Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tea time: schools, immigration, contracts, permits and miracles

4LAKids: Sunday 28•March•2010
In This Issue:
MIDDLE SCHOOL FAMILIES TO GET FREE COMPUTERS: Special Training Included to Improve the Home Learning Environment for Students
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
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I was at the groundbreaking for a new high school in Huntington Park on Thursday morning – the poetically named New South Region High School #7 - and considered writing this week about naming schools BEFORE we build them – what a concept! I'm told we wait until they're finished to avoid local political brouhaha. So we postpone the brouhaha ...postponing and brouhaha being what LAUSD does best!

Central HS#9, the high school for the arts, is still not officially named – apparently so as not to offend the billionaire philanthropist (whose generosity is lacking) it apparently isn't going to be named after!

The Huntington Park school is being built adjacent to a city park named for Raul R. Perez – who immigrated to the US as an adult, went to HP High adult classes, community college and eventuality UCLA, ran for City Council five times before he got elected and ended up as Huntington Park's first Latino mayor. I attended a community forum on Friday about immigration reform; I could write about how the Raul Perezes of this world dream and live The American Dream ...and how education is the thread that connects the dream to life.

I was speaking to Martin Gallindo, the local district superintendent for Huntington Park about the new school and the dream and education. Marty is big on not just welcoming parents and the community to our schools – but investing them them as Owners of the Schools – a foreign and complicated concept to immigrant parents who are usually renters rather than owners. I have actually started that essay.

BUT FRIDAY NIGHT THE UNIONS AND THE DISTRICT came to agreement on their contracts – and by extension on the budget and calendar of LAUSD. I attended the the union and district press conference at UTLA HQ Saturday morning.

The reality is that the labor agreements are more important to the budget process than the School Board's input.

I believe that the Union Contract looms too large in the legend and governance of this district – not because I'm opposed to unions or hate the teachers and administrators – but because I believe that the Ed Code and the best interests of children should trump the contract. Because I believe that parents should have a voice in decisions like shortening the school year. Because on Saturday I heard from the Superintendent that "Jobs are the most important things at LAUSD". Because I heard from the president of the administrators union that children's safety was a negotiated item between the collective bargainers.

I am obviously overreacting because I am more frustrated by the need for compromise than the compromises themselves – and hyperbole is my style. The negotiators negotiated in good faith – but they negotiated on behalf of management and labor. I know that the budget and the economy and the political will in Sacramento are all minuses. But the deal was struck behind closed doors involving the futures of 700,000 children ...and parents weren't there at the table. Parents will neither be involved nor consulted in the approval process. Cortines and Duffy and Judith Perez posed, arms around each other in new found photo-op partnership ...with key partners absent.

When asked for the actual dates schools would close this year because parents need to know there was palpable uncertainty and the inevitable "it's complicated". It's really not that complicated, the proposed calendar is Attachment A to the MOU. [] And if the teachers vote for it it's a done deal.

Also spectacularly absent – with her signature also missing from the Memorandum of Understanding - was the president of the School Board.

I AM A FAN OF THE WELL RANTED RANT, no matter how pin-headed or ill-reasoned – no matter how much of the Mad Hatter's tea consumed at the party. This from a local paper:

"Our school administrators are unbelievably overpaid kooks and commies. There are a thousand reasons to vote no on the new proposed school parcel tax. Our worthless school officials think that inflating our student numbers will inflate their status and give justification for being grossly overpaid. As it's been said already, the money from the state per student doesn't come close to the cost of educating our youth. So, we local homeowners are paying for these out-of-town students. Not only should we rejoice to send these students back to L.A., but we should double-check all student addresses and throw out all the non-Santa Monica students. I think we will find that we could close a couple schools and fire dozens of teachers and have lots of money left to give the rest of the real Santa Monica kids a great education." – letter to the Santa Monica Daily Press | 3/27/2010 |

In other letters to the SMDP those permitted-in Westside LAUSD kids, whose parents made well reasoned, heartfelt and tear-stained impassioned appeals to the LAUSD board so their kids could continue to attend cutting edge full immersion dual language programs in German and Italian – are described as inner-city, gang-bangers. It's telling how one person's privileged Westside Anglo middle-class child is the next guys undesirable hoodlum element. And that Bel Air and Westchester are looked upon with such vitriol by the 'real' citizenry of Santa Monica. And Malibu? "The biggest drain on Santa Monica taxpayers is Malibu. ...Malibu residents can well afford to pay for their own schools and should be allowed to do so." I think the message is that the Malibu yuppie scum is worse than the Westwood yuppie scum.

As my hero, Rodney King, said: "What can't we all just get along?

I direct 4LAKids readers to the KPCC series on the interdistrict permit issue and my 2¢ worth [] – and add this:

1.Any money LAUSD "saves" by repatriating students is at the expense of neighboring school districts. And the "savings" are illusory: nobody makes any money on the ADA – it costs that much (or more) to educate a child!
2.Remembering Cortines "Jobs are the most important things at LAUSD" statement, recovering these students means LAUSD can RIF less teachers – but that our neighbor districts must RIF more. The hiring hall battle here between school districts and their teachers unions over who gets to hire which teachers to educate the same kids reminds me of the seagulls' refrain in 'Finding Nemo': "Mine, mine, mine!"
3.Making this policy change this late in the game, after school district budgets are submitted; and after private school, magnet school and open enrollment application deadlines are past, is unfair to other districts, parents and – lest we forget them in the food fight over the money+jobs – children.

IT IS SPRING AND SPRING BREAK TIME for the transitionally calendared. It's that time of the year where major religions celebrate major miracles and where bunnies bring eggs to good little boys and girls, the days grow longer, pastels reenter the palette and swallows return to Capistrano. There are babies out there – be safe.

Happy Eastover everyone ...and ¡Onward/Adelante!

– smf

Saturday, March 27, 2010 (4LAKids) – On Friday night UTLA, representing teachers, and LAUSD reached a tentative two-year contractual agreement for 2009-2011. AALA , representing administrators, reached agreement Monday - concluding more than three months of negotiations. The tentative agreement provides for the District to shorten the 2009-2010 school year by five days and the 2010-2011 school year by seven days (five instructional days and two pupil free days). See Attachment A, in the Tentative UTLA Agreement text [], for specifics on the calendar changes for this year.


UTLA announcement from the UTLA website

27 March, 2009 - On March 26, UTLA reached a tentative agreement (see text) with LAUSD that would maintain class sizes and save more than 2,100 jobs for the 2010-11 school year without implementing a permanent pay cut. UTLA’s bargaining team successfully pushed back against LAUSD’s demand for a 12% salary reduction. The deal would have to be approved by UTLA members. Key points include:

* Class size maintained at current levels
UTLA’s negotiating team preserved current K-8 class sizes. K-3 would be restored to 24-1 and grades 4-8 restored to current normed staffing levels. The District had demanded 29-1 in K-3 and an increase of two in grades 4-8 (no increases had been planned for grades 9-12).

* 2,109-plus jobs saved
The number of jobs saved is much higher than LAUSD’s initial proposal, which was to use much of the furlough savings for other budget areas. Under this agreement, 1,825 teaching jobs would be saved as well as 284 positions of health and human services professionals, counselors, librarians, and ROC-ROP instructors. Savings on furlough days taken by employees funded by Title I and other categorical funds would also be used to buy back additional health and human services positions, librarians, and secondary class-size reduction positions.

* Five furlough days in 2009-10 and seven in 2010-11 For this year, schools would be shut down on May 28, plus four days at the end of each calendar’s instructional school year. The dates for the seven furlough days for 2010-11 would be negotiated. Employees would receive a full year of service credit for STRS purposes.

* Two new paid professional development days added to 2010-11
These days would help offset the furlough days.

* Other items in the agreement
- Positive changes to the Public School Choice process that align with UTLA’s policy of playing a central role in school reform, including improving the timeline in which to write proposals and develop parent and teacher support for school change.
- A fair transfer process for teachers whose schools are changing grade configurations.
- LAUSD would dismiss the lawsuit against UTLA for the planned May 15 strike.

UTLA members will vote on the agreement at school sites April 7-9. There will be a citywide chapter chair meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 5, at Roybal LC to distribute balloting materials. The voting timeline is very tight to cause the least disruption to sites planning for next year. A detailed Q&A will be soon posted on

from the Associaed Administrators of Los Angeles UPDATE| Week of March 22, 2010

March 25, 2010 - On Monday, March 22, 2010, AALA and the District reached a tentative two-year contractual agreement for 2009-2011, concluding more than three months of intense negotiations. The tentative agreement provides for the District to shorten the 2009-2010 school year by five days and the 2010-2011 school year by seven days (five instructional days and two pupil free days). The agreement will remain tentative until AALA members ratify it (details will be available soon). Note: UTLA must also agree to the shortened school years for the furlough days to take effect.

In exchange for AALA’s acceptance of the 12 furlough days, the District agreed to the following concessions:

• The District will not seek additional pay cuts from AALA members for 2010-2011.

• The District will restore 100+ school-based administrative positions that would have otherwise been cut.

• The District will meet annually with AALA to review possible revisions of administrative staffing norms.

• AALA will gain extended protections for members subject to demotion or dismissal.

• The District will provide two professional development days in 2010-2011 to K-12 school-based administrators assigned on B, D, or E basis. AALA members will be paid their regular rate. The days are for reviewing student test data and planning instruction.

• Beaudry and Local District AALA members reassigned from A to B basis will receive seven days of Z basis time in 2010-2011 at their regular rate. This will allow continuing services to be provided for the District’s remaining year-round schools.

• The District will create a new Professional Development Advisory Committee for administrators. Half of the committee members will represent AALA.

• The District will notify AALA in writing no fewer than 15 calendar days prior to the application deadline of any vacant or new administrative positions.

• AALA members will have parity in salary increases with any other certificated bargaining unit during the contractual period.

Please be aware that AALA remains in regular communication with the Superintendent about other key nonnegotiable issues that impact our membership. We will keep you informed on these matters as our discussions progress.

(April 7-9)

* UTLA members will vote on the tentative agreement at school sites April 7-9.
* The voting timeline is very tight to cause the least disruption to sites planning for next year.
* There will be a citywide chapter chair meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 5, at Roybal LC to distribute balloting materials.

Tentative UTLA Agreement text

By Howard Blume | LA Times LA Now blog

March 26, 2010 | 5:01 pm -- The Los Angeles Unified School District has withdrawn a claim that sought millions of dollars in new state funding to keep student bathrooms clean, unlocked and in working order.

The district had sought $22 million -- and about $9 million annually -- in the wake of a 2003 state law requiring that restrooms “shall at all times be maintained and cleaned regularly, fully operational and stocked at all times with toilet paper, soap, and paper towels or functional hand dryers.”

The law also required that bathrooms be unlocked when students need them except when closed for specific repairs.

About a year later, L.A. Unified submitted a claim to the California Commission on State Mandates, which has the authority to decide that the state must foot the bill when a new law creates new costs for a public agency.

The nation’s second-largest school system said that in 2004 it had spent $13.7 million for repairs and upgrades and nearly $9 million for additional workers. The district’s new standard has been to “routinely clean bathrooms as often as every night and spot clean and restock them twice a day,” said district spokeswoman Shannon Haber.

But the commission's staff was unmoved, noting, among other things, that since 1948, state law has required “sufficient patent flush water closets.” The new law merely clarified “sufficient” and established a new complaint and response process, according to the staff analysis.

The law itself resulted from a broadcast news investigation of poorly maintained bathrooms at more than 50 schools. Bathroom issues have periodically plagued L.A. Unified. In 2000, interim Supt. Ramon C. Cortines pledged a “books and bathrooms” initiative. (The books portion referred to textbook shortages.)

The subsequent furor, in 2003, prompted calls for outside inspections and forced Cortines’ successor, Roy Romer, to pledge more resources. And that’s when the district also filed its claim.

“We were trying to take advantage of every opportunity to get projects funded,” said Mark Hovatter, director of maintenance and operations. “We saw this as a chance to get state money because we were doing something above and beyond what we were what doing before. We never had a 100% expectation of being successful. It was more like applying for a grant.”

By 2010, the expectation had dropped to near 0%, so officials gave up rather than wait for the seven-member commission to reject their claim. The commission was scheduled to act Friday; L.A. Unified withdrew the claim Thursday.

The district’s current challenges include preserving efforts to keep bathrooms clean during an ongoing budget crisis. Overall custodial services are cut 20% in the tentative budget of Supt. Cortines, who returned to the top job in late 2008.

from Ed Week by The Associated Press

26 March 2010 | Washington | More needy college students will have access to bigger Pell Grants, and future borrowers of government loans will have an easier time repaying them, under a vast overhaul of higher education aid that Congress passed Thursday and sent to President Barack Obama.

The legislation, an Obama domestic priority overshadowed by his health care victory, represents the most sweeping rewrite of college assistance programs in four decades. It strips banks of their role as middlemen in federal student loans and puts the government in charge.

The House passed the measure 220-207 as part of an expedited bill that also fixed provisions in the new health care law. Earlier Thursday, the Senate passed the bill 56-43.

The switch to direct government loans will result in savings to boost Pell Grants and make it easier for some workers to repay their student loans. In addition, some borrowers could see lower interest rates and higher approval rates on student loans.

The legislation has a wide reach. About half of undergraduates receive federal student aid and about 8.5 million students are going to college with the help of Pell Grants.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, praised the bill as a victory for middle-class families.

"Now they'll have the assurance that their kids will be able to afford to go to college and again, when they get out, they won't be burdened with a huge debt," Harkin said.

The changes do not go as far as Obama and House Democrats wanted. That is because ending fees for private lenders would save less money than they anticipated, according to budget scorekeepers. The bill is now expected to save $61 billion over 10 years.

As a result, the Pell Grant increase is modest and still doesn't keep up with rising tuition costs. Advocates had sought bigger increases.

"The increases in the Pell Grant are better than nothing, but they are still quite anemic," said analyst Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the student assistance Web site

When Pell Grants were created in 1972, the maximum grant covered nearly three-quarters of the average cost of attending a public four-year college. In 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, the maximum grant covered about a third of the cost. And debt affects the careers graduates choose.

"We're seeing students being squeezed out of socially valuable jobs like teaching and social work" because of their debts, said Rich Williams, who has worked on the bill for the Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy organization.

Private lenders still will make student loans that are not backed by the government, and they still will have contracts to service some federal loans. But the change represents a significant loss to what has been a $70 billion business for the industry.

Key features of the measure include:

• Pell Grants would rise from $5,550 for the coming school year to $5,975 by 2017. Lawmakers had initially hoped to reach a $6,900 cap.

• More eligible students could get a full Pell Grant. Most grants go to students with family income below $20,000, but students with family income of up to $50,000 may also be eligible.

• Some college graduates will have an easier time repaying loans. The government will essentially guarantee that workers in low-paying jobs will be able to reduce their payments. Current law caps monthly payments at 15 percent of these workers' incomes; the new law will lower the cap to 10 percent.

Savings from the measure will also go toward reducing the deficit and helping to pay for expanded health care.

The loan program caused a hitch in Democrats' plan to send the health care fixes promptly to President Obama.

Republicans forced the Senate to make a slight change to the Pell Grant portion of the bill, which required the bill to return to the House for a final vote.

MIDDLE SCHOOL FAMILIES TO GET FREE COMPUTERS: Special Training Included to Improve the Home Learning Environment for Students
LAUSD News Release | For Immediate Release

March 23, 2010 - (LOS ANGELES) — Families from as many as 30 middle schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) can soon count on refurbished computers loaded with educational software, as well as specialized training, which will focus on strengthening core academic skills using technology. As many as 16,000 students and their parents will benefit.

Computers for Youth will provide the computers, known as “home learning centers,” as well as “family learning workshops.” The combination, intended for underserved youngsters, will provide greater access to information and skills, while also creating a better environment for studying at home.

“Parents want to help their children do better at school. We encourage them to be involved in the education of their sons and daughters. The Computers for Youth program will provide an important tool to families that cannot afford computers, certainly a benefit for our students,” said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines.

The partnership between the District and Computers for Youth is funded by a $7.6 million grant from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program.

The goals include bridging the technological divide between students who can afford computers and those who cannot, improving education, increasing economic opportunities for low-income families and educating
them about broadband.

LAUSD schools will be selected based on an application and the number of students who participate in the free or reduced price lunch program, a standard indicator of low income. Training will be provided in English and Spanish.

Over the past two years, Computers for Youth has served 800 sixth-grade students and their families at El Sereno Middle School.

“We are thrilled to be dramatically increasing the number of families we serve in Los Angeles,” Elisabeth Stock, chief executive officer and co-founder of Computers for Youth, said of the upcoming expansion. “This is a cost-effective initiative that will allow us to strengthen the home learning environment of children throughout Los Angeles. By giving families the training and resources they need, we will help ensure that thousands of LAUSD students are able to reach their full potential as learners throughout their lifetime."


School Board Staff to Take Unpaid Furlough Days |
North Hollywood H.S. Team Wins International Moot Court Competition |
LAUSD Revises Inter-District Transfer Policy |
Toluca Lake Elementary School Students Get Healthy for KiDS MARATHON |

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
THIS JUST IN: Coverage of contract settlement - LA Times/Daily News/NBC/S.F. Chronicle/AP: LA Unified, teachers...



5 days cut this year. 7 next 2100 teachers retained class size stays 24:1 needs 2 b ratified -smf

LAUSD, UTLA & AALA to announce contract, budget agreement today at press conference @ UTLA HQ @ 11am -smf

A LESSON ABOUT SPEAKING UP: Immigrant parents must demand improvement at kids' schools. Case in point: L.A. Unifie...

TODAY’S INTERDISDRICT PERMIT NEWS/LACOE WEIGHS IN: Dispute Over Permits in LA and Beverly Hills Not Over + Parents...

from The Times Op-Ed pages - DIANE RAVITCH TO RON WOLK: Charter Schools v. Regular Schools; MICHAEL McGOUGH: Priva...

LOCALLY: Permit Rollback hammers Manhattan Beach USD, PaliHi & LAUSD Resolve Busing, Community Day of Service at S...

TIMES LETTERS: Teachers as Target #1, Permit Plan Hurts Students: LA Times Letters to the Editor | 24 March Targ...

3 FROM KPCC ON INTERDISTRICT PERMITS + smf: L.A. Unified parents speak out against inter-district transfer cuts + ...

MORE L.A. SCHOOLS ADDED TO LOWEST-PERFORMERS LIST: Eight campuses, three in San Fernando Valley are included. Cort...

CDE WARNS THAT MANY SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE IN FISCAL PERIL | O’Connell: "Massive state budget cuts are crippling our...



TRULY A JURY OF THEIR PEERS: The teen court at Dorsey High School is one of 17 in Los Angeles County where student...

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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