Saturday, April 16, 2011

Passover+Potholes, Passing the baton+Bullying from the bully pulpit

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 17•April•2011 ¡Spring Break!
In This Issue:
THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Cortines moves on, Deasy moves in
LAUSD PRESENTS ONE-YEAR BUDGET PROPOSAL: The one-year plan could save 80 percent of expected layoffs + smf's 2¢
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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"For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
"And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
"And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever." - Exodus 12 12:14

"And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you: therefore I command you this thing today" Deuteronomy 15:15 .

When Israel was in Egypt's land: Let my people go,
Oppress'd so hard they could not stand, Let my People go.
Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell old Pharaoh,
Let my people go.

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve,...." - Thos. Jefferson to John Taylor , June 4, 1798 ( be continued)

Mayor Villaraigosa in his State of the City address on Wednesday delivered instead a prolonged discourse on the State of The School District, proposing many solutions to many problems that plague the Los Angeles Unified School District.

With that speech made and those problems well on the way to solution 4LAKids is left with nothing to write about this week.

Except maybe to enumerate the problems The City of Los Angeles faces.

It has a mayor that is preoccupied with problems outside his purview, jurisdiction or control ...and I worry: capability. I fully understand, sympathize, appreciate and agree that LAUSD and public education in California is a mess. I welcome the mayor's concern. But the government and governance of The City of Los Angeles is likewise a mess and the city charter and the state constitution say that those are problems within hizzoners jurisdiction and - if not control - purview. And both documents specifically say that the school district is not.

Six Years Ago the newly elected Mayor Tony made Education his first priority. He bashed LAUSD. Reform was about urgency instead of incrementalism and grsdualism. He rolled out his new plan for education, called The Framework. And great was the tumult thereof.

Now he's at it again - only the plan is now called "A New Contract". How is this different from "A Million Trees" and "No Pothole Left Unfilled"and "Ten Thousand Policemen" and "The Subway to the Sea" and "Wireless Internet Access for All"? None of those things has happened. OK, I'm exaggerating. Some of the trees have happened, some of the potholes have been filled and some of the policemen hired. Soon maybe the surface rail will reach almost to Culver City, The mayor has even managed to take over twenty some-odd schools and they are getting a little bit better every year ...though though the jury is out if you ask the teachers who teach in them, or the parents or the students. The police work has improved, but there are decidedly more potholes than ever. Despite the Energizer Bunny appearance of urgency it is all very gradually incremental.

Mayor Villaraigosa is not responsible for the economy or the schools ...but he ran and was elected to be responsible for the City. We The People need to hold him and the councilpeople and the bureaucrats - ourselves, our representatives - accountable. And insist that the mayor add a little value - and stop posing in front of of a set-piece backdrop of flags. Antonio is about to become the president of the US Conference of Mayors - he needs to set an example to his colleagues by being the mayor of The City of Los Angeles first - not the mayor of mayors.

Otherwise We the People need to be considering a film the Conference of Mayors recently produced: RECALL FEVER IN THE U.S. - a documentary on local recall efforts and the growing movement around the country to enact recalls on the mayoral level. [] - a film appalled-at-the-prospect that can be easily reverse-engineered into a how-to primer for Recall 101.

SO WE BID FAREWELL TO RAMON CORTINES and we give him thanks for his service in difficult times. Ramon was always at his best and in his element surrounded by kids in classrooms and on playgrounds.

AND WE WELCOME JOHN DEASY - who inherits the challenges and the times and our high expectations of him, of the educators and the system and public education. We are investing our most precious treasures and our hopes for their future.

We expect miracles for them and of them ...but this is the season for that.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Cortines moves on, Deasy moves in

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times |

April 16, 2011 - Ramon C. Cortines returned as head of the nation's second-largest school system three years ago to complete unfinished business, namely, to transform education in Los Angeles. He left this week at the age of 78, after dealing with the worst budget crisis in memory and constant political pressures from an aggressive mayor and other powerful, often conflicting forces.

The superintendent's supporters and critics agree that Cortines, known for an innate stubbornness and self-confident pride, managed these and other pressures by adjusting, creating results that he felt would benefit students and that would match his own goals for the school system.

"I have never felt completely hijacked on any of the issues," Cortines said in an interview. "And I have pushed back on some."

The financial duress — caused by an economic recession and declining enrollment — allowed him, ironically, to push forward with some of his plans: He succeeded in shrinking the central bureaucracy through layoffs and gave schools more control over their spending. In other areas, he tried to tread water, keeping campuses cleaned and maintained at a sharply reduced cost, for example.
He took on a succession of controversial initiatives. He allowed more charter schools to move on to traditional school campuses. He also replaced administrators at some schools that failed to show rapid improvement and he required staffs at several other campuses to re-interview for their jobs, which infuriated the teachers union.

And he carried out the landmark "Public School Choice" resolution, which allowed groups inside and outside the district to bid for control over new schools as well as the lowest-achieving ones. It was proposed by board member Yolie Flores and backed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who called it "the most far-reaching thing this district has done."

Its development epitomized the Cortines era. The idea that professional educators could not be trusted to run district schools was offensive to Cortines, but he put those feelings aside.
"I sat down with my staff," said Cortines, "and I said to them: 'How can we make this work.' " He added: "I made it work. I moved it from a resolution that I felt was somewhat flawed to be an effective tool."

In the most recent round in March, Cortines recommended which outside groups should take control of 10 new campuses and three long-struggling ones. But the mayor's allies on the Board of Education overruled several key recommendations, preferring to give more campuses to independently operated, mostly nonunion charter schools. They also wanted to force teachers at more schools to re-interview for their jobs.

Cortines' critics, including mayoral ally Ben Austin, who runs a lobbying and parent-organizing group, describe Cortines as a talented, honorable gradualist in an era calling for revolution.
The "20th century" approach of Cortines "is to put the right people in the right positions of power to make the right decisions," said Austin. "He was comfortable only as long as he and the school board remained in complete control. Ultimately he could only stretch so far."

Austin, with the mayor's support, had lobbied Cortines to allow parents the right to instigate wholesale changes at a school, saying that parents could be better trusted than officials to look out for students.
Cortines resisted, disagreeing with the details but not the concept. Austin's "parent trigger" later became state law.

A Texas native who grew up in San Francisco with adoptive parents, Cortines worked his way up from classroom teacher to the only individual to head school districts in Los Angeles and New York City, the nation's two largest school systems. He nursed Pasadena Unified through integration and San Jose Unified through bankruptcy.

A demanding boss who never mastered a computer, his impatience was tempered by his charm and sincerity.

A tanned, trim exercise fanatic known to arrive at work before dawn, he abandoned retirement several times, including before and after serving in New York City, where he was famously at odds with Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

During his prior stint in Los Angeles, in 2000, he came in as the school board was forcing out incumbent Ruben Zacarias. Cortines vowed to remain only long enough to assist with a tense transition. In six months, he installed the Open Court phonics-based reading program district-wide, fought off attempts to break up the school system and selected a management team.
That school board begged him — futilely — to stay on.

While supportive of new Supt. John Deasy, current board member Steve Zimmer — who is not part of the mayor's bloc — said he wishes Cortines would have stayed longer.

"We had simply the most skilled, most accomplished superintendent in the nation at the magical moment of his last job," Zimmer said. "He did this work completely unfettered, unchained. There was no objective other than what was best for children. He absolutely held the district together, understanding exactly where the organization was, where it needed to be and how much change it could absorb."

Cortines was working as chief education adviser and deputy mayor to Villaraigosa when Cortines agreed to return to L.A. Unified as deputy superintendent in April 2008. The move was seen as enhancing the mayor's influence in L.A. Unified, although the rapport between the two men was cooling.

Cortines' initial role was to run all day-to-day operations under then-Supt. David Brewer. The school board soon decided that it wanted Cortines for the top job.

Senior district administrator George McKenna said of Cortines: "He knows exactly what he thinks a school should look like, and he's not afraid to say it."

Education historian Diane Ravitch, who worked with Cortines in New York, puts him in the "tradition of educator-superintendents who see their job as supporting and improving public schools, quietly, without fanfare or self-glorification." In contrast, "the new breed," she said, "arrives in town with a large megaphone…launching top-down reforms that alienate those who must implement them."
Even as L.A. Unified critics wanted to blow up what they term the "status quo," Cortines took pride in working forcefully within established rules.

Cortines stood firm when the teachers union launched a boycott of district tests that are given periodically to measure progress. That dispute seems quaint compared to issues that teachers would later confront.

Officials soon pressed to speed up the process for firing teachers accused of misconduct and to link instructors' evaluations to their students' test scores.

In the Cortines era, union influence has waned, dangerously so in the view of union supporters, and yet he has retained respect among some union leaders who see him as staving off worse developments. And they believe him when he effusively praises classroom teachers and other workers or lauds the willingness of unions to make salary concessions in tough budget times.
"What makes Cortines a unique bureaucrat," said teachers union President A.J. Duffy, "is that he is first, last and always a classroom teacher."


Contra Costa Times - Daily News Wire Services/City News Service |

4-14-2011 18:02 (CNS) LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines wrapped up his tenure leading the district Thursday, passing the torch to his top deputy.
Cortines, who announced his retirement last year, was hired by then- Superintendent David L. Brewer in April 2008 to oversee the day-to-day operations of the district. He took over as superintendent Jan. 1, 2009, following Brewer's retirement.

He previously served as LAUSD interim superintendent in 2000, as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's top education adviser and was the head of school districts in New York and San Francisco.

"Ramon C. Cortines is a bold and courageous leader who has taken a colossal steps toward improving overall academic achievement, pushing LAUSD's lowest-performing schools to dramatically change their practices and empowering school communities to make more decisions at the school site," LAUSD board President Monica Garcia said.

"His professional decisions are guided always by his deep understanding of the needs of students, by his belief system that every student can succeed and by his inviolable personal integrity," she said. "He is greatly loved and admired and will be deeply missed."

Cortines battled through difficult financial times during his tenure, slashing budgets and issuing layoff notices to thousands of district employees.

The Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents district cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other classified employees, issued a statement praising Cortines' leadership of the district.

"He steered the district through some of its most trying times and it would have been easy, even expected, for union workers and school administrators to entrench on opposite sides on budget issues," according to the union. "Yet, he always looked for ways to bring all sides together to find solutions. Even when difficult decisions were made, and we disagreed, Ramon Cortines could be counted on to bring honesty and integrity to discussions."

The Board of Education in January chose John Deasy, a top deputy to Cortines, to take over the district. He will become superintendent effective tomorrow.


LA Daily News Editorial |

4/14/2011 - Friday, April 15, 2011, is Ramon "Ray" Cortines' official last day as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. And despite the external turmoil roiling through the educational system at the moment - academic reform, charter schools, budget cuts, to name a few - he leaves the district better than he found it.

The veteran schools chief took leadership of LAUSD in 2008 (officially at the start of 2009, but he had been the presumed leader since the previous April) at a particularly low point for the district. It had been destabilized by abysmal academic performance, a bloated bureaucracy, a payroll system disaster, and sexual misconduct scandals in the schools. Many people had lost faith that the second-largest school district in the nation could meet its basic obligation to students.

LAUSD hasn't recovered yet from years of failures, but after three years of competent leadership from Cortines it's on track to do so, and much of that is due to the work of Cortines.

One of the main reasons for this is Cortines' openness to reform. Previous LAUSD management had resisted the changes blowing through the nation that demanded accountability in schools and new models of teaching students. Even with an educational formula that was broken, past district leadership was unwilling to embrace the new.

Of course, Cortines was predisposed to support reform. Before returning to the district (he served briefly as interim chief in late 1999 through 2000), he served as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's deputy mayor of education and oversaw the mayor's pioneering reform project, the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Indeed, Villaraigosa this week said that Cortines was the architect of the mayor's educational ideas and credits him for steering LAUSD through one of its' most difficult financial times.

Under his tenure, the district undertook a ground-breaking reform effort, one of the outgrowths of which was the the pioneering Public School Choice Program. This program opened up failing and new schools to outside management and non-traditional education models

This is not to say Cortines was perfect. One of his first public actions as superintendent was to renege on his promise to dozens of charters to share district facilities. And some chronic problems at the district, such as the amount of highly paid consultants and conflicts of interest in the facilities department, weren't immediately fixed during his reign. As well, his frankness over the past year led to tension with the mayor.

In an enormous and troubled bureaucracy, it's unlikely any human could have had instantly and effortlessly fixed the district's many problems. Overall, Cortines's contributions to LAUSD far outweigh his few fumbles.

Cortines' candidness and good-sense will be missed in Los Angeles, though it seems he leaves the district in able hands with successor John Deasy, who has been serving as Cortines' second-in-command since last summer. Deasy comes from a background of innovative education as well, and hopefully will build upon the foundation that Cortines built.

We wish Cortines well in whatever endeavor he embarks upon next and thank him for his not-small contribution to public education.



By Jason Song and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times |

April 16, 2011 - In his first official day on the job, Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy promised swift, substantial and specific increases in graduation rates, attendance and test scores in the nation's second-largest school system.

The graduation rate must rise from 55% to 70% in four years; the percentage of middle and high school students who test as "proficient" in math must nearly double; and the percentage of students who pass courses required to attend state four-year universities must nearly triple, he said.

Other ambitious goals announced Friday apply to English comprehension, attendance and suspension rates.
If the district achieves the goals, "we've done a bit of a moon shot," Deasy said in an interview Friday. "If we come near them, we're doing great. If we don't, then we will have failed … And if we fail, we should be held accountable."

Some goals overlap with bonus clauses in Deasy's contract. He could, for example, receive a $10,000 bonus if the number of graduates rises by at least 8% in a given year.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa reiterated Friday that he would pursue measures to support changes in the school district aimed at rapid academic improvement.

Speaking to a downtown meeting of California newspaper publishers, the mayor said he would lobby for changes in state law that would alter the rules for evaluating teachers and for granting tenure to teachers.

He also wants state laws amended so that layoffs, when necessary, occur based on instructors' performance rather than seniority.

School board member Yolie Flores said she thinks Deasy's targets are reachable, even during an ongoing budget crisis.

"I don't want to be naïve … but it's doable if he has the right team around him," she said.


By Connie Llanos, LA Daily News |

16 April 2011 - John Deasy doesn't walk - he sprints.

And that's exactly how he assumed his new role Friday superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, laying out an ambitious set of goals for the nation's second-largest school district.
Deasy, who was hired as the district No. 2 eight months ago, replaces Ramon Cortines, who this week retired from a career in education spanning six decades after serving as LAUSD's superintendent for 2 years.

While Deasy, 50, is still working on his 100-day plan, on his first day he announced a districtwide performance management system that he said will be the centerpiece of his administration.

The New England native said all schools, educators and administrators - including himself - would be measured on how well they met 15 key targets that include almost doubling the percentage of students who are reading at grade level in third grade, completing algebra in eighth grade and raising high school graduation rates to 70 percent - from 54 percent - by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

"What gets measured usually gets attention and gets done. ... You can't achieve a goal if you don't know what your goal is," Deasy said.

Speeding from one campus to another Friday, Deasy peppered teachers and principals with questions about their strategies to improve academic programs, taking breaks between classroom stops to check his iPhone - admittedly his one addiction.

At Castelar Elementary in Chinatown, Deasy congratulated administrators on their high state test scores and their clean campus. Then he questioned staff on how they were addressing the achievement of Latino students on campus, who are underperforming their Asian peers.

"I read the data before coming. ... Tell me what you're doing about it," he asked.

Castelar's school coordinator, Sal Sandoval, said he appreciated the tough questions.

"Of course it's a little intimidating. I mean he is our boss, but it's great to see how much he knows about our school," Sandoval said.

Rushing from one end of the school to another, Deasy slowed down at the sight of a group of first-graders. He grabbed a seat with them as they ate their morning snack.

"Tell me about what you're learning," he asked them, a scene that would repeat itself at each of the four schools Deasy visited Friday morning.

At every school he also forced administrators to take him to the classrooms they considered "bright spots" and the "biggest concerns."

After spending five minutes in a classroom at another South Los Angeles elementary school, where a teacher never made eye contact with his students as he read a math lesson script from a computer screen, Deasy stormed out of the classroom.

"That is a problem. We need to do something about that," he told the administrator.

Before the principal could answer, Deasy interrupted: "Three-quarters of your students not reading at grade level is intolerable."

Deasy inherits an LAUSD that is much improved from three years under Cortines' leadership.
Test scores have risen and dropout rates have decreased, but the issue that is already dominating his attention is the district's massive budget deficit.

LAUSD faces a deficit of $408 million for the 2011-12 school year that could cause the layoff of more than 5,000 teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians and thousands of other school workers.

The superintendent has already drafted an "emergency budget plan" that would use a combination of furloughs and money borrowed from the district's health and welfare benefits account to plug the hole. But that requires approval from the district's nine employee unions.

As the district negotiates financial concessions with unions to get through next year, it is also engaged in talks for a new contract for teachers. Among the new items the district would like to place in the contract are the use of test scores as a way to evaluate teachers and more flexibility in hiring and firing.

Pressure to complete these reforms is huge with community groups and elected officials - including perhaps most vociferously Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa - demanding change.

Some school board members are already concerned that Deasy may be getting too involved in setting district policy, traditionally reserved for the seven-member panel.

And then there are the myriad crises that the superintendent of the nation's second largest school district has to manage on a daily basis.

On his first day at the helm, Deasy had to deal with a campus lockdown in the San Fernando Valley and a shooting in the Mid-City area that injured a high school student.

"I did wake up this morning aware that all of the responsibility is on me," Deasy said.

Fueled with the drive that's helped him climb the professional ladder - and with a daily dosage of caffeine that includes at least three shots of espresso and an equal number of coffee cups - Deasy said he's prepared to deliver.

"There is huge work in front of us," Deasy said.

"But we're not going to talk about the work ... we're just going to get it done."


KABC News |

Friday, April 15, 2011 -- DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Major issues are already on John Deasy's plate as he officially steps into the role of Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Friday.

Deasy faces a $400-million budget deficit and thousands of employee layoffs. Facing these challenges, the new superintendent says he has a plan.

He is proposing a series of steps aimed at saving $304 million in the upcoming school year. This would include requiring district employees to take an average of 12 furlough days each, borrowing approximately $100 million from the health and welfare fund, and borrowing another possible $60 million from various other accounts.

This would put the district in a $700-million budget deficit for the following year, but Deasy said it would also save 80 percent of the jobs currently on the chopping block.

Deasy also talked about Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's humorous statements in his State of the City address, in which the mayor referred to Deasy as "Bill Bratton with a ruler."

"It was a humorous statement being Bill Bratton with a ruler. I think it was obviously a compliment. He was an amazing police chief, one who drove the system through the use of data, high expectations and support," said Deasy.

Deasy said that like Bratton, he plans to move LAUSD quickly with the use of data, facts and support for his staff.

LAUSD PRESENTS ONE-YEAR BUDGET PROPOSAL: The one-year plan could save 80 percent of expected layoffs + smf's 2¢

LAUSD Office of Communications & Media Relations News Release |

April 12, 2011 - Los Angeles – A one-year budget proposal was presented to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education today that would preserve many school programs and save thousands of jobs as the District attempts to find ways to address its $408 million deficit as the deadline to rescind layoff notices to employees draws near.

The one-year temporary proposal, drafted by Superintendent-elect Dr. John Deasy, is a solution to stabilize LAUSD for the upcoming 2011-12 school year when the District faces the prospect of laying off up to 5,000 teachers and support staff, and thousands of classified personnel.

“This is a tourniquet to stop the bleeding; it’s not a Band-Aid anymore,” said Dr. Deasy. “We need to stabilize the District one year at a time.”

After budget negotiations broke down earlier this month in Sacramento, in which Governor Jerry Brown had lobbied to allow voters to decide whether to extend current vehicle, sales and income taxes that, if passed, could have reduced the District’s deficit by nearly half, school board members asked Dr. Deasy to create a new budget plan to find other alternative savings.

“Besides saving LAUSD, it’s about saving public education in California,” said Los Angeles Board of Education Member Nury Martinez. “Public education is never funded the way it should be.”

In fact, based on historical data, LAUSD is due to receive attendance-based funding from the State for the 2011-12 school year that, when adjusted for inflation, is similar to what the District received in 1999.

The one-year plan would be a starting point for discussions with the District’s labor partners in asking employee unions to agree to 12 “furlough” days, which would add up to an estimated savings of up to $168 million. The plan would also temporarily “borrow” $127 million from LAUSD’s Health and Welfare Fund, which currently maintains reserves.

In return, the plan would roll back proposed class size increases to K-8 classes, and save school programs including those that support the arts, magnet schools, after-school activities and early education.

The potential savings would be significant as the proposal could save up to 80 percent of expected layoffs. This means saving the jobs of teachers, counselors and school-based administrators, campus aides, nurses and librarians.

However, time is fast approaching to act on this plan and the District must work together with labor partners to have sufficient time to rescind layoff notices to employees, according to District officials.
“If we want to rescind these notices and give people peace, we have to get this done by May 1,” said Dr. Deasy. “And I believe we can do that.”

Board of Education Vice President Dr. Richard Vladovic echoed the need for urgency, saying the LAUSD doesn’t “have the luxury of time.”

“If it takes us 24-hours a day, we will meet. If that’s what it takes to save our employees and children, then that’s what we’ll do,” Dr. Vladovic said.

Though advertised as such, this is no budget. It's an opening negotiating position by management in a labor contract ; a gambit - presented as a 'take-it-or-leave-it," last-and-best offer with a deadline a couple of weeks off. This is no way to run a business or a contract negotiation or a school district.

First off - Mayor Tony's A New Contract® notwithstanding - the Union Contract is not the governing document of the District. A school district's constitution is the Ed Code, the script is Board Policy and the budget is - well - The Budget. The health and safety of kids and employees is paramount and positive educational outcomes are the goals. Collective bargaining becomes part of glue that holds the process together, along with good will and shared vision.

The mayor has been on (or perhaps off) of late about the size of the contract: "It's the size of a phonebook!" he says. Charter operators and their friends want a "thin contract" - as if the svelteness of the binder matters.

You can never be too to rich or too thin," the Duchess of Windsor is said to have said. She was rich and she was thin. And shallow.

Nothing is more constraining and inflexible than a short laundry list of hard-and-fast rules; "Thou shalt not", "You always must", "It is written and so it shall be".

First we need to agree that if kids are the first priority everyone else can't have everything else they want. If we cannot agree on that let's declare bankruptcy and invite the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team in. Here's the form:

What we need is an agreement on what it is we wish to do and an understanding that we will work together in good faith towards those ends. We don't have the time, money or latitude to do it any other way. THAT is a contract that will empower teachers and administrators and boardmembers and parents and citizens - and the mayor of the city who serves us. And the mayors and city managers and supervisors and parents, voters and taxpayers of the other 25 jurisdictions of LAUSD.

Though the only empowerment that really matters is how education empowers young people.



By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times |

April 14, 2011 - The Los Angeles Police Department has agreed to avoid ticketing tardy students who are on their way to school, lawyers and advocates for students announced Thursday.

The tickets, which carry steep fines, are exactly the wrong method for achieving better attendance, said those involved.

Under new and "clarified" procedures agreed to by the LAPD at the request of advocates for students, truancy sweeps will no longer occur during the first hour of classes. And daytime curfew sweeps cannot be conducted except in response to suspected criminal activity by youths in the sweep area.

Officers are to ask students if they have legitimate explanations for not being in class before writing tickets. Police are to shift their focus to making sure students get to school rather than ticketing them. The LAPD, community groups and lawyers will monitor how the approach is working.

"It is not our intention to target our youths or to place undue burdens on their families," said Chief Charlie Beck in a news release.

Finding the right balance between discipline and counseling has challenged officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District. A city attorney's program includes counseling but also carries the threat of criminal penalties for parents. And tickets, with a fine of more than $200, are intended as a financial deterrent. At Roosevelt High, a scared-straight method, abandoned last year, included handcuffing students, advocates said.

"It's teachers, parents and students who will ultimately change the culture of a school," said Manuel Criollo, lead organizer for the Community Rights Campaign, which has long focused on this issue. He praised the new approach at Roosevelt, which still includes selective discipline at school.

His group joined forces with Public Counsel and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California in working with the LAPD. Talks are ongoing with L.A. Unified.

City and school police issued more than 47,000 tickets from 2004 to 2009, 88% of them to African Americans and Latinos, according to data compiled by activists through public records requests. And not one of the more than 13,118 curfew tickets issued by the school police went to a white student, advocates said.

Gerardo Navarro was ticketed Friday at Roybal Learning Center. He ran late for about the sixth time this year, by his count, arriving 15 minutes past the bell. The ticketing process cost him 45 minutes more. He said friends stay home when they are running late to avoid getting ticketed. Dealing with a ticket also can consume school time.

School board member Tamar Galatzan, a deputy city attorney, said she welcomed "any agreement … that results in our students being in class, ready to learn, when the bell rings."

She also added: "The best way for students to avoid truancy tickets is to get to school — and be in class — on time."

●●smf's 2¢: ● The accompanying photo to this story in The Times [] was captioned:"Photo: Students arrive for school just before the 8:30 a.m. start at Antelope Valley High School. Administrators say the later start time has cut tardiness." Antelope Valley HS is not in LAUSD and I doubt if LAPD enforces tardiness there. BUT the story of the late school start is a story The Times should cover. The data I've seen from other schools shows student achievement as measured by standardized tests improves with a later start. see this:SCHOOL START TIMES AND THE SLEEP–WAKE CYCLE OF ADOLESCENTS: A Review and Critical Evaluation of Available Evidence.

● 4LAKids would have expected that this story would've been driven by the mayor's office, seeing as how he's the Education Mayor and this is a story about LAUSD and LAPD coming together. HOWEVER the decision was driven by "lawyers and advocates for students" - in other words enlightenment came through the threat of legal action. And when you read a little deeper you realize that Roosevelt High School (where tardy students were handcuffed) is one of the Mayor's Partnership Schools. "Selective Discipline" (current practice at Roosevelt instead of "Scared Straight") sounds about as inequitable as it gets - and 180 degrees separated from the LAUSD Discipline Foundation Policy of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support. |

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
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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! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: • 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 Brown: 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. THEY DO!.

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

Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten years. 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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