Sunday, January 03, 2010


4LAKids: Sunday 3•Jan•2010 Happy New Year
In This Issue:
TEACHERS SEEK CONTROL AT UP-FOR-BID L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOLS: Educators say they know the children best and can build programs that will succeed.
More from The Times
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?

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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.
LAUSD has been pretty much shut down since the last 4LAKids went out, so the powers-that-be at Beaudry haven't had much of an opportunity to create much mayhem+havoc – schools without student and adult troublemakers are like that.

All are back on Monday; the Board meets on Tuesday, The black diamond slippery slope will reopen along with contract negotiations, budget cuts, the deal making and giveaways in Public School Choice and – oh yes – students (It's about students! Who knew?) will be in classrooms. Stay tuned and Happy New Year.

THE DECADE PAST is already universally disliked, reviled and unlamented – even by the young adults who came of age during it. [See Pew Study: “Current Decade Rated Worst in 50 Years”]. Mathematicians correctly remind us that decades continue into years ending in zero. But “us” - whoever we are – are so glad to be rid of the “Aughts” – or as a a BBC wag [see The view in the rear-view-mirror from the other side of the pond/the other side of the road - EDUCATIONAL REVIEW OF THE DECADE... ] names them: “The Naughties” – that we aren't waiting! Be gone!

The decade with the 'O's - ¿The Cheerios Decade? - was book-ended by 9/11 and the election of Barack Obama (the Great Recession began earlier) ...arguably an upward arc.
In 2001 suicide terrorists flew airplanes into buildings;
on Christmas Day of '09 a suicidal terrorist wearing exploding underwear unsuccessfully attempted to blow up an airliner over Detroit.

A better Outcome? Yes. A desirable outcome? Not really.

Educationally the Naughties' bookends are NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND and RACE TO THE TOP – a continuum of bad thinking/flat-line/no progress at best.

THE NEW NORMAL – the status quo if you will – is Ed Reform driven by incremental quick fixes and cost neutral tweaks - complicated by unintended consequences, mired in the photo-op-now of term limited politicians, lowered expectations, and ever decreasing funding – public education-driven-by-private-agendas and an overwhelming lack of long-range vision. “Urgency” is well-and good – but the short term solutions for that are Detrol® for women and Flomax® for men. (4LAKids is a blog about education, talk to your doctor about overactive bladder treatment)

LAUSD once had a vision and a plan. We would build and modernize our way out of overcrowding and poor facilities – and in so doing create the infrastructure to support a world class educational system. The voters and taxpayers voted overwhelmingly for that plan – five times - approving $30 billion over five local bonds and their supporting state match. Now, as we begin to really deliver on the new and modernized schools promise – the current Board of Education (without anything like an overwhelming mandate) is literally giving schools away. This isn't a metaphorical or rhetorical giveaway. THIS IS GIVING SCHOOLS AWAY.

In the case of the Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center it wasn't even a giveaway to the Mayor's Partnership. The Mayor simply took possession – without there ever being a vote or a public hearing by the Board of Education authorizing or even discussing it. That's a takeaway. of a school district asset that cost $108 million ...before the debt service cost!

The limited vision is probably best typified by Open Court and scripted instruction – a temporary fix for inexperienced teachers driven my Class Size Reduction that has become institutionalized over time. Gentle Reader: CSR is as extinct as the Passenger Pigeon - Class Size Increase is the Order of the Day. The unintended consequences of elementary students spoon fed daily rations of prepackaged knowledge by teachers following a script and a lockstep schedule is showing up as those kids enter secondary ed – unprepared to individually evaluate and unequipped to independently study.

Unable to think for themselves; the critical skill set for a 21st Century Education.

Open Court is a program created by textbook publishers it address low performance in high stakes testing ...the very high stakes tests they also publish. At the risk of a bit of th' ol' over-the-top 4LAKids rhetorical overstatement: Isn't this akin to the Mafia and/or Trial Attorney's business model? “LET US PROTECT YOU FROM THE THREAT WE POSE!” (4LAKids realizes it has just antagonized organized crime and the legal profession and wishes to apologize to both parties for lumping them in such unsavory company.)

But stay tuned. Things may get worse. Or, parents and educators and students and the community might yet seize the day and the opportunity for real school choice. They, we, might choose-to-choose.

We might choose Excellence. And Quality. And Progress.

That is the hope that begins in this new decade and leads onward

Bless us all / bless you all / bless the children / Cheerio.

¡Onward/Hasta Alelante! - smf

TEACHERS SEEK CONTROL AT UP-FOR-BID L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOLS: Educators say they know the children best and can build programs that will succeed.
By Howard Blume | LA times

January 2, 2010 - A plan to let outside groups bid for control of dozens of long-struggling and new local campuses has unleashed a formidable competitor: Groups of teachers from inside the Los Angeles Unified School District are vying to take charge of their schools.

At every location up for bid -- 12 existing schools and 18 new campuses -- teams of teachers and the L.A. teachers union are working nights and weekends to decide what to offer students and parents and what they would require of them and of themselves.

They are trying to take advantage of a reform strategy, approved in August, that envisioned bringing in privately operated charter schools to set the standard for a school system widely seen as dysfunctional.

The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, also is trying to block charter takeovers through litigation. But rank-and-file teachers, with backing from the union and, in some cases, from the school district, are planning to compete with the charters, and they plan to win.

"For the first time we're trying to show that we can, as teacher-educators, build a school that will benefit our children because we know our children best," said Hillcrest first-grade teacher Josephine Miller. "That's what makes this exciting."

Room 12 at Hillcrest Drive Elementary School in the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw neighborhood, has become an unofficial command post for the effort there, a mini-Pentagon of academic mobilization. Oversized white flip-chart sheets are affixed to cabinets, walls and whiteboards.

On one sheet, a giant to-do list includes "investigate playground and lunch procedures." On another, a brainstormed list for parent and community involvement includes opening the library and computer lab to the public, holding literacy classes for parents and appointing room mothers.

In the center of the room, six double desks of various heights are pushed together to form a makeshift conference table. Down the middle are packages of Fritos and Doritos, mini Kit Kat bars, and a box of supermarket Christmas cookies. A case of bottled water sits on a nearby table.

On a recent weekday afternoon, a group of Hillcrest teachers reported to one another about arts programs they are considering for their proposal -- what they cost and what they offer. The teachers hope to offer enrichment programs as well as rigorous, enlivened academics.

They also talked about how to instill a new attitude among students who stop trying early on in their educations.

"I'm trying all my tricks, and it's working for seven or eight students," said third-grade teacher Tonya Boyd.

"We need a shift in culture so the kids know we all care about them," said Amanda Kiehle, who also teaches third grade, "and that we're all holding them accountable."

More than a third of students at Hillcrest speak limited English and virtually all are poor. Last year, nearly half the school's students either moved out of the neighborhood or arrived during the school year, making academic continuity difficult. Fewer than a fourth of students outside the school's magnet program test as proficient in either math or English.

The Hillcrest teachers, even though they have been part of a school deemed "failing," insist that they know best how to turn things around. And they worry that their home-grown proposals might not get a fair hearing against charter schools with well-regarded track records, in-house data analysts, legal support and public relations professionals.

Full proposals are due to the district by Jan. 11 and will be reviewed internally and externally, including by parents and, at the high school level, by students. In February, L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines will make a single recommendation for each school to the Board of Education, which will have the final say.

Cortines said he applauds the teachers' initiatives. But he urged the groups to "show some sort of evidence or I will not recommend them -- evidence of some academic improvement, evidence that they have been dealing with English language learners, evidence that special education students are being taken care of, evidence that parents are involved."

Article continues

More from The Times
By William Tierney | LA Times

As the crisis persists, it's time for a new master plan that would streamline curriculum, bring funding in line with students' ability to pay and put UC, Cal State and community colleges in sync.

By Irving R. Epstein | LA Times

More minority students need to be lured into the sciences. One program has been a resounding success.


HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
The view in the rear-view-mirror from the other side of the pond/the other side of the road: EDUCATIONAL REVIEW OF THE DECADE + RECESSION 'THREAT' TO EDUCATION - BBC...


TEACHER'S UNION SUES LAUSD OVER PLAN FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS: from EGP Publications | Eastside Sun / Northeast Sun / Me...

TWO TEACHERS ORDERED TO RETURN MORE THAN $148,000 IN OVERPAYMENTS: L.A. Unified's action is part of increased effor...

RESTORING AN EDUCATIONAL GEM’S LUSTER: Cuts are fast eroding California's once-vaunted system of public colleges ...

THE VIEW FROM BALTIMORE IN THREE PARTS: Focus on principals carries benefits and risks, Expand 'No Child' through f...

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


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6383 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6387
...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.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT.

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

Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD. He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represents PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee and the BOC on the Board of Education Facilities Committee. He is an elected repreprentative on his neighborhood council. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor he hopes to someday deserve. • 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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