Saturday, September 06, 2008

Not a lotta Ed

4LAKids: Sunday, Sept 7, 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.
We haven't heard a lot of talk about Education in presidential campaign to date. Sarah Palin joined the PTA. John McCain was seen live from St. Paul in front of a slide of Walter Reed Middle School Thursday night.

THIS JUST IN: A National PTA spokesperson says to PTA members: "According to the Alaska PTA, Sarah Palin was a PTA member for two years in the mid- 90's in the Wasilla, Alaska area. She has never served in PTA at the state level in any capacity and the National office has not worked with her in her official capacity as governor.

"As you all know, PTA does not and cannot support any candidate for public office as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. If you are asked what you think about Palin, we ask that you decline to comment. We can only wish her luck but as an organization we are restricted in what we can do. Please direct all media inquiries to James Martinez, Manager of Media Relations at 800-307-4782 x325."

As the former PTA president at Reed MS I am inviting Barack Obama to appear at Reed in an equal time gesture. If both candidates want to have a debate about Education Policy at Reed, that complies with PTA policy about encouraging Candidate's Nights - and it might get the LAUSD facilities division to expedite air conditioning the Reed auditorium - a project that's supposed to be complete at the end of this month!

Roy Romer's supposedly non-partisan ED IN '08 effort to raise the level of education debate has become partisan in its advocacy for merit pay and teacher's union bashing. The billionaires who are bankrolling ED in 08 have an agenda and Roy is a partisan kinda guy - what a surprise!

PRO-CON.ORG advertises a side by side comparison of the party platforms. But the comparisons wind up not going very deep - being monosyllabic: Pro or Con. The issues of the day deserve more than suffixes to define them.

No matter what happens over the next two months leading to Election Day two things are very clear:

1. Somebody else is going to occupy the oval office come January 20th.
2. Whoever it is will change the name of No Child Left Behind.

A start.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf

PS: Still no state budget, but the California Taxpayers' Association has endorsed Schwarzenegger's proposal to raise taxes. Global warming is skipping Hades this year … though the rest of the Governator's plan is a knife that won't cut mustard.

by smf for 4LAKIDS

September 5 - On Thursday morning at the crack of early I met with Superintendent Brewer about some Bond Oversight Committee business and I found him in an exultant mood, eager to share the following test results.

I share his enthusiasm - and also the enthusiasm of Senior Deputy Superintendent Cortines in his cover memo to the API/AYP results - mistakenly addressed to the Board of Education when it is the students and classroom teachers who deserve the kudos.

Unfortunately our friends in the media - trained in the "GLASS HALF EMPTY, FILM AT ELEVEN" School of Journalism - chose to report on the darkness of the tunnel and not on brightness of the light.

Test Scores are NOT the Goal in Life to be sure - but these are the scores that an awful lot of kids doing their best with their number two pencils earned with hard work. They ...but also their teachers, administrators and school staff deserve recognition for remarkable achievement and genuine progress. Their best this year is better than their best last year! —send them the memo, cc: the Board of Ed!

As Ray Cortines recognizes: "There is much to be proud of and there is more work that needs to be done. The test results how that we can make progress when students, teachers, administrators and parents work in a concerted effort."

Good job!


Los Angeles Unified School District
DATE: September 3, 2008
TO: Members, Board of Education
David L. Brewer III
FROM: Ray Cortines, Senior Deputy Superintendent


Attached is the board informative with the 2008 API and AYP results that will be released Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. I am pleased to share good news with you about the progress that is being made at our schools. There is much to be proud of and I commend our students, teachers, administrators and staff for their hard work.
Here are a few of the highlights of the API scores:

• The District’s API growth of 21 points exceeded the state’s growth of 14 points. At every level of schooling, LAUSD’s growth exceeded the state. Elementary schools increased 34 points from the previous year compared to California’s growth of 13 points. Middle schools increased 32 points, compared to 15 points for California. LAUSD high schools increased by 22 points, compared to 13 points for California.

• Each of the major subgroups increased by double digits, except for Pacific Islanders. English Learners increased by 15 points and Students with Disabilities increased by 16 points.

• The number of schools with an API score of 800 or above has increased from 111 schools (18%) last year to 147 schools (24%) this year. The number of schools with API scores of 550 or less has narrowed to only 12%.

• More than half of LAUSD schools (55%) met their growth targets. Among schools that did not meet growth targets, 31% experienced growth in their API, compared to 22% statewide. Among our lowest scoring schools (Decile 1 and 2), only 8% had API scores that declined or remained the same, compared to 21% statewide.

While I am pleased with the academic progress of our schools, it should be noted that several schools did not receive an API score because not enough students were tested. Local District Superintendents and principals need to understand that not testing all students is not acceptable and cheats students of educational opportunities. I want to ensure that this does not happen in the 2008-09 school year

In terms of the federal accountability results (AYP), the bar for proficiency percentages was raised this year and will continue to increase each year until 2014. Although the District did not meet AYP targets, there was in increase in the percent of students scoring proficient and advanced for each of our major subgroups

The District met the graduation rate criterion for the first time since 2003.
The trajectory is in the right direction. One of the flaws of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is that even when schools make progress, the bar continually moves higher. While it may be demoralizing for students and for staff, I encourage all schools to continue to improve. It is imperative that all schools and staff understand the API and AYP data and its importance in instructional decision-making. Please call Cynthia Lim, Interim Assistant Superintendent of Planning and Assessment if you would like assistance in working with your staff regarding data

There is much to be proud of and there is more work that needs to be done. The test results how that we can make progress when students, teachers, administrators and parents work in a concerted effort. I commend you on your hard work

cc: Local District Superintendents
James Morris
Judy Elliott
Roberta Fesler
David Holmquist
Jerry Thornton
Jefferson Crain
Randy Ross


From City News Service

September 2 -- LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Wednesday is the first day of classes at Los Angeles public schools on a traditional calendar, starting a year where the Los Angeles Unified School District will open five schools and the mayor's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools will start operations

The nation's second-largest district expects 472,981 students on the traditional calendar to begin school on Wednesday, while another 40,298 children on Track A will also start classes that day

The schools opening are the EDWARD R. ROYBAL LEARNING CENTER in downtown Los Angeles; ROY ROMER MIDDLE SCHOOL in North Hollywood; DR. JAMES E. JONES PRIMARY CENTER in South Los Angeles; HELEN BERNSTEIN HIGH SCHOOL in Hollywood; and RICHARD E. BYRD MIDDLE SCHOOL in Sun Valley

The Roybal Learning Center is the renamed Belmont Learning Center, the nation's most expensive high school construction project at more than $400 million

An effort to build a new to reduce overcrowding at Belmont High School began in 1988, but became derailed over allegations that the school was situated over old oil wells seeping toxic gases

The project was further delayed when an earthquake fault was found on the property, causing the demolition of buildings on the fault

Villaraigosa's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools is an offshoot of his failed attempt to put the district under control of the mayor's office. The partnership is a five-year collaboration between the city and school district, decrease the dropout rate and increase test scores

The schools participating in the partnership are Roosevelt High School and the Santee Education Complex and the schools feeding in to them -- Hollenbeck, Stevenson, Gompers and Markham middle schools, and Ritter, 99th Street, Figueroa and Sunrise elementary schools

Villaraigosa is scheduled to speak with parents and teachers about the partnership's first-year goals at a back-to-school forum on Tuesday at Markham Middle School

In his back-to-school address, Superintendent David Brewer told more than 1,000 principals they must get off the ``boat of complacency'' if they want to improve student achievement

Brewer said educators have to think of creative ways to improve test scores and skills of black and Latino students, who scored lower on the 2008 Standardized Testing and Reporting Program than white and Asian students

``If we don't solve this problem we're going to die as a nation,'' Brewer said

This school year, LAUSD will begin issuing report cards for schools, which will provide parents with information on college preparatory classes, the quality of instruction, attendance, safety and parental satisfaction

The report cards will be mailed to parents in January

``We have to hold ourselves accountable,'' Brewer said

by George B. Sánchez, Staff Writer | LA Daily News

September 3, 2008 - Nearly 700,000 students head back to Los Angeles Unified classrooms today, and tens of thousands of them will no longer suffer through chaotic, year-round schedules thanks to the district's massive ongoing construction program.

The $19.2 billion effort, which would build more than 140 schools by 2012, will add six schools this fall, including two in the San Fernando Valley. The new schools have allowed the LAUSD to cut its year-round schools to just 114 this fall, down from 142 last year and 220 in 2002.

"It's better for the students," said Ken Lee, principal of San Fernando High School, which is coming off year-round scheduling for the first time since 1995. "Anything we did, we would have to do twice because one-third of the students and faculty were off."

For 13 years, the school had three schedules, with two-thirds of students on campus at any given time. The school year was about 20 days shorter for each track, Lee said, but the days were longer, beginning at 7:40 a.m.

Today, class begins at 8 a.m.

School officials are also excited about the introduction of more "small learning communities" and education partnerships with charter schools and political entities, such as the Mayor's Office and the teachers union.

Still, the district faces challenges in the 2008-09 year. Just keeping the building program on track to bring more students on traditional calendars means officials will have to ask voters to approve a $7billion
Click Here!
bond on the November ballot.

"Many of the changes we're seeing this school year are fabulous and give us hope for what the district can do, but there's a lot more we need to work on," said school board member Tamar Galatzan, who represents parts of the Valley.

With state lawmakers unable to reach agreement on a budget, the district also has no way of knowing exactly how much money it can spend.

Best guess on money

On the eve of the new school year, school board members approved a $7 billion budget that has many worried about the classroom consequences.

"We're adopting a budget based on our best guess of what will come out of the state Capitol," Galatzan said. "We have schools starting. We have to tell schools how much to spend, but we don't know how much money we'll get."

Included within the budget are layoffs for no more than 150 classified employees and four days of unpaid leave for employees.

"I have major problems because that's a salary cut for employees and they haven't had a raise," said Senior Deputy Superintendent Ray Cortines.

Cortines said the budget uncertainty also has a psychological effect in the classroom.

"If teachers don't know if there is money for special programs, or if there's money for cost-of-living adjustments, it affects the classroom," he said. "As the saying goes, `If teachers aren't happy, nobody's happy."'

On Tuesday, principals at the two new local schools tended to last-minute details.

At Byrd Middle School on Arleta Avenue in Sun Valley, painters were still touching up a few buildings, said Principal Sohn Reynolds. The old school site, about two miles away, is closed.

Brand new campus

Some 1,700 students are expected to show up today at the brand new campus. With a building for each grade level, students will not traverse campus from end to end as they did at the old campus. They will largely remain within their building throughout their three years for continuity with classmates and teachers.

Reynolds said the community is excited about the new school, noting that more than 2,200 students and parents attended the sixth-grade orientation last month.

The other new school, Roy Romer Middle School, alleviates overcrowding at Walter Reed and Madison middle schools.

Named after the former LAUSD superintendent who spearheaded the district's multibillion-dollar construction program, the new school was built for about 1,800 students. School officials expect 1,557 students today.

Galatzan said there are more educational options for parents than ever before. From conversions of traditional schools to affiliated charters, such as Colfax Charter Elementary School, to the UTLA-supported Woodland Hills Academy and the Mayor's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, there are new education programs to keep an eye on.

Achievement a priority

Among the issues concerning the school board most is academic achievement. The district needs to improve attendance and graduation rates as well as meet national and state benchmarks while encouraging critical thinking, Galatzan said.

Closing the achievement gap between African-American and Latino students and their peers was a major point within Superintendent David Brewer III's back-to-school speech to principals last week and the focus of his new accountability measures set to debut this school year.

More than two-thirds of the district's Latino and African-American students fall short of state math and English standards, according to the most recent results of California's Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR, program, which measures proficiency in English, math, science, reading and writing.

But Scott Folsom, a former president of the California Parent-Teacher Association 10th District who attended Brewer's speech, sees signs for hope.

"The fact that schools are returning to traditional school schedules after a year-round schedule, that's good news for everybody," he said, "and cause in and of itself to celebrate."

Associated Administrators Los Angeles | Weekly Update | Week of 1 September

Each year hundreds of new employees, certificated and classified, are hired by LAUSD to fill a myriad of school and office vacancies. As such, they along with all continuing employees will be responsible for serving all District constituents. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all District personnel to review the protocols attributed to quality customer service.

The concept of service is basic. Treat people as you wish to be treated! However, in carrying out this rule it is necessary to practice certain protocols. For instance, answering telephone calls in a pleasant voice and making sure that all calls are returned within 24 hours. Also, it is important to immediately acknowledge anyone who visits a school or office even if it is to merely state that you will be of service in a few minutes.

Anyone who has visited Disneyland is well aware of customer service. Disney employees are taught that, regardless of their chore, they are onstage while working in the park. All are pleasant and helpful even if it means just giving directions or directing the guest to someone who can answer the question. Customer service also means providing a welcoming environment that is clean and organized.

Quality customer service can also be recognized by anyone who has shopped at their neighborhood Trader Joe’s store. Trader Joe’s crew members are pleasant and helpful with customer satisfaction their priority. A bell is rung to summon additional checkers if lines form at checkout stands. This may mean that a crew member needs to stop stocking a shelf in order to assist customers. Prioritizing is a hallmark of customer service with the direct assistance to the customer taking precedence over other non-customer activities.

AALA believes that customer service starts at the top. Senior staff who are willing to lend a hand to assist with customer service tasks set an example for others. For instance, the senior staff person who answers his or her own telephone when an administrative assistant is not available demonstrates service.

When senior staff returns telephone calls within 24 hours, quality customer service is evidenced. And, the use of telephone answer machines in District offices during school hours portrays less than a satisfactory level of service. Public education, especially in urban school districts, is under attack from many sources. For those of us who believe in public education, the best counterattack is a high level of genuine quality customer service.

Every District constituent who leaves our schools and offices feeling that they are important and that their concerns have been heard becomes an ally in support of our schools. While the customer may not always be right, the customer is always important. Good public relations begin and end with the respectful acknowledgement of any person who enters LAUSD schools and offices or contacts us by any means. Courtesy is contagious!

• AALA is the Principal and Administrators Union in LAUSD

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

[scroll down for budget news]

Saturday, September 06, 2008
►SCHOOL GOES FROM BACKDROP TO CENTER STAGE: After appearing as a backdrop during John McCain's acceptance speech, Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood basks in the glory.
By Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 6, 2008 - It was an unexpected burst of glory, and the 1,600 students at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood were basking in it Friday.
None of the youngsters knew for certain why a 50-foot-wide image of the front of their school was projected Thursday night behind Sen. John McCain as he accepted the Republican Party presidential nomination. But there were plenty of theories.

THE GOOD NEWS AMONG THE BAD: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell praised the district's performance during Brewer's news conference at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, one of eight district schools to show the most improvement.
"It is clear the Los Angeles Unified School District is on the right track, moving in the right direction," O'Connell said.
· Meanwhile, fewer California schools than the year before are reaching the proficiency targets set by No Child Left Behind.
· About 52 percent of California schools made this year's federal growth targets, down from 67 percent the previous year.
· Within LAUSD, eight schools targeted for improvement met federal standards for two years in a row, releasing them from close scrutiny.
· And for the first time in five years, LAUSD met federal graduation requirements.
By Jerry Berrios and George B. Sánchez, Staff Writers LA DAILY NEWS

A gorgeous downtown high school has no plan, no curriculum — but sure looks fab
By Erica Zora Wrightson | LA Weekly
photo: Ted Soqui - Big ticket: Richard Alonzo at the $1,000-per-foot school
September 04, 2008 -- WITHOUT A NAME, A PRINCIPAL, a teaching staff or even a curriculum plan for delivering an arts-and-academics education to teenagers, it’s hard to find a soul in the massive Los Angeles Unified School District who can explain the mysterious high school with its lofty tower nearing completion downtown next to the 101 freeway.

Thursday, September 04, 2008
You don't have to be a PTA member to be mad as hell and unwilling to take it anymore ...this is a little song we can all join in with!

He vows to double the rate of academic improvement at the 10 campuses within the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, his effort to see success at some of the city's poorest-performing facilities.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008
From the daily KOS Blog
in an entry titled: "Some things you didn't know about Sarah Palin" - which ironically proves that irony happens to the best of (first) families in Alaska. - smf

By Ben Thaler | UCLA Daily Bruin
Tuesday, September 2, 2008 -- The UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies has partnered with the Los Angeles Unified School District to create the Bruin Community School, one of six pilot schools that will be implemented by the district.

Saturday, August 30, 2008
By George Sanchez, Staff Writer | Daily News
Article Launched: 08/29/2008 11:30:17 PM PDT
August 30, 2008 - Even while grappling with funding shortfalls, the Los Angeles Unified School District is employing more than 800 consultants - paid, on average, more than twice as much as regular employees - to oversee school construction.
The Facilities Services Division spends about $182 million on its 849 consultants, almost $215,000 each. The division's regular employees are paid about $99,000 each.


Friday, September 5, 2008
By Dan Smith and Jim Sanders - Sacramento Bee
Published 6:18 pm PDT Friday, September 5, 2008
Breaking its long practice of opposing tax increases, the California Taxpayers' Association on Friday agreed to support Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's state budget proposal, including a sales tax boost.

Thursday, September 4, 2008
You don't have to be a PTA member to be mad as hell and unwilling to take it anymore ...this is a little song we can all join in

Wednesday, September 3, 2008
►A State without a Budget - Day 65 begins: AM ALERT: CONTINUOUS BLOVIATIONS
Sacramento Bee: Capitol Alert | Shane Goldmacher - Capitol Alert Coordinator
Sept 3/6:02 AM -- Assembly Speaker Karen Bass cancelled plans for an Assembly floor session today. Instead, the Assembly Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the Republican budget proposal.

►A State Without a Budget - Day 65 and counting: STARS OF SHAME FOR SEVEN LEADERS
Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines
Senate Republican Dave Cogdill
Senate Pres Pro Tem Don Perata
Senate leader in waiting Darrell Steinberg
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Former Gov. Pete Wilson
Posted by smf at 9:45 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, September 2, 2008
►A State Without a Budget: Looking forward to Day 65 - ASSEMBLY SCRATCHES WEDNESDAY SESSION
Sac Bee Capitol Alert by Shane Goldmacher
September 2, 2008 -- With no deal in sight, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has cancelled plans for an Assembly floor session on Wednesday, instead opting to hold a hearing on the Republican budget proposal.

►A State With a Budget: Day 64 - [EVERY DAY] A NEW RECORD
The Sacramento Bee CapitolAlert
September 2 -- State lawmakers worked through the weekend, passing legislation ahead of the August 31 bill deadline. Both houses adjourned on Sunday afternoon.
But of the hundreds of bills they've passed, none include the 2008-09 budget, which is now in record-setting territory.

Monday, September 1, 2008
smf sermonizes: Never before has California ended a legislative session, gone more than 62 days or seen the month of September without a budget. This is not good - but rushing ahead and getting a budget for the sake of getting a budget no matter what could and/or would be worse. "The more is on the line, the easier it is to get swept into an irrational decision." Economist Ori Brafman and his psychologist brother Rom explain in their treatise Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior. Before there were self-help business books there was the itinerant rabbi from Galilee : "Lead us not into temptation". Let us not be so led.

California enters uncharted territory with no budget
Some say the stalemate could last into next year, leaving the incoming Legislature to solve the problem. That will leave those dependent on state funds without the money to operate.
By Evan Halper | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

September 1, 2008 — SACRAMENTO — As the Legislature lurched to its close Sunday with no budget in place, California toppled its own record for fiscal dysfunction.

"What are we to do? Where do we turn?" Ortiz asked. "If we take out loans, the interest rates will kill us, not to mention all the late charges we are going to receive for our mortgages we don't pay on time."

►FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA: Bellwether states are falling off the fiscal cliff
"Everyone knows that when the nation is going to hell in a hand cart, California usually gets there first. "
Commentary by Thomas G. Donlan | Editorial Page Editor Of BARRON'S
Sunday, August 31, 2008

►A State Without a Budget: Day 62 - SENATE TO MEET DAILY UNTIL BUDGET DONE
Sac Bee Capitol Alert | posted by Shane Goldmacher
August 30, 2008 - 5:46 PM -- Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata announced Saturday that the Senate will convene every day - including weekends -- until lawmakers pass a state budget, which is now 61 days overdue.

LINK TO: The News That Disn't Fit from September 7th

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Monday Sep 8, 2008
SOUTH REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #5: Pre-Demolition Community Meeting
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Miles Avenue Elementary School
6720 Miles Ave.
Huntington Park, CA 90255

Wednesday Sep 10, 2008
Ceremony starts at 10:00 a.m.
South Region Elementary School #4
4500 Firestone Blvd.
South Gate, CA 90280

Thursday Sep 11, 2008
Ceremony will begin at 5:00 p.m.
Banning High School
1527 Lakme Ave.
Wilmington, CA 90744

Thursday Sep 11, 2008
Preliminary Environmental Assessment Hearing and Presentation of Design Development Drawings
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Stanford Elementary School - Auditorium
2833 Illinois Ave.
South Gate, CA 90280

*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.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.