Saturday, March 06, 2010

Saying it all...

4LAKids: Sunday 7•March•2010
In This Issue:
TEACHERS AS REFORMERS: L.A. Unified teachers won the right to run several new or underperforming schools. Can they pull it off? +smf's 2¢
AS LAUSD TIGHTENS BELT, 'GREEN' RESOLUTION HELPS TRIM WATER, ENERGY COSTS: The 3-year-old program has been carving away at future utility expenses
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.
THE HEADLINE in The Helena (Montana) Independent Record says it all: UP TO 5,200 LA SCHOOLS WORKERS FACE LAYOFFS.

THE SIGN in the photograph of teachers protesting in Glendale says it all: NOT ENOUGH BOOKS IN OUR CLASSROOMS – JUST LIKE L.A. UNIFIED.

Helena has problems of it's own Glendale Unified is budget and resource challenged like every school district in California. But LAUSD defines the challenge and presents the problem at a whole new and incomprehensible order of magnitude. We are like the photograph pasted on the wall of a PTA workshop about the school funding crisis ...a car hanging precipitously over a cliff: Things could always be worse!

By illogical extension: they are in LA.

The city of Glendale is eight times larger than Helena;
LAUSD has 3 times as many students as Glendale has residents.

Neither Glendale nor Helena's school district has 5200 employees to lay off. The truth is most school districts in the nation have less than 5000 students, let alone employees. LAUSD has schools larger than that!

Things are worse in LA ...or are they? Is the problem bigger or greater ...or are the statistics just made up of bigger numbers? A good teacher laid off is a bad thing in Glendale or Helena or LA. A child without a book in Glendale or Helena or LA is dreadful. A student whose future is compromised by budget cuts is a tragedy wherever: Haiti, Helena, Glendale, LA or Beverly Hills.

None of these are excuses, they are simply reality.

We -- you and I and all these kids and the good citizens of Helena and Glendale are in the middle of the biggest mass lay-off of public sector workers since the Great Depression. School employees are the biggest group of public workers in Helena, Glendale, LA, California and the nation.

The mayor of LA has proposed to lay off all city daycare and preschool employees, eliminating preschool programs (see below).

IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION funding to public education was cut by 25% in the decade of the Thirties. Funding to public education has already been reduced by 18% since this recession began in '07 – and California had been systemically reducing education funding in the decade previous.

"Food Insecurity" is a new phrase coined by demographers, statisticians and counters-of-things to define populations that don't know where the next meal is coming from ...whether they are kids on free-and-reduced-lunch-programs looking from Friday afternoon into the weekend ...or residents of Port Au Prince or Concepcion looking at the shattered ruins of their lives. The crafters of bureaucrat-speak are torturing the language while searching for a politically correct euphemism for hunger.

In LA and Helena and Glendale we are staring into the vacuum of Education Insecurity. We are feeling the potential emptiness growing. We are not alone; but we are no more secure.




QUALITY CHILD CARE SERVICES AND PRESCHOOL are critical components in the success of young people in education. The City of Los Angeles is proposing to eliminate city run child care and preschool programs, putting child care workers first on the mayor's list for layoffs.

Under the City Charter, the mayor doesn't run the City of LA; the city council does.

forwarded to 4LAKids by Susannah Scott

To: LA City Councilmembers

As the Mayor has put child care workers first on his list for layoffs, Los Angeles' city child care services are on the verge of complete shut-down.

City Councilmembers must reject the Mayor's proposal that includes such layoffs.

Child care is as important to public safety as fire and police as it keeps children safe, juvenile & gang crime down, community order intact, property values stable and allows police to stay focused on serious crime.

Eliminating child care services will create a systemic problem that will generate far more problems and expense in the long term than can be justified by any short term budget savings.

City child care services can be improved by restructuring budget and operations to create a self-sustaining system. A successful program and infrastructure exists already; it just needs an overhaul to become more streamlined and efficient.

This is an issue that impacts every city resident in some way. For the benefit of the entire city, I urge you to invest your time and support to save child care services and overturn the Mayor's proposal to lay off child care services workers.


The Undersigned

To Sign the Petition Click Here

TEACHERS AS REFORMERS: L.A. Unified teachers won the right to run several new or underperforming schools. Can they pull it off? +smf's 2¢
LA Times Editorial

March 6, 2010 -- Los Angeles schools did not undergo the transformation we had expected from the Public School Choice initiative, which in its first year opened more than 30 new or underperforming public schools to outside management. Top-notch charter operators applied for relatively few schools and then were removed from the running at the last minute. The school board once again mired itself in political maneuvers instead of putting students first.

What transformation there was came, more surprisingly, from the teachers. They agreed to allow and create more pilot schools, which are similar to charter schools but employ district personnel. They formed partnerships and, with the help of their union, United Teachers Los Angeles, drew up their own, often strong applications for revamping schools. It would be wrong to underestimate the effort and skills needed to pull this off. The time frame was short and the list of requirements long. Unlike charter operators, which submit such applications as a matter of course, the teachers had no particular background for this work. They met with parents who have long fumed that the schools discourage their participation. They listened. They responded.

This is a tremendous step in a school district where, too often, teachers and their union have not been the agents of change but impediments to it. In fact, had the process worked as it was supposed to, the reform initiative would have served as a much stronger application for federal Race to the Top funds than anything the Legislature came up with.

Pulling together the applications was an intense but short-term task for the teachers, born of a desperate attempt to preserve jobs in Los Angeles Unified, which this week sent out thousands more layoff notices. The harder task lies ahead: carrying out those plans for the next several years. The applications promise radically new efforts at the same time that the district lacks the money to support those efforts. And now, much of the pressure is off. The main competition came from charter operators, which aren't sure whether they want to be full participants in the future. And the board has shown a clear unwillingness to go against the wishes of union lobbyists.

If the district leaders want a worthwhile outcome from this initiative, there are several steps they must take in coming years: Do a better job of educating parents, many of whom didn't fully understand what the options were. Do away with the obnoxious "advisory" votes, which were riddled with misleading campaign tactics and ballot boxes weighted by groups on both sides that brought in their own supporters to vote. And most important, hold all of the new operators -- whether charters, teachers or Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools -- to their promises of meaningful progress for students.


smf's 2¢: Sometimes the Times Editorial Board gets it right: "This is a tremendous step in a school district where, too often, teachers and their union have not been the agents of change but impediments to it. In fact, had the process worked as it was supposed to, the reform initiative would have served as a much stronger application for federal Race to the Top funds than anything the Legislature came up with."

...And sometimes they channel the ghost of Harry Chandler that haunts their board room: "Do away with the obnoxious "advisory" votes..."

What does 'obnoxious' modify? Do we 'do away with' the "advisory" part and make them actual elections? Or 'do away with' the votes themselves?

Democracy can be so messy! it would be so much easier if just we let responsible adults make all the choices rather than parents or teachers - as advised by the sages of the LA Times editorial board, hizzonner the mayor and the likes of Eli Broad, Bill Gates and Arne Duncan - guided, of course, by Harry's Ghost.

Lest we forget, the school board generally followed the advice of parents and the community in the advisory votes. Parents didn't want charters and they didn't vote for them - even though they were lobbied, cajoled and bused in by charter operators.


• The rules, when and if there were rules, were made up at the last minute.
• The District did a poor job of notifying potential voters in advance ...probably because it didn't know and/or couldn't make up its mind who they were!
• Parties of Interest (Applicants) were not so constrained, their Get Out The Vote efforts were pretty good.
• Despite the above 40,000 voters cast their votes -in the rain - in an election where 40,000 students were affected. (4000 voters had been expected in the sunshine!)
• The League of Women Voters post-election report [] goes into depth and detail about the shortcomings of the process. But the league ultimately glows: New first time voters were empowered. People who had never voted before - often because they are denied the franchise because of their immigration status - turned out and voted. I'm not sure the LWV went this far but I will - let us praise small but famous victories: This Obnoxious Vote Was a Triumph of Democracy!


The obnoxious (using a good word where it belongs!) "Parent Trigger" - shoehorned into state law to qualify California for a contest ["Race to the Top"] in which it won't compete (Chicago Cubs Fans: repeat after the Governator: 'Wait'll next year!' But wait ...he won't be The Governator next year!) - gives a lot of power to 50%+1 of parents ...but neglects to clearly identify who the parent voter/petitioners itchy-trigger-finger trigger-persons are.

THE TARGETS GIVEN A RUNNING START: The state will disclose the list of potential target schools on Monday. Target principals at these 'persistently lowest achieving schools' were notified in a conference call Thursday afternoon at 2PM them time to deputize a posse - or catch the 2:10 to Yuma.

• State law says that signatures on petitions are valid only if the signator is a registered voter in the county where the petition is circulated. Are unregistered citizens, legal and undocumented aliens disenfranchised even when they have children in the system?
• Does the Parent Trigger create a new class of petitioner/voter? If so, who verifies the the signatures?… the same person who verifies parent signatures on report cards and absence notices? ….the Florida Secretary of State?
• How many votes does a parent have? One per child? One per parent? Do mother and father each have a vote ...or a vote per child ...or one each per child?
• If a child has parents with divided custody - (mom during the week, dad on the weekends) and the vote is on the weekend - can only dad vote?
• The law says parents from feeder schools can vote ...potentially giving parents not at a school determination over those that are. Who identifies/qualifies/verifies them? School attendance areas and feeder patterns shift constantly – LAUSD has not yet set the attendance areas for next year.
• Do students have a vote? Does a teen mom attending high school have two votes?

The "Parent Trigger" is a device from the charter school promoter/operators to remove the teachers at a school from the decision process in charter formation - masquerading as parent empowerment.

I BELIEVE IN PARENT EMPOWERMENT ...and I resent Steve Barr, Michael Piscal, Ben Austin* and their like co-opting the words and twisting them to their shallow self-serving ends in this Karl Rovain/George Orwellian fashion.

But how do I really feel? - smf

* ...not exactly the go-to authority on petition gathering! []


by Rob Hotakainen | Sacramento Bee

Friday, Mar. 05, 2010 -- WASHINGTON – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Thursday that California must be "more aggressive and bolder" in changing its education system after losing out in a highly competitive national contest for federal money.

Federal officials rejected California's application for a share of $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funding, part of President Barack Obama's effort to overhaul public schools.

The news came in a letter to governors, in which U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that "only the very best proposals" would get money. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia were announced as finalists.

It's a setback for Schwarzenegger and the Legislature, which met in special session in January to change state education laws in an attempt to win the money.

"While the reforms we passed did move our state forward, they did not go far enough because other states were more competitive," Schwarzenegger said.

Jed Wallace, president of the California Charter Schools Association, called California's loss "a negative blow to public education, and a step backward in the need for reform."

"This is deeply disappointing for the children of California, particularly after Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Legislature acted to ensure California would meet the federal government's eligibility requirements," Wallace said.

It's yet another blow to the state's budget, too. State officials estimated that California could have won as much as $700 million had it been selected.

"We were talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that would have helped in the toughest budget year that we've had probably since the Great Depression," said Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville.

Forty states and the District of Columbia applied for the money, Duncan said in his letter. He said the money is for the first phase of the program, and he encouraged states that did not win this time to apply for the second phase. The deadline is June 1.

The states' applications were judged by five independent reviewers, whose individual scores were averaged to give the state its final score. Duncan said winners in the competition will be announced in early April.

State officials said they had no idea why California's application was rejected. "I hope we'll qualify for something in the second round," said Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D- Antioch, a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction. "It was always in doubt whether we would get funds in the first round."

To compete for the money, states had to promise to improve teacher effectiveness, make changes in failing schools, improve academic standards and student testing,and use data to become more accountable to the public.

At the governor's urging, state lawmakers approved a plan to empower parents to force changes in failing campuses through signature-gathering drives, and to allow students in 1,000 of the worst-scoring campuses to enroll elsewhere.

In January, the governor called the state's action "sweeping education reforms" that would "make sure California is highly competitive for hundreds of millions in federal dollars for our schools."

In a statement Thursday, Schwarzenegger said he would continue to fight for more education changes "to make California truly competitive for the billions of dollars our students desperately need – the people of California expect nothing less.

"The decision by the Obama administration demonstrates that we need to be more aggressive and bolder in reforming our education system," the governor said.

Arun Ramanathan, executive director of The Education Trust-West, said California lost out because state officials decided to play it safe and not enact enough changes to satisfy the Obama administration.

"Giving someone an exit strategy from a low-performing school is not the same as improving the learning conditions inside of those schools," Ramanathan said.


By Dan Walters | The Sacramento Bee

Friday, Mar. 5, 2010 - It's not often that California's educational establishment – led by the very powerful California Teachers Association – loses a Capitol battle, especially when it's pitted against its archenemies in the school reform movement.

That's what made the approval in January of two major education reform measures, targeting low-performing schools and empowering parents to force school site change, so striking.

Reformers, led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and EdVoice, an advocacy group financed by a few wealthy civic leaders, and the CTA-led establishment have been jousting for years over whether schools must have more money to get better, or could and should be improved without extra funds.

The reform faction, however, gained a powerful ally in President Barack Obama, who offered $4.35 billion to states that met his Race to the Top criteria.

Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, singled out California as he pressed states to adopt reforms that unions dislike, such as increasing charter schools and using student test data for teacher evaluations.

It put Democratic legislators, who usually march to the CTA drumbeat, in a bind. If they refused to do what Schwarzenegger and Obama demanded, they'd look like obstructionists who were sacrificing children's education by ignoring as much as $700 million from the feds, even though it's scarcely 1 percent of school spending. But if they enacted the reforms, they'd be alienating powerful allies.

As the deadline for application loomed, the Legislature passed the two bills, somewhat watered down from the original versions but still opposed by big education groups. Republicans embraced them overwhelmingly and Democrats were divided. Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, the EdVoice candidate for state schools superintendent, carried one.

"In the past, parents had no power to bring about change in their children's schools, but that will now change," Schwarzenegger crowed during his State of the State address. "Parents will now have the means to get rid of incompetent principals and take other necessary steps to improve their children's education."

On Thursday, Duncan announced 16 finalist states. California was noticeably absent. While the state may apply in future rounds, it could be compelled to make even more changes of the sort that the CTA and its allies dislike to have a chance of winning a grant.

Schwarzenegger clearly wants more, saying, "This decision ... demonstrates that we need to be more aggressive and bolder in reforming our education system. While the reforms we passed did move our state forward, they did not go far enough because other states were more competitive."

So was the Legislature snookered? Perhaps so. But perhaps what it did under duress will improve a very troubled system regardless of whether the state receives any Obamabucks.

AS LAUSD TIGHTENS BELT, 'GREEN' RESOLUTION HELPS TRIM WATER, ENERGY COSTS: The 3-year-old program has been carving away at future utility expenses

By Susan Carpenter | LA Times

March 7, 2010 | While the Los Angeles Unified School District grapples with budget slashing, teacher layoffs, program cuts and increasing class sizes, a 3-year-old program has been steadily carving away at future water and electricity costs for the 14,000 buildings in the sprawling system.

Since passage in 2007 of the Green LAUSD resolution, the district has been working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and its energy and water use by 10% from 2007 levels by 2013. It also will install 50 megawatts of solar photovoltaic arrays, a move that could save the district more than $20 million annually on an electricity bill that normally costs $85 million.

In March, hundreds of decades-old buses will be upgraded to less-polluting, more energy-efficient propane models. Eight of a planned 250 schools will have solar power installations. Still others will be outfitted with "smart" irrigation systems to reduce the millions of gallons of imported water the district guzzles each day, more than half of which is used for outdoor watering.

"Our mission is to be the greenest school district in the country," said L.A. Board of Education President Monica Garcia, one of three board members who presented the Green LAUSD resolution in late 2007 to outline specific goals for water and energy conservation. "It's good for the students, good for the planet, good for the neighborhoods."

Most of the changes have been funded with voter-approved state bond measures, utility incentives and grants from agencies including the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California Edison and the L.A. Department of Water and Power. An additional $120 million in federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds may also be available to LAUSD to help it go solar.

"If we can demonstrate that it's possible to be green in a cost-effective manner in a school district as large as L.A., it can be done almost anywhere," said Randy Britt, director of sustainability initiatives for LAUSD. "All this is part of an investment plan that will help build assets that will then be able to generate savings in the general fund."

Under a program unveiled for this school year, a portion of water and energy savings are being returned to schools that institute conservation measures, such as fixing leaky faucets or turning off lights in empty rooms.

The 44 campuses the district plans to build by 2013 will be designed in compliance with the standards of the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, which sets water- and energy-efficiency standards and encourages better classroom acoustics and air quality, mold prevention and natural lighting.

"People think of the whole green issue as focusing on energy, but it's actually only one-fifth energy. It's also focused on air quality, land use and human comfort," said Vivian Loftness, professor of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and co-chair of a 2008 National Research Council report on green schools. "There's a much broader set of issues."

The report found that many green building practices also aided learning.

For instance, insulated walls and double-pane windows also reduce noise pollution that affects students. Increasing the amount of natural light in classrooms also triggers melatonin production that leads to healthy sleep cycles and makes textbooks and other materials more colorful and compelling to students, Loftness said. Using paints without volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, reduces respiratory problems such as asthma, the No. 1 cause of absenteeism in schools.

The combination of green architectural practices and improved learning and teaching opportunities led to Project Frog, a San Francisco firm that designs and manufactures zero-energy classrooms and portable trailers, such as the one at an LAUSD charter school opening this fall.

In addition to featuring recycled denim insulation, low- and no-VOC interiors and a tall, pitched roof allowing so much natural light that overhead lighting may not be necessary, the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center in San Fernando will be used as a training center to prepare high school students for careers in California's budding green economy.

Jay Gonzales, an advisor in LAUSD's Office of Curriculum and Instruction, is working to infuse core math, science, language arts and social studies curricula with hands-on learning opportunities resulting from the district's sustainability initiatives. "My mantra is, 'Use what you have in the house,' " Gonzales said.

This spring, Gonzales is piloting a project that will get students involved in mapping out more water-efficient irrigation systems at their schools.

"LAUSD's mandate is to educate, so everything we do should somehow be connected," said Gonzales.

"Kids like to do things," Gonzales added. "If we give them all this knowledge and we don't give them an opportunity to use the knowledge to see how it works in practice, we're short-circuiting something that's naturally going for us with children, and that is their innate curiosity."


March 2, 2010 -- Diane Ravitch, the education historian who built her intellectual reputation battling progressive educators and served in the first Bush administration’s Education Department, is in the final stages of an astonishing, slow-motion about-face on almost every stand she once took on American schooling.

Once outspoken about the power of standardized testing, charter schools and free markets to improve schools, Dr. Ravitch is now caustically critical. She underwent an intellectual crisis, she says, discovering that these strategies, which she now calls faddish trends, were undermining public education. She resigned last year from the boards of two conservative research groups.

“School reform today is like a freight train, and I’m out on the tracks saying, ‘You’re going the wrong way!’ ” Dr. Ravitch said in an interview.

Dr. Ravitch is one of the most influential education scholars of recent decades, and her turnaround has become the buzz of school policy circles.

“What’s Diane up to? That’s what people are asking.” said Grover J. Whitehurst, who was the director of the Department of Education’s research arm in the second Bush administration and is now Dr. Ravitch’s colleague at the Brookings Institution.

Among the topics on which Dr. Ravitch has reversed her views is the main federal law on public schools, No Child Left Behind, which is up for a rewrite in coming weeks in Congress. She once supported it, but now says its requirements for testing in math and reading have squeezed vital subjects like history and art out of classrooms.

Dr. Ravitch’s new posture has angered critics.

“She has done more than any one I can think of in America to drive home the message of accountability and charters and testing,” said Arthur E. Levine, a former president of Teachers College, where Dr. Ravitch got her doctorate and began her teaching career in the 1970s. “Now for her to suddenly conclude that she’s been all wrong is extraordinary — and not very helpful.”

Admirers say she is returning to her roots as an advocate for public education. She rose to prominence in the 1970s with books defending the civic value of public schools from attacks by left-wing detractors, who were calling them capitalist tools to indoctrinate working-class children.

“First she angered the Marxist historians, and later the fans of progressive education and the multiculturalists,” said Jeffrey E. Mirel, a professor of education and history at the University of Michigan. “But she’s always defended public schools and a robust traditional curriculum, because she believes they’ve been a ladder of social mobility.”

Dr. Ravitch was born in Texas and graduated from Wellesley. She gained formidable influence during the Republican-dominated 1980s. In her meticulous office on the top floor of a 19th-century Brooklyn brownstone hangs a photograph of herself, seated next to Vice President Bush during a visit to the White House, directly across from President Ronald Reagan.

In 1991, Lamar Alexander, the first President Bush’s secretary of education, made her an assistant secretary, a post she used to lead a federal effort to promote the creation of state and national academic standards.

Since leaving government in 1993, Dr. Ravitch has been a much-sought-after policy analyst and research scholar, quoted in hundreds of articles on American education. And she has written five books, including “Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform” (2001) and “The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn” (2003), an influential examination of the censorship of school books by left- and right-wing pressure groups.

In her new book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” she describes the bipartisan consensus that took root in the early 1990s, with her support, and has held sway since.

“The new thinking saw the public school system as obsolete, because it is controlled by the government,” she writes. “I argued that certain managerial and structural changes — that is, choice, charters, merit pay and accountability — would help to reform our schools.”

In January 2001, Dr. Ravitch was at the White House to hear President George W. Bush outline his vision for No Child Left Behind, which Congress approved with bipartisan majorities and which became law in 2002.

“It sounded terrific,” she recalled in the interview.

There were signs soon after, however, that her views were changing. She had endorsed mayoral control of New York City schools before Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg obtained it in 2002, but by 2004 she had emerged as a fierce critic. Some said she was nursing a grudge because close friends had lost jobs in the mayor’s shake-up of the schools’ bureaucracy.

In 2005, she said, a study she undertook of Pakistan’s weak and inequitable education system, dominated by private and religious institutions, convinced her that protecting the United States’ public schools was important to democracy.

She remembers another date, Nov. 30, 2006, when at a Washington conference she heard a dozen experts conclude that the No Child law was not raising student achievement.

These and other experiences left her increasingly disaffected from the choice and accountability movements. Charter schools, she concluded, were proving to be no better on average than regular schools, but in many cities were bleeding resources from the public system. Testing had become not just a way to measure student learning, but an end in itself.

“Accountability, as written into federal law, was not raising standards but dumbing down the schools,” she writes. “The effort to upend American public education and replace it with something that was market-based began to feel too radical for me.”

She said she began to feel estranged intellectually from close colleagues.

One she heard criticize the No Child law was Chester E. Finn Jr., a former assistant secretary of education with whom she had written a book and worked at two conservative research groups, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Koret Task Force at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

They were ideological soul mates and just plain chums. Often over the last decade, they were on the phone together or exchanging e-mail messages half a dozen times a day. But although Mr. Finn had become critical of the No Child law, he remained an advocate of charter schools and school choice.

By 2008, Mr. Finn said, “there were more and more issues where the staff and everybody else on the Fordham board would say, ‘Let’s do A,’ and Diane would say, ‘Let’s do B.’ ”

Finally, she recalled, “I told everybody at a dinner meeting at Koret that I was going to resign, and they all said, ‘Come on, stay — we need somebody to argue with us.” Dr. Ravitch stayed on for a time, but left both organizations last spring.

Mr. Finn has done his own rethinking, and he said he shared many of her disappointments.

“Standards, in many places, have proven nebulous and low,” he writes in a coming essay. “ ‘Accountability’ has turned to test-cramming and bean-counting, often limited to basic reading and math skills.”

But Mr. Finn has reached sharply different conclusions from Dr. Ravitch.

“Diane says, ‘Let’s return to the old public school system,’ ” he said. “I say let’s blow it up.”

But Dr. Ravitch is finding many supporters. She told school superintendents at a convention in Phoenix last month that the United States’ educational policies were ill-conceived, compared with those in nations with the best-performing schools.

“Nations like Finland and Japan seek out the best college graduates for teaching positions, prepare them well, pay them well and treat them with respect,” she said. “They make sure that all their students study the arts, history, literature, geography, civics, foreign languages, the sciences and other subjects. They do this because this is the way to ensure good education. We’re on the wrong track.”

The superintendents gave Dr. Ravitch a standing ovation.

“We totally agreed with what she had to say,” said Eugene G. White, superintendent of the Indianapolis Public Schools. “We were amazed to see that she’d changed her tune.”

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

Themes in the News: I’M WORRIED ABOUT …THE WHOLE SYSTEM: Themes in the News for the week of March 1-5, 2010 By UCL...



DAY OF ACTION: March 4, 2010 - Media coverage of the March 4 "Day of Action": from the utla Website Television... 7

UNION VICTORY IN L.A. SCHOOLS SHOWDOWN UPS ANTE: By Lesli A. Maxwell | EdWeek | Vol. 29, Issue 24 March 3, 2010 -...


‘DAY OF ACTION’ HIGHLIGHTS EDUCATION WOES: In California and across the US, students and faculty protest tuition h...

CA DOESN’T MAKE THE RACE TO THE TOP CUT: March 4, 2010 SacBee CapitolAlert: California doesn't make final cut for...

Thurs., March 4: HEADLINES @ THE CRACK OF DAWN: from Google News LAUSD division charged with assisting transition...

LEARNING A LESSON: Mostly frozen out of L.A. Unified’s latest reform effort, charter school operators debate thei...

SAVE THE DATE/HELP SAVE EDUCATION: March 4th, 2010 is a National Day of Action to Defend Education:

PARENTS CAN’T RELY ON POLITICIANS + smf's 2¢: By Ben Austin in Fox & Hounds DAILY -- austin is Executive Director o...

UP TO 5,200 LA SCHOOLS WORKERS COULD FACE LAYOFFS + LAUSD: UP TO 4,700 LAYOFFS: Up to 5,200 LA schools workers cou...


5:10 with Diane Ravitch: FORMER NCLB ADVOCATE TURNS CRITIC: by Steve Inskeep | National Public Radio Morning Editi...




“THE YEAR OF THE PINK SLIP”: At a Watts school, layoffs take a heavy toll: Markham Middle School has been making d...

LAUSD BOARD’S SO-CALLED REFORM: In choosing who will run 30 new or underperforming schools, the board showed that ... 6

Charter CEO: FOR LAUSD. IT’S BUSINESS AS USUAL IN ‘REFORMING’ SCHOOLS: By Mike Piscal -- Mike Piscal is the founde...

THE DEATH OF PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE: By Charles Taylor Kerchner and Dominic J. Brewer in The Huffington Post March ... 3


K-12 CUTS LOOM AGAIN AS STATES’ FISCAL WOES CONTINUE: With Budget Gaps Growing, About Half Expect K-12 Cuts: Prote...

Colin Powell: HELPING AMERICA BECOME A GRAD NATION: Posted on The White House Blog by General Colin Powell on Marc...

Book Review: THE DEATH AND LIFE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM by Diane Ravitch: The educational conservative...

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-241.8700


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. He is an elected Representative 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 as 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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