Sunday, July 08, 2012

Into the woods: Risky assumptions and cautionary tales.

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 8•July•2012
In This Issue:
 •  OUTSOURCING LIFESAVERS + TOLD YOU SO: Two items from the LA Times editorial page …with a slightly different spin
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
 •  OUR CHILDREN, OUR FUTURE: What will California schoolchildren, your school district and YOUR School get when the initiative passes?
 •  Follow 4 LAKids on Twitter - or get instant updates via text message by texting
 •  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.
“When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
for I had lost the path that does not stray.”
- Dante, The Divine Comedy, Canto I, lines 1-3

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854)

A slow week gone as weeks go. School’s out. June Gloom lingers – between the furloughs and vacation days and basis calendar shifts it’s hard to find an educator. Check out the official District calendar here;– there just ain’t much goin’ on! It’s a great time to hatch a conspiracy, catch up on the reading you meant to read, or start the summer reading list.

The week began poorly at Beaudry on Monday , picking right up where it left off Thursday | And celebrated with a bang in the middle for the 4th …in San Diego a rather big bang! | The theoretical physicists may have decoded the first Big Bang | . . .or perhaps the whole universe began when the Big Pryrotechnician hit the wrong key or a coding error as He turned on His laptop 14 billion years ago?

The superintendent in his Beginning o’ th’ School Year Message [] , in reminding us that the first day of school is August 14th promises “no more shortened summers for our students”. All well+good – but the danger is a longer summer next summer …and an even shorter school year!

“CALIFORNIA'S BUDGET PLAN BALANCED WITH RISKY ASSUMPTIONS” by Chris Megerian/Los Angeles Times (July 2, 2012 | pretty well predicts that that light at the end of the California public education funding tunnel is an incoming runaway train – highballing to hell:
“Gov. Jerry Brown has bet a portion of California's financial health on the expectation that a hyperpartisan Congress will change course on a hotly debated tax policy this year. The budget Brown signed last week assumes that over the next four years the state will reap almost $2.3 billion from the federal estate tax, a levy on wealth inheritance. California hasn't collected any revenue from the tax since 2004, and if Congress sticks with current policy it won't in the coming years, either. "It seems most likely the state will see no such revenues," said Jason Sisney, a deputy at the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, which advises lawmakers on financial matters. A report from that office last fall warned that California should not anticipate otherwise. The Brown administration estimates a relatively small amount of revenue, $45 million, in the budget year that began this week. But by the 2015-16 fiscal year, officials are counting on $1.2 billion. That assumption has helped Brown and Democratic lawmakers insist that California will emerge from its financial turmoil with a budget surplus three years from now. "I believe that if we continue on this path, this era of unending deficits will be behind us," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told reporters after the Legislature finalized its budget bills last week. (more)”

smf: Besides for the ‘ain't-gonna happen” inheritance tax revenues (beloved by the GOP as” Death Taxes” - not to be confused with “Death Panels” or Grover Norquist's “All Taxes are Dead on Arrival”) - and the dependence upon the governors tax initiative passing (and getting more votes than the PTA/Munger initiative) there is this bit of twisted illogic in the article – the illogic not driven by poor reporting, but by poor governing philosophy:

“H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Brown's Department of Finance, said it's not that simple. If the state pulls in less revenue, it won't be required to spend as much on public schools under California's voter-approved funding formula. (Prop 98) That would ease the burden on the budget."

In other words, if revenues based on these irrational guestimates fall short – even if the governor’s tax increase is approved by the voters – they will cut funding to education. And the burden on the budget – but not on the schools or the students or the teachers – is “eased”.

Eased? Because balancing the budget is the most important thing. Or is it teacher evaluation? Test scores? Getting reelected?

It’s a Monty Python routine: “The two most important things are: The budget and test scores and… I mean the three…

The article continues: "The analyst’s office said in a report last November: 'Most observers believe that, no matter what Congress does to the estate tax in 2012, California won't be able to collect money from it'. The report cautioned lawmakers NOT to incorporate any such revenue into the budget 'unless there is a clear indication from Congress' that it will be available."

There was no such indication – and the governor and the legislature did it anyway. Like clockwork.

What part of “Don’t do that!” is so had to understand?

But hey, it’s summertime. We all forget stuff we learned in school over the summer.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

OUTSOURCING LIFESAVERS + TOLD YOU SO: Two items from the LA Times editorial page …with a slightly different spin

A Health Educator from LAUSD writes to 4LAKids:

"I read the Times editorial today about the lifeguard kid back east. Then I started thinking. Take the word “lifeguard” (which is what health teachers are in a sense) and find+ replace it with “health teachers”

In the case of LAUSD Health Teacher/ lifeguards, 40 RIFed John Does is a lesson in the dangers of putting public safety in the hands of for-profit online instructional companies.

6 July 2012 :: In tight financial times, many school districts and cities save money by outsourcing district and municipal services such as clerical work to private companies. LAUSD is proposing to outsource high school Health Ed to an online contractor. But there is no service more central to government and the people it serves than health and public safety, which should remain the responsibility of public agencies. The case sof RIFed health teachers and a fired lifeguard in Florida are cautionary tales:.


The case of fired Florida lifeguard Tomas Lopez is a lesson in the dangers of putting public safety in the hands of for-profit companies.
July 6, 2012 :: In tight financial times, many cities save money by outsourcing municipal services such as clerical work to private companies. But there is no service more central to government and the people it serves than public safety, which should remain the responsibility of public agencies. The case of a fired lifeguard in Florida shows why.
Beachgoers brought lifeguard Tomas Lopez's attention to a man floundering in shallow water. He raced to the scene; by then, the man had been pulled to the beach but had water in his lungs. Lopez tended to him until medical help arrived.
The swimmer survived, but not Lopez's job. His employer, an aquatics company that provides lifeguard services to the city of Hallandale Beach, decided that he had quite literally crossed the line by running to an area that was not part of the company's contracted responsibility, exposing it to possible liability. Several other lifeguards quit in protest. And after a nationwide outcry, the company offered all of the guards their jobs back, saying that, in fact, Lopez hadn't left his sector of the beach unprotected.
But the lifeguards aren't going back. Let's face it, it's not as though the job was such a great gig. Lopez was paid just $8.25 an hour, a little more than Florida's minimum wage. He and his fellow guards could make close to the same money flipping burgers rather than taking responsibility for strangers' lives.
And their employer, Jeff Ellis Management Co., still doesn't get it. The issue isn't whether another lifeguard was available to cover Lopez's turf, or whether he went 1,000 feet beyond the boundary. Government agencies have a long history of mutual aid when it comes to providing public safety; they go to the rescue of people outside their boundaries when needed. They hire employees for reasonable pay and expect them to serve the public good. If municipal employees whose job involves first aid see a choking person on the other side of the city's line, they know it's not the time to call in to headquarters for permission to save a life or to calculate the potential liability.
Even in the public domain, the concept of mutual aid has frayed a bit lately. Some cash-strapped California cities have begun charging nonresidents for emergency response if they are involved in an accident. But at least they provide the aid first, then ask questions (and send the bill) later.
There's a lot that government can't afford anymore. But when we take shortcuts on our responsibility to rescue one another in life-or-death emergencies, we abandon the most basic function of communal welfare.

letters to the editor of the Times |
Re "Flunked students were a quick study in ingenuity," June 30

July 6, 2012
What happened at the STEM Academy is a cautionary tale on many levels. Students need to know that there are no shortcuts to a meaningful education, no matter what happened in this case. L.A. Unified School District officials claim to want academic rigor in classrooms, but when a teacher delivers that rigor, he is subject to undeserved scrutiny and reprimands in the media by his administrator.
This incident should also be kept in mind when legislators consider changes to the way teachers are evaluated or disciplined. Teachers must be free to hold students to the highest educational standards, without wondering if it will trigger a negative evaluation or hurt their careers.Any legislation that would inject politics into the system or open the door to undue outside influence will hurt the academic program in the long run.
Warren Fletcher
Los Angeles
The writer is president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

••smf’s 2¢: I mostly agree with Warren here.
Despite the hue and cry about bad teachers and all the rest, college admission officers don’t consider the standardized tests like the CSTs in their decision making. CST scores are not even a consideration. Admissions decision makers – like classroom teachers - look at the whole student – with a special focus on the grades that teachers award and students earn - and on the student's portfolio of work.

They read essays, they read letters of recommendation – and conduct actual interviews (what a concept!) .

Most, but not all, consider college aptitude tests like the SAT and ACT - and subject tests like SAT and AP and IB – but NOT the CST’s or API or AYP that loom so large in the legend of ®eform Inc.

Grades earned and GPA are make-or-break – and what happened at STEM Academy was a deliberate attempt to circumvent that process. Yes, there are hard teachers and hard classes – and Economics is a notorious hard one.

I wonder how many of our current legislators took the easy way out of their high school Econ classes?

…and how dearly we are all paying for that?

Where I disagree with Warren is this: He is supposedly on his honeymoon. The byline says Los Angeles, but he’s In Paris, France.

LAUSD and UTLA isn’t life Warren when you’re in Paris, just like Reality TV isn’t real even if you are in Hollywood..

Vous êtes à Paris sur votre lune de miel.
They put bubbles in the wine and eat the garden pests …and they know exactly what they’re doing.

¡bonne chance!


By Tami Abdollah, Pass/Fail - 89.3 KPCC |

July 5, 2012 :: L.A. Unified has vowed to fight a judge’s order to comply with a state law that requires districts to share space equally among public school students, including those in charters, saying that it would bring “catastrophic” results, lopsided class sizes, and may force busing of students.

Advocates for charter schools say L.A. Unified is overreacting, and that the district is wrong in how it determines class sizes; charter school students are legally entitled to more facilities than the district is providing.

The point of contention is the method used to determine what is a classroom, and whether that includes facilities used by special needs students for more intensive work — or computer labs, parent centers and even classrooms that are still on the drawing board.

Last week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Terry A. Green ordered L.A. Unified to comply with the law, setting a July 11 deadline for sending revised offers for facilities to the roughly 45 charter schools that officials say could be affected by the decision.

But calling the order impossible, district officials have promised to fight the ruling, saying that it would require L.A. Unified to displace students from their neighborhood schools, forcing them to be bused elsewhere, and would dramatically skew class-size ratios in favor of charter students.

Under the order, the ratio of elementary school students to class size would be 24 to 1 on the district side of the school but 15 to 1 on the charter school side, said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. Facilities such as computer labs, parent centers and specially designated classrooms would have to be removed to create space for charter students, Deasy said.

"I want to be very, very clear, this is not possible to carry out," Deasy told the L.A. Unified school board at its meeting last Thursday.

Deasy said the district would have to start moving students "tomorrow" to comply with the order because the school year starts early, in mid-August.

"And I for one believe it is completely inappropriate and against everything this board and district has done to relieve overcrowding, to take a student from a neighborhood school and move that student to a non-neighborhood school," Deasy said.

The latest chapter in the legal battle for school space is centered around Proposition 39, a measure passed by voters in 2000 to ensure that space is shared equitably among public school students, including those in charters. The law requires districts to provide facilities to charter schools in the same ratio of classrooms to students as it would have if the students had remained in the district.

The legal briefs have spanned years and include a 2008 settlement agreement that the district is not following, according an argument filed in May by the California Charter Schools Association.

Under Proposition 39, qualifying charter schools with, for example, at least 80 students living within a district’s boundaries can apply each year to that district to request facilities.

L.A. Unified currently applies a "norming ratio," or standard, to assign students to a classroom and offer facilities to charters.

The ratio is no less than 24 students per classroom for grades K-3, 30.5 to 1 for grades 4-6, 28 to 1 for grades 7-8, and 30 to 1 for grades 9-12. The district argues that following this ratio when it allocates space to charters is in keeping with the "spirit and intent" of Proposition 39; all public school students receive the same space.

But Charter Schools Association officials say the district's actions are illegal and unfair.

"LAUSD's 'norming ratio' reflects many choices that LAUSD can make for itself, but not for charter schools," the association wrote in its brief.

"When LAUSD makes choices about how to spend money and about collective bargaining, those choices can result in LAUSD putting more students into the classrooms it uses — for reasons other than a lack of classrooms. LAUSD is free to use its funds as it sees fit and to use fewer classrooms than it has available, but its choices...cannot be imposed on charter schools."

In granting the motion, Judge Green agreed.

David Huff, an attorney who represents the district in the case, said the judge's order is "supremely unfair" and violates the "spirit and intent" of Proposition 39. He said the association is more concerned about legal technicalities than truly providing equal facilities or its students. Huff said this is made clear by the association's focus on "inventory" or on what is considered a classroom.

The association, in its brief, states that the law requires the district to count all classrooms "no matter how they are used or whether they are used."

But Huff said the district would then be required to count rooms such as those used by special needs students for more intensive work -- or computer labs and parent centers -- as classrooms. Huff said charter schools are allowed to share these facilities.

"We count what we actually provide to our students," Huff said, "because that's how we accommodate charter schools’ students as they would be accommodated if they otherwise attended their local neighborhood school."

The district is also being asked to count classrooms that are not yet constructed or may not open for years under the order, Huff said. Additionally, it must count classrooms that may have been filled by charter students as available space for this ratio, Huff said. "That's not fair because it's just not reality," Huff said.

But the association's officials argue that with declining enrollment and the district's multibillion-dollar voter-approved building program, there is more than enough space to comply with the law.

"I'm disappointed that the school district has reacted in the manner it has," said Ricardo Soto, the general counsel for the Charter Schools Association.

"The law requires [the district to] account for all the space at a school site and look at the total number of students served at that school site and make a comparable offer, an equitable offer, to charter schools based on that allocation," he said.

Soto said the association has offered to work with the district to implement the order over the next months. But school board President Monica Garcia said at last week's board meeting that implementing the order in time for the 2012-13 school year will be "catastrophic and chaotic."

L.A. Unified's six other school board members joined Garcia and the superintendent in echoing their opposition to the judge's decision. School board member Steve Zimmer said the order would create "a two-tiered system" of education.

"The last time I checked, superintendent, there are federal civil rights implications to creating a two-tiered system at one public school," Zimmer said.

"Our message is a very simple one, a very basic one," said board member Marguerite LaMotte. "We were voted into this office to uphold the public school system of Los Angeles, and as far as I’m concerned, no district child is going to be made to move from his or her neighborhood school because of charters. OK? It’s that simple for me."

And board member Richard Vladovic said he felt betrayed by the Charter Schools Association's suit.

"I look at every other district in the state, the 1,100 districts in this state. I don't see the charter association going after Beverly Hills," Vladovic said. "I don't see them going after any other district, but the one that's helped them the most."

L.A. Unified, the nation's second-largest school district, is also the largest charter authorizer in the nation, according to district officials. The district has more than 210 charter schools serving more than 96,000 charter students or nearly 15 percent of the district's total student population in its area. These figures are one reason, Soto said, that the association has pushed this case.

"I would say all districts have their challenges in complying with Proposition 39," Soto said. "...There are school districts that do better than Los Angeles Unified, there are school districts that do much much worse than Los Angeles Unified."

Soto said that although the district had made strides in meeting Proposition 39’s requirements over the last few years, it has required continuous legal filings. He said the association hoped to work with the district outside the courtroom to comply with the law.

•• smf’s 2¢: The provision in Prop 39 that gives charters access to 'surplus' and unutilized space in traditional schools is the problem, not Prop 39 itself - which set the approval threshold for school construction bonds at 55%. That is what the voters approved in 2000.

Obviously community-based charter schools should have the right to apply to use truly unused school space - but not when it forces traditional schools out of libraries or parent centers - or to perpetuate classroom loading (class-size) at twice the numbers charter students enjoy. And never to force neighborhood families out of local schools. There was a school in Echo Park which had its auditorium closed and partitioned to accommodate a charter school.

The leverage used by charters to obtain space under Prop 39 is not an unintended consequence of Prop 39. It was a poison pill placed there by the funder of the Prop 39 initiative, Netflix founder Reed Hastings - who also founded Aspire Charter Schools, (which venture-capitalizes charter schools) & EdVoice (the collusive lawsuit Doe v. Deasy). Mr. Hastings is the godfather of corporate-model/charter management organization charter schools in California. And while much of this went down Mr. Hastings was also president of State Board of Education; as Mr. Rogers might have asked: "Can you say 'conflict of interest'?"

The state constitution forbids ballot measures from addressing more than one issue per proposition - and no matter how well hidden this Easter-egg was - the courts need to root it out and return it to the bunny who brought it!


By Tom Chorneau • School Innovations & Advocacy Cabinet Report |

Monday, July 2, 2012 :: Already well behind many states in bringing new national content standards into the classroom, California officials acknowledged last week a new snag that jeopardizes an effort to offer schools all the promised supplemental textbook materials aligned to the common core by early 2013.

In a letter to publishers earlier this month and in communication with district representatives last week, the California Department of Education said it was temporarily dropping evaluation of key math programs offered by nearly two dozen publishers because of workload issues.

That’s a potentially big problem, district representatives said, because the materials being set aside are specifically intended to bridge the content gap between the new common core standards and the old standards that serve as the basis of any K-8 math textbook being used statewide.

No records are kept on how many students are using the most recently updated instructional materials in math, but there is a sense that many districts deferred the option to buy the latest 2007 adoption given the state’s fiscal crisis.

Thus, school officials said, the supplemental materials that bridge the gap for any textbook are badly needed – especially given the looming 2014-15 deadline for when testing is set to begin based on the new standards.

“Ideally, we need two years of instruction with common core standards before the full implementation of testing begins,” said Sherry Griffith, legislative advocate with the Association of California School Administrators. “So the materials are critical for both professional development and instruction.”

Tom Adams, director of the CDE’s division over curriculum and instructional resources, said his office is still looking at alternatives but the problem to overcome is significant given two unexpected developments: a surprisingly large number of publishers responded to the California submission while fewer than expected volunteer content experts were willing to give up much of their summer to review and evaluate the materials.

“We didn’t have enough reviewers to handle the workload, so we had to look at what realistically we could get done,” said Adams.

An arcane but critical process, the development of new instructional materials is a multi-step program that typically takes years to complete.

By law, the California State Board of Education is required to adopt standards-aligned instructional materials for K-8 schools. There has been in the past a six-year cycle for adoption of new subject materials.

But since the onset of the recession, that schedule has been on hold. State law has suspended new textbook adoption through 2015-16 and has also provided districts flexibility with use of instructional materials funding through 2014-15.

Even as California and most other states are dealing with deep budget deficits, the Obama administration began pushing the common core as a means of meeting national goals for what students should know and when they should know it.

The common core standards in math and English language arts were adopted by California in 2010 along with 45 other states.

A key part of that effort is providing schools new textbooks and instructional materials aligned with the new content standards – something California cannot afford to do anytime soon given a price tag that would run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

A short-term fix, mandated in legislation adopted last fall, calls on the CDE and the California State Board of Education to establish a list of “supplemental” materials publishers could offer districts that would bridge the gap between K-8 instructional materials currently in use and the new common core standards.

That activity had been progressing toward a release next spring of endorsed materials that districts could buy – an important deadline given that testing in the new standards is set to begin in 2014-15.

But in the June 19 letter to publishers, the CDE said it was suspending its review of the category two materials – those intended to link any textbook with the common core.

The CDE said it will continue as planned with its review of supplemental materials offered by publishers that would bridge the gap between the common core and textbook programs developed as part of the state’s most recent math adoption done in 2007.

The CDE also said there are no problems with the evaluation of the supplemental materials submitted on the new English language arts standards, a process that is advancing as scheduled.

Adams said that the department received 30 submissions in English language arts to evaluate and has about 88 reviewers to perform the task. In math, however, there are 42 programs to look at and only 54 reviewers.

“It was either the category one programs – the ones that bridge the currently adopted material to the common core; or category two, which is the general supplement,” he explained. “With over 30 programs in category two, we couldn’t review them all.”

Legislative leaders as well as the Brown administration are looking at options. There has been some talk of revising some of California’s math content standards adopted just two years ago – for one to clarify eighth grade algebra. If so, the state might consider providing a full adoption in math sometime in the near future which would eliminate the need for supplemental materials altogether.

But there’s still a problem with how districts are going to pay for new books and materials.

Another option would be to push back the timelines and bring in more content experts – a move that might conflict with the state’s commitment to begin common core testing in two years.

Griffith said either way the state should be taking the opportunity to promote competition among publishers in the California market that has long been dominated by only big players.

“We are interested in developing a solution that ensures the greatest number of choices for districts,” she said.


By Motoko Rich, New York Times |

July 6, 2012 :: In just five months, the Obama administration has freed schools in more than half the nation from central provisions of the No Child Left Behind education law, raising the question of whether the decade-old federal program has been essentially nullified.

On Friday, the Department of Education plans to announce that it has granted waivers releasing two more states, Washington and Wisconsin, from some of the most onerous conditions of the signature Bush-era legislation. With this latest round, 26 states are now relieved from meeting the lofty — and controversial — goal of making all students proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014. Additional waivers are pending in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

“The more waivers there are, the less there really is a law, right?” said Andy Porter, dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

While No Child Left Behind has been praised for forcing schools to become more accountable for the education of poor and minority children, it has been derided for what some regard as an obsessive focus on test results, which has led to some notorious cheating scandals. Critics have also faulted the law’s system of rating schools, which they say labeled so many of them low performing that it rendered the judgment meaningless.

In exchange for the education waivers, schools and districts must promise to set new targets aimed at preparing students for colleges and careers. They must also tether evaluations of teachers and schools in part to student achievement on standardized tests. The use of tests to judge teacher effectiveness is a departure from No Child Left Behind, which used test scores to rate schools and districts.

Congress has tried and failed repeatedly to reauthorize the education law over the past five years because Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on an appropriate role for the federal government in education. And so, in the heat of an election year, the Obama administration has maneuvered around Congress, using the waivers to advance its own education agenda.

The waivers appear to follow an increasingly deliberate pattern by the administration to circumvent lawmakers, as it did last month when it granted hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a reprieve from deportation. The administration has also unveiled policies to prevent drug shortages, raise fuel economy standards and cut refinancing fees for federally insured mortgages.

Critics question whether the waivers have done much to genuinely shift the focus of federal education reform, given their continued reliance on standardized tests. The waivers “should probably make the meh list,” said Joshua Starr, superintendent of the Montgomery County schools in Maryland, which was granted a waiver in May.

Mr. Starr said he believed that education reform should focus on incentives to help teachers collaborate and help students learn skills that could not simply be measured by tests.

“It is another example to me of how we’re not focused on the right things in the American education conversation today,” Mr. Starr said. “I have a lot of respect for Arne Duncan,” he added, referring to the secretary of education, “but it’s just sort of moving around the chairs on the Titanic.”

Mr. Duncan, in a telephone interview on Thursday, said states that had received waivers, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, would also use a mix of other indicators to evaluate teachers and schools, like how many students actually enrolled in college or took Advanced Placement exams, as well as reviews of teachers by their peers, their students and their principals.

“You have to look at multiple indicators and multiple measures,” he said. “There’s been historically a push to way oversimplify what is very complex.”

House Republicans have repeatedly protested the Obama administration’s use of waivers as an end-run around Congress.

In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute this year, Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican and the chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Work Force, accused the administration of using waivers “in exchange for states adopting the policies he wants them to have.”

But education officials in the states that received waivers expressed relief from the pressure of the looming 2014 deadline.

“There was a general feeling that there were these goals that no one was ever going to meet,” said Kelli Gauthier, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Education. “Now we have standards that are possible.”

Instead of labeling all struggling schools as failing, the waivers direct states to focus most attention on the bottom 5 percent of low-performing schools. “With the waiver we can focus on those schools that really need a lot of help,” said June Atkinson, North Carolina’s state superintendent of public schools.

One of the most practical effects is that waivers will remove many schools from being branded with the tag that they had failed to make what the law deemed “adequate yearly progress” in getting more students to pass standardized tests.

Across the country, nearly half of all schools missed their targets under No Child Left Behind in the 2010-11 school year.

In some states, the rate was much higher. In Massachusetts, for example, 80 percent of schools did not make adequate progress during that school year, and in Virginia, the figure was 61 percent.

Charles Pyle, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education, said that in some cases, schools that had improved test performance still failed to meet federal goals. “The idea that 6 out of 10 Virginia schools are failing is preposterous,” Mr. Pyle said.

But critics say putting a priority only on the lowest-performing schools will let too many others off the hook, especially those that serve minority students, poor children or high populations of students with special needs.

“Are we saying all the schools are good except for 5 percent?” asked Margaret Spellings, education secretary under President George W. Bush, who now oversees education policy for the United States Chamber of Commerce. “I just don’t get it.”

The administration said all schools would be required to show yearly improvement. “To label an improving school a failure is the worst thing you can do,” Mr. Duncan said. “If they’re doing the hard work to get better, it’s like, ‘Why are we killing ourselves to improve if we’re going to get slapped in the face for it?’ ”

The waivers also free up about $2 billion in annual federal funding that No Child Left Behind required low-performing schools to use either to transfer students to other schools or for tutoring services.

Maria Campanario, interim principal at Rafael Hernández School, a dual-language kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school in Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood, that has missed its federal targets four years running, said parents were often confused by the offer to transfer to another school.

“I have parents who come in who are English-language learners, and they would say: ‘What does this mean, we can go to another school? You don’t want us to be here?’ ” she said. “They would say, ‘But we like the school and think it’s fine.’ ”

Ms. Campanario said she welcomed the discretion to use the funding for “professional development that is going to support the whole school.”

“If you give me that money,” she said, “ I will put it to excellent use.”


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

Field Poll: CALIFORNIA VOTERS DON’T LIKE MIDYEAR CUTS TARGETING EDUCATION: 72% oppose cuts, 44% think Brown is d...





LEG UPDATE: Three school discipline reform bills thought dead – revived: SI&A Cabinet Report | ...

AWAKENING CIVIC POTENTIAL IN THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION + Participatory Politics: New Media and Youth Political Acti...


MOVING FORWARD: Securing a full school year in 2012-13: By Warren Fletcher UTLA President. President’s Perspecti...

OVER 10,000 CALIFORNIA STUDENTS AWARDED “SEAL OF BILITERACY”: By Louis Freedberg| EdSource Today http://bit....

OUTSOURCING LIFESAVERS + TOLD YOU SO: Two items from the LA Times editorial page …with a slightly different spin...

Maggie’s Meow: FOREVER ADULT EDUCATION: Op-Ed By MAGGIE ISHINO in the Rafu Shimpo, Los Angeles Japanese Daily Ne...


FIRING THE BAD TEACHERS: Ted Olson and LAUSD Parents Sue: By Hillel Aron LA Weekly | I...

WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF EVIDENT: ●●By smf for 4LAKidsNews “We carried you in our arms on Independenc...

MONICA GARCIA WINS SIXTH ONE-YEAR TERM AS L.A. UNIFIED PRESIDENT + smf’s 2¢: -- Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times ...

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.
• 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.