Saturday, November 10, 2007

This we believe.

4LAKids: Sunday, 11/11/07 Armistice+Veterans Day
In This Issue:
DISCORD ROILS L.A. UNIFIED PARENT PANEL: Acrimony with racial overtones has plagued the advisory council.
FEE WILL PUNISH KIDS: LAUSD wants to charge some nonprofits to use playgrounds for after-school programs.
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.
Ecclesiastes 3:8 teaches that there is a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. A worldview appropriate perhaps for 250 BC - but by the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 man and womankind was ready to embrace that the time for war was past and the time for peace was 11AM, 11/11/1918.

That was a moment of exquisite hope. The end of The War to End All Wars: An idea that history and current events would prove painfully incorrect …but never, ever wrong.

Peace, like Emily Dickinson's Hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul - elusive but very real.

Today we celebrate that moment in 1918 - and that dream - when Veterans return home to beat swords into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:4)


Strategic thinking in itself - rather than tactical/reactive thinking - is an excellent beginning.

STRATEGY 1 - Use a research based, common, coherent and rigorous standards-based curriculum that meets the needs of diverse learners as a tool that ensures they will be college-prepared and career ready.
STRATEGY 2 - Build learning communities in which teachers, and those who support them use data in a reflective cycle of continuous improvement to ensure high-quality, personalized instruction that ensures learning for al students in all classrooms.
STRATEGY 3 - Build school and district leadership teams that share common beliefs, values and high expectations for all adults and students and that support a cycle of continuous improvement to ensure high quality instruction in their schools.
STRATEGY 4 - Build at each school a community of informed and empowered parents, staff and community partners who work collaboratively to support high quality teaching and learning.
STRATEGY 5 - Build personalized school environments where students and adults are physically and emotionally safe and secure and, as a result, where learning opportunities and personal achievement can be optimized for all.
STRATEGY 6 - Design and implement district and school organizational and support structures to improve school performance.
STRATEGY 7 - Design and implement systems of reporting, accountability and incentives as ways to measure outcome san promote continuous improvement.

A first glance a bit buzzword intensive …but enough already: Let's go! The only previous reference to "performance strategies" in a LAUSD Google search is a Bond Oversight Committee review of the construction and modernization program - an excellent paradigm for reform with which to begin! But I would say that, wouldn't I? The construction metaphor continues: Look how often the words 'Build' and 'Design' are used in the seven strategies.

And there is the unfortunate story in the Times with the headline DISCORD ROILS L.A. UNIFIED PARENT PANEL (following). My initial reaction is: "Why should the school board have all the fun?" …but instead I'm going to get deadly serious.

I was not there Friday, but I have been there for similar moments of dysfunctional unpleasantness - even if the reporter has some of it wrong there is a strand of ugly truth here. I hark back to critic David Denby's review of "Crash!": Los Angeles is 'an urban pot in which nothing melts'. By logical and historical extension it just explodes. In this city we are stuck-on-stupid about matters of race and ethnicity - The Chinese Massacre and Sleepy Lagoon and Watts, the '68 Student Walkouts, the police riot at the National Chicano Moratorium March that killed Ruben Salazar; Rodney King and MacArthur Park never happened as the police set about to map the Muslim community. Denial is the longest river. We are up it without a paddle as the banjo music plays - lost in a city not as cosmopolitan as we pretend to be.

The DAC - the parent group mentioned, is the federally mandated advisory committee on how hundreds of millions of dollars in Title I/NCLB money are to be spent and administered. There is an Inside LAUSD mindset that educators, staff and elected officials know best how to spend the federal money… the legal mandate that parents have a role and a voice is interpreted rather cavalierly. The DAC is a group with a monthly printed agenda - and as many hidden agendas as there are theories on how to best spend millions of dollars. The tendency for the District to cancel parent meetings in the face of controversy is telling; to create rules without input is schoolmarm-ish: "Children…. Behave!" Predictable, typical …and contradictory of Strategy #4 (above). Almost every parent leader – elected, appointed or self-proclaimed – has suggested/advocated/demanded some real sensitivity training and parent education on fiscal management and education policy for everyone. I have introduced trainers of trainers who have run successful programs in New York City and in LA outside of LAUSD to the District — but there is a will lacking both at Beaudry and in the Parent Community Service Branch to engage.

Maybe now? I swear it's not too late.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf


►UPDATE ON "OUR FAIR SHARE OF ABUSE" [Last weeks 4LAKids' Lead on Central High School #13] 11/8/07: An environmental study by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) documents that the previous owner dumped 7000 cubic yards of contaminated waste on the property during their brief possession of the school site — all of which must be removed - and 700+ cubic yards of which is considered toxic and hazardous to human health and must be moved to a toxic dump 171 miles away. This is a major portion of the required $4 million environmental cleanup needed to make the school site suitable for a school.

DTSC Study on HS#13 - Remedial Action Plan

DISCORD ROILS L.A. UNIFIED PARENT PANEL: Acrimony with racial overtones has plagued the advisory council.
• The key issue: whether meetings in Spanish should be allowed.

by Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

November 10, 2007 - For months, parents on a Los Angeles Unified School District advisory council have disagreed over whether their meetings should be conducted in Spanish or English. Such arguments became so abusive that district officials canceled meetings for two months and brought in dispute-resolution specialists and mental-health counselors.

But Friday morning's gathering of the District Advisory Council proved dysfunctional in any language.

By one vote, parents censured their own chairman for alleged bad behavior, leading to a walkout of most Spanish-speakers. The rebuked chairman, Roberto Fonseca, followed them out of the room. Most voting for the censure were African American, adding racial overtones to the back-and-forth hectoring.

Friday's dispute, at the district's downtown Parent Community Services Branch, was the latest in a year of acrimony at the council, which was elected by parents at schools throughout the district. They offer advice on -- and oversight of -- the expenditure of $385 million on federally funded programs for students from poor families.

The goings-on raise another round of questions about parent participation in the nation's second-largest school system, which has been repeatedly criticized by auditors for inconsistent and ineffective parent involvement and outreach. Critics say the district rarely seeks true parental input and instead uses parents to rubber-stamp budgets and programs. District officials insist they are determined to change this perception and are making progress.

Friday's chaos had been building since February, when Fonseca, who is bilingual, started to give his chairman's report in Spanish. Some in the audience objected; arguments and recriminations ensued, and school police rushed over amid concerns that a fistfight would break out, witnesses said.

Police have been present ever since, and on Friday, they escorted several parents outside for what one administrator termed a "timeout."

After the February dispute over language, the district canceled March and April meetings, using the time to develop a Code of Civility, which reads almost like the rules in some classrooms: "Treat one another with respect, without ridicule or criticism. . . . Listen attentively while others are speaking. . . . Under no circumstances, threaten or engage in any verbal or physical attack on another individual."

There was some resistance to this code, because parents had not approved it themselves, district staff said.

When meetings resumed, parents set up a bylaws subcommittee to take on language and other matters. The current bylaws stipulate that parent meetings across the district must be held in English. A school-district lawyer, however, concluded that this rule is illegal and impractical. Many parents serving on local school councils don't speak English. Some meetings consist entirely of Spanish-speakers in a district where more than 266,000 students (and probably many more parents) are English-learners out of a student population of about 694,000.

The bylaws committee never completed its full review but had tentatively decided to leave the English rule in place. District staff, in turn, notified schools and offices that the English rule would not be enforced.

When participants on the advisory council aren't at odds, meetings can be a model of bilingualism. When someone speaks in Spanish, English speakers put translation headsets to their ears and vice versa. And many Latino participants do speak English. The council united to oppose a recent cut in district translation services, a position that Fonseca politely announced to the Board of Education.

Latinos appear to hold the majority of council seats, although African Americans are well represented. A handful of seats are occupied by people of other ethnicities. The council has 63 members, but it will have more than 100 after local elections are complete.

Some observers have described the battle over language as a stand-in for a larger dispute. Federal Title 1 funding started during the civil rights era largely as a mechanism to help impoverished blacks who occupied vast swaths of South Los Angeles. The federal money has yet to eliminate low-academic achievement among African Americans.

But Latinos now have larger numbers in many formerly black-majority schools. And Latino parents are not content to oversee only those funds set aside for English-learners -- these are generally much smaller pots of money than the federal poverty-relief dollars.

Still, the mini-wars at the advisory committee may have more to do with difficult personalities and in-room ethnic tensions than citywide racial politics or competition over resources, others said.

Fonseca, in particular, has been a polarizing figure, although on Friday he kept his cool initially, when a black woman walked up to the podium and shouted in his face: "You are totally out of order!"

Later, though, on one motion, an impatient Fonseca tried to shut down public comment. "I will not allow members of the public to speak," he said.

Chris Downing, an administrator with the parent branch, intervened, as he frequently has: "The chairperson does not have the right to violate the law." Downing then turned to the unruly audience: "Raise your hand if you want to have a nice calm meeting. . . . Take a deep breath."

Later, Fonseca ruled that a two-thirds vote would be needed to censure him. The district's lawyer, John Walsh, disagreed, but Fonseca spoke out again and again: "Two-thirds! Two-thirds! Two-thirds!"

The resolution stated in part that Fonseca "recognized only those who upheld his views and denied the opposition the right to speak."

Those who walked out included Guadalupe Aguiar, one of the parents who felt that Fonseca was treated unfairly, especially because Friday was the last meeting before new elections. She added that she considers it racist when parents are told that, in America, they have to speak English.

In some respects, though, Aguiar spoke for a clear majority of parents.

"I am here to bring information to my school," she said in Spanish. "So far, I have not brought anything. It was the same thing last year and the year before. . . . Your children are failing just as mine are."

▼This Monday–Saturday / One–Two of stories about the BTS debacle ("the Good news is we've fixed the problem/The bad news is we overpaid you and you have to pay the money back") immediately backfired as more folks than ever showed up to complain that they still hadn't been paid correctly … and the 6AM timing of that triumphant announcement appeared to some to be an in-your-face (and premature) "Mission Accomplished!"

And very real questions remain; LAUSD has not yet begun to address the costs to employees for interest on loans that were made necessary by the lack of paychecks, penalties for late mortgages and credit card bills, etc. The District's credibility is unredeemable; its employee's credit is fungible and subject to litigation. Far more has been lost than the $56 million allegedly overpaid.

Yet LAUSD quibbles over the $3.8 million "lost" to after school sports programs …at least there is demonstrable return on that money! - smf

▲LAUSD SAYS IT HAS FIXED MOST PAYROLL PROBLEMS: After nearly a year of inaccurate payments, district officials say the system is 80% repaired.

by Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

November 5, 2007 - The official message is simple: Starting today, nearly all teachers and other employees in the Los Angeles Unified School District finally will get paid the right amount.

The reassurance comes after nearly a year of payroll problems, including over- and underpayments. Some teachers' paychecks have varied widely from month to month, without a coherent explanation of the calculations.

But district officials say payday will be different this month because of headway made by a fleet of staff members and consultants, including image specialists hired to get out a positive public message.

"I am happy to report that we have succeeded in correcting a major defect with our payroll system," Supt. David L. Brewer wrote in a letter mailed to employees and delivered to campuses Friday. He was referring to the system's apparent inability to adjust when a teacher changes assignments.

The district was confident enough to raise expectations with a minor media blitz that included a 6 a.m. news conference and repeated broadcasts on KLCS, the district-owned public television station.

Progress to date has not been sufficient to placate teacher frustration or to calm teachers union officials, who are running for reelection and striving to attain the right balance of demonstrative protests combined with patient collaboration behind the scenes. In the long run, the union will need to continue working with district officials to simplify pay rules, district officials said.

Union leaders have filed a lawsuit, an unsuccessful strategy to date, and urged a teacher boycott of faculty meetings, among other measures.

District officials have called the boycott illegal. Meanwhile, some principals are using unofficial gatherings to meet with teachers to continue academic planning.

Perhaps the worst single payday was a June debacle that became known as Black Tuesday. Since then, each payday has seen several thousand inaccurate checks, but the errors have gradually decreased in magnitude, district officials said. The vast majority of recent mistakes are overpayments, they added.

If major problems continue this month, union officials will be standing by in a rented RV parked next to L.A. Unified's downtown headquarters. There, they'll hold forth to the media, meet with their rank-and-file and provide refreshments to any teachers who, once more, need to wait in line to resolve pay issues.

With 2007 coming to a close, income tax forms present an additional worry, said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. "Our members are very concerned about their taxes," Duffy wrote in a statement. "LAUSD has told us that they may not be able to meet with all UTLA members before the end of the calendar year. Our members are concerned that their payroll issues will be resolved way too late."

District officials have tabulated overpayments of $53 million, money that must be returned. At a recent news conference, Brewer urged employees not to spend suspected overpayments.

Of course, it's hard for many employees to know one way or another. Beverly Ann Ball's monthly paychecks have fluctuated from $1,033 to $3,269. Anedra Harper did not receive a paycheck for three months this summer, and eventually took out $15,000 in loans to say afloat.

This time around, "employees' paychecks may be different, but [they are] more likely to be correct," said spokeswoman Binti Harvey. According to her data, "82.4% of all system defects have been fixed, and another 10.4% will be fixed" by the December payday.

If an amount seems slightly off or just different, wrote Brewer, "I urge you to wait a few days after payday before contacting the Service Center, so that those of your co-workers who have significant payroll issues can get the priority service."

If the amount is "substantially wrong," he added in boldface type, don't delay in sounding the alarm.

Recent fixes, he said, include the ability to determine the amount of under- and overpayments. Affected employees who have not already been contacted will be notified in the next two weeks or so to discuss a repayment plan.

The cost of the remedy continues to rise. The payroll system was part of a $95-million technology upgrade; up to $37 million in additional funds has been set aside to fix it.

"I am deeply sorry for the months of inconvenience, confusion and anxiety these payroll problems have caused many of our hardworking, dedicated employees," Brewer wrote.

It's a familiar apology that Brewer hopes will not have to repeated on future paydays.


▲L.A. UNIFIED TELLS TEACHERS TO REFUND OVERPAYMENTS: The district paid about $53 million too much to 36,000 workers. They are given until Dec. 10 to decide whether to pay or fight.

by Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

November 10, 2007 - In the latest fallout from a badly flawed payroll system that has plagued the Los Angeles public school system for nearly a year, officials have taken steps to recoup $53 million they calculate has been overpaid to about 36,000 school district employees.

The move to recover the money is placing teachers and other staff in the Los Angeles Unified School District in an unpalatable position. They must either trust the district's claim that they were overpaid and repay the money or dispute the calculations and face further chaos come tax season.

For Genie Penn, a veteran second-grade teacher at Overland Elementary on the Westside, the choice is clear.

"All of a sudden they've decided I owe them $9,000?" asked an exasperated Penn, who has a graduate degree in business. "I know I owe them some money, but it is not that much. Until they can show me some proof of how much I owe them, I am not paying a dime. It's just absurd. It's mind boggling! But I guess when you work for LAUSD, nothing should surprise you."

In letters sent this week, Joseph Zeronian, interim chief financial officer, told employees the gross amount the balky computerized system has determined they were overpaid and how much of that total was automatically withheld in federal and state taxes.

Affected employees -- the vast majority are teachers -- have until Dec. 10 to choose whether to repay the district the entire amount they received, request a repayment plan, repay only the amount they believe they were overpaid or refuse to pay anything.

The new payroll system is part of a sweeping $95-million technology upgrade that aims to overhaul how budgets, procurement, human resources and other tasks are managed in the nation's second-largest public school system.

Problems with paychecks arose in January, when the district rushed the system into service; it quickly became apparent that its software programs were not equipped to handle, among other things, teachers' complicated job assignments and unusual work schedules.

Since then, the so-called Business Tools for Schools system has left tens of thousands of employees underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all. About 7,000 employees who have been underpaid by $7 million are still waiting for their money. The district has pledged to repay them. District officials also are in talks with Deloitte Consulting, the firm hired to implement the new system, to negotiate how much, if anything, it will reimburse the district for costs related to the payroll breakdown.

The crisis has proved to be an albatross for Supt. David L. Brewer, whose early promises to quickly resolve the problems have fallen flat. United Teachers Los Angeles and other unions have lambasted Brewer, board members and other officials for their handling of the fiasco.

Any employee who disagrees with the district's overpayment calculation and refuses to pay some or all of the money will have to wait for L.A. Unified and union officials to work out a process for how such disputes will be resolved. Zeronian and David Holmquist, interim chief operating officer, said they expect those plans to be finalized early next year.

There may be few employees prepared to take the district's word on overpayments at face value. After months of mounting confusion and frustration, many are dubious of the computer system's ability to accurately calculate overpayments. Several teachers pointed to an earlier attempt by the district to determine overpayments and under-payments that was marred by widespread inaccuracies.

Penn, for example, is flummoxed because the district claimed during the summer that she owed a couple of hundred dollars and now says she owes nearly $9,000. As far as she can tell, the new figure is impossibly high because she is paid only about $4,000 each month and, as far as she can tell, the only overpayment she received was a month's pay while she was on leave.

"These numbers just don't make any sense," echoed Stephen McDonough, a sixth-grade music teacher at Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, who was told he owes $1,900. "Nobody is clear on how they came up with them. They are asking me to take their word for it and pay them a third of my salary right before the holidays. I can't do it."

Holmquist urged employees to trust the district. But he could offer only a tenuous reason to do so, saying that the relative success of this month's payday indicates that repairs made so far to the payroll system appear to be working. Some technical glitches remain unresolved, however, and 3,000 employees are estimated to have had paycheck problems this month.

Are the calculations "100% guaranteed? No," Holmquist said. "But it's highly probable. We have a higher degree of confidence than ever before that we are accurate."

Challenging the district over the repayment totals, however, comes with considerable risk. In the letters to employees, Zeronian warned that once the December deadline passes, employees will be responsible for the total amount of the alleged overpayments, including the amount the district withheld for taxes.

If Penn, the elementary school teacher, for example, refuses to pay and it is ultimately determined the district calculations are right, she will have to repay the district $8,983 -- the $6,068 the district overpaid her and the $2,915 it took out for taxes. It would then fall to Penn to try to get the excess tax money back from state and federal agencies. If the district tally for Penn is wrong, L.A. Unified will have to issue her a revised income tax form.

"It is going to be a tax nightmare for people to try to unravel," said Patty O'Connell, a partner at the accounting firm Holthouse, Carlin & Van Trigt in Los Angeles.

O'Connell and other tax experts said they expect that most employees will have to wait for their 2008 tax returns to get credit for paying too much this year. If the overpayments push workers into the alternative minimum tax category or other brackets, accountants said, it is unlikely that employees will ever be able to fully recoup their money.

In hopes of minimizing the number of employees who will challenge the district numbers, officials have decided to forgive the estimated 12,000 overpayments of $250 or less. Employees who agree to repay larger overpayments will receive a $250 credit. About 2,000 of the mistakes are thought to be $5,000 or more.

The district has trained 35 financial counselors to meet with teachers and others before the December deadline to review their pay history and try to understand when overpayments occurred.

Zeronian said he expects about 8,000 people to ask for the sessions and acknowledged that the cadre of counselors could quickly be overwhelmed if demand is higher.

He added that only a few of the counselors are qualified to handle the more complicated cases some employees face.

"There are relatively few people who have complete comprehension of our system," he said. "There are only a few who can unscramble these hellish messes."

Penn, 46, said she had requested an appointment but had not yet received one.

"I'm not holding my breath," she said.

McDonough, meanwhile, said that after several trips to the payroll help centers set up by the district, he refuses to take another day off from teaching in order to attend one of the financial meetings at the district's downtown headquarters.

"These are their mistakes," he said. "If they think they put too much money in my pocket and they want to discuss it, they can come out to me at school, prove it, and then we can work something out."

• A strip mall and vacant lot have emerged as the Los Angeles Unified School District's two most promising alternatives for a K-8 school after community resisted district's chosen location.

By Paul Clinton, Staff Writer - Daily Breeze

Friday, November 9, 2007 — A strip mall and vacant lot have emerged as the Los Angeles Unified School District's two most promising alternatives for a Wilmington K-8 school.

The locations were discussed at a meeting Wednesday night after community resistance to the district's chosen location - in the heart of the town's commercial district at Avalon Boulevard and L Street - forced the district to re-examine a June 2006 decision.

At least two-thirds of the more than 500 attendees at Banning High School rose from their chairs when a speaker asked opponents of that site to stand.

The district's real estate team will analyze the two new sites and present its findings at a Nov. 26 meeting, also at Banning High. Trustee Richard Vladovic, who represents the area, must decide whether to press ahead with the project or delay it up to two years so a new site could be chosen.

A delay could trigger the loss of $37 million in state matching funds from the project's $95 million budget.

Following Vladovic's lead, the Board of Education halted the project Oct. 9 to give the district more time to collect community input.

From August 2003 to May 2007, the district's real estate division led 18 meetings in town about the project.

Surveys collected at two meetings in April and May 2006 show a 66 percent and 83 percent favorable vote toward the city block at Avalon and L, district records show.

The district has spent $4.3million so far.

Community resistance solidified toward the district's bid to take a Latino market, Wells Fargo bank and other businesses and homes earlier this year.

After he took office in July, Vladovic began the drumbeat for more community input.

"The community did a good job speaking up for themselves (on Wednesday)," said David Kooper, Vladovic's chief of staff. "It seemed fairly overwhelming that they were not in favor of Site F (at Avalon and L)."

Instead, the district will analyze whether it could build a K-8 school on a patchwork of parcels bounded by Sanford Avenue on the east, Dominguez Avenue on the west and Anaheim Street on the south.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn has offered about 2½ acres the city is purchasing from Union Pacific railroad for the school. The district needs more than six acres, said Roderick Hamilton, a regional development manager.

Hamilton said the site isn't ideal because the district would have to relocate three oil pipelines, it could pose a health risk due to its proximity to the port and it isn't centrally located.

The district has said the school would allow three existing year-round elementary schools - Gulf Avenue, Fries Avenue and Hawaiian Avenue - to return to a traditional calendar.

Hahn had previously said the city would develop a soccer field at the Sanford site. The field could still be incorporated into the school property, she said Thursday.

The district is also studying the 6½-acre Wilmington Plaza strip mall, which is bounded by Pacific Coast Highway, Island Avenue, Fries Avenue and Q Street.

A CVS pharmacy, Goodwill, video store and four other businesses would be demolished.

"Wilmington wants a new school but they don't want to lose homes and they don't want to lose a vibrant shopping center," Hahn said. "The district needs to make one of these other sites work. They can do it if they want to."

Another alternative site - a Public Storage facility running west of Pacific Coast Highway and Eubank Avenue - has been moved to the back burner because students crossing traffic-heavy PCH could be unsafe, Kooper said.

A few speakers at Wednesday's meeting said the district should move forward with the existing plan.

"The resistance (to the site) is 500 to 600 people," said Jo Ann Wysocki, a former LAUSD teacher. "There are 65,000 in Wilmington. I want the district to honor their commitment."

▲4LAKids was at the cited meeting and a few things must be noted:
• While School Board member Vladovic claimed to be a neutral observer at the meeting, as Candidate Vladovic he campaigned aggressively against Site F.
• There was obvious paid politicking against Site F, with T-shirts and No on F stickers distributed and paid campaign organizers working the crowd outside the auditorium and phone banks to turn out the anti F side - with intimation of timidation of Site F advocates.
• Many of the speakers spoke passionately about the only acceptable option being a site where no homes or businesses are taken - but no one has offered or located such a site. Every possible site (and most of the impossible ones) involve residences, businesses or both.
• A few speakers said the District is being too cautious in not wanting to build atop petroleum pipelines - Wilmington is crisscrossed with pipelines and the community lives with the situation everyday. Not building atop pipelines is the law - LAUSD has no choice.
• The voters in Wilmington and across LAUSD were promised that year round schools would end by 2012; the voters and taxpayers supported that promise by overwhelming majorities in supporting Measures R and Y. The construction program is on track, but if this project suffers a significant delay that promise will be broken. Ending multi-track/year 'round schooling, overcrowding and forced busing is not just a campaign promise - it is an educational necessity.

FEE WILL PUNISH KIDS: LAUSD wants to charge some nonprofits to use playgrounds for after-school programs.
Daily Breeze Editorial

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 - The Los Angeles Unified School District, with its $6.4billion budget, its thousands of well-paid bureaucrats and its flawed, $500million payroll system, needs to come up with a piddly $3.8million to balance its books.

So where do district officials plan to get cash?

Where else? From the kids.

Superintendent David Brewer III has announced that, come March, the LAUSD will begin charging some nonprofit groups for the use of district facilities for after-school events. That means youth sports leagues and other organizations that give kids something constructive to do will have to start paying - and the results could be disastrous.

The Northridge City Little League, for example, will need to pony up about $2,000 a week for its 12-week season. That comes to about $37 per kid - an expense that will surely be passed on to a good many families who can't afford it.

This, at a time when city officials all agree that gangs are our most pressing issue - and that quality after-school programs are a great way to keep kids from joining gangs.

And this, at a time when obesity has become a childhood health crisis - and our children need supervised exercise more than ever.

All so the district can save a few bucks that could easily be trimmed from its administrative bloat.

But being the LAUSD, this policy isn't just pernicious; it's also unfair.

For starters, the Girl Scouts are exempt, probably because they fought this policy so passionately, and appealed directly to school board member Tamar Galatzan.

It helps to have a voice in high places. Too bad not everyone does.

Other nonprofit groups will be placed into one of two pricing categories, depending on how well they measure up to prescribed district criteria - a policy likely to benefit better-funded, more organized groups, as well as the well-connected.

Least fair of all, though, is that the taxpayers of Los Angeles - who have already paid for these facilities through the state's General Fund revenues and local bond measures - are now being charged a third time. The facilities were built or repaired under the promise that they would be available for community use.

Indeed, the process the state has used to allocate funds for school facilities has encouraged local districts to work cooperatively with local governments and nonprofit groups to develop what can truly be called community facilities - places that offer services to build better neighborhoods.

This fee flies in the face of that reasonable goal.

The LAUSD is pinching pennies at the expense of public safety, public health and good government. Kids will suffer so bureaucrats can prosper.

The superintendent should rethink this facilities fee and consider the likelihood that it may do more harm than good in the long run.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
►NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND LOOKS TO BE STALLED: Bush and Kennedy had thought it would be reauthorized this year, but wrangling of friends and foes has stopped it.

Despite earlier optimism, the campaign to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind education law has stalled.

Not only has it not passed, no formal legislation has been introduced, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who has been working with President Bush on the issue, says it will not happen this year.


Raising school test scores in reading and math remains the biggest hurdle for No Child Left Behind, with many schools nationwide performing at less-than-acceptable levels, according to government proficiency tests.

But while districts scramble to improve on core subjects, educators say the latest subject to be left behind is arts education.

►More Arts: THE MUSEUM TAKES A FIELD TRIP TO THE CLASSROOM: LACMA On-Site brings artists and art instruction to LAUSD campuses.

Armed with a $24-million special endowment, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has begun what its leaders say will be a long-term campaign to help plant visual art instruction securely in county public schools.

►WAS CARSON SCHOOL VOTE A LOST CHANCE?: A look back at a decision in 2001 against defecting from LAUSD shows that little, and much, has changed.

Six years ago last Tuesday Carson voters rejected a bid to carve out their own independent school system. Second guessers would like to guess again!

Link to above stories.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Tuesday Nov 13, 2007
Central Region MacArthur Park ES Addition: Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
At this meeting we will present and discuss the site that will be recommended to the LAUSD Board of education for this new school project.
6:00 p.m.
MacArthur Park Primary Center
2300 W. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

• Thursday Nov 15, 2007
Central Region Elementary School #21: Site Selection Update Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Harmony Elementary School Auditorium
899 E. 42nd Place
Los Angeles, CA 90011

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