Sunday, September 09, 2012

From overlooking to oversight

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 9•Sept•2012
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“Charter schools,” it says in Wikipedia, (not the ultimate research authority but an ultimate arbiter of public [mis]perception) “are primary or secondary schools that receive public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school's charter.” [1 ] |

Wikipedia continues: “There are two principles that guide charter schools.

“First is that they will operate as autonomous public schools, through waivers from many of the procedural requirements of district public schools. The second is that charter schools are accountable for student achievement. While this accountability is one of the key arguments in favor of charters, evidence gathered by the United States Department of Education suggests that charter schools are not, in practice, held to higher standards of accountability than traditional public schools.”

[That last sentence is not editorializing from 4LAKids – it’s there in the Wiki article; editorializing from the USDOE.]

WHEN CHARTER SCHOOLS CAME TO LAUSD the Board of Ed was initially extremely resistant to them, granting charters only when they had no other choice. And with attorneys – often the board’s own attorneys - telling the board they had no choice.

The California Charter Schools Association – which seems on the face of it to be to an umbrella organization representing all charters - is in reality a back-office service provider, lobbyist and dispenser of Walton Foundation largess for charter management organization operated/big box charter franchises. There are few mom-and-pop/teacher-and-parent grass roots charters in CCSA! The CCSA quickly set up LAUSD as their turf.

You can learn a lot about an operation from its competition; did you ever hear anyone from another district saying they wished their district was more like LAUSD? (The Mayor’s Partnership doesn’t count!)

‘Edu-business’ is a name coined by CCSA’s competition. From EdHive, a competing charter incubator: “I’m just leaving the California Charter Schools Association conference and I can’t keep from thinking about how vendors seem to be so involved with an organization that should be so much about grass-roots.

“While charter schools are the future, a select group of business interest seeks to hijack the movement and make a fortune off of tax-payers without adding any value. ’Edu-business’: a group of people who see education as a business opportunity and not a service to the community. Edu-business is going to kill the charter school movement.” |

EduBusiness. The Billionaire Boys Club. Rephorm. ®eform. Broadies.

Anyway, LAUSD (and Mayor Tony’s) own ®eform board authorized a lot of charters, slicing and dicing and co-locating; giving new schools to charter management organizations and granting waivers without holding those schools accountable in any way. (Charters were shut down for cheating on state tests – and had their hands slapped for fiscal impropriety – the integrity of tests being more sacrosanct than student outcome or the trusteeship of public –funds.)

Now, with many dollars and students siphoned away, LAUSD cannot afford-to and is not prepared-to hold charters to the “higher standards of accountability than traditional public schools” as Arne Duncan and the feds demand. LAUSD cannot even afford plant managers or libraries or to open bathrooms in their own schools!

"I have great concern about how we'd pay for another layer of government," Superintendent Deasy told the Daily News on Friday. "We have zero ability to fund it."

Now SB 1290, which would require California charter schools to outperform their traditional neighbors, is on Governor Brown’s desk. [NEW ACCOUNTABILITY DEMANDS COMING FOR CHARTERS – STARTUPS AND RENEWALS]

And an LAUSD Board of Ed resolution proposes to strengthen LAUSD’s oversight of charters. [ZIMMER WANTS TO STRENGTHEN OVERSIGHT OF CHARTER SCHOOLS]

This sounds somewhat unfair at first – are the Feds and the State and the Board of Ed piling-on?

But the premise+promise always was that charters would do better than regular schools – and then share their secrets. Charters are using millions of dollars in public funds, utilizing hundreds of millions worth of public facilities, and educating thousands of the public’s children. And the feds are saying that if California doesn’t come into compliance with the Federal charter regs (ie: if Brown doesn’t sign SB 1290) they will make a federal case of it.

[•• O•VER•SIGHT can mean watchful and responsible care OR an omission or error due to carelessness. An auto-antonym or contronym is a word with multiple meanings, one of which is the reverse of one of its other meanings. You never know when there’s going to be a surprise SAT vocab test!]

ON WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON I WAS INVITED TO A MEETING OF RIFed + DISPLACED LAUSD MAINTENANCE & OPERATIONS EMPLOYEES - held in the cafeteria of Cortines High School, These are hard workers who don't want to file a grievance, who don't want to sue. They just want their jobs back.

As I tweeted from the meeting, in the school's quad outside contractors/outsourced painters were doing some of what used to be their jobs, painting out graffiti.

And the money saved by the RIFs - if indeed any was any - is being paid in forced overtime to air conditioning staff - [HEAT WAVE COSTS LAUSD MORE THAN $400K IN A.C. REPAIRS] because someone didn't do their homework.

They also serve who soldier on:
"Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd."

Social justice isn't something that can be turned on-and-off with the times like a spigot.

ARNE DUNCAN ADDRESSED THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION LAST WEEK and never mentioned the things he’s been talking about for the past three-and-half-years: Charter Schools, Evaluating Teachers Based on Test Scores, and Transforming “Failing” Schools.

There must be an election coming up.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

• Next Friday, Sept 14th is Student Recovery Day in LAUSD
• There are 7 million truants in the United States. That isn’t 7 million students skipping class at a given moment – that’s 7 million students who miss one month or more of school per year.

LAUSD Student Recovery Day Info

By Jeff Simering, Director of Legislation, Council of Great City Schools/Sept. Urban Educator |

7-Sep-12 :: The financial condition of school districts has yet to rebound from the recession. And cuts to small education programs funded by the federal budget and the virtual freeze on major formula grant programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) in recent years have exacerbated the problem. The result is larger class sizes and shorter school years, in addition to reductions in service levels, staffing, extracurricular activities, and maintenance and building repairs. In these respects, public school systems have already fallen off the fiscal precipice, but Congress may have more in store.

Public schools across the country face another substantial round of cuts if lawmakers can’t reach a budget deal by the end of the year. Yet, the nation’s financial and defense industries are screaming the loudest about the plight they face if the Bush-era tax cuts are not extended and defense spending is not exempted. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently issued its Mid-Year Budget and Economic Outlook predicting a decline in economic growth and the possibility of a new recession if no Congressional action is taken on federal budget and tax laws.

The resulting sequestration of federal discretionary-program appropriations and reduced funding for certain entitlement programs, along with the expiration of portions of the federal tax code, are projected to decrease the gross domestic product by 0.5 percent in 2013 and increase unemployment to 9 percent.

An alternative analysis by CBO, using more moderate projections of federal entitlement, budget and tax expenditures, results in estimates of economic growth of 1.7 percent and unemployment of 8 percent in 2013, but the budget group warns of financial and economic unsustainability over the long run without more drastic action. Despite the alarming economic predictions from the CBO and the hysterical pronouncements by the financial and defense industries, Congressional leaders have agreed to temporarily put aside the hard work until after the elections, instead passing a six-month Continuing Resolution (“CR”) to keep the federal government running through March.

This Continuing Resolution removes much of the pressure for any immediate legislative action on the “fiscal cliff ” before the election—even though seven temporary CRs nearly shut down the federal government multiple times last year and a stalemate last August on the debt ceiling brought the federal government to the brink of financial default on its debt obligations. Fortuitously, the U.S. Education Department adopted an alternative interpretation (which had been recommended and promoted by the Council of the Great City Schools) on how the automatic across-the-board cuts/sequestration could be applied to key education programs.

The Department announced that currently appropriated federal education funds from the FY 2012 spending bill (for school year 2012-2013) would not be subject to sequestration in January 2013.
This alternative precludes mid-year budget cuts in this new school year, but the potential of an 8 to 9 percent sequestration in school year 2013-2014 continues to be a real possibility without Congressional action.

A timely resolution of these critical federal budget and tax issues should not be expected, particularly in the middle of a contentious presidential and congressional election season.

But, it is not too soon for educators to join the defense and financial sectors in sounding the alarm bells.

•• SEE ALSO: Outlook: K-12 FUNDING, LEGISLATION AND THE POLITICAL PLATFORMS by Fritz Edelstein, from School Planning & Management | August 2012

By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, L.A. Daily News |

9/7/2012 | 7:35:18 PM PDT :: School board member Steve Zimmer is taking aim at two of the most contentious issues facing Los Angeles Unified, with separate proposals to exclude high-stakes test scores from teacher evaluations and to strengthen the oversight of charter schools.

Both resolutions on Tuesday's board agenda have generated heated debate behind the scenes, with critics worried that the proposals could delay or derail the progress that's been made toward long-awaited reforms.

In an interview Friday, Zimmer insisted that each of the issues has reached a critical stage, and that board members need to decide the direction they want the district to take.

The performance evaluation proposal is especially timely, with LAUSD under a court order to negotiate with union leaders on a system that uses student test scores to help gauge teacher success.

District administrators have long advocated the use of Academic Growth over Time - which uses a complex formula of test scores and demographic data - but union leaders say AGT is an unreliable measure of pupil progress.

Zimmer now wants his colleagues to endorse the use of multiple measurements - everything from periodic assessments to student portfolios - in the evaluation process.

"The reason to do the resolution now is that it might move us forward to a position that we're not necessarily comfortable with, but can live with," said Zimmer, whose district includes part of the San Fernando Valley, as well as Hollywood and the Westside.

"This is not the time for orthodoxy. It's a rare opportunity to seek compromise that will greatly impact the next generation of students and the quantity of growth and the quality of their learning."

While the district and unions disagree over the methods used to evaluate teachers, they agree that the ultimate goal is to raise the quality of the instructor to improve student achievement.

"When you look at simplifying the analysis of a teacher's work down to a single score - like the (health) grade you'd give a restaurant - that isn't going to help any teacher get better at their job," said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

"Teachers welcome accountability, but we want it in a meaningful way."

Los Angeles Unified is using AGT in an experimental performance evaluation involving hundreds of volunteer teachers. It also factors in classroom observation, parent and student feedback and a teacher's contribution to the community.

West Valley board member Tamar Galatzan wants to know why the board is being asked to vote now on the AGT issue.

"We started down this path a long time ago, and that was the time to object," she said.

She also noted that the district is facing a court-ordered deadline of Dec. 4 for coming up with a new teacher evaluation, and is in sensitive talks with union leaders.

"The issue is being negotiated at the bargaining table right now," she said. "This resolution is an attempt to make an end run around the bargaining."

Galatzan was referring to the talks resulting from a ruling in Doe vs. Deasy, a lawsuit filed by the advocacy group EdVoice that challenged how the district evaluates its teaching corps.

EdVoice, the United Way and a number of other education advocacy groups are lining up to oppose Zimmer's motion.

"We believe that AGT and other educator effectiveness tools are key aspects to ensuring quality instruction for all Los Angeles children," said Ryan Smith, director of education policy for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

Educators4Excellence, a group of classroom reformers, said the district needs to push ahead with its use of AGT.

"Putting the district's teacher evaluation system on hold while we wait years for a perfect measure of student growth data would mean another generation of teachers go without any meaningful feedback," said Ama Nyamekye, executive director of E4E. "We must move forward."

Zimmer also thinks it's time for the board to review the approval and oversight of charter schools, with more than 230 of the campuses housing 110,000 students within the 700-square-mile district.

"When you've crossed those kinds of thresholds, we need to take a careful and complete look at our role as authorizer," Zimmer said.

He plans to introduce a resolution on Tuesday directing Superintendent John Deasy to craft plans for monitoring the charters, sharing best practices and resolving conflicts in sharing district facilities. It also endorses the creation of a 13-member Charter Oversight Commission to advise the school board on individual applications.

Until those elements are in place, Zimmer wants the school board to postpone or refer new charter applications to the Los Angeles County Office of Education - a move that critics decry as illegal.

In a letter sent Friday to Los Angeles Unified, the attorney for the California Charter Schools Association said the Charter Schools Act requires the school board to "continue to accept, hear and take action on all charter petitions."

Corri Tate Ravare, managing regional director for the Los Angeles branch of CCSA, said the organization believes the moratorium would severely limit parental choice.

"It would be shutting the door on the parents of 10,000 children who are on waiting lists for charters," Ravare said.

She said she understands the need for district oversight of the schools, but said LAUSD's charter office has always worked professionally and collaboratively with the organization.

Jose Cole-Gutierrez, executive director of the district's Charter Schools Division, said the agency conducts an annual "deep dive" at each school, which includes a review of academic and financial records, teacher credentials and admissions of special-education students.

"We're the largest district authorizer in the nation and we believe we're among the best, but we're always wanting to improve and learn and increase student achievement," he said.

Galatzan, the Charter Association attorney and Deasy himself also worry about paying for the additional bureaucracy.

"I have great concern about how we'd pay for another layer of government," Deasy said. "We have zero ability to fund it."

By Carol Burris from Valerie Strauss’ Answer Sheet/The Washington Post |

8/23/2012 :: As summer comes to a close, students are preparing to go back to school. I find that most of them enjoy returning. Certainly, our daughters did. There is something exciting about a new beginning. Kids look forward to seeing their friends and meeting their new teacher. Teachers matter a lot to kids. When I ask the students in my school to describe their teachers, they use adjectives like “great,” “caring,” “smart” and “patient.” It is upon the caring and trusting relationship between student and teacher that learning is built.

If you ask most Americans what they think of their child’s school, by and large, they think it is really pretty good. Although most parents see room for improvement, few think that the “sky is falling” on the roof of their neighborhood public school. When their son or daughter comes home with poor grades, most of the time they understand that their child’s effort had something to do with it. Parents, I find, are quite sensible in their perspective and do not automatically fault the teacher.

It is unfortunate, then, we are lambasted with sweeping condemnations of public schools and the teachers who work in them. It creates cognitive dissonance between our faith in what we know and experience, and our opinion of public schools in general. You can see that ‘belief gap’ in polling.

Although I agree that we should all make a serious commitment to improving education, I worry that reformers, many of whom have built careers and fame by constantly disparaging our schools, are successfully promoting changes that are not in the best interest of students. It may be that the “cures” they propose are far more harmful than the problems they seek to address. Here are the three reforms that I think parents should worry about the most.


I strongly believe that the assessment of student learning is an important part of schooling. Assessment helps inform teachers, schools and parents about what students know and have yet to learn. Aggregate assessment information informs teachers and principals about the efficacy of their programs and their curriculum. What has occurred, however, in the past decade, is that standardized assessment has grown exponentially — especially in the younger grades. This year, New York State fourth graders, who are nine or ten years old, were subject to 675 minutes (over 11 hours) of state testing. And this did not include test prep and field testing. Both a NYSUT survey of teachers as well as an informal survey of teachers and parents by found that young students were breaking down in tears and suffering from anxiety due to testing.

Excessive testing is unhealthy. Students begin to identify with their scores. Last June, I was appalled when I heard a 7th grader tell his mom, “What do you want from me? I’m only “a two.”


Student test scores should be used to help parents and teachers determine what a student knows and does not know. They should not be used for other purposes, such as evaluating teachers in order to dismiss them or to give bonuses. They should not determine which school should be closed or be rewarded. When that happens, the relationship between the child and the teacher, and the child and the school changes. Some children become more desirable than others. Some children might be looked upon as getting in the way of achieving a goal. This is not because teachers and principals are bad people; it is because they are human. They may be overly concerned, but I know outstanding, thoughtful teachers who are worried that their relationship with students will change when they are evaluated by test scores. They want to educate students, not test prep them.

Now that all of the teacher, principal and school evaluations are based on growth models, yearly testing, I predict, will continue to expand. Each time that happens, precious learning time is lost.


State and national databases are being created in order to analyze and house students’ test scores. No parental permission is required. I wonder why not. Students who take the SAT must sign off before we send their scores to colleges. Before my high school’s students could participate in the National Educational Longitudinal Study, they needed written permission from their parents. Yet, in New York, massive amounts of student data are now being collected and sent beyond the school without parental permission —end of year course grades, test scores, attendance, ethnicity, disabilities and the kinds of modifications that students receive. This data will be used to evaluate teachers, schools, schools of education and perhaps for other purposes yet unknown. Schools are no longer reporting collective data; we are now sending individual student data. Although the name remains in the district, what assurances do parents truly have that future databases will not be connected and used for other purposes? The more data that is sent, the easier it will be to identify the individual student.

Eleven states have agreed to give confidential teacher and student data for free to a shared learning collaborative funded by Bill Gates and run by Murdoch’s Wireless Corp. Wireless received $44 million for the project. With Common Core State Standards testing, such databases are expected to expand. Funding for data warehousing siphons taxpayer dollars from the classroom to corporations like Wireless and Pearson. Because Common Core testing will be computer-based, the purchase of hardware, software and upgrades will consume school budgets, while providing profits for the testing and computer industries.

Although all of the above is in motion, it can be modified or stopped. Parents should speak to their local PTAs and School Boards, as well as their legislators. They should ask questions regarding what data is being collected and to whom it is sent.

I think it is time to get Back to Basics. Let’s make sure that every test a student takes is used to measure and enhance her learning, not for adult, high-stakes purposes. Basic commonsense tells us that student test results belong to families, not databases. Remind politicians that the relationship between student and teacher, not student and test helps our young people get through life’s challenges. Finally, let’s return to the basic purpose of public schooling — to promote the academic, social and emotional growth of our children. It is the role of schools to develop healthy and productive citizens, not master test takers.

• This was written by Carol Burris, the principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, New York. Carol is the co-author of the New York Principals letter of concern regarding the evaluation of teachers by student scores. Over 1,500 New York principals and more than 5,400 teachers, parents, professors, administrators and citizens have signed the letter which can be found here.

by Becky Vevea, NPR Weekend Edition Sunday |

September 9, 2012 from WBEZ :: Twenty-five thousand Chicago teachers are planning to walk off the job Monday if they don't have a contract by midnight Sunday. As the Democrats look to unions to help them get out the vote, a strike by Chicago teachers might just put a crimp in those plans.

On Friday during rush hour, a handful of parents and students stood on a bridge over the Eisenhower Expressway, holding signs that read, "Honk if you support teachers." Among them is Rhoda Gutierrez, who has two children in a Chicago public elementary school.

"We're here because we know this makes not just an impact on our city, but nationally," she says.

Parents like Gutierrez and others, who support the teachers union, are up against a school district and a mayor who have a very different idea about what the public schools should look like.

In the contract battle between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Teachers Union, the two sides are furiously campaigning for public opinion as the city braces for the first teacher strike since 1987.

Emanuel is pushing for big changes: a longer school day and year, a new system for evaluating teachers and a whole new way to pay teachers. At the Democratic National Convention last week, he defended many of his reforms.

"For the first time in a decade, [students are] getting a very rigorous academic standard," he said. "For the first time, we're getting five new high schools all dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math. Six thousand more kids are going to magnet schools. We're making major changes."

The union wants Emanuel to pay teachers more for what amounts to more work.

Teachers are also pushing back on some reforms that the mayor didn't tout at the DNC.

They want smaller class sizes, more art and music, and job protection when the district shuts down low-performing schools and opens privately run charter schools, which are not typically unionized.

Steven Ashby, a labor professor at the University of Illinois, says a strike in Chicago could present problems for President Obama's re-election.

"He will win Illinois delegates in the November election, but nevertheless, the last thing he wants is the Republican Party talking about how teachers are on strike in Chicago," West says.

It's also a big gamble for the union. Ashby says the outcome in Chicago could affect the future of organized labor at a time when membership is down and public sector unions are struggling.

Back at the overpass, parent Jennifer Biggs agrees with what the union is fighting for, but says there really is no political candidate supporting those goals.

"The Democrats and the Republicans seem to be on the same page with education, which to me is terribly scary," she says. "I just think they're really going to lose some votes, or a lot of people might even just stay home."

Picket lines are scheduled to start Monday morning, if the two sides can't reach a deal by 11:59 p.m.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
CHICAGO TEACHERS MAY STRIKE, TEACH POLITICAL LESSON: by Becky Vevea, NPR Weekend Edition Sunday | http://n....

Outlook: K-12 FUNDING, LEGISLATION AND THE POLITICAL PLATFORMS: by Fritz Edelstein, from School Planning & Manag...

Report - SKIPPING TO NOWHERE: Students share their views about missing school: a report from ...


THREE ED REFORMS PARENTS SHOULD WORRY ABOUT MOST: By Carol Burris from Valerie Strauss’ Answer Sheet/The Washing...


Horace Mann: THOUGHTS ON TEACHING FROM THE “FATHER OF PUBLIC EDUCATION”: Horace Mann, circa 1850. Daguerreotype ...

®eform…? What ®eform?: AS OBAMA IS NOMINATED, DUNCAN SPEECH FINESSES TOUCHY ISSUES: By Alyson Klein, EdWeek Poli...

CalSTRS: STUDY EXPOSES TEACHER PENSION SCAMS. State Controller finds teacher retirement fund lax on anti-spiking...

HEAT WAVE COSTS LAUSD MORE THAN $400K IN A.C. REPAIRS + smf’s 2¢: By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News ...




TAKING CARE OF TRUANTS: L.A. Unified's new, gentler plan emphasizes counseling over handing out tickets + smf’s ...

PARENT & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN THE “SUPERINTENDENT’S DISTRICT”: by smf 6 September 2012 :: In the redesign/r...
I am @ angry meeting of RIFed M&O employees @ Cortines HS. Outside the room outsourced contractors are doing their work. –smf


It isn’t all Democrats in the Tarheel State: N.C. COURT OF APPEALS UPHOLDS MANDATE ON PRE-K FOR AT-RISK CHILDREN...



EVENTS: Coming up next week...
MONDAY: School Discipline Policy Hearing at LAPL |
TUESDAY: School Board meets twice. Again. |
FRIDAY: Student Recovery Day. |

*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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