Saturday, March 28, 2009

Right Size me. Do Over III.

4LAKids: Sunday, March 29, 2009
In This Issue:
FOLLOW OBAMA'S LEAD: INVEST IN TEACHERS—with federal stimulus money available, now is the time for LAUSD to be creating jobs, not firing educators
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
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.
The "Power Struggle" described in the Daily News article below is part and parcel of the have/have not friction between the Facilities Services Division – which is flush with capital because of the voters and taxpayers support LAUSD's construction and modernization efforts — and the Education & Operations side of the house – which is spectacularly under funded from Sacramento. This conflict is evidenced by the 'Why can't we use bond dollars to pay teachers?' argument, the second most asked question after 'Whatever happened to the lottery money?'
• Public Education gets the lottery money, but over the years Sacramento has taken away far more money than the lottery provides. If Prop 1C passes in May ALL the lottery money will go from education, Sacramento promises to make it up.
• The State Constitution, the bond language (aka: the law) from BB to Q and sound fiscal policy ('You don't pay annual salaries from thirty-year borrowing') FORBID bond funds from paying teachers salaries or raises.
Last week UTLA President A.J. Duffy suggested halting the construction program for two years to "save money" …a proposition about as removed from reality as Dancing with the Stars.

This "power struggle" obscures the real one and takes the public attention away from the true issue: Next Tuesday – if the plan goes as planned – The Board of Ed will vote and LAUSD will slash its budget far deeper than necessary to comply with a decade's old and half forgotten plan to right size the district. "Right size", gentle reader, is a PR/Orwellian/Karl Rovian euphemism for "downsize", couched as rhetorical reform. No body ever "right sized" up. (Though encouraging our young people to "right size me" at McDonalds would be a good thing!) It's an expression used by slash-and-burn arbitrageurs, mergers-and-acquisitions pirates and corporate raiders. Yes, 'downtown bureaucrats' will go, but so will bright promising young teachers, principals and instructional reformers – fired or sent lower in the food chain as the lemons (including some DTBs just described) bump the good apples in the seniority boogie. Remember Little Feat? "Old folks boogie, boogie if you will – as the mind makes promises the body can't fill." It's like that.

Last week I was accused of drinking the institutional Kool-Aid for my failure to support what's going on here and my questioning of educational and fiscal priorities. For asking that the federal stimulus package be used to save jobs like it's supposed to. The lemonade to come will not just be sour but bitter also.


Remember "Back to the Future"? And "Peabody's Improbable History"? …the cartoon series in which a time-traveling dog and his pet boy, Sherman – using Peabody's "Wayback Machine" – would go back in time and wound up making events come out "right", i.e., the way they're depicted in history books. The do-over (in golf, the "mulligan") is even older than that. A chance to go back and do it over again …and get it right this time. Few are those of us who did it "my way" with no regrets.

Ramon Cortines, when he was Chancellor of the New York City Schools in 1993-95 attempted to decentralize and right size the NYC system into local districts and the experiment was a disaster. In fairness to Cortines made more so because of his infamous clash of wills with Mayor Giuliani. Giuliani inherited Cortines from the predecessor he defeated in getting elected – Cortines was not 'the mayor's man"!

Cortines had his chance to do it over again when he was LAUSD Interim Superintendent in 1999-2000 – replacing Ruben Zacharias – who was not 'Mayor Riordan's man'. Cortines created and left in place his 1999 Cortines Plan to decentralize LAUSD to 11 local districts (the High School Cluster Plan then in place was probably even less central).

When Roy Romer was selected as permanent superintendent (while Romer was not 'Riordan's man' he certainly was his choice) Roy had no interest in Cortines' plan, using it only as a hub-and-spokes framework for central control and ignoring the rest of it – seemingly once-and-for-all. When James Hahn became mayor he left LAUSD alone and focused on running the City of LA.

Mayor Villaraigosa came onto the scene intent on taking over and running the LA school district like other big city mayors in other places do. (Those mayors also get to run their cities; the LA city charter really doesn't give the mayor all that much power.) Villaraigosa went mano e mano with Romer. He beat Romer at California Politics but ultimately lost in court – and returned to Riordan's stratagem of electing -'buying-and-paying-for' if you will – a sympathetic school board. (The LA City Charter, which forbids partisan politics, in so doing gives rise to a strange hybrid of partisanship.)

As the handwriting on the wall became obvious Romer bowed out – and the threatened school board appointed their own man: Admiral Brewer. Push came to shove, Villaraigosa pushed out board majority – and in due course the board shoved out Brewer.

Cortines returned – not the prodigal son but a prodigal something – after a stint in Washington, in private industry, as an advisor to Villaraigosa and deputy to Brewer — and proceeded to take his decade-and-more old plan off the shelf, dust it off and give it another go.

A third chance to get it right, to get it right-sized.

As you read the forgoing interpretation of history you may note that it isn't about education or children, it's all about power and politics. It's about laying out the org/flow/Gantt charts and the theoretic design of a complex bureaucracy. The words 'student', 'teacher', 'parent', 'child' or 'education' did not appear.

What this history also misses is that an awful lot happened in the decade between Cortines I and Cortines II. Time changes things. Reform changes things. Progress changes things. A decade changes things. The Kindergarteners of 1999 are now in high school. Class size reduction to 20:1 in K-3. Full Day Kindergarten. Open Court. No Child Left Behind. AYP and API. 76 new schools and 59 addition projects. Declining enrollment. Small Learning Communities. Small Schools. A-G. The Belmont LC opened as the Roybal LC – who woulda thunk it? LAUSD schools/students won 5 national Academic Decathlons. Grad rates have improved, dropout rates have declined. Chanda Smith earned her high school diploma. The district traded in its funky old HQ in an converted junior high school at 450 N. Grand for a funky old converted bank building at 333 S. Beaudry. The cuts continue in state funding. Laptop carts. Smart boards. Blackboards, green in '99 are now white. Busing is almost a thing of the past, as are year 'round calendars. No more junk food and soda sold on campus. Children's obesity, type 2 (adult onset) diabetes and asthma and dental disease are epidemic in our student population. LAUSD has a nationally recognized Arts and Music Program. Accomplishments have been accomplished. New challenges have developed. Ten years of stuff has happened.

And the Economic Crisis has happened. Global, National, California, School District; Main Street and Wall Street and your street. And your local school.

More change is soon to come. Two new board members who campaigned in agreement with their opponents to 'blow up' the local districts are about take office and be bound by a budget of their predecessors' making. A number of local district superintendents are opting for retirement. The general consensus is that the number of Cortines' local districts will go from the original eleven to the current eight to three. And new Boards of Education tend to want their own superintendent.

And I return to the argument that the Federal Stimulus legislation is intended to create new jobs and sustain existing ones. Read what David Tokofsky had to say about this in his LA Times Op-Ed reprinted below. I yet haven't seen the widely leaked IG's report on the Facilities Division but I know that they have shovel ready jobs to put workers to work modernizing and rebuilding some tired old schools. And I also know that the program will not be hiring promising young pink-slipped teachers to build and modernize those schools. The Board of Ed and Superintendent Cortines were there week before last at Miguel Contreras LC when President Obama and Ethan Lopez had their talk about schools and teachers and the President's commitment to save teachers' jobs. Hopefully they were paying attention.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! -smf

by George B. Sanchez Staff Writer | LA Newspaper Group | Daily News/Daily Breeze

March 28, 2009 -- This week's leak of an internal audit has exposed deep divisions between the Los Angeles Board of Education and its advisory committee that oversees a $27 billion school construction program.

The power struggle, in the words of the committee's chairwoman, is over the future of the massive building program and hundreds of millions of dollars in private contracts.

"The audit is being used for a broader attack on facilities," said Connie Rice, a prominent civil rights lawyer and chair of the bond oversight committee. "This is a power struggle."

Superintendent Ramon Cortines is scheduled Monday to release an audit of the district's Facilities Division by Los Angeles Unified School District Inspector General Jerry Thornton. While the audit should answer concerns about the district's use of high-paid construction consultants, even Cortines' attempt to clear the air has been questioned.

"In attempting to remove the audit from the politics and tension between the board and oversight committee, Cortines added a new layer of politics to this," said Scott Folsom, oversight committee co-chair.

There's a history of disagreement between the board and the committee over decision-making and spending.

The committee has pushed for higher wages for district construction employees, which Cortines and the board have disregarded.

Oversight committee members say their advisory role is meant to allow the school board to focus on education, but board members believe it is their job to play a role in construction decisions as well.

"As a board, we have a responsibility to make sure all division and departments are complying with regulations and are ethical and transparent," said board member Yolie Flores Aguilar, who is also chair of the facilities committee. "To not address that would be irresponsible and derelict on our part."

The bond oversight committee was created when voters approved the first of five bond measures totaling $27billion.

"The board doesn't know how to let go," Folsom said. "The board doesn't know how to defer."

District sources familiar with Thornton's report said auditors found that $186 million was paid to 1,277 consultants in 2006-07, averaging $145,652 per person.

When the audit was completed, Cortines asked facilities director Guy Mehula to respond. After a meeting between Mehula and Thornton, Cortines recruited Bill Siart, former chairman and chief executive officer of First Interstate Bancorp and founder of ExED, a nonprofit agency that supports charter schools.

"Bill Siart is known as someone who knows education financing," explained Caprice Young, a public education reformer who works with the international education group Knowledge Universe. "He knows how to build schools. He knows how to run them."

But Siart's arrival concerns Folsom.

The charter community has been at odds with the facilities department over charter school construction as well as granting charter operators space on district property. Siart's input, Folsom said, could be seen as a conflict of interest.

For a construction project of this magnitude, the district must hire high-priced consultants and the board must not micromanage, Rice said. Construction must be left to construction experts, not education policymakers or district staff, she continued.

"If the school district can't deliver books or make their students proficient in math, how can you expect them to build a school?"

Such contractors cost taxpayers 70% more than if district employees had been hired for the work, audit finds. And some lacked proper qualifications and overstepped their authority.

By Howard Blume | from the Los Angeles Times

March 27, 2009 – Consultants working for the Los Angeles Unified School District's school construction program cost taxpayers 70% more than if district employees had been used to do the same work, according to a draft internal audit obtained Thursday by The Times.

The audit also found that some consultants lacked required qualifications for their duties, and that those contractors have been improperly supervising and evaluating district employees as well as other consultants.

"The report suggests that we have to have a reorganization to develop a plan for the next 10 years," said district Supt. Ramon C. Cortines. "We need both regular employees and consultants, and we've got to monitor that more closely."

He said Chief Facilities Executive Guy Mehula has his "full faith" and has done "an outstanding job" managing what has grown to be a $20.1-billion school construction and modernization effort.

The confidential December audit has been the source of internal debate within the country's second-largest school system. Top officials in the facilities division have contested some findings, prompting Cortines to seek an independent review by former banking executive William E.B. Siart, who oversees ExED, which assists charter schools with financing and business operations.

Among the auditors' conclusions:
• Using district employees, where possible, instead of consultants could have saved $77 million in the period from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007.
• Consultants lacking the required minimum qualifications were hired or promoted.
• Eighty-four percent of consultants had been employed at the district for more than two years and 16% more than five years.
• One consultant, who was supervised by an outside company he used to work for, billed the district at $189 an hour for full-time work, even though he spent only one week a month in Los Angeles.
• Consultants overstepped their proper roles, making decisions about the hiring and compensation of district employees. Some consultants also controlled the payments of district funds to other consultants working for the same firm. In some cases, they even signed time sheets for payments to their own firm.

One of the consulting firms, TBI Associates -- the subject of a series of Times articles in 2007 that examined alleged time-card fraud involving the locally based company -- is not singled out in the audit and has denied wrongdoing. A yearlong criminal investigation into the fraud case is ongoing, according to the L.A. County district attorney's office.

The findings should not be used to dismantle a system that fundamentally works, said civil rights attorney Connie Rice, a member of the appointed committee that oversees school bond spending. "For this kind of construction program, it makes sense to use consultants because the top-level people you need are not going to work for the district."

She also defended the higher salaries, saying that they were needed to attract top talent and that the wages were still less than those for comparable jobs in the private sector. The result, she said, is a program that has probably saved hundreds of millions of dollars and resulted in high quality and reasonably rapid school construction.

In the audited year, the facilities division employed 1,277 consultants at $186 million. That number had dropped to 882 consultants by September 2008. Auditors said the facilities staff has addressed some of the oversight problems.

By George B. Sánchez, Staff Writer. LA NEWSPAPER GROUP/DAILY NEWS

03/26/2009 - An audit detailing Los Angeles Unified's reliance on costly outside consultants to build schools has raised such concern for Superintendent Ramon Cortines that he called in a former bank executive to review the findings.

Cortines asked Bill Siart, former chairman and CEO of First Interstate Bank Corp., to look at the audit, prepared by Inspector General Jerry Thornton, and a defense of the building program by construction chief Guy Mehula.

Siart was not paid for his work. Cortines did not detail the scope or conclusions of his review, but said he would release it Monday.

According to district sources, the audit found that $186 million was paid to 1,277 outside consultants in 2006-07, averaging $145,653 per person that year. The audit's findings mirrored an earlier analysis by the Daily News that found the district spent $182 million on 849 consultants - about $215,000 each - in the 2007-08 year.

While the audit was completed late last month, Cortines said it contained "unsubstantiated" findings and asked Thornton and Mehula to work out their differences.

"I am on top of this," Cortines said. "I have concerns with the report and its content."

School board members are only now getting copies of the audit, which Cortines said he would explain to them on Tuesday.

The inspector general, the district's internal watchdog, said he would not release the report to the media until late next week.

"I think the board members and superintendent should discuss this and determine if action should be taken," Thornton said. He would not elaborate.

Board President Mónica García declined to comment Wednesday. Tamar Galatzan has a copy of the audit, according to her staff, but has not read it and would not comment.

Other board members did not respond to phone calls.

While the audit details past spending, union officials said it raises questions about the district's current use of outside consultants amid massive cost-cutting and layoff threats.

"If this is what they were doing in '06-07, what were they doing in '07-08 and '08-09?" said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

Duffy has not read the report.

The district faces a crushing deficit of $718 million over the next 18 months and the specter of mass layoffs, larger class sizes and the elimination of many popular programs.

The teachers union and other labor representatives have called for the district to halt consultant contracts and use that money for teachers and staff, among other demands.

District officials defend the practice, saying consultant contracts ebb and flow with the various stages of construction and have said district wages don't measure up to industry standards.

They add that special consultants are particularly needed to efficiently carry out the nearly $20 billion school construction program.

The Facilities Services Division is in charge of the district's construction program, which has been called the largest public construction program in the country.

The building program has continued apace despite enrollment falling in recent years. District officials say that enrollment fluctuates over the years and they must prepare for anticipated growth in the coming decades.

Last year, consultants constituted nearly 20 percent of the division and accounted for 35 percent of all employee costs. The majority of consultants have been used within two of the division's seven departments: New Construction and Existing Facilities, according to district records.

The district's use of outside consultants has come under fire for years.

"For almost 10 years, we`ve been telling the district that it's a waste of money to use contractors and not district employees," said Connie Moreno, a representative for the California School Employees Association.

"We`ve seen Facilities Division management take work away from district employees and give it to their contractors."

In contrast to consultant wages, the average employee of the facilities division earned about $99,000 in 2007-08, according to district records.

Teamsters local 572 is in arbitration over alleged illegal subcontracting as a result of the district`s use of contractors and outside consultants.


• I have not seen the audit or a draft of the audit. I have not seen Mr, Mehula’s response or a draft of Mr. Mehula’s response. I have not seen Mr. Siart’s review of the audit or a draft of Mr. Siart’s review; this article is the first I have heard of Mr. Siart’s review.
• I am a member of the Bond Oversight Committee which is charged by the State Constitution, the actual language of the bonds from BB through Q, and our charter with the Board of Education with review and oversight of school construction bond expenditures. One would think the BOC would be in this loop …unless there are allegations of BOC mal-or-misfeasance.
• The Inspector General, according to his charter and the District org chart , reports to the Board of Education – not the superintendent.
• The superintendent will release his response – the Siart report – next Monday – and the IG will release his report later in the week? What’s with that?
• Not to over define the definitions but there is a difference between Consultants and Outside Professional Contractors. Mr Siart is a consultant, albeit unpaid. It is my understanding that the subjects of the IG’s report are almost entirely professional contractors.

These are my opinions, not necessarily those of anyone else. - smf

►Extra Credit Homework: Google Bill Siart. He was a candidate for Superintendent in 1999 when Cortines was Interim Superintendent and Romer was hired. As Chairman of the Board of ExEd he is a champion-of and advocate-for Charter Schools. The charter school community is currently in a dispute with the Facilities Services Division (FSD) over whether bond funds can be used to build charter schools without FSD and Division of the State Architect (DSA) oversight and inspection – outside the seismic safety of the Field Act. In 2006 Siart wrote OpEd saying that the mayor should have chartering authority – contrary to the state constitution and LAUSD v. Villaraigosa – in which the courts held that city government has no authority in public education.

FOLLOW OBAMA'S LEAD: INVEST IN TEACHERS—with federal stimulus money available, now is the time for LAUSD to be creating jobs, not firing educators
By David Tokofsky | Opinion from the Los Angeles Times

March 26, 2009 -- My fifth-grade daughter, Rebecca, came home the other day with the news that her dedicated, talented teacher had received a pink slip. Ms. Stanco's notice that she might be laid off -- a Xeroxed form letter with her name filled in at the top -- arrived just two weeks after the team of kids she coached brought home the gold medal from the Los Angeles County Science Olympiad.

I know from experience how she feels. In 1992, during another of California's fiscal crises, I received a pink slip shortly after winning the California Teacher of the Year award. Like my daughter's teacher, I also had put in countless hours of my own time to coach a team of students. That team became the first in the Los Angeles Unified School District to win the national Academic Decathlon.

This year 9,000 "precautionary" pink slips went out to teachers and other school district employees --cafeteria workers, truck drivers and others who make a difference in our kids' lives -- to warn them they may not be hired back next year. Whether or not the layoffs happen, the notices are likely to cause some of the LAUSD's best and brightest young teachers to leave the profession.

It's all the sadder because this time the pink slips were sent out at the very same time President Obama came to town to deliver a message of hope. His plan to stimulate the economy includes education funding, and the LAUSD could receive more than $1 billion from the package.

Now is the time for Supt. Ramon C. Cortines to think about creating jobs and improving education. Instead, he wants to slash, not because he has to, one has to suspect, but because it's a way of accomplishing his vision of a decentralized district.

The money is intended as a stimulus, not as a hedge against future needs. It needs to be spent quickly, and it needs to be spent saving jobs.

As 26 members of Congress wrote in a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state education officials, the money is intended in part "to minimize or avoid harmful cuts to education programs and services" and "to keep teachers in the classroom." The stated goals of the legislation are job retention, job creation and targeted investment in education.

Federal stimulus funds will not give local school districts the long-term financial stability they need and deserve. But they will give schools the opportunity to plan how to transform themselves to better meet the 21st century needs of children without the immediate threat of economic collapse.

One thing the board should do is ask people in Los Angeles to support our schools. Local voters have shown themselves willing to support the building of facilities. We need to go back and ask them to support programs for our children: the arts, enrichment, field trips, science and technology skills.

My two daughters are the same age as Obama's daughters. As a parent of school-aged kids, I am glad the president is speaking out for reinvestment in America, especially in education. As Obama said last week at the town hall meeting here, we need to be catching up so that we can one day surpass India and China in teaching math and science. We are not going to do that by laying off thousands of employees and radically restructuring the school district in some utopian, decentralized way. We should not forget that we have a president who is committed to schools and the hopes of our most needy.

As I discovered when I was a member of the school board, the challenge is to fire people up, not fire them. The president has chosen to lead. The LAUSD and others would do well to follow.

• David Tokofsky is a consultant with Associated Administrators Los Angeles and a former member of the LAUSD Board of Education.

The letter 26 members of Congress wrote to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state education officials.

from LAUSD Board Member Tamar Galatzan's Board District 3 e-newsletter
According to Galatzan & Superintendent Cortines: 15% OF LAUSD’S TOTAL BUDGET NEEDS TO BE CUT
• 1,600 positions to be cut at Beaudry
• Reduced maintenance at schools
• Only core content support for schools
• Reduce facility leases
• Class size increase of 24 to 1 in K-3

By Board Member Tamar Galatzan

March 26, 2009 - The question of how best to cut the budget understandably preoccupies the entire LAUSD community: board members, parents, teachers, administrators, and the executive staff at Beaudry.

My inbox, and that of my colleagues, is running at or above capacity as constituent groups express their strongly-held views, usually in support of a program or position that they insist must not be eliminated. As I have previously noted, in some cases, these messages provide the first indication to Board members that particular cuts are being seriously considered. In that sense, they double as a public service, keeping us informed on what might be proposed at the highest levels.

But it must also be said that rarely do those seeking to save a particular program offer a concrete alternative for reductions of similar magnitude. At best, they suggest that we cut "waste" or the "bureaucracy", without specifying which waste, or what bureaucrats.

These are easy -- but ill-defined -- targets.

I am strongly in favor of constituent groups fighting for programs that they regarded as critical to the education of LAUSD students. Their passion provides the strongest possible evidence that we live in a community where people care deeply about the fate of our neighborhood schools.

Yet LAUSD is faced with the reality of having to close a $700 million deficit in a short amount of time. Wrenching decisions are being made daily, if not hourly.

It would behoove all those who contact us about the fate of a beloved program or employee to go further and offer meaningful suggestions about where else we might reduce the budget.

Some of you have already sent specific suggestions about staffing levels, scheduling, and contracting, and I have discussed all of these ideas with the Superintendent and his staff.

I guarantee I will take these ideas seriously, and I know the Superintendent will, as well.



They nervously waited for the meeting to start, hoping that the news wouldn’t be worse than receiving a “reduction in force” letter the week before.

A special meeting regarding LAUSD’s budget brought together around 70 parents and teachers from schools in Sherman Oaks and Studio City at Riverside Drive Elementary School on Monday evening.

Earlier that day, Tamar had been on the phone with Superintendent Ray Cortines, getting the most up-to-date budget information available to disseminate.

Her office has been inundated with concerned calls and emails about the budget.

“We already cut $400 million from the ‘08-‘09 budget and now we are facing $700 to $800 million in cuts in the next 16 months as a best case scenario,” Tamar told the group.

Tamar also addressed the most upto- day information about federal stimulus funds for education, including money specifically designated for Special Education, technology and competitive grants.

Some parents wondered why construction bond funds can’t be used for education.

Tamar explained that bond language is very specific about what it can be used for.

Parents expressed frustration and said that they feel helpless and want to know what they can do to help.

Tamar noted that there is a special election on May 19 that could further impact the state’s budget.

She encouraged everyone to be informed and vote.

While the Board is trying to spare impacts to the classroom, with Local Districts and downtown Beaudry facing 30 to 50 percent cuts in staff, many teachers may be bumped out by administrators who have seniority and union options to return to the classroom.

One way the District is trying to cushion the blow is by offering an early retirement incentive that 2,100 teachers have already accepted.

Further, Superintendent Cortines is supportive of Tamar’s goal of supporting non-Title 1 schools (schools with a student population of less than 40 percent free or reduced lunch which receive less funding) and will be giving $30 per student next year.

Victor Palomares, a kindergarten teacher stood up and spoke, “When I was a little boy, my father passed away and school was my safe haven.I know that I will be laid off, but I want us to work to provide a safe haven for our students.”

Palomares, who holds two degrees, and a masters in multicultural education, has taught for eight years.

The School Board is tentatively scheduled to vote on a budget on March 31.


●● smf's 2¢: IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE GRIM, IT COULD BE HOPEFUL. Why does the Superintendent continue to budget based on the projected state budget (which is iffy at best - based on faulty assumptions and relying upon all the May 19th ballot measures passing) and refuses to consider the Federal Stimulus Package - which is coming and is the down payment on a federal commitment to public education? Every other major school district in the nation has incorporated the Stimulus in their planning. Not LAUSD.

Why does he continue to propose to lay off employees when the federal funds are meant to - and can -
• SAVE those jobs?
• SAVE the eliminated programs?
• And SAVE the 20:1 Class size in K-3, Arts Programs, etc.?

Why does he continue to pursue his 1999 Plan to Decentralize to the Local Districts (his 1993 Plan to Decentralize to Local Districts failed in NYC when he was chancellor there) and his 100 Day "Plan of Action" - written by outside consultants?

And why does the board go along?

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
Saturday, March 28, 2009 7:21 PM
By Amanda Baumfeld, Staff Writer | San Gabriel Valley Tribune 03/28/2009 07:05:25 AM PDT -- MONTEBELLO - A lawsuit filed against Burnside & Associates accuses Councilman Robert Urteaga of fraud and breach of contract for his work on a political campaign, officials said. Benjamin Austin claims the political consulting firm misrepresented him in his race for Los Angeles Unified School Board by….

►CALIFORNIA’S “BIG FIVE”* ON FIXING THE STATE BUDGET: A partial transcript of remarks make by Gov. Schwarzenegger and four other California officials during a recent visit to The TimesSaturday, March 28, 2009 6:15 PM
Posted in LA March 27, 2009 Making their pitch for the six measures on the May 19 special election ballot, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and four state lawmakers visited The Times Tuesday. With the governor were Assembly Speaker Karen Bass of Los Angeles and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, both Democrats; Assembly GOP Caucus leader Mike Villines of Clovis; and….

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:38 AM
BERNIE’S LESSON PLAN: The most compelling evidence for something's being wrong is often hidden in plain view. For misrepresentation to work at a large scale, people’s desires and, even more so, their fears need to be played to. If you want to forestall the day of reckoning, make sure you are in charge of both generating and then interpreting your own metrics....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 9:00 AM
from Leticia (Martha) Infante NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED TEACHER/GIFTED AND TALENTED EDUCATION COORDINATOR CALIFORNIA COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER OF THE YEAR 2009 LOS ANGELES ACADEMY MIDDLE SCHOOL Dear Superintendent Cortines and LAUSD Board Members, In the next week, you will be voting on important budget decisions that I am sure have taken their toll on.....

►FORWARDING OTHER PEOPLE’S MAIL: an open letter to the Superintendent and the Board of Education
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 5:31 PM
"It has been suggested that the state has some ability to intercept Stabilization Fund dollars,” the letter from Congress says. “It does not.”
Subject: Reading other people's mail
Date: 3/24/2009 7:05:06 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time From: smf,,,,, ....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 12:21 AM
"It has been suggested that the state has some ability to intercept Stabilization Fund dollars," the letter from twenty-six California Members of Congress says. "It does not." The latest on California politics and government March 23, 2009 Don't divert school funds, congressional Dems warn Congressional Democrats are telling state leaders to keep their hands off federal stimulus funds...

Sunday, March 22, 2009 5:40 PM
Steve Lopez: Reading, writing, and diving to the floor when gunshots are heard are all part of the routine for second-graders. Steve Lopez | LA Times Columnist March 22, 2009 - Gina Amodeo shouted "Pancake!" and her second-grade students knew exactly what to do. They immediately dropped to the floor and flattened out, minimizing the chance of getting shot. It was only a drill, but....

Sunday, March 22, 2009 5:36 PM
When is homework just busywork? Weighing stress against learning, some districts are cutting back on academic work outside the classroom. By Seema Mehta | LA Times March 22, 2009 - Rachel Bennett, 12, loves playing soccer, spending time with her grandparents and making jewelry with beads. But since she entered a magnet middle school in the fall -- and began receiving two to four hours of...

The news that doesn’t fit from March 29


Michelle Obama has planted a vegetable garden at the White House. Maria Shiver has planted an urban garden on the grounds of the State Capitol. Chef Alice Waters has planted an urban school garden at a middle school in Berkeley with the Edible Garden Project. Seeds have been planted.

President Obama & Co(ngress) has provided federal funding for projects that are "shovel ready" …and who are more ready, hungry and eager than the 700,000 schoolchildren in 900 schools throughout LAUSD?

Join Mudd Baron, LAUSD's own School Gardener-in-Chief and smf at North Hollywood High for session of information, advocacy and activism.

Plant. Nurture. Harvest: the paradigm is the metaphor.

2pm Sunday March 29 (today)
North Hollywood HS Agriculture Area
5231 Colfax Ave
No Hollywood, CA 91601

►Tuesday March 31, 2009 1:00 p.m.
Special Board Meeting - Budget
Boardroom 333 S. Beaudry
Brodcast Live on KLCS - Channel 58

Order of Business
Meeting Materials Bd Reports
Meeting Materials

*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.
• 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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