Sunday, September 23, 2007


4LAKids: Sunday, Sept 23, 2007
In This Issue:
HOME FOR PORT HIGH ELUDES CHARTER SCHOOL AGAIN: The Harbor Commission skips a vote on a five-year lease after objections from a state official
LAYOFFS LOOM AT LOCAL KIDS' HEALTH CLINICS: Budget cuts slice into funds to get needy enrolled
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.
He Was a Teacher and also a Friend | by Richard Nemec | Op-Ed in LA Daily News

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - In the last year I was introduced to an extraordinary former teacher, administrator and first-rate human being who labored successfully in the Los Angeles Unified School District for more than 30 years (mostly in the San Fernando Valley). He was once an aspiring actor with major film and Broadway play credits and is now a successful octogenarian blackjack player along the Las Vegas Strip.

Mendie Koenig, who began as a third-grade teacher at a then-new Westside elementary school in 1951, decided his first day on the job what he was going to be first and foremost - a human being. He was forced to make the choice by a precocious first-grader who confronted him on the playground his first day at the school.

Wearing his best, and only, blue flannel suit, Mendie was doing yard duty watching the kids before school began when a little girl tugged on his jacket, stared straight at him and asked, "Are you a teacher, or are you a man?"

More than half a century later, the incident indelible in his mind, Koenig says. "I looked at this kid, and I said that I happened to be both, but I thought to myself afterward, `this kid is telling me something.' Right then, I decided I had to make up my mind, would I be a `teacher' or would I be a `human being'?"

He opted for the latter, and it is why last year a sixth-grade class he taught in 1955 honored him for making a difference in their lives. His students from a half-century ago, some of whom are into their 60s, still remember and revere him.

One of the former students from the sixth-grade class at Richland Avenue Elementary School is a longtime friend, and she invited me to meet the slightly built, soft-spoken man who left an indelible mark on her life, and many other youngsters' lives.

He left equally profound impressions at a half-dozen other city elementary schools, five in the San Fernando Valley, the last being Tarzana Elementary where he was principal the last 15 years of his education career (1972-88).

One of Mendie's male students from the sixth-grade class of '55 was from a dirt-poor Nebraska family that moved West after World War II. He was so traumatized by the move, living in a dangerous trailer park along Bundy Drive in West Los Angeles, and his father's wartime abandonment of the family that he refused to speak in kindergarten or the first grade at Richland School.

It wasn't until he encountered Koenig that he began to come out of his shell. Fifty-one years later I listened to him tell how Mendie, who worked part-time at the Santa Monica Sears store to supplement his teacher pay, would buy him one of the toys he'd been eyeing. What he remembered about "Mr. Koenig" is that he treated him like an individual.

Growing up in a traditional Jewish family, first in the Bronx where he was born and as a teenager in Boyle Heights, Mendie said he was taught to fear teachers. Suddenly, he looked in the mirror and saw he was the teacher.

"I was fearful, but I also knew that I could quit any time," he says in retrospect. Consequently, Mendie Koenig did his "own thing" as a teacher, speaking to the students not like a teacher, but like a friend.

How many students are there in LAUSD classrooms looking for another Mendie Koenig right now? Too many, I would guess, and that's a shame for all of us.

Richard Nemec is a writer in Los Angeles.

• 4LAKids: At one level Nemec has it absolutely right and on another he has his tenses confused.

Mendie Koenig IS a friend and IS a teacher. Jackie Goldberg, the former school board member, city councilperson and assemblyperson also taught in the Compton schools - but Jackie never appends 'former' to the title 'Teacher'; "Once a teacher - always a teacher."

Koenig continues to touch the lives he touched when he was in the classroom and the front office …the lives are just not so young anymore! The impact of a good teacher on a student lasts forever; teachers like Koenig continue to teach us all by example. And there are many MANY teachers and administrators in LAUSD, Compton and across the nation today like Koenig. You won't read their names in the Daily News …but there are many students, parents and other teachers out there who know them and know who they are. Are there enough? Probably not. Were there ever? No. - If there had been we wouldn't be reading Mendie Koenig's name today.

Every deal a blackjack, Mendie!

Rock onward! - smf

MONITOR TO OVERSEE SCHOOL PAYROLL REPAIR: Many teachers and other L.A. Unified employees still are not paid correctly, and soon tax forms and state reports may be affected.

By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

September 17, 2007 - For eight months a defective payroll system has wreaked havoc on the Los Angeles Unified School District, leaving tens of thousands of employees unpaid, paid too little or overpaid. With a solution still months away and the fallout worsening; the district's Board of Education took an unusual step last week, deciding to hire an independent monitor, who will report to the board on district efforts to rectify the debacle.

Board President Monica Garcia, who made the move after consulting with her colleagues, said the outside observer will act as the board's eyes and ears, providing it with frequent assessments of the ongoing, complicated attempt to rewrite faulty computer programs that continue to cut thousands of erroneous paychecks each month.

Board members have grown increasingly concerned that the problems have not been solved even though school district staffers and expert consultants have been trying for months. The pressure to make fixes has spiked in recent weeks as the district confronts the prospect of issuing inaccurate tax forms to employees and the likelihood that it will miss financial reporting deadlines mandated by the state.

"Given the clarity we have now of the impact of this crisis, I wanted to make sure we have a technical person involved who can validate, verify and challenge information," Garcia said. She voiced support for district Supt. David L. Brewer's handling of the payroll problems, which he inherited when he was hired late last year, and said the decision to hire the monitor did not signal a lack of confidence in him. "I have every expectation that our people are doing the best they can," she said.

At a meeting Tuesday, other board members pressed Brewer and his senior staff for details about the pace and strategy for correcting the payroll system's failures.

"This is a crisis for the district. We are in a crisis, and I expect you to resolve it immediately," board member Marlene Canter told Brewer.

"I am losing confidence in our ability to do what we need to do for our people on the front line," board member Richard Vladovic added. Later, while the board was debating whether to approve Brewer's request to pay a technology consulting firm up to $10 million to help devise a remedy, Vladovic grew irritated when staff could not precisely explain what the firm was expected to accomplish. The board eventually approved the one-year contract.

Brewer said he welcomed Garcia's decision to bring on the independent observer saying it would free his staff somewhat from the time-consuming task of briefing board members. "It's fine with me," he said in an interview.

Garcia echoed Brewer, saying, "The people running the recovery effort cannot be in seven different places every day giving briefings. That's not efficient."

Part of a comprehensive $95-million technology upgrade, the payroll system was heralded as a modern, efficient replacement of the district's antiquated, largely manual process that had been in place for four decades. But from the outset, in February, it has been plagued with problems. Early on, some of the paycheck errors were the result of mistakes made by timekeepers and office clerks, who had received hurried and insufficient training on the complicated computer program.

Serious glitches in the computer software programs have proved more intractable. The hardest hit have been the district's roughly 48,000 certificated employees -- teachers and others who require credentials to perform their jobs. The computer programs have not been able to accurately account for their complicated, varied job assignments and pay scales. At the heart of the problem is that teachers work 10 months each year but are paid 12 times, and the system was not designed to correctly spread out, or annualize, the salaries.

The worst month was June, when about 30,000 paychecks had errors -- nearly all of them overpayments. This month, 3,800 more teachers and others were affected.

The result has been disastrous for teachers and others. With payday occurring only once a month for most, many have struggled to make rent or mortgage payments, cover other bills and buy such basics as groceries. Each month, hundreds of frustrated employees spend hours waiting in district offices trying to resolve their problems, telling one another about the loans they have had to take out to avoid being evicted or having their cars

Because of the widespread confusion and distrust among employees over the accuracy of their paychecks, district officials said, they postponed a plan this month to recoup overpayments, which total an estimated $53 million. But if payments are not set straight in time to produce accurate end-of-year tax forms, district officials have cautioned in recent weeks, employees could face a nightmare when they try to file income taxes in the spring.

"There is a crisis brewing, and it's with good old Uncle Sam," Vladovic said. "I am worried."

Also looming is an Oct. 15 deadline for L.A. Unified to file a comprehensive report on last school year's expenditures with state officials. Because of the payroll failures, district officials have not been able to complete their bookkeeping and pass the report on to county officials as required, making it unlikely that they will be able to meet the state deadline.

If the reports are more than two weeks late, state law allows California's top education official to withhold the salaries of Brewer and board members, a move state education officials said is rare but not unprecedented.

Programmers have begun the painstaking process of rewriting the computer software using more sophisticated programs, but it will take two to three months to complete, district officials said. Another option, scrapping the 12-month pay calendar, is under consideration, but it would require making changes to labor agreements with unions.

Garcia said she hoped the independent monitor would be named and in place within two weeks and would act quickly to improve board members' understanding of what is being done and how best to proceed. It is unclear how much the board will pay the monitor.

Deadlines "are coming. There is no more flexibility," she said. "We have to act in ways we haven't acted yet."

• Because 4LAKids is 4LAKids I am amending the above article with a letter to the editor of the Daily News:


Re "LAUSD payroll disaster to cost more" (Sept. 12):

Let's get this straight: Some time ago, the L.A. Community College District bought the SAP payroll system and encountered numerous problems. Later, the LAUSD decides to buy the same system and - guess what - they also encounter problems. Was this a surprise to anyone?

It is going to cost an additional $9.8 million to fix the problems. Didn't the SAP contract provide guarantees for a product that would work? Are there any adults watching the store?

It would be interesting to know if, and how much, campaign money was contributed by SAP, et al., to the members of the LAUSD board and other city officials.

This situation stinks!

- Edward G. Hesler Jr.
- West Hills

• THE PROMISE OF BUSINESS TOOLS FOR SCHOOLS | 4LAKids: The following is from LAUSD as revised last April, four months into the BTS payroll roll out:

a) Through replacement of our aging financial, human resources, payroll and procurement systems, the District will:
i) Dramatically improve service delivery to schools and employees
ii) Radically improve the efficiency of District operations and our ability to manage them
iii) Reduce or eliminate paperwork and redundant manual processes
iv) Provide better data for decision-makers and stakeholders at all levels

i) Web access to systems; more user-friendly screens for staff to interact with
ii) Less paper-based processes and more electronic workflow and approval processes
iii) Faster response time to school and employee inquiries
iv) Better reporting capabilities, including timeliness of data and ability to create ad hoc queries.


Los Angeles Unified School District Business Tools for Schools (BTS) WHAT IS THE BTS PROJECT? (rev 4/07)

HOME FOR PORT HIGH ELUDES CHARTER SCHOOL AGAIN: The Harbor Commission skips a vote on a five-year lease after objections from a state official
by Paul Clinton | Daily Breeze Staff Writer

September 22, 2007 - A start-up charter school hit another speed hump along its road to landing a home this week, even as it has taken steps to solidify its academic credentials.

The Los Angeles harbor commission yanked a five-year lease from its agenda Thursday evening after the State Lands Commission challenged the deal. The move surprised the school's founders, one of whom is a former harbor commissioner.

In a letter delivered to the Port of Los Angeles less than four hours before the start of the meeting, State Lands Executive Officer Paul Thayer said the lease was inconsistent with a July 2005 agreement that allowed the school to use a port-owned facility for classes.

On Friday, Thayer said the five-year lease term for Port of Los Angeles High School was problematic and that it would need to be modified to allow a seven-year term.

"We're going to sit down with the port and try to work this through," Thayer said Friday. "Maybe in the long run, the port will modify the (2005 agreement) to seven years."

Harbor commissioners said they could approve the lease as early as November.

The new lease would put to rest two years of uncertainty over the fledgling charter school's makeshift San Pedro campus.

When the Los Angeles Unified School District approved the school's charter in 2003, the district didn't provide space for its students, even though it is required to by law.

"The No. 1 challenge charter schools face today is a lack of facilities support by their school districts," said Gary Larson, spokesman with the California Charter Schools Association. "It really does boil down to equity."

Larson's group has sued LAUSD, saying the nation's second-largest district isn't complying with Proposition 39, a 2000 statewide initiative requiring districts to provide adequate facilities for charter schools.

The port high school, a project started by San Pedro civic leaders, reached an agreement for a building formerly used by the Evergreen International Shipping Co. on Fifth Street.

To convert the Evergreen offices into a school that meets state design requirements, the port spent $660,000, which will be paid back, said Camilla Townsend, a founder and school president who served on the Board of Harbor Commissioners under former Mayor James Hahn.

That's because the school's agreement with State Lands stipulates that the port could not subsidize the school.

"We're excited because we're in full compliance with the (agreement) between the port and State Lands," said James Cross, the school's executive director.

Port of Los Angeles High School's lease would include an option to purchase the building by 2012.

Terms call for $20,068 monthly rent for 36,486 square feet of port property. A 25 percent monthly discount will apply because school operations will likely be disrupted by the construction of a port police facility, lowering the monthly rent to $15,051.

This year, Townsend and others began shaping the school into a specialized maritime academy that offers academic basics, as well as internships, marine studies, port presentations and other vocational classes about the global trade industry.

In August, the charter brought aboard Jerry Aspland, a former president of the California Maritime Academy, to fully embed maritime education in classroom lessons.

The port hired Aspland on a nine-month consulting contract for no more that $50,000, he said, and funded a summer training institute for the school's teachers.

Port support for the school will continue for maritime education, said Arley Baker, port communications director.

"This is a huge economic engine," Baker said about the port. "There are a lot of different disciplines kids can explore in terms of looking toward the future, whether they want to be a marine biologist or work in logistics."

The financial difficulties at Port of Los Angeles High School have been well documented, following the LAUSD's approval of the school's charter in 2003. The campus opened in September 2005.

The harbor commission had authorized $5.6 million to purchase the former Evergreen building for the school, a move questioned by the State Lands Commission.

Early on, the school struggled to pay rent and utility bills because of the lag period in state per-pupil payments.

To bolster the budget, the school's directors set up an education foundation to bring in grants and private donations. The school would operate in the red if it only relied on state per-pupil reimbursements, Townsend said.

New 11th-graders for the 2007-08 school year have brought the school's enrollment to 406 students, which helped stabilize the school's $3.6 million budget, Cross said.

The school has showed remarkable academic progress in only two years.

This year, it surged 11 percent to 721, from 650, on the state's Academic Performance Index, a 1,000-point scale derived from standardized test results.

And passing the California High School Exit Exam hasn't been a snag for 10th-graders. Ninety-one percent of them passed the English language arts portion of the test, and 79 percent passed the mathematics section.

As with Green Dot charter schools, students are opting out of LAUSD to attend Port of Los Angeles High.

John Gonzalez, 16, finished eighth grade at Peary Middle School in Gardena more than two years ago.

"My mom didn't want me going to Gardena High," Gonzalez said. "Too many gangs."

Jessica Albo, also 16, saw her grades rise to a B-average after leaving Wilmington Middle School. As with Gonzalez, Albo's mom chose the charter school over a LAUSD high school.

"My mom wanted me to have a better future," Albo said. "She didn't want me to be a troublemaker."

Because the school operates independently, its teachers aren't unionized, which is seen by teachers as a trade-off for less red tape.

"Because of the smallness of the school, there's a lot less bureaucracy," said Rachel Bruhnke, who teaches Spanish

• One needn't read between the lines on this one, one needs only read the lines themselves. Though perhaps with the dizzying spin from the charter community reading might be difficult.

1. LAPHS's issue isn't with LAUSD, it is with the Harbor Commission and the State Lands Commission. The Daily Breeze is factually in error in saying the district was required by law to provide space to LAPHS - the school's 2003 charter specified that the school would be housed in space the school would obtain from the Port of LA.
2. The Harbor Commission is a stepchild of The City of Los Angeles - who's previous and current mayor are proponents of charter schools … and apparently the commissioners got the word.
3. The party standing in the way is the State Lands Commission, a stepchild of state government, whose governor is likewise a great proponent of charter schools … though apparently those commissioners haven't got the word quite as loud and clearly.
4. The rest of the article, with the Charter Association suing LAUSD for failing to come up with facilities is what is known as 'Smoke'.
5. The question (The "Fire") here seems to be whether or not the Harbor Commission overstepped the law in the way it has purchased and leased back facilities to the charter school - and whether subsequent levels of support amount to a subsidy.
6. The mention of Green Dot - and even the school's commendable performance - is 'Mirrors'. "The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la…," Ko-Ko sang, "…have nothing to do with the case."

- smf (with apologies to G&S!)

Photos: Port of L.A. High

LAYOFFS LOOM AT LOCAL KIDS' HEALTH CLINICS: Budget cuts slice into funds to get needy enrolled
by Harrison Sheppard, Sacramento Bureau | LA Daily News

September 14, 2007 - SACRAMENTO - Dozens of health clinics across California, including in the San Fernando Valley, are bracing for funding cuts and layoffs this month that could threaten efforts to aid the region's thousands of uninsured children.

Promised state funding earlier this year, the nonprofit health clinics, along with local government agencies, began hiring extra staff to enroll more low-income children in subsidized health insurance programs.

But last month Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed funding for the outreach programs as part of about $700 million in cuts he was forced to make to win Republican support for the budget.

The move has stunned many clinics, counties and agencies that had already started hiring people and gearing up to provide new services for a program that had just started in the spring and now has suddenly ended.

"We were all surprised by it because we thought those funds were secured funds when we started our work," said Vilma Champion, director of marketing and managed care at the San Fernando-based Northeast Valley Health Corp., which runs several clinics.

"We hired staff. We put our services in place. We're now not going to be able to retain most of those folks."

Her organization hired nine people in April. While they don't have funding for those positions, they are hoping to find other spots for about half of the new employees; the others will be let go.

The Northeast Valley Health Corp. hosted the governor's press conference in January 2006 when he first touted his plan to make the funds available to expand children's insurance enrollment.

It was seen as one of his first big steps toward improving health care overall in California.

Health advocacy groups estimate that several of the governor's vetoes combined cut a total of about $66 million that would have helped enroll about 100,000 children in health insurance programs in 2007-08.

The funding did not provide actual coverage, but paid for advertising campaigns and staff to help low-income families learn about the services available and fill out complex paperwork.

Clinic officials say outreach is necessary because the population they serve - including many who do not speak English or have little education - often has trouble understanding the health care system.

As a result, roughly 447,000 children who are eligible for Healthy Families or Medi-Cal remain uninsured, according to a California Health Interview Survey. In total, about 763,000 children in California do not have health insurance.

But state officials said Thursday that the cut was simply a financial necessity and the governor remains committed to expanding health care coverage for children.

"We remain committed to enrolling all uninsured children that are eligible for all Healthy Family and Medi-Cal programs," said Mike Bowman, spokesman for the state Department of Health Care Services.

"The governor was tasked with cutting more than $700 million from the proposed budget. Unfortunately, those decisions impacted some programs at the county level."

He noted that the budget actually increases funding by $59 million for expanded enrollment in the Healthy Families program, which will pay for 39,000 additional recipients.

Health advocates say, however, it will be tough to sign up potential new enrollees without outreach programs.

Enrollment in Healthy Families has grown to 832,000, up from 686,000 when Schwarzenegger took office, Bowman said. Medi-Cal provides coverage to about 6.7 million people, including 3.2 million children, he said.

Los Angeles County health officials estimate that about 200 people countywide - in about 30 different clinics and local government agencies - were hired with the expected funds.

They expected to use the money to help enroll about 25,000 Los Angeles children a year in programs such as Healthy Families and Medi-Cal.

The county had expected to receive about $26 million over three years for the program. Instead, the state now will only reimburse for any costs in the 2006-07 fiscal year incurred through June 30, 2007.

The counties and clinics are on the hook for anything spent after July 1 - even though the governor's veto was not announced until Aug. 24.

Los Angeles County has agreed to reimburse the clinics out of county funds through Sept. 27, at a cost to the county of about $2.2 million.

"It was a real shock, and it was devastating for a lot of different agencies," said Suzanne Bostwick, acting director of children's health outreach initiatives for the county health department.

"We were working on this night and day for a year. You have to look at not only how it affects the agencies, but all the people that will not be receiving services because of this."

Besides local clinics, the county also provided state grants to local government agencies like Los Angeles Unified School District and the city of Long Beach.

About a third of Los Angeles County's 9.5 million residents do not have health insurance, according to the California Health Interview Survey.

More than half of the county's 257,000 uninsured children are believed to be eligible for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families.

Olga Duran, director of health outreach services for Valley Community Clinic, said her organization hired five staff members in the spring for outreach and now has to lay them off.

"That basically takes away our enrollment and outreach capabilities in the clinic," Duran said. "We do not have the money to carry the program forward."

In applying for the state funds, Valley Community Clinic set a goal of reaching out to 5,000 families and enrolling 1,700 more children in subsidized health-insurance programs.

• The Governor's veto of this legislation, the President's threatened veto of State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles failure to fund the jopintly run LAUSD/PTA Health, Dental and Vision Programs after eighty years of support dating from the Red Feather Campaigns of the Community Chest leaves the underserved and uninsured children of LAUSD especially vulnerable. - smf

by Molly A. Hunter & Matthew Samberg, National Access Network | Teachers College, Columbia University

Since the launch of Sputnik and especially since publication of “A Nation at Risk” in 1983, public education in America has taken a beating from policymakers and the media, and conservative pundits have constantly predicted doom for the nation’s economy. Yet, public education produced the engineers who enabled the U.S. to win the space race, and our economy has been strong and resilient. Public education’s major role in these achievements should be celebrated, not ignored.
At the same time, it is true that schools educating low-income children face debilitating challenges caused by the highest poverty rates in the developed world and denial of essential resources, and this is indeed inimical to the civic and economic health of our country. We must extend the high achievement in suburban schools to our urban and rural schools, by implementing measures necessary to overcome the effects of poverty.

Over the past 35 years, black and Hispanic students have both achieved double-digit increases in all grades in both reading and math on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, and achievement gaps have narrowed. How, then, can critics claim that NAEP scores have been flat over those same 35 years? Simpson’s Paradox. Simpson's paradox occurs when population shifts hide rising scores. Scores for all subgroups are rising, but the overall average NAEP scores have moved only modestly upward because the lower scoring groups – students of color and students of low-income families – are now a much larger proportion of those being tested. On fourth grade reading tests, for example, black students have improved by 30 points, Hispanic students by 20 points, and white students by 15 points. The “average” increase was only 11 points!

Private and charter schools do, on average, no better a job of educating children than public schools, and they sometimes do a worse job. NAEP scores of private school students are no better than those of public school students, after correcting for socio-economic background. The “benefits” of private schools may be nothing more than the benefits of attending schools with students from predominantly affluent backgrounds.
Stories of high-performing charter schools are frequently provided without context. At some charter schools, such as the KIPP academies, there is a high rate of student attrition; the students who have the most difficulty frequently leave (and return to their regular public schools). In addition, in KIPP schools and similar schools, students have 60 percent more learning time, through a longer school day, weekend classes, and summer school. Comparing these schools to regular public schools is comparing apples to oranges. Bringing this model to scale would require a major influx of funds.
The landscape of public education has drastically changed since 1960, with most new spending going to programs that serve children who had been ignored by the system and who require special services. Beginning in 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act added federal dollars targeted toward schools educating low-income children. In 1974, English language learners secured the right to appropriate services if they attend public schools, and in 1975 Congress began to require public schools to provide services to students with disabilities. Between 1960 and 1978, inflation-adjusted per pupil expenditures on public education increased much more rapidly than they have in the years since then. Furthermore, the costs of services, such as education, have a much faster rate of inflation than the CPI (the traditional measure). Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute has estimated that since the 1960’s, “real school spending” has grown nearly 40% slower than many pundits claim.

Among the 30 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – a body that comprises the world’s most affluent nations – the United States ranks fourth in per pupil spending on K-12 education; this is not an unreasonable position to hold. In addition, about 8 percent of U.S. education spending is for health insurance, while other nations account for these costs in their health systems. Finally, if one instead looks at preprimary-secondary education expenditures as percent of GDP, which some economists think is a better measure of education spending, the United States falls to 14th.

Social policy in the United States stands in sharp contrast to that of most other developed nations. While most of these nations have an array of supportive social services to help families and children in poverty, the U.S. looks primarily to its schools to help children overcome the barriers to opportunity caused by poverty. Seven million children in the United States (one in every nine) have no health insurance coverage, whereas nearly all other developed nations have universal health coverage. One in five children in the U.S. live in poverty; among blacks and Hispanics, child poverty is one in three. In Western Europe, this figure averages less than 10 percent. The U.S. also faces a large and growing need to educate students who are not native English speakers. Eleven percent of students nationwide receive English Learner services.

The focus of U.S. policymakers on test scores is moving in the opposite direction of other nations. Educators from high-scoring nations in Asia recognize that test scores measure only limited learning and not the skills students need to be successful. As Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the minister of Education from top-scoring Singapore has said: "There are some parts of the intellect that we are not able to test well – like creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, ambition."
Xu Ziwang, one of Goldman Sachs's first mainland Chinese partners, told the New York Times about the job performance of top Chinese university graduates: ''There's a price for 12 years of prep for an exam, and that's to always think there's a narrow, right answer. If you give precise instructions, they do well. If you define a task broadly, they get lost and ask for help.'' Many educators in the U.S. agree: too much emphasis on test scores and “right answers” is actually having a detrimental effect on American education.

©2007 National Access Network ● 525 W. 120TH ST., Box 219, NEW YORK, NY 10027 ● (212) 678-3291 ● FAX (212) 678-8364 ●

•4LAKids: The naysayers, handwringers and failure callers; the 'tight public pursestringers', the privatizers and the folks with miracle cures from business schools and corporate boardrooms will say the above is an apologia for the status quo. It's not. We can and must do so much better at public education in this city, state and nation.

To go all 'buzzwordy': The World of the twenty-first century and the emerging global ecomy is Flat But to properly survey that reality let's first understand that the playing field is not level. - smf

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

By Patricia Dalton | Special to The Washington Post

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - There's been a fundamental change in family life, and it has played out over the years in my office. Teachers, pediatricians and therapists like me are seeing children of all ages who are not afraid of their parents. Not one bit. Not of their power, not of their position, not of their ability to apply standards and enforce consequences.

by Jill Flury

from the September 2007 Edutopia - the Magazine of the George Lucas Educational Foundation

August 28, 2007 - In dorm rooms and shared apartments across the country, anxious college freshmen are unpacking their bags and moving into the next phase of their academic journeys. Having successfully navigated the educational system thus far, these budding intellects are ready to take on the demands of higher education.

Or are they?

• REPORT: SCHOOLS AREN'T PREPARING KIDS FOR COLLEGE: Better alignment is needed between high school and college standards, panelists say
By Meris Stansbury, Assistant Editor, eSchool News
The Alliance for Excellent Education convened a panel On September 12th to discuss a new issue brief highlighting the disconnect that exists between the way high school teachers prepare their students for the future and how students actually achieve success. An emphasis on college readiness, panelists said, is needed to inform, assess, and improve high school teaching for the 21st-century.
September 13, 2007—Students are taught to believe that earning a high school diploma means they are prepared to enter college, and many policy makers and school leaders still believe that multiple-choice assessments are adequate measures of students' skills. But at a panel discussion convened by the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) on Sept. 12, researchers and education professionals said this is too often not the case.

• SCHOOLS CAN'T BE COLORBLIND: Narrowing the achievement gap in schools requires acknowledging race, not ignoring it.

Opinion from the Los Angeles Times

September 16, 2007 - The achievement gap between African American and Latino students and their white peers is stark and persistent. It has existed for decades, and it's growing more pronounced. The data refute what would be reassuring explanations. The gaps in reading and math test scores are not due to income disparities, nor are they attributable to parents' educational levels. The simple fact is that most black and brown children do not do as well in school as most whites.


EVENTS: Coming up next week...
The Los Angeles County Office of Education
is proud to present

Wednesday, September 26, 2007
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Los Angeles County Office of Education
Clark Building, Rooms 606A and B
12830 Clark Ave.
Downey, CA 90242

District and school leaders are invited to the Los Angeles County Office of Education to discuss these important questions:
How can we narrow the achievement gaps and increase student achievement?
What evidence-based practices can bring about powerful learning results for students?
What resources are available to schools and districts in this work?

This event will also give participants the opportunity to:
Learn about current research findings and promising California models for closing educational gaps.
Meet and talk informally with all LACOE Division of Curriculum and Instructional Services curriculum, assessment, and professional development consultants.
Find out about LACOE resources for increasing student achievement.
Make connections and gain the knowledge to better access programs and resources from the Division of Curriculum and Instructional Services, and
Dialogue and network with district and school leaders from across Los Angeles County.

Further info:

• WEDNESDAY SEP 26, 2007
South Region Elementary School #5: Project Update Meeting
6:30 p.m.
Huntington Park High School - Auditorium
6020 Miles Ave.
Huntington Park, CA 90255

Save the date:
• SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20TH from 9am to 1pm
Assemblymember Anthony Portantino's CHILDREN'S HEALTH FORUM: CHILDHOOD OBESITY & DIABETES @ Washington Elementary School, 1520 Raymond, Pasadena

The Assemblymember (AD 44) invites you to join him for a health forum to obtain information surrounding the prevention and treatment of Childhood Obesity and Diabetes. Presentations and demonstrations will be offered. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Jarvis Emerson in his district office (626) 577-9944

*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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