Sunday, February 17, 2013


Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 17•Feb•2013 President's Weekend
In This Issue:
 •  THE STATE OF THE UNION: Early Childhood Ed, Career+Technical Education and STEM, Higher Ed, Gun Violence and Citizenship
 •  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.
FROM THE LA TIMES: “We'll be upfront about this: We consider Garcia a poor choice for the school board, and we always have. In her last reelection bid, we endorsed her only because there were no candidates running against her.

“Garcia is a divisive and sometimes careless force on the board who lacks grace and thoughtfulness as its leader. Her positions seem less considered than reactive. Her concerns over whether schools are improving have not extended to underperforming charter schools, and her response when challenged on this is simply unacceptable: She says the district doesn't have enough money to oversee the charters properly and she doesn't want to do more to police them. Likewise, her retort about a serious conflict of interest involving former Supt. Ramon C. Cortines — "I don't know what is interesting here," she said in an interview with The Times' editorial board — reflects a dismissiveness and lack of basic understanding that is truly disturbing.”

THAT, GENTLE READER, IS THE LA TIMES POSITIVE ENDORSEMENT OF MONICA GARCIA! (Imagine if they didn’t like her.) And watch her campaign ads: Endorsed by the L.A. Times!

The Times editorial board continues, spouting their typical anti-union/pro-®eform rhetoric: “The three UTLA-backed candidates spout typical anti-reform rhetoric and would set the district back years.”


“We had hopes for Isabel Vazquez, a first-grade teacher in the district who is backed by neither UTLA nor big-money reformers. She espouses a more balanced and nuanced approach to improving schools and has a refreshing ground-level perspective on how reform plays out in the classroom. But Vazquez has made it clear that she would not vote to extend Deasy's contract once it expires. That's too great an obstacle to overlook. If it were clear that Deasy had enough support on the board to protect him, Vazquez's position might be a minor issue, but his situation is potentially precarious. The superintendent is far more important to the schools than the quality of any single board member.”

The Times believes Superintendent Deasy is more important than:

• Garcia being a poor choice both historically and currently?
• Garcia’s divisiveness, carelessness, lack of grace and thoughtfulness?
• Her reactionary lack of consideration?
• Her championship of underperforming charter schools? (The Times doesn’t quite go this far – but one only needs to consider the case of Academia Semillas del Pueblo ( and then track Academia Semillas’ financial support of her campaign. (
• LAUSD doesn’t have enough money to oversee charters …but charters have enough money to support Monica’s reelection?
• Monica’s failure as a public trustee to NOT JUST RECOGNIZE THE APPEARANCE OF A CONFLICT OF INTEREST – BUT TO TOLERATE A “PROLONGED, BLATANT AND LUCRATIVE CONFLICT OF INTEREST” in Supt. Cortines’ concurrent employment as LAUSD superintendent and a paid member-of-the-board-and-stockholder-in a textbook publishing company doing business with the District?
• Never mind that Monica then went on to force the naming of a school after Cortines over the objection of the parents, students and school community?

Quoting the Times: Garcia “reflects a dismissiveness and lack of basic understanding that is truly disturbing.” That dismissiveness+lack of understanding extends to district employees, teachers, parents, students, policy and the law. She just doesn’t get it!

Fundraising and insider special interest politics-as-unusual? The care and feeding of billionaires? Those Monica accepts and understands.

4LAKIDS NOTES THAT SUPERINTENDENT DEASY IS NOT ON THE BALLOT. But the Times Editorial Board sets him up as “The Write-off Candidate”

Dr. Deasy’s record of failing to monitor and report child abuse is not on the ballot. His failure to address oversight of charter schools is not on the ballot. His reconstitution of schools that continue to fail - and give-away of new schools - is not on the ballot. His failure to respond to parents, school communities and his own employees in favor of his “my way or the highway leadership” is not on the ballot. His scheme to redirect $500+ million in construction+repair bond funds to tablet computers is not on the ballot. His layoff of 7000 teachers last year – increasing class size – is not on the ballot.

Dr Deasy has eliminated, decimated and/or eviscerated programs such as Adult Education, Early Childhood Education, Arts and Music Ed, Health Ed, Electives, After School Programs. His current policy is to make LAUSD highly popular and respected and successful Magnet Program a weapon to reconstitute schools. Those issues are not on the ballot.

The ®eforms that Deasy is for are: Improving test scores, Measuring teacher performance and Firing bad teachers. Yet Deasy&Co. waffle on what “bad teachers” even are. Are they teachers who are incompetent and don’t know their subject matter? Are they teachers who give too many ‘A’s? …or ‘D’s and ‘F’s? Algebraically: Do they teach in schools where the API is less than x? …or the AYP isn’t more than y? …or the PI status is more than z? Are they third grade teachers whose students don’t read at grade level? Are they perverts and child molesters? Are they identified by test scores or peer review or random visits by the superintendent himself on the second day of school?

Deasy, per his supporters, is a game changer – and he changed the game again this week with his newest re-interpretation of the Teacher Assessment Agreement reached with UTLA last month, (see LA Unified to Use Test Scores to Rate Teachers - following)

Dr. Deasy is not on the ballot …but the Times Editorial Board makes Deasy a litmus test for their endorsement. He is their indispensable man – with a cult of personality attached - as long as having an unblinking monomaniacal focus on Value Added Teacher Assessment and Standardized Test Scores can be interpreted as a personality trait.

Dr. Deasy is not on the ballot. But to paraphrase President Obama: Dr. Deasy deserves a vote.

And that’s what we have.

If Monica Garcia is defeated in District 2, if Steve Zimmer is re-elected in District 4 and a new board member is seated from District 6 Dr. Deasy’s days are numbered – July 1 probably being his last day.

4LAKids believes the electorate needs to re-write that previous sentence: “WHEN Monica Garcia is defeated, WHEN Steve Zimmer is re-elected and a new board member is seated from District 6 Dr. Deasy’s days are numbered ….


Please read LA Times Endorsement Editorial – which follows – in its entirely. The pretzel logic applied in their endorsement of Monica Garcia twists+turns to a lesser extreme in their other endorsements.

And please consider 4LAKids endorsements:

DISTRICT 2: Contrary to previous threats, I will not be a write in candidate. 4LAKids endorsement is: Anyone but Monica! Personally I’m voting for Isabel Vazquez – but a vote for any other of the candidates on the ballot is a quantum improvement on the status quo for all the reasons The Times lists. Any vote against Monica matters! [And all seriousness aside: if you choose to vote for Monica please remember that your special date to vote is Wednesday March 6th!]

The Times contends the candidates they oppose would set the district back years.

QUESTION: Would those be the years with smaller class sizes? Librarians in libraries? Nurses in nurse’s offices? Counselors? Plant managers? Arts and Music and Health Ed? Quality Early Childhood Ed? Adult Ed? Clean restrooms? Reform is not a destination or a brand or an outcome – it’s a process. It’s like evolution – it’s been going on forever and will go on forever ….and would’ve gone on even if Darwin had raised Beagles rather than sailed on one. Change is inevitable; bring it on.

DISTRICT 4: Steve Zimmer. Zimmer is the antithesis of Monica Garcia – he’s thoughtful and careful and inclusive. He listens. He respects. When faced with a difficult decision he agonizes. The Times criticizes him for having been sometimes ineffectual – but in a functional/respectful as opposed to dysfunctional/disrespectful Board of Ed his voice of reason and classroom experience will be needed. His opponent is a passionate supporter of Dr. Deasy, a ®ubberstamper of ®eform - a politician with springboard aspirations – supported by special interests, charter schools and – in case you didn’t notice: the billionaire mayor of New York City!

DISTRICT 6: Maria Cano. Maria is a hard worker with a deep understanding-of and commitment-to her community and quality public education - and experience in internal LAUSD politics and how things work at Beaudry. The Times’ favorite is an excellent teacher teaching in a great program in a fine inner city school (in District 2). The kids need her in that classroom! And the other candidate is a favorite of special interests, charter schools and – in case you didn’t notice, the billionaire mayor of New York City!

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

Just when I was about to cancel my subscription: The Times' endorsement - GARCETTI FOR MAYOR!

LA Times Editorial |

February 15, 2013 :: The teachers union once had a virtual lock on the Los Angeles Unified school board, and the results weren't pretty. Truly awful schools operated without accountability; the board worked harder to please teachers than to protect students. Today, with more reform-oriented members on the board — thanks to the support of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and like-minded organizations — the situation is very different. Schools are working harder than ever to improve. Charter schools have been welcomed with open arms.

Yet this still isn't the school board that L.A. Unified needs and deserves. At times, the reform movement is given to its own unproductive extremes. As a result, the board has switched from animosity toward charters to such a warm embrace that it fails to oversee them properly. A decade ago, the board did nothing for those disadvantaged students who were routinely channeled into vocational education instead of college-preparatory classes. But the reform adopted to address that — a policy requiring all students to pass college-prep courses with a grade of at least C — could prove just as damaging.

Meanwhile, the close allies of United Teachers Los Angeles are as hostile to reform as ever. The reform camp whispers that if the union's allies gain a majority, they'll fire L.A. Unified's hard-charging superintendent, John Deasy. That would be a terrible mistake. We periodically disagree with Deasy and think that the board should be looking at some of his proposals more critically, but at the same time, his impatience with the status quo has brought welcome new energy to the district. Much better to have a superintendent who occasionally needs to be reined in than one who isn't striving, every day, to improve the future for impoverished black and Latino students.

ENDORSEMENTS: Los Angeles City Elections 2013

In other words, the current board is sharply divided along ideological lines, with members too often focused on scoring political points and talking as though they're channeling either UTLA leadership or the most rigid of reformers, rather than thinking independently to come up with rational ideas that advance the cause of sound education. We would prefer to see more candidates who fall between the two ideological poles, but the realities of L.A. Unified politics sometimes make this impossible.

In March, voters will choose board members for three of the seven seats. Elections are by district. Steve Zimmer, who is generally considered to be more union-aligned but who does not follow a strict line one way or the other, is trying to keep his seat in District 4; board President Monica Garcia, the most closely allied with the mayor and the reform movement, also is up for reelection. Nury Martinez is leaving the board to pursue an opening on the Los Angeles City Council.

District 2: Monica Garcia

We'll be upfront about this: We consider Garcia a poor choice for the school board, and we always have. In her last reelection bid, we endorsed her only because there were no candidates running against her. Now, thorn in the side of UTLA that she is, she faces four opponents, three of them endorsed by the union. UTLA leadership is reportedly ready to go all out to unseat Garcia, and the moneyed sources that back school reform are waging a fierce battle to keep her. New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg alone donated $1 million to help Garcia and the other reform candidates.

To give her due credit, as board president Garcia has shortened the once unwieldy meetings, and she is known for the long hours and dedication she puts into her job. Her steady support for reform, though we sometimes disagree with her, is preferable to the knee-jerk positions of the union-allied board members who consistently block charter schools and fight any efforts to hold teachers accountable. But Garcia is a divisive and sometimes careless force on the board who lacks grace and thoughtfulness as its leader. Her positions seem less considered than reactive. Her concerns over whether schools are improving have not extended to underperforming charter schools, and her response when challenged on this is simply unacceptable: She says the district doesn't have enough money to oversee the charters properly and she doesn't want to do more to police them. Likewise, her retort about a serious conflict of interest involving former Supt. Ramon C. Cortines — "I don't know what is interesting here," she said in an interview with The Times' editorial board — reflects a dismissiveness and lack of basic understanding that is truly disturbing.

Yet we see no real alternative. The three UTLA-backed candidates spout typical anti-reform rhetoric and would set the district back years. We had hopes for Isabel Vazquez, a first-grade teacher in the district who is backed by neither UTLA nor big-money reformers. She espouses a more balanced and nuanced approach to improving schools and has a refreshing ground-level perspective on how reform plays out in the classroom. But Vazquez has made it clear that she would not vote to extend Deasy's contract once it expires. That's too great an obstacle to overlook. If it were clear that Deasy had enough support on the board to protect him, Vazquez's position might be a minor issue, but his situation is potentially precarious. The superintendent is far more important to the schools than the quality of any single board member.

District 4: Kate Anderson

Anderson, who has worked in politics more than in education, is clearly a reform-minded candidate. She opposes some teacher seniority rules and supports legislation making it easier to fire abusive teachers. But she also demonstrates the intellectual ability to form her own opinions and articulates strong and varied positions on education that don't always hew to the straight reform agenda. She is an attorney who works for Children Now, a nonprofit advocacy group on children's issues, including both health and education. She is the stronger of the two candidates in District 4, which includes the Westside and the west San Fernando Valley.

Her opponent, incumbent Steve Zimmer, has been a thoughtful board member with a yearning to bridge the gap between union and reform camps, but he has fallen short in the execution of his goals, with proposals that smacked of trying to please union bosses. Zimmer's proposal to tighten oversight of charter schools, for example — a reform that's badly needed — came with a poison-pill provision establishing a moratorium on all new charters until the district developed a new monitoring system. That wasn't just a destructive attack on charter schools; it was almost certainly illegal under state law. As a result, an important proposal went down in flames.

We have some concerns about Anderson as well. In her work with Children Now, she fought for legislation on teacher dismissals that she clearly didn't fully understand, and, in an interview with the editorial board, gave an inaccurate description of how it would work. She was quick to own up to the mistake, but it's disturbing that a lawyer would lobby for a bill without having vetted it thoroughly. If elected, she'll need to do better.

District 6: Monica Ratliff

Ratliff, a fifth-grade teacher at an inner-city L.A. Unified school that has steadily raised its standardized test scores, has the background, smarts and independence of mind to become a true leader in the district. A former lawyer for a public-interest legal organization, she switched to teaching 12 years ago. All but one of the students at her school, San Pedro Street Elementary, are impoverished and most are not fluent in English, according to the state's database, yet the school's most recent Academic Performance Index score was 814, above the state target of 800.

Obviously Ratliff knows how a successful public school operates, and she expresses a strong belief that schools cannot cite their students' disadvantaged backgrounds as an excuse for low achievement. She has practical suggestions for improving teacher training and evaluation, and she supports streamlining the procedure for firing perpetual underperformers, but in ways that are fair to teachers as well. She also calls for a longer time period before teachers gain tenure. Personable, articulate and sharp, she strikes us as a candidate who would think her positions through carefully and debate with an open mind. If only there were more candidates like her running for the school board.

All three candidates in this district, which includes the East San Fernando Valley, have UTLA's support. Ratliff's opponents, Antonio Sanchez and Maria Cano, are engaging enough but come off as lightweight, and they cannot match Ratliff's energy, thoughtfulness and thorough grasp of district issues. Cano has trouble even answering questions directly. Sanchez, who worked in Villaraigosa's office and then for the L.A. Federation of Labor, has the mayor's support, but he's far from ready for a seat on the school board. His understanding of district issues is shallow; he tends to provide answers that are politically expedient — trying to give both sides what they want, even when that's not possible — rather than making the tough decisions. He offers little in the way of new or workable ideas.


They say the times are changing
but I just don't know
These things are gone forever
over a long time ago.

- Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic


By John Fensterwald, EdSource Today |

February 16th, 2013 :: United Teachers Los Angeles accused Deasy of breaking a binding agreement by requiring that “data-driven” measures of student achievement be given a “weight limited to 30 percent” of a teacher’s final evaluation. Deasy referred to the figure in guidelines he issued to principals on how to conduct evaluations. In a statement, he said that classroom observations and other similar factors “will remain the primary and controlling factors.”

Deasy “is free to express his opinions, but any attempt to require principals to assign a specific weight to student test data in a teacher’s evaluation is a violation of the protections in an agreement between UTLA and the District,” UTLA responded in a statement.

The dispute came three days after LAUSD’s school board ratified the evaluation agreement that the district and UTLA reached in November. Under a court-ordered deadline, both sides agreed to include measures of student academic progress, including the use of state standardized test scores. UTLA members ratified the agreement last month.

That agreement did not mention specific percentages for the components of an evaluation. It said that scores on California Standards Tests and other non-state test measures, including district assessments and samples of students’ work, “are to be considered an important but clearly limited part of the overall performance evaluation process.” They are not to be considered the “sole, primary or controlling factors” in a final evaluation.

A maximum 30 percent weight for gauging student performance would appear a reasonable reading of the agreement, but UTLA argues that’s for principals, working with teachers, to determine on a site-by-site basis, not for Deasy to dictate. Deasy, in his memo, was asserting the authority to set a uniform standard for administrators.

Deasy had called for using a district-developed, value-added method of interpreting a teacher’s impact on students’ test scores, taking into account a student’s family income and ethnicity. It’s called Academic Growth over Time, and the UTLA succeeded in keeping it out of the agreement on individual teachers’ evaluations.

Some UTLA members wanted standardized tests scores excluded altogether, but the union had no choice. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled last fall that current state law on teacher evaluations, known as the Stull Act, requires that students’ state standardized test results be used in evaluating teachers. Judge James Chalfant left it to UTLA and the district to negotiate details.

What happens next may be determined in the school board elections on March 5, with candidates supporting Deasy and those backed by UTLA competing for three open seats. A handful of wealthy donors, led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $1 million contribution, have given more than $2.5 million to pro-Deasy candidates.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento-based non-profit that brought the suit dealing with the Stull Act issued a cautious statement on Deasy’s guidelines to principals. “The key question is whether or not the actual progress of pupils toward grade level expectations is included as part of the job performance evaluation. If indeed it is, it’s a historic day for LAUSD,” wrote Bill Lucia, CEO of EdVoice. EdVoice has reserved the right to return to court if the agreement falters.

Deasy said in his statement that all principals will be trained in using a multi-measure evaluation system by the start of 2013-14. “I look forward to working with the teachers’ union and principals in successfully implementing this system.”

►Superintendent Issues Doe V. Deasy Guidelines

February 15, 2013 LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent John Deasy today issued guidelines to all principals in the District to take steps to comply with the Doe v Deasy court ruling. Effective immediately, LAUSD administrators must explicitly include and consider data of pupil progress during the initial goal-setting phase with teachers and used when determining the overall performance in the final evaluation.

In the released guidance to principals, the assessment of student progress and other student data-driven results will carry a weight limited to 30% of the total evaluation determination. Observed classroom performance and other similar factors will remain the primary and controlling factors.

“These guidelines are a vital step in our continuing effort to provide students with the highest-performing teachers,” said Deasy. “I look forward to working with the teacher’s union and principals in successfully implementing this system.”

This directive is a result of the Supplement Agreement ratified by members of UTLA on January 19, 2013 and adopted by the LAUSD Board of Education on February 12, 2013. The Supplemental Agreement was reached in response to the Doe v. Deasy Court Order enforcing the requirements of the Stull Act, which compel the District to evaluate teacher performance as it reasonably relates to student growth and progress toward District standards and State standards for pupil achievement, as measured by State-adopted criterion-referenced student testing results under the California State Testing program (the “CSTs”).

The District has consistently maintained that measures of student achievement should not be used as the sole means of measuring quality or effectiveness of instruction.

By the start of the 2013/14 school year, all principals will be trained to implement a full multiple-measure system, which includes the pupil progress factor (or Contributions to Student Outcomes), comprised of both individual classroom level and school-wide assessment of pupil progress. Details about the other measures include in the full multiple-measure system will be released throughout the remainder of the school year, as discussions with the District’s labor partners progress, and as policy and implementation decisions are finalized.

“It is critical that we not only learn from the classrooms and schools where exceptional teaching and learning is taking place, but that we provide an organized opportunity for teachers to receive useful feedback about their practice and provide meaningful pathways.

UTLA issued the following statement on the teacher evaluation implementation process.
Feb 15, 2013- Superintendent John Deasy may not unilaterally impose percentages into the teacher evaluation process. He is free to express his opinions, but any attempt to require principals to assign a specific weight to student test data in a teacher’s evaluation is a violation of the protections in an agreement between UTLA and the District.

The Evaluation Procedures Supplement agreement reached in November complies with the Doe v Deasy court order, while not setting any percentages. Our members ratified that agreement in January and UTLA is adamant that the Superintendent live up to the terms and spirit of that agreement.

UTLA President Warren Fletcher said, “The Superintendent doesn’t get to sign binding agreements and then pretend they are not binding.” Deasy wanted 30% of a teacher’s evaluation to be based solely on student test scores. UTLA pushed back during negotiations and the Superintendent took that off the table. To see this percentage now being floated again is unacceptable.

We believe principals and teachers are in the best position to determine how student test data should be considered in each teacher’s individual evaluation process.

Our negotiating team bargained in good faith to bring back an agreement to our members that included multiple measures of student progress and did not include the use of individual AGT (Academic Growth Over Time) scores as part of a teacher’s final evaluation. The agreement has been seen as a model for other school districts in the nation. We do not wish to see the evaluation process set back by the Superintendent’s personal agenda.

►Additional coverage:

Deasy wants 30% of teacher evaluations based on test scores
Los Angeles Times |

LAUSD issues guidelines on teacher evaluations, sparking new controversy
89.3 KPCC (blog) |

LAUSD to count student test scores as 30 percent of teachers' evaluation
Contra Costa Times/LA Daily News‎ | ‎


Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Weekly Update | Week of February 18, 2013 |

14 February 2013 :: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $1 million to the Coalition for School Reform, which, according to its website, is “a group of parents, educators and business and nonprofit leaders dedicated to reforming and improving public schools in the LA Unified School District.”

The reality is that the Coalition is controlled by a few very wealthy donors who are campaigning for three specific candidates in the upcoming race for seats on the Board of Education: Mónica García, Kate Anderson and Antonio Sanchez.

Prior to the donation from Mayor Bloomberg, in a deal brokered by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Coalition’s largest donors were Eli Broad, philanthropist, and Jerry Perenchio, former head of Univision. Each of them contributed a mere $250,000.

A total of more than $2.5 million has been raised by a small cadre to influence the outcome of this Board race. The Los Angeles Times (February 13, 2013) said that the group “is seeking … to protect Superintendent John Deasy’s policies…” By

(1) ensuring the defeat of Steve Zimmer, whom AALA supports;
(2) eliminating the chance of a run-off between Ms. Garcia and AALA endorsees, Robert Skeels or Isabel Vázquez; and
(3) preventing the election of either Monica Ratliff or Maria Cano, both of whom AALA has endorsed, the Coalition will guarantee that Dr. Deasy receives little Board opposition to his initiatives.

According to the Los Angeles Ethics Office, additional donors to the Coalition for School Reform include:

• Jamie Alter Lynton, wife of the CEO of Sony Pictures, board member of L.A. Fund, $100,000
• Elizabeth Alter, $100,000
• Meg Chernin, CEO of L.A. Fund, wife of former president of News Corp. (owned by Rupert Murdoch), $100,000
• Andrew Hauptman, board member of L.A. Fund and BSN SPORTS, the largest manufacturer, marketer and distributor of sporting goods products directly to the institutional and team sports marketplace, $50,000
• John Kissick, board member of L.A.’s Promise (“manages” West Adams and Manual Arts high schools and John Muir MS), $50,000
• Emerson Education Fund, Walnut Creek, $100,000
• David Fisher, CEO of The Capital Group, $37,500; Marianna J. Fisher, $12,500
• Jane and Marc Nathanson, Chairman of Mapleton Investments, $100,000
• Frank Marshall, board member of L.A.’s Promise, Hollywood producer, husband of Kathleen Kennedy, $100,000
• Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, $50,000

According to KPCC, Southern California public radio station, Mrs. Chernin has solicited and received significant individual financial support for Mónica García from Hollywood players, such as Kathleen Kennedy, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Wes Craven, David Geffen and others. Joel Klein, former NYC Schools Chancellor and current head of Rupert Murdoch’s education division, Amplify, has donated to the Coalition. Murdoch also owns Wireless Generation, part of Amplify, a leading provider of innovative education software, data systems, and assessment tools. Maybe that is why Rupert Murdoch says, “Public education is a $500 billion market waiting desperately to be transformed.”

Why is the mayor of New York so interested in LAUSD? Why are other wealthy, politically connected entrepreneurs who have no children in the District trying to buy an election? How did Michael Bloomberg become, according to Mayor Villaraigosa, “the most important voice in education reform today”? How did these people, who have not been in a school, since college, get to be education reformers? The answers are complex and unsettling and speak to the increased privatization of public education.

In light of the relationships cited above, and being aware that Los Angeles is not the only city in which this is occurring, it is no surprise that many of these education reformers influence policies and regulations that have improved the bottom line of their corporate benefactors, bringing the culture and values of the corporate world into school districts across the nation. For example, mandated testing has become a major industry. A nonprofit resource center, In the Public Interest, recently released information showing how some school reformers in Texas had urged school districts to use a company in which some of the donors had large investments.

As a group, many of the so-called reformers advocate for charter schools, the takeover of low-performing schools and rating teachers and administrators based on test scores. They generally support efforts to reduce the influence of employee unions in elections. In New York, the mayor controls the schools and, fortunately, the L.A. mayor was unsuccessful in his attempt to do so during his first term. Is the Coalition for School Reform another route to the same goal?

The Los Angeles Times article had a particularly insightful quote from Dr. Diane Ravitch, noted researcher and professor at NYU, “The prospect that the mayor of New York City might use his vast wealth to choose the school board for the people of Los Angeles is repugnant and an affront to democracy.” We, at AALA, agree and find it disturbing and distasteful that the District is trying to be bought by a handful of people who are bent on permanently changing the face of public education to the detriment of the very children it serves.


••smf: We have followed the money. We have connected the dots. What does this all mean? And how to we use this information For "Good”?

• The Coalition for School Reform is a SuperPAC – as identified in the infamous Citizens United Decision.
• The Coalition for School Reform (technically the Coalition for School Reform to Support Garcia, Anderson and Sanchez for Board of Education 2013) – was the Coalition for School Reform to Support Sanchez 2011 in the last election (Different Sanchez). In 2011 they substantially outspent their opponent and the PAC’s that supported him in that race – and lost. Because it isn’t about the money – it’s about the message, the activism of the support, and the votes cast.

Karl Rove's infamous SuperPAC: American Crossroads raised and spent $105 million dollars in last November’s national election.
• No candidate they supported was elected. Success rate 0%.
• Only 1,29% of the candidates they opposed were defeated, Success rate (in the negative) 1.29%,
• Moral of the Story: If you have Hope – and you have the truth on your side, there is Hope. Because in a democracy the majority, not the money, rules.

THE STATE OF THE UNION: Early Childhood Ed, Career+Technical Education and STEM, Higher Ed, Gun Violence and Citizenship
Excerpts from Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address by President Obama | 2013 State of the Union Address: An annotated transcript |

Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12, 2013


Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives.

Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own. So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.


Let’s also make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job. Right now, countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges, so that they’re ready for a job. At schools like P-Tech in Brooklyn, a collaboration between New York Public Schools, the City University of New York, and IBM, students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering.

We need to give every American student opportunities like this. Four years ago, we started Race to the Top – a competition that convinced almost every state to develop smarter curricula and higher standards, for about 1 percent of what we spend on education each year. Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math – the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future.


Now, even with better high schools, most young people will need some higher education. It’s a simple fact: the more education you have, the more likely you are to have a job and work your way into the middle class. But today, skyrocketing costs price way too many young people out of a higher education, or saddle them with unsustainable debt.

Through tax credits, grants, and better loans, we have made college more affordable for millions of students and families over the last few years. But taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the soaring cost of higher education. Colleges must do their part to keep costs down, and it’s our job to make sure they do. Tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid. And tomorrow, my Administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.

To grow our middle class, our citizens must have access to the education and training that today’s jobs require. But we also have to make sure that America remains a place where everyone who’s willing to work hard has the chance to get ahead.

Of course, what I’ve said tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource – our children.


It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment – have come together around commonsense reform – like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.

Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.

One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.

Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.

Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.

The families of Newtown deserve a vote.

The families of Aurora deserve a vote.

The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.

Our actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country. Indeed, no laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all the challenges I’ve outlined tonight. But we were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent here to make what difference we can, to secure this nation, expand opportunity, and uphold our ideals through the hard, often frustrating, but absolutely necessary work of self-government.

We were sent here to look out for our fellow Americans the same way they look out for one another, every single day, usually without fanfare, all across this country.


We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title:

We are citizens.

It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

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

Thirteen recent child deaths might not have happened if Department of Children and Family Services social workers had taken basic steps to assess the risks, an investigation finds.

By Jason Song and Garrett Therolf, Los Angeles Times |


By Karen Kaplan, L.A. Times |



    CALIFORNIA DROPS OUT OF ELL ASSESSMENT CONSORTIUM: By Lesli A. Maxwell - Learning the Language - Education Week ...

    HARASSMENT SUIT AGAINST EX-LAUSD HEAD DISMISSED: The Associated Press | Times-Standard Online ...

    API REWRITE GETTING FAST TRACKED, GRAD RATES COME FIRST: By Kimberly Beltran SI&A Cabinet Report – News & Resour...


    HOLDING STATES AND SCHOOLS ACCOUNTABLE: Debate Over Federal Role in Public School Policy: News Analysis By MOTOK...


    LA Times: “We'll be upfront about this: We consider Garcia a poor choice for the school board…” but we’re endor...


    The Spin, The Spin!: LAUSD, DEASY FIND SOLUTION TO SAVE 200+ JOBS + smf’s 2¢:  http://bit....

    IS OKLAHOMA THE RIGHT MODEL FROR UNIVERSAL PRE-K?: Posted by Suzy Khimm , Washington Post WonkBlog  | http://wap...


    #MikeBloomberg trying to buy the #LAUSD Board of Ed election: "If parents don't like the way I run the schools they can boo me in parades!"

    UTLA TO EXPAND TEACHER TRAINING CAMP FOR MANAGING SCHOOLS: ●●smf: Who will train parents in the shared-managemen...



    @MikeBloomberg: The 2013 State of the City address will be at noon Thurs 2/14 at the @barclayscenter. Q:How well is that LAUSD buyout going?

    "It's not fair, ' K?" - Video: Kindergartener asks board not to close his school  [See  ]

    POTUS: "Every $1 we invest in ECE can save more than $7 later on by boosting grad rates/reducing teen pregnancy/even reducing violent crime"

    THE STATE OF THE UNION: Early Childhood Ed, Career+Technical Education and STEM, Higher Ed, Gun Violence and Cit...

    The schools of L.A. for sale to the highest bidder?: N.Y. MAYOR GIVES $1 MILLION TO BACK L.A. SCHOOL BOARD SLATE...

    Ravitch: The prospect that the NYC mayor might use his vast wealth to choose the school board for LA is repugnant & an affront to democracy.

    Tamar Galatzan: L.A. SCHOOLS NEED TECHNOLOGY, BUT HOW SHOULD WE PAY FOR IT? + smf’s 2¢: Op-Ed By Tamar Galatzan ...

    PARENT TRIGGER PETITION PASSES LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD: By Beau Yarbrough - San Bernardino County Sun | http://...

    Mayor Mike picks up where Mayor Tony leaves off(ice): NEW YORK CITY MAYOR BLOOMBERG POURS $1 MILLION INTO LAUSD ...

    On a wing and a prayer: $100K GIFT KEEPS LAUSD AVIATION MECHANICS SCHOOL IN VAN NUYS ALOFT:   L.A. Unified avia...

    Deasy+Monica Blink/Nuri absent: LAUSD Supe & Board of Ed has pulled the 208 proposed RIFs. School psychs, social workers, librarians saved!

    LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD TO CONSIDER LAYING OFF NEARLY 200: smf: When I do the math 208 is more than 200! Vanessa Rom...

    School Board on School Mental Health: “DON’T BELIEVE WHAT WE DO …BELIEVE WHAT WE BELIEVE!”: “Everybody has to be...

    SCHOOL BOARD EXPECTED TO VOTE TOMORROW TO CUT MORE THAN 200 POSITIONS: psychiatric social workers, school psycho...

    BAD NEWS FROM SACRAMENTO: By dianerav @ the Diane Ravitch blog |  February 10, 2013  ::  A ...

    OUTSIDE GROUPS TRYING TO INFLUENCE L.A. SCHOOL BOARD RACES. Eli Broad’s in for a quarter-of-a-million + smf’s 2¢...

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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