Sunday, November 27, 2011

Frictos cum ista cupisna?

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 27•Nov•2011
In This Issue:
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not neccessariily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
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Last week, a traditionally slow news week, proved rather busy – with things happening beyond Thanksgiving and Black Friday (which is slowly moving into Thursday afternoon). It was a big week for Pepper Spray; starting in Davis and ending at Wal-Mart.

Congress dropped the ball in the SUPER-DUPER-SECRET DEFICIT REDUCTION COMMITTEE, with the inevitability of the inevitable catching up with the predictable and the preordained. The markets wobbled, the credit rating agencies sharpened their pencils and adjusted their eyeshades. I'm with former Senator Alan Simpson on this: If you're so scared you might not get reelected that you can't come to a compromise to save the country you don't belong in Congress. There were twelve members of the supercommittee (the style used by the Washington Post, no space/no capitalization) and it would've only taken one to move the ball. One Man or Woman in the Arena.

Instead all twelve missed their Profiles in Courage moment.

So we now are faced with automatic/autopilot across-the-board cuts and reductions – and everyone can blame the other side. Wasn't that the plan in the first place? A fail-safe device is one that, in the event of failure, responds in a way that will cause no - or a minimum of harm. Of course, this Fail Safe device is more like the Doomsday Machine in Dr. Strangelove – capable of causing maximum harm. See: SCHOOL DISTRICTS FEAR SLASHED BUDGETS AFTER SUPERCOMMITTEE FAILS

But Congress wasn't content to rest on their laurels and coast on their 9% favorability rating. Last week they declared – in statute – that PIZZA IS A VEGETABLE. Their "reasoning" – encouraged by the Farm Lobby – is that the tomato sauce counts as a veggie (…never mind that tomatoes are fruit.)

When I say Farm Lobby, don't think American Family Farmers. Unless the families are Archer, Daniels and Midland or the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. This is deja vu reminiscent of The Agriculture Department declaring ketchup a vegetable back in '81 – and gets the same laughs. Except that was a regulation and easily undone. This is a The Law of The Land: H.R. 2112 - The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011-2012. Childhood Obesity is epidemic, junk food and sodas are reducing life expectancy of our kids, adult-onset diabetes is a children's disease – and pizza is a vegetable in the school meal program.

THE LA TIMES POLL proves that the public is aware of what we have known: converting the anecdotal into data. We like our neighborhood schools, we think other neighborhoods schools are the problem. There have been too many cuts to education; Californians are prepared to raise their taxes to help public education.

First out of the box with a proposed ballot-box-fix/statewide initiative is THINK LONG (Huey… is that you?) – yet another plan from yet another billionaire philanthropist which proposes to address the problem by: Reducing the taxes on rich people, Increasing sales taxes on everyone and quietly declaring that today's schools are miserable places and only the solutions of ®eform, Inc. (and ending Prop 98) will solve the problem. See: THINK LONG PROPOSES CALIFORNIA TAX OVERHAUL, ATTACKS PUBLIC EDUCATION, CALLS FOR END TO PROP 98

Meanwhile The US DEPARTMENT OF ED AND THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ARE AT ODDS and so California is left out of Race to the Top. Again. As RttT is a sideshow to NCLB/AYP/API/TestTestTest/Blame the Teachers/Break the Unions and the ®eform Agenda it's hard to feel too bad. But now the fight is joined three ways - between the Feds and the State and CORE schools (of which LAUSD is a member whether we like it or not) – three sets of adults are fighting over not enough money and kids are in the middle. See: DUNCAN TO CALIFORNIA: NO WAY ON ‘RACE TO THE TOP’

PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE v 3.0 reached some sort of a milepost – and PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE v. 4.0 rolled out, proposing to reform one school that has already been reformed and another that isn't even designed yet.

And BUSINESS TOOLS FOR SCHOOLS (a/k/a:"The Great Payroll Fiasco") is back! LAUSD is going into the Ad Business. The Academic Decathlon teams are forming again. NBA Basketball will back for Christmas.

And DrDeasyLAUSD tweets: "Free $15 gift cards being sent 2 all schools next week 4 LAUSD parents. Lets not let any cards go unredeemed -"
Follow that link: "Thanks to a $4 million donation from the Wasserman Foundation, nearly 600,000 families will receive a FREE (all caps/bold/underline) $15 gift card to support a classroom project of their choice. Cards will be available at school sites!"

Whenever I multiply 600,000 times $15. I get $9 million. ¿What's with that?

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

By Alyson Klein | Education Week |

November 22, 2011 2:46 PM - Education advocates and local school officials are nervously eyeing a series of draconian cuts set to hit just about every federal program in 2013—including Title I, special education, and money for teacher quality—now that a bipartisan panel tasked with making recommendations for trimming the nation's deficit has failed to reach agreement.

Quick recap: Over the summer, as part of an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, lawmakers decided to set up a bipartisan "supercommittee" which would include twelve members of the House and Senate, half Democrats and half Republicans. The panel was supposed to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years. But lawmakers failed to reach agreement.

Now, a process known as sequestration, is set to kick in, beginning in January of 2013. It would mean an across-the-board cut of about 7.8 percent to most government programs, including many for education, advocates estimate.

That's on top of some very serious cuts already in place at the state and local level, particularly now that vast majority of the funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Education Jobs Fund is gone.

The possibilty of signficantly slashed federal aid is worrisome for Paul Durand, the superintendent of the 1,600-student Rockford County school district in Minnesota.

The proposed federal cuts "would come on the backs of issues we've had in our state. ... School districts in Minnesota are having to borrow money to make sure we can pay our bills." Further cuts to education at the federal level would be "very short-sighted and poor policy," he said.

The 7.8 percent cut would mean about a $3.5 billion decrease to the U.S. Department of Education's budget. To put that number in perspective, it's more than states get right now for Improving Teacher Quality State Grants (funded at $2.5 billion), but a little less than the competitive grant total for Race to the Top under the stimulus ($4 billion).

The National Education Association is estimating that sequestration would result in the loss of more than 24,000 jobs in elementary and secondary education.

"This is a huge deal," said Mary Kusler, the manager of federal advocacy for the union. These are "dramatic cuts that will be felt by every student and every school district at a time when state budget [cuts] are raising the importance of the limited federal dollars that are flowing."

Of course, Congress has a whole year before those major cuts are triggered. And lawmakers may well cook up a plan that would scrap the programmatic spending cuts, which are set to go into effect not just for domestic programs, but for defense, too.

Lawmakers may not come up with a plan to stop "sequestration" until after the 2012 election, said Joel Packer, a veteran education lobbyist who is now the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding.

"I think we are in for year-long fight about sequestration and everything else budget related," Packer said. "My personal guess is that nothing happens until after the election."

That may well make the cuts to domestic programs, including K-12 education, a centerpiece of the presidential campaign.

But that would leave school districts in the dark for a while about their federal funding, which can complicate local decisions, Durand said.

"The not-knowing what's happening is bad because you can't plan and you need to be able to plan," he said. "All of these things have real impact on children."

And already, district advocates are worried lawmakers may move to spare defense, but not education.

"If we get [the cuts], that is what would be very damaging for schools," said Noelle Ellerson, the assistant director of policy analysis and advocacy, for the American Association of School Administrators. But the worst case scenario, she said, would be if other programs, such as defense were exempted from the cuts, and education was not. That would mean the cuts to education would be even deeper and more damaging than anticipated, Ellerson said.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is worried, too.

We must reduce America's debt. But we must do so in a thoughtful and deliberate way that protects national priorities like education at such a critical time. Because the supercommittee failed to live up to its responsibility, education programs that affect young Americans across the country now face across-the-board cuts.

And Republicans are also upset about the failure of the committee to reach agreement. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said that he believed the money would eventually be cut but worried that it would be "done the wrong way"—he'd rather see major changes to entitlement programs, such as Medicare.



Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer |

November 20, 2011 | A well-funded team of top California political, business and civic leaders will propose a ballot measure that would overhaul the state's tax system by simultaneously cutting income taxes across the board while raising $10 billion a year by expanding the sales tax to include services.

The Think Long Committee for California also is ready to propose a ballot measure that would alter the state's initiative process by creating an independent, nonpartisan panel that would have the power to propose initiatives, according to a copy of the panel's 24-page plan [] that The Chronicle has obtained.

Ideas to reform California's dysfunctional government surface frequently, and just as often are ignored. What makes Think Long different is the bipartisan star power of its 17-member panel and the $20 million or more that its chairman, billionaire businessman Nicolas Berggruen, said he will spend in support of ballot measures.

Berggruen will be backed by committee members including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Southern California billionaire developer Eli Broad, former San Francisco Mayor and Chronicle columnist Willie Brown and former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George.

Each is expected to raise money or manpower to back the ballot measures. Think Long, which shaped its proposals during private meetings held over the past year, plans to put at least two of its proposals on the November 2012 ballot.

While the panel's report includes a wide range of government and education reforms, one of its most provocative ideas is its tax overhaul proposal, which Think Long adviser Nathan Gardels called an "ideological hybrid" model that combines ideas from the political right and left.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has said that the state budget relies too heavily on personal income tax revenue, which makes the state subject to the boom-and-bust cycles of the economy. To remedy that, Think Long proposes to:

● Simplify the income tax code to two rates - 2 percent for couples filing jointly who make $45,000 to $95,000$ and 7.5 percent for those earning more, while retaining the 1 percent surcharge for Californians who earn more than $1 million. Couples who earn less than $45,000 would pay no personal income tax.

● Eliminate most credits and all itemized deductions, except mortgage interest, property taxes, charitable contributions and research and development. Taxpayers would receive an expanded standard deduction equal to $45,000 for joint filers and $27,000 for single filers.

● Reduce the state's corporation tax from one of the nation's highest rates at 8.84 percent to 7 percent, lower than the national average. The move would help attract business, the report said.

● Phase in a 5 percent sales tax on services over four years, exempting health care and education. Low-income households would get a sales tax rebate.

The estimated $10 billion that would be raised by the implementation of these proposals would be earmarked largely for public education and to pay down the state's debt.

Mindful of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations against the inequity of the current financial system, Gardels said that under this proposal, the top 5 percent of state tax filers would pay 62 percent of all income taxes.

"It retains the state's progressive tax structure," he said.

In an era of partisan political gridlock from Sacramento to Washington, Berggruen said the committee he recruited has "shown that difficult bipartisan compromise can be reached if politics is set aside and the public interest is put first." The panel's recommendations were approved by consensus.

Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo was the only member to abstain on the final recommendations. She did not respond to an interview request.


By Brian Leubitz, Calitics Blog |

Tue Nov 22, 2011 at 13:21:08 PM PST - Robert Cruickshank mentioned in "Billionaire Wants To Shift Tax Burden to Middle Class" [] the so-called Think Long report that proposes reducing taxes on the highest earners in favor of additional taxes on the middle class.

In case that wasn't enough to piss off the Left, there is this little treasure in the report: (via SacBee)

"We believe such new funding should not be automatically given to a system that is failing to educate millions of Californians. It instead should be tied to improving performance of K-12 schools, as a result of rigorous evaluation of teachers, as well as curbs on automatic teacher tenure and seniority." case No Child Left Behind didn't do enough to screw up the schools, we need to tie state school funding in a larger way to a deeply flawed system of test-first, test-last, and test-always that encourages teachers to teach to the test. The rest of that second sentence is merely rehashing Arnold Schwarzenegger proposals that voters soundly rejected at the polls.

What we have here is nothing really all that different from what California Forward and other similar corporate-leaning centrist organizations are pushing. And unsuprisingly it isn't getting great reviews. Here is Dean Vogel, current president of the California Teachers Association:

"The Think Long Committee Report was supposed to be a bipartisan path to rebuilding California's future, not a dangerous detour that would hurt students and the poor. Educators are alarmed by these recommendations to raise taxes on the poor, lower taxes for corporations, dismantle Proposition 98 - the state's minimum school funding law - and avoid repaying $10 billion already owed to public schools and students."

Without getting bogged down in NCLB, what really amazes me is that all these people want to look for causation only at teachers and schools. When they see a struggling school, they only see "failing teachers." They never stop to look around the neighborhoods to see the failing communities. The families torn apart by poverty. Parents who rarely see their children because they are working multiple jobs. Sure, Newt Gingrich has a plan to solve that problem, (let's create an army of 9 year old janitors!) but no solutions for addressing the inequality in our society seems to be present in the Think Long Report.

If you want to see better performing schools, teachers are merely an easy scapegoat. Some teachers are truly more gifted than others, and we should encourage teacher quality. However, that is only one small portion of the underlying problems. Causation is never an easy, but politicians and billionaires apparently share an interest in preferring easy answers over good, thoughtful policy.

Think Long has said that a repeal to Prop 98 will not be in their tax measure that they intend to bring to the ballot. However, their posture really goes to more than just Prop 98, it goes to the heart of our system of public education. Their attacks are certainly not the first, nor will they be the last as profit-seekers look to open up public education to corporate style earnings.

A BLUEPRINT TO RENEW CALIFORNIA: Report and Recommendations Presented by the Think Long Committee for California | The Nicolas Berggruen Institute



By John Fensterwald - Educated Guess - TOP-Ed writer Kathy Baron co-wrote this post |

Posted on 11/23/11 • In another cockfight between California and Washington over education, the U.S. Department of Education has rejected California’s application – and only California’s application – in the third round of Race to the Top. The denial exasperated the seven California school districts that led the state’s effort and were counting on $49 million earmarked for California as critical to do the work they had committed to do.

In a statement Wednesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst each criticized the federal government’s inflexibility in not accepting what they described as California’s “innovative” approach of giving control of the reforms to local school districts. Seven unified districts, including Los Angeles, Frenso, and Long Beach, formed a coalition known as CORE, the California Office to Reform Education, to compete for round three and work together on the reform.

Torlakson also said the federal government failed to scale back its expectations for Race to the Top reforms during this fiscal crisis. “I had hoped the federal Administration would be mindful of the financial emergency facing California’s schools and the severe constraints it has placed on state resources,” he said. (In the third round of RTTT, the federal government slashed the available funding from $3.4 billion to $200 million. For California, that reduced the potential award from as much as $700 million to $50 million.)

The federal government saw things differently. In a statement congratulating the other seven states in line for the money, federal officials said California “submitted an incomplete application.”

As we reported here on Tuesday, Kirst, Torlakson, and Gov. Brown, who is vacationing this week, submitted only a two-page letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan that indicated that the state was fine with just the seven districts undertaking the reforms.

What state officials didn’t do was submit and sign the official short application, which, the Department ruled Wednesday, disqualified California.

Failure to sign wasn’t simply an oversight; it reflected a fundamental disagreement about what California was asked to commit to. In the second round of RTTT, the state had agreed to four broad areas of reform:

● Implementing Common Core standards;
● Building data systems to measure student growth and success in order to improve instruction;
● Recruiting, training, and rewarding effective teachers and principals;
● Turning around the lowest-achieving schools.

In being asked to reaffirm these reforms for round three, the state and CORE districts had very different interpretations. The districts believed that nothing had changed; they remained committed to the four reform areas agreed to in the second round. All that Brown and the others had to do was simply acknowledge that the Legislature hadn’t passed any laws reversing the commitments made in round two.

“It was a unique application that only committed participating districts to reforms,” said Rick Miller, executive director of CORE, which represents the districts.

Brown and Torlakson objected to making any statewide commitments dealing with teacher effectiveness and how to treat failing schools. They also didn’t want to be tied to explicit reforms approved by Gov. Schwarzenegger in the second round application. One in particular, strongly opposed by the California Teachers Association, would have committed the CORE districts to linking standardized test scores to teacher evaluations.

State Board President Kirst agreed with that interpretation. “The issue is not what the districts committed to but what the state was committed to,” said Kirst. “The second round application was slippery in terms of what was committed; it mixed up state and local roles.”

Kirst, Torlaskson, and Sue Burr, executive director of the State Board of Education, have had ongoing conversations with top federal education officials. As recently as this week Kirst spoke with Duncan and expressed his reservations.

The state’s interpretation baffled Fresno Unified Superintendent Mike Hanson, who said he thought the CORE districts had an understanding with the governor to submit the round three application. “I find it hard to believe that whatever gap existed in the end could not have been bridged by having representatives from Sacramento, D.C., and CORE sit down and talk it out,” said Hanson.

Fresno and the other six districts were going to use the federal money to prepare teachers to make the transition to Common Core and build local data systems to share information and their successes. They’ve been starting to do this work using some small foundation grants, but Hanson said the $49 million would have been “jet propulsion for us,” and the results would have been available for all districts in the state.

“We missed a big opportunity, probably the last opportunity” for a major federal grant, said Hanson. “That money is now going to go to another state to help make those kids more competitive.”


By Valerie Gibbons - The Fresno Bee |

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 | 08:55 PM - When does a four-page cover sheet cost $49 million? When it's part of California's application for the latest round of federal school improvement funding.

By signing the cover sheet, state officials would have been endorsing the establishment of statewide teacher evaluation methods – a commitment they would not make.

Federal education officials announced the state's bid for Race to the Top funds was denied Wednesday morning because its application was deemed to be "incomplete" by the U.S. Department of Education.

The money would have been used in seven school districts throughout the state to implement common math and English language standards, build a teacher assessment system and boost achievement at low-performing schools.

Education officials disagree on who is to blame for the scuttled application.

California students have been hit with wave upon wave of cuts in education because of the state's budgetary woes. Getting $49 million in federal Race to the Top money would have been "an incredible boost," Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson said.

"The money was ours for the asking," said Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson. "One million students were left out in the cold, and it didn't have to be this way."

A large part of the $49 million was slated to go to Fresno Unified, which already uses some of its $584.2 million annual general fund to develop student assessment and evaluation systems.

Hanson is president of the California Office of Reform Education, the group of seven districts – Fresno, Clovis, Sanger, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco – that spearheaded the state's second unsuccessful Race to the Top application last year and lobbied state officials to apply for this latest round of funding.

Clovis and Sanger officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hanson said the application was a four-page cover sheet and a copy of the strategies outlined in the state's previous application.

CORE officials say the application was denied because the state didn't turn in the federally required cover sheet that pledges, among other things, to tie teacher evaluations to test scores and use statewide methods to turn around low-performing schools.

State officials say they couldn't sign the cover sheet because teacher evaluations and school performance strategies are determined at the local level. State Department of Education spokesman Paul Hefner said federal officials should have allowed California some flexibility in its application.

Hefner wouldn't comment on whether the state's reluctance to sign the four-page cover sheet stemmed from political pressure by the state's teachers union.

So instead of signing and returning the cover sheet that would have committed California to work toward federal goals, state leaders sent a two-page letter to the U.S. Department of Education that was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst.

The letter assured federal officials that the state would move toward some of the federal requirements – adopting core standards in English and math and developing a statewide system to track student progress – but it stopped short of endorsing statewide teacher evaluation methods and strategies to turn around under-performing schools.

A spokesman for the California Teachers Association could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Elizabeth Ashford, Brown's chief deputy press secretary, said the governor is away this week and referred all questions to the Department of Education.

Torlakson called the letter a "good faith effort" to apply for the federal money.

"I had hoped the federal administration would be mindful of the financial emergency facing California's schools and the severe constraints it has placed on state resources," he said in a statement.

Justin Hamilton, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, said the state's belief that its two-page letter was a suitable substitute for the application cover sheet was "incorrect." He said he was unable to elaborate.

Hanson said CORE will continue to work toward developing statewide student and teacher evaluation systems, with the help of $5 million from private foundations.

"But $49 million would've been an incredible boost to the work we're doing to try to improve our system," he said.



Los Angeles Times Editorial |

November 27, 2011 | If a well-heeled neighborhood of Los Angeles wanted better police protection, would it be OK for the residents to donate money to their local police station so it could assign an extra patrol car to their streets?

Most people would rightly say no. Law enforcement is a public service; taxpayers support it for the safety of all, to be deployed as needed to provide the best protection for the city. Residents might hire a private security guard for their neighborhood, but they cannot reshape public allocations of resources to benefit themselves through private donations.

So is it all right, then, for parents to lavish donations on one school, providing it with art and music classes, instructional aides and extra library hours, while a neighboring school in the same district might have none of those?

This question is being asked more often in these times of inadequate funding for public schools and increased donations to make up for lost programs. It came up, briefly, in the U.S. Department of Education's civil rights investigation of the Los Angeles Unified School District, where schools attended mostly by black students lack the library books, computers and other amenities found at mostly white schools — not because the district distributes public money unfairly but because of parental donations in white neighborhoods.

And the question is being asked with particular vehemence in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, where PTA donations add up to more than $2,100 per student at Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School in Malibu but only $96 at McKinley Elementary in Santa Monica. Point Dume, where 2% of the students are poor, uses that money for classroom aides, a reading program, choral music and other extras. McKinley, where 41% of students are poor, makes do with far less.

The school board is considering following the lead of several other districts by centralizing much of the fundraising. Donations for personnel would go to a districtwide nonprofit, which would distribute the money more evenly among schools. Donations for supplies and other extras — assemblies or field trips — would remain at each school. Under this formula, about half of Point Dume's parent donations would go into the community pot.

Parents at the more richly endowed schools — which tend to be in Malibu — often answer the equity question by saying, "It's our money, and no one can tell us where to give it." But they cannot universally apply private sector rules to the public schools, a system in which, California courts have ruled time and again, there is supposed to be an equitable distribution of resources regardless of students' race or family wealth. Allowing parents to provide all the extras they want at one particular school is akin to a voucher system: The parents get their allowance from the state, then add to it to create a semi-private education.

Parents already accept all sorts of limits on donations. A wealthy father wouldn't be allowed to treat his son's fourth-grade classroom to a school week at a deluxe science camp in Hawaii while another fourth-grade teacher's class did without trips.

That said, it doesn't help poorer schools for more affluent ones to be stripped of extras. And various Malibu families have threatened to stop contributing if their largesse is pooled among all the schools. Point Dume would receive a fraction of its parents' donations under centralized fundraising; many parents might wonder why they're bothering to donate large sums if it makes little difference at their children's school. (They should keep in mind, however, that the city of Santa Monica recently passed a sales tax, of which half the proceeds, or an expected $6 million a year, go to the school district. That money is distributed to all district schools, not just those in Santa Monica.) The district's PTAs already are supposed to put 15% of their donations into a common "equity fund," but not all of them do, district officials say. And some high-donation schools actually have a greater proportion of impoverished students — and lower state test scores — than low-donation schools. Parents could validly question where the equity is if they're picking up more of the burden for schools where parents appear less willing.

Donations rose substantially in the Palo Alto and Manhattan Beach school districts after they switched to a shared system. But not all school districts are the same. Those two districts have higher ratios of affluent to lower-income families, making it easier to help the have-nots. In L.A. Unified, by way of contrast, centralized parental donations would be virtually useless. There are so few affluent schools compared with impoverished ones, no school would realize a noticeable benefit if the donations were shared.

Yet school officials must insist on equalizing at least the core educational functions at all schools. Several years ago, the trustees of the Capistrano Unified School District in South Orange County refused to allow parents at more affluent schools to raise money for 20-student classes in primary grades unless enough money was found overall to retain the smaller class sizes. at less well-off schools. That was the right decision, and the parents rose to the occasion. It's unacceptable for huge educational disparities to afflict students based on their address.

At Santa Monica-Malibu Unified, district leaders have been moving their pooled-funding policy through the approval system without having adequately addressed legitimate concerns. They should stick to their goal, but when it comes to redistributing people's money, details matter. Perhaps they could use some of the new sales tax money to even things out, or organize more Hollywood fundraising with the help of Malibu parents. In any case, they should remember that the equity fund didn't work, and probably neither will this if parents see it as being imposed from above. The school board is scheduled to consider the policy shift this week, but it should put off the vote. Instead of telling parents how successful Manhattan Beach's policy has been, the superintendent and school board should be working with parent groups to shape a policy that works for their somewhat different coastal school district on the coast.


from EdLawConnect |

By Mark Bresee, Partner and Cathie Fields, Senior Associate
Education Law Practice Group /Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo - Irvine Office

Tuesday, November 22, 2011After the initial publicity surrounding Governor Brown’s unexpected veto of the student fee legislation, AB 165, there was a bit of a lull in the media attention paid to the topic. Thankfully, though, the veto and some misinformation reported in the media immediately after − e.g., a blog post headline stating AB 165 was a bill “banning pay-for-play sports fees,” when such fees have been explicitly banned since 1984 − have not resulted in districts retreating from their efforts to address the issue and achieve 100% compliance.

The issue is emerging again: The CDE recently issued an updated guidance on fees, and a recent news report correctly noted the ACLU lawsuit against the State has now resumed.

To review briefly, the original September 2010 suit was filed against the State and the Governor. Then-Governor Schwarzenegger quickly entered into a proposed settlement, to be implemented through legislation that became AB 165. Upon taking office the Brown administration balked at the settlement, asserting that the Governor was not the correct target. When the judge in the case signaled his agreement, the settlement fell apart and an amended complaint was filed, naming as defendants the State, the California Department of Education (CDE), the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), and the State Board of Education (SBE). All of those defendants have filed demurrers to the amended complaint, seeking dismissal of the suit. A hearing is scheduled for January 25, 2012. Some of the arguments in the demurrers remind us that the stakes for school districts and county offices remain high.

The demurrer filed by the State asserts it is not a necessary or proper party in the lawsuit, based on the separation of powers doctrine and because the suit names state officers and agencies with administrative functions. In arguing the State is not an “indispensable party” to the lawsuit, the demurrer does not mention individual school districts. The same is not true of the demurrer filed by the CDE, SPI and SBE, all represented by attorneys at the CDE. These state defendants contend that “not only does the [lawsuit] fail to allege any improper action on the part of the [state] defendants, it fails to allege what the . . . defendants should have done − and under what authority.” Running throughout the demurrer is the explicit assertion that the finger should be pointed at individual districts. These defendants assert that the State has no obligation to enforce the “free school guarantee,” and that “local school districts have the power and authority to cure the alleged problems.” Noting that Hartzell v. Connell was filed against an individual school district, and that decision did not assert the State is responsible for enforcement, they argue that the suit is “fundamentally about fees charged by those school districts” the plaintiffs attend and that the individual school districts are indispensable parties. This argument is consistent with the language and tenor of Governor Brown’s AB 165 veto message. (See our post on the veto here).

To state the obvious, the path this litigation will take and the ultimate impact on districts and county offices remain unpredictable. The plaintiffs, in opposing the demurrers, make a cogent and forceful argument that the individual school districts are not indispensable parties, asserting, “This case is about the State’s duty to intervene when violations of students’ fundamental educational rights occur, and school districts are not indispensable to an action focused exclusively on the scope of the state’s constitutional duties and the form of relief available against the State and its agencies.” However, if this argument is accepted by the court, it simply begs the question what state intervention and enforcement would look like.

Another possibility, perhaps remote, is the Williams example. The complaint in that case identified plaintiffs in eighteen school districts, and the response of the state defendants was to file a cross-complaint against all eighteen of those districts, asserting that “the State of California has a direct interest in ensuring” the districts comply with the law, and that “if plaintiffs are correct” it is the districts that have “violated [their] duties and obligations under applicable statutes and regulations.”

Perhaps the only safe prediction, regardless of how the litigation unfolds, is that the eyes of the ACLU, the State, the Governor, and the citizen watchdogs will remain focused on local district and county office practices.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not neccessariily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources

LONG FORM - Assigned Reading for Extra Credit:

THE RHETORIC OF CHOICE: Segregation, Desegregation, and Charter Schools: By Ansley T. Erickson / Dissent Magazin...


“Effective immediately, all of our efforts to privatize the schools will be known as ‘®eform,’ and any opposition to those efforts will be known as ‘anti-®eform’.”
[you can’t say we weren't warned] TEST TODAY, PRIVATIZE TOMORROW: USING ACCOUNTABILITY TO "REFORM" PUBLIC SCHOOLS …to Death by Alfie Kohn |

DEFENDING LAWS ON CHILD LABOR + smf’s 2¢: A reader writes to support Newt Gingrich's call to loosen child labor ...

OCCUPY L.A. OFFERS A HANDS-ON CIVICS LESSON FOR STUDENTS, TEACHERS: Some youths visit the City Hall encampment t...

LAUSD GEARS UP FOR ACADEMIC DECATHLON: by Rock Rojas | LA Time/LA Now | Academic Decathlon...


Thankfully: LAUSD DONATING FOOD KIDS WON’T EAT: By Melissa Pamer Staff Writer |Daily News/Daily Breeze |http://b...

SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE BENNETT KAYSER OCCUPIES LAUSD: Silver Lake resident Kayser represents Los Angeles Unified S...


A BETTER FARE …or (smf’s 2¢) Taken for a Spin: by Tamar Galatzan in the Galatzan Gazette, The Online News Source...

U P D A T E D: PSC v.3.0: “AND THE APPLICANTS ARE”: smf: LAUSD emailed this press release, dated 11/21 but creat...

PSC v.3.0: “AND THE APPLICANTS ARE…”: No outside groups apply to run South Bay and Harbor Area LAUSD schools up ...

PSC+LAUSD. What were they thinking?:

PSC v.3.0: “AND THE THE APPLICANTS ARE….”: No outside groups apply to run South Bay and Harbor Area LAUSD school...

Student Journalism - VIEWPOINT: HOW SAFE IS OUR SCHOOL?: By Kauai Taylor News & Features Editor | Westchester H...

LAUSD > SAP > ERP > BTS RETURNS!: Phoenix Business Consulting Secures Contract With The Los Angeles Unified Scho...

LAUSD SET TO GO INTO AD BIZ + smf's 2¢: By Barbara Jones Daily News/Daily Breeze Staff Writer |

WRIGHT MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL REMOVAL STIRS FURY: By Melissa Pamer, Daily Breeze Staff Writer | http://...

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

Wednesday Nov 30, 2011
Central Region Middle School#7: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Time: 9:00 a.m.

Central Region Middle School#7
1420 E. Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90011

Community Organizer: Fortunato Tapia

*Dates and times subject to change

Thursday Dec 08, 2011
Rancho Dominguez Preparatory School (South Region HS#4): Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Rancho Dominguez Preparatory School
4110 Santa Fe Ave.
Long Beach, CA 90810

Community Organizer: Joseph Pina

*Dates and times subject to change

*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.
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