Sunday, March 16, 2008


4LAKids: Sunday, March 16, 2008
In This Issue:
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!
The LAUSD "Students Count" Budget Advocacy website (not live as of 3/16)
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.

In the Year of Education, education is to be saved by decimating it.

The long awaited Governor's Committee on Educational Excellence Report - itself based on the twenty odd volumes of the "Getting Down to Facts" reports released exactly one year ago Saturday - was finally released to absolutely no fanfare this week. The results of three years of hard work by the best and brightest thinkers became an afterthought handout at a luncheon in Santa Monica honoring a member of the committee who passed away in the interim between the writing of the report and its release — an event that was supposed to kick off the governor's "Year of Education".

A year, like last year's "Year of Health Care Reform", that is not to be.

In politics as in comedy, everything is timing. And with the state $14 billion in the red in the governor's opinion the time isn't right to release study that calls for an additional $10 billion for education.
• Especially as the governor has already called for $4.4 billion in cuts to education.
• And the deficit is really $16 Billion
• And the governor's party; a minority party controls the legislature[!] has pledged to NEVER raise taxes.

Seventy-five years ago this week Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to the people of the United States in his first Fireside Chat. The nation in March '33 was in dire financial peril; there was danger that banks across the nation would be forced to close.

Roosevelt said that the role of the government was not to slash services but to act. He proposed that government and the private sector had to invest in ourselves and our futures and spend their way of the crisis.

Seventy-five years later the state and the nation again faces financial peril. Here in California there is real danger that schools might have to close because of the fiscal crisis. The Governor's Committee on Educational Excellence Report actually offers a proposal to start to fix much of what's broke short-term and long-term in California public education …by investing in our future.

We can cut and run or we can stand and deliver.

What would FDR do?

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf


By Matthew Yi, San Francisco Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

Saturday, March 15, 2008 -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's blue-ribbon committee on education released a list of sweeping recommendations Friday to overhaul California's public school system at an additional annual cost of $10.5 billion - a staggering amount even if the state's budget weren't already hemorrhaging red ink.

The governor's 18-member Committee on Education Excellence spent nearly three years researching and preparing the report, which contains controversial proposals such as merit-based pay for teachers, giving local school districts more control of their finances and preventing most 4-year-olds from starting kindergarten.

But the Golden State's looming budget deficit, estimated to be $8 billion by July 1, overshadowed many of those proposals, and the governor was among the first to point that out. His own proposed budget calls for a $4.4 billion cut in K-12 education in the next fiscal year.

"Everyone in this room knows education will face severe cuts this year ... because our budget is out of whack," Schwarzenegger said at a news conference in Santa Monica. "But it's important that we don't lose sight of the big picture."

The governor used the occasion to pitch his proposals for budget reform, which include capping annual spending based in part on a 10-year average of the state's revenues. The governor wants to set aside extra revenue during economic boom years to offset deficits during tough economic times.

"It is inexcusable that our budget system is sending our teachers, students and parents on a roller-coaster ride," he said.

Calling the report an outstanding blueprint, the governor added: "We have to look at each one of those (ideas) and see which ones we can implement now and which ones we can do later."

The $10.5 billion annual cost increase is based on estimates for additional pay for outstanding teachers; for training new teachers and administrators; developing a comprehensive data system on students and schools; and helping low-income families pay for preschool. Currently, the state spends about $50 billion a year on education.
Town hall meetings

The governor would not say whether he endorses all of the proposals, but said his appointed secretary of education, David Long, and the authors of the report will organize town hall meetings throughout the state to receive feedback.

Among the proposals expected to draw attention is one to begin developing a plan for universal preschool, starting by expanding subsidized programs for low-income families. The committee also recommends giving incentive grants to school districts to create full-day kindergarten classes. Only 30 percent of kindergartners in California are in class for a full day, compared with a national average of about 60 percent, the report said.

Along those lines, the recommendations call for changing the rules for when a child can start kindergarten. Currently, a child can start if his/her fifth birthday falls before Dec. 2. The committee has recommended that date be moved up to Sept. 1.

Some Bay Area school district officials reacted to the committee's report by questioning its relevance as budget cuts loom that could force them to lay off teachers, principals and administrators.

"It's cruel irony," said Myong Leigh, San Francisco Unified School District's deputy superintendent for policy and operations. "There seems to be a real disconnect."

His school district is preparing to cut $40 million from its $485 million general fund budget. So far, San Francisco Unified has given pink slips to 535 teachers and administrators, which translates to about a 13 percent cutback. It is hoping for a $30 million bailout in rainy-day funds from City Hall.

"It's kind of unfortunate that this report is being produced when the governor is proposing catastrophic cuts in funding," Leigh said.

Across the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett said it is simply frustrating.

"It's nice to have a report, but frankly I can't spend a lot of time on the report because I need to figure out how to operate in this environment of cutting back," he said.
Teachers union reacts

Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, blasted some of the proposals in the report, such as merit-based pay for teachers and giving school districts block grants rather than monies tied to specific programs.

Hittelman argued that the reason state lawmakers began tying funding to specific programs in the first place is because certain student or classroom needs were not being met.

Also, a merit-based pay for teachers will ultimately be a morale killer among the larger school staff if only a few get raises each year, he said.

The authors of the report defended their recommendations, saying the state's public education system is in a dire need of an overhaul.

"The current system can't meet our students' needs," said Ted Mitchell, the chairman of the committee. "It's fundamentally flawed. It's not achievement driven ... (and) our system impedes educators' best work."

Mitchell also said the committee's recommendations are meant for both short-term and long-term actions. Some require little or no new funds, such as building a database of information on student achievement and school performance, and making it available for the public.
'Long process'

"We're hopeful that this year marks the beginning of a long process, a process that will take several years, if not a decade, to fully implement," Mitchell said. "We hope to lay the foundation for some legislation."

But winning support in the Democrat-controlled Legislature may not be easy.

While the GOP governor has maintained he won't raise taxes, Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for raising extra revenues to close the deficit.

"The report is a perfect illustration why we can't cut billions of dollars from California's education budget," said state Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who is in line to take over the upper house's leadership later this year.

The governor's Committee on Education Excellence report can be found online at:


by John Fensterwald | Mercury News Educated Guess Blog

March 13th, 2008 - “Students First: Renewing Hope for California’s Future,” the ill-fated report of the Governor’s Committee on Education Excellence, is finally being released from solitary confinement Friday morning. Gov. Schwarzenegger must have figured that the report, which calls for significant reforms coupled with new money for public schools, is no longer a big threat to embarrass him — or make him look like a hypocrite.

The 40-page executive summary has been in secret detention (an undisclosed Sacramento location) since last fall, although I posted it on this blog in January, and copies have been making the rounds.

The report reflected two years of work by a distinguished committee, led by Ted Mitchell, who’s a member of the State School Board and former president of Occidental College, and former State Sen. Dede Alpert, a Democrat. It contains some pretty smart recommendations: a push for universal preschool; more funding for low-income, English-learning students; new ways to prepare and compensate teachers; creation of a statewide data system; an inspector general to monitor and evaluate schools. I understand the full 250-page report is a good read.

However, the delay in getting the report out is a slap at the committee members and dims prospects that report will become more than a doorstop. Committee members — all busy folks — worked hard, because they were promised that the governor would take their recommendations seriously. That proved wishful thinking, and some members privately are furious.

The report was to be the focus of Schwarzenegger’s Year of Education Reform. But Schwarzenegger didn’t want to release it last fall, amid all-consuming legislative negotiations over health reform. Then he was to include parts of it in his State of the State. But the recommendations for more spending conflicted with a massive budget deficit. How could Schwarzenegger peddle a report calling for major reforms while calling for a 10 percent cut in education spending?

He could have used the budget crisis to go on the road, as only he can, to call for higher taxes for education. He could have argued that school reform, including raising California from near-bottom of per capita spending on education, is the priority for a secure, prosperous California. He could have laid out a long-term plan for stable revenue and bold reforms: more accountability and data controls, experiments with new teacher compensation and revised tenure rules in exchange for more spending. He didn’t.

Schwarzenegger is releasing the report not in Sacramento but in Santa Monica, at the Milken Institute, in honor of Lewis Solmon, a former dean of UCLA, president of the foundation and a member of the Excellence Committee who died in December.

A living, breathing document would have been a far better tribute.


From an article by Mitchell Landsberg | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

March 9, 2008 - Here's a little math problem:

In 2005, just 45% of the fifth-graders at Ramona Elementary School in Hollywood scored at grade level on a standardized state test. In 2006, that figure rose to 76%. What was the difference?

If you answered 31 percentage points, you are correct. You could also express it as a 69% increase.

But there is another, more intriguing answer: The difference between the two years may have been Singapore math.

At the start of the 2005-06 school year, Ramona began using textbooks developed for use in Singapore, a Southeast Asian city-state whose pupils consistently rank No. 1 in international math comparisons. Ramona's math scores soared.

Ramona easily qualifies for federal Title 1 funds, which are intended to alleviate the effects of poverty. Nine of every 10 students at the school are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. For the most part, these are the children of immigrants, the majority from Central America, some from Armenia. Nearly six in 10 students speak English as a second language.

Yet here they are, outpacing their counterparts in more affluent schools and succeeding in a math curriculum designed for students who are the very stereotype of Asian dominance in math and science.


It's a question with potentially big implications, because California recently became the first state to include the Singapore series on its list of state-approved elementary math texts. Public schools aren't required to use the books -- there are a number of other, more conventional texts on the state list -- but the state will subsidize the purchase if they do. And being on the list puts an important imprimatur on the books, because California is by far the largest, most influential textbook buyer in the country.

The decision to approve the books could place California ahead of the national curve. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel, appointed by President Bush, will issue a report Thursday that is expected to endorse K-8 math reforms that, in many ways, mirror the Singapore curriculum.

The report could also signal a cease-fire in the state's math wars, which raged between traditionalists and reformers throughout the 1990s and shook up math teachers nationwide. Fundamentalists called for a return to basics; reformers demanded a curriculum that would emphasize conceptual understanding.

Mathematicians on both sides of the divide say the Singapore curriculum teaches both. By hammering on the basics, it instills a deep understanding of key concepts, they say.

Kids -- at least the kids at Ramona -- seem to love it.

Ramona, which received a grant to introduce the Singapore curriculum, is one of a sprinkling of schools around the country to do so.

Not all teachers like it, and not all use it. The Singapore books aren't easy for teachers to use without training, and some veterans are more comfortable with the curriculum they have always followed. But you can tell when you walk into a classroom using Singapore math.

"On your mark . . . get set . . . THINK!"

First-grade teacher Arpie Liparian stands in front of her class with a stopwatch. The only sound is of pencils scratching paper as the students race through the daily "sprint," a 60-second drill that is a key part of the Singapore system. The problems at this age are simple: 2+3, 3+4, 8+2. The idea, once commonplace in math classrooms, is to practice them until they become second nature.

Critics call this "drill and kill," but Ramona's math coach, Robin Ramos, calls it "drill and thrill." The children act as though it's a game. Not everyone finishes all 30 problems in 60 seconds, and only one girl gets all the answers right, but the students are bubbling with excitement. And Liparian praises every effort.

"Give yourselves a hand, boys and girls," she says when all the drills have been corrected. "You did a wonderful job."


What isn't obvious to a casual observer is that this drill is carefully thought out to reinforce patterns of mathematical thinking that carry through the curriculum. "These are 'procedures with connections,' " Ramos said, arranged to convey sometimes subtle points. This thoughtfulness -- some say brilliance -- is the true hallmark of the Singapore books, advocates say.

After 10 years of studying the Singapore curriculum, Yoram Sagher, a math professor at the Florida Atlantic University, said he still has "very pleasant surprises and realizations" while reading the books. Sagher, who helped train Ramos and the other teachers at Ramona, said he is constantly amazed by "the gentle, clever ways that the mathematics is brought to the intuition of the students."

The books, with the no-nonsense title "Primary Mathematics," are published for the U.S. market by a small company in Oregon, Marshall Cavendish International. They are slim volumes, weighing a fraction of a conventional American text. They have a spare, stripped-down look, and a given page contains no material that isn't directly related to the lesson at hand.

Standing in an empty classroom one recent morning, Ramos flipped through two sets of texts: the Singapore books and those of a conventional math series published by Harcourt. She began with the first lesson in the first chapter of first grade.

In Harcourt Math, there was a picture of eight trees. There were two circles in the sky. The instructions told the students: "There are 2 birds in all." There were no birds on the page.

The instructions directed the students to draw little yellow disks in the circles to represent the birds.

Ramos gave a look of exasperation. Without a visual representation of birds, she said, the math is confusing and overly abstract for a 5- or 6-year-old. "The math doesn't jump out of the page here," she said.

The Singapore first-grade text, by contrast, could hardly have been clearer. It began with a blank rectangle and the number and word for "zero." Below that was a rectangle with a single robot in it, and the number and word for "one." Then a rectangle with two dolls, and the number and word for "two," and so on.

"This page is very pictorial, but it refers to something very concrete," Ramos said. "Something they can understand."

Next to the pictures were dots. Beginning with the number six (represented by six pineapples), the dots were arranged in two rows, so that six was presented as one row of five dots and a second row with one dot.

Day one, first grade: the beginnings of set theory.

"This concept, right at the beginning, is the foundation for very important mathematics," Ramos said. As it progresses, the Singapore math builds on this, often in ways that are invisible to the children.

Word problems in the early grades are always solved the same way: Draw a picture representing the problem and its solution. Then express it with numbers, and finally write it in words. "The whole concept," Ramos says, "is concrete to pictorial to abstract."

Another hallmark of the Singapore books is that there is little repetition. Students are expected to attain mastery of a concept and move on. Each concept builds upon the next. As a result, the books cover far fewer topics in a given year than standard American texts.


Singapore is a prosperous, multicultural, multilingual nation of 4.5 million people whose fourth- and eighth-grade students have never scored lower than No. 1 in a widely accepted comparison of global math skills, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. U.S. students score in the middle of the pack.

When the U.S. Department of Education commissioned a study in 2005 to find out why, it concluded, in part: "Singapore's textbooks build deep understanding of mathematical concepts through multi-step problems and concrete illustrations that demonstrate how abstract mathematical concepts are used to solve problems from different perspectives."

By contrast, the study said, "traditional U.S. textbooks rarely get beyond definitions and formulas, developing only students' mechanical ability to apply mathematical concepts."

Many eminent mathematicians agree. In fact, it is difficult to find a mathematician who likes the standard American texts or dislikes Singapore's.

The Singapore curriculum is not strikingly different from that used in many countries known for their math prowess, especially in Asia and Eastern Europe, math educators say.

"American textbooks are handicapped by many things," said Hung-Hsi Wu, who has taught math at UC Berkeley for 42 years, "the most important of which is to regard mathematics as a collection of factoids to be memorized."


▲ 4LAKids isn't going on pile on here, not on the accused nor on the superintendent. When you read the stories below and the other stories on this tale a couple of disturbing things jump off the page.

• The accused was a popular guy with teachers and students - read the quotes. (The job of Dean is not based on qualifications or skills; per the UTLA contract deans are popularly elected by the teachers. Some contend it's a union patronage assignment, otherS say it's a way for teachers to move the least of their own out of the classroom.

• Ultimately the District did little to protect the safety of students and much to protect the rights of the accused. In a school district where the rights of employees are paramount to those of students and the union contract is the overriding document of governance this is inevitable. How many times have parents heard from teachers, principals, local district administrators and the big administrator himself: "My hands are tied on this, the contract says '…..'."?

This case goes beyond that level and there's plenty of culpability to spread around because it was investigated not just by the District but also by LAPD and the district attorney. Charges were never filed …but Mr. Rooney WAS neither exonerated and given his old job back nor politely but insistently asked to seek employment elsewhere in another line of work.

Instead he was placed on the "Must Place List" and banished to Markham Middle School - one of the most challenged schools in the District. Markham may be a gulag for adults but it is the best and often last hope for twelve, thirteen and fourteen year olds who are desperately short of breaks in their young lives. —smf


by Richard Winton, Andrew Blankstein and Howard Blume | Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

March 13, 2008 - Los Angeles school officials transferred an assistant principal to a Watts middle school just months after he had been removed from a previous school where he was investigated for allegedly having sex with an underage student and pulling a gun on her stepfather.

Last week, the assistant principal, Steve Thomas Rooney, 39, allegedly molested a student at the new campus, Markham Middle School. He was arrested and charged with five counts of forcible lewd acts on a child, stemming from allegations that he sexually assaulted the 13-year-old girl March 1 and at least one other occasion.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials declined to comment Wednesday about how Rooney had been reassigned to Markham last fall, saying they are conducting an internal investigation and citing a policy barring them from speaking publicly about cases under those circumstances.

District policy requires officials to conduct their own investigation into employee misconduct regardless of whether the allegations result in criminal charges. Officials would not say Wednesday whether such an inquiry occurred in the earlier case.

Parents, students and district employees said they were outraged that, given his history, Rooney had been allowed to continue working with children.

"The district could have prevented all this," said Elvette Hodge, father of a seventh-grader at Markham and a member of the school site council. "My daughter said to me, 'How can they put teachers like this in school and expect students to do better?' "

Reaction was similar at Fremont High School, where Rooney previously worked as an assistant principal.

"I can't believe he was put in another school," said Jenna Washington, Fremont's magnet coordinator. "It was hard enough for us at Fremont. In South Los Angeles, the district knows a lot of parents are not going to complain. They wouldn't have placed him in a West Los Angeles school or a Valley school. Or they'd have parents out there picketing."

School board member Richard Vladovic, whose district includes Markham, said that he had not been briefed about Rooney's case but that the district's response should not depend solely on whether law enforcement pursues a case.

"Just because police didn't prosecute doesn't mean an employee's actions didn't violate trust or professional standards. We could still take action," he said in an interview Wednesday. Vladovic, who was both a principal and senior district administrator before retiring, added that in such a case, "I would go after a person literally and try to fire him."

Los Angeles Police Department officials acknowledged this week that Rooney had been investigated on suspicion of statutory rape of a 17-year-old student in 2007, more than a year before the molestation of the 13-year-old allegedly occurred.

The earlier case, they said, came to light after Rooney and the girl's stepfather got into an argument in January 2007 and the stepfather alleged that Rooney pulled a gun. Rooney was briefly arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, but LAPD investigators were unable to prove the allegation, and he was released with no charges filed, police said.

The investigation, however, did uncover evidence that Rooney had been having a sexual relationship with the stepdaughter for about a year before the argument. But since the girl would not cooperate with the investigation, and her 18th birthday passed before it was concluded, charges were not filed in that case either, according to a search warrant. (Details of the warrant were first reported by KTTV Channel 11).

After the arrest in the gun case, L.A. Unified officials transferred Rooney to a "non-school" setting. When it became clear he would not be prosecuted, they sent him to Markham.

L.A. Unified spokeswoman Susan Cox said this week that the district is conducting an internal investigation into its actions surrounding Rooney.

She declined, however, to describe those actions in detail. Cox would not comment, for example, on whether L.A. Unified performed its own probe of the allegations against Rooney or on what basis he had been reassigned to Markham.

In general, when school employees are arrested, district officials wait until the criminal inquiry is completed before conducting their own, they said.

In the interim, they said, employees under a cloud can be suspended or transferred to a district office where there are no students. Rooney was not suspended. Instead, he served six months in an office job before his reassignment to Markham.

Rooney, 39, was hired in 2000 as a teacher at Peary Middle School, an L.A. Unified campus in Gardena. He then taught at Foshay Learning Center, before becoming an assistant principal at Fremont High, both in South L.A.

According to a search warrant affidavit filed in connection with his arrest, Rooney was working at Fremont on Jan. 1, 2007, the day he drove with the 17-year-old Foshay student to the home of her stepfather and confronted the man about his treatment of her.

According to the court document, Rooney allegedly pulled a black steel revolver from his pants during the argument. However, investigators later received conflicting accounts from witnesses, including the stepdaughter, who insisted Rooney had brandished only a flashlight, according to a search warrant. Prosecutors declined to file charges.

But while questioning family members about the confrontation, detectives began to suspect that Rooney's relationship with the girl was not just that of teacher and student, according to a search warrant.

A subsequent search of his downtown apartment produced photos of the girl, including one Rooney had kept in a book on his nightstand, and a pair of girls' tennis shoes. Inside his computer was a folder called "My Baby" with photos of the girl, according to the documents. The girl later said she had a yearlong sexual relationship with Rooney. She refused to testify, police said in a search warrant.

A high-level LAPD official who declined to be identified said Wednesday that school district officials had been briefed by police about their findings after the investigation was complete. The district would not comment.

Since Rooney's arrest on the molestation charge, the LAPD has reopened its inquiry into his prior activities, said Capt. Fabian Lizzaraga, head of the Juvenile Division.

"There may be additional victims out there, and we are appealing for anyone to come forward," Lizzaraga said. He would not elaborate.

Rooney is being held in lieu of $1-million bail. He could not be reached for comment.

Several former colleagues spoke well of Rooney, saying they had seen no improprieties.

"I was on the committee that hired him" at Fremont, said the school's union chapter chairman Mathew Taylor. "He was a dean at Foshay, and we weren't made aware of his troubles. Overall they found him to be a really good guy." Except for a temper that could cause problems, Taylor said, "I found him to be a good guy too."

The accusations against Rooney have focused new scrutiny on the district's practice of requiring campuses to take teachers and administrators not of their choosing, so-called must-place employees. Critics say the worst-performing schools often end up with employees who are ineffective or worse.

Markham had been required to take Rooney to fill an interim opening created when an administrator went on leave, sources said. Markham administrators told investigators they did not know of Rooney's history at the time.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, an advocate for a parent group chastised officials.

"The parents are really tired of must-place personnel," said Kelly Kane of the Parents Union. "We no longer want the garbage to be dumped there. They trusted him because you placed him there."

A Fremont junior, who declined to give her name, said, "If this was a private school or somewhere else in the district, where people really care, then I don't think this would have happened."

by Howard Blume and Molly Hennessy-Fiske | Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

March 14, 2008 - Saying he hadn't "slept well in days," Los Angeles schools Supt. David L. Brewer told parents at Markham Middle School on Thursday that he is investigating "how a policy and system we have in place failed" when an administrator previously investigated for allegedly having sex with a Foshay Learning Center student was transferred to Markham.

The administrator, Assistant Principal Steve Thomas Rooney, 39, was arrested last week and charged with five counts of forcible lewd acts on a 13-year-old Markham student.

"I am deeply, deeply sorry . . . for this incident," Brewer told a gathering of more than 100 parents and students who had come to hear an explanation of why Rooney was transferred to Markham despite the allegations. Rooney was arrested in early 2007 after allegedly pulling a gun on the Foshay student's stepfather, but police said they did not file charges because the student was by then 18 and refused to cooperate.

Nevertheless, a written district policy makes clear that in cases where law enforcement drops an investigation into a district employee, the school system has "a heightened responsibility for the safety of its students" and should continue to investigate even if police do not file charges.

The mother, grandmother and stepfather of the girl from Foshay said Thursday that the school system never sought them out.

The grandmother, who asked for anonymity to protect her granddaughter's privacy, said she went on her own accord to Foshay in spring 2007 to discuss Rooney with school officials. She said an administrator told her to stop asking questions about Rooney and assured her that he would soon be fired.

The official "said it would be too much of a scandal to say anything," the grandmother recalled in an interview with The Times.

Brewer said he has authorized his legal office to appoint an independent outside counsel to investigate what happened in the Rooney case. He also said he will form a task force to review all employees currently under any suspicion before they can return to a school site.

He promised "to educate parents, staff and students on inappropriate behavior," saying "we have to do a better job making sure they're more vigilant."

Brewer said he had no information about statements by police that officers fully informed district officials about the findings of their investigation of Rooney. That too will be explored, Brewer said.

Rooney allegedly met the Foshay girl when she was a student in his health class. It's not clear exactly when the purported relationship began, but police said the girl told them last year that she became intimate with Rooney when she was 16. The relationship continued, she told police, when Rooney accepted a position last year as assistant principal at Fremont High in South L.A.

Rooney first drew police attention when he allegedly brandished a gun at the girl's stepfather, warning him to treat his daughters better.

When officers arrested Rooney, the school district removed him from Fremont and assigned him to a job away from students at the local district headquarters pending the outcome of the investigation. He never returned to Fremont, but was placed at Markham last September.

Rooney's return to a school site is "unfathomable," said a former high-level district official. "It's also odd. The case was of sufficient concern to people on the 24th floor" -- where the superintendent and his cabinet work at the Beaudry building downtown -- "that it was a topic of conversation.

"I can't imagine who would put this individual back in a school," added the former senior staffer, who requested anonymity because of ongoing dealings with L.A. Unified.

Carol Truscott, superintendent of the LAUSD subdistrict that includes Markham, said she has been directed not to comment because of the ongoing investigation, but said she would never do anything to knowingly endanger children.

Rooney was placed at Markham on an interim basis, substituting for an administrator on leave for personal reasons.

"Employees who return to work are placed in available openings," said one administrator, who requested anonymity.

"Whether from illness or whatever, they are put in available openings. He was cleared of the allegation and cleared to return to work."

The district policy requiring officials to continue to investigate, even if police decide not to file charges, was strengthened out of concerns raised several years ago by school board member Mike Lansing, who has since left office. Lansing said he learned of an employee who was transferred twice after allegations of sexual impropriety that never led to a criminal case.

"My concern was: I'd rather err on the other end, in favor of the kids," Lansing said. "Whether they were convicted or not, there are just too many things out there and too many people looking to prey on children."

THE SOUREST NOTE IN THE DANCE OF THE LEMONS: Patt Morrison opines on the above

California State PTA Press Release

Friday, March 14, 2008 - SAN JOSE, CA- At its leadership meeting last evening, the California State PTA rolled out plans for a major statewide campaign in opposition to the governor’s proposed state budget cuts to education and children’s services.

“This budget flunks the basic test of good government: It hurts our children,” said PTA President Pam Brady, at the association’s 120-member Board of Managers meeting. “This proposed budget does not value the education, health or welfare of our children or the future of California.”

California State PTA will work in partnership with other education, health, safety and children’s groups as part of a statewide coalition to oppose the budget cuts.

In addition, PTA announced plans to educate and activate PTA’s massive membership at the local level, including launching weekly “Flunk-the-Budget Fridays” activities in legislative districts around the state. Fridays are the days when legislators are typically at home in their districts.

“Our one-million volunteer members throughout California are revved up. They’re angry and frustrated. Across the- board cuts have a direct effect on our ability as a state to educate the next generation. Parents understand we can’t build a world-class education system in California by investing less money in our children,” Brady said.

“PTA is ready to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to prevent these cuts. We urge state legislators from both parties to come up with a balanced solution – one that doesn’t harm our children. Legislators will be hearing from their local parents and community leaders each and every week until the legislature steps up and does the right thing for California,” she said.

California State PTA’s campaign comes in response to the proposed $4.4 billion cut to K-14 education in the governor’s 2008-09 budget, as well as cuts to foster care programs, child welfare services, CalWORKS programs, children’s services health care programs, Medi-Cal, early childhood education, and juvenile rehabilitation and crime prevention grants.

The California State PTA’s volunteer Board of Managers is made up of the Board of Directors, 10 commissions and their committees and 29 District Presidents. The association’s advocacy efforts on behalf of all children are guided by an all-volunteer advocacy team.

The PTA is the nation’s oldest, largest and highest profile volunteer organization working on behalf of public schools, children and families, with the motto “Every child, one voice.” PTA volunteers work in their schools and communities to improve the education, health and welfare of all children and youth. The PTA also advocates at national, state and local levels for education and family issues. The PTA is non-profit, non-secretarian and noncommercial.

▲You don't need to be a PTA member to help "Flunk the Budget, Not our Children!" Follow this link to advocacy tools, hints and other swell stuff!

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
This I Believe: TELLING KIDS THE WHOLE TRUTH, by Martha Leathe

PARENT TEACHER TALKS CAN GET HEATED: They share a common goal but don't always agree on how best to achieve it. Experts say mutual respect is key.
by Carla Rivera | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

▼ FROM THE UCLA/IDEA "Just Schools California"/Education News Roundup;
• REPORT URGES CHANGES IN TEACHING MATH - by Tamar Lewin/New York Times - American students’ math achievement is “at a mediocre level” compared with that of their peers worldwide, according to a new report by a federal panel
• GEORGIA STUDENTS PONDER FUTURE AS SCHOOLS COURT DISASTER - District would be the first in the U.S. since the '60s to lose its accreditation.
► PROPOSED SCHOOL BUDGET CUTS PROTESTED - Dozens of demonstrators march in Santa Ana in the kickoff of a series of events statewide in opposition to the governor's plan / PELIGRA LA TAREA DE LOS MAESTROS/TEACHERS JOBS IN PERIL: Recortes previstos por California dejan sin demasiadas opciones a los distritos escolares: empiezan a llegar cartas de notificación a docents/ California budget cuts leave many districts without options, teachers start receiving pink slips by Rubén Moreno and Iván Mejía/La Opinion / DEADLINE LOOMS FOR CALIF. DISTRICTS TO LAYOFF TEACHERS - by Tamara Keith/NPR …plus layoff stories and editorials from up and down the state.


EVENTS: Coming up next week...
*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-893-6800


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6383 • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385

...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• Register.
• Vote.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is immediate past President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is also the elected Youth & Education boardmember on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
• In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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