Sunday, January 11, 2009

@ the edge

4LAKids: Sunday, January 11, 2009
In This Issue:
“California at the Edge of a Cliff”: STATE FALLS IN EDUCATION RANKS
SCHWARZENEGGER PROPOSES 5 FEWER SCHOOL DAYS: Faced with a massive budget deficit, the governor wants to stop state funding for a week of classes.
3,000 LAUSD TEACHERS FACE LAYOFFS: Widening fiscal gap has many fearful that district will take action on its annual warning.
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.
A report on the sorry state of the California State University system: "CALIFORNIA AT THE EDGE OF A CLIFF" [below] sums it up. Dark one-metaphor-fits-all images abound: the Perfect Storm/The Precipice/The Abyss. All adapt to fit the fiscal disaster du jour: the Global Economic Collapse/Wall Street-Main Street-Your Street/The State Budget Crisis/The Public School Funding Fiasco. And while all the disasters and all the mot du jours become current events the ominous objects in the mirror are always closer than they appear.

The USA that Barack Obama becomes president of a week from Tuesday is not the same USA he began his race for on the steps of the Old Capitol in Springfield, Illinois two years ago. That Springfield is as far removed from the reality of today as the one on The Simpsons.

EDUCATION - that's what unites this readership - is about the future and investing in it. The future is always uncertain; the Future v.2009 is just more so. Parents and educators must be hopeful about the future because we are the shapers of it; we have little use for dark metaphors outside of gothic fiction - we need to be focused on the Hope and the Promise and The Bright New Beautiful Tomorrow.

• Yet we read that the CSU system doesn't meet the needs of the future. The CSU system, I remind all, was originally meant to educate future teachers.
• Similarly we read the UC system will cut enrollment 6% even as California high school graduations are at an all time high and growing.
• We read how Arnold Schwarzenegger – the goverenor-who-defeated-the-goverenor-who-proposed-to-add-ten-days-to-the-middle-school-calendar (Gray Davis) – proposes to permanently cut five days from the K-12 school calendar.
• Whatever happened to the Master Plan for California Education?
• On Tuesday the LAUSD Board will vote on whether to mail out a couple of thousand of 'you-may-be laid-off" notices to new teachers; facing fiscal reality there is only one way for them to vote.
• We now see what the price was for Schwarzenegger repealing the Automobile License Fee: $6 billion a year over five years plus accrued interest.
• We may soon see what the price will be for the "No New Taxes" Pledge: Six Million Children Left Behind. And that six million grows by 500,000 every year.

These pages have advocated flexibility in categorical funding during this crisis. The governor agrees — but he proposes to make the flexibility permanent — cynically yet effectively eliminating all categorical funding for Class Size Reduction, Arts & Music Programs, Afterschool, P.E., English language Learners, etc., by calling it "local control".

Schwarzenegger made his political entrance by advocating and creating a categorical program: Prop 49 (2002) – which funds Arts & Music, Afterschool and Physical Fitness programs (by moving rather than raising funds, so it didn't require a 2/3 vote [it got 56.6%, a greater vote than Arnold ever got - 48% in 2003 / 56% in 2006]). His flexibility flip-flop potentially kills that program too.

Schwarzenegger's children attend private schools: The Archer School for Girls and The Brentwood School. I really don't expect he will be approaching the boards of those schools to suggest raising student:teacher ratios (7:1) or decreasing the number of instructional days.

PARENTS: KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR MAILBOX. On Monday the District will be mailing out a new piece of communication: The School Report Card. This should not be confused with your child's report card - or with the School Accountability Report Card (SARC) mandated by the state. This is instead an LAUSD generated document reporting on how well your child's school is doing - somewhat-funded by the Gates Foundation and somewhat accomplished by the Boston Consulting Group; it is yet another well meant and inadequate effort to inform and engage parents.

It is inadequate because it's incomplete and under explained - filled with lots of "coming soon" non-data that might be helpful if it was there. The original concept was to provide test scores, grad rates, performance data and demographic information in a concise, easy to understand, parent-friendly, one-page document.

One page they got; the rest is confusing and un-or-under explained. "Parent friendly" is often a euphemism for "dumbed down". That may not the situation here — but I have yet to hear4 the great hue-and-cry from parents about wanting disaggregated data about significant subgroups.

Parents want to know how their kids are doing and how well their child's classmates are doing.

I fear that principals and office staff and school switchboards and talk radio drive times are about be inundated with lot's o' questions. And that landfills will soon be inundated with lots o' paper. And the media and the critics will have a field day. Hopefully Boston Consulting Group (BCG) will not be lumped-in with Business Tools for Schools (BTS) — the wonderful folks who brought us the payroll fiasco. Stay tuned.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf

“California at the Edge of a Cliff”: STATE FALLS IN EDUCATION RANKS
By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | Los Angeles Newspaper Group

January 8 - Once regarded as a national leader in higher education, California is quickly falling in the ranks as fewer young people graduate from high school and enroll in college, according to a report released Wednesday by the California Faculty Association.

In its investment in public higher education and college degree attainment, the state ranks has plunged.

California ranked 49th in the country in terms for its number of adults with at least a high school diploma, 46th for the number of 19-year-olds enrolled in college and 31st for college enrollment among students in low-income families.

And over the last three decades the state's investment in public higher education has dropped 40 percent - dropping from 11th in the nation to 22nd despite having the country's largest public higher education system.

"It's a collapse, folks," said Tom Mortensen, author of the report "California at the Edge of a Cliff: The Failure to Invest in Public Higher Education is Crushing the Economy and Crippling our Kids' Futures."

"This is a staggering commentary on this state's commitment to higher education."

Lillian Taiz, president of California State Faculty Association who commissioned the report, said the statistics should be a message to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"For the past several years we have been trying to draw attention to the fact that these cuts have real serious consequences," Taiz said.

"It is utterly hypocritical for the governor to call for job creation out of one side of his mouth while he cuts higher education funding from the other side."

The 2008-09 state budget cut funding for the CSU system twice - a midyear cut of $66.3 million and a $31.3 million one-time cut - and cut the UC system's funding by $48 million. The CSU system also cut enrollment for the 2009-10 year and the UC system will be discussing cutting enrollment at a meeting later this month.

"The governor has always been a large proponent of higher education, but unfortunately in this national economic downturn the state faces a $41.6 billion budget gap, and like families and companies across the state we must tighten our belts," said Camille Anderson, a spokeswoman for the governor.

Anderson also said that the governor has proposed a $644 million increase to higher education funding over last year.

• from the report:

Get Real: There is a simply staggering and growing gulf between demographic reality and higher education policy in California.

• On the demographic side the share of California’s K-12 students approved for subsidized school lunches hasincreased from 35.2% in 1989 to 51.5% by 2007, and this share will increase much further and probably rapidly and indefinitely in future years.

• These students will have zero resources to pay for higher education when they reach college age. But they also represent a growing share of California’s future workforce that must be higher educated for the most valuable work to be done in the Human Capital Economy.

• On the policy side California has reduced its higher education investment effort by 40 percent since FY1980. This means that public colleges and universities have raised tuitions to offset losses in state support. The state has been shifting the costs of operating its universities from state taxpayers to students and their families since 1980.

• These students from low family income backgrounds face huge financial barriers to California’s universities and thestate’s financial aid efforts fall very far short of meeting student needs.

CALIFORNIA AT THE EDGE OF A CLIFF: The Failure to Invest in Public Higher Education is Crushing the Economy and Crippling Our Kids’ Future (Report)

SCHWARZENEGGER PROPOSES 5 FEWER SCHOOL DAYS: Faced with a massive budget deficit, the governor wants to stop state funding for a week of classes.


By Seema Mehta | Los Angeles Times

January 8, 2009 -- A proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to shorten the school year by five days is creating panic among educators across California, who say they barely have enough time to fit the state's academic standards into the existing 180-day calendar.

The idea to cut funding equivalent to five school days would save $1.1 billion at a time when California faces a massive budget deficit. But state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell called the proposal "devastating."

"It would particularly hurt our low-income students and students of color," he said, because affluent districts are more likely to be able to pay for the five days themselves while poorer districts will be forced to eliminate those teaching days. "The result would be a further widening of the achievement gap," he said.

If the Legislature approves the proposal, California would join Kentucky, North Dakota and a few other states that require the least number of school days.

Parents are worried that the quality of their children's education would suffer and some said that it was an economic issue for them as well -- with an additional week of child-care costs. "I'm a single parent. It's hard to make ends meet," said Tina Herrera, 41, a Long Beach resident whose 9-year-old son attends Holmes Elementary School. "One extra week of child care is hard on my wallet. And there are thousands more just like me."

Republican Ken Maddox, a former assemblyman who is a school board trustee in South Orange County, said that although he is sympathetic to the governor's predicament, the state's schools already are underfunded.

"The standards are getting higher and higher, which is great. It would be nice if the dollars going to schools would get higher and higher," he said. "Our children deserve the best education possible, not the shortest education possible."

A Schwarzenegger spokesman said the suggestion came last fall from district superintendents as a less painful cut than some others that they could be forced to make. Some districts, for example, are considering closing schools, laying off teachers, and eliminating sports and arts programs. The governor's office did not provide the names of any superintendents who support the five-day funding cut.

"We put this forward knowing we were heading into what is clearly the most challenging fiscal environment California has ever faced," said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Schwarzenegger's finance department.

"When you have to put forward a budget that closes a gap of more than $41 billion, criticism is going to be implicit in any proposal, whether in the education area or in health and human services or on the revenue side.

"That's why, before we came out with this proposal, we wanted to engage the education community at the front end of the process to get their views on how we can try to . . . do the least amount of damage possible," he said.

Lobbyist Sandy Silberstein, who represents Riverside County's 23 school districts, noted that districts would not be required to eliminate days. She said the proposal -- along with another that allows restricted funds, such as those in textbook accounts, to be used more freely -- gives school districts greater leeway in deciding how to weather the economic storm.

"What we have said . . . is give us the longest menu of flexible options," she said. "That is the only way we will survive this."

The 2009-10 budget is far from finalized, and it is unknown whether the school-year proposal will survive negotiations in Sacramento. But education probably will face major cuts because it makes up about 40% of the state budget.

Currently, the state requires 175 days of school, although an annual fiscal incentive created in 1983 prompted most districts to provide 180 days of instruction.

Many other countries require far more. Indian and Chinese students spend more weeks in the classroom every year than their American counterparts.

Education advocates have been calling for more days in the American school calendar for decades, notably in "A Nation at Risk," a 1983 report that called on states to create a 200- to 220-day school year, as well as more instructional time in the day.

Research has consistently shown students, if engaged academically, benefit from more classroom time.

"You don't need a PhD to understand that the more days students work with teachers, the more they learn," said Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at UC Berkeley.

O'Connell's fear that districts serving more low-income students or minorities would bear the brunt of the cuts is true in Pasadena, where the district could not afford to pay for the five days, said Pasadena Unified School District Supt. Edwin Diaz.

"It's a huge step backward and is going in the opposite direction of what we need in this state to close the achievement gap and improve performance for all kids," he said. "We need more time with the kids."

In addition to ensuring that today's generation is prepared to compete in a global economy, educators and others said there is another, more immediate, benefit from requiring students to spend more time in school.

"When you cut days out of school, I guess the question is what are students going to be doing with that time?" asked Chad Heeter, the Indianapolis-based director and editor of "Two Million Minutes," a 2008 documentary that examined lives and study habits of high school seniors in the United States, India and China. "What [time in school] does community-wide is keep kids busy and occupied and out of trouble."

Educators also had a more practical concern: Though Sacramento can decide to cut funding for five days of school, each of the state's 1,054 school districts would be required to renegotiate contracts with unions representing teachers and other employees, including potential pay cuts.

Joe Farley, superintendent of the Anaheim Union High School District, said he renegotiated salaries when he headed a San Diego County district.

"It was extremely hard," he said. "It's something I would avoid doing again."

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the state's largest, Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said that officials expect to cut $400 million in next year's budget but that they are hamstrung until legislators approve a budget plan. This week, the district sent layoff notices to 2,300 instructors because of an anticipated shortfall this school year. Cortines implored state leaders to act quickly.

"We cannot do anything until we know what the parameters are that we have to work within," he said. "That has to come from Sacramento."

3,000 LAUSD TEACHERS FACE LAYOFFS: Widening fiscal gap has many fearful that district will take action on its annual warning.
By George B. Sanchez, Staff Writer | Los Angeles Newspaper Group

6 Jan 09 -- Eyeing an ever-widening budget gap, Los Angeles Unified School District officials said Monday they could soon send nearly 3,000 nonpermanent teachers notices warning of imminent layoffs.

While it has become standard policy in recent years for the district to send layoff notices as a precautionary measure, teachers union officials and administrators fear this is the first time since widespread layoffs of the mid-1990s that teachers could actually lose their jobs.

"This is not a favored option, but under the current fiscal crisis, we have to consider it," said Vivian Ekchian, LAUSD's interim chief human resources officer.

Unlike permanent teachers, who must be notified in March if they will not have a job in the upcoming school year, nonpermanent teachers -- those who have worked for two years or fewer -- must be given only two weeks notification before being fired.

Still, Superintendent Ramon Cortines said the notifications do not guarantee that teachers will lose their jobs.

"I'm just being very cautious," Cortines said.

The district will first look at 2,290 nonpermanent teachers who have the least seniority and who teach elementary school and secondary school English and math, according to a report prepared for the board. Potential layoffs would also target interns and provisional teachers, who have not passed their final exams in the subjects they teach.

United Teachers Los Angeles spokeswoman Marla Eby said the notices could just be protocol, but warned that in the current economic environment, they must be taken very seriously.

"This is the beginning," Eby said, noting that regular teachers will also likely get similar notices within two months.

The school board will consider the matter at its first meeting of the year on Jan. 13. District officials say the layoffs can be avoided if money can be found from the state. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a proposed budget deal to lawmakers last week that seeks to close a nearly $15 billion gap. Unless lawmakers can agree on a plan, state finance officials say state coffers could be out of cash by February.

If the LAUSD board votes to send the notices and layoffs are made, union leaders say it will almost certainly bring about bigger class sizes and threaten the steady improvements made in recent years in reducing the dropout rate and improving standardized test scores.

Based on an average cost per teacher of $60,000, including salary and benefits, laying off 2,290 teachers would save the district more than $137 million over a full year, said Megan Reilly, LAUSD's chief financial officer. But since the cuts would be mid-year, she explained, the savings would be no more than $68.5million and possibly as low as a quarter the yearly figure, or $34.2million.

These cuts would be part of an estimated $400 million in cuts the district will likely have to make soon as the district enters the midway point of its 2008-09 school year budget. They come on top of $472 million the district slashed from the 2008-09 budget before the start of the current school year.

Also, at least $200 million in cuts are expected for the 2009-10 school year.

So far, the state budget crisis has halted funding for district art programs. The number of meals for poor students will likely be slashed from 100 million meals to 55 million annually. State-mandated limits on classroom sizes for first through third grades could grow from 20 to 37.

Teachers are used to receiving layoff notices in the new year as a possible cost-saving measure, said UTLA President A.J. Duffy.

"At this point, it's a procedural issue in order for the district to move ahead," Duffy said. "Do we believe it'll happen? We have no way of knowing."

While the 2,290 positions represent a fraction of the district's 37,000 teachers, they are more than a third of the district's 5,700 non-permanent teachers.

Duffy said the cuts would hurt gains in graduation rates and achievement on state and federal standardized tests. Before the district lays off teachers, he said, the district should cut its use of outside consultants and shed bureaucrats at district headquarters.

Layoffs for any group of teachers is worrisome, said one teacher at Cleveland High School in Van Nuys.

"It's really stressful," said Coleen Bondy, who is in her third year of teaching English and journalism. "I love my job. I worked hard to be a teacher. It would be really hard to get laid off."

She also said many teachers don't seem to understand the gravity of the state budget crisis, noting talk in lounges and hallways is of strikes instead of layoffs.

"I don't think people understand the magnitude of the state budget crisis," she said. "I've never heard the state say it'll run out of money."

• “If black kids are not achieving, the first thing we have to look at is how educated are the parents and what emphasis are they putting on education.” (Educator Howard) Ransom said. "It is time for the African American community and parents to 'man up' and begin to refocus priorities as it pertains to education."

“If you want to place the blame somewhere, place it on the parents,” he said. “It is the responsibility of the parent to make sure the child comes to school prepared to learn. “Who is the first teacher? The parent. You have to be actively engaged in your child’s education.”

by Chico C. Norwood | Staff Writer L.A. WATTS TIMES

6 January 2009 -- The learning gap between African American students and every other ethnic group is widening, experts say. According to the California Department of Education, black students continue to fall through the cracks and trail their white, Asian and Hispanic counterparts in learning.

“In the past many people have played ostrich and tried to look north,” said California State Superintendent Jack O’Connell during a recent media briefing on the achievement gap and African American students.

“The achievement gap is real.” O’Connell said over the last six years test scores for all students have improved. "We have seen that all of our schools … (are) moving in the right direction,” he said.

However, despite the improvement in test scores, O’Connell added “we have not been successful in closing that achievement gap.”Less than 30 percent of black students can read, write and do math at their grade level, compared to more than 60 percent of white and Asian students, according to the results from the 2006 California Standards Test.

The test gauges academic progress of students from the 2nd to 11th grades.

Black students trailed all other racial groups in English Language Arts with just 22.9 percent testing proficient and 21.6 percent testing proficient in math. "We have had no success on narrowing the achievement gap for the last six years in English Language Arts for African Americans,” O’Connell said.

“It’s been a 31 percent differential six years in a row.” While the official dropout rate for California sits at 21.5 percent, the dropout rate for African Americans is 36.2 percent.

Over the past two years, O’Connell has made closing the achievement gap a top priority.
In 2007, he launched a statewide initiative to close the achievement gap.
The initiative included developing and implementing a specific plan that included establishing the California P-16 Council.

The council is a “statewide assembly of education, business and community leaders charged with developing strategies to better coordinate, integrate and improve education for all students from preschool through college,” according to the state department. It also has the responsibility of providing recommendations on what the state can do differently to assist local education agencies in closing the gap.

Additionally, O’Connell set up a P-16 Unit within the department of education to assist the council in its work .After extensive information gathering, surveys with teachers, students and families, a variety of community forums and town hall meetings, the council came up with 14 recommendations.

“Unlike many reports, this is not the door stop; this one’s not collecting dust,” O’Connell said. “All of the recommendations have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.”

One recommendation calls for access to high-quality, pre-kindergarten programs for those who need it. As a result of the recommendation, two pieces of legislation have been signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that will open more preschool slots at quality preschools to more students that need the help the most, O’Connell said.

Eric Lee, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – Los Angeles, said some aspects of the council findings are relevant, but they do not address the real problems. “The whole achievement gap can be attributed to the teacher-quality gap in the inner city compared to suburban schools,” he said.

“In the inner cities they have as much as a 60-percent turnover rate. You also have many first- and second-year teachers and non-credential teachers. So the quality of teaching is the issue. You cannot close the achievement gap if you do not close the teacher-quality gap and they are not talking about that.”

Lee, who is in the process of producing a documentary about the achievement gap among black students that is expected to be released in the coming months, said the fiscal funding formula used by school districts is also one of the biggest contributing factors to the gap.

According to Lee and a report by The Education Trust-West called “Hidden Teacher-Spending Gaps in the Los Angeles Unified School District,” money that is specifically designated, by law, to generate the achievement of low-income students is diverted from inner-city schools and students most in need.

Funds are sent to schools in more affluent and advantaged areas.

“The greater expenses are in the suburban areas when the greatest need is in the inner city,” he said. “The money doesn’t follow the child in the district funding formula.”

Howard Ransom — who has been an LAUSD educator for more than 20 years, has taught in college, and operated a charter school — said there is no excuse for the achievement gap among blacks. Ransom said the problem rests in the fact that the black community is not putting an emphasis on education.

He said the black community, as a group, does not view the achievement gap as being of “significant importance.” “In white and Asian cultures, education is extremely important, and so there is a responsibility there for the kids to do well,” he said.

“If black kids are not achieving, the first thing we have to look at is how educated are the parents and what emphasis are they putting on education.” Ransom said it is time for the African American community and parents to “man up” and begin to refocus priorities as it pertains to education.

“If you want to place the blame somewhere, place it on the parents,” he said. “It is the responsibility of the parent to make sure the child comes to school prepared to learn. “Who is the first teacher? The parent. You have to be actively engaged in your child’s education.”

He added that African American parents must have as much a vested interest in their child’s education as they do in their child’s performance on the athletic field, where African Americans outperform other ethnic groups. According to New American Media, local author and commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson said media, including black media, focused on negative stories about African American students, stereotyping all black students as underachievers and undermining their self-esteem.

As an example of success stories, he cited Community Harvest Charter School in Los Angeles. The school opened in September 2002 with a student body made up of roughly 48 percent African Americans and 48 percent Latino students, according to Amount of Harvest’s first three graduating classes, 84 percent of students were accepted into universities such as University of Southern California; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Berkeley; and Georgetown.

He said that U.S. News & World Report listed the school as one of the top high schools in the nation, but it received only a very small write-up in a local black newspaper.

• New American Media writer Kenneth Kim contributed to this report.

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

Editorial from the Los Angeles Newspaper Group

●●smf's 2¢: Sometimes one suspects that the Daily News editorial board is writing for The Daily [Other] Planet.

“California at the Edge of a Cliff”: STATE FALLS IN EDUCATION RANKS

+ 4 more stories

SCHWARZENEGGER PROPOSES 5 FEWER SCHOOL DAYS: Faced with a massive budget deficit, the governor wants to stop state funding for a week of classes.

+ 25 more stories


In the face of a widening budget gap, Los Angeles Unified School District officials said in remarks reported today that they could soon send nearly 3,000 nonpermanent teachers notices warning of imminent layoffs


from the Downtown News:: READY FOR A MEGA YEAR: School is in Session + LEADERS OF THE PACK: Monica Garcia

In the fall, the $232 million High School for the Visual and Performing Arts will open. LAUSD officials still have to hire a staff and decide who will be able to attend the state-of-the-art facility.

ELECTED OFFICIALS WHO WILL BE AT THE CENTER OF THINGS IN 2009. Fresh off her ouster of former LAUSD Supt. David Brewer, school board President Monica Garcia has put herself in a position of power.

CTA FILES SCHOOL FUNDING INITIATIVE: 1 Cent Sales Tax Increase Would Benefit K-12 Schools, Community Colleges

California Teachers Association Files School Funding Initiative to Protect Students, Schools from Deeper Budget Cuts and Ensure Future Funding

As lawmakers remain at odds on dealing with the budget crisis, CTA filed an initiative in late December that would implement a one-cent sales tax to provide new, ongoing funding for public schools and colleges. CTA took the action in an effort to combat the billions of dollars in cuts to public education.


The justices have accepted the case that began with a lawsuit filed by out-of-state students and their parents, who argue that such a benefit violates federal law.

January 5, 2009 -- California's highest court is poised to be the next battleground in the debate over benefits for illegal immigrants as the justices have agreed to hear arguments on the constitutionality of a state law allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.


The orchestra's students work hard, excited to do justice to the Mozart fairy tale and the professional chorus. Performances are Jan. 23 and 24.


Tioga High School students organized a petition drive in hopes of recalling their school board. Parents, teachers and even their principal joined the effort.

Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District board members got rid of a popular math teacher after a strange plagiarism complaint.


In the run-up to Obama's picking a Secretary of Ed , two sides formed in a debate over the desiderata for a secretary and might have duked it out, but only one side was permitted to throw punches in public. It wasn't Dems vs. the GOP. Indeed, that huge sucking sound you hear is Republicans trying to control their laughter. The two groups are largely within the Democratic Party. They might duke it out still because some see secretary of education-designate, Arne Duncan, as the right man in the right place and others see him as evil incarnate (though not quite so incarnate as Joel Klein or Michelle Rhee). If not evil incarnate, a man to further the corporatization of education and the commodification of childhood



Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger still hasn't signed that majority-vote budget Democrats passed back in December, but GOP opponents are going to court today to block the budget plan anyway.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said his organization, backed by GOP lawmakers, will be filing a lawsuit that argues the Democratic plan is illegal because it raises taxes without the necessary two-thirds vote.

"How can anyone with a straight face look at this package of bills and say it's not intended to raise revenue?" Coupal asks.

(Democrats admit they are raising revenue, but say they are only raising fees and swapping one equal tax for another, thus meeting the legal requirement for a majority vote.)

The whole argument, of course, is moot so long as Schwarzenegger refuses to sign the $18 billion package, as he has since it passed.

Negotiations continue, though the governor's office has indicated little progress has been made.

With that stalemate being, well, stale, other budget-balancing plans are popping up.


It was Arnold who gutted the Vehicle License Fee on his first day in office that gives us an annual budget hole of $5 billion (and growing).
It was Arnold who campaigned in 2004 on paying off just one year’s budget deficit by passing a bond that we’re still paying for as debt service.
And it’s the Republicans in the legislature – and their adamant refusal to ever vote for a single tax increase whatsoever in any way, shape or form – who have abused the two-thirds requirement to pass a state budget each and every year, driving us further and further into fiscal irresponsibility.
California’s one of the most liberal states – but in Sacramento, we get nothing but an Alabama budget.

If the ban on texting while driving was the ‘08 legislative highlight - CALIFORNIA CAPITOL’S 2009 PROSPECTS LOOK GRIM

“OK, so 2008 was mostly a waste of what taxpayers spent on legislators … A year from now, we may look back on 2008 as the good old days.”


“LAUSD could be affected in the future but for right now they’re good, You know all those bonds that were approved by the taxpayers? Is the LAUSD going to be able to sell them?” - Doug Bernards, President - Bernards Bros. Construction

CapitolAlert: ALL THE NEWS YOU MISSED OVER THE HOLIDAYS – Yes, California still has a budget problem!


January 1, 2009 — LOS ANGELES — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, at war with the California Legislature over how to close tens of billions of dollars in projected budget shortfalls, proposed a budget Wednesday that contains a hefty sales tax increase and would cut away at state services..”

+30 stories


Controller John Chiang sends a letter to government agencies advising them who will not be paid if the state's cash runs out. Also on the list? Californians expecting tax refunds.

December 31, 2008 -- The failure of lawmakers and the governor thus far to wipe out any of the state's projected nearly $42-billion deficit leaves California only weeks from running out of the cash needed to pay all of its bills. On Tuesday, State Controller John Chiang sent a letter to government agencies advising them of whom the state won't pay if coffers run dry.

The news that didn't fit from Jan 11th

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


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

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

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

Scott Folsom is a parent 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 has served a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools.
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