Sunday, May 04, 2008

A postcard from Long Beach

4LAKids: Sunday, May 4, 2008
In This Issue:
LAUSD POWER SHIFTING? Day-to-day district responsibilities have been given to mayor's adviser, Ramon Cortines.
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
I spent the last week with five thousand attendees at the California State PTA Convention in Long Beach; a week with 5K+ rabidly engaged parents, educators and motivational speakers …and a dozen preschoolers doing the chicken dance! We were united in opposing the Governator's budget cuts to education and children's services; engaged for six days up-to-here in the mission of Educating the Future. It was intense; you shoulda been there. And if you were, you know!

That being said, I'm exhausted …so this 4LAKids won't have a lot from me this week.

Except this: Remember that game of "Telephone"?
Where someone tells someone something and they repeat it to someone else - and five or ten iterations later the story changes completely?
On Friday the following story [LAUSD POWER SHIFTING?] from the Daily News/Daily Breeze folks started though the process among the five thousand - and by about 8AM it became: "Have you heard? the Mayor took over LAUSD last night!"

This was very upsetting to the conventioneers who know the mayor but don't know the Daily News.

At last year's PTA Convention the State PTA came out with a strongly worded resolution opposing mayoral takeovers, supported unanimously by the delegates who represent a million California PTA members — a policy statement prompted by Mayor Villaraigosa's attempt to take over LAUSD. The two LA PTA districts had been plaintiffs in the successful lawsuit challenging the mayor; the state PTA had been prepared to join the action had it reached the CA Supreme Court.

The rumor of course went beyond even the DN …but the required fact checking produced another troubling result: "The article is wrong; the perception is certainly wrong," District spokespeople declared, off the record. But everyone senior was too busy in meetings - perhaps even including an alleged extraordinary Friday executive session by the Board of Ed …or otherwise occupied to respond directly on the record.

You see there seems there seems to be a memo from on high going around Beaudry instructing district staff not to speak or deal directly with the public or school sites until a new policy about Transparency and Accountability comes out.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf

LAUSD POWER SHIFTING? Day-to-day district responsibilities have been given to mayor's adviser, Ramon Cortines.
by Naush Boghossian, Daily Breeze Staff Staff Writer

May 1, 2008 -- Less than two years into the tenure of Los Angeles Unified Superintendent David Brewer, all responsibilities for day-to-day operations at the district have quietly been shifted to a veteran educator who has been a key adviser to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Under the shift, all of LAUSD's top senior personnel now report directly to Ramon Cortines, who played a crucial role in the mayor's efforts to reform the district and who now will report on district operations to Brewer.

District officials say Cortines' experience will allow Brewer to focus on big issues. But others are questioning whether it indicates the school board is losing confidence in Brewer.

The restructuring also is a sharp contrast with the reign of Brewer's predecessor, Roy Romer, who was hands-on with all aspects of the district.

"Ray Cortines is the de facto superintendent. Brewer would have to be an ostrich not to get the feeling that something is moving around him," said Jaime Regalado, director of the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.

"For some, the feeling is at long last we're getting somebody who can be accountable, but who probably knows what he's doing ... but it makes (Brewer's) position look even far more superfluous and weaker. It's hard to imagine that a superintendent can exist in a situation like that."

Brewer did not return calls Wednesday and Thursday for comment. So far, his tenure has been marked by a rocky initiation into city and union politics and the massive district bureaucracy.

He has grappled with glitches in a $95 million electronic payroll system that created a teachers union uproar as thousands of employees' pay was affected for more than nine months.

He was hit with pay raises for teachers and administrators, and new health-care benefits for some workers that forced him to cut $300 million from his budget over three years.

And while he announced early on that he would push to get rid of ineffective teachers and institute a merit-pay system, he has backed off that approach and now is focused on professional development.

Still, Brewer remains upbeat and touts successes including lobbying efforts in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

He has rolled out a high-priority schools transformation district, along with expanded safety agreements and innovation division partnerships, including one with the mayor.

And he promises to roll out boys' academies, boarding schools and neighborhood parent literacy centers, along with bringing Boys & Girls Club centers onto more campuses.

But David Tokofsky, a former school board member who voted to hire Brewer, said the board hired Brewer with the intention of having him handle all of the responsibilities that have now been handed to Cortines.

Tokofsky said Brewer's situation is reminiscent of beleaguered Superintendent Ruben Zacarias, who was marginalized before his ouster in 2000 after many felt he was not addressing a variety of LAUSD problems.

'This is far less turbulent than when Zacarias was removed," Tokofsky said. "(But) it's inexplicable and expensive. I don't know what the internal politics and logic were, but it's starting to feel like Noah's Ark having two superintendents."

For his part, Cortines - who has been on the job three weeks and is a former LAUSD superintendent who led the mayor's team to implement reform in a cluster of LAUSD schools - insists Brewer will not be marginalized.

"He is the face and the voice of the school district and I try to make sure the trains are running on time," he said. "I was never going to quarterback the superintendent and I was only going to come if the superintendent wanted me."

Cortines said he does not have a contract and took the job for $20,000 less than the $270,000 offered by Brewer.

"I'm trying to send a signal that this is about making the school system more responsive to its clients - its students, parents and teachers," Cortines said.



by Steve Lopez | Los Angeles Times Columnist

May 4, 2008 — "What is it?" Kelly Charles asked as he walked to his job as a custodian in downtown Los Angeles and gazed up at a rather odd construction project. "A roller coaster?"

As I wandered the neighborhood, other guesses were:

A ski jump.

A toboggan run.

A water slide.

What's got everyone talking is the odd-looking tower that rises 140 feet above the 101 Freeway, directly across from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The futuristic metallic edifice, with a wraparound spiral Dr. Seuss would love, is not part of a theme park. It is the signature adornment on a new arts-oriented public high school that will cost roughly $230 million.

That's far more than the going rate for a more conventional school, but district officials argue that they already owned the site of the former L.A. Unified headquarters. Sure, but aren't these tough times for public schools? Aren't school districts facing huge cuts? Aren't many aging schools in disrepair?

You have to wonder how this will sit with parents who are being asked to contribute several hundred dollars per student to cover programs and staff members that tax dollars used to fund.

David Tokofsky, a former school board member, said he isn't opposed to a bit of a flair on an arts-oriented campus. But given all the budget problems -- not to mention the flailing administration of L.A. Supt. and Navy Adm. David L. Brewer -- the project "just looks like an absurdity," in Tokofsky's words.

Personally, I thought the big log flume was the latest improvement on the disastrous employee payroll system in L.A. Unified. Weekly pay could be sent down the chutes to teachers below, and whatever cash doesn't blow over Chinatown or fly into Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's belfry could be pocketed by teachers.

Come to think of it, stringing a tightrope from the school tower to the cathedral wouldn't be a bad idea. Priests and administrators accused of wrongdoing or coverups could creep across the treacherous divide. Those who land safely in the cathedral's reflecting pool shall be considered saved.

Tokofsky said he likes thinking of the school as the admiral's ark, since Brewer seems to be collecting two of everything as his administration takes on water.

"He's got two superintendents now," Tokofsky said, counting Brewer and the recent hire of ex-superintendent Ramon Cortines, who seems to be taking the tiller while Admiral Aloof re-reads his tattered copy of the book "Good to Great."

"And he's got two general counsels," Tokofsky went on.

We've got two school districts too, I said, if you count the mini-district Brewer spun off to L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. And there also seem to be at least two consulting contracts for every problem.

In defense of Brewer, whose name is on a project sign that says "Your School Bond Funds at Work," Arts High was cooked up long before he arrived on the scene.

In fact, The Times reported in 2003 that an ordinary high school with a no-frills budget was being planned until philanthropist Eli Broad lobbied school officials to "redesign the Grand Avenue campus into an elaborate visual and performing arts school" with "a soaring tower." The Times went on to say that it would "cost taxpayers at least $18 million extra and delay construction by a year."

The Times reported that Broad had a behind-the-scenes role in the redesign and the selection of an Austrian architectural firm, and our crack team of reporters noted that the snazzy new high school would nicely complement the Grand Avenue revival that was one of Broad's babies.

Broad denied exerting undue influence over the use of public funds back then, saying he was only trying to help the district build a marquee campus. But the cost of the project has gone from $30 million in 2001 for the standard-issue high school to roughly $200 million more for the new-and-improved version seven years later. The tower rises from a 950-seat performing arts theater, and this part of the project alone is priced at $49 million.

I got a tour of the site Friday morning, with school district officials and architect Karolin Schmidbaur serving as my escorts. The tower calls out and engages the city, Schmidbaur said, asking students and adults to indulge their imaginations.

"It's a symbol," she said, "for dynamic thinking."

If that's the case, I suggest they use the box at the top of the tower as Brewer's new office. Maybe a bird will fly by and tell Admiral Aloof that his job is to educate 700,000 children as if each were his own. That means he's got to inspire teachers, torpedo the deadwood and smack down anyone who stands in his way.

Speaking of the tower, my escorts all seemed to think it would be a good idea for me to climb the rickety staircase to the top. It made me wonder if Mahony was in on a deal to have them push me down the chute and straight into the tomb he's reserving for me in the cathedral catacombs.

The view's not bad up there and, to be honest, the artist's renderings of the arts high school don't look bad. When the school opens in fall of 2009, whether you love or hate the look of it, you're going to talk about it, especially when night falls and it's lit like a beacon.

I don't dismiss the value of investing in a school as a work of public art -- even if it's just a bathtub short of looking like the board game Mouse Trap.

But given the district's budget problems and the extreme needs of roughly 700,000 students, most of whom are poor enough to qualify for reduced-price lunches, a pricey jewel in the glittering Grand Avenue necklace is a badly timed extravagance.

I think I came up with a solution, though, while standing 140 feet off the ground and doing some dynamic thinking of my own.

Can you hear me out there, Mr. Broad?

Reach for the checkbook, pal. At the very least, I'm asking $49 million for the roller coaster.

Or come up with $230 million and we'll call it Eli High.

by Leonard Isenberg, continuation school teacher at L.A. Unified's Central High School/Tri C - from the LA Times Homeroom blog | April 28, 2008

1. The failure of discipline is a major factor in schools' inability to educate students. Since schools are financed by the state based on average daily attendance, school administrators are loath to suspend students who not only disrupt their own education, but also the education of other students who want an education. In an article published Jan. 14, 2007, in the Los Angeles Times, a Title I school in Compton that was half black and half Latino and had only recently been taken over by the state for malfeasance, was able to achieve 868 API scores -- comparable to Beverly Hills and San Marino -- because the principal did not hesitate to suspend 100 from the 467-member student body until they could comport themselves in a manner that would allow them to be educated. It is amazing how quickly parents can get their children to behave when they can no longer dump them on the schools.

2. The major difference between the successful private schools that now accommodate the whites that have abandoned public education in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District is the teacher-to-student ratio. Private schools have 15 to 20 students per class, while LAUSD permits 43. If a teacher has five classes with 43 students in each, it is unrealistic to think that rigorous writing assignments will be given by teachers who cannot reasonably be expected to grade 215 essays a week; 75 is doable, especially if it is done in the context of a school without the aforementioned behavior issues.

It is highly suspicious that money for the improvement of public schools goes everywhere except to lessening teacher-to-student ratios.

3. The total capacity of all colleges and universities in the United States is 40% of high school graduates. End the disingenuous ed speak rhetoric that talks about all students going to college; college is not the only way to attain the skills necessary to become a productive and successful member of this society.

The industrial arts program in LAUSD has been systematically closed down over the last 30 years based on the false assumption that the cost of retrofitting these shops to the exigencies of modern technology would be prohibitively expensive. In countries such as Germany and France, these costs of retrofitting and supplying educational materials were borne by the private sector, which was happy to do so in exchange for a constant supply of well-qualified graduates from the high schools. This has allowed these corporations to avoid the necessity of taking mechanics off the shop floor to be retrained at even greater expense to these companies. In Europe and elsewhere, this has been a win-win scenario for both education and business.

Furthermore, students who subsequently decide that they want a higher academic education can more easily achieve this goal when they already have a skilled profession to pay for the presently daunting costs of increased tuition and other costs related to attaining such an education.

Companies such as Home Depot are unable to keep many young employees beyond their 90-day trial period because they have not been educated by the schools to have the requisite basic skill level and social responsibility necessary to show up and work to even a minimal level of competency. What is the cost to American business in competitive terms to be unable to find adequately educated employees?

It takes approximately six months of training to pass the state certification examination to be a welder. There is a critical shortage of welders in this country, where the starting average salary for this trade is $40,000 a year. Are people gainfully employed as likely to join gangs or join the 2 million inmates that presently occupy our jails?

4. The vast majority of our student population is condemned to failure before they even arrive at the school because they come from families that do not have the ability to physically and intellectually nurture their children in a manner that would lead to their ultimate success in school. We clearly know that things as mundane as diet, being read to, and having parents that have the time to talk to and parent their children create the stimulation and structure necessary to create the preconditions for ultimate success in school.

If the schools in Los Angeles and elsewhere became the zocolo or cultural town square of the community, many of these disadvantages that presently plague our students and lead to their ultimate failure in school and attraction to gangs could be easily avoided. At the turn of the last century, the settlement house provided the early acculturation necessary to assure success in school for a whole generation of European immigrants.

Not only should local schools have a preschool program, but there should be an outreach into the community to identify women who are pregnant and assure that they are educated and aided in matters such as healthy diet, which would allow their children to reach their genetic potential -- a prerequisite for ultimate academic success. Community markets run at the school on a weekly basis could significantly bring down the cost of these healthy foods to the community. Every successful industry has to be concerned about the quality of the raw materials used to produce its products. Why should education be any different if it wants to be successful?

5. Schools are traditionally underutilized. One factor leading to the academic failure of predominantly minority children and the related rise in gangs is the inability of lower socioeconomic parents to parent their children because they are too busy working two or three low-paying jobs in order to make enough money to support their families. Thus, their children are being raised by the streets and the gangs that vie with our society for the hearts and minds of these kids. If night school programs were offered at these schools, it would have several advantages: It would educate these parents into a skilled labor force that would allow them to meet the financial needs of their families, while still being the necessary and irreplaceable presence in their children’s socialization and accountability. Adolescents by their nature push for limits, and absentee parents cannot supply these necessary limits. Furthermore, parents who are being educated would have the ability to help their language-learning children, something they are presently unable to do in the vast majority of cases. If a kid on the Westside of Los Angeles doesn’t get it, the parents get the child a tutor or tutor the kid themselves, but what happens when the parents don’t have these options because their own educational level is so low?

6. LAUSD and the state make a lot of noise about teaching to state standards. However, there is a fundamental flaw to their reasoning -- it assumes that the student in a certain grade has already mastered the underlying standards for their previous years of education. This is clearly not the case. The vast majority of students not only are unable to achieve the standards for their age-determined grade level, but they are also deficient in the standards for many of the prior years. A more rational approach to initial placement would be to access the students’ actual ability and then place them according to that ability, rather then place them by age into classes that frustrate and cause them to turn off at an early age and disrupt the educational process for other students. In France at the Lycée International, no attempt is made to teach substantive courses to foreign-language speakers until they have had at least one year and sometimes two years of intensive language instruction. Students who have language mastery then have little difficulty catching up with their peer group. But an educational system that continues to socially promote students through grade after grade of standards that they have not mastered should not be surprised when these students either drop out of school or fail to achieve even a minimum level of the education they need to be successful citizens.

The vast majority of LAUSD students only have basic interpersonal language skills (BICS), which can be acquired in as little as six months in the United States. The more rigorous cognitive academic language production (CALP), which is necessary for higher education, is nowhere to be found in the majority of LAUSD schools, where students truly believe that a high school diploma is attained by copying a certain number of answers out of a book without understanding what they are writing. This phenomenon has gone on so long that a motivated and conscientious high school teacher is often greeted by hostility if he dares to try and elicit CALP from students who have been “educated” to be antipathetic to education. This is a result of a misguided effort not to frustrate students. Many teachers teach a curriculum that has no rigor, because they realize that the majority of their students have been pushed through the system without the basic skills necessary to do the ever more rigorous work demanded by subsequent grade levels. As the disparity between learned ability and grade-level demand becomes greater -- usually in middle school -- the behavior issues become more pronounced.

Politicians and school administrators shouldn’t be surprised that these students fail the California High School Exit Exam. The state of California cannot come in with a “red team” audit of a failing school that leads to a state takeover of that school, and then allows the principal of the same school to intimidate the teachers for failing the students and not giving them a “passing” grade.

7. All testing should be limited to one assessment to determine appropriate class placement -- irrespective of age -- and a secondary assessment at the end of every grade level to determine if the student has achieved the minimum mastery of subjects necessary to allow promotion to the next grade. If this was instituted, you might actually have a chance of meaningfully teaching to standards. Supplemental expenditure for early identification and tutoring of students that are having trouble should receive a top priority and the best teachers. Presently, the newest teachers are given the most difficult classes, while the older, more seasoned teachers teach the easier or more intellectually stimulating classes. This has led to an average 50% turnover of teachers in LAUSD within five years.

Although the district says it wants highly-qualified teachers, the reality is that it is not unhappy to see a higher-priced teacher quit for a less-expensive first-year teacher. The sophistication necessary to calculate the exorbitant cost of this constant turnover of teaching staff, which dwarfs the savings derived by paying lower-salaried new teachers, is beyond the understanding of most administrators whose own education involved learning to teach in schools, not to run multibillion-dollar public corporations.

The present over-testing regiment is degrading and disheartening to both students and teachers and wastes precious teaching time.

8. Bilingual education is a must in the global village. The only unequivocal way to tell a Latino student that his culture has value is to also teach his language. It is not going to hurt the rest of us, and besides, they are the majority of the population in this state. Furthermore, all research shows that students who are literate in any language have a much easier time in transitioning to English.

One of the greatest lies being perpetrated in education is that it would require more money to solve the education crisis. On the contrary, it would actually cost significantly less than the price of incarcerating over 2 million people in a country that, in reality, is in dire need of an educated workforce to build the infrastructure that would make Los Angeles a better place to live for all of us.

9. The budget of the Los Angeles Unified School District is larger than the budget of the City of Los Angeles. One of the only justifiable reasons to allow such behemoth inner-city school districts to exist is to take advantage of the economics of scale in purchasing educational materials and the construction and maintenance of schools. The reality of LAUSD is quite different. There is a list of agreed upon vendors from which LAUSD buys, even though any individual could walk into a local store and get a better price than the school district. When we tried to purchase computers at our school for $300 less per computer, we were told that we could only buy from the higher-priced district-approved vendors.

Rather than “Manhattanize” the construction of future schools on existing school sites that are presumptively more likely to be clear of toxic waste as was suggested by then LAUSD Chief Executive Howard Miller almost 10 years ago, LAUSD has chosen the far more expensive alternative of using eminent domain to build new schools on often contaminated sites without examining far less-expensive alternatives. It is also worth noting that something as simple as staggering the starting and ending times of school to ensure greater utilization of the existing schools might obviate the necessity of building more schools while accommodating many students who have to work nights to help support their families. These students would be much more likely to be engaged and stay in school, if they were allowed to get adequate sleep before coming to school later on during the day.

10. The exclusive source of school administrators in LAUSD, with the exception of the last two superintendents who have no formal public education experience, is school teachers who have a totally different skill set than what is necessary to effectively run a multibillion-dollar business. The reason that this system exists is that becoming an administrator is upward mobility for teachers that are burned out by the intolerable present conditions in our schools. Furthermore, as the cost of home ownership continues to rise in Los Angeles, we cannot hope to attract less transient teachers unless we adequately compensate them, so that they will stay with the teaching profession. Administration of schools should become a totally separate educational track that prospective administrators should commit to and be educated for during college, rather than the sole source of upward mobility for the teaching profession.

by Jean Ross | from the March 2008 edition of the California Educator, the monthly newsmagazine of the California Teachers Association.

California’s projected $16 billion shortfall (now projected to be $20 billion) is smaller in both percentage and dollars than those of recent years. The $34.6 billion gap in 2003-04 was larger by both measures, and the deficits of the early 1990s were larger measured as a share of state spending. However, many longtime budget watchers believe that bridging this year’s budget gap will prove to be the toughest challenge we’ve seen to date.

Why do many of us believe this year’s budget battles will prove so tough? The roots lie in what makes this budget crisis different from those of recent years. First, California has faced budget shortfalls continuously since 2001. The duration of the state’s fiscal crisis means that all of the easy solutions, such as borrowing unspent reserves, deferring maintenance, and eliminating nonessential programs and services, were used up long ago. The state has borrowed and belt-tightened to the point where the debt service on amounts borrowed to close previous years’ budget deficits will add about $2.5 billion to the 2008-09 budget, rising to more than $4 billion in 2009-10, and deferred expenditures have left many public systems — from bridges to schools to foster care — near a breaking point.

The roots of this year’s crisis are also different and potentially more severe in terms of their impact on the California economy and the state’s families. The budget crisis at the beginning of this decade was largely caused by a sharp drop in income tax collections attributable to stock options and capital gains that occurred when the dot-com boom turned into the dot-com bust. The significance of this is twofold. First, while the drop in investment-related income was substantial, it overwhelmingly affected the wealthiest Californians. Second, revenues flowed into the state’s coffers, with school and local government budgets largely left untouched.

In contrast, the downturn that precipitated this year’s budget crisis is primarily driven by the turmoil in the housing market. The impact of the mortgage meltdown is much more widespread, ranging from families struggling to make their mortgage payments to workers who make their living in housing-related sectors of the economy. As the economy weakens, a rising number of families are in danger of losing jobs and homes. The mortgage meltdown’s impact on public budgets and services is also more broadly based. The downturn in the housing market has depressed local property tax collections — affecting schools, through the Proposition 98 guarantee, and the state, as well as county and city budgets. It has also affected sales tax collections — which are shared by the state, counties and cities — as fewer home sales translate into fewer appliance purchases, and families divert a larger share of their incomes toward their mortgage payment, leaving less for other types of consumer spending.

The final differences between this year’s budget crisis and those of prior years have to do with the options available to lawmakers as they seek to craft a spending plan. Over time lawmakers have cut taxes — tax cuts enacted since 1993 will cost the state $12 billion in lost revenues in the current year — and voters have “locked in” an increasing share of the budget — often with the help of the current governor and/or the Legislature.

The largest of these tax cuts — the reduction in the Vehicle License Fee (VLF), also known as the car tax — will cost the state $6.1 billion in 2008-09. How much is $6.1 billion? Enough to buy out all of the governor’s proposed cuts to state parks, environmental programs, welfare-to-work programs, higher education (including community colleges), and K-12 education. That’s right. The revenues raised by restoring the VLF to where it was a decade ago would be sufficient to avert nearly two-thirds of the cuts proposed by the governor, including all of the cuts to Proposition 98-supported programs. Reversing these tax cuts will be difficult, because lawmakers can reduce taxes with a majority vote, but a two-thirds vote of each house of the Legislature is required to increase a tax.

Budget lock-ins also make it more difficult for the Legislature to balance the budget. Many of the new lock-ins are much more restrictive than those that have been on the books for a longer time, including Proposition 98. New lock-ins include: $1.5 billion in transportation spending mandated by Proposition 42 and “locked in” by Proposition 1A of 2006; $547 million in after-school spending mandated by Proposition 49 of 2002; $1.5 billion in debt service costs for the deficit-financing bonds authorized by Proposition 57 of 2004; and $4 billion in debt service on voter-approved bonds, including the $42.7 billion of bonds approved by the voters in 2006. None of these new obligations came with additional revenues, meaning that in a time of scarcity, other programs and services lacking similar protections are left on the chopping block to pay the bills.

For all of these reasons, and many more, I’ll add my name to the list of budget watchers who believe that this year’s budget fight will be the toughest yet. It will also be the most important for all of us who believe that adequate investment in public services is essential to California’s future.

Jean Ross is the executive director of the California Budget Project (CBP), a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research group based in Sacramento. For more information on the budget, visit the CBP's website at This article also appears in the April/May issue of Sacramento Update, the publication of the California State PTA legislative team

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

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

My name is Celina Martinez and I am a fifth grade student from Foothill Elementary in Corona. I wanted you to know that cutting 4.4 billion dollars to the education budget, as you proposed in January, will really hurt me and my school. Governor Schwarzenegger I know you have asked for a 10% budget cut to all state funded programs starting in July, but I don’t think you understand just how much that is going to hurt me and other children in California.

Everything from the GATE program, to music programs, to afterschool programs can be cut. Are you out to get me?! Do I have a target on my back? I am in all of the above programs and if you cut them; you are cutting a big part of what makes me LOVE school. I work hard to get good grades and to be part of these programs and when you suggest that they be cut, it makes me very disappointed in you.

I am too young to vote, but it wouldn’t matter if I was a Republican or a Democrat because the cuts being made to the schools hurt kids. Something everyone can agree on is that jeopardizing our schools is not the answer. I know you blame the slow economy, retail sales, and job losses but cutting the budget not only hurts California and it hurts my future too. Doing well in elementary school is a stepping stone in my educational career and will affect how I do in middle school, high school and college.

I promise when I graduate from college to spend money and help the economy, but I won’t be able to do that if you cut my programs. I will end up working at a minimum wage job and I won’t be able to spend much money and the economy will be hurting again. It’s better to help me now, so that I can grow up and help California later.


/s/Celina Martinez


By Richard Winton
The administrator, told of her affair with Steve Rooney, advised her to recant her statement to police, she testifies. She admits having used a fake ID to appear older. >>

By Patrick McGreevy
Legislators also advance a measure to make it easier for prosecutors to take possession of gang members' assets. Both bills will now go to the Assembly. >>

From the Associated Press
The $6-billion Reading First hasn't made a difference in reading comprehension, the Education Department finds in a study. >>

By Mitchell Landsberg
Respondents fault the governor and Legislature for not providing more leadership over education. >>

By Richard Winton and Molly Hennessy-Fiske
The L.A. assistant principal at Markham Middle School is accused of molesting two more teenage girls. >>

By Susannah Rosenblatt
'Basic aid' districts are supported solely by property taxes. It means that while their neighbors are facing layoffs and cutbacks, their classes are safe and may even be expanded. >>

> > Jump to the news that doesn't fit

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Thursday May 8, 2008
Gratts New Primary Center: Groundbreaking Ceremony
Ceremony starts at 2:00 p.m.
Gratts New Primary Center
474 S. Hartford
Los Angeles, CA 90017

• Thursday May 8, 2008
South Region Elementary School #12: CEQA Scoping and Schematic Design Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Miramonte Elementary School - Auditorium
1400 E. 68th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90001

*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.
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