (updated from last week)

THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION?: Kansas City, Mo., Condenses Schools to Boost Grades, Behavior + DO MIDDLE SCHOOL KIDS FACE 'BERMUDA TRIANGLE'?
Sept. 6, 2007 -- from Thursday night's Evening News with Charles Gibson

The Kansas City, Mo., school superintendent believes he has found the wave of the future in education: Eliminate middle school and test scores will go up.

For 50 years, the model for American public schools has been elementary school, then middle school and then high school.

But Kansas City, Mo., is eliminating the middle schools in favor of a single "elemiddle" school that will go from kindergarten through eighth grade. There, students in all grades stick with one teacher for the most of the day, so older kids will not switch classrooms for every subject as is the practice in middle schools.

"You're in a nurturing environment," said Kansas City School Superintendent Anthony Amato. "You don't see as many teachers as you would in a large environment, [such] as a middle school of 1,000 students."

Amato will take questions about his school system in an online Q+A here.

He said the kids will calm down when they can be role models for the younger students. And he believes reading and math scores will go up as expulsion rates and drop-out rates go down.

Kids Reactions: 'Horrible' to 'Helpful'

Charles Gibson talked to some sixth graders in Kansas City who had expected to be in a middle school this year but instead are in an elemiddle school with the younger students.

One said, "I think it's horrible! Because we have to stay with the little kids."

Another said he liked the change because "all of my friends are here."

"If you don't know people in your class, they might not want to help you with an answer or a problem. And if your friend is sitting next to you, they will help you," the student added.

Right across the river in Kansas City, Kan., officials are sticking with the middle schools.

"I don't think that structures are what make the biggest difference," said David Smith, the assistant to the superintendent of the Kansas City, Kan., schools. "It's what you do within that structure."

No one really disagrees. Good teachers will succeed anywhere and a nurturing environment is essential.

But Amato said their first K-8 schools are already showing results.

"Just by looking at our final scores that already exist on a K-8 level," he said, "they are far out-producing and far out-gunning & our middle schools right now."

F L A S H B A C K: DO MIDDLE SCHOOL KIDS FACE 'BERMUDA TRIANGLE?' Stats, Experts Suggest More Peril in Middle Schools than in K-8 Schools

ABC News' Gigi Stone originally reported this story for "World News Tonight" on March 13, 2005.

PHILADELPHIA -- Jake Simmet, 11, always has helped his mom, Michelle, around the house, but she's worried his sweet demeanor may soon disappear.

Jake is about to enter middle school.

"My fears are that he doesn't get involved with the wrong kind of kids, or in drugs or drinking," she said.

Michelle Simmet is one of millions of parents now questioning whether public middle schools, with grades six through eight, are the best choice for such a vulnerable age group.

"I think it's a difficult time," she said, "because of all the changes their bodies are going through, with hormones and growing."

Reconfiguring Districts

Educators in a growing number of cities agree and have begun reconfiguring their schools, turning away from the middle school model and back to the kindergarten through eighth grade system that was popular before the 1970s.

Some districts are making the switch due to cost-cutting and overcrowding, but for the most part, the changes are driven by a series of studies. They depict middle schools as the "Bermuda Triangle" of education.

Philadelphia eighth-graders at the K-8 schools scored significantly higher on state tests than their middle school counterparts, studies by the Philadelphia Education Fund show. And nationally, crime takes off in middle schools, where it's 30 percent higher than in elementary schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

"Middle schools are flawed organizationally," said Paul Vallas, chief executive officer of the Philadelphia School District. "They simply don't work."

Vallas has nearly eradicated middle schools in Philadelphia.

"Middle-grades children in K-8 schools do far better than they do in middle schools," Vallas said, "both academically and behaviorally.

'Be Involved'

If your child is entering middle school, educators suggest, take your child to school as often as possible. Exchange phone numbers with teachers and get involved in the PTA and other school projects.

"I'll be involved as much as I can with the school and keep an eye on him," Simmet said.

Read All Comments and Post Your Own to ABC News

LAUSD NEEDS A BREATHER: Falling enrollment shows district isn't on right track
Daily News Editorial

Thursday, September 6, 2007 - ANOTHER academic year began this week for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and with it another year of declining student enrollment.

The country's second-largest school district will still have a lot of students - about 700,000 - but 8,000 fewer than last year.

In fact, student enrollment has been dropping for five years, and it is expected to continue to slide even as the district plows forward on a massive school-building project. The charter-school movement is also siphoning away students whose parents are fed up with the stale bureaucracy and the disempowerment of individual schools.

What this means for the future of the LAUSD isn't clear, but what is clear is that the district is intent on ignoring its not-so-certain future and keeps charging toward a goal set in the last millennium.

In a physical sense, this can be seen in the school-construction program. The district has done an admirable job of building new schools. So far, 67 new LAUSD campuses have been developed and many others renovated with $15 billion from taxpayers. It will cost billions more to complete the 77 schools still planned.

Obviously, the district has done a better job of building new schools than fixing what goes on in the classrooms.

It's time now to reverse those priorities. Put educating kids first, buildings second.

With a new school year, a new reform-minded and excited majority on the school board, a new superintendent and a new plan for the mayor's involvement, it's exactly the right time for a sober assessment of the LAUSD's goals.

And one of the most important questions for school officials to consider is whether the concept of jumbo schools - so popular in the 20th century - fits with the educational model of today.

We think it does not. And Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa agrees. Last week when he presented the plan for his "family of schools," he said the era of large campuses is over. L.A. has become too densely populated for that.

Also, there is wide agreement that, when it comes to education, smaller is better - smaller class sizes, smaller "learning communities" and smaller schools.

It's time for the school district to embrace the smaller revolution with action before it finds it's been passed by.

▲ A frequent correspondent with 4LAKids - who will go unnamed (though assuredly not to protect his or her innocence!) says of this editorial: "While it is always 'interesting' to read the Daily News editorial page, today's is an outstanding example of how easy it can be to prepare an editorial when one has no facts and is not interested in same."

• Population trends are forecast to reverse in 2012 or thereabouts - school enrollment will again begin to increase. - just as the current building program is complete.
• In 2012 – two hundred thousand LAUSD schoolchildren — two out of every seven and a large number of them in Valley (the home turf of the Daily News) — will be attending schools on a traditional calendar (Yes!) in their local school (Yes!) - but they will still be attending classes in so-called "temporary portable" bungalows.
"Portables" are the FEMA trailers of public education!
• LAUSD IS building smaller schools and implementing small learning communities in ALL existing and future high schools and middle schools.
• The voters have voted overwhelmingly for the program the DN wishes to stop. And no matter how well intended, money voted for school construction cannot be used for education in the classroom. Cannot. As in it's illegal.
• And the mayor didn't "present his plan for his 'families of schools'" last week — [See "VILLARAGOSA'S SPIN CYCLE" - below]. He talked about presenting his plan. We have been hearing that since his first state of the city speech April 18, 2006.

A PASSABLE KIDS' HEALTHCARE PLAN: The Senate's plan to fund health insurance for poor kids is modest but might stand up to a Bush veto.
LA Times Editorial

September 7, 2007 - In a perfect world, Congress would pass the House's reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program by an overwhelming majority. Unfortunately, seeing as the 6.6 million children in the program have to deal with reality -- particularly the threat of losing enrollment if SCHIP isn't renewed by Sept. 30 -- it's clear that any bill that reaches the president's desk would have to garner sufficient bipartisan support to stand up to Bush's threatened veto. The more modest Senate version could.

Authorized in 1997, the state-administered SCHIP provides coverage for children whose families don't qualify for Medicaid but can't afford private insurance. It's been highly successful -- since the program started, the number of uninsured children has dropped by nearly a fourth. Now it's up for renewal, and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the $25-billion program needs $14 billion more over the next five years just to keep covering current enrollees, let alone reach more of the nation's nearly 9 million uninsured children. Bush is willing to pony up $5 billion. That's tantamount to a cut.

Luckily, unlike Bush, many Republican members of Congress are up for reelection. Senate Republicans have set the increase ceiling at $35 billion -- that's as far as the Finance Committee could stretch a tobacco tax increase, the only source of funding both sides could agree upon. But limited though it is, the Senate bill has one big plus: Enough Republicans backed it that it passed 68 to 31, enough to override a veto.

The House bill would rely less on tobacco taxes and make up the difference by reducing funds for private healthcare under Medicare Advantage. Its bottom line hits almost $90 billion, as it addresses a shopping list of healthcare programs besides SCHIP. One costly item saves Medicare physicians' fees from a scheduled 10% cut. This double whammy -- cutting private programs and protecting public ones -- had Republicans crying "socialized medicine." That's absurd but effective: The bill passed by a largely party-line vote of 225 to 204, hardly an ironclad majority.

Now Republicans are blocking Senate nominations to a conference committee, and Democrats are suggesting a temporary extension of the program. Both are losing perspective.

Note to Democrats: Stop trying to use the SCHIP bill to save Medicare fees. It's SCHIP that needs the attention. Use the Senate's higher tobacco tax, and only that tax, to fund the program. If those of you in the House still want to give Medicare Advantage's private plans a haircut, fine, but do it in another bill, and make it a modest trim. Also, keep those funds in-house -- use them to buffer the effects of the Medicare fee cuts. Such a plan may still bother some Republicans, but it would be cheaper and less politically explosive.

A smaller, more realistic SCHIP bill is better than a late bill, or no bill at all.

VILLARAIGOSA'S SPIN CYCLE + Highlights, Lowlights & the News that Doesn't Fit: | CHALLENGE TO PROP R | STUDENT AID OVERHAUL

OVERPROMISING: Though Decidedly Modest, the Mayor's School Fix-It Plan Faces Problems

by Michael Krikorian | LA Weekly

HISTORIC. HISTORIC. HISTORIC. At a news conference crammed with media members last week, the word "historic" was invoked 21 times. Was this press gathering about the Battle of Stalingrad? Maybe Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. How about Barry's 756th home run?

Not quite.

It was the announcement of a partnership between the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District, a decidedly modest plan to focus money and attention on a very small percentage of the troubled district's worst schools.

"Historic." (Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, at least nine times.)

"Historic." (Schools Superintendent David L. Brewer III, at least four times.)

"Historic." (Board of Education President Monica Garcia, three times.)

"Historic." (Board of Education Member Marlene Cantor, just twice.)

"Historic." (A few students thrown into the mix.)

Some in the swarm of media who attended began writing the letter "h" for each mention. Not that reporters were skeptical enough to lob many tough questions at Villaraigosa, who used the setting to put his own spin on his two years of bruising attacks on the schools. His combative demands for a role in the district's high schools have sent teacher morale plummeting, cost LAUSD nearly $1 million to fight an unconstitutional mayoral takeover law, and created an icy schism with former Superintendent Roy Romer — viewed by many as the most activist and reform-minded schools leader in Los Angeles since the 1960s.

Now, with nine television cameras rolling and dozens of backers cheering him, a smiling Villaraigosa announced he was entering into "The Partnership" with LAUSD to "service, support and manage two families of schools" — meaning two high schools and the cluster of nearby elementary and middle schools that feed into those high schools.

"In the coming months, we will reach out and look at the 20 worst schools in the city and see if they want to join The Partnership," said Villaraigosa, who says he expects The Partnership to be operating late this year.

Yet even as they touted their efforts, Villaraigosa and schools officials had little of substance to say about the plan. "Failure is not an option," said LAUSD Superintendent Brewer, a retired three-star Navy vice admiral — quickly drawing ridicule from teachers who were reminded of Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush saying the same thing about Iraq. Within hours of Brewer's comment, the L.A. Weekly received a taunting essay from a prominent high school teacher and outspoken reformer — the kind of teacher he needs to woo — slamming Brewer as "Admiral Failure Is Not an Option."


No schools have yet agreed to be part of Villaraigosa's small pilot project. Nor has the mayor offered any workable plan for how he'll achieve an academic turnaround and slash the high school dropout rate.

What is known so far of his plan — parental involvement, teacher empowerment, focused spending — is very similar to a dramatic effort put into the Ten Schools Program, launched in 1987 to remake the city's 10 worst grade schools. Now serving 15 schools, mostly in Watts and South-Central, it has had mixed results. (An LAUSD public information officer the Weekly contacted didn't even know what the Ten Schools Program was.)

Villaraigosa's plan also sounds like yet another splashy reform — a highly touted revamp under Superintendent Ruben Zacarias in the 1990s to identify, spend money on, and bring accountability to the 100 worst schools. That effort was historic — as a tremendous flop.

Villaraigosa insists, "We are flipping the way we think about schools on its head." To do that, "We are pouring the foundations for a historic partnership between LAUSD and the city that will transform L.A. schools and fundamentally reconfigure what education means to students, teachers and parents in Los Angeles."

That's a dramatic vision. But his 30-page report, "The Schoolhouse," a blueprint for reform, was widely criticized for offering no new ideas about how to do that.

According to Villaraigosa's statement of intent for his pilot project, "Schools within the identified families of schools will get to choose whether or not they want to become Partnership schools." Considering the state of affairs at some of the most challenged high schools, such as Locke, Manual Arts, Fremont, Jordan, Crenshaw and Jefferson, the schools appear to have little to lose.

Villaraigosa's press secretary, Janelle Erickson, defended the fuss being made over The Partnership, saying, "It's a first and a giant step in the right direction." Yet the greatest risk might be Team Villaraigosa's penchant for publicly overpromising things it can't deliver.

For example, the mayor's ally, Los Angeles Board of Education President Garcia — a longtime friend whom Villaraigosa endorsed last year for the school board — last week declared: "Only through partnerships with key stakeholders like the city, county and higher education will we make the changes necessary for the ultimate goal of 100 percent graduation."

But a 100 percent graduation rate, in a sprawling district of more than 712,000 students, 800 schools and 77,000 employees, is in truth not going to happen. Such impossible goals could instead drive a wedge between the mayor and the roughly 35,000 rank-and-file teachers — almost none of whom showed up to support Villaraigosa's "historic" moment last week.

The best that Steve Barr, the founder of the Green Dot charter schools, could say was that he hopes Villaraigosa is motivated enough by his desire to run for governor or other higher office to actually get something done.

"He is obviously ambitious and wants to go to higher office, so he wants to do better, and that's good," says Barr.

But Villaraigosa won't have The Partnership at all unless he gets agreement from teachers at the selected schools, as well as from United Teachers Los Angeles. "I want to see details and I don't see any details yet," says A.J. Duffy, the president of UTLA. "We expect the mayor and his team to go to schools and explain exactly what they bring to the table. It's not good enough to say we are gonna do this and that. We need to hear exactly what they intend to do."

Nor is it clear that the union, long known for blocking rather than spearheading successful academic reforms, can change its pattern of placing blame on everyone but itself. Duffy, whose leadership of the fractured union is said to be tenuous, is again pointing fingers, claiming, "We need to find a way to do away with, or at least mitigate, the bureaucracy that is a roadblock to reform."

Spin has been the order of the day: a "historic" event that drew few teachers. A mayor trying to refocus attention away from his ruined marriage and controversial affair. A union that has little track record in pushing for solid academic improvements among children, peddling itself as a reform leader.

The mayor says requiring accountability will be the key to The Partnership's success, promising, "We want to change to a culture of accountability and responsibility."

But in all these months, at his many public appearances calling for improving the city's high schools, the mayor has yet to say how. If Los Angeles–area high schools actually were to improve — well, that would be historic.


by smf | 4LAKids

Sept 9, 2007 - David Hernandez and Ted Hayes are continuing their challenge to CITY CHARTER PROPOSITION R: The City Government Responsibility, Lobbying and Ethics Reform Act (originally titled: "Ethics Reforms/Term Limit Extensions/Ballot Initiative" ¨C which extended city council terms limits to three terms while making cosmetic changes to city ethics and lobbying rules. The mayor allegedly bundled his personal endorsement of Prop R with quid-pro-quo city council support for his failed school takeover plan: AB 1381.

Hernandez, Hayes and a number of others challenged Measure R because it incorporated two different provisions (electoral reform and term limit extension) into a single measure in violation of the single issue rule in the state constitution. [Art 2 ¡ì8 (d)]

This same question exists in CITY CHARTER PROPOSITION L: Term Limits, Campaign Finance Rules, Compensation Review - which linked imposing term limits on the school board with compensation reform and campaign finance rules - violating the single issue constitutional provision and additionally Article 9 ¡ì16 (b) - specifically requiring separation of issues in elections where school district boundaries extend beyond the chartering city. There are additional outstanding questions as to the propriety of both measures because they were never vetted through the City Ethics Commission or Neighborhood Councils as required under the City Charter.

In the first court challenge - which removed the ballot measure from the ballot - Judge Robert H. O'Brien ruled "the measure illegally combined the term limits proposal with new restrictions on lobbyists. The Constitution prohibits asking voters to decide separate issues in the same ballot question"

Judge O'Brien's decision was appealed, the measure was placed back on the ballot pending the appeal ¡­and the measure was passed by the voters before the appeal could be heard. The City Attorney - originally a plaintiff in the action was forced to drop the appeal once the ballot measure passed because his obligation is to represent the voters! (The "done-deal" conundrum)

Eventually Judge David P. Yaffe in a resurrected action brought by Hernandez and Hayes (Judge Yaffe is not a appellate judge) decided to let the measure stand based on some very interesting-if-tortured semantic legalisms revolving around: "When is an issue not a issue and/or an initiative not an initiative?" Yaffe ruled - based on documents and oral arguments - that Prop R was not a ¡°Ballot Initiative¡± and did not have to conform to the single issue rule.

If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck¡­

Hernandez and Hayes have until October 16, 2007 to accept the ruling or appeal; they are committed to seeing this challenge to its conclusion.

Says Hernandez: "There are however limits to the amount of resources at our disposal. There are many worthy and vital issues for us to direct our resources, but this issue is one which addresses the causes and conditions which impact every other challenge we are faced with: Politicians and Special Interests, who believe they are above the Constitution and can with impunity, mislead and deceive the people, must be challenged."

It's not really about kids and schools ¡­but of course it is! 4LAKids believes along with Margaret Mead that "One should never underestimate the power of a small dedicated group of people to change the world. They are the only ones who ever do." One must choose one's adversaries and the windmills one challenges wisely; we invite our readers to check out - and we wish David and Ted - two of the few - good luck and best wishes in court.


The press has been filled lately with stories of the Sub-Prime Loan/Home Mortgage crisis, following on the heels of the Student College Loan Scandal. At our house we have been following both misadventures raptly - not because we overextended ourselves and bought a huge home with an adjustable sub-prime loan (we didn't) but because we are about to send our child off to college and she seems dreadfully attracted to Ea$t Coa$t Private Univer$itie$.

I always thought Swarthmore was a brand of water color paper.

Of course our house could probably use a new roof and the air conditioner has months to live. Designer Kitchen ¡­or College Education ¡ª which is the better investment? And needless to say The Jones (who live across the street rather than next door) have two Porsches and a Mercedes - and are running laps ahead of us in our Volvo and Kia.

I am always on the verge of canceling the subscription to The Times - the deliveries always hit the porch but the editorials tend to maddeningly miss the mark. But they are in the midst of an excellent series on actual college finance - as opposed to the theoretical socking-away-of-the-money therefore. I'm not going to post it all here in 4LAKids, but it's definitely fodder for the 4LAKids All That News That Doesn't Fit website.

¡­plus it's good stuff for those of you out there dealing with What Middle School or High School to Send Your Little Darlings To? It only gets better ...and with road trips! - smf

▲ Also see the Congress website on the Student Loan Overhaul:

Congress Passes Student Aid Overhaul + How to Beat the High Cost of Learning

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Tuesday Sept, 11, 2007
Regular meeting of the LAUSD Board of Education
10AM - check link below for the posted agenda.
LAUSD Boardroom - 333 S. Beaudry Ave, LA 90017
smf 2¢: Under the heading: CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE PAYROLL ACTION The UTLA website warns of civil disobedience at the Sept 11th Board meeting and advises:

"UTLA leaders will cause havoc at the School Board meeting in an attempt to emphasize the gravity of the [BTS] payroll nightmare and move Board members to take action NOW!"

Outrage is justified and the payroll system IS in crisis -- 4LAKids is in solidarity with teachers who are not being paid.

But not to put too sharp a point on the stick: IT IS THE K*I*D*S THAT MUST A*L*W*A*Y*S COME FIRST !


• Thursday Sep 13, 2007
South Region High School #8: Site Selection Update Meeting - At this meeting we will review criteria used to select potential sites and review those under consideration.
6:00 p.m.
Bell High School Auditorium
4328 Bell Ave.
Bell, CA 90201

*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.
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