Saturday, March 14, 2009

Your pink slip.

4LAKids: Sun, March 15, 2009 Pink Slip Day
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.
I DO NOT KNOW ENOUGH to make an informed decision or offer enlightened criticism of the LAUSD Budget - or the decision to send preliminary layoff notices to teachers and school employees.

Nobody does.

Not Superintendent Cortines. Not Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly. Not the Board of Education.

Not the governor or state finance director or the legislative analyst. No legislator or policy maker. No pundit or financial guru or union official.

You can't read the tealeaves until the cup is emptied and I'm not sure the water is even heated yet.

Last week the LAUSD Board voted to send out preliminary layoff notices to 8,846 teachers and district employees. They did this responding to only one known factor. Not to the budget realities or the economic projections or the state budget or the federal stimulus.

They responded to the calendar and to a law that says they must act by March 15th.

On the same day the Merced Board of Education - facing the same decisions and the same deadline under the same law did the prudent and wise thing: They voted to put off the decision until they had the information they need. That is what exercising the fiduciary authority of a public trustee requires. [see: MERCED CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT PUTS OFF VOTE ON LAYOFFS]

And on Friday, like an earthquake in Imelda Marcos' closet, another economic shoe dropped. [see: New State Budget Gap is Forecast] The fuzzy budget projections that make up the New Improved (but-still-fake) State Budget - and the "Budget Reform Now" six ballot measures (1A-1F) it hinges tenuously upon - slipped further from focus.

The stock market up-ticked slightly. The federal stimulus package became a little more defined. And still the superintendent recommended and the board voted to consider a Reduction in Force. RIF is the Orwellian acronym for firing employees.

The federal stimulus package (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009/"ARRA") is intended to shore up employment and support public education. ARRA is supposed to be the antidote to RIF. Yet the board agrees to take the money and to lay off folks?

Parents at a meeting last week called the superintendent a liar in his budget presentation - an accusation he took offense to. But accepting the stimulus money and laying off employees in pursuit of a decade old plan to "rightsize" the district - "saving" (Cortines' own word) the stimulus money is worse than prevarication. Saving it for what? This IS the rainy day!

The idea behind the federal stimulus is to spend the money. On salaries. On programs. On kids.

To do otherwise is mis-or-malfeasance and misuse of public funds. I have heard this potential (in)action called "treason" in that it is a crime that undermines the offender's government. To continue on this course is certainly questionable — a high crime and misdemeanor, an impeachable/recallable offense.


THE UNCIVIL MISBEHAVIOR (to call it "civil disobedience" demeans history) by Duffy & Co. in shutting down the school board meeting Tuesday triggered a behind-closed-doors (but open to TV) board meeting that made mincemeat of the Brown Act - California's open meeting law.

Here's the preamble to that act - it should be carved in stone and memorized by seventh graders: “The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

Tuesday's set-piece board meeting perpetuated the rubber-stamp/move-the-agenda/opaque regime currently in place. Just like Reality TV, the agenda and the votes moved exactly as unscripted. Open meetings require witnesses in the room.

There were a few moments of insight.
• At one point District General Counsel Roberta Fesler cleared up rampant misconceptions and pointed to a lack of homework being done — explaining what the law actually says and requires.
• And at another point CFO Reilly made clear both the meaning and the consequences behind the District filing a "qualified" budget this year. To not file a qualified budget would be fiscally and fiduciarily naive - but as usual the unanticipated and unforeseen consequences always return to bite one's butt no matter how well one practices CYA.


THIS IS TEEN DRIVING SAFETY WEEK. State law requires Driver Education and behind-the-wheel Driver Instruction in high school - it's in the EdCode. LAUSD is not alone in failing to offer neither.

• Education Code Section 51220(j) states in part that: "The adopted course of study for grades 7-12, inclusive, shall offer courses in the following areas of study . . . (j) Automobile driver education."
• Education Code Section 51851 states: "A course of instruction in automobile driver education shall . . . (B) Provide the opportunity for students to take driver education within the regular school day . . . Additional classes may be offered . . . to accommodate those who have failed or those who cannot enroll in the regular school day program."
• Education Code Section 41912 states in part: "The express purpose of the Legislature is that . . . this instruction properly belongs in the high school curriculum on a basis having comparable standards of instruction, quality, teacher-pupil ratio and class scheduling as in other courses in the regular curriculum in the regular academic program."
• A course on instruction in automobile driver education shall be at least two and one-half semester periods and taught by a qualified instructor. A semester period is 30 hours.
• Twelve hours of "driver training/behind the wheel" instruction are required. This consists of six hours of actual driving with a qualified instructor and six hours of observation.

THIS IS LAW that the LAUSD Board ignores. Maybe they should ignore the one about March 15th too.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf

More about teen driving safety and Teen Diving Safety Week.

By George B. Sánchez and Connie Llanos, Staff Writers | LA Newspaper Group/Daily News

03/11/2009 -- Waving signs and chanting, "We won't let you cut our future," hundreds of teachers, parents and students protested Tuesday outside of LAUSD headquarters after the school board voted to send layoff warnings to nearly 9,000 employees.

More than 200 educators wore red T-shirts that symbolized their allegiance to United Teachers Los Angeles during the 45-minute rally at Fourth and Boylston streets. Many carried signs reading "Students lose when we lose" as passing motorists honked in support.

"Students and teachers need to unite to rally and protest, to put pressure on the board and prevent these cuts," said Edin Barrientos, 17, one of 60 Crenshaw High students who joined the rally.

But officials with the nation's second-largest school district said they need to make the cuts to help close an estimated $718million budget gap.

"Given the state of the economy, we don't have any other options," Superintendent Ramon Cortines said.

If district officials cannot find other ways to erase the deficit, actual layoff notices could be sent by June 30 - the deadline for alerting staff that they won't have jobs in the fall.

During the board meeting itself, dozens of teachers flooded the meeting room. The board halted the session after a series of rowdy interruptions led by UTLA President A.J. Duffy and were ushered into a police-protected room where they carried out the vote.

Teachers, who stayed behind chanted, "Let us speak ... Shame on you," as the board left the room.

In the first of three separate votes covering the issue, the seven-member board voted unanimously to send warnings to administrators and counselors.

About 2,900 employees, 90 percent of whom work in schools, will be affected.

A 5-2 vote, with Julie Korenstein and Richard Vladovic dissenting, affirmed the decision to notify 3,500 "nonpermanent" teachers - those who have been with the district two years or less.

And in a 4-l vote, with Korenstein dissenting and Vladovic and Marguerite LaMotte abstaining, the board voted to send layoff notices to roughly 2,000 permanent, certificated elementary teachers.

Meanwhile, protesting teachers remained in the boardroom, where they shared stories of overcrowded classrooms and denounced the board vote.

"I had 48 students in one class at the beginning of the school year," said Kay Aston, an English teacher at Mount Gleason Middle School. "What do they want to do with these cuts? Give me 68 students in a class that I'll have to lecture in an auditorium? Kids don't learn that way."

During the discussion, the board sought clarification on "bumping rights," which would allow more senior employees to be reassigned to the classroom.

Cortines said that to address the issue, legislation would be needed, with union support, to allow job performance to take precedent over seniority.

"People need protections, but there needs to be accountability," Cortines said.

Visibly tired Tuesday afternoon, Cortines said in an earlier interview that the prospect of laying off teachers is taken its toll on him even after four decades in education.

"I was at a school in the Valley the other day talking with a group of teachers - all first-, second-year teachers," Cortines said during a recent interview.

"They were all so enthusiastic and it was hard for me to talk to them knowing that I'd be recommending layoffs. My nights have definitely gotten shorter."

Still, teachers union officials say Cortines can cut more bureaucracy before firing a single teacher.

"We are going to do whatever is necessary to stop this layoff action," said teacher's union president Duffy.

While the district will see funds from the federal stimulus package, Megan Reilly, LAUSD's chief financial officer, said she did not expect to use the one-time allotment to fend off teacher layoffs.

"We know this money is not enough to fill the hole," Reilly said.

"If we use this money to plug a hole and we don't restructure, we'll be here two years from now, again, looking at the same problem and asking what do we do."

To raise more money, the district is considering plans to push for a parcel tax in 2010.

The board also approved offering early retirement incentives, which would offset the number of potential layoffs. District officials will return in April with a number of staff willing to retire early.

In the meantime, Duffy said, he would look into whether the board violated the Brown Act by meeting in seclusion.

He also told union members to go back to their schools and "tell people what happened today."

Demonstrators concluded with the chant: "We'll be back."

News from up and down the State on TEACHER LAYOFFS ...including the urban-legendary layoff of the "CA Teacher of the Year"


By Jordan Rau and Evan Halper | From the Los Angeles Times

March 14, 2009 — Reporting from Sacramento — The plan that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers approved last month to fill California's giant budget hole has already fallen out of balance with a projected $8-billion shortfall, the Legislature's nonpartisan budget analyst said Friday.

After analyzing recent data showing rapidly rising unemployment and lower-than-expected economic growth, Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor said the state is on track to have even less money than lawmakers anticipated in February.

State leaders said then that they had ended the financial crisis through $42 billion in lowered spending, increased taxes, borrowing and accounting shifts.

California's economy in is such bad shape that Taylor's office anticipates that residents' combined personal income will be lower this year than it was last year, leading to fewer tax dollars for state coffers.

"I went as far back as 1950, and I could not find a situation in which personal income had actually declined in the state, so that's a rather unusual event," Taylor said at a news conference Friday.

The dour projection is likely to complicate Schwarzenegger's effort to win voter approval for a package of budget-related ballot measures scheduled for a special election May 19.

The governor and legislative leaders have said the propositions -- which include controversial bids to extend the recent tax increases, borrow against future lottery proceeds and siphon money from popular programs for children and the mentally ill -- are necessary to restore the state's fiscal balance.

For opponents, the new forecast is "going to give them a tremendous argument," said Larry Gerston, professor of political science at San Jose State.

He noted that since last fall, Schwarzenegger and lawmakers have repeatedly announced that they have resolved the state's financial troubles, only to see deficits rapidly reemerge.

"Their campaign was based on a shaky foundation as far as credibility goes . . . and this isn't going to make it any better," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., which opposes the special election measures.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance, noted that Taylor's estimate was based on more recent data than lawmakers had in February when they crafted their rescue plan.

"We are continuing to work our way through a recession that has hit California's economy extraordinarily hard," Palmer said. "That means there is clearly a potential for the state's revenue picture to get worse."

The governor is scheduled to release a revised financial forecast in May, when the Capitol traditionally focuses on the state budget. Lawmakers tried to head off a summer budget fight this year by tackling the deficit early and writing a spending plan that would last through the middle of next year, but Taylor's analysis suggests they will be forced to make major revisions this spring.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) said the new estimate made it more imperative that voters approve the May ballot measures. If the package of propositions --particularly the lottery borrowing -- is rejected, the budget gap would increase by $6 billion, she said.

"We must keep a careful watch on revenues during these volatile times," Bass said. "All of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, must be prepared to continue to make tough decisions."

Assembly GOP leader Mike Villines, who supported the taxes and cuts passed in February, said the new budget hole would have to be plugged with further cuts if the economy does not recover.

Senate minority leader Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) said he did not believe the three Republicans in his caucus who voted for tax increases would do so again.

"We're going to have to find efficiencies and reduce spending on a lot of programs," he said. "It's very painful, but it's going to have to be a very necessary step."

Even though they are in the minority, Republicans can block any spending plan they don't like, because of California's requirement that budgets be supported by two-thirds of the Legislature.

Taylor said the new $8-billion budget hole should not be as difficult to grapple with as was the $42-billion gap. He said the state may be able to tap $3 billion in federal money intended to increase schools spending as part of the federal economic stimulus package passed by Congress.

"We're not that far away if we can use those federal dollars," he said in an interview.

That idea may not fly with California's school leaders. Kevin Gordon, a lobbyist for school districts in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and other counties, said Taylor was proposing to "hijack federal dollars that the president and Congress intended to use to offset cuts that have already been made."

Beyond the short-term problems, Taylor also projected a grim long-term fiscal outlook for the state, with a $12.6-billion shortfall emerging by mid-2011 and growing to $26 billion three years later.

"Given these budgetary pressures, the state could experience recurring cash flow pressures in the coming months and years," Taylor wrote.

News from up and down California on this projected shortfall.


By George B. Sanchez, Staff Writer | LA Newspaper Group/Daily News

Friday, March 13, 2009 — Following a four-month testing program, Los Angeles Unified has turned off 2,000 water faucets and fountains at 660 schools because of high levels of lead, officials said Thursday.

The affected fountains and faucets amount to about 3 percent of the 66,000 outlets tested since November but were located in nearly three-quarters of the district's schools. And while the water systems at 11 schools still have to be tested, district officials said they are confident that lead contamination is no longer a problem.

"The water is safe," Neil Gamble, the district's director of maintenance and operations division said during a morning briefing.

The district began testing all potable water outlets in November, following the discovery last spring of high levels of lead in a drinking fountain at Woodlake Elementary School in Woodland Hills.

Then-Superintendent David Brewer III blamed the problem on neglect by maintenance staff who were supposed to flush every fountain for 30 seconds at the start of each school day to keep lead from building up.

The 21-year-old flushing policy is now being strictly enforced, Gamble said, which results in the loss of an estimated 2 million gallons a year. Follow-up tests will be conducted to ensure that water quality meets standards.

The lead problem was apparently widespread, with acceptable lead levels found at just 42 schools, officials said.

At some of the schools where contamination was found, crews replaced plumbing with nonbrass pipes and fittings. In others, including Woodlake Elementary, faucets and fountains were replaced.

Noting that the meeting was broadcast on public access channels, school board member Julie Korenstein asked staff what parents and community members could do about lead levels in their home water supply.

"High levels of lead can affect a child's ability to learn," said Korenstein. "That's a big deal."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, high levels of lead exposure can affect a child's mental and physical development, and can cause anemia, muscle weakness and brain damage.

▲SAFE TO DRINK? :: The water supplies at 11 LAUSD schools still need to be tested, including the following campuses:
• Byrd Middle School, Sun Valley
• Romer Middle School, North Hollywood
• East Valley High School, North Hollywood
• Arleta High School, Arleta

smf: The schools named above are brand new schools, were they not yet tested because they were new? The Valley is the center of the Daily News' Universe - what and where are the other seven schools?



By Sandy Banks | LA Times Columnist

March 14, 2009 - My column two weeks ago on Chatsworth High School's struggling drama department struck a nerve on and off campus.

Chatsworth alums lined up to donate, alarmed that the legendary theater program has fallen on such hard times that drama teacher Walt McDowell canceled the school's fall musical. He couldn't afford to pay a janitor to lock up after rehearsals, he said. "It would have been $450. Our annual budget is only $600."

School administrators were grateful for the alumni support but denied there is any financial crisis. Chatsworth principal Tim Guy said he thought the play had been postponed not canceled.

"The money is there," Guy told me. The school has $7,000 in untouched arts grant funding. "All the teacher had to do is ask."

McDowell was surprised. He didn't know he could tap the grant to pay for janitors. It makes me wonder if these guys ever talk to one another.

But then this is drama, L.A. Unified-style -- replete with familiar conflicts and stock characters: The bloated bureaucracy puts the classroom last. The worn-out teacher won't go the extra mile. The principal under siege fights back.

Truly, the Chatsworth situation is more complicated than that. I'm sure both Guy and McDowell care about the students. But people tend to guard their turf when times get hard.

And times are tough at Los Angeles Unified, which will be slashing $10 million from arts budgets funding next school year.

School funding in the Los Angeles system has always resembled a maze, with hidden pots of money, myriad obscure funding sources and a raft of confusing regulations.

At Chatsworth, the student body leadership council controls some funds; the department chairs parcel out others. Student groups, such as the drama club and the baseball team, can host their own fundraisers. And private grants augment some program coffers.

Drama gets $600 annually for play production. If McDowell needs more, Guy said, "he has to ask the student body." And that might require cutting some other group's allotment.

In years past, McDowell said, his students raised hundreds of dollars through weekly sales of cupcakes and pizza on campus. But the principal put limits on that because it interfered with the district's focus on healthy food and cut into student-store proceeds.

That leaves the $7,000 grant -- a fund shared by dance, music, photography, art, drama and other arts classes.

McDowell wasn't sure what that money can be used for.

I think if it's still unspent seven months into the school year, either those other programs must be pretty flush, or their teachers probably don't know about the money pool either.

On a district level, officials are trying to put the best face on the educational implications of the financial crisis rocking programs like McDowell's. But it's awkward promising to shield the classroom when you're mailing pink slips to 5,000 teachers.

That's why I understand why Judy Elliott, the district's "Chief Academic Officer" would rather talk about the $600,000 grant the district received to plan the future of arts education than the huge arts cuts schools will face next year.

"We're working to preserve basic arts programs in the schools," she told me, "to make sure that every elementary school has at least two of the four arts -- music, dance, theater and art."

But 31 high school arts teacher positions are on the chopping block. And individual campuses get less money next year and have to decide how to spread the pain.

"We'll have to get creative to fill the needs," she said. "At the end of the day, people are saying, 'I'm glad I have a job next year.' "


In the meantime, drama departments all over Southern California are relying on generosity to blunt budget cuts.

At Moreno Valley High, teachers pitched in with cash donations to fund the school's spring drama performance. At Pasadena High, parents and teachers helped write grants and hit up local businesses for money, so the school could produce its first musical in 20 years last fall.

Dozens of readers responded to my column with checks to help out McDowell's students, including the co-author of "Quilters," the play canceled when they ran low on money. Molly Newman offered to underwrite the production of her highly regarded musical.

"It's worth noting," she wrote me, "I started my career in the theater by acting in the fall play at my public high school."

That's really what it's all about -- offering opportunity to students. Every drama geek won't wind up a movie star, like Chatsworth alums Kevin Spacey, Val Kilmer and Mare Winningham. But some might wind up collecting an Oscar, like special effects wiz Howard Berger, who got his start in that same class.

Or just plain making a living at something they love, like Andy Daddario, who did the sound for Chatsworth's drama productions 30 years ago and now does post-production sound for movies and television shows.

He'll be making a contribution, he said, "because it's unbelievable, in the center of the motion picture business, that fine arts, music, electronics . . . isn't being taught like it used to be. And I would not be where I am today, had it not been for those years. Period."

●●smf's 2¢: 4LAKids is grateful to Sandy Banks for inititiating a discussion on Arts Education in LAUSD and on this single adventure in the Theater Arts Department at Chatsworth HS. Maybe there's hope yet for the LA Times and ArtsEd.

Ms. Banks article - reprinted in 4LAKids - drew a response from an inside-the-puzzle-palace reader who identified the unspent arts grant; other 4LAKids readers @ CHS were on this like white on rice! Student education at Chatsworth had been comprised because either adults didn't know, didn't act …or tried to look good by 'saving money'.

• "All the teacher had to do is ask."
• 'It makes me wonder if these guys ever talk to one another.'

Garrison Keillor said "Nothing you do for children is ever wasted."

That being said, LAUSD's nationally recognized Arts Education Program is on the verge of elimination through budget cutting, rightsizing and misplaced priorities. ArtsEd, like Driving and PhysEd are REQUIRED COURSES that are being disregarded, disrespected, dissed.

The Ed Code says "SHALL".

And students are the losers. Maybe penny-pinchers and bean-counters will benefit from this short sightedness - and I apologize to the vision impaired in impolitically lumping them with that ilk!

This month's EDUTOPIA has a series of excellent articles on ArtsEd: WHY ARTS EDUCATION MUST BE SAVED. Read them all!

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
►MERCED CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT PUTS OFF VOTE ON LAYOFFS: Members say they need more time to study.

by Danielle Gaines | The Merced Sun-Star

Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2009 -- The Merced City School District put off a vote Tuesday night that would have cut 30 jobs.

They needed more time to consider alternatives, school board members said.

"I do understand that we need to vote on this, but I would like to make a motion to table this at least until the next meeting," board member Darrell Cherf said.

Board members said they had received more information since the meeting materials were sent to them last week and that waiting might save more jobs.

"I know this is prolonging anxiety for some, but I agree with Darrel Cherf that I just need longer to look at this," board member Susan Walsh said.

The 30 jobs on the chopping block included custodians, computer lab coordinators, instructional assistants and office managers. The district said the cuts would amount to more than $848,000 in savings next year.

Representatives from the California School Employees Association said they met with school administrators Monday to examine each of the proposed cuts and look for alternatives to layoffs.

CSEA chapter president Mike Casias said he understood the board's reluctance.

"Sacramento and the politicians have really put the board in a bind and I have no problem waiting," he said. "They just want to make the right decisions. We respect that."

Each of the unionized bargaining units in the district have been successful in heading off what were initially deep employment cuts.

The school district's open budgeting process allowed input from all community members at each step along the process.

In earlier budget documents, the school district estimated that it could save more than $250,000 by cutting one office manager position at each of the district's four middle schools.

Rivera office manager Susan Ledesma crunched the numbers, and after seniority was taken into account and only the newest employees were laid off, the savings were closer to $10,000, she said.

Ledesma thinks it is a good move for the district to take more time before declaring layoffs.

"I'm glad they are looking at it more," she said. "They need to study the long-term effects, both fiscal and educational."

Associate Superintendent Greg Spicer said the district is paying close attention to those long-term effects. Avoiding "funding cliffs" is a requirement of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or federal stimulus package.

Even though the stimulus money hasn't been delivered to the district yet, they are looking for ways to stretch every anticipated dollar.

Spicer said the board will present a new budget and a new employee reduction plan at the next board meeting on March 24.

"We are going to have a balanced budget," board president Dennis Jordan said. "And we are committed to saving every single possible job we can."


Ana Kasparian - LA Politics in Education Examiner

March 11, 10:50 AM • Employee layoffs are infecting the Los Angeles Unified School District in the same rapidness the Bubonic plague claimed lives in the 1330s. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the public school system in LA is in terrible shape. Naturally, the first to feel the effects of a faltering economy is public education, where budget cuts have lead to thousands of layoff notices in LA alone.

The LA Board of Education specifically issued 9,000 letters on Tuesday, letting 2,000 permanent elementary school teachers know that their jobs are in serious danger. Close to 3,500 probationary teachers will most likely loose their jobs as well. The rest of the notices have been sent to non-teaching school personnel, such as counselors and administrators.

But before this incredible number of layoffs actually takes place, the LA Board of Education must review and approve the terminations in June. In other words, 9,000 LAUSD employees have to sit and wait till June to find out whether or not they’re employed.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the bad news comes in response to an increasing state and national fiscal crisis. The LA School District is facing a $700-million deficit over the next 18 months. The state’s money troubles and teacher cuts will unquestionably compromise the education of students in the second largest school district in the country. There will be larger class sizes, fewer classes offered, and cuts in art and music programs.

President Barack Obama addressed the country’s quality of public education today while talking to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Obama declares that "Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we've let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us. What's at stake is nothing less than the American dream."

Obama’s plan for education reform includes merit pay for effective and well qualified teachers, as well as eliminating restrictions on non-union independent schools. But these plans may not be right for the LAUSD since charter schools have already drained money from traditional public education. In fact, the LA School District has the largest number of charter schools in the nation because the state of California does not have a charter cap. This might serve as an example to Obama, who seems to endorse more charter schools in the country.

When it comes to merit pay, union members argue that it would not be effective since it would put teachers against one anothers.

The real problem with public education was not address by Obama. Although he will provide $31 billion toward California's education system in the new stimulus plan, public school systems are still hit hardest with teacher layoffs, and it’s impossible to expect the quality of education to flourish. Increasing class sizes and eliminating art and music programs also calls for disaster.

While America’s failing car companies and banks received millions in government bailouts this year, it boggles my mind as to why the federal sector isn’t willing to give the schools systems a bailout as well. Jobs are being lost, and as Obama mentioned, the American dream is being compromised.


Daily News wires

3/15 — Los Angeles city election officials said about 46,000 uncounted ballots cast in precincts across the city could alter the outcome of a controversial solar energy measure, it was reported today.

The Los Angeles Unified School District board race between Nury Martinez and Louis Pugliese is also up in the air, the Los Angeles Times reported. They are competing to represent District 6, the northeast corner of the San Fernando Valley and the Sunland area.

The uncounted votes include about 24,000 mail-in ballots that arrived March 3, election day, or were dropped off at polling stations. Also yet to be counted are 10,000 ballots that were damaged or had extraneous markings; and 12,000 provisional ballots -- those cast by voters whose names were not on registration rolls at precincts, The Times reported.

The outcome of Measure B and District 6 school board race is expected to be decided Thursday, when the last uncounted votes are tallied in a cavernous room next to the Los Angeles River, The Times reported.


Saturday, March 07, 2009 5:30 PM
Secretary Arne Duncan announced that $44 billion in Recovery Act funding will be available to states in the next 30 to 45 days to help avert hundreds of thousands of estimated teacher layoffs while driving crucial education improvements and results for students.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 1:12 PM
Estimated State Allocations for State Grants under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

Friday, February 20, 2009 12:09 PM
President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on February 17, 2009. This historic law provides more than $100 billion dollars over the next two years to save education jobs, send young people to college, modernize America's classrooms, and advance education reforms.

Friday, February 20, 2009 11:14 AM
Funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 (ARRTA) can be used for school modernization, renovation, or repair. This page contains relevant sections of the laws, followed by links to resources.

Major Communications from the U.S. Department of Education on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (click for list+links/continuously updated)

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Monday Mar 16, 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Wilson High School
4500 Multnomah St.
Los Angeles, CA 90032

• Wednesday Mar 18, 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m.
333 S. Beaudry Ave, LA 90017
Phone: 213-241-5183
• Wednesday Mar 18, 2009
SOUTH REGION HIGHT SCHOOL #8: Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Maywood Academy High School
6125 Pine Ave.
Maywood, CA 90270

*Dates and times subject to change.
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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