Sunday, October 23, 2011

Re-branding/Re-inventing/Reality 101

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 23•Oct•2011
In This Issue:
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
Follow 4 LAKids on Twitter - or get instant updates via text message by texting "Follow 4LAKids" to 40404
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: an investment we can't afford to cut! - The Education Coalition Website
4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
It's all about one thing or the other.

IT'S FRIDAY EVENING and I'm at a PTA conference in Anaheim – waiting for the next meeting.

I'm sitting in a hotel lobby, doing what writers do. I'm drinking. I'm making notes. I'm observing the parade of humanity.

There's a gaming convention at the convention center next door and the lobby is throbbing with edgy/nerdy twenty-somethings – mostly male, a cast of characters escaped from reruns of the Big Bang Theory. There is also a fair share of characters in costume ranging from what appears to be Balinese Gods and Goddesses to blue skinned Pandorans and silver lamé space bimbos. With the odd Minnie Mouse.

These are people unconcerned about education …they have barely escaped their own.

And virtual is the dominant reality …and nobody gets enough exercise or sunlight.

AMERICAN SCHOOL REFORM HAS BEEN ONGOING SINCE HORACE MANN saw his first school and thought it could be better.

Now School Reform® is a brand - the trademarked property of charter operators and billionaire philanthropists and visionary big city mayors – whether their vision is of the promised land of 100% graduation or the view from higher office.

99% v. 1%: WE HAVE A PHENOMENON UNDERWAY. Or underfoot.

Folks are occupying parks and living in tents and quietly agitating for Change – for something/anything else besides the status quo as administrated by the powers-that-be. No Child Left Behind is the status quo of US education. And our friends in School Reform® are as entrenched in defending+contesting the Status Quo/No-Child's-Line as the Allies and the Central Powers were on the Western Front in WWI.

ON MONDAY THE BRAND NAME REFORMERS took out ads in The Times, Daily News and La Opiñon - and re-invented/rebranded themselves. They are no longer Reformers, No longer NCLBer's – they are now Don't Hold Us

"Hurrah!" says The Times and even the progressive blogosphere: "A new voice!" "Another chair at the table."

On a parallel track new group of Teacher-Reformers materialized – sprung from the head of the same Zeus. It was all revealed in a tweet from @Dr Deasy LAUSD (17 Oct – "Am very interested in the thoughtful work of Teachers For A New Unionism in LAUSD. Looking forward to thoughtful dialogue."

“Thoughtful” twice in 122 characters? How – uh - thoughtful.

(You can't tell the players without) A SCORECARD:
● Don't Hold Us -
● Teachers for a New Unionism -

Please. Everything in How to Tell if your District is Infected by the Broad Virus is happening all at once! |

ON TUESDAY – even as the first Don’t Hold Us activists in white t-shirts took all the speaker's cards in the LAUSD Board Meeting (a tactic they employed when they were Parent Revolutionaries in blue t-shirts) – WE GOT A NEW 'OCCUPY' MOVEMENT: OccupyLAUSD. They marched from city hall and camped on the sidewalk in from of Beaudry in small tents (the sidewalk is narrow and pitches and yaws in every direction – much like the half-a-bubble-off-level interior floors of Beaudry itself). By comparison the park in front of City Hall occupied by OccupyLA is a welcoming spacious expanse.

OccupyLA is loose coalition of folks united only by their dissatisfaction. In contrast OccupyLAUSD is a red shirted cohort from UTLA. (That doesn't make them bad people; they are not bad people!)

So we have three new brands, three new voices ….with pretty much nothing new to say.

I spoke to one of the LAUSD occupiers – who told of an attempted midnight raid by a platoon of school police on their encampment Tuesday night – who changed their minds and tactics when the media showed up. In the current budget crisis I didn't know LAUSD was able to muster a midnight platoon without shutting down a school library and/or eliminating an art program.

History recalls the rout of the Bonus Marchers encamped in Washington in 1932 by General MacArthur under Hoover's orders. When Franklin Roosevelt, the Democratic presidential candidate, heard about the rout of the veterans, he grinned and said to his adviser, Felix Frankfurter, "Well, Felix, this will elect me."

ON THURSDAY A STRANGE BED FELLOWS ALLIANCE WAS FORMED, with Mayor Tony, Supt. Deasy and UTLA president Fletcher blogging in the Huff Post together in support of Obama's Jobs for Teachers legislation | But simultaneously – (although not revealed until after the Senate rejected the presidents' plan and the SBA's entities | the battle lines were redrawn when the Huff Post reported Friday that on Thursday, the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education sent out an email action alert urging supporters to call and email individual members of the Los Angeles School board, as well as UTLA president Warren Fletcher, and tell them to support Superintendent Deasy's proposed contract changes |

Wait – isn't the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education the special fund administered by the superintendent to support things like Arts Education, PE and Student Health? |
Now it's a political action fund to promote the superintendent's agenda in union negotiations?
What, gentle readers, is with that?

Suddenly the reality in the lobby of the Anaheim Hilton seems more real.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times |

October 22, 2011, 7:36 p.m. - The majority of children of illegal immigrants from Mexico in the Southland fail to graduate from high school, completing an average of two fewer years of schooling than their peers with legal immigrant parents, a new study has found.

The study by UC Irvine professor Frank Bean and three other researchers documented the persistent educational disadvantages for such children — who number 3.8 million, with about 80% born in the United States.

The study's authors said their findings highlighted the need to help such families gain legal status and a more secure future, arguing that deporting all of them was unrealistic.

"By not providing pathways to legalization, the United States not only risks creating an underclass, but also fails to develop a potentially valuable human resource," the report said.

Lupe Moreno of the Santa Ana-based Latino Americans for Immigration Reform, however, said the study's findings do not justify granting legalization to undocumented migrants, who she believes should be deported and made to reenter legally. Moreno, the daughter of an illiterate Mexican bracero worker who worked the fields herself but graduated from high school, also blamed schools for failing to help the children of illegal immigrants graduate.

"Amnesty is the wrong solution," she said. "I'm putting it on the schools — they need to do better educating these kids" regardless of their parents' legal status.

The study analyzed data from a 2004 survey of 4,780 adult children of immigrants in the five-county Los Angeles metropolitan area. Among them, 1,350 were children of Mexican immigrants; 45% of them had undocumented parents.

The study found that children of illegal immigrants averaged 11 years of education, compared with about 13 years for those whose parents were legal residents. But once illegal immigrants found ways to legalize their status, the study found, their children's educational levels rose substantially.

And the study found that mothers had the largest influence: Children whose mothers were legal residents but whose fathers weren't completed about 12 1/2 years of education. If the father was legal and the mother wasn't, the children finished about 11 years of school.

Bean said children of illegal immigrants face high levels of stress, lack money for academic enrichment activities and, particularly for boys, pressures to work that lead many to drop out of school. The study, however, found no differences in the education levels of boys and girls born to illegal immigrants.

Patricia Quijano, a senior at Edward Roybal Learning Center in downtown Los Angeles, said immigration status definitely matters. A U.S. citizen by birth, Patricia has a 3.8 GPA and dreams of attending a California State University to become a high school counselor. But she said she hasn't been able to qualify for fee waivers, grants or scholarships because her Mexican parents don't have papers and can't document their income.

Her father works for cash at a carwash, earning an average monthly income of $200 during winters and $800 during summers. Her mother is unemployed. And Patricia's minimum-wage job at a Salvation Army after-school program has ended, leaving the family with no money for college applications, SAT or ACT exams, even home Internet access.

Although she has managed to maintain good grades and career ambitions, she said most of her friends with undocumented parents lose hope and give up at school.

"They say, 'My parents weren't born here, so why try hard when I can't go to college?'" Quijano said. But if their parents could become legal, she added, "they would think they had an opportunity so [they] would try hard to make their parents proud."

In contrast, she said her friends whose parents have green cards or are U.S. citizens have more stable lives and are able to get better jobs, scholarships and other benefits.

Since the country heavily depends on the labor of illegal immigrants, politicians should find ways to deal with the problem, Bean said.

"We need the work these people do but haven't figured out a way to make them regular members of society," he said. "So we're reproducing a very handicapped and disadvantaged generation."

●●smf's 2¢: This is a complex and complicated matter. Many children of illegal immigrants are themselves US citizens by birthright. The socioeconomic status of adolescent children of illegal immigrants - no matter what their status - is low – often forcing them to work to support themselves or their families instead of going to school.

The key point is: "…But once illegal immigrants found ways to legalize their status, the study found, their children's educational levels rose substantially" (or anecdotally: "…she said her friends whose parents have green cards or are U.S. citizens have more stable lives and are able to get better jobs, scholarships and other benefits") points out why a path to legal residence and/or citizenship is critical" – and suggests that there be a 'door' for illegal resident parents of US citizens to qualify for legal residence.

Much of the criticism this article has engendered on The Times website ( - some of it of The Times itself) crosses the border into hate speech. And allow me to pile on: As a crummy journalist myself I know that publishing this sort of article and not citing a link to the original scholarship is crummy journalism. The citation follows.

The paper: THE EDUCATIONAL LEGACY OF UNAUTHORIZED MIGRATION: Comparisons Across U.S.-Immigrant Groups in How Parents’ Status Affects Their Offspring

●●smf: At Tuesday’s abbreviated school board meeting - while the 99% were marching, the co-opted representatives of the 1% – in matching “Don’t Hold Us Back” T shirts - took all but two or three of the speakers cards.

By Lindsay William-Ross, |

October 18, 2011 10:20 AM - A group of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers, parents, students, and other district employees will march with the Occupy L.A. protesters this afternoon. The groups will leave the Occupy L.A. site at City Hall at 4 p.m. and head to the LAUSD headquarters on Beaudry for a rally and press conference. Some will set up tents on the sidewalk outside the building to "occupy" the area in protest of education cuts.

Occupy LAUSD says they are part of the 99%, too, and that cuts have caused not only tremendous teacher and school employee layoffs, but also the closing of libraries, and the overcrowding of classrooms. "This smacks of a deliberate effort to defund our schools, label them failures, and then privatize them," says Occupy LAUSD.
The movement is linking the efforts of wealthy local businesses and individuals with current problems, not solutions, in the district:

The LAUSD School Board’s top-down privatization reform efforts have given away public schools to Corporate Charter School management companies, reconstituted schools, closed down Adult Ed. programs, and increased the reliance on high states testing that has narrowed the curriculum. All these so-called “reforms” are driven by multi millionaires Eli Board, the Gates foundation and others, the 1%, who control education policy in Los Angeles.

The group lays out their "central message" as follows:

1. Lower Class sizes, hire back our teachers, counselors, nurses, office workers and all others who make our school communities great.
2. Stop the war on public education. We demand full funding of our schools, an end to layoffs that disrupt our school communities and tax justice for schools and social services.
3. We want to keep Public Schools, PUBLIC! End corporate driven reforms on our schools. End corporate influence of the 1%, Eli Board, Gates etc. on our schools!


by Charles Kerchner - Research professor, Claremont Graduate University in the Huff Post |

10/18/11 06:02 PM ET - Sometimes the most interesting political commentary is found in the comics... or in the ads.

Monday's editions of the Los Angeles Times, Daily News and La Opinion carried a full-page ad from a coalition of civic and community organizations aimed at influencing the negotiations between the Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers, represented by United Teachers Los Angeles.

The ad itself is pretty bland. "Don't hold us back," is not exactly a searing catch phrase. But the underlying issues are explosive: teacher evaluation, employment security, and school-site determination of work rules.

Essentially, the ad's sponsors are drawing up a third chair to the bargaining table. They are attempting to influence both labor and management, but clearly they are in line with the positions and issues articulated by Superintendent John Deasy last summer. The increasingly bold and strident parent and community voice, amplified and modulated with foundation money, changes the politics of collective bargaining and challenges the union's historic claim on parent loyalty.

In terms of Los Angeles politics, Monday's ads are at least a semi big deal. Usually, collective bargaining holds little interest for parents and their organizations. It's thought to be too boring and technical, something best left to the experts to sort through. But historically, when parent and community voice is activated, it tips the political balance. Decades ago, in The Changing Idea of A Teachers Union, my research colleagues and I examined scores of contract negotiations. We found that the usually silent parents were powerful when they got riled up. Thus, the admonition of political analysis: "When a fight starts, watch the crowd."

So, looking at the ads' sponsors tells us something about how those on the sidelines enter the fight. Although technically leaderless, the coalition grew from a report issued by the United Way and financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition, the ads were sponsored by the Alliance for a Better Community, Families in Schools, Inner City Struggle, Community Coalition, Asian Pacific Legal Center, the Los Angeles Urban League, and Communities for Teaching Excellence. Former school board member Yolie Flores heads the latter. Each of these organizations has been at least somewhat aligned with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the now-thin school board majority.

[smf: the leaders have the checkbook!]

Like the mayor, the heads of these organizations have ties to ethnic communities, roots in civil rights struggles, and sometimes experience in labor activism. Virtually all are Democrats. So, their opposition to the current state of teacher labor relations is significant. "We need to push both sides," said Veronica Melvin, of Communities for Teaching Excellence.
UTLA president Warren Fletcher doubts both the representativeness of the ad's sponsors and their political clout. "They are reflective of the capacity to purchase a display ad," he said with reference to the foundation and school district support that the ad's sponsors have received.

Fletcher also thinks that the union better understands what parents want. He points to the recent school board race between retired educator Bennett Kaiser and Luis Sanchez, chief of staff to board president Monica Garcia. Sanchez lost despite the mayor's support and substantial contributions from unions other than UTLA.

On the sponsor's web page one finds a minefield of issues that not only divide management from union but also challenge traditionalists within the union and school district.

The ad sponsors want to maintain and protect the Public School Choice program, which Flores sponsored, in which the operation of both newly constructed schools and schools that have failed to meet test score benchmarks are put out to a request-for-proposal process. Groups, including teacher collaboratives and charter schools, can write a proposal to run a school. UTLA would love to have the whole thing go away, and they are particularly opposed to putting newly constructed schools up for bid. There are several issues surrounding Public School Choice that the district and union are supposed to resolve by November 1. But the ad sponsor's proposals go well beyond what will be negotiated in the next two weeks.

The ad sponsors also want to lift the cap on autonomous schools, such as Pilots and Expanded School-Based management structures that were embraced by both the school board and UTLA under former president A.J. Duffy. They also want to further open up areas in the city where parents can choose among schools as opposed to having their children assigned to a school, so-called Zones of Choice.

Regardless of whether a school is run by a charter or the district, regardless of whether it is management or worker-dominated, the more autonomy given a school, the larger the threat to the traditional contract. LAUSD is well down the road toward autonomous schools, regardless of what happens with Public School Choice. Nearly a quarter of public school students attend charters, pilots, magnet schools, and other deviations from a conventional district school. Opening up more teacher-led schools, more schools with distinct academic themes -- such as the bilingual immersion schools being designed under Public School Choice -- creates a stronger teacher interest in controlling who works there and under what conditions.

The more autonomy is granted to schools, the stronger the pressure to eliminate "must place" hiring processes in which a teacher, through seniority or other means, is sent to a school regardless of whether his or her skills and interests match the pedagogy and ethos the school is trying to develop and maintain. The more autonomy granted to a school the greater the pressure for elect-to-work agreements in which the school's faculty make up many of their own work rules and new hires agree to be bound by those rules.

These are huge changes from the tradition of a central contract in which one set of rules governs all teachers. So are the issues surrounding teacher evaluation.

Like most of those who call themselves reformers in education, the ad's sponsors want to tie teacher evaluation and compensation to student outcomes. This notion of just rewards and strong incentives has gained so much face validity, that it is hard to oppose, even when most merit pay plans in public education have proven unworkable and short lived.

The problem is that UTLA has been largely mute about alternatives to the current system, which virtually everyone, including Fletcher, agrees doesn't work. But UTLA's lack of a strong viable alternative and opposition to any use of student test score data for evaluation, puts it on the defensive. Fletcher says internal work on developing an "intellectually honest and durable" system is underway, but that it takes time. But time is short because both the school administration and the newly attentive public have approached this round of bargaining with a righteous urgency.

There is good news for unionism in Monday's ad. The organizations behind it see collective bargaining and the contract as a vehicle toward better public education. In this, they differ from the Republican forces that have limited or eliminated public sector bargaining in several states. The cautionary news for UTLA is that these organizations have brought their own demands and their own chair to the bargaining table. And they are impatient.

* * *

Charles Taylor Kerchner is the co-author of Learning from L.A.: Institutional Change in American Public Education and United Mind Workers: Unions and Teaching in the Knowledge Society. He is a professor at Claremont Graduate University.

Email Campaign Archive from Los Angeles Community College District |


October 20, 2011


As many of you know, over the last several months, the District has been working hard to reform our Building Program to ensure that taxpayer dollars are well-spent and properly managed as we rebuild and modernize our nine colleges. As you may remember, on Tuesday, October 18, I announced that LACCD took the most significant action yet in our drive to root out mismanagement and waste when we notified FTR International, Inc. and Gateway Science and Engineering, Inc. of our intent to hold hearings on whether their contract should be terminated. Our action resulted in an article by the LA Times that detailed our decision, which led in turn to today’s Times editorial focusing on the District’s proactive steps to fix the Program. The editorial is titled “ Under Better Construction,” and I’ve included it below along with the Times’ original article.

The District is making progress. While there is much work ahead, we are taking the right steps toward repairing our building program to gain tighter controls.

Thank you for your continued support.


Daniel LaVista, Ph.D.

October 20, 2011
Editorial - Under (better) construction
The Los Angeles Community College District takes steps to address shortcomings in its building program.

Years after a multibillion-dollar construction program left the Los Angeles Community College District with problem-plagued new buildings, the district's board of trustees is taking measures to oust its contracting firm and a construction management company. Finally.

These are obvious and badly needed moves to reform a building program responsible for erecting, among other travesties, a health and science center at Valley College where floor and ceiling tiles were askew, spigots weren't lined up with sinks and the air temperature control was nonexistent.

District leaders have been slow to acknowledge the magnitude of the construction disasters — outlined in a six-part series in The Times earlier this year — and have been defensive about their share of responsibility for poor oversight. Only a couple of months ago, they questioned state Controller John Chiang'scritical audit of the program, which accused officials of "shoddy fiscal management."

But there are signs that the district chancellor, Daniel LaVista, and the current board — which includes two newly elected members — are serious about making changes. District officials have initiated proceedings to bar FTR International, the contractor responsible for the health and science center, from doing any further work on district campuses for up to five years. They also announced that they have taken steps to fire a construction management company, Gateway Science and Engineering, for poor administration. Last month, the board announced that City Controller Wendy Greuel wouldinvestigate allegations that the district's inspector general, who functions as an internal watchdog, might have been improperly hired; initially, LaVista had rejected Chiang's request for just such an outside investigation. The Los Angeles district attorney has also recently opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations of irregularities regarding the selection of the watchdog.

Community college officials' past defensiveness about the construction mistakes served no one well.A forceful move to terminate the contracts of the two firms and a commitment to investigate the college system's missteps may be overdue measures, but they are nonetheless welcome

October 19, 2011
L.A. Community College District cutting ties to builder, management firm
The Los Angeles Community College District is moving to fire an Irvine contractor accused of shoddy workmanship and fraud as well as a Pasadena construction management company accused of poor judgment.
By Michael Finnegan and Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Community College District is moving to fire an Irvine contractor accused of shoddy workmanship and fraud in the construction of a Valley College classroom complex that became a symbol of problems with the district's $5.7-billion campus rebuilding program.

In a letter released Tuesday, the district launched proceedings to bar the contractor, FTR International, from campus work for up to five years. The district cited "substandard work" by FTR on its $48-million contract to build the Allied Health and Science complex at Valley College. The district also said FTR filed a "false and fraudulent" report on the project with the state architect, which oversees school safety.

The troubled history of the Allied Health project was detailed as part of a Los Angeles Times seriesearly this year. When the complex opened in August 2008, students and faculty found numerous construction problems, including missing exit signs and fire extinguishers and hanging light fixtures that were not securely attached to ceilings.

More than three years later, the district is preparing to make extensive repairs.

In another letter released Tuesday, the district also took action to fire a construction management company owned by Art Gastelum, a politically influential contractor.

The district accused Gastelum's company, Pasadena-based Gateway Science and Engineering, of mismanagement, poor judgment and falsifications in its dealings with FTR at Mission College. Gateway supervises $450 million in construction projects at the Sylmar campus.

The district's actions against the two companies mark a dramatic break from the approach that its elected Board of Trustees took for years as delays and cost overruns plagued the massive rebuilding program. The trustees rarely intervened as problems accumulated.

"The actions we are announcing today are the latest and most significant we have taken yet in our drive to reform our building program, root out mismanagement and waste, and ensure that taxpayers are getting full value for the dollars they are investing in our nine newly modernized and improved college campuses," Chancellor Daniel LaVista said in a written statement.

LaVista said the decision to move to terminate the contracts also was substantiated by an investigation by the district's inspector general, Christine Marez.

FTR and Gateway will have a chance to respond officially to the district's findings at hearings in December.

A spokesman for Nizar Katbi, FTR's owner and chief executive, had no immediate comment. The college district has awarded FTR $232 million in construction contracts.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Gastelum said Gateway would dispute every finding. He accused the district of violating its own procedures in seeking to terminate the contract. "I don't know what kind of kangaroo court the district is trying to put on me, but I'm not going to stand for it," he said Tuesday.

Both companies' owners have been major campaign donors to the district's elected trustees and its construction bond measures.

In its letter, the district alleged that FTR had claimed in June 2009 that the Allied building was finished, even though hundreds of construction items had yet to be corrected and completed. FTR had also installed a defective skin on the structure that allowed water to seep into the interior, damaging facilities and displacing staff, the letter said.

The district also alleged that FTR submitted a "false and fraudulent" payment application in connection with a 90,000-square-foot fitness center it built at Mission College.

The company, in its August 2008 application for $960,000, claimed that it had moved a water pipeline crossing the Sylmar campus, but the work had not even begun, the district contended. The job was not completed until early 2011, at a cost of $1.4 million.

Gateway oversaw FTR's work at Mission College as part of its construction management contract. The district said Gateway falsely certified FTR's claim on the waterline relocation.

The district also cited "poor judgment" by Gateway in awarding the no-bid relocation contract to FTR, which was not qualified to do the job.

Gastelum, Gateway's owner, said the payment application had been mislabeled.

The district's building program began in 2001 when voters approved a bond measure to modernize its nine aging campuses after years of neglect. Voters expanded the program with more bond measures in 2003 and 2008.

One of the first major projects to open was the health and science center at Valley College. Professors at the college were appalled; ceiling panels and floor tiles were askew, spigots were misaligned with sinks, cabinet doors would not close and there were hundreds of other construction defects. Wild temperature swings left students roasting or shivering.

On Tuesday, a Valley College faculty leader who teaches in the complex said instructors felt vindicated by the district's action. "We tried really hard for a long time to get the district to listen, and we were constantly rebuffed," said Don Gauthier, an associate geography professor. "It's been a real hard lesson."

In its six-part series,The Times reported that tens of millions of construction dollars had been squandered because of poor planning, shoddy workmanship and frivolous spending.

Largely in response to the articles, the district has established its office of inspector general, launched a whistle-blower program, created an independent review panel and tried to strengthen a citizens oversight committee.

With the recent election of two new trustees, the board is pushing to improve management of the program.

"Nothing is more important to our building program than its integrity," said Miguel Santiago, president of the district's Board of Trustees.

Last month, the trustees asked City Controller Wendy Greuel to review the district's hiring of Marez, the inspector general, and her company, Policy Masters Inc. The request followed an audit by the state controller that found irregularities in her hiring. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office is also conducting an inquiry into Marez's selection and an investigation into an alleged conflict of interest at Mission College.

Marez worked for Gateway from 1998 to 2003.

On Tuesday, six people from Marez's office and the district's construction headquarters arrived unannounced at the Gateway trailers at Mission College to seize documents related to its projects.

Gastelum strongly criticized Marez's role in the recommendation to terminate his contract, saying she was "running around wild trying to protect her job."

Marez defended her work, saying she was following proper procedures.

# # # #

Editorial in Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Update - Week of October 17, 2011 |

14 October 2011 - Earlier this week an AALA member, a supervisory administrator, sent a particularly cogent and poignant e-mail message to the AALA office describing the climate of fear that seems to be pervasive in some District offices.

When asked if we could publish the e-mail in Update with or without attribution, the member declined, explaining he was fearful of retaliation for expressing his views.

Something is seriously wrong in LAUSD when AALA members are so afraid.

The District’s financial crisis over the past three years has caused AALA members a great deal of stress because the resulting reductions-in-force, Basis changes and furlough days have dramatically increased their workload and reduced their pay. At the same time, administrators have experienced heightened pressure to improve student performance with greatly diminished resources to do the work. Understandably, all employees are anxious to hold onto their jobs. They worry that formerly plentiful advancement opportunities are currently scarce. It is precisely in these difficult circumstances that District leaders must increase their sensitivity to the needs of those they supervise and provide a higher level of support at all levels.

We all learned in Educational Administration 101 that building trust is essential to getting the best work from those we supervise. Leaders of successful organizations focus on goal achievement, promote teamwork, foster consensus, establish clear and timely communication, encourage problem solving and respect individual contributions to the work. They listen to the concerns of individual employees and are attuned to the tone of the culture.

When secrecy, isolation, cronyism, self-protection and a “gotcha” attitude prevail, teamwork is impossible. If people feel continually threatened, fear begins to fester and grow. Fearful employees focus on survival and stop contributing their best work to the organization. They do the minimum necessary to get along and oftentimes turn on their colleagues. Cynicism increases. Allowed to go unchecked, fear can be insidious, damaging the health of individuals involved and, ultimately, the organization itself.

In the spirit of supporting both our members and LAUSD, AALA urges District leaders to reflect on their own treatment of hardworking administrators. Address directly the climate of fear that has permeated too many LAUSD offices and departments. Do everything possible to restore to the workplace a sense of trust and efficacy.

Promote transparency. Be equitable and fair by promoting personnel based on merit, not friendship or politics.

Ensure department heads manage their staff members by engaging their talent and energy as opposed to demanding sheeplike compliance.

To avoid dealing with the issue of fear will put every significant District initiative at risk and may indicate that the climate of fear is but a symptom of an underlying institutional illness. Plagues are contagious. Fear breeds fear.

We are hopeful that District leaders will recognize the infection and treat it before it continues to spread.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Save the Date/Make your Reservation Aug 31/7-8:30 pm: KPCC EDUCATION SUMMIT - THE WAY FORWARD FOR YOUR CHILD'S EDUCATION & LAUSD: Patt Morrison hosts Supt Deasy, Board of Ed Pres. Garcia and UTLA Pres. Fletcher |

*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: • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-5555 • 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.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.