Saturday, March 29, 2008

News item: Heathrow Terminal SNAFU Not LAUSD's Fault!

4LAKids: Sunday, March 30, 2008
In This Issue:
PUT TEACHERS TO THE TEST: Educators should be evaluated based on their students' exam scores + LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
BOND MEASURE WOULD HAVE SUPPORT, L.A. UNIFIED HEARS: Telephone poll finds that 68% of voters would probably back a new funding measure
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Q: What can YOU do? A: TAKE ACTION!

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.
If you couldn't laugh you'd have to climb a tower with a rifle.

Below you will see a news article with the headline: CLASHING RULES BLOCK SCHOOL AID, GAO FINDS. Seven years into NCLB and the General Accounting Office has figured out that the promises and the mandates and the financing don't line up.

Imagine that!


People actually get paid to make these studies. Children are put into control groups and get crummy food or crowded classrooms and other kids get good food and small class size. There's a name for this kind of science and it may just be "child abuse".

Apropos of the above, last week and this, at the Bond Oversight Committee and the Board of Ed there was heated discussion with passion and angst and all the rest about another issue every middle and high school student already knows all too well: The food at schools sucks and they don't give you enough time to eat it!

OK, the food sucks less than before. It's better made and not so junky and 100% transfat-free - ketchup (or catsup) is no longer a vegetable and downer cattle are off the menu. LAUSD has a hip kewl new chef with a chef outfit and an earing who was the USC chef in his prior life. And the District is investing multo buckos of taxpayer's money in new food service facilities and recipes and what marketeers call: "demand creation".

…but they still don't give the kids enough time to eat lunch!

And when it was discovered that this had been addressed back in 1990 and that existing Board of Education policy requires Every Child Have at Least Twenty Minutes AFTER They Are Served to Eat Lunch there was PANIC IN THE SCHOOL BOARD! OhM'Gawd - That means the bell schedule might have to be changed …and the bell schedule is set by the (gasp!) UNION CONTRACT!

"Show me where in the union contract," a board member asked, "it says we can do this?" 'This' being giving children enough time to eat their lunch.

If I couldn't laugh I'd be looking for the tower. And if you've seen the new construction at the High School for the Arts at 450 N. Grand you'd know I wouldn't need to look too hard or too far.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! -smf

by Maria Glod, Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 -- Conflicting requirements are preventing some of the nation's struggling schools from getting the financial help envisioned by the No Child Left Behind Act to boost achievement, according to a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office.

The law calls for states to devote 4 percent of the largest pot of federal education funding -- money dedicated to help low-income students -- to efforts to turn around high-poverty, low-performing schools. But another overriding rule prevents states from using the full amount in schools with the most serious problems if that means cutting funding from other school systems.

Education advocacy groups said the report shows that although No Child Left Behind has helped identify struggling schools, the schools and districts don't have the tools they need to transform those classrooms.

"We are just not serious yet about improving low-performing schools," said Dianne M. Pich¿, executive director of the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights. "Congress has tolerated a major loophole in the funding process that basically permits business as usual. It permits less-poor areas to continue to get resources while denying resources to the poorest communities."

The report found that 22 states have not been able to use the dollars called for under the No Child Left Behind law in the neediest schools because of the "hold-harmless" provision. That money still goes to schools with a large percentage of low-income children.

The provision "may be preventing some of the neediest schools that face the most challenges to improving the academic achievement of their students from obtaining these funds," according to the report. It noted that many states use other federal funds or state money to help those schools.

PUT TEACHERS TO THE TEST: Educators should be evaluated based on their students' exam scores + LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
LA Times Opinion by Camille Esch

March 23, 2008 - In recent years, reformers have sought to improve our failing public education system by tightening and standardizing the measures we use to judge performance. From the numerical requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act to California's increased focus on assessment and accountability, there's been a conscious attempt to use hard data to measure success at every level of the education system.

But one group does not have its performance measured this way: teachers. Determining the effectiveness of individual teachers -- are they helping our kids learn or not? -- remains a mostly subjective judgment. Yet there's no reason why teachers shouldn't also be evaluated against objective measures of student performance just as are schools, districts and states.

Teacher evaluations focus on what they do in the classroom -- the input of the learning process. In most school districts, principals show up at prearranged times to observe teachers' work, and then write their observations. In doing this, they typically use a checklist to guide their assessments. Evaluations usually consist of one or two written observations.

This superficial and largely subjective approach to evaluating teachers is something of a farce. In many instances, principals can only rate teachers "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory." Multiple unsatisfactory evaluations can lead to dismissal. But faced with the prospect of battling the local teachers union to prove that a teacher's unsatisfactory evaluation is valid, most principals capitulate and rate virtually all teachers as satisfactory.

This rubber-stamp routine may make things easier for administrators, but not for the kids. Several researchers, among them Eric Hanushek of the Hoover Institution of Stanford University and Jonah Rockoff of Columbia University, have shown that teachers are not interchangeable when it comes to student learning. Given a year with an effective teacher -- one whose pupils previously showed test-score gains -- students can advance their learning by a grade level or more, according to research done by William L. Sanders while he was at the University of Tennessee. He also found that under a weak teacher, kids' progress can stall, and they can fall behind.

So why not include student test scores -- the output of the learning process -- in teachers' evaluations? Besides giving the evaluation process a much-needed shot of objectivity and rigor, this change could help administrators target assistance for struggling teachers and recognize those who are most effective in the classroom.

In its report this month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's nonpartisan committee of education experts agreed. Among other things, it recommended that teacher evaluations should be based in part on student achievement.

Teachers unions object to using student test scores to evaluate teachers. They argue that these scores are influenced by many factors beyond a teacher's control -- students' home environments, language abilities, whether they ate breakfast on the morning of a test. True enough, but this is not a reason to ignore student achievement altogether.

Of course, student test-score data should not be the sole measure of a teacher's performance. It should be combined with other factors to produce a well-rounded assessment, including more rigorous and more frequent classroom observations by principals, announced and unannounced, as well as reviews of teachers' lesson plans and homework assignments by principals or peers.

And incorporating student test data into teachers' evaluations should be done in a way that ensures fairness. For starters, not just absolute student test performance should be taken into account, but also how much students grow over the course of a year. For instance, a teacher could make phenomenal progress with struggling students but still not get them to a high achievement. In this case, the teacher should be rewarded, not penalized. This approach would prevent teachers from fleeing low-performing schools or classes.

Second, evaluation must consider extenuating circumstances. For instance, if a first-year English teacher is assigned to teach chemistry, he shouldn't be blamed for less-than-stellar test scores.

Finally, any attempt to use test scores to help evaluate teachers should not be done on the cheap. Policymakers may be tempted to co-opt existing assessments like California's STAR tests for the purposes of teacher evaluation. But these standardized tests are designed to give information about how a school, district or state is performing, and they don't cover all subject areas. To build a better system of evaluating teachers, it is worth the investment to design tests that measure how much individual students learn over the course of a year on the material the teacher is expected to teach.

There's no question that teachers have tough jobs. But the old evaluation system that ignores student achievement and finds virtually all teachers "satisfactory" simply sets the bar too low, lacks objectivity and does not address whether students are actually learning. If we want to give students the best chance at success, we need to do a better job of determining whether their teachers are helping them. Evaluating teachers with no hard evidence about their primary responsibility is just plain irresponsible.

• Camille Esch is an Irvine fellow at the New America Foundation. She specializes in education policy.

▲LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (3/29): Teach first, suggest later

Re "Put teachers to the test," Opinion, March 23

Despite Camille Esch's suggestion that teacher evaluations be linked to improved test scores, teachers are being put to the test every day and in every classroom across this state. I have 36 to 40 middle-school students in each of my classes. They come from a wide variety of abilities and backgrounds. Our state is facing a $16-billion deficit. The result will be even larger class sizes.
I would like to extend an invitation to Esch: Trade places with me for two weeks. If she has the proper credentials and meets the myriad requirements to teach, she can teach my 190 8th-grade students history, and I can be a specialist in education policy.
John L. Uelmen
Newbury Park

Esch presents a balanced case for including students' standardized test scores in a teacher's performance evaluation. However, it's important to guard against putting too much weight on test results. Making students' exam scores a major factor in evaluations would create a classroom atmosphere that encourages teaching to the test -- an uninspired approach leaving students unengaged -- and would give teachers an incentive to help students cheat to raise their scores. I assume most teachers would not succumb to the temptation to artificially inflate the academic performance of their students; nevertheless, the incentive would exist and could potentially poison the learning environment.
Teacher evaluations should promote effective teaching by examining to what extent a teacher connects with students and inspires a love of learning. Too much focus on testing would undermine that goal.
Joseph Kaufman
Mission Viejo

Oh, why do I even bother to respond? Yet another non-teacher (Esch works at a "foundation") knows how to rate teachers -- by student test scores. I'll allow that as one element. But what about this: On the last round of report cards issued by my school, I entered a written request for parent conferences on 27 of the report cards. Want to guess how many responses I got? One. Factor that in, Ms. Esch, before you rate my performance. And let me know when you begin teaching five classes and a total of 180 students a day, as my colleagues and I do; then we can talk.
The situation is far more complex than Esch describes.
Ann Bourman
Los Angeles

In this rush to hold teachers responsible for their students' standardized test scores, there is one vital component missing: student accountability. Nowhere in this equation are students held accountable for their own test scores. Except for exit exams, standardized tests are no-stake tests; there are no consequences for low scores or rewards for excellent ones. Until students see the connection between test scores and their academic progress, many of them will continue to perform in a mediocre manner.
Francine Buschel-Gomez

Esch leaves out what to do with the test data. Under current rules, it is difficult to get rid of ineffective teachers. It is also difficult to reward exceptional teachers because remuneration is based on seniority and other extraneous issues.
Roy Krausen

BOND MEASURE WOULD HAVE SUPPORT, L.A. UNIFIED HEARS: Telephone poll finds that 68% of voters would probably back a new funding measure
by Evelyn Larrubia, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

March 29, 2008 - The Los Angeles Unified School District, amid a $20-billion school construction program, is gearing up to put on the November ballot its fifth bond measure since 1997, officials said Friday.

The district commissioned a telephone poll in which 604 likely voters were asked whether they would support a $3.2-billion measure "that may appear on the November ballot" to build schools and early education centers, remove hazards and otherwise renovate aging campuses.

The results, which were presented to the Board of Education in closed session on Tuesday, suggest that voters would support the measure as strongly as they have in the past, with 68% likely to vote for it and 3% leaning toward doing so. The poll has a 4% margin of error.

"It was great news," said Supt. David L. Brewer, adding that the school system desperately needs to transform older campuses into "state-of-the-art facilities, with wireless [networks for] computers and safe buildings." He said that despite looming budget cuts, the district needed a permanent program to improve its schools.

"An organization doesn't just shut down because it has a budget crisis," he said. "This is a long-term goal."

Board president Monica Garcia did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

"These people have lost touch with reality," said Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. "I'm not surprised by much anymore, but I am really amazed that they would have the nerve to even consider this with all of the money that they are already taking out of property owners' pockets."

Data provided by the Los Angeles County assessor showed that more than $420 million was collected from taxpayers last year for Los Angeles Unified obligations.

The Board of Education has not yet voted to place the bond on the ballot.

Darry Sragow, the political consultant who has run the campaigns for the district's four prior construction and repair bonds, said his firm's contract with the district has increased from $5,000 a month to $15,000 to do the advance work for a referendum in the fall.

In order to qualify for the ballot, the district would have to file with the county registrar-recorder by August.

Sragow said the results were not a foregone conclusion, given the district's recent payroll problems and criticism from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The poll, conducted in February by Pineda Consulting at a cost of $15,000, showed strongest support among Latinos and voters under 35, with more than 80% saying they would vote for it. On the other extreme, 42% of Republicans surveyed said they would oppose it.

Many more voters saw a need for repairs than new campuses, with 69% saying they saw a "great need" for the former and 47% citing a need for the latter. However, those surveyed do not have a high opinion of the district's performance or that of its leaders. Only 17% said they thought the school board was doing a good job; 19% approved of the superintendent's performance; and 49% gave teachers good marks. Nearly one-third of respondents said L.A. Unified has been "getting worse" over the last year.

Voters passed four local bonds between 1997 and 2005 which, coupled with state funding, have given the district an unprecedented $20 billion to build schools and repair and renovate existing campuses. Last year the board moved $800 million earmarked for repairs to go instead toward new construction to compensate for increased building costs.

Still, the district will spend $7 billion in state and local funds on modernization and repair projects by 2012, according to Guy Mehula, chief facilities executive for the district.

When former Supt. Roy Romer characterized the 2005 bond measure as the last one needed, Mehula said he was talking solely about new schools.

Mehula said he does not have enough money to repair aging campuses.

"There's a humongous need out there. Just to get back to what we would consider fair condition," he said, "is about a $6 billion need."

by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

Friday, March 28, 2008 - Nearly three years after the Los Angeles Unified School District launched efforts to implement tougher graduation requirements, the program has been plagued by disorganization and confusion with little accountability or oversight, according to an audit obtained by the Daily News.

While the "A-G Resolution" requires all students to take college-prep courses in order to graduate, a scathing internal district analysis has found that so far the voluntary rollout has been ineffective and implementation has been spotty.

And the audit warns that without significant improvements, LAUSD students are not only at risk of failing to meet college eligibility requirements but also of failing to graduate from high school.

"With the current school climate and instructional quality, a significant proportion of the students who enter the ninth grade in 2012 (when the courses will be required) will not only fail to meet college eligibility, but will also fail to graduate from high school," the report states.

Superintendent David Brewer III, who took the helm of the nation's second-largest district after the school board passed the resolution in 2005, said the results are shocking and disappointing.

Brewer said he has called for a retreat in two weeks to discuss how to regroup.

"We're clearly underachieving so we're going ... to go over A-G to find out what we need to do to get it back on track," Brewer said.

"I'm not happy with it. I'm not happy with it. It was a systemic problem that we have to attack from headquarters all the way down to the classroom."

School board President Monica Garcia, a key proponent of the effort, said the audit is a wake-up call for the district to create a comprehensive vision and properly implement the resolution.

"Outrage is appropriate. Our community allies have been unsatisfied with the leadership and the aggressive pace of implementation. ... We're not where we need to be today."

When it was adopted, the much-touted effort was celebrated as the centerpiece for overall secondary-school reforms at the district - as well as a key strategy for narrowing the achievement gap between white and minority students.

Designed to be voluntary for the first several years, it is set to become mandatory in 2012 with a series of 15 classes that would meet course requirements necessary for LAUSD students to be admitted to University of California and California State University schools.

But in the audit, reviewers said professional development lacked structure, didn't require collaboration among staff members, and there are no measures in place to ensure that teachers and counselors use the materials provided.

"In effect, there were no expectations of instructional leaders at any level of the organization that ensured a collective focus on the problem of A-G," the report states.

The study also revealed that there were no expectations - at any level of the LAUSD organization - to ensure a collective focus on the effort and many teachers and counselors were not even aware of the requirements.

It found that less than half of the class of 2006 - 45.3 percent - completed A-G courses with a grade of C or better. In 2005, about 20 percent of the district's 12th-graders passed all the courses necessary for entrance to either the UC or CSU system.

Former school board member and current Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar - who spearheaded approval of the effort in 2005 - said he is deeply disappointed with the lack of progress.

While board members at the time said they knew the district didn't have the capacity to roll out the initiative, the idea was to build in planning time so the LAUSD would be prepared when it becomes required in 2012.

"It's not surprising. It's a district that needs not only academic reform but operational reform," Huizar said.

"It requires a whole curriculum change that requires higher expectations, better curriculum, better preparation of teachers, and for them to have sat on this for such a long time, they've lost several previous years and they have failed to give thousands of students an opportunity to have access to college-prep courses.

"They have to get their act together. We expected the district to change its culture and it failed to do so up to this point," Huizar said.

And in a district with a dropout rate of anywhere from 24 percent to more than 50 percent, critics fear that without more aggressive efforts, the measure will only serve as another barrier to graduation for already struggling students.

Julie Mendoza, Southern California director of ARCHES and a member of the district's A-G advisory committee, worked on a 2007 report that reached the same conclusions as the district's own report.

Findings included a lack of a comprehensive budget for implementation, no communications plan to raise public awareness and little means to ensure that the policy was put into action.

But she said the district did nothing after the findings were released in November.

"It's tragic because there's no vision, no accountability, there's no political will, there's no sense of urgency," said Mendoza.

"A-G was the policy lever to force the district to do comprehensive education reform and what we've seen three years later is just a reshuffling of the chairs on the Titanic, shuffling programs that were not effective."

It's unclear what effect the problems at the district may have on public confidence in the LAUSD and the financial support of large foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates and The James Irvine foundations.

Last year, the foundations gave the district a $2million grant to help provide college-prep classes to at-risk students.

Officials with the Gates Foundation would not comment on the audit, but said in a statement Thursday: "All students should receive the challenging and supportive education they need to be prepared for success in college and careers, and we share our partners' sense of urgency in ensuring that students in Los Angeles have that opportunity."

The district audit recommends that the LAUSD improve efforts to prepare students to meet the A-G requirements by prioritizing the initiative and offering more structured and accountable professional development.

But the audit said such efforts will take time and that it will not be easy to regroup for an effective, mandatory rollout of the program by 2012.

"Much like the phenomenon of `teaching to the test,' unless our district ensures support for true learning and sets reasonable expectations for meeting A-G, we will be likely to motivate grade inflation, or worse, instead of genuine improvement in learning and instruction."

"You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan" Lennon/McCartney "Revolution"

▲"…according to an audit obtained by the Daily News?" That's the kind of bait 4LAKids rises to like a metaphorical fish on a metaphorical trout stream! I kvetched and ranted, Googled and importuned and eventually not-so-deviously obtained a copy of the report. Once I knew what to look for I also located it on the LAUSD website, hidden in plain sight (a new meaning for "transparency"?) from search engines and the prying eyes of the stakeholders. -smf


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

"Many residents say they can predict everything that will happen now. There will be community meetings, calls for reform -- for jobs programs, mentoring programs, after-school programs. Solemn promises will be made. Police will put more cars on the streets. Violence will ebb. And then, before real change can take root, the city's attention will begin to drift, and a new cycle will begin."

► NOT ON THE TEST: A musical interlude in the form of a lullaby

"Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to, but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test."

► MASTER CHEF REINVENTS LAUSD SCHOOL LUNCHROOM: This story missed 4LAKids last December, but with the district initiative to improve food service by increasing facilities capacity by the beginning of the next school year (July or September '08) at 64 of the 138 LAUSD secondary schools approved by the board of ed tuesday — and the reaffirmation of the 1990 board directive that every child shall have twenty minutes from the time he or she is served to eat lunch this seems like the right time.

► FORD AND “EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION” PARTNER IN ECO-FRIENDLY SCHOOL MAKEOVER CAMPAIGN: A Contest. The lottery didn't pay off for schoolchildren, maybe this will

► ROMER & MEHLMAN JOIN FORCES ON EDUCATION REFORM: The Former Democrat and Republican party chairs want education to be a bigger part of the 2008 campaign.


► ACRONYMS 101 - or - AZ/EPC: A-Z Eduspeak for the Parentally Challenged: You've been there don't have a clue what they're talking about. How can you be sure they know what they're talking about if you don't even know what language they're speaking?

► NEW PROP. 39 RULES OK’D; AFFECT CHARTER FACILITY REQUESTS FOR 2009-10: The new Proposition 39 rules that significantly diminish school districts’ discretion over how facilities are allocated to charter schools.

► PUSH FOR CHARTER SCHOOL DIVIDES PALOS VERDES: Fear & Loathing as some parents want an alternative to schools they say focus on drills. Others fear the loss of state funds to existing schools.

► SAT SUBJECT TESTS ARE A VALUABLE TOOL: Particularly in the case of recent immigrants, they can spotlight students' academic strengths, but the UC Board of Admissions wants to end its requirement of SAT subject tests as a factor in admissions.

► (DE)CERTIFYING PARENTS: A California court ruled this month that parents cannot "home school" their children without government certification. No teaching credential, no teaching.


The Lowlights of "Flunk the Budget" - week two + The Highlights from UCLA/IDEA Just Schools California

SILVERADO CANYON SCHOOL’S BELL COULD RING ITS LASTTucked away in a fold of Orange County’s canyons, Silverado Elementary is an anachronism, a small-town school in a big-city district. With just 93 students and four teachers, the school is small by Wyoming standards, let alone Southern California. It’s been this way for generations. Whether it will last, though, is in doubt.


SAN DIEGO: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed cuts of $4.8 billion from next year’s education budget during a visit yesterday at Lincoln High School in San Diego. Backed by about two dozen teachers and students who held placards with messages such as “Hey, Arnold, don’t terminate education,” O’Connell said the cuts defy Proposition 98’s voter-approved guarantee of state education funding.

SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES INTERIM BUDGET, SUPERINTENDENT SELECTION PROCESS Nothing is “set in stone,” but changes to the Amador County Unified School District budget for the upcoming school year are in the works. “It’s bare bones as it is,” said Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, following the board’s Wednesday evening meeting. “Nobody wants to cut anything.”

28 TEACHERS TO GET PINK SLIPS Of the more than 400 teachers in the Morgan Hill Unified School District, 28 of them have received so-called “pink slips” as the district prepares to deal with a projected $3 million deficit for the 2008-09 school year. According to Assistant Superintendent Jay Totter, who heads the district’s human resources department, the notices were hand delivered March 14, fulfilling the contractual requirement that certificated employees be notified of a possible layoff before March 15.

WRONG TIME FOR CUTS IN CLASSROOM Imagine someone saying to builders who are designing and building a super highway that they are making great progress but that the next funding allotment for construction will be cut significantly. By the way, the mandate is that they continue to build better highways at a faster pace with less money, fewer workers, and greater accountability. In similar ways, California’s educational community is being asked to do more with less.

BUDGET CUTS LEAD TO TEACHER LAYOFFS The San Benito High School Board of Trustees voted March 11 to notify five teachers that they may not have a job come fall and eliminated the equivalent of 57 classes at the high school, said Mike Potmesil, director of human resources for the San Benito High School District. The reductions are due to declining enrollment in the district and 10 percent cuts to education funding in Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget.

CUTS TEACH STUDENTS TO ‘BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH’ By: Jackie Dickson, Michael Douglas, Robb Felder, Jose Hurtado, Frances Ortiz-Chavez, Tom Kensok and Alan Murray-Trustees of the Board of Education of the Napa Valley Unified School District How appropriate that March 15, the “Ides of March” — a date associated with impending doom, was the deadline the state had set for teachers to receive layoff notices precipitated by the $4.8 billion reduction in education funding proposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, who once proclaimed that 2008 would be the year of education.

SUPERINTENDENTS SNARL IN UNISON AT PROPOSED $4B IN CUTS SANTA CRUZ - After nearly 240 Santa Cruz County educators received notices of potential layoff last week, superintendents countywide handed out another slew of pink slips Thursday, but this time they were aimed at one person: the governor. “Your services will be terminated. Hurts doesn’t it?” That was the message on a fake pink slip carrying Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name, which educators and students waved while rallying on the steps of Santa Cruz High School to decry his proposed $4 billion in K-12 funding cuts.

DISTRICT SENDS OUT 62 LAYOFF NOTICES West Contra Costa students may not see some of their favorite teachers, secretaries or vice principals at school next year.The West Contra Costa Unified School District sent out 62 layoff notices, mostly to elementary school teachers, last week as part of a plan to slice $10 million from its $300 million budget next year. The district must make the cuts to prepare for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to chop about $4.5 billion from education in California to offset the state deficit.

CALIFORNIA FRACASA EN CIENCIA Y TECNOLOGÍA Ubican al estado en el número 45 en el progreso académico de esas áreas en EU/State places 45th in US in academic progress in these areas
By Iván Mejía/La Opinion Las escuelas de California tienen la calificación de F en cuanto al acceso a tecnología, D acerca del uso de la misma y B- sobre la capacidad de usar las herramientas tecnológicas, indica un estudio dado a conocer ayer. En el reporte titulado La tecnología cuenta 2008, se analiza el esfuerzo por mejorar el rendimiento de los alumnos en las áreas de ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas (STEM) en Estados Unidos.
California schools got an F when it came to access to technology, a D in its use and a B- in its ability to use technological tools, according to a study that was released yesterday. The study, entitled "Technology Counts 2008" analyzes efforts to improve students' achievement in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the United States.

FOCUS ON SCHOOL REFORM AS WELL AS FUNDING Editorial/San Diego Tribune The battle over how much funding a deficit-stricken state should give to education – now in its second month in Sacramento – continues to be fought entirely on terms set by the California Teachers Association. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to reduce spending from $57.6 billion to $56.5 billion – a 1.9 percent cut – is routinely, inaccurately described as something far more drastic. Why? Because the governor's plan would spend about $4.8 billion less than what would be required by Proposition 98, unless the 1988 initiative were suspended by the Legislature.

CLASHING RULES BLOCK SCHOOL AID, GAO FINDS By Maria Glod/Washington Post Conflicting requirements are preventing some of the nation's struggling schools from getting the financial help envisioned by the No Child Left Behind Act to boost achievement, according to a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office. The law calls for states to devote 4 percent of the largest pot of federal education funding -- money dedicated to help low-income students -- to efforts to turn around high-poverty, low-performing schools. But another overriding rule prevents states from using the full amount in schools with the most serious problems if that means cutting funding from other school systems.

STUDENT ENGAGEMENT FOUND TO RISE AS CLASS SIZE FALLS By Debra Viadero/Ed Week A new British study quantifies and confirms what many teachers have long believed: Students tend to be “off task” more often when they are in larger classes. The report, by researchers from the University of London Institute of Education, was one of several studies on the educational effects of reducing class sizes that were presented here Monday on the first day of the annual meeting of the Washington-based American Educational Research Association. The March 24-28 event is expected to draw more than 15,000 education scholars from around the world before it ends on Friday.

SIZE ALONE MAKES SMALL CLASSES BETTER FOR KIDS By Greg Toppo/USA Today Breaking up large classes into several smaller ones helps students, but the improvements in many cases come in spite of what teachers do, new research suggests. New findings from four nations, including the USA, tell a curious story. Small classes work for children, but that's less because of how teachers teach than because of what students feel they can do: Get more face time with their teacher, for instance, or work in small groups with classmates. "Small classes are more engaging places for students because they're able to have a more personal connection with teachers, simply by virtue of the fact that there are fewer kids in the classroom competing for that teacher's attention," says Adam Gamoran of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who analyzed the findings.

STATES SEEKING PROPER BALANCE IN USE OF ELL TEST SCORES Assessments can help decide when students should exit programs.
By Mary Ann Zehr/Ed Week Now that they have new English-language-proficiency tests to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, state education officials are trying to come up with guidelines on how school districts use those tests to decide when English-language learners no longer need specialized instruction. States vary widely in how prescriptive they are in the use of those test scores, but most seem to be taking steps toward standardizing the process. “Is there a relationship between the scores and what is happening in the classroom? I certainly hope so,” said Ellen Forte, a consultant on ELLs for the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers. “It’s a place where people should be focusing a lot of attention—the validity of the scores and how we are using them.”

GRADUATION TESTS WILL HARM STUDENTS By Judith A. Browne-Dianis/Baltimore Sun Beginning next year, Maryland students will face an additional hurdle to graduate from high school - passing four state tests. Students will be unable to receive diplomas if they fail the Maryland High School Assessments (HSA), even if they pass all of their classes during the year. Fortunately, the General Assembly is considering legislation that would eliminate this one-size-fits-all graduation requirement. If we want to fix our schools, punishing students is not the answer. Instead, we must provide students with the resources they need, and rely upon other measures to assess them. Maryland already has a graduation rate problem, and an exit exam will only exacerbate it.

:PUBLIC SCHOOLS EXPAND CURRICULUM ONLINE by Larry Abramson/NPR When senior Zack Jackson wanted to take a class in mythology, he wasn't out of luck just because his small high school in rural Virginia didn't offer it. Instead, he headed online. The course comes courtesy of Virtual Virginia, a state program that offers dozens of online classes to middle and high school students. The program allows children to take classes that aren't offered at their schools. Nationwide, programs like Virtual Virginia help hundreds of thousands of students take the kinds of unusual courses that make colleges sit up and take notice.

CHILDREN WITH HEALTHIER DIETS DO BETTER IN SCHOOL, STUDY SUGGESTS Science Daily A new study in the Journal of School Health reveals that children with healthy diets perform better in school than children with unhealthy diets. Led by Paul J. Veugelers, MSc, PhD of the University of Alberta, researchers surveyed around 5000 Canadian fifth grade students and their parents as part of the Children's Lifestyle and School-Performance Study. Information regarding dietary intake, height, and weight were recorded and the Diet Quality Index-International (DQI-I) was used to summarize overall diet quality. The DQI-I score ranges from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating better diet quality.

STIMULATING SLEEPY STUDENTS Acupuncturists Show Students How to Stay Awake by Stimulating Pressure Points Science Daily Simple techniques inspired by traditional Chinese medicine may help students stay awake during class. Researchers report that college students were more alert if they massaged or tapped areas on the back of the neck, the hands and legs -- areas that acupuncturists believe can stimulate the release of endorphins. Whether it's boredom or just not enough shut-eye, a lot of students have trouble staying awake during class. For many students, a textbook, paper and pencil are a recipe for sleepiness.

Link to: All the News that Didn't Fit

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Wednesday Apr 2, 2008
Dorsey High School Auditorium Renovation Project: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Ceremony starts at 10:00 a.m.
Dorsey High School
3537 Farmdale Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Wednesday Apr 2, 2008
South Region Elementary School #10: Site Selection Update Community Meeting
6:00 p.m.
West Vernon Elementary School Auditorium
4312 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90037

Wednesday Apr 2, 2008
Valley Region Span K-8 #2: Schematic Design Community Meeting
6:30 p.m.
Germain Elementary School - Auditorium
20730 Germain St.
Chatsworth, CA 91311

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-893-6800


Q: What can YOU do? A: TAKE ACTION!

Join California State PTA and parents, educators and community members up and down the state in protecting our children and California’s future.

The Governor’s proposed 2008-2009 budget contains disastrous cuts to education and children’s programs.

We urge you to take three actions to “FLUNK-THE-BUDGET”.

1. Each and every Friday; email, call or visit your local legislators in their district office to express how harmful these budget cuts will be to our children. A sample letter and phone script are available at the link below.

To find your legislator go to:

2. Participate in “FLUNK-THE-BUDGET FRIDAY” activities, including a SUPER “FLUNK-THE-BUDGET FRIDAY” activity on April 25th. Contact your local PTA council or district to see what may already be planned in your area. Send the message loud and clear to your local legislators that this budget hurts our children

3. Join us in Sacramento on Thursday, April 24 at 11:00 am for a rally at the capitol. This event will include PTA members from all over the state.

If you want to join PTA or start one at your school …or if you just want to join your voice with ours for all children to FLUNK THE BUDGET:

♥ LAUSD/If you live in the San Fernando Valley (area code 818) contact 31st district PTA at
♥ LAUSD/South of Mulholland (area codes 213, 323, 310) contact 10th District PTA at
►Outside LAUSD: San Gabriel Valley and East (area code 626) - 1st District PTA:
◄► West and East of LAUSD: (310 & 562) 33rd District PTA:
▲ North LA County and points north (805 & 661): 34th District PTA:

Click “¡FLUNK-THE-BUDGET!” below to obtain more information on “FLUNK-THE-BUDGET FRIDAYS” activities, fact sheets, sample letters, scripts, talking points and the “FLUNK THE BUDGET” logo.

• 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.


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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