Saturday, June 20, 2009


4LAKids: Sunday, June 21, 2009 Father's Day
In This Issue:
FAREWELL, MS. SANLIN: Teacher of the Year is Inspired and Enlightened by Talented, Laid-Off New Teacher
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.
It becomes harder and harder to find the good news among the bad in public education. Last Monday I sought out the single TV news cameraman covering the opening of a new school facility to thank him for bothering to show up to document the good news. In the wall-to-wall 24 hour news cycle good news has a hard time finding an audience.

THE REALLY GOOD NEWS is that something like twenty-eight thousand high school seniors have walked - or will walk - across stages in faux medieval robes and academic mortarboards becoming high school graduates during LAUSD last week or in the next - completing their thirteen year investment in K-12. They have heard the inflated rhetoric and have been lifted by the Wind Beneath Their Wings. And they are headed - like the champions that they are - to Disneyland.

They are bound for UC's and CSU's, community colleges and private colleges and Harvard and Stanford and Reed. They are off to beauty school and trade school and apprenticeship and the workforce. Today they are sleeping in or headed to the beach.


A BAZILLION ANGELINOS showed up and clogged the streets to herald the world champion Lakers on Wednesday. LAUSD may not be as good a team as the boys in purple-and-gold - but those 28,000 grads are all All-Stars. And they could use the fan support. Perhaps the MVP feel-good TV Movie heroine is the Harvard-bound homeless Jefferson grad Khadijah Williams, featured in the Homeless-to-Harvard LA Times piece linked below. But there are 28,000 stories; 28,000 heroes.

A BAZILLION TEHRANIS showed up and clogged the streets to protest the Iranian election results and poor decision making in that country. Maybe that's what it takes. Maybe it will take a Bazillion California parents and educators in the streets shouting that they are mad as hell and that are not going to take it anymore. Maybe then the media will take note. Maybe then the School Board and the Supe will adjust their thinking: the bottom line is NOT the bottom line, the bottom line is The Kids. Maybe then the mullahs in Sacramento will do the right thing.


THE CHARTER COMMUNITY commissioned a Stanford University study of themselves - and Stanford said they are not doing all that well!

17% of charters better than traditional schools, 46% just as well, 34% worse.

The spin doctors went to work, dis- and re-aggregating the data. But that was hard news to spin; the study was in depth - investigating 70% of charter schools nationwide. The magic bullet it seems, if not a dud, isn't all that magic. And perhaps most telling (though not surprising given their entrepreneurial business-school modeling) was the finding that charter schools are not willing to share their best practices and lessons learned among themselves …let alone with the traditional public school community.
• Though 17% of charters underperform, the California Charter Schools Assn proposed to eliminate the lowest performing 1%.
• A charter operator advocates adding SAT test scores to the assault-and-battery of school performance assessment. When you have a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

THE REPUBLICANS IN SACRAMENTO CALLED THE DEMOCRATS NAMES, the Dems returned the favor. The Gubernator went to Fresno and called the Dems and the Repos names. "Girlie-men" has apparently returned to the rhetorical repertoire -- but don't worry, for all that box office value we only pay a dollar a year.

THE LEGISLATURE PROPOSES to eliminate the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). When you can't afford a hammer who needs a nail?

LAUSD'S BUDGET CRISIS GROWS WITH EVERY DAY. Is the deficit $131 million this year and $235 million next year? Or $700 million? Or $1.1 Billion? Or $1.3 Billion? It doesn't actually matter, it's money they don't have.

UTLA SIGNED A NO RAISE CONTRACT (only one-third of the membership voted on the contract - which was opposed by union leadership) and immediately made noises about recalling the School Board members that approved it.

THE PICTURE JUST GETS GRIMMER AND GRIMMER. The superintendent unhappily advocates for class size increases. Teacher positions are cut. Programs are eliminated. Half the District's Arts and Music teachers are on the block even as Secretary Duncan calls for more Arts+Music Ed. Two weeks ago Mr. Cortines spoke to PTA of how early childhood education is a key to success; now preschool programs are being discontinued and Full Day Kindergarten may go …going back on the 2005 promise of Measure Y.

AND ON TUESDAY THE SUPERINTENDENT WILL PROPOSE A PARCEL TAX. I'm all for it. But good grief: Did anyone notice how voters respond to 'Vote YES or the doom will be worse' ultimatums from Sacramento?

In comments before a June 2nd Pasadena Schools fundraiser Cortines said he needs to restore funding and faith to LAUSD.
• Where do we find that Faith? Is that faith "complete confidence in a person or plan etc.?" …or Emily Dickinson's "thing with feathers that perches in the soul?"
• What exactly in this parcel tax is it that the LA voters will be voting FOR?

¡Onward/Hasta adelante!


SHE FINALLY HAS A HOME: HARVARD: Khadijah Williams, 18, overcomes a lifetime in shelters and on skid row.


●●smf's 2¢: The LA Times goes the old Daily News route:
1. Basing a "news" story on the opinion of a source: "business leader Carol Schatz said she was appalled."
2. Following up this sort of opinionated news with a "me too" editorial the next day, and…
3. Joining the game of political gotcha by confusing Poor Teachers (The kind that aren't very good teachers) with Bad Teachers (the kind who commit criminal acts). Or is it the Times Editorial policy to criminalize poor instructional technique?

Here's a direct quote from the first article: "She had attended to support a resolution to speed the firing of teachers ACCUSED of serious crimes." (Emphasis added). This seems to be a failure in the Civics Education of just about everyone from the quoted party to the Times reporters; The Board of Ed who voted for the resolution, the legal eagles who blessed the resolution language and the Times Editorial Board.

• Since when does anyone fire anyone ACCUSED of anything?
• What happened to due process and innocent until proven guilty?

Don’t get me wrong; the status quo is unacceptable. And UTLA leadership has occasionally been and continues to be an obstacle to reform. However let's get real and not confuse the bad apples with the forces of evil. The LAUSD policy of housing alleged wrongdoers and paying them (in essence bribing them out of their right to a speedy resolution) instead of acting deliberately is bad policy. But it's LAUSD policy, Not State of California policy. The other issue - about evaluating and retraining or removing poor teachers is an issue that WILL require collective bargaining AND legislative relief.

A: Without doubt here are teachers who shouldn't be teaching because they are educationally inept. They should be brought up to standard or encouraged politely and then forcefully to find another line of work. Lifetime tenure should not extend where it negatively effects the education of students.

B: And there are bad people who prey on children and behave inappropriately. They should be accused, arrested, adjudged and fired. With all deliberate speed. Deliberate and Speed are not LAUSD's strong points and that needs to be corrected.

But A. and B. are not the same problem and anyone who says otherwise is itchin' for a fight. A fight they will lose in court. A fight all kids will lose because little or nothing will be solved.

Failure Gets A Pass: L.A. UNIFIED VOTE FORETELLS DIFFICULTIES FOR SCHOOL REFORM: Debates Between The Board and The Union Grow More Heated as Teacher Appraisals and Tenure Gain National Attention.

By Jason Song and Jason Felch from the Los Angeles Times

June 14, 2009 | After listening to the debate at last week's Los Angeles school board meeting, business leader Carol Schatz said she was appalled.

She had attended to support a resolution to speed the firing of teachers accused of serious crimes. But even this proposal -- tiptoeing on the margins of improving teacher quality -- generated heated objections from the teachers union and its supporters.

With some last-minute amendments and sniping among board members, the resolution passed by a single vote.

"I came away depressed," said Schatz, who heads the 500-member Central City Assn. of Los Angeles. "If they can barely pass something like that, how are they going to tackle teacher quality?"

By even grazing the hot-button topic, the nation's second largest district has entered one of the most contentious debates in American education, one that increasingly is pitting powerful teachers unions against school boards and would-be reformers.

Teacher effectiveness is considered one of the most significant factors in student success. But giving it a hard look can involve reexamining teacher tenure, teacher evaluations, dismissal of "bad" teachers and merit pay for "good" ones -- all highly charged political issues, especially in California.

Such scrutiny historically has been urged by those on the right, but Democrats -- including President Obama and Arne Duncan, his education secretary -- have recently embraced it.

"If a teacher is given a chance or two chances or three chances but still does not improve, there is no excuse for that person to continue teaching," Obama said in a March speech.

The issue came up again this month in a study by the New York-based education reform group the New Teacher Project, which described a "national failure" to measure teacher success.

In California, a Times investigation recently found, it is remarkably time-consuming and cumbersome for school districts to fire teachers who don't meet standards. A review of cases in which teachers statewide contested their firings showed that far more teachers were fired for egregious acts than for poor teaching.

In L.A., the debate is only beginning. The Los Angeles Unified School District has set up a task force, headed by education reformer and former Occidental College President Ted Mitchell, to make recommendations on improving teacher quality.

The panel, whose other members are to be chosen by Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, is not limited to looking at teachers accused of egregious or immoral acts. It may delve into what is good and bad teaching, who should be the judge and how the system should promote the good and purge the bad.

Complaining that he had been left out of the process thus far, A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, proposed unsuccessfully to delay the vote on the resolution on teacher firing. He was noncommittal about whether he would support the task force.

"If I'm comfortable with the composition of the task force, then I'll agree to be a part of it," Duffy said. "Otherwise, that issue is going nowhere."

Yolie Flores Aguilar, the member of the school board who proposed the task force, conceded that it could be difficult to surmount opposition.

"This is the sacred cow of all sacred cows," she said.

Just discussing the firing of teachers accused of crimes prompted sharp debate at L.A. Unified's board meeting Tuesday.

The measure, which passed 4-3, was a considerably whittled-down version of a proposal by school board member Marlene Canter to urge the state to speed the termination of poorly performing and abusive teachers.

Confronting strong opposition from fellow board members and the teachers union, Canter focused exclusively on teachers deemed to have committed immoral acts, such as physical or sexual abuse.

"This isn't about teacher evaluation!" she said repeatedly during Tuesday's hearing.

At the insistence of union members, the measure was amended to include administrators as well.

Still, the resolution was rejected by the union and some board members.

"This is a political mishmash under the guise of helping children," said Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, before casting her vote in opposition. She was joined by colleagues Julie Korenstein and Richard Vladovic.

Duffy questioned the motives of Schatz and other business leaders. "They want to break the power of the union," he said.

But school board member Tamar Galatzan said the resolution should have been a "slam dunk."

"I think they [union officials] see it as a slippery slope toward revamping rules on tenure and seniority," Galatzan said.

California lawmakers appear willing to wade into the debate but say that for any reform to be successful, it has to have the backing of teachers unions.

"There is tremendous political pressure in Sacramento," said state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, referring to the power of teachers unions and others. "But with President Obama calling for a restructuring of public education, we have a window of opportunity to . . . run with it as fast as we can."

Teachers unions, including UTLA, say they are not opposed to reforms but want to help shape them, given their collective experience in the classroom. Student test scores, they say, cannot be used as the sole indicator of teacher quality.

California is building separate databases for student test scores and teacher information, but the law prohibits using either database for teacher evaluation.

The policy recently drew strong rebukes from Duncan, the education secretary and former head of Chicago public schools.

"It's like suggesting we judge a sports team without looking at the box score," Duncan said of California's policy at a speech to the Institute for Educational Science last week. "I think that's simply ridiculous."


PAYING FOR BAD TEACHERS: California has long put an outmoded notion of teacher protection over the interests of students. Now that practice may cost the state some federal money.

LA Times Editorial

June 15, 2009: They put it off. They debated it at length and watered it down. And in the end, the Los Angeles Unified school trustees barely passed a resolution asking the Legislature to make it a little easier to fire teachers accused of serious crimes. Mind you, not the ineffective teachers who sleep in the classroom, ignore the curriculum and pass their unprepared students to the next grade. Just the ones who stand accused of abusing or molesting students.

Union leaders warn that the Legislature will never comply without their stamp of approval, and they're probably right. Failure to put the interests of children over the power of unions is characteristic of California education policy.

It also puts the state out of touch with education reforms sweeping the nation, and could put our schools out of contention for new pots of federal money. Just two days after the resolution squeaked through last week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made it clear that antiquated notions of teacher protection will not pass muster with the Obama administration. Teachers should be evaluated, retained and paid based on how well their students learn, Duncan said, and that includes progress on standardized tests.

California couldn't do that if it wanted to right now. At the behest of unions, the state put a firewall between student data and teacher performance. The data "may not be used ... for purposes of pay, promotion, sanction or personnel evaluation," the law reads. Duncan has $4.3 billion in competitive grant money to parcel out to schools that meet his standards for innovation, and California's perverse position on teacher pay and firing isn't likely to make the grade. But Duncan has a role to play in making that more feasible. The kinds of data called for by the No Child Left Behind Act don't measure individual student progress. The federal law has long needed revision to emphasize yearly growth rather than meeting an arbitrary, inconsistent bar called "proficiency."

We agree with union leaders that teachers need decent job protection and that they should not be judged by test results alone. But a recent study by the New Teacher Project, a training organization in New York, found that in many schools where teachers agreed that a colleague should be fired for poor performance, no one was even given an "unsatisfactory" rating on evaluations. Some objective measures are necessary.
We are so far from that in California. Here, it is considered revolutionary for a school board to beg for relief from a tortuous, money-wasting teacher termination process that is nearly doomed to failure anyway. Duncan has given the state a new reason to act on behalf of children, an incentive it shouldn't need in the first place.


• 17 percent of charter students outperformed traditional schools

• 37 percent underperformed traditional schools

• 46 percent showed no significant difference

California's charter school students were roughly on par with their traditionally schooled peers.

By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Newspaper Group/Daily News

06/16/2009 -- Charter school students are not performing as well as their peers at traditional public schools, according to a landmark report released Monday that also pointed to a need for more accountability at the increasingly popular alternative campuses.

The study by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes looked at more than 70 percent of that nation's charter school students, providing one of the first national snapshots of their academic performance.

Margaret Raymond, the report's author, said the study examined individual student data from schools in 16 states, including California, and found large variations in charter school performance.

The study found 17 percent of charter students outperformed traditional schools; 37 percent underperformed traditional schools and 46 percent showed no significant difference.

Overall, California's charter school students were roughly on par with their traditionally schooled peers.

While the study found charter students on average scored just one percentage point lower in math and less than a percentage point lower in reading than their peers at traditional schools, researches said it was the first solid evidence of an achievement gap between students learning under the two education models.

The findings point to a need for increased scrutiny of the tuition-free public school, including more aggressive actions to close under-performing campuses, the report said.

"There are people who consider the charter school experiment to be about the functioning of competitive markets," Raymond said.

"You'd expect underperforming schools would be recognized and students and parents would act accordingly... but whether you're looking at authorizing, closing or parents choosing other schools this part doesn't seem to be working."

The study comes at a time when charter schools are receiving increased attention as President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are encouraging the opening of more charter schools.

Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association, said he welcomed the findings, which he said echoed his group's cry for more accountability.

"Charter school performance is mixed and improved accountability measures for charter schools would serve the interest of the movement well," Wallace said.

"A large number of our schools are far exceeding their expectations, becoming some of the best schools in the country, while others are lagging behind. The challenge now is we need to push accountability systems that will result in these schools improving or they will close."

The report pointed out several gains for charter schools revealing that 17 percent of all charters are out-performing their traditional school counterparts.

Also, students from low-income families and English language learners fared better in their math and reading test scores at charters school and students at these schools tended to perform better over time with test scores improving by the second or third year of attendance.

The report also found that charters in states that limit the number of charter schools tended to perform worse than charters in states with no caps.

Still the Stanford report says education officials should use academic achievement - not just financial and management strength - as a criterion for closing schools.

Fundamental to the charter school movement is the reciprocal notion of flexibility in exchange for accountability. Essentially, it means charter schools can have the freedom to educate the way they want to as long as the schools can prove they are doing a sound job.

"Authorizers must be willing and able to fulfill their end of the original charter school bargain: accountability in exchange for flexibility," the report reads.

"When schools consistently fail, they should be closed."

Jose Cole Gutierrez, executive director of the charter school division at Los Angeles Unified School District, said his office is preparing a new charter policy this week, that calls for more attention to student achievement and test scores when approving or renewing schools.

"Areas we are looking at for sure are academic achievement, finances, governance and fulfilling the terms of charter... any significant concerns in any one of those areas could call for different measures all the way up to school closures," Cole-Gutierrez said.

Overall education experts agree that the report begs for more research into the educational practices inside charter schools, to better figure out what is leading so many to excel and others to fail.

"Charters are designed to educate kids and to provide options for different kinds of educational programs, now we know some are doing really, really well, some are in the middle and some are at the bottom," said Penny Wohlstetter, director of the Center on Educational Governance at the University of Southern California.

"What we don't know is the difference in educational strategies that the high flyers are using, or the ones that are causing others to not be so successful."


LOW-PERFORMING CHARTER SCHOOLS IN CALIFORNIA COULD CLOSE UNDER PLAN: Statewide group for charter schools proposes a new means of measuring their quality. The idea draws qualified praise from state and local education officials.

By Mitchell Landsberg from the Los Angeles Times

June 18, 2009 -- The leading organization of charter schools in California is proposing a new way to evaluate them, one that could lead to the closure of many low-performing schools.

The proposal, being unveiled today by the California Charter Schools Assn., comes on the heels of a Stanford University study released earlier this week that found wide variation in quality among the state's roughly 800 charter schools.

Jed Wallace, the association's new chief executive officer, said the initiative has long been a goal of his, and will help fulfill the promise of the charter movement, in which public schools are granted nearly full independence with the understanding that they can face closure if they don't succeed.

"We have, clearly, some of the most successful schools in the nation that are charter schools in Los Angeles and California," Wallace said, "but we also have some that are not measuring up."

Under the organization's proposal, school districts that authorize charter schools would review them based on their "predicted performance" on standardized tests. This would be determined by comparing charter students to their peers in traditional public schools who have similar backgrounds and a past record of similar test scores. The idea is to measure the "value added" by a charter school.

The proposal drew qualified praise from state and local education officials, who stressed they hadn't studied it in detail.

"This is a spectacular idea," said Ted Mitchell, president of the state Board of Education. "I think that in too many cases, membership associations roll over on issues of quality among their membership, and this is definitely not the case" with the charter group.

He said, however, that it could be "a long road" to state adoption of the association's plan, or one like it.

Currently, charter renewal falls under a 2003 law that allows school performance to be evaluated in one of five ways, including an "alternative accountability system." Critics have said the vagueness of the statute provides leeway for political pressure to determine whether a low-performing school stays open.

The association's proposal calls for the closure of the lowest-performing 1% of California's charter schools next year -- about eight schools. After that, any school would be closed if it fell 10% or more below its predicted performance for the three years that led up to its application for renewal.

Wallace estimated that a dozen schools a year statewide would fall beneath that bar, more as the charter movement expands. He said the new standards dovetail with calls from President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for greater accountability in the charter movement.

Carol Barkley, director of the state Department of Education's Charter School Division, said she did not know how many charter schools were shut down in a typical year, but said that many were closed for reasons other than academic performance.

Jose J. Cole-Gutierrez, director of the Charter Schools Division for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said the district renewed the charters of 34 schools in the 2008-09 school year and denied four, resulting in their closure. The year before, it did not deny any.

●● smf's 2¢: The charter community's own study says 17% of charters do better than traditional schools, 46% do just as well and 34% do worse …so they propose to eliminate the bottom 1%? -
1. CLARIFICATION #1: 'Ted Mitchell, president of the state Board of Education' is also CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund; over the last 8 years, NewSchools has provided more than $100 million in venture capital and supported 25 entrepreneurial nonprofit and for-profit organizations (ie: charter schools & charter management organizations).
2. CLARIFICATION #2: 'Jose J. Cole-Gutierrez, …said the district renewed the charters of 34 schools (and) denied four, resulting in their closure.' The district denying charters is not the final word. Schools with denied charters can and do appeal to the County Board of Education and to Mr. Mitchells's own state board - both filled by political appointees - where they receive a generally more welcome hearing. At least one of the denied charters cited by Cole-Gutierrez as being closed had its charter granted on appeal by the county board over the objection of county staff and the superintendent.

A Framework for Operational Quality: A Report from the National Consensus Panel on Charter School Operational Quality | Stanford/CREDO



By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Newspaper Group/Daily News

June 19, 2009 -- The Los Angeles Unified School District unveiled a financial blueprint for the next three years Thursday that projected a $1.1 billion deficit through 2012, likely causing more class size increases, program cuts and steep reductions to services.

District officials are weighing whether to propose a new parcel tax that could help support LAUSD's budget.

They said all federal stimulus dollars have been used to plug holes and fund required programs. They asked employee unions for concessions and community members for support of the potential tax that could be voted on as early as this fall.

LAUSD board members will vote on the proposal Tuesday.

Visibly exhausted, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines choked up twice as he spoke to board members saying his final budget went against his "core beliefs and values."

"However it is the only alternative ... unless we all share responsibility for addressing this economic crisis," Cortines said.

The veteran schools chief had 10 protesters camp out in front of his Pasadena home Wednesday night until local police were called. They were denouncing the layoffs of about 2,500 teachers, 400 counselors and 2,800 nonteaching staff, steps the district took to close a $596 million budget gap for next year.

To address the three-year funding gap, district officials spelled out a plan that includes cutting more people from the district headquarters, shortening the work year for non-school-based employees to a 10-month calendar, and cutting special programs by about $40 million.

Without increased funding from Sacramento by 2010-11, district officials said they would have to cancel summer school again, increase the kindergarten class size ratio to 29:1 and cut arts and music programs in half.

The following year's cuts would include the elimination of full-day kindergarten and all arts and music programs, with a salary reduction for all employees of about 5 percent.

LAUSD chief financial officer Megan Reilly said many of the cuts could have been avoided if the district had reduced spending over the years in light of declining enrollment.

The district's projected enrollment for next year is about 630,000 students, down from a peak of 745,000 in 2002.

"If we had started to look at declining enrollment we could have done these reductions through attrition alone," Reilly said.

Board members continued to ask employee unions to share the sacrifice.

"We are asking again for all bargaining units to join us for shared solutions," board president Monica Garcia said.

"The window is upon us. ... We are interested in preserving more jobs and we're interested in doing this together."

Blanca Gallegos, spokeswoman for SEIU Local 99, said her union, as well as others, is interested in talking to the district to come up with a plan.

"We also want to save jobs and protect services, but we need the district to come forward with the information to make informed decisions," Gallegos said.

SEIU is preparing for an annual visit to Sacramento next week and Gallegos challenged the board to join her members.

"This is a bigger fight and we need to all come together to meet this crisis."

While no amounts or timelines were discussed for the parcel tax that school district officials included in their budget, Cortines said the tax would help save full day kindergarten, reinstate smaller class sizes in K-5 and save arts and music programs.

The board also said it would lobby Sacramento for more flexibility.

Specifically the district is seeking to eliminate the requirement to submit a three-year balanced budget to the state and more financial flexibility similar to that allotted to charters.

As district officials looked to finalize their budget plan, a group of local teachers who had been on a hunger strike also brought their action to an end promising to keep pressure on LAUSD until all teachers were saved.

"We began this fast with a message of conscience, sacrifice, dedication and purification," said English teacher Sean Leys, who has been fasting for 26 days. "We call on the conscience of every individual who shares a stake in educating our communities, too many of whom could not see this as a civil rights issue before now.

FAREWELL, MS. SANLIN: Teacher of the Year is Inspired and Enlightened by Talented, Laid-Off New Teacher
A letter copied to 4LAKids from a reader.

June 15, 2009

Dear Ms. Sanlin,

My mind is having a hard time accepting the reality of what is to come in less than three weeks. You, a superbly talented new teacher, who has been a source of invigoration and inspiration to me and fellow colleagues for the last two years, have chosen not to linger in limbo and have accepted a teaching position in New York City next year. When you received your Reduction in Force notice on March 15th, I know you hoped it would be rescinded, and that the District would realize that you cannot decimate a struggling school by laying off 23 of its 112 committed teachers. This is, however, what happened and it means that 200 students in our hard to staff school in South Central Los Angeles, will be deprived of the magic of your teaching and your vibrant personality next school year.

I remember your first year of teaching (last year), when we shared a class of difficult students. One, in particular, posed a plethora of challenges. I was at my wits end with interventions, when you calmly turned around to look at me at a meeting and told me of your surprise home visit to the student's house. You had kept a minute by minute log of the student's egregious behavior in class and proceeded to recite it to her gathered family. "At 2:21 pm, Sara* got out of her seat and hit Diego in the head. 2:23 p.m. After I isolated Sara in the front row, she threw her notebook at Mario. 2:27 p.m. Sara shouts profanity across the room...," Sara's mouth dropped as you recited these facts to her parents because she never believed a teacher, much less a new one, would ever dare visit her home. In your class, Sara succumbed to your authority. In mine, she hovered over the acceptable behavior line.

Your classroom management was instant. You immediately picked up on the nuances that linked motivation and performance. You knew how to engage the students while upholding high standards of student conduct and civility, even though you were not assigned the Honors classes. This allowed you to attack the California Standards in US History in a planned, methodical way (although you had been told they would be impossible to cover in a year) and taught them in-depth, with complexity. Your students, by the end of the year, were performing on-par with the Honors students. You not only covered all of the material, you infused it with literature, music, and primary sources. When I asked you where you came up with such great ideas, you answered "its in the standards."

You brought our department into the 21st century by establishing a google group where we could post updates, pacing plans, and lesson ideas. You showed us how we could have a common calendar and receive email updates when we were off track. Thanks to you, the chronic problem of communication at a three track school was resolved.

You taught your science class with the same creativity and intensity, and managed to conduct several labs that involved students handling hazardous materials, combustibles, and possible projectiles. Not once was there a behavior problem. In fact, you knew how to motivate students to prove to you that they were responsible enough to handle these objects, and you established clear rules of behavior during these times.

As an African-American teacher, you were a role model to young girls who idolized your wardrobe and were intrigued by your "proper" language. You had the teachers laughing in the lunchroom when you described how your students would sneak by your classroom, dragging their friends along so they could hear how you spoke. I'm sure it wasn't just your language that attracted them. It was also your quick wit, your tech-savviness, and your ability to not fall for the obligatory tricks they will play on new teachers.

Our school has marched in front of Beaudry, leafleted every Friday for three months, called, emailed, and faxed our board members to no avail. You and 22 other talented teachers will be unwillingly removed from our school site on July 1st. I knew you would not, and should not, leave your fate in the hands of people who have admitted themselves to not know the solution to this overwhelming economic crisis. The money the charter school in New York spent to fly you out for an interview was money well spent. They have stolen the light of our future from under our noses, and we were powerless to stop it from happening. Tracie Sanlin, my esteemed colleague, I thank you for your two years of service to L.A. Academy. Your students will never forget you, and neither will I.

L Martha Infante
CCSS California Teacher of the Year 2009
Los Angeles Academy Middle School
Los Angeles Unified School District

*not student's real name

The writer is Past President of the Southern California Social Science Association and is currently serving her term as California CCSS Teacher of the Year for 2009. For more information about author you can visit or contact

The author can be reached via email at

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said this afternoon that he wants the district to consider introducing a parcel tax to raise money for education. Cortines has raised this issue in the past as a partial solution to L.A. Unified's budget woes.

THE NATION'S REPORT CARD: Music & Visual Arts Education
Statement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Results of NAEP Arts 2008 Assessment

By Veronica Melvin | OpEd in LA Newspaper Group/Daily News 19 June 2009 -- IN 1968 more than 20,000 high school students marched out of Los Angeles Unified School District eastside campuses and staged sit-ins to protest policies that steered the brightest students to trade classes rather than higher education.

Teachers have accepted a new contract that includes no pay raise for last year, this year or next year, but will allow them to take formal contract grievances public. The leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles had insisted to members that they could do no better on salary issues during tough economic times, and the membership

a cheap shot from smf/4LAkids: 32 bullets, right through the heart of public education from the PowerPoint presentation from senior staff to the Board of Education @ today's meeting

Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Responds to Conference Committee Vote to Eliminate the High School Exit Exam SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell issued the following statement in reaction to the Legislative Budget Conference Committee's vote

6/18 - SACRAMENTO — With California veering toward insolvency, partisan sniping over the budget intensified Wednesday in the Legislature. Democrats unveiled their blueprint to close the state's $24 billion budget shortfall, and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to veto the plan because it calls for new taxes on oil, tobacco and

from the Sacramento Bee Published Thursday, Jun. 18, 2009 - A California law requiring high school seniors to pass a high-stakes exit exam before receiving their diplomas is targeted for elimination, at least temporarily, because of the state's fiscal mess. Democratic legislators are pushing the idea of lifting the mandate, arguing that it's not fair to expect schools hammered


CALIF. AID REQUEST SPURNED BY U.S.: Officials Push State To Repair Budget
Washington Post - - The Obama administration has turned back pleas for emergency aid from one of the biggest remaining threats to the economy -- the state of California. Top state officials have gone hat in hand to the administration, armed with dire warnings of a fast-approaching "fiscal meltdown" caused by a

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 3:30 PM
By Emily Lerman in News | Just last week, the LAUSD's Homeless Education Program was at risk of becoming a victim of the many budget cuts. The program aims to "ensure that homeless youth have access to a free public education, equal to that of any other youth". General Jeff, Skid Row

LAWMAKERS' PLAN EASES GOVERNOR'S PROPOSED CUTS: Budget panel wants to keep parks open and keep healthcare for low-income children.
GOP leaders scoff at proposed tax hikes and criticize Democratic leaders for addressing only part of the deficit. By Shane Goldmacher | LA Times Reporting from Sacramento -- A state budget panel Monday rejected some of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's most extreme proposals to close the state's deficit through cuts to government programs as the leaders of the Assembly and

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) is asking for information on any role First Lady Michelle Obama's office may have played in the president's decision to fire the inspector general of AmeriCorps over his investigation of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Grassley requested that Alan Solomont, chairman of the government-run Corporation for

A Stanford University study of charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia found, nationally, only 17% of charter schools do better academically than their public counterparts. + California charter schools outperform traditional public schools in reading but significantly lag in math,

NATIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL STUDY/PAID FOR BY CHARTER ORGANIZATIONS: "As a collective group, students in charter schools are not faring as well as students in traditional public schools."
from Larson Communication On behalf of CREDO at Stanford University Stanford University released a major report today providing the most detailed look to date at how charter schools are performing across the nation compared to their traditional public school counterparts. The report provides an in-depth examination of 16 states, including: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado (Denver), DC,

6/15 - From LAUSD Clipping Service
Monday, June 15,
LA TIMES Van Nuys high school student wins Princeton Prize in Race Relations 4:31 PM | June 12, 2009 Lauded for her work in uniting students across the ethnic divide, a graduating senior and salutatorian at Birmingham High School in Van

The news that didn't fit from June 21st

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Tuesday June 23, 2009
Regular Board Meeting: THE BUDGET
Start: 1:00 pm

• Wednesday Jun 24, 2009
Central Region High School #16: Groundbreaking Ceremony
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Central Region High School #16
300 E. 53rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90011
*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.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.