Sunday, December 18, 2011

God forbid.

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 18•Dec•2011
In This Issue:
GOV. PULLS TRIGGER, HITS EDUCATION: Budget cuts slam higher education, almost spare K-12
JERRY BROWN’S CAGILY WORDED INITIATIVE: Only part of $7 billion in new taxes for education
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
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Friday morning I drove into the PTA parking lot and pulled in next to two PTA ladies (the honorific may be politically incorrect - but it is perfect in its description) who were pulling out.

I downloaded the latest LAUSD outrage – the discriminate elimination in funding to Title One schools. Twenty-three schools will lose their federal support; 9,745 identified children in poverty who won't get help. Not because they are not needy enough, or because the number of needy children at the school has gone up or down – but because of a percentage point shift/a ratio/an algorithm. At one school 1504 children-will be denied support – and their school won't get $709,888 because they are 10 poor kids short of the new arbitrary threshold.

Only in LAUSD: Not enough kids in poverty has become a problem.

And those 9,745 kids at the 23 schools will not be getting reduced help – they will get NO HELP.

This decision was not made by a faceless bureaucrat or a formula in the Ed Code or by a heartless congressional committee playing politics – but by our own elected LAUSD Board of Education. Our representatives at Beaudry. It was not a decision they had to make, it was a decision they chose to make – voting on the issue without first notifying or consulting the principals or the teachers or the parents or – God forbid – the students at the schools.

Parent engagement? Local decision making? Transparency and autonomy? I don't think so.

My two colleagues were outraged.

We discussed the impact at one of the schools in particular – an excellent school we know well. Neither the three of us nor our children attended any of those 23 schools. All of the schools on the list in the Valley are PTA schools, but many of the others are not. One is a Special Ed high school, a couple are Continuation Schools for troubled children. A number are Magnet Schools, hit first by the threatened busing cuts and now this. A principal at one school says her program will be devastated – but she's afraid to speak out because she'd like to keep her job.

Superintendent Deasy, who advanced this proposal, dismissed the argument and the issue in a Daily News interview: "This isn't a poverty lottery."

Out of context? Sure. But I'm struggling here for the possible context. Is it more like a crapshoot? A game of three-card monte? Or a game of dodgeball?

PTA policy frowns on "parking lot meetings" but the truth is that that's where PTAs are most relevant. We began to organize an opposition and conspired and choreographed our next steps: PTA as an organization will speak out with our one voice for all children for all of those 9,745 kids and their parents and their teachers and their principals and their programs.

And my co-conspirators went on their way, and I on mine. They were delivering donated toys to homeless children. I am delivering the news.

That's what we do in PTA; it's how we roll.

¡Onward/Adelante! – smf

LET US NOW PRAISE DANGEROUS MINDS: "You will feel better too, I guarantee, once you leave hold of the doctrinaire and allow your chainless mind to do its own thinking." Christopher Hitchens (1949 - 2011)

The Gift that keeps on giving – until they send an email to stop!: A GIFT SUBSCRIPTION TO 4LAKids

By Barbara Jones, Daily News Staff Writer |

12/14/2011 :: Federal money to help impoverished students will be diverted from 23 Los Angeles Unified schools, including nine in the San Fernando Valley, to campuses with higher numbers of low-income students under new guidelines adopted Tuesday by the school board.

Valley board member Tamar Galatzan led a spirited debate as she fought the proposal to raise the threshold for receiving Title I money, which helps pay for things like dropout specialists, counselors and after-school programs.

Under the new rules, half of a school's enrollment must be considered low income, up from the previous 40 percent. That means that schools like the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, where 49.07 percent of the students are impoverished, will no longer be eligible for the supplemental funding of about $450 a year per student. Instead, the money will be given to Title I schools where at least three-quarters of students are impoverished.

Galatzan complained that targeted schools were unaware that district staff had recommended reallocating the money because of a projected decrease in Title I funding. She also argued that the decision was simply random, without any consideration of the effectiveness of the programs.

"Kids who are really poor should have support," she said. "But we don't know if the money is increasing attendance or improving graduation rates. So we can't randomly pick a cutoff number without looking at numbers to see if the programs are working."

Board member Richard Vladovic, however, insisted that the Title I program was designed to provide relief in areas where the highest number of students would be helped.

"If we water it down, then we can't help anyone," he said. "We've already spread it too thin. There's just not enough money to go around, so I have to get the most bang for my buck."

John Plevack, principal of Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks, pleaded with the board to retain the current funding formula.

"This will devastate my school," Plevak said of Millikan, an award-winning school where 42.12 percent of the 2,250 students are considered low income. "It's imperative that we continue funding to serve the needs of our kids, whether they're the 1 percent or the 99 percent."

Galatzan cast the only dissenting vote as the board approved the change to schools including Knollwood, Germain, Nestle, Superior, Dearborn and Hamlin Elementary; and Nobel Middle School.

Afterward, she advised Plevak to look into Millikan becoming a charter school - an option that gives a campus greater autonomy over funding decisions.

"That's the only way you're going to be able to keep the Title I money," she said. "That is what this is doing to this district."


By Barbara Jones, Daily News Staff Writer |

12/17/2011 :: Six students.

Had just a half-dozen more students at the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies applied for free or discounted lunches, the magnet school would have qualified to continue receiving federal money for campuses with high numbers of poor youngsters.

Instead, under tighter guidelines passed this week by the Los Angeles school board, SOCES will no longer qualify for Title I funds, blowing a $400,000 hole in its budget for the 2012-13 school year.

"When I heard we were losing Title I money and I heard it was nearly $400,000, I knew we were sunk," said Alex Wald, who has two children at SOCES and is active in the school's PTA. "There's no way we can raise that."

SOCES is among nine campuses in the San Fernando Valley among 23 in Los Angeles Unified where administrators and parents are scrambling to cope with the loss of Title I money. The extra hundreds of thousands of dollars have allowed the cash-strapped schools to hire tutors, librarians, counselors and other staff who work to improve the academic success of not only low-income kids, but others at risk of failing.

"It will be difficult," said Ibia Gomez, principal at Nestle Elementary in Tarzana, which will lose about $100,000. "The money was paying for an intervention teacher, who provides tutoring during the day, and for teachers' aides.

"The TA's are really important," she added. "By supporting the teachers, they're supporting the students." The school board's decision was prompted by a projected drop in Title I money for next year - as much as 10 percent from the $342million received for 2011-12, officials say.

Federal law mandates that first priority for Title I money be given to schools with a poverty level topping 75 percent. Within that framework, LAUSD has established a system that this year allocated $687 for each student attending a school with a poverty level exceeding 65 percent and $472 per student at campuses with low-income levels of 40 to 64.99 percent.

With an estimated 90 percent of LAUSD students attending a school in the 65 percent poverty category, the board raised that bottom threshold to 50 percent in order to protect the district's poorest communities.

"This is a compensatory program for the highest number of kids affected," said Richard Vladovic, one of six school board members to vote for the change. "If we water it down, then we can't help anyone ... There's not enough money to go around, so I have to get the most bang."

But board member Tamar Galatzan, who voted against the change, said several Valley campuses just missed the cutoff and will lose much-needed funding.

Money vital to schools

Knollwood Elementary in Granada Hills, for instance, has a poverty rate of 48.2 percent; and Nestle Elementary serves an estimated 47.51 percent of students who are impoverished.

SOCES - which as a magnet school is part of the district's desegregation program - estimates that 49.07 percent of the 2,100 fourth- through 12th-graders are low income.

"This money matters to these schools - it's a matter of life and death," said Galatzan, who represents the Central and West Valley. "These schools aren't in communities where they can raise an extra $100,000 from parents. The ones who are employed are living paycheck to paycheck."

Parents active in the schools' PTAs and booster clubs expressed similar misgivings.

Bria Didszun, the PTA president at Nestle Elementary, said her group raised about $30,000 last year to pay for technology upgrades, campus remodeling projects and field trips for children. Now, the group will not only be working to make up the loss of $100,000 in Title I money, but will probably have to put those type of "extra" projects on hold.

"It's a double-edge sword," Didszun said. "Nearly half of the school is made up of hardworking, low-income parents, who can't afford to pledge more or purchase more of the fundraising items, so the other half of the parents will be tapped to make up the difference."

Millikan Middle School Principal John Plevack said the Title I money his campus received paid the salaries of a dean, a librarian, two teachers, three days of a school nurse and a computer tech - "a guy who's keeping our computers going with paper clips and duct tape."

He's looking at his options, but knows he'll have to rely more heavily on the PTA at Millikan, a magnet school in Sherman Oaks where slightly more than 42 percent of the kids are low-income.

Millikan PTA President Shana Landsburg said her group is already working hard, selling frozen yogurt and doughnuts, hosting comedy nights and simply pleading for donations to buy basic supplies like pencils and markers for the faculty.

She expressed frustration with the school board and its attitude that Valley schools are not sufficiently deserving or that parents have cash to spare.

"It's obvious they're out of touch," said Landsburg, a single, working mom with three children. "They need to come and walk around our schools."

Not a `poverty lottery'

Parents also are upset that there was no advance notice that the board was even considering a guideline change. They said not every low-income parent actually applied for the free or reduced-price meals, which may have kept their school from hitting the 50 percent threshold.

"It's very hard to get families who live far away to submit the documents," said Dina Lipton, vice president of the SOCES PTA. "I talked to some who didn't want to apply for the meal program. They said they could make their kids' lunches and didn't want to take the money away from someone who really needed it."

Superintendent John Deasy, however, dismissed that argument, saying the federal program was designed to serve schools with the greatest need.

"We want to help every youth in poverty," he said in an interview. "But this isn't a poverty lottery."

Jane Poole, president of the nonprofit SOCES Booster Club - which, ironically, buys meals and snacks for youngsters in the Title I tutoring program - spent Thursday morning meeting with other advocates, drafting a "call to action."

The group is launching an online petition and plans to lobby officials to restore the previous Title I guidelines.

"This is killing our kids' future and their dreams," she said. "This is for our kids."

GOV. PULLS TRIGGER, HITS EDUCATION: Budget cuts slam higher education, almost spare K-12

By Kathryn Baron |ToPEd: Thoughts on Public Education | | also appeared in the Huffington Post

(John Fensterwald coauthored this article.)

Midyear budget cuts hit California like a tornado on Tuesday, leaving public schools with less damage than anticipated while bearing down on state colleges and universities with full force. Gov. Jerry Brown announced that although state revenues rose, it wasn’t enough to stave off the so-called “trigger cuts” built into this year’s budget.

With revenues more than $2.2 billion below projections, Brown said the state has to cut another $1 billion in spending. Of that, about $328 million will come from K-12 education, which is significantly less than the $1.4 billion worst-case scenario.

There was no such reprieve for higher education; the University of California, California State University, and the state’s community college system will each lose an additional $100 million in the new year.

"We have to live within our means," said Gov. Brown in announcing nearly $1 billion in midyear cuts.

I want to invoke a Latin phrase here,” said Brown at a press conference in the Capitol. “Nemo dat [quod] non habet; it means no man gives what he does not have. The state cannot give what it does not have.”

Several times during his comments, the governor acknowledged that he’s sensitive to the hardships the reductions will cause, but said the state has to live within its means or it will end up like Greece, Italy, and Spain, countries that overspent to excess and are now unable to climb out of the holes they dug.


His argument didn’t sway critics, especially at the three college and university systems, which have already lost billions of dollars in state funding in recent years.

“The governor is the Grinch that stole Christmas,” said Foothill-De Anza Community College District Chancellor Linda Thor, only half jokingly. Although she knew the cuts were a strong probability, Thor said it still means another $2.8 million from her district ($3.3 million if you count the lack of cost-of-living increases), and that’s on top of $24.6 million in cuts over the last three years.

For the rest of the academic year Foothill-De Anza will dig into a rainy day fund established during better times, but that’s running low after several years of stormy economic weather.

What’s more, starting this summer student fees will jump from $36 a credit to $46. That’s far below the rest of the nation, but it’s still nearly $1400 a year for a full-time student, and community colleges have a high percentage of low-income students.

De Anza College awarded financial aid to more students in the current fall quarter than it did to all students in the entire 2010-11 academic year.

California State University students will also be paying more. Last month the Board of Trustees approved a 10 percent fee hike that will kick in next fall. CSU has already raised fees by 29 percent over the past year and a half.

“It is disheartening to say the least when your budget is cut by an initial $650 million, but to face an additional $100 million reduction midyear makes things extremely challenging,” said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed in a statement on the university’s website.


Funding cuts for K-12 schools under Proposition 98 are a bit fuzzier. The governor and legislative leaders had predicted that revenues would rise $4 billion over the May revise amount. If revenues were down by the full $4 billion, public schools would have been cut $1.4 billion, or about 3 percent. Since revenues weren’t that low, schools will see a midyear total cut of $328 million, or about 0.7 percent. That’s an average of $55 per student.

But that’s not exactly how the governor presented it. Brown broke the reductions into two parts: First, a $79.6 million reduction in the basic school funding, called revenue limit funding. That’s the equivalent of about a half-day of school cut, instead of a potential elimination of a whole week.

The second cut is more substantial; a $248 million reduction in home-to-school transportation, in other words, school buses. Taken together, they amount to an average of $55 per student.

However, because school transportation funding primarily affects rural and low-income urban districts ­– and uses an outdated, quirky formula ­– the impact will vary widely among districts, from less than $7 per student in the 19,000-student Antioch Unified, to a whopping $638 per student in the 744-student Southern Humboldt Joint Unified.

Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, which will be absorbing the biggest transportation hit of $38.6 million – $59 per student – announced that it plans to file suit today to halt the cut. The district contends that the cuts would violate a 30-year-old court mandate resulting from a desegregation lawsuit that set up magnet schools and a school choice program; 35,000 students in the district now take buses. At the same time, the alternative – cutting additional services to the classroom ­– would violate the state’s constitutional duty to provide equal educational opportunities.

“LAUSD cannot withstand further budget cuts without adversely impacting the educational benefits offered to its students,” Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement. “We stand with our students to say enough is enough.”

Transportation funding has huge disparities, because it’s based on a decades-old allocation formula that punishes districts that have grown rapidly. California is last in the nation in terms of the proportion of students bused to school: 14 percent, according to Stephen Rhoads, a lobbyist with Strategic Education Services in Sacramento who has focused on the transportation issue.

In his press conference, Brown characterized the transportation cut as flexible, giving districts the ability to backfill bus service by making cuts in other areas. But it’s not as easy as that. Rob Ball, associate superintendent of Twin Rivers Unified in Sacramento County, said that the district already reduced bus routes as much as it could, with some students now walking three miles to a bus stop. Buses also transport high school students through rough neighborhoods in North Sacramento to Grant High; eliminate transportation, and fewer students would show up to school, reducing the state’s tuition reimbursements. This year, said Ball, the district will take the $1 million transportation cut out of its reserves.

Rhoads said that heavily affected districts will lobby legislators to combine the transportation and revenue limit cuts, so that the pain is spread evenly among districts. The Education Coalition, representing the PTA and teachers, administrators, and school boards associations, expressed sympathy. The transportation cut will devastate transportation services and hit poor and neediest students the hardest, it said in a statement. “It will also put at risk the safety and lives of students who will be forced to walk on unsafe roads and through dangerous conditions.”


By Barbara Jones, Daily News Staff Writer |

12/13/2011 10:52:42 PM PST :: Acting on behalf of 38,000 magnet and special-education students, Los Angeles Unified will file suit today in federal court challenging state budget cuts that wipe out the district's $38million busing program for the rest of the school year.

Superintendent John Deasy got authorization for the suit during a closed-door session Tuesday with the school board. The meeting took place as Gov. Jerry Brown was announcing that a $2.2 billion shortfall in new revenue would trigger $980 million in cuts statewide.

"We will file a lawsuit that supports our students and will seek a (temporary restraining order)," Deasy said, sparking applause from magnet students in the audience who had spoken out against the looming reductions. "The district cannot tolerate another single solitary cut."

Along with the loss of $38 million for transportation - essentially half of the district's annual budget for busing - Los Angeles Unified will have to trim $8 million from its general fund. That's significantly less than the $188 million hit the district could have faced under the worst-case scenario envisioned by Deasy in the days leading up to Brown's announcement. However, the superintendent added that Brown said the state's public schools would hear about additional cuts in January if revenues still lag.

Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, put the trigger cuts into context, noting that the loss of even $8 million comes atop multibillion-dollar reductions in funding over the last two years.

"It's hard to classify this as good news," he said.

In its lawsuit, the district is expected to argue that the loss of the home-to-school transportation money will end voluntary busing for 35,000 students attending its 172 magnet schools. The specialized campuses are the backbone of a court-ordered desegregation program that was triggered by a lawsuit - Crawford vs. LAUSD - filed in the early 1960s.

In addition, about 13,000 pupils also are bused on a daily basis under federal regulations to serve special-needs students - those with behavioral, physical and developmental disabilities.

"Due to the combined mandates, the trigger cuts force the district to choose between two illegal and unconstitutional outcomes," Deasy said. "It must either terminate its transportation services ... or divert precious classroom dollars from its general fund to pay for the required transportation services.

A spokesman said both district lawyers and an outside firm would handle the case.

Catherine Lhamon, director of impact litigation with Public Counsel Law Center, said the district has a valid complaint in its challenge to the trigger laws. The district is unique because there is a court order to desegregate schools through busing, said Llamon, who represented parents who successfully sued in 2006 to uphold voluntary busing and the district's desegregation program.

"If it had to disband the program, it will violate an existing court order and constitutional guarantee."

In announcing the $250 million cut to the state's home-to-school transportation fund, Brown conceded that K-12 districts must bus some students, but he suggested that they could still pay for transportation programs by cutting elsewhere.

"Any school district that wants to spend on home transportation can do that," Brown said at a briefing in Sacramento. "They have their funds, and this is local flexibility to make whatever decision they want."

Deasy said the district would be hard-pressed to find the transportation money elsewhere, but added that he would not violate the law and, if necessary, would find a way to put students on buses after they return from winter break.

Several students from the Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Los Angeles pleaded with the school board to retain the bus routes for them and their classmates.

"We no longer will accept attacks on education," said Maria Martirosyan, 18, a senior at Bravo. "Students are being infringed upon, and these cuts infringe on our quality education These are direct attacks on our own students and are extremely short-sighted."

JERRY BROWN’S CAGILY WORDED INITIATIVE: Only part of $7 billion in new taxes for education
By John Fensterwald - Educated Guess |

Posted on 12/15/11 • Californians like the shorthand explanation of the tax increase that Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing for November. Seventy percent in a recent poll said they’d favor the initiative if the money would go to K-12 schools.

But this would be true only in a narrow, technical sense. Schools will likely get billions of dollars less.

That’s because, contrary to what he implies, Brown is not promising to give all $7 billion to schools and community colleges from increasing the sales tax by 1/2 cent and income taxes on the wealthy. He’s promising only to increase Proposition 98 funding for education by raising state revenues by $7 billion. There’s a huge distinction, like the difference between your gross income and your net income, after taxes and your mortgage payments are deducted.

As a rule of thumb, Proposition 98 requires that between 40 and 50 cents of every dollar of a tax increase will go toward K-12 schools and community colleges ­– or between $2.8 billion and $3.5 billion out of $7 billion. But the percentage will vary, potentially greatly, from year to year, depending on the intricacies of Proposition 98 mechanics. As of now, budget analysts aren’t sure which of three options, or “tests,” under Prop 98 will apply to setting next year’s education revenues. More on that in a moment.

And here’s something else about the initiative. Along with increasing taxes by $7 billion, Brown is asking voters to permanently move $5 billion out of the General Fund – primarily by shifting 1 percentage point of the state sales tax – to pay for public safety and child protection services that the state is transferring to cities and counties. The Legislature shifted that money this year, and by law, it would revert to the General Fund without voters approving Brown’s initiative. But the net result would be only $2 billion more for Proposition 98 purposes.

The combination of these two moves enables Brown to artfully assert that the initiative “guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education” while also saying that “cities and counties are guaranteed ongoing funding for public safety programs such as local police and child protective services.”
No lock box for education funding

Furthermore, as a result of new state revenue, the initiative says, money will be “freed up to help balance the budget and prevent even more devastating cuts to services for seniors, working families, and small businesses.”

Something’s got to give. It would seem contradictory that revenues funneled into an Education Protection Account that Brown would create could also somehow fund programs for small businesses and seniors. Yet it’s possible because General Fund revenues are fungible; the $7 billion in new money dedicated to Proposition 98 can be used to make room for other programs.

As Bob Blattner of Blattner & Associates, an education consulting firm based in Sacramento, says, “As a safe box goes, Proposition 98 is not as reliable as your mattress.”

As the Legislature has shown, the so-called Prop 98 guarantee, the constitutional minimum for education funding, is only as reliable as lawmakers’ will – or what they think they can get away with. This year, the Legislature shifted part of the sales tax out of the General Fund, lowering the Prop 98 guarantee by $2 billion – in effect suspending the Prop 98 minimum without a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, as required. In the past several years, they have met the guarantee only through massive deferrals – delaying payments to schools by months or pushing them into the next fiscal year. They have played fast and loose in calculating money owed to schools and community colleges in bad revenue years, when state revenues are soft. That obligation is called the “maintenance factor.”

“The problem now is that there have been so many interpretations that no one can agree on the Prop 98 obligation. Now they (the Department of Finance) just put out a number – they can always say we interpreted it this way,” says Robert Miyashiro, vice president of the Sacramento-based education consulting firm School Services of California. He and Blattner are among of handful of Californians who can actually explain how Prop 98 works.

Bob Blattner prepared this graphic explanation on how Prop 98's funding "tests" work:

This is not to say that passage of Brown’s initiative – or better yet, a blend of it and other proposed initiatives that have been proposed – would not benefit K-12 schools and community colleges. Without the extra revenue for education and realigned local services, there will unquestionably be massive cuts to schools, higher education and children’s services.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office is predicting that schools will be funded next year under Prop 98’s Test 2 formula, raising spending by about 4 percent ­– the increase in the average per capita income or about $2 billion (see Blattner’s crib sheet - above) for the three “tests” that determines Prop 98 funding). And the $7 billion in extra revenue could also obligate the Legislature to pay down some of the billions owed under the Maintenance Factor.

As Brown has said, persuading Californians to pass a tax increase will be difficult, especially next year. But in overstating the initiative’s impact on K-12 school funding, Brown may be hurting his own cause.

For a little more in-depth-full view of Prop 98: The California Budget Project - SCHOOL FINANCE IN CALIFORNIA AND THE PROPOSITION 98 GUARANTEE

Op-Ed By Betsy Landers and Scott Folsom | San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Pasadena Star News/Whittier Daily News |

12/14/2011 - ONE-THIRD of American children are overweight or obese. More than 12 million adolescents suffer from obesity. What used to be adult onset diabetes has become a childhood disease in the past decade. Poor nutrition promotes this seeming contradiction of obesity and hunger - yet that very contradiction is epidemic in American youth.

The U.S. Congress missed a recent opportunity to unite our nation in the fight against childhood obesity and hunger when they passed an agriculture appropriations bill that included language to weaken the USDA's school nutrition standards. Unfortunately, while engaging in partisan wrangling over whether tomato paste constitutes a vegetable, Congress missed the big picture - the health of America's children.

Because on Nov. 17, Congress in essence declared that pizza is a vegetable.

It's right there in H.R. 2112: The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011-2012 - The Farm Bill. In a bit of legal legerdemain pizza is a vegetable in the School Lunch Program.

Like it or not, Congress is our voice in government. It's the voice of the people. Yet, when Congress raised its voice last month, it was wrong.

It's the law of the land: Pizza is a school lunch vegetable. Despite the epidemic of obesity and hunger and poor health in our youth.

Despite all the scientific evidence that junk food and poor access to quality wholesome food are the major contributing factors. Despite the real progress being made by the Federal School Meal Program and by forward-thinking school districts banning soda and french fries and chicken nuggets and chocolate milk. Despite Michelle Obama and her "Let's Move" campaign and a vegetable garden at the White House. Unless we take action and put our children's health first, our children will be the first generation in American history with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. As adults, we have a responsibility to all the children of our nation to give them the same chance at a long, bright future that we had.

Pizza served up as a vegetable is like getting seconds of the cold dish we had a hard time swallowing back when. If you remember the `80s, you may recall that for a brief shining bureaucratic moment ketchup was a legal (if not wholesome) vegetable in school lunches.

Recently, it was like deja vu all over again. This time it wasn't faceless USDA bureaucrats, it was the U.S. Congress in a roll-call vote.

National PTA, the oldest and largest volunteer child advocacy association, has worked to improve child health outcomes since its inception in 1897. These advocacy efforts have led to the creation of the U.S. Public Health Service, the enactment in 1946 of the National School Lunch program (NSLP) and the implementation of school milk programs.

Last year National PTA advocated for the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a law that improved the nutrition quality of all foods served in schools as well as increased access to vital anti-hunger measures - work undone in the Congressional vote of Nov. 17.

Locally, PTA has been part of the LAUSD Cafeteria Improvement Task Force and a supporter of the cafeteria reform movement at L.A. schools. In addition, California State PTA has advocated for legislation to provide our children with quality nutritious food in schools and in their neighborhoods.

American children's weight and cholesterol are going up and their life expectancy and health are going down. And - when you open the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary you probably won't see a slice of pizza illustrating the "vegetable" entry - but you may see a picture of the U.S. Congress next to the entry for "Laughingstock."

Forgive us if we forget to laugh.

Betsy Landers is the president of the National PTA. Scott Folsom is a PTA leader in Los Angeles and a health commissioner on the California State PTA Board of Managers.


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

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Not a `poverty lottery'? - SCHOOLS LAMENT TITLE ONE FUNDING LOSS: By Barbara Jones, Daily News Staff Writer | ht...

JERRY BROWN’S CAGILY WORDED INITIATIVE: Only part of $7 billion in new taxes for education: By John Fensterwald ...

Parent Group Files Lawsuit Charging LAUSD With Misuse of $2.5 Billion in Federal Title I Funds: press release ...

Race to the Top: CALIFORNIA (Pre)SCHOOLS TO GET MILLIONS FROM WHITE HOUSE …for “Accountability”, not Education: ...




UPDATED:Governor isn’t the only one reducing funding 2 schools; LAUSD BD OF ED ELIMINATES FEDERAL FUNDS FOR 23 SCHOOLS

HEY CONGRESS, PIZZA IS NOT A VEGETABLE!: Op-Ed By Betsy Landers and Scott Folsom | San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Pa...

The Governor isn’t the only one reducing funding to schools; LAUSD BOARD OF ED ELIMINATES FEDERAL FUNDS FOR 23 S...

GOV. PULLS TRIGGER, HITS EDUCATION: Budget cuts slam higher education, almost spare K-12: …Magnet and Special Ed...

CHALLENGES FACE HISPANIC STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT: Nov/Dec 2011 Issue Urban Educator | Council of the Great City Scho...


LA UNIFIEDS GRADE-SCHOOL GAME: Getting your child into the L.A. Unified elementary school of your choice involve...

LAUSD IS SUEING TO PROTECT BUS MONEY + All other coverage: By Barbara Jones, Daily News Staff Writer | http:/...


Report: OVERWORKED, UNDERTRAINED PRINCIPALS - Annual survey seconds call for new evaluations: By John Fensterwal...

Brown pulls trigger/Deasy tweets: "LAUSD cannot make cuts due 2 deseg&Special Ed fed court orders. Will file lawsuit 2morrow&pursue aggressive legal action. #cabudget"

GOV. BROWN PULLS BUDGET ‘TRIGGER’: Colleges, school bus funding and services for disabled hit: By Steven Harmon ...

smf: READ THIS: It will be important in time!...


2 CHARTER SCHOOLS ALLOWED SOME FAMILIES TO BYPASS LOTTERIES: L.A. Unified will weigh a ban on preferences like t...

Countdown to Dec 15th: (NOON)TIME TO PULL THE BUDGET TRIGGER: Sac Bee AM Alert: 12.12.11 :...

Countdown to Dec 15th: LAUSD CHIEF PLANS TO DEFER “IMMORAL” CUTS TO NEXT YEAR: ●●smf: …because after the Mayan calendar end of the world morality will change?...

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: • 213-241-6386 • 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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