Sunday, July 20, 2008

Special interests are, by definition, special.

4LAKids: Sunday, July 20, 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:
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: an investment we can't afford to cut! - The Education Coalition Website
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.
ON FRIDAY MORNING Senior Deputy Superintendent Ray Cortines presented his Operational Plan of Action for this school year (link below) to the assembled parent leadership of the District; his presentation put some flesh on the bones of the parent engagement and community involvement part. Oddly for a meeting advertising a revised plan, Cortines distributed the June 9th version of his plan rather than the June 30th revision - but perhaps one tries to read too much into the tealeaves of circumstance.

The plan was generally well received - though many parents used the rare opportunity to interact with senior administration to revisit and rehash old issues and personal complaints.

But before we go too far here let me rehash an issue of my own. The meeting was called for 9:30 AM and the room was fairly well occupied at that hour - but a series of announcements followed incrementally delaying the start of the festivities - culminating with Assistant Superintendent Caldera's rather lame "We always planned to start at 10AM - we just set the start of the meeting at 9:30 to allow you to be late". In the sprit of Thumper's father's most excellent advice I apologize for saying the excuse was 'lame' - but that justification is insulting to all parents and especially to the ones who had to wait for the 10:05 start. If our children show up thirty-five minutes late for class they are swept up in the tardy sweep, no quarter given. If they are late three times in a semester they are chronic truants - it's in the Ed Code. Until LAUSD stops treating parents as if we are habitually naughty problem children we will make no progress.

The meeting began with the introduction of Dr. Judy Elliot, the new LAUSD Chief Academic Officer. (see Video - WHAT IS RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION: Dr. Judy Elliott on 4LAKidsNews) Her message was that she intended to do most of her work at the local schools, not at Beaudry. But the restless parents cut her little slack - immediately asking when she was going to visit their school.

Cortines began by saying he was happy to be back at LAUSD. He welcomed the new state dropout data - and took the mayor to ask for continuing to insist on the previous data. (see: "Mayor Says Dropout Report Is Wrong")

• He proposed a new initiative to monetarily reward schools - not just principals and teachers but schools - that improve attendance and dropout rates over the new established baseline.
• Cortines declared that real parent involvement happens at the school - parents and staff are too focused on Beaudry.
• He has brought back the Cortines Plan of 2000 and is insisting that it be implemented (and published anew), decentralizing the District and transferring control and accountability to the local districts and schoolsites.
• He will institute (one can't re-institute what never happened!) the Parent Community Advisory Councils at the local districts - the LDPCAC's reporting to the Board and Superintendent quarterly.
• It is clear that this passing of control from Beaudry to the local districts is a top-down, not bottom-up/grassroots initiative. Some local district staff feel overwhelmed by the challenge; their own numbers and resources have been decimated in the ongoing budget cuts.
• Cortines expects to visit every school in the District - and he intends to show up unannounced!
• Professional Development meetings at schoolsites are public meetings - parents are welcome.
• He will be focused on training parents in parenting skills and in how to navigate the system - with a focus on parents as trainers.
• The A-G Curriculum will be instituted THIS YEAR district wide in the 9th grade - with mandatory intervention called for after the first grading period.
• He will visit and evaluate every middle school in the district - focusing on Program Improvement Schools - with the very real possibility of reconstituting (all staff must reapply for their jobs) schools operating blow proficiency. This specifically includes Partnership and i-Division schools.
• "We need each other. I work for you and will continue to meet with you even if I really don't want to!"
• Cortines keeps early hours, usually in the office by 6AM. His office is on the 11th floor and his phone number is 213.241.0800. He will pick up the phone if there's no one else in the office.
• He is unconcerned about the comfort level of staff. It's about the kids.
• No will brook no more talk about the 'Achievement Gap', the goal is 'Proficiency for All Students'.
• No more hotel meetings. Limit out of town conferences. A tight fiscal ship.
• He promised an audit of parent funds with real cost controls and transparent accounting.

As the conversation dissolved into a rehash of old issues - with the tension between African-American and Latino parents simmering - Cortines interrupted - reminding all that as a Mexican-American child adopted by Anglo parents he is experienced in discrimination. "Racism," he said, "is alive and well among us. It's just become more sophisticated over time."

One of the issues brought up by parents was increased security at schoolsites and at Beaudry - with all visitors required to have photo ID …placing undocumented parents in a Catch-22. Cortines promised to address this. "If you get your child enrolled in our schools you should be able to visit the schools and classrooms."

ALSO ON FRIDAY Mayor Villaraigosa, Board President García and Charter Schools President Young held a surprise press conference to "support" the next school bond. (see NEW SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BOND AIMED AT HELPING CHARTERS, below)
Read between the lines - and bear in mind that the "$300 Million for Charters" request/demand/suggestion is being addressed in the latest not-so-secret bond discussions. $300 million - 10% of the total bond - has been proposed to be shared between the charters and i-Divison/Partnership schools, - the 'outside-the-box' public schools in LAUSD.

Unfortunately sharing, playing well with others and not running with scissors is a hard to learn/easily forgotten skill set.

• Politicians and billionaires need to remember: There is a huge difference between $3.2 Billion and $10 Billion.
• Special Interests are, by definition, Special.
• The Special (!) Board meeting scheduled for next Tuesday to discuss and theoretically vote to put the next bond on the November ballot has been postponed.

Stay tuned.

- ¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf


• Using a new system for tracking dropouts, California discloses a rate considerably higher than previously reported. About 1 in 3 students in Los Angeles Unified left school.

By Mitchell Landsberg and Howard Blume | Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

July 17, 2008 - Deploying a long-promised tool to track high school dropouts, the state released numbers Wednesday estimating that 1 in 4 California students -- and 1 in 3 in Los Angeles -- quit school. The rates are considerably higher than previously acknowledged but lower than some independent estimates.

The figures are based on a new statewide tracking system that relies on identification numbers that were issued to California public school students beginning in fall 2006.

The ID numbers allow the state Department of Education to track students who leave one school and enroll in another in California, even if it is in a different district or city. In the past, the inability to accurately track such students gave schools a loophole, allowing them to say that departing students had transferred to another school when, in some cases, they had dropped out.

The new system -- which will cost $33 million over the next three years, in addition to the millions spent for the initial development -- promises to eventually provide a far better way to understand where students go, and why. But state and school district officials acknowledged that the data initially available Wednesday, after a final one-day delay, were limited in usefulness.

"I think as the system stabilizes, you will get better data," said Esther Wong, assistant superintendent for planning, assessment and research in the Los Angeles Unified School District. For now, she said, the numbers tell only part of the story, albeit more accurately than in the past.

Jack O'Connell, state superintendent of public instruction, presented the new data, based on the 2006-07 school year, as a quantum leap forward in understanding the nature of the dropout problem. But, he said, "no one will argue that the number of dropouts is good news. . . . It represents an enormous loss of potential."

State data analysts were able to come up with a four-year "derived" dropout rate, which estimates how many students drop out over the course of their high school careers.

For the state overall, it was 24.2%, up substantially from the 13.9% calculated for the previous school year using an older, discredited method. Statewide, 67.6% of students graduated and 8.2% were neither graduates nor dropouts. The last category included those who transferred to private schools or left the state.

School districts have until the end of August to correct data, so figures could change.

The statistics highlight a problem that is getting worse in California, said Russell Rumberger, a professor of education at UC Santa Barbara who directs the California Dropout Research Project.

Even using the old system of measurement, he said, the number of dropouts has grown by 83% over five years while the number of high school graduates has gone up only 9%.

"So that's sobering, it's really sobering," he said.

Rumberger attributed the trend to three primary factors: an increase in Latino immigrants, who are among the most likely to drop out; the raising of academic standards; and insufficient funding for public education.

For Los Angeles Unified, the new dropout rate was 33.6%. The rate was 25.3% under the old system in 2005-06.

Critics, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, have said that as many as half of Los Angeles Unified students drop out. But a recent report by an independent research group, Policy Analysis for California Education, put the district's dropout rate at 25.7%.

O'Connell chose Birmingham High School in Van Nuys for his announcement, noting that it was the focus of a Times series on dropouts in 2006. He said he was particularly concerned by data showing a dropout rate of 41.6% for black students and 30.3% for Latino students, compared with 15.2% for whites and 10.2% for Asians.

"This is a crisis," he said.

In Los Angeles Unified, African American students dropped out at a lower rate than their counterparts statewide. That was not true of the other three groups.

Among large, comprehensive L.A. high schools, the highest dropout rates were recorded at Jefferson, 58%; Belmont, 56%; Locke, 50.9%; Crenshaw, 50%; and Roosevelt, 49.6%.

Those with the lowest rates were Palisades Charter High, 2.5%; Granada Hills Charter, 6.4%; Canoga Park, 11%; Cleveland, 12.8%; El Camino, 13%; Taft, 13.1%; Chatsworth, 14.5%; and Fairfax, 14.9%.

State officials acknowledge that even the latest figures are less than ideal. The four-year rate is based not on students' actual progress over four years but on one year's worth of data for all four grades. In the spring of 2011, data will be released based on students' actual journey over four years.

Moreover, it remains difficult to say why students left school because codes designed to explain that, listing choices such as "graduated," "died" and "no show," are based on a different time period than the dropout rate itself.

Eventually, the two sets of figures will be synchronized, but the state was unable to do that before the release of the latest dropout figures.

The new system drew accolades even from some critics of the Department of Education.

"Though it has taken far too long and it is only partial progress, we applaud today's advances," said John Affeldt, managing attorney of Public Advocates, which has battled the department in court over the high school exit exam, among other matters.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hailed the data, but said it was important "that we don't just look at numbers."

"It's good information," he said at a briefing for reporters in Sacramento, but "what we need to find out is, what is the reason for the dropouts? . . . We've got to find out what the reason is and then we can work on that to eliminate those problems."

Some of the new dropout numbers are open to misinterpretation. For instance, some continuation schools -- which cater to the most troubled students -- show dropout rates of more than 100%. That is because their enrollment is based on a single date in October, but such schools typically have students who come and go throughout the year, so more students can drop out by June than were enrolled in the fall.

Nevada County, a semirural swatch of Northern California whose schools generally perform well, showed a dropout rate of nearly 77%. The explanation, Associate Supt. Stan Miller said, is that the county charters one of the largest dropout recovery programs in California, with campuses spread throughout the state but reported as if they were in Nevada County.

Even the most successful of such programs have high dropout rates, and the Nevada County program is large enough to outweigh the relatively low dropout rate of the county's own students.

What is inescapable, ultimately, is that the effort to statistically capture the complications of teen life does not lend itself to the simple analysis that a dropout rate suggests.

Susana Garcia, 18, counts as neither a dropout nor a graduate but as a "completer" because she elected to take the general educational development test, or GED, rather than earn a diploma.

"Obviously, people ask you, 'Did you graduate or do you have your diploma or GED?' " she said. "I don't want to be seen as a failure -- or a complete failure." She added: "In my mind, I still want to go back and get the diploma."

By Rick Orlov & George B. Sanchez | Daily Breeze

7/18/08 - Sharply disputing a state report, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday said he believes the dropout rate at Los Angeles schools is even worse than the dismal 33 percent estimated by state officials.

Villaraigosa, who previously used the dropout rate issue as leverage to take control of a handful of schools, said the new state figures released Wednesday did not take into account all relevant factors.

For example, he said, the state report did not count students who dropped out before ninth grade.

"I'm heartened they are highlighting the dropout issue but I know it is higher than they are saying," Villaraigosa said. "We know it's 50 to 60 percent and in some parts of the city 65 or 70 percent."

State Superintendent Jack O'Connell on Wednesday released a report showing the dropout rate at districts throughout the state, trying to quell years of debate over the issue.

O'Connell said Los Angeles Unified has a dropout rate of 33.6 percent, above the state average of 24.6 percent.

The new report, which tracked students using a unique identification number, was heralded by education experts and local school officials as a new benchmark to measure dropout rates and end the debate over the accuracy of figures cited in the past.

Deputy State Superintendent Rick Miller on Thursday stood by the results of the state's work.

"This is not a study," Miller said. "Everything before this was a study. We looked at individual students by their ID number and reported on whether they were enrolled or not. If the mayor would look at our documentation, he would see what we did."

LAUSD Senior Deputy Superintendent Ray Cortines did not dispute the state's report, even after hearing Villaraigosa's statement.

Cortines said he shared the report with the mayor's staff Wednesday morning, hours before the report was publicly released, and heard no questions or concerns about the findings.

The mayor issued a written statement on Wednesday afternoon that did not dispute the report's findings.

But Villaraigosa said he is now convinced the figures are higher than the state determined.

As evidence, Villaraigosa's staff cited reports by Education Week and Harvard University as well as his own experience in taking over 10 LAUSD schools.

A 2006 study by Education Week estimated that only 44 percent of LAUSD students received a high school diploma.

A joint study by UCLA and Harvard University released in 2005 stated only 48 percent of black and Latino students in LAUSD who start ninth grade complete grade 12 four years later.

Cortines said the state's new tracking system is the first to generate agreement by local and state education officials as well as nonprofit groups and education experts.

He acknowledged there are schools with dropout rates as high as those cited by the mayor.

"In his schools, it is closer to 50 percent," Cortines said.

At Roosevelt Senior High School in Boyle Heights, the adjusted dropout rate is 49.6 percent, according to the state, and at Santee Education Complex near downtown, the figure is 44.3 percent.

"The issue should not be what the percentage is, but what we are going to do about it," Cortines said. "It'll take the city and school district working together, combining social services, law enforcement, gang reduction and everyone to deal with the problem."

Villaraigosa said dropout rates are one of the factors he will look at with his partnership schools.

"We are going to track the dropout rates and focus on what it takes to keep kids in school. Our goal is to graduate every student and see them go on to college."

Villaraigosa took over control of the 10 schools on July 1. They are among the worst performing schools in the LAUSD.


• Hammering Hamlet: "Me thinks thou dost protest too much." The mayor has a vested and special interest in keeping this years dropout numbers high - he has inherited ten low performing schools and the statistical baseline from which they must improve has been raised. He really has nothing to complain about - the truth and the challenge remain - there is plenty of room for improvement. - smf


By Kerry Cavanaugh and George B. Sanchez, Staff Writers | LA Daily News

July 19, 2008 - Amid concerns that voters may hesitate to approve a fifth multibillion-dollar school construction bond in a decade, Los Angeles Unified officials and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have crafted a proposal to woo the public with promises to fund charter schools and small learning communities.

At a hastily called news conference Friday afternoon, Villaraigosa and LAUSD leaders provided few details of the proposed bond measure but said a portion would be dedicated to developing charter schools and breaking up behemoth public schools into independent, mini-campuses.

"This is not about slapping another coat of paint on a problem," Villaraigosa said. "This reform-minded bond will create smaller, independent schools rooted in community and free from downtown bureaucracy."

The mayor and school-district leaders would not say how much money would be sought - or how it would be spent. LAUSD officials had discussed a $3.2 billion figure this spring, but Villaraigosa would only say it would be a significant, multibillion-dollar bond.

Villaraigosa's office has survey research that indicates voters would support a school-bond of up to $10 billion on the November ballot, according to a source briefed on the research.

The president of the California Charter Schools Association said she supports a bond but is apprehensive because she has not yet seen details in writing. She wants $320 million for charters.

A draft of a proposed 2008 $3.2billion bond measure sets aside $150million for charter schools.

"We're supportive of a $3.2billion bond as long as there is a fair share for charter schools," said association President Caprice Young.

"We consider a fair share 10percent of the bond."

While LAUSD officials have pitched the need for another school-construction bond, the district has not appeared to have strong support among civic leaders for a new measure.

And at least two board members said Friday that talk of a bond and how funds would be divided is preliminary.

"I haven't seen any specifics or numbers," said board member Tamar Galatzan.

Board member Julie Korenstein said while there have been discussions of funding for school modernization and construction, there has been no decision on a bond, its total or how it might be divided.

"This board of education has not yet taken a position," she said.

Korenstein was adamant that the Friday news conference was not an LAUSD event and even though board President M nica Garc a attended she was not representing the district.

At the news conference, officials said the proposed bond measure would be discussed at a Tuesday board meeting. However, the board meeting has been canceled.

Voters have already approved four construction bonds for the LAUSD totaling $13.5 billion over the past 11 years.

Voters in November already are being asked to approve $17billion in state bond measures, a $36 per-year parcel tax for Los Angeles residents to fund gang-prevention programs, and possibly a half-percent sales-tax increase in Los Angeles County to pay for transportation.

Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, immediately assailed the announcement.

"This is buffoonery of the highest order," he said. "This would make five bonds in 11 years. Taxpayers are already on the hook for $20 billion including interest."

But Villaraigosa said he is willing to sign on to a bond that dedicates money for small-learning-community construction.

"I need to see a commitment that as we build we're going to build smaller, smarter, more successful schools," he said.

Billionaire philanthropist and LAUSD reformer Eli Broad announced Friday that he also would back a bond that dedicates money for small, independent schools.

Broad donated $23 million earlier this year to help open 17 new charter schools through three organizations, including the Knowledge Is Power Program for school development.

Still, LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer III stressed that a large portion of the bond would go toward maintenance of existing schools.

"Clearly about 40 percent of this bond will be used to continue to modernize and refurbish all of the schools that need it," Brewer said.

"Even though we've built new schools and we've done some modernization, the need is horrendous."

The previous LAUSD bonds raised $13.5 billion and state matching funds provided $6.5billion for new school construction to relieve overcrowding.

The district so far has allocated $12.3 billion for construction of 132 new schools, 65 campus additions and about 160,000 new classroom seats.

Half of the work is completed and the rest is on schedule to be done by 2012 - when the district is expected to reach its goal of having all schools on a two-semester calendar.

But the average age of the district's 800 schools is 45 years and the district has received about $7 billion in voter-approved funding for modernization.

► VILLARAIGOSA PUSHES SCHOOL BONDS: Mayor works with charter-school advocates to get measure on ballot.

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

July 19, 2008 - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa teamed up with charter school advocates Friday in Boyle Heights to pressure school board members and district officials to put a multibillion-dollar school bond on the November ballot -- and to include at least $300 million for charter schools.

Though not present, billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and former Mayor Richard Riordan have added their support -- and political weight -- to the anticipated bond, which would include more local dollars than ever for charters.

"Today we're putting the muscle behind the reform movement to break down our system into schools that work for all of our kids," Villaraigosa said at Roosevelt High School, defining such campuses as the "small, safe and independent community schools our students so desperately need here in the city."

The bond also would include money to repair and modernize existing schools, upgrade their safety systems and build traditional campuses.

The event's hasty scheduling -- even L.A. schools Supt. David L. Brewer had to adjust his schedule to attend -- was the latest strategic turn in a drama that has occurred mostly behind closed doors. Most of the jousting has been over how much money would go to charter schools, which are independently managed public schools free from some state regulations.

The charter community, led by former school board member Caprice Young, wanted no less than $300 million, or about 10% of the proposed $3.2-billion bond. But that level of support met with resistance from some board members of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The board was to vote on the bond at its Tuesday meeting, but late Friday, officials postponed the item until July 31. Five of the seven board members must approve placing the measure on the November ballot by Aug. 8.

Before the news conference, Young, who now heads the California Charter Schools Assn., said in an interview that she remained dissatisfied with how the dollars are divvied up.

Senior district administrators want to set aside $150 million for charters, according to a district report. Another $150 million would go to "educational partners to operate schools" that work within the system.

In other words, equal dollars would support reforms in district-controlled schools. The bond negotiations, in effect, have became another battlefront over who will control the path of reform in L.A. Unified.

Like Young, Broad, who funds reform efforts around the country, has concluded that charter schools are the best path in Los Angeles. In their view, the more removed they can make the L.A. Unified bureaucracy, the better. This goal also matches up with Broad's personal commitment to help fund new schools started by the more successful charter school organizations, which will need campuses.

Whatever emerges is also likely to help the 10 low-performing schools (none of them charters) now operating under the mayor's purview.

In private discussions, Young has sought an undiluted $300 million for charters.

At one point, she threatened to lead the charter community in an anti-bond campaign if it contained anything less.

But the goal Friday was simply to call for the bond, implicitly bring district officials in line and presage the campaign pitch to come.

Villaraigosa said he spent 10 hours on the phone over the last three days with civic and labor leaders and district officials, including Brewer, to promote the bond and take part in negotiations.

by Howard Blume | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

July 17, 2008 - The new state system of tracking individual students to determine a more accurate dropout rate is also a step toward helping those who have left school and preventing others from leaving, officials say.

Behind each dropout statistic is the narrative of an education that derailed. But these independent-study students at the Alternative Education and Work Center in Hollywood are on their way to turning things around.

The center enrolls students who complete most of their work on their own and then come in for tests and help.

The program, which is intended for high school-age students, is part of Hollywood Community Adult School, which is managed by the Los Angeles Unified School District. The students either dropped out or are considered at great risk of dropping out.

Name: Kimberly Marquez

Age: 19

Residence: Atwater Village

High school: Marshall

Story: "Marshall High always had the best intentions, but it's hard to keep track of all those students. I was just a bit of a wild one. I got drunk at school too often. I enjoyed doing a lot of other stuff more than going to school: ditching, drugs, alcohol. I was a meth user. Most of my friends were. [Two friends have died; she's not certain of the circumstances.] If it wasn't for this program, I don't think I'd ever consider college. [With] the one-on-one attention, it wasn't as easy to sneak away. They make you grow up. They make you responsible."

Goal: College

Note: Marquez graduated in June 2007 and now works as a teaching assistant at the center.

Name: Leslie Lopez

Age: 19

Residence: South Los Angeles

High school: Hollywood

Story: "In the 11th grade, I got pregnant and I started feeling sick. [The family had moved from Hollywood to the Watts area, but she tried to continue at Hollywood High -- a 45-minute bus ride.] I had a really bad pregnancy. I'd get dizzy a lot and wouldn't be able to read my books. I was behind in credits and my age was a concern to the school. I thought about giving up."

Goals: Saving to move in with her boyfriend, attend college and pursue a career in computer drafting.

Name: Angel Yos

Age: 18

Residence: Koreatown

High school: Fairfax

Story: "My parents had new jobs that required me to help them, starting when I was 13. I had to take care of my brothers and help Dad maintain the store. And we also did swap meets. . . . I had so much responsibility that was bestowed upon me. All that work I had to do at school plus all the work I had to do at home. It distorted me inside. At school, I was just purely not doing my work. I'd go to classes and sleep or talk to friends. I wanted to have fun with them. They said, 'Skip school. It won't really hurt you.' On the contrary, it did hurt me a lot. It took the school a while to catch on. They didn't even notice how weird it was to show up one day and not another, or miss a week. [When the school called home,] I would delete messages before my parents saw them. . . . I did consider dropping out."

Goals: Attend college, major in political science and learn the business of the music industry.

Name: Jasmin Alas

Age: 18

Residence: Hollywood

High school: Fairfax

Story: "In middle school, you name it, I did it: meth, marijuana. I hung out with people way older. [But she started going to church and changing her behavior.] I had gotten myself away from taking the wrong path in life. I didn't want to go to parties or hang out or drink. I became an outsider with my friends. . . . It was like a lot of peer pressure. It got to the point that I just didn't show up for school. The work I had no problem with. It was getting up in the morning and going to school. I would tell my mom I didn't want to go. The doctor told her I was depressed. I probably went like once a week. [She once had been a good student. Late last year, when catching up seemed impossible, she quit entirely.] I didn't show up. I failed everything. [At the center in Hollywood,] it just felt different than any other school. They made the effort. They would say little things like 'How is your day?' They made me feel so comfortable coming here. . . . My old friends, they're either pregnant or have kids -- every single one. I'm not lying. Most of them they just didn't finish high school."

Goals: College, manage a business.


• Congratulations to every graduate and thank you Howard.

This story with pictures and a peek at graduation rehearsal

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
Dr. Elliot is the Chief Academic Officer of LAUSD

JUDGE BLOCKS CONSTRUCTION OF ECHO PARK SCHOOL: L.A. Unified submitted a flawed environmental impact report, ruling says. District must now consider other sides and gather community opinion.

The governor signed into law today a measure that would allow teachers to get up to two hours of suicide prevention training. The Jason Flatt Act, SB 1378, authorizes school districts to use some of their Professional Development Block Grant funding to pay for the training.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT DROPOUTS: State statistics should boost efforts to reduce the number of students who quit before graduation.
It wasn't true, what the critics said about half the students in Los Angeles Unified School District dropping out. One in three do. The first state database to count dropouts in a more realistic way revealed this week that although the district's numbers weren't as bad as feared, neither were they statistics to inspire a happy dance.
L.A. Unified is finally taking meaningful measures to keep kids in school, a formidable task. But how did we get to this place?

DROP-DEAD DROPOUT NUMBERS: One-third of all L.A. Unified students don't finish high school — where's the civic outrage?
July 19, 2008 - We've all become so inured to the unending stream of dreary and dispiriting news produced by the Los Angeles Unified School District that Thursday's horrific report on the high-school dropout rate came and went with barely a civic whimper.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as the Terminator once more. It's not in a feature film this time but as the trigger of impending budget cuts in California education.

In a year the amount of money LAUSD has spent on fuel for its 1300 busses, 400 other vehicles and gas-operated machines has increased from $9.85 million for the 2006 -2007 school year to $12.4 million in 2007-2008 for the school year,

ULTIMATE COLLECTOR: Eli Broad wields his vast fortune like a blunt instrument—buying art, hiring architects, and shaping L.A. through a mix of civic vision and force of will.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has long been notorious for stalled construction and indecisive leadership. When its old headquarters on Grand Avenue became the proposed site for a new high school, Broad stepped in and spent much of 2002 holding backroom meetings to convince the district to scrap a complete (and admittedly unexciting) plan by AC Martin Partners and to build a Fame-style performing-arts academy by Wolf Prix of Coop Himmelb(l)au.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - VAN NUYS (KABC) -- "Not good news," says California's Superintendent of Public Instruction. That, after he revealed that nearly a quarter of all public high school students in the state dropped out last year.

Lynn Huntley, President of the Southern Education Foundation, introduced the topic by making the case for a U.S. Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to a quality education for all children. The idea for such an amendment is not new. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. introduced a bill in Congress five years ago to guarantee students such a right. Jackson’s efforts have not gained much traction, although, according to Huntley, his ideas have broad public support.

Thirty seven school districts throughout California including LAUSD did not enforce physical education requirements in 2006.

SWITCHING BAD VARIABLE RATE DEBT: LAUSD Refunding Ambac-Backed Certificates of Participation
The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to refund $120.9 million of Ambac Assurance Corp.-insured variable-rate demand obligations early next month after seeing rates on the debt surge to as much as 10% after the insurer's credit ratings were cut.

CITY READIES A 'BEAUTIFUL 'VISTA': Park on Long-Troubled Belmont Learning Center Site to Open This Week
This week, City West will get a lot greener with the debut of a 10-acre park. If some people thought it might never arrive, that's understandable: It is opening on a notorious site where construction first began a decade ago.

GO TO: The news that didn't fit from July 20th.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
► The Board of Education had scheduled a Special Board Meeting on Tuesday, July 22,2008, to consider a Local Bond, a charter renewal and other items of business. This meeting has been canceled and is tentatively been rescheduled for Thursday, July 31.

► The Board of Education Charter and Innovation Committee meeting set for 7/22
This Committee Meeting has been canceled and tentatively rescheduled for Thursday, July 31 at 1 p.m.

• Monday Jul 21, 2008
South Region Elementary School #9: CEQA Scoping Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Independence Elementary School - Multipurpose Room
8435 Victoria Ave.
South Gate, CA 90280

• Tuesday Jul 22, 2008
South Region High School #4: Pre-Construction Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Dominguez Elementary School - Auditorium
21250 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Carson, CA 90810

• Wednesday Jul 23, 2008
South Region High School #8: CEQA Draft EIR (Environmental Impact Report) Meeting
(Additional Meeting)
6:00 p.m.
Nueva Vista Elementary School
Multipurpose Room
4412 Randolph St.
Bell, CA 90201

• Thursday Jul 24, 2008
Central Region MacArthur Park ES Addition: Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA) Hearing
6:00 p.m.
MacArthur Park Primary Center
2300 W. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

*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 Tenth District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He is a Community Concerns Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools.
• 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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