Sunday, January 13, 2008

Totally unacceptable.

4LAKids: Sunday, Jan 13, 2008
In This Issue:
YEAR OF EDUCATION, STILL: Budget cuts or not, a few inexpensive measures could vastly improve California's schools.
COURT RULING IN NCLB SUIT FUELS FIGHT OVER COSTS: NEA case’s revival reopens talk of ‘unfunded’ obligations in law.
DREAM DIES FOR RETAIL SITE AT SCHOOL: An empty remnant of the Belmont complex is to be a teacher training area.
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:
S P E C I A L | THE CALIFORNIA BUDGET CRISIS IN EDUCATION IS CONSTANTLY EVOLVING, follow this link to a list of current news stories.
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.
Pamela Brady, the California State PTA President, on hearing the details the governor's proposed budget cuts to education and child welfare said: "This is totally unacceptable."

"The proposed California State budget flunks the basic test of good government: It hurts our children. A budget is a reflection of our community values. This budget does not value the education, health, or welfare of our children and the future of California.

"Members of the California State PTA are offended by the failure of the proposed budget to meet the needs of children. The Legislature and the Governor have a responsibility to support the children of California. Any mid-year cuts or suspension of Proposition 98, which provides minimum funding for our schools, is unacceptable.

"We don't move toward Twenty-First Century education by going backwards. It is ironic that the highly touted 'Year of Education' is starting out as the year they tried to take billions of dollars away from our children."

That is the policy of the PTA with a million members statewide. It needs to be the policy of every parent, teacher, student and educator in California. It needs to be the policy of every Californian.

It needs to be the governor's policy.

Instead the governor proposes to cut over $400 million from this year's current state budget for Education. This year, with teachers hired and children in classrooms. Next year he proposes to reduce the Ed budget another $4.4 billion – "billion with a 'B'". Roughly speaking this cuts the ADA – the amount paid by the state to educate every child in the state by $500. That's $10,000 less per K-3 classroom, $15,000 per fourth and fifth grade classroom. Upwards of $20,000 per secondary classroom.

As Ms. Brady said, this is unacceptable.

• The governor IS willing to raise taxes (or - in a bit of semantic tax evasion: "assess fees") for fire protection.
• He IS willing to raise the vehicle license fee for the Highway Patrol. (Remember: eliminating this was his big platform plank when he ran the first time.)
• But he will NOT raise taxes, assess fees or in any other way help public education. Or the health and welfare of children.


Using the governor's funding formula California will drop from 48th in the nation to 49th in per-pupil funding adjusted for the regional cost of living (DC is included in last week's EdWeek Quality Counts report - so there are 51 'states') And this in his self-proclaimed Year of Education Reform.


A lot of assumptions are being made in the governor's budget.

• He assumes the legislature will go along.
• The legislature assumes the voters will extend their term limits.
• The fiscal Einstein's who let all this happen – and the governor – assume the voters will approve the compacts with the Indian tribes and the nebulous income from gaming will roll in and save the day.

Just like the Lottery saved public education. And the proclaimed Post Partisan Era in Sacramento fixed the levies and gave us Universal Health Care last year; last year when the financial outlook was rosy and the future was nothin' but blue sky.

The governor declares this is NOT the fault of the economy, but of the budget process itself – and then proceeds to address the problem the way every governor ever has when the economy is (or isn't) to blame — with across the board cuts. The governor is responding to a crisis the same way his predecessors have and is expecting a different outcome.

There is a word for that: Unacceptable.

And I'm being kind.

▼PERHAPS IN THE STURM, DRANG & TEETH GNASHING OVER THE GOVERNOR'S STATE OF THE STATE AND BUDGET CUTS YOU MISSED THIS: A federal appeals court decision released Monday revived a lawsuit challenging the funding of the No Child Left Behind education law. (see: Court Ruling in NCLB Suit Fuels Fight over Costs) The US Sixth District Court of Appeals ruled the case brought by the Pontiac, Mich. school district, eight districts in Texas and Vermont and the National Education Association DOES HAVE MERIT - reversing a previous Federal Court ruling. The implication is the federal government cannot force school districts to spend their own money to make up funding shortfalls in a program (ESEA/NCLB/Title 1) that is supposed to augment local budgets. Stay tuned.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf

The Education Coalition State Budget Talking Points

YEAR OF EDUCATION, STILL: Budget cuts or not, a few inexpensive measures could vastly improve California's schools.
LA Times Editorial

January 12, 2008 - The year of education went flatter than a sheet of three-hole notebook paper in the few minutes it took Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to cover schools in his State of the State speech. But the budget crisis is no excuse for shrinking his once-grand plans to a couple of modest initiatives. Schwarzenegger has plenty of reasons to move forward now.

For starters, he has some good ideas already at his fingertips, courtesy of his own committee on education. Many of the best recommendations don't involve significant new money. Some do -- the schools do need more cash, struggling as they do with fewer teachers and counselors per student than the national average -- but those should be phased in slowly anyway. The schools will not be this short on money forever, even without big leaps in revenue. The school-age population is about to flatten and then decline; enrollment in Los Angeles' and many other public schools already is declining. That means more money available for each student.

Here's a strange-but-true anomaly of school reform: The wrong time to plan the expenditure of new funds is when the new funds suddenly appear. That's what former Gov. Pete Wilson did in the budget-boom days of 1996, imposing almost overnight a rigid program to reduce class size in primary grades to no more than 20 students. The well-intentioned bonus threw public schools into a state of massive disruption because not enough classrooms or qualified teachers were available. Eventually, funding shortages meant that schools raised class sizes in higher grades, sometimes up to 45 students. The program costs nearly $1.7 billion a year, and there still is no conclusive evidence that the smaller classes have made a significant difference in student performance.

The time to imagine new programs is now, which also happens to be the right time to put other long-overdue reforms in place. Schwarzenegger mentioned one important change that he's ready to move on: getting proper data on how students, teachers and schools are doing year to year. Data collection is decidedly unsexy, but vital to figuring out dropout rates and giving educators, parents and the public meaningful information about progress. California, which has gotten bogged down in bureaucratic squabbling and budget delays, has been way behind other states on this. That has hurt it under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

But better data hardly count as the remaking of a failing school culture. Here are other steps the governor and Legislature could and should take, even in a Year of Budget Shortfall:

• Put the education code on a diet. Establish a commission to streamline one of the fattest, most rigid and complicated documents in government, and with it eliminate central bureaucracy jobs that oversee each unnecessary regulation. The whole point of charter schools is that they're freed from many regulations so they can innovate, and then are held responsible for the outcome. Public schools must be run the same way -- including the accountability part. Those that fail should be broken up.

• Allocate money fairly. California has an arcane, outdated, crazy method for funding school districts that began after Proposition 13 passed in 1978. Districts with the same needs get different amounts per student simply because that's how it was done 30 years ago. High school students in kindergarten-through-12th-grade districts get less money than those in high school-only districts. About 50 of the wealthiest areas of the state get more money than other districts, even though their students are less likely to need it. Significant money goes to meals programs in some districts, even though the funds no longer are used for meals, which are now a federal responsibility. Set one base sum for each student, depending on grade level. Then add to that sum based on rational special needs -- extra money for disadvantaged students, those still learning English, areas with high costs of living and rural districts where transportation costs can be prohibitive. This will be a tough fight, and the hard job of building political will and planning for fair funding should start now.

• Let locals decide how to spend money. School districts have too little voice in spending education funds. A host of programs with specialized funding, from antismoking education to civics lessons, tie their hands. Taking the categorical shackles off schools would free up money at the time they most need it. The one to start with is class-size reduction in primary schools. Let school leaders decide whether students through third grade might not be just fine with 24 children in a class instead of 19 or 20, so they can spend the savings where their students need it.

• Don't be afraid of merit pay. When Schwarzenegger brought up the idea three years ago, the powerful California Teachers Assn. practically took off his newbie political head. But many of the top voices in school reform have come to agree that paying teachers based on how good a job they do instead of on experience and advanced degrees -- two things found to have very little connection to teacher performance -- is a good way to improve student performance. Teachers are right to say that they should be "professionalized" -- accorded greater respect, responsibility and pay. One of the first big-ticket items California should plan for is giving teachers the kinds of wages and working conditions that will attract top-drawer college students -- those most likely to become excellent teachers. And Schwarzenegger should begin discussions with educators about fair ways to judge a teacher's merit. It must be based on more than test scores. The governor's commission recommends peer review -- teachers evaluating teachers. That's a good place to start.

These aren't new ideas. They are old ones that have been blocked for years, sometimes decades, by special interests and political intransigence. They keep coming up anyway, because without them, more money for schools won't make a difference. Real progress on the real causes of failure would make for a promising Year of Education, even without major new investments.

►4LAKids 2¢: Here are two words to think about in the next forty-five days as the Lege and the Gubernator deal (or don't) with this fiscal crisis: Constitutional convention

The Times editorial board is right about the timing and even about the suggested changes - but they miss the forest for the trees. More needs to be done than to streamline the Ed Code; the entire mechanism for funding public education in California needs to be revamped. And so should the totally boneheaded concept of across-the board cuts — this is autopilot budgeteering at its worse!

Let's play back the Editorial Board's key point in 2 above: "THE SCHOOLS DO NEED MORE CASH." Roger that.

The governor would place Prop 98 - which guarantees a minimum funding level for public education ('It's a floor, -n ot a ceiling!") on the table. Prop 98 is sacrosanct to public education advocates; but let's talk about a holy of holies.

Prop 13 needs to be there too - as least as far the protection it affords to commercial property owners. The big oil companies with their refineries and retail outlets, the supermarket chains, major retailers and shopping mall operators - all mega profit generators and beneficiaries of the services property taxes pay for: public safety, fire protection, infrastructure and education. They are NOT the same as individual homeowners with their residence as a nest egg - or little old ladies living on fixed incomes.

As rife as the time is to plan for the future - nobody is going to support funding any more studies for future reforms when we are laying off teachers, eliminating programs, putting more kids in classrooms, letting bad guys outta jail and closing down parks. We have over 20 volumes of recent studies commissioned by the governor and the legislature on siting on their desks in the Stanford "Getting Down to Facts" studies. The crisis-of-the-moment - like Grey Davis' 'Perfect Storm' - is diverting our attention from what needs to be done.

We are beyond planning and waiting and seeing — we need to be about implementing. With timelines. And accountability. And a passion for the subject.

GETTING DOWN TO FACTS: A Research Project Examining California’s School Governance and Finance Systems

COURT RULING IN NCLB SUIT FUELS FIGHT OVER COSTS: NEA case’s revival reopens talk of ‘unfunded’ obligations in law.
By Mark Walsh | Education Week

January 16, 2008 — The National Education Association suggested this week that school districts need not use their own money to pay for obligations under the No Child Left Behind Act, in the wake of a federal appeals court ruling that revived the union’s lawsuit challenging the law as an unfunded federal mandate.

The Jan. 7 ruling means that “as a condition of participation in the No Child Left Behind Act, a school district or state cannot be compelled to use its own resources to carry out that mandate,” Robert H. Chanin, the general counsel of the NEA and the architect of the lawsuit, argued in an interview.

But other supporters of the lawsuit were more cautious, and the defendant in the case—U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings—suggested that the decision was far from the last word on the subject.

“No Child Left Behind is strong and on the books, and will be abided by by the states and the federal government,” Ms. Spellings said after a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

Earlier, she had issued a statement saying that the federal government was exploring all its legal options, and that the law “is not an unfunded mandate but rather a compact between the states and the federal government, which asks that in exchange for federal dollars, results be demonstrated.”

The decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati—handed down one day before the law’s sixth anniversary—was a victory for the 3.2 million-member NEA and its allies in the suit, which had been dismissed by a federal district court in 2005.

The panel’s 2-1 ruling said that the states were not on clear notice of their potential financial obligations when they agreed to accept federal funding under the law, as legal rulings based on the spending clause in Article I of the U.S. Constitution require.

Central to the case is a provision in the NCLB law that says, “Nothing in this act shall be construed to … mandate a state or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this act.”

Such language was first added to several federal education statutes in 1994, including to that year’s reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of which the NCLB law is the latest version.


In an opinion by U.S. Circuit Judge R. Guy Cole Jr., the appeals court said that because of the unfunded-mandate language, “a state official could plausibly contend that she understood … that her state need not comply with NCLB requirements for which federal funding falls short.”

The union’s suit on behalf of itself, some of its state affiliates, and nine school districts in Michigan, Texas, and Vermont had been dismissed by a federal district judge in Detroit in November 2005.


JUDGES' VIEW OF FEDERAL LAW: Excerpts from the 2-1 ruling by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Pontiac School District v. Spellings:


The No Child Left Behind Act rests on the most laudable of goals: to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education. Nobody challenges that aim. But a state official deciding to participate in NCLB could reasonably read [the unfunded-mandates provision] to mean that her state need not comply with requirements that are “not paid for under the act” through federal funds.


The notion that Congress intended to pay in full for a testing and reporting regime of indeterminate cost, designed and implemented by states and school districts, not federal agencies, is not only nonsensical and fiscally irresponsible, but also contravenes the traditional recognition of state and local governments’ primary responsibility for public education. In short, there is nothing in the NCLB that suggests Congress intended to federalize some or all of state and local education.
SOURCE: Education Week

The 6th Circuit panel had weighed the appeal for a long time, but the union’s case was bolstered by a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision. In Arlington Central School District v. Murphy, a case dealing with a legal-fees issue under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the high court reiterated in strong terms a doctrine that in spending-clause legislation, Congress must clearly express its intent to impose conditions on the grant of federal aid so the states may knowingly decide whether to accept the money.

Congress enacted the No Child Left Behind law, like the IDEA, under its spending-clause power. The 6th Circuit panel cited the Arlington Central ruling in holding that the NCLB act does not give the states clear notice of their obligations, in large part because the unfunded-mandate language sends the message that states and districts would not have to spend their own money.

Writing in dissent, Judge David W. McKeague said the more logical purpose of the unfunded-mandates language was to bar federal education officials from imposing additional requirements on states and school districts. And he said the NEA and its allies “ignore the undisputable fact that even if Congress had ‘fully funded’ the NCLB each year, … the funds would still have fallen short of the total purported costs of compliance.”

The appeals court returned the case to a federal district judge in Detroit, although any appeal by the federal government would likely put off action in the district court. What happens next is further muddied by the fact that the NEA got essentially what it wanted in the suit: a declaration that the law was restricted by the unfunded-mandates provision.

Mr. Chanin, the union’s lawyer, noted that the suit also seeks an injunction barring the U.S. Department of Education from withholding or threatening to withhold funds from states and districts that do not use their own money to make up for the federal shortfall. That would be something for the district judge to decide.

Mr. Chanin pointed out that in strict terms, the court ruling is binding only in the 6th Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. But he said that the decision could have a persuasive effect across the country, and that it should give “comfort and heart” to states and school districts. He believes they would be on solid legal ground in refusing to use their own funds to pay for NCLB obligations that were not covered by their allocations of federal aid.

The law requires schools to test students annually in grades 3-8 and at least once in high school in reading and mathematics. Schools that do not make adequate yearly progress in student achievement face a range of consequences, from having to provide after-school tutoring and the option for students to transfer schools to undertaking major restructuring.

“Hundreds of school districts and all of the states now know that at least one court of appeals has said to them, ‘You are right; you don’t have to do anything you are not getting the money to do,’ ’’ Mr. Chanin said.

Joel Packer, the NEA’s chief lobbyist on the No Child Left Behind law, which is awaiting reauthorization by Congress, said that there has been a cumulative $70 billion gap between the amounts authorized under the law for NCLB programs and the amounts appropriated by Congress since the 2002 federal fiscal year.

“Politically, this will up the pressure on President Bush to boost federal spending on Title I and other programs under the law when the president submits his fiscal 2009 budget proposal in a few weeks,” Mr. Packer said.

David Griffith, the director of government affairs for the National Association of State Boards of Education, said the appellate ruling could prompt more states to conduct analyses of the costs of complying with the law.

“There are a lot more requirements in there than we have ever seen before,” said Mr. Griffith, who stressed that his Alexandria, Va.-based group is not involved in the lawsuit. “With that comes an obligation on the part of the federal government to provide the necessary resources to accomplish those requirements.”


Calvin Cupidore Jr., the interim superintendent of the 8,000-student Pontiac, Mich., school district, which is the lead plaintiff in the NEA’s suit, said he felt encouraged that the ruling would help his district.

“But I’m a realist, and I know this is the educational mandate of the Bush administration, and I expect them to appeal,” he said.

Mr. Cupidore said he was not prepared to accept Mr. Chanin’s advice that a district need not spend any of its own money on compliance with the NCLB law.

“That would call for consultation with our counsel,” Mr. Cupidore said.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose state is challenging the law in its own suit, had filed a friend-of-the-court brief on the NEA’s side with the 6th Circuit court. He issued a statement calling the decision “a bolt of legal lightning igniting new, powerful momentum to our No Child Left Behind case and congressional reform.”

The state also based its suit largely on the grounds that the law imposes unfunded mandates. Connecticut’s case is pending in a federal district court.

Meanwhile this week, Secretary Spellings joined President Bush at an elementary school in Chicago to help recognize the anniversary of his signing of the No Child Left Behind Act into law in 2002.

EdWeek Associate Editor David J. Hoff contributed to this report.

The 6th District Court of Appeals Ruling in Pontiac School District v. Spellings


by Gregory Taylor | Op-Ed in the Pasadena Star-News

Gregory Taylor is the vice president for programs for youth and education at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Monday, January 7, 2008 - NEW YEAR'S is a time for reflection on where we've been, the lessons learned, and how we can better ourselves for the future. Unfortunately, many resolutions to help our children better succeed in school have been broken.

Every year, about one-third of American children enter a kindergarten class unprepared to learn. Many will never catch up. That all-important door to learning is already, in effect, closed. The reasons for this are complex, but this much is clear: The multiple systems - from family to schools to government - that should be supporting young children too often are failing to do so.

There is hope, however. Research suggests that investing in early learning is the best investment we can make in America's future.

Studies by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council and others tell us that the achievement gap for poor and otherwise disadvantaged children is created in the first five years of their lives. A youngster's brain works on a "use it or lose it" principle, and synapses not used or stimulated early on will be discarded.

The child's first five years at home thus constitute the most important years of his or her life. The first four years in school are the second most important phase. And the transition from home and community into school may be the most important transition in his or her life.

But in most school districts there is little if any interaction between local childcare centers, early care and education providers and the public school system. Transitions to kindergarten usually consist of a "meet and greet" session for parents. Rarely is there an alignment of teaching or curriculum or coordination of teachers and parents.

Fortunately, that situation is beginning to change. In 2006, early childhood education was named a legislative priority by 24 governors, compared to 17 in 2005. Some states such as Washington have created new departments dedicated to early learning.

To support states' efforts, many national foundations (including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's SPARK initiative - Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids), as well as researchers in academia and the federal government, have launched system-building initiatives that link parents, educators, early childhood service providers, and their communities. A big part of this community-based innovative thinking is the movement toward ready schools. In communities as diverse as Miami and Gwinnett County, GA, where SPARK has made investments, we are beginning to see positive change.

In early 2007, the Gwinnett County Public Schools (the largest school district in Georgia and the 20th largest in the country) adopted and funded the SPARK Georgia school transition model. Using federal Title I funds to implement the nationally recognized Parents as Teachers program has resulted in increases in key school-readiness skills (including fine motor skills, problem-solving and socialization); greater parent participation and leadership in early education and schools (parents who participated in the Parent Leadership Institute now serve as chairs on seven committees); and parent attendance at GED and ESL classes.

In Miami, our initiative identified a lack of alignment in expectations between elementary schools and childcare facilities. Support for an increase in the number of accredited centers led eventually to success in creating a quality rating system that further aligns expectations across early education and the early grades and includes criteria for those all-important transitions.

In the past, the burden was primarily on children and parents to get ready for school. But this "two-way street" approach helps shape schools so they are prepared to receive and serve all children. Some additional elements of this approach include screening children for developmental delays and health issues that impede learning; helping parents and families in their role as first teachers; and getting child advocacy organizations, businesses and state agencies to commit more resources to early education - because an investment now means savings later.

By focusing on the crucial learning period from birth up to the early grades we can also help ensure the success of existing programs such as No Child Left Behind, currently up for reauthorization by Congress. Policymakers at all levels should continue to provide tools and flexibility to nurture such community-based innovations on behalf of kids' learning. We must resolve to create new structures, practices and programs to support the early learning of infants, toddlers and preschoolers. This is one New Year's Resolution we should keep. Millions of children are counting on us.

DREAM DIES FOR RETAIL SITE AT SCHOOL: An empty remnant of the Belmont complex is to be a teacher training area.
by Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

January 7, 2008 - A relic of the tortured Belmont Learning Complex project was laid to rest last month when school officials voted to spend $35.9 million to turn an abandoned shopping center shell beneath the school into a training and testing center for teachers.

The commercial space was to have been part of an ambitious re-imagination of what a school could be -- as well as a potential money-generator. In addition to a high school, the site was to have housed a market, retail shops and restaurants, affordable housing and a community center. Those plans fell apart seven years ago.

The new concept is being touted as a long-run money saver that will allow the Los Angeles Unified School District to spend less on hotel conference space and leased offices.

When the school opens next fall under a new name, Vista Hermosa, it will almost certainly have the distinction of being the nation's most expensive high school, with construction costs in excess of $400 million.

One element of this price tag was the retail development included in the initial design. The retail portion drove the layout of the entire school, situated on a 33-acre site at First Street and Beaudry Avenue just west of the Harbor Freeway downtown.

As originally envisioned, businesses would be at the bottom of an immense concrete structure with parking in the middle and the school sitting on top. The campus itself would stretch almost level into what remained of a steep, expansive hill that would be shorn away.

This multipurpose design grew out of discussions with residents and merchants in the working-class community, said former school board member Victoria M. Castro, who represented the Belmont area during most of the initial planning. "They prioritized some top needs," she said. "To have a local market was one of them."

The retail center also meshed with the mission of managers and consultants assigned to the project. They had assembled originally to develop the Ambassador Hotel site, for which they proposed building a 30-story office tower fronting on Wilshire Boulevard with a school in the back. That project became mired in litigation and was shelved, and the team shifted its big thinking to Belmont.

As on Wilshire, the aim of the retail at Belmont was to generate revenue. At that point, in the early 1990s, the severely overcrowded school system had not opened a new comprehensive high school in 20 years.

District officials also were several years away from persuading voters to pass bond issues to fund the nation's largest school-construction effort.

But Belmont's extras quickly became an increasing financial burden. For one thing, the design -- created to accommodate the retail shops -- added $6 million to construction costs.

A market remained feasible, but there were squabbles over whether it would have a liquor license and whether it could be nonunion. Major grocers, most of which were unionized, hesitated to become involved because a sister union opposed the nonunion developer. For this and other reasons, the entire project became politically controversial. There also were qualms about whether retail outlets could make a profit in this location, at the bottom of a hill across the street from the freeway. (After the district's own consulting firm echoed that lack of enthusiasm, gung-ho district managers replaced the firm.)

The most serious blow came with revelations that the district had failed to fully assess environmental problems at the site, an oil field. In January 2000, the school board voted to abandon the half-built school.

When former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer became superintendent in July 2000, he became determined to salvage the massive public investment. But his focus was the school, not the add-ons. Romer prevailed, but when he left the district in 2006, the matter of the 65,000-square-foot shopping center cavity had not been resolved.

"When construction commenced again, there was no specific use identified for the space," said Stephen Sharr, a director of new construction for L.A. Unified. "It was used for storage of construction materials."

The notion of a retail center was never revived.

"That's not a retail corridor," said John Creer, the district's director of planning and development. "I don't know that would ever be real conducive to retail."

Instead, Creer focused on using the infrastructure to save money.

The school system intends to stop using a leased mid-Wilshire building where it handles interviewing and testing of teaching and non-teaching staff. In addition, the district hopes to trim the $15 million a year spent on renting places to train tens of thousands of employees.

The project will be paid for by certificates of participation -- in essence bonds paid off through the operating budget. Unlike other bonds, they don't require voter approval.

The annual payments of about $2.9 million over 15 years will be more than offset by lease and rental savings, Creer said. "Hotel space isn't getting cheaper," he added. "This is a good business decision."

The training center should be ready in about three years, but construction won't begin until the 2,600-seat school above the space opens next fall.

The decision was not universally acclaimed.

While in office, former school board member Mike Lansing proposed that the facility be turned over to after-school programs serving teens.

The Alliance for a Better Community, a local nonprofit group that made finishing Belmont its first priority after it formed in 2000, would have preferred honoring more of the original intent. It advocated using the space for day care and a senior center, with internships and job training for students in a health sciences academy at the school above.

With that setup, "pregnant teens and young moms, who often drop out, could drop the kids off downstairs and go upstairs to a school with the full breadth of curriculum," said Veronica Melvin, the alliance's executive director.

But Melvin is pleased to see the school open nevertheless. All along, "we said our priority is a school. Let's focus on that first. Let's not let this school be held up by a grocery store."

THE CALIFORNIA BUDGET CRISIS IN EDUCATION IS CONSTANTLY EVOLVING, follow this link to a list of current news stories.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
• FIRST, EdWeek grades states on their PERFORMANCE OUTCOMES as well as on their POLICY EFFORTS.
• SECOND, states are graded on their efforts to better ALIGN POLICIES ACROSS THE VARIOUS LEVELS OF EDUCATION—from early-childhood education to postsecondary study and training.
• And, Third, EdWeek introduces a greatly revised set of indicators on the teaching profession that looks more broadly at state EFFORTS TO ATTRACT, DEVELOP, AND DEPLOY TALENT IN EDUCATION, including some new indicators related to school principals.

by Dan Walters - Sacramento Bee Columnist
Friday, January 11, 2008 - The governor of California described the state's fiscal crisis apocalyptically, saying "its sheer magnitude boggles the mind and threatens the unprecedented progress we've made together."

It could have been Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday as he unveiled plans to close a $14.5 billion gap between income and outgo. But the words were uttered five years earlier by his predecessor, Gray Davis, as he unveiled his scheme to close what he said was a $30 billion-plus deficit in the state budget.

THE GROUNDS FOR THE RECALL ARE AS FOLLOWS: Gross mismanagement of California Finances by overspending taxpayers’ money, threatening public safety by cutting funds to local governments, failing to account for the exorbitant cost of the energy fiasco, and failing in general to deal with the state’s major problems until they get to the crisis stage. California should not have to be known as the state with poor schools, traffic jams, outrageous utility bills, and huge debts....all caused by gross mismanagement.
—from the 2003 recall petition for Governor Grey Davis
In his LA Times column "JUST ANOTHER SHADE OF GREY" Steve Lopez suggests that perhaps it's time to white-out "energy fiasco" and write-in "sub-prime loan fiasco"and recirculate the petition with another governor as the target.

This article from the LA Times and the piece following - IMPROVING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT WITH THE GOVERNOR'S PLAN FOR EDUCATION: STRONGER ACCOUNTABILITY AND GREATER TRANSPARENCY (from the governor's office) - refers to an agenda item and supposedly a priority of the governor's office and his appointed State Board of Ed (though properly within the purview of the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction). That item was abruptly pulled from Friday's agenda — presumably by the budget crisis and perhaps wisely in consideration of the Pontiac School Board v. Spellings case. The State of California would be remiss to not join that action - especially if the attorney general and the superintendent have future aspirations to the governor's office.

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

January 9, 2008 - Given a second round of balloting, teachers at the Santee Education Complex voted Tuesday to join the school reform effort of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, although questions persist about the election process.

▲4LAKids 2¢ : The C Track Teachers got to vote when they got back to school after their break ...the C Track Parents didn't!


EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Wednesday Jan 16, 2008

• Wednesday Jan 16, 2008
Central Region Elementary School #15: Pre-Construction Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Salvin Special Education Center
1925 Budlong Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

• Wednesday Jan 16, 2008
Valley Region Span K-8 #1: Pre-Design Meeting
6:30 p.m.
Olive Vista Middle School - Auditorium
14600 Tyler Street
Sylmar, CA 91342

• Thursday Jan 17, 2008
East Valley Area New HS #1B Addition: Pre-Demolition Meeting
6:30 p.m.
East Valley High School - Auditorium
5525 Vineland Avenue
North Hollywood, CA 91601

• Thursday Jan 17, 2008
South Region Elementary School #5: CEQA Draft Environmental Impact Report Meeting
6:30 p.m.
Gage Middle School - Multipurpose Room
2880 E. Gage Avenue
Huntington Park, CA 90255 ________________________________________
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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