Sunday, August 03, 2008

“We learn geology the morning after the earthquake” - Emerson

4LAKids: Sunday, August 3, 2008
In This Issue:
THE ULTIMATE BACK ROOM DEAL: LAUSD's new $7 billion bond provides money for everyone but the kids and teachers
OBAMA AND McCAIN MISS THE MARK ON EDUCATION: Neither candidate's proposed solution can address underlying issues with the K-12 system
THE BUDGET …still waiting…
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!
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“An earthquake achieves what the law promises but does not in practice maintain - the equality of all men” - Ignazio Silone

ON TUESDAY LAST at 8:30 AM on the 23rd floor of LAUSD Beaudry a group of Facilities people, LAUSD bureaucrats and the odd highly-paid consultant were addressed by Dr. Lucile Jones — the US Geological Survey/California Seismic Safety Committee/Cal Tech seismologist-in-chief. That Lucy Jones: the earthquake maven.

Dr. Jones presented a PowerPoint. Not your usual words-on-the-screen synced with the words-of-the-speaker - but a near doomsday scenario of the overdue 'Big One' - with a 7.8 temblor on Thursday Nov. 13, 2008 at 10:00AM that starts at Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea and takes almost two minutes for the initial pressure wave to travel up the San Andreas Fault in an animated red surge of destruction at 2 miles a second to Temecula.

Dr Jones' red animated wave swells and contracts on its devastating climb northward - chronicled in real time - washing and surging back on itself like waves in a bathtub in the Coachella Valley …striking Los Angeles 1 minute and 12 seconds after the temblor began and repeating the "bathtub effect " of shockwaves rolling back-and forth in the basin we call L.A. for a full 55 seconds. (The Northridge/Sylmar quake - magnitude 6.7 - on January 17, 1994 at 4:31 AM lasted 7 seconds) The best place to be on the day it happens will be London. Or fishing on a billionaire's estate in Iceland.

Dr. Jones projection – code named the "ShakeOut Scenario" – was developed by over 300 USGS experts and scientists. And the supercomputer at USC. Their prediction of the 'Big One' on the southern San Andreas Fault was presented to the builders, modernizers and retrofitters of Los Angeles Schools as a critical reminder of the importance of building schools that will survive a major temblor with their occupants alive and uninjured - so that they may exit the building safety. And so that those same buildings will be available afterward to safely shelter them and their families and neighbors should their homes not survive. There are no earthquake proof buildings; like a Volvo in a crash test success is walking away safe.

The ShakeOut earthquake isn't a prediction nor is it a worse case - it’s just a "best guess" based on what we know now in terms of scientific data and past experience. After the 'Big One', of whatever magnitude it may be, whenever and wherever it happens, we will know more.

The ray of hope - the backdrop of promise - stretches back to 5:55 p.m., March 10, 1933 and the magnitude 6.25 Long Beach Earthquake and the catastrophic collapse of many schools – when school was out. Five children died in failed school gymnasia – those five were the last schoolchildren ever to die or be seriously hurt in a California earthquake. Besides for those five we were lucky then and we have been lucky since — no major earthquake has occurred in California during school hours since 1933. But that luck of timing cannot reasonably hold.

IN 1933 - IN ECONOMIC TIMES THAT MAKES WHAT WE ARE GOING THROUGH NOW LOOK LIKE A HICCUP (FDR had been president six days when the Long Beach quake struck) - an enlightened California legislature (!) who saw what could've happened passed the Field Act - legislation which sets high standards for public school construction in California. More than just setting high standards the Field Act is amended after every major earthquake in the state as the knowledge base grows and engineers meet the challenge. The Field Act requires constant and rigorous inspection every step of the way during school construction; the inspectors make sure that what designers and architects and engineers designed and the public is paying for is built the way it is supposed to be built. Not to make the designers/architects/engineers look good or the public feel good. They do it to keep kids alive.

This is much like the current orthodoxy in Curriculum and Instruction: With High Expectations Rigorous Standards are set and High Stakes Tests given to make sure the subjects are mastered. This is meaning of true Accountability. Compliance is not the goal, Excellence is.

THE PICTURES OF CHINESE PARENTS digging through the rubble of their children's schools haunt me as a player in the building of schools. There are and were building codes in China - there was inadequate inspection.

Dr. Jones says ALL SCHOOLS: public, private and parochial; charter, preschools and adult; Pre-K through Colleges and Universities need protection of the Field Act. She says all students are entitled to that level of protection - and I agree. Right now Field Act protection is afforded only to public K-12 and Community College students - charter schools in non-school district owned buildings are loop-holed out. The charter community would like that loophole opened to include children in publicly financed charter schools.

That loophole needs to be eliminated totally rather than opened further.

Attorneys and advocates for charter interests and the mayor's office argue otherwise. They contend that public schoolchildren can be adequately and safely housed in buildings subject only to the local building codes. Are the cities and jurisdictions overseeing the codes willing to accept the liability and the risk when the inevitable happens? The risk is not only financial - it is to the safety and lives of children.

A study of the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake [February 9 @ 6:01 am | Magnitude 6.1] showed that Field Act buildings within 25 miles of the epicenter suffered losses equal to .3% of the building value while other buildings ('built to code') in the same area suffered losses on average equal to 18% of their value.
Neither the Long Beach earthquake nor the San Fernando earthquake were the 'Big One', Long Beach at 6.25 and San Fernando at 6.1 on the Richter scale were somewhere between 1% and 1/10 if 1 percent of the intensity of the hypothetical Slaton Sea ShakeOut quake — at 7.8 the same intensity as May 12, 2008 2.29 PM. catastrophe in Sichuan, China.

TWO HOURS AFTER DR. HUNT LEFT THE BUILDING the Chino Hills quake struck, shaking us in Beaudry and you wherever you were – at 5.4 less than 1% of the Long Beach, San Fernando or Sylmar intensities. (On the Richter Scale each increase in the digits to the right of the decimal point doubles the strength, a single digit number on the left increases the magnitude about 10 times; an increase of two digits 100 times.) Thankfully no one was hurt in Chino Hills; some windows broke, some stuff in shelves littered the floor, ceiling tiles fell, a water pipe broke, a retaining wall collapsed.

The good luck held. School was out for summer but maybe the wake-up call was heard. Hopefully the charter community and charter parents heard the call. The Board of Education by Thursday embraced the call - on the $7 Billion new bond they decided to put on the ballot (and celebrated with steak and champagne afterward) will be invested only in Field Act protected schools - whether traditional, charter or Early Ed they say. Hopefully the mayor and the charter proponents will agree. Hopefully we will all be prepared and make a family plan and stockpile the food and water and supplies.

Hopefully we didn't all hit the snooze button.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf

Go to ShakeOut.Org to see the ShakeOut Scenario, the animation and the entire story of The Great Southern California Shake Out.

THE ULTIMATE BACK ROOM DEAL: LAUSD's new $7 billion bond provides money for everyone but the kids and teachers
By Ron Kaye from

July 31, 2008 6:06 PM — Waterless toilets and solar panels bought from friends of Antonio ... $1 billion for the incompetent internet technology division ... $1 billion for schools already built with previous bond money ... $450 million to get charter school operators to keep their mouths shut ... umpteen millions for new school kitchens to produce food kids won't eat and to buy high-tech radios for campus police as if that will help them take back control of schools form gangs....

Buoyed by polls showing the public is as gullible as ever, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's school board unanimously approved the fifth school bond issue in a decade -- $7 billion to be paid back by taxpayers over 30 years.

While the mayor's off partying in a faraway land, the seven board members and Superintendent David Brewer went off the Pacific Dining Car to celebrate their triumph.

And what a triumph it is. There's something for everybody but not one cent for kids or teachers, not one cent that goes toward ending 30 years of dismal failure, not one cent that offers any hope of reducing the 50 percent dropout rate or raising the achievement level of students.

But think about who benefits from this feeding frenzy at the public trough.

Certainly, it's the army of bureaucrats who will get massive pay raises guaranteed. Certainly, it will be all the contractors who will provide the services and materials required to fulfill this massive shopping list. Certainly, it will be the unions since insists on paying the highest cost for labor.

But most certainly, it will be the mayor and the rest of the political entourage who will decide who gets all that money, your money.

And how, you ask does any of this educate kids or motivate teachers to do a better job?

It doesn't. That's not the goal of LAUSD. It hasn't been for decades. The district exists to serve itself -- and the circle of insiders of L.A. corrupt political culture.

The mayor promised to take over the school system and carry out massive reforms. In fact, he failed so completely at that he has control over just nine of 700 schools, barely 1 percent. Failure without accountability breeds contempt and that's what this is about, contempt for the public that is so gullible they can be sold a fifth bond issue without any sign of significant progress in educating children.

This is a fraud. And if you look the other way and buy it, you deserve the bill you'll get now and until 2044. You should live that long. You should live to see this produce a better educated generation of public school students than the last two generation. But don't hold your breath, it isn't going to happen.

It hasn't happen with the $20 billion already invested in LAUSD through four previous bond issues and a state bond issue.

Has anyone even seen an accounting of where that money went and whether the public got what it paid for?

Junkies will say anything to get your money for their next fix. And that's all this about: A system addicted to the public's money and desperate for more.

Here's the mayor's press release on passage of the bond issue:


$7 billion November bond will create small, safe and green community schools, with $450 million in funding for construction of charters and independent schools

LOS ANGELES - (The mayor is actually vacationing on a European trip that includes a fishing expedition to Iceland) - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hailed the LAUSD Board's 7-0 vote today to place on the November ballot a $7 billion school-reform bond that will create small, safe, green and independent community schools across Los Angeles.

The Mayor issued the following statement on the vote to adopt the bond, crafted by the Mayor, Superintendent David Brewer and LAUSD Board:

"Today's vote is the first step in an unprecedented investment in our children's future. "This bond isn't about slapping another coat of paint on the problem; it's about fundamentally transforming our district into small, safe and independent schools."Today we have shown parents, teachers and students that we are serious about reforming this district as we know it."

The bond for the November ballot includes: -
• $1.6 billion to build small schools; -
• $2.68 billion to develop new safety measures at schools; -
• $500 million to make schools environmentally friendly;
• $450 million for charter school construction.

► Ron Kaye is the former editor of the Los Angeles Daily News where he spent 23 years. His political reform initiative is the Saving L.A. Project (S.L.A.P.)

OBAMA AND McCAIN MISS THE MARK ON EDUCATION: Neither candidate's proposed solution can address underlying issues with the K-12 system
LA Times Blowback by Kate Applebee

August 1, 2008 -- Although Barack Obama and John McCain try to offer solutions to help America break from conventional thinking on educational policy, both senators are missing key pieces to the puzzle of why our public schools are failing.

In an article that ran recently in the Los Angeles Times, McCain told the NAACP, "I want to reward good teachers." McCain's education platform is built on merit pay for teachers and school vouchers for families who would like to trade in their students' failing schools for private schools. According to McCain, families whose children are stuck in failing schools should have choices and opportunities that are not limited by entrenched bureaucracy or unions. Although Obama has opposed school vouchers, he has encouraged merit pay for teachers.

What they fail to take into account is that we've become spoiled. Not too long ago, a free and public education was appreciated because families remembered when education was not free or even available. But it has been so long since anyone in this country has been denied an education that there are now three or more generations that take the benefits for granted.

That's not to say public education does not have its issues. As a teacher who has made it past the standard four-year dropout mark, I am worried about the state of public education and my role in changing it. I hear McCain say the goal of his education platform is to boost pay for great and outstanding teachers, and I wonder if I am one of those teachers. My principal thinks highly of me -- and other staff members regard my teaching as outstanding -- but my students are still failing. I know my weaknesses as a teacher, and I try to find remedies for them -- remedies that often include sacrificing my own time and needs.

This summer, I have spent five weeks participating in the Inland Area Writing Project, a part of the National Writing Project, in order to develop my skills as a teacher of writing, an area that I know I need to improve regardless of the praise I receive. I am responsible for teaching students how to read and write critically, but I cannot do so in isolation. It would be easy for me to blame the teachers who have previously taught my students. In each student's background, there may have been teachers who did a poor job, but we, as a society and a bureaucracy, forget that although we can educate and guide students, we can't control them.

Students and their families make choices. Students choose to attend school or not, often manipulating their parents into letting them stay home or excusing the absences that accumulate from ditching. Other students and their families decide that although an education is valued for all you can do with it, there are other activities and people deserving more time and attention. Yes, the responsibility of educating should rest on the shoulders of teachers, but as teachers, we cannot change the choices of students and their families.

Unfortunately, neither presidential candidate is capable of the mind control necessary to influence the choices that students and their families make regarding education. True education reform can only begin with an adjustment to the attitudes and beliefs of the individuals directly affecting the state of education: the students and their families; it's an adjustment that remains nearly impossible in a democratic republic.

Will I meet McCain's or Obama's qualities of a great and outstanding teacher? I don't know. The answer, and perhaps my pay, is held in the choices and desires of my students and their families.

• Kate Applebee is a high school English teacher in the Inland Empire.

From the LA Times Homeroom blog by Howard Blume, Seema Mehta and My-Thuan Tran

Jul 29, 2008 - Some school news from today's earthquake:

Three schools east of downtown Los Angeles sustained minor damage: water-main damage at City Terrace Elementary, cracks in the covering of the lunch area at Stevenson Middle School, and superficial cracks in the south building at Belvedere Middle School. School officials also said some ceiling tiles were damaged at Lawrence Middle School in Chatsworth. L.A. Unified inspectors were assessing whether any of these indicated a serious problem.

All UCs and Cal State University campuses in the region reported no apparent damage and remained open, with the exception of Cal State Fullerton.

Fullerton closed for the day at 12:30 p.m. after reports of cracks and broken windows in older campus buildings, spokeswoman Paula Selleck said. There does not appear to be structural damage.

The school is in summer session when the fewest number of students are on campus, the spokeswoman said. UC Irvine student Mia McIver was conducting research in the main library when she saw books fly off shelves and land in heaps on the aisles.

Some students dived under the tables, but the earthquake was over before McIver could move. "Luckily, I didn't get hit by any books," said McIver, 30, an English PhD candidate. "They succumbed to gravity quickly and hit the floor."

McIver said she felt scared, like all of her "internal organs were disconnected."

THE BUDGET …still waiting…
GOVERNMENT RELATIONS UPDATE from the LAUSD Office of Legislative & Governmental Affairs

July 31, 2008 - It is now a guessing game on when to expect a vote on the budget bill, Assembly Bill 1781, with expectation being that it will take place this or next week. However, nobody really knows when anything of significance is going to happen… something could happen in an hour, next week, or weeks from now.

At this point, we have covered the Governor’s Proposed Budget, then the May Revision, and last month there was a recap of all up to that point. Rather than continually reiterate the same, now we’re hearing more regarding the “climate” of the discussions. The State Legislature is supposed to be on a summer recess until August 4th according to its calendar, but because of the budgetary situation, they really have not gone on a break.

Legislators continue to work in anticipation of a bi-partisan agreement on the State Budget, which is presently on the floors of both houses. So far, we have heard how the Republicans began the process steadfastly insisting there should be cutting of spending rather than levying of taxes, and how the Democrats favored the opposite. Presently, there has been talk that this mood has changed, and that now there has been more of an acceptance of the idea of expanding the sales tax base. Regardless, the clock is ticking, and the month of August is critical because this is when cash flow becomes more of an issue.

Everyone is now aware of the Governor’s cutting state workers’ pay to minimum wage until the passage of the budget; in fact, he signed just today Executive Order S-09-08 to halt payments to vendors for this fiscal year, and withhold payroll to state workers (in addition to other items) until the budget passes. Understandably, this has created an uproar, and State Controller John Chiang has publicly said he will not be complying with the Order.

Many believe the Governor’s action is to pressure lawmakers to finish work on the budget. Additionally, lawmakers are being further influenced by their constituents. Major educational organizations and unions are encouraging their membership to contact their local representatives to vote for the budget bill. Statewide notices have gone out from the State PTA and California School Employees Association.

Our district lobbying effort has remained the same, exemplified by our shift from emphasizing the effects of cuts to promoting what we estimate is a good budget proposal as put forth in Assembly Bill 1781.

The LAUSD Government Relations Update continues with extensive federal updates, Sacramento news and upcoming events.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
Los Angeles Daily News, CA - Aug 1, 2008
By George B. Sánchez, Staff Writer After long negotiations, last-minute changes and criticism from members of its own bond oversight committee, the Los Angeles Unified School District board unanimously decided Thursday to put a $7 billion bond measure ...

Civil-rights attorney Connie Rice, who chairs the bond oversight committee: "The way this bond has been teed up borders on incompetence," the wording of previous bonds was not changed just before the vote and neither was the bond amount doubled without discussion, she said. The oversight committee recommended the bond measure a 7-3 advisory vote, with Rice among the dissenters

Oversight committee vice chairman Scott Folsom had supported the measure a few days earlier. But then it doubled in size, and he also became concerned about building-safety standards for charter schools. "It was hurried," Folsom said. "Two weeks ago, we were talking about a well-thought, $3.2 billion bond. In the last 10 days, with pressure from the charter school community, the mayor and Eli Broad, it doubled."

Los Angeles Times, CA - Aug 1, 2008
From four previous bonds, the Los Angeles Unified School District already has enough money to allow every student to attend a neighborhood school on a traditional, two-semester schedule -- the main goal for those earlier measures.

LAUSD Selects UCLA to Operate Pilot School - from the UCLA Office of Media Relations
7/31 - La Opinión and the Korea Daily report today on a partnership between the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, the Los Angeles Unified School District and several community-based organizations to enhance equity in K–12 education through the Bruin Community School, the first of the district's pilot schools at the former Ambassador Hotel site. KABC-Channel 7, KMEX-Channel 34, KFWB-980 AM and KABC-790 AM reported the story Wednesday. Chancellor Gene Block is quoted in La Opinión.

by Ruben Moreno | LA Opinion | Automatic Translation: Spanish » English
July 31, 2008 - The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) has become the latest institution at the moment to join the list of partners interested in managing a group of stocks Unified School District Los Angeles (LAUSD).

“It’s a shortsighted policy that confuses taking a course with learning,” said Tom Loveless, a member of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, a White House-commissioned group that spent nearly two years examining strategies to prepare students for algebra.
By Sean Cavanagh | EDweek - Business leaders from important sectors of the American economy have been urging schools to set higher standards in math and science—and California officials, in mandating that 8th graders be tested in introductory algebra, have responded with one of the highest such standards in the land.
Still, many California educators and school administrators are questioning how their state will meet the new requirement, given students’ persistent struggles in that subject and the potential demand it will generate for more math teachers and classroom resources.

► DENVER MERIT-PAY PLAN EMBROILED IN CONFLICT: Union Objects to Proposal to Modify Pact
By Vaishali Honawar | EdWeek - Denver’s performance-pay system for teachers has long been hailed as a model, in good part because it was jointly conceived and implemented by the school district and the local teachers’ union. But that collaborative spirit is now in jeopardy, with union and district leaders engaged in a protracted battle over proposed changes to the system.

as of Friday afternoon, 25 July 2008

Unlike most other states, California does not require districts to provide home-to-school transportation except in limited circumstances. The high cost of fuel and budget shortfalls are being blamed. But some fear that forcing more students to walk or drive to school will cause safety problems.

by Melissa Pamer, Staff Writer | Daily Breeze - Youth sports groups in the South Bay and Harbor Area are starting to feel the pinch from the Los Angeles Unified School District's move to begin charging for the use of gyms and playing fields.
The increased fees, which came in March after clubs had for decades used facilities for free, have meant reduced practice schedules and, in some cases, increased costs for players.
The fear is that the fees - which district officials said were needed to make up for an incredibly tight budget year - will force low-income athletes to drop participation in sports clubs, which supporters say give at-risk youth positive after-school alternatives.

All the news that didn't fit from August 3rd!

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Tuesday Aug 05, 2008
Central Region MacArthur Park ES Addition
CEQA Draft Environmental Impact Report and Presentation of Design Development Drawings
6:00 p.m.
MacArthur Park Primary Center
2300 W. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Wednesday Aug 06, 2008
South Region Elementary School #11: CEQA Draft EIR (Environmental Impact Report) Meeting
6:00 p.m.
68th Street School
612 W. 68th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90044

*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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