Sunday, March 31, 2013

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 31•Mar•2013 Eastover/Cesar Chavez B'day
In This Issue:
 •  LONG BEACH MIDDLE SCHOOLS TO START DAY AN HOUR LATER + smf’s 2¢ + Scholarly research!
 •  Elementary principal to take district helm: NEW SAN DIEGO SUPERINTENDENT HAS DEEP PARENT TIES
 •  2 ON ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS: Dropouts + Parents Language and Dropouts
 •  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?
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 •  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.
Free associating on Google and Wikipedia…

It is the confluence of Easter and Passover and Cesar Chavez’ Birthday. The Torah moves from Genesis to Exodus. The Old Testament moves into the New. A common man becomes an uncommon one and leads his people to a better life and we all follow.

● Long ago at this season, our people set out on a journey.
On such a night as this, Israel went from degradation to joy.
We give thanks for the liberation of days gone by.
And we pray for all who are still bound.
Eternal God, may all who hunger come to rejoice in a new Passover.
Let all the human family sit at Your table, drink the wine of deliverance, eat the bread of freedom:
- The Velveteen Rabbi

Dostoevsky darkly says there were miracles in those days:

● “Oh, with greater faith, for it is fifteen centuries since man has ceased to see signs from heaven.

“No signs from heaven come to-day
To add to what the heart doth say.

“There was nothing left but faith in what the heart doth say. It is true there were many miracles in those days. There were saints who performed miraculous cures; some holy people, according to their biographies, were visited by the Queen of Heaven herself. But the devil did not slumber, and doubts were already arising among men of the truth of these miracles.”

When we don’t find miracles in these days we need only look for them. I was at a Seder this past week – all very secular-and-progressive-to-the-point-of-irreverence with a Judy Chicago Haggadah – but sadly missing the requisite, curious (and usually bored+starved) stars of the Passover Play: the questioning children. “Why, on this night…?”

Thankfully a troublemaker brought a substitute Haggadah with commentary by Lemony Snickett. (one needs only Google this version [New American Haggadah | #1 bestseller on Amazon] to see that the irreverence has transgressed into sacrilege if not heresy in the limited imaginations of those who prefer to limit imagination in their orthodoxy.)

The following is not from that Haggadah, but it works in this context:

● “Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree on what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear. Some people say that a sunrise is a miracle, because it is somewhat mysterious and often very beautiful, but other people say it is simply a fact of life, because it happens every day and far too early in the morning. Some people say that a telephone is a miracle, because it sometimes seems wondrous that you can talk with somebody who is thousands of miles away, and other people say it is merely a manufactured device fashioned out of metal parts, electronic circuitry, and wires that are very easily cut. And some people say that sneaking out of a hotel is a miracle, particularly if the lobby is swarming with policemen, and other people say it is simply a fact of life, because it happens every day and far too early in the morning. So you might think that there are so many miracles in the world that you can scarcely count them, or that there are so few that they are scarcely worth mentioning, depending on whether you spend your mornings gazing at a beautiful sunset or lowering yourself into a back alley with a rope made of matching towels.” ― Lemony Snicket

● “Humans! They lived in the world where the grass continued to be green and the sun rose every day and flowers regularly turned into fruit, and what impressed them? Weeping statues. And wine made out of water! A mere quantum-mechanistic tunnel effect, that'd happen anyway if you were prepared to wait zillions of years. As if the turning of sunlight into wine, by means of vines and grapes and time and enzymes, wasn't a thousand times more impressive and happened all the time...” ― Sir Terry Pratchett in Small Gods

● “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein

● “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” ― C.S. Lewis

● “We are not in the age of miracles, and yet it is surprising that we can attract, and keep, and increase the type of support that is needed to keep our economic struggle going for 33 months. It is a struggle in which the poorest of the poor and weakest of the weak are pitted against the strongest of the strong.

“Action is necessary. If you don't do anything, you are permitting the evil.

“I would suggest that labor take a page in the largest newspaper and make the issue clear to all, and I would suggest that the clergy also take a page. The message of the clergy should be different, bringing out the morality of our struggle, the struggle of good people who are migrants, and therefore the poorest of the poor and the weakest of the weak.”

– Cesar Chavez - from speech at an interfaith luncheon of clergy and labor in Manhattan during the Grape Boycott in June 1968

...And so the journey continues hopefully:
¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

By Stephen Ceasar, L.A, Times |

March 25, 2013, 7:43 pm :: The Long Beach school board voted Monday to push start times at the district’s five middle schools from 8 to 9 a.m. -- a cost-cutting move officials believe will also boost student success.

The board unanimously approved the plan, spearheaded by Supt. Christopher Steinhauser. Beginning in the fall, students at all of the district's middle schools will start class at 9 a.m. and get out at 3:40 p.m.

The change will save the district about $1 million in transportation costs, Steinhauser said. The savings will be realized by making the bus schedule more efficient by staggering pick-up and drop-off times.

Under a similar proposal, which was not passed by the board, the district's high schools also would have begun the day an hour later. But the board approved creating a pilot program at McBride High School, a new school opening in the fall, which will start the day at 8:50 a.m. and let out at 3:40 p.m.

Currently, district high schools begin the day at 7:50 a.m. and get out at 2:40 p.m.

Some teachers and parents bristled at the idea of changing the start times at all the high schools. Opponents expressed concerns that delaying the start time by an hour would create problems for parents who drop off their kids on the way to work and would disrupt extracurricular activities and sports schedules. A later dismissal time could also create safety concerns, with students leaving for home later.

In a letter, the local teachers union asked that the district delay such a plan in order to gather more information about the effects it would have on individual schools. A change could force additional work on teachers by disrupting their schedules and preparation time.

Steinhauser likened the uneasiness to similar opposition when a proposal to require school uniforms came up. Instead of implementing the uniforms all at once, they began with pilot program before eventually rolling out the policy districtwide.

“The change process is always a difficult one,” he said. “Not all the schools were excited about uniforms, but now that’s a very normal thing in Long Beach.”

Under the plan approved Monday, a committee will research the pros and cons of a later start time for high school students and report to the board no later than September 2014.

Much of the research for the proposal found that an extra hour of sleep for teenagers provided positive changes academically. Steinhauser said that more than 80 school districts nationwide have made similar changes and have reported seeing students do better in class and experience fewer discipline issues.

That potential for an extra hour of sleep, if students actually take advantage of it, could help them, Steinhauser said.

“If they do so, they’ll do better in school,” he said.

2cents smf: Starting school a hour later in secondary is one of those things on the smf/4LAKids wish-list agenda – along with Full Day K, Quality Preschool, Schools as Centers of their Community, Nurses in Nurses Offices, Librarians in Libraries, Educators in Education, Arts and Music Education; Altruistic rather than Self-Serving Philanthropy, All Parents Empowered to Vote in School Board Elections, Field Trips and Recess.

You know: Magical realism, delivered daily in every classroom.

4LAKids has followed with interest the trials and tribulations of fellow parent troublemaker/fighters-of-the-good-fight SLEEP IN FAIRFAX [Start Later for Educational Excellence Proposal] – which has contested the late school start fight against the entrenched bureaucracy and conventional thinkers in Fairfax County VA. The problem with School ®eform Inc is that it is not reform at all – it is a redesign of the Twentieth Century Factory Model to reproduce/reengineered conventional thinkers for the 21st century …when it’s critical thinkers we need.

Critical thinkers know the important questions are never on the test.

Don’t screw this up Long Beach USD – The Whole World is Watching!

Experts: LATER SCHOOL START HELPS SLEEP-DEPRIVED TEENS - Symposium looks at research, solutions by Gina Cairney, Ed Week

Elementary principal to take district helm: NEW SAN DIEGO SUPERINTENDENT HAS DEEP PARENT TIES
by Michele Molnar, Education Week |

March 27, 2013 :: Call it "parental prescience."

Two years ago, a parent leader in San Diego introduced Cindy Marten, the principal of Central Elementary School in City Heights, this way: "Meet the next superintendent of San Diego Unified."

It seemed a more-than-generous welcome, considering that about 850 students attend Central, and 133,000 are enrolled in the district, California's second-largest. The elevation of an elementary educator directly to such a level—the superintendency in the 19th largest school district nationwide—would be highly unusual, if not unprecedented, in the nation.

– Cynthia Martens, San Diego Unified Superintendent-Designee

Little did Amy Redding, a parent leader attending that Title I Tiger Team meeting, know just how accurate that prediction would be. In early 2013, she would organize a press conference announcing a partnership between a dozen parent groups and Ms. Marten after the principal was appointed by the school board to that very role. The purpose of the partnership is to advance "academic success and educational enrichment for the children of San Diego Unified," Ms. Redding said at a March 5 news conference.

Ms. Redding, now the chairwoman of the district advisory committee for Title I, expressed unequivocal approval of Ms. Marten's selection, saying, "I have seen her complete devotion to doing what is in the best interests of the children."

However, in a phone interview, Ms. Redding echoed the surprise felt by many in San Diego at the school board's method of making the decision: The new appointment came within 24 hours of current Superintendent Bill Kowba's retirement announcement. Ms. Marten will begin her new position July 1.

"Since the board had talked about parent involvement, then chose the superintendent behind closed doors, we thought it would make it very difficult for her," Ms. Redding said. Publicly forging a relationship with 12 parent groups was intended to be "like the first day of school, starting with a clean slate," she said.
Known Quantity

For her part, Ms. Marten has attended parent and community meetings beyond the confines of Central Elementary for years. Parent leaders already know her. And now, so does most of San Diego. Last fall, she starred in the only district-produced commercial urging voters there to support Proposition Z, a $2.8 billion school bond measure on the San Diego school district ballot to make capital improvements like roof repairs and upgrades to fire-safety systems. The electorate approved the measure on Nov. 6 with 61.8 percent of the vote.

The incoming superintendent stresses her commitment to student achievement regardless of the vicissitudes of budget, outside support, or internal strife.

"The district's mission is a quality school in every neighborhood; I believe that what we need is right in our backyard," she said in a recent phone interview, likening her challenges to the "Wizard of Oz" wonderment of finding all the answers at home.

Known widely, but informally, as a "turnaround principal"—Central Elementary is not officially designated as a failing school in need of formal turnaround—Ms. Marten objects to the potential misinterpretation of that moniker. She rejects the idea that she possesses any "superhero" leadership qualities and questions the wider meaning of transforming educational institutions.

"That 'turnaround' term has national implications for corporate America coming in and turning around a school. Outsiders. I don't believe in a paradigm that somebody outside is going to save you. I don't think we even need to be saved," she said. "The solutions are local: parents, uncles, grandparents, philanthropies, agencies. Whatever is in your own backyard, … not some flashy new program."

Ms. Marten believes that, in relying on local resources for her brand of school reform at Central, she has been creating change that is more likely to last and earn the confidence of the community.

"With every decision I've made, [I ask], 'Is this going to be sustainable if the money comes or the money goes? Is it scalable?' " she said.
Scaling Up

For the benefit of San Diego Unified, Ms. Marten's work will need to scale up her approach in a district that runs 118 elementary schools, 24 middle schools, 26 high schools, 44 charter schools, and a number of specialized schools on a $1 billion annual operating budget.

"The biggest challenge is her transition from being a principal to having more responsibility for a district the size of San Diego. But I wouldn't consider that an insurmountable challenge. She's obviously a quick learner," said Dan A. Domenech, the executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, in Alexandria, Va. He said he is unaware of any elementary school principal being named directly to such a position in a district with more than 2,000 students.

Another observer who can appreciate Ms. Marten's challenge is Deborah Jewell-Sherman, now director of the Urban Superintendents Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A former elementary school principal herself, she was the superintendent of schools in Richmond, Va., for six years—but only after studying at Harvard and taking other leadership roles in the district.

"This is a [superintendency] we'll probably be watching throughout the nation," she said. "Part of me is tickled to death. If people who have no concept of teaching and learning can step into the role, she's going to be able to show all of us just what an elementary school principal can do."

Ms. Jewell-Sherman summarizes the road ahead: "Now she will have to do systemically what she was able to do in her elementary school, while taking on fiscal challenges, political challenges, [and] governance concerns."

But Ms. Jewell-Sherman also cautions, "The learning curve is going to be rather steep. My hope is that she will surround herself not only with people who are embracing her ... but also people from a local university or the corporate sector who can help her think about this as a system, as opposed to a school."

Carl Cohn, who served as San Diego's superintendent from 2005 to 2007 and is now director of the Urban Leadership Program in the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., sees a strong signal from the local school board.

"By this selection, it seems to me that [the school board's] theory of action for change is that it will be school-based, decentralized, collaborative—the opposite of the 'top down' corporate reform model that so many other places are articulating," he said. The choice "grows out of their listening to the stakeholders in that community.

"The San Diego board of education, which appointed Ms. Marten unanimously, gave her a major vote of confidence by granting her the maximum allowable contract—four years—with a starting salary of $255,000, which is $5,000 more than Mr. Kowba's earnings in the position. Ms. Marten has committed to donate that additional $5,000 to a student who is planning a career in education.
Staying Accessible

Barbara Flannery, the president of the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs, which guides and supports 80 PTA units in San Diego, says she thought the board's decision on Ms. Marten was "surprising in its speed," but she does not dispute the wisdom of the move. The current superintendent is "very engaging and he's always been there supporting our PTA effort," she said. She will be looking for Ms. Marten to be similarly accessible.

"In fact, Cindy Marten is coming to our next general meeting, so she's definitely out there, meeting the community," she said.

Ms. Marten said she is eager to tap any parent resource—whether part of an organized group, or not—to accomplish her goals. She especially appreciates Ms. Redding's efforts to get organized parent groups prepared to work with her.

"Amy ignited a parent group that's right there, at the ready," Ms. Marten said. "The parents are the heart of the community," she said. "We do the work together."

2 ON ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS: Dropouts + Parents Language and Dropouts

By Lesli A. Maxwell, EdWeek Report Roundup |

March 26, 2013 :: English-language learners are twice as likely to drop out of school as their peers who are either native English speakers or former ELLs who have become fluent in the language, concludes a report by the California Dropout Research Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Synthesizing much of the research over the past three decades on the reasons behind the low academic achievement and high dropout rates of English-learners, author Rebecca M. Callahan, an education professor at the University of Texas at Austin, finds that many English-learners are still isolated in English-as-a-second-language programs that focus little, if at all, on academic content. That's the case even though most states and districts will not reclassify a student as fluent in English until he or she has demonstrated proficiency in both language and academic content.
English Learner Dropout Dilemma: Multiple Risks and Multiple Resources

Download: Full Report (60 pgs.) or Policy Brief (4 pgs.) from

Reference: Callahan, Rebecca M. (2013). The English Learner Dropout Dilemma: Multiple Risks and Multiple Resources.

ABSTRACT: In the 2008-09 school year, nearly 11 percent of U.S. students in grades K-12 were classified as English learners (EL), and many more were former EL students, no longer identified by their 'limited' English proficiency. This report examines the extent, consequences, causes, and solutions to the dropout crisis among EL students and the extent to which these issues are similar or different among dropouts relative to the general population. Research repeatedly shows that EL students are about twice as likely to drop out as native and fluent English speakers. The social, economic and health consequences of dropping out that threaten the general population likely influence EL students as well. While many of the same factors that produce dropouts in the general population apply to EL students, others are unique: tracking as a result of EL status, access to certified teachers, and a high stakes accountability system. In terms of solutions to the EL dropout dilemma, three main reforms rise to the top of importance: Academic exposure, use of the primary language, and a shift from a deficit to an additive perspective.

By Alyssa Morones, EdWeek Report Roundup |

March 26, 2013 :: A recent brief from the National Education Policy Center outlines ways for policymakers, districts, and schools to improve educational opportunities for English-language learners. Those students tend to be concentrated in schools serving low-income populations and lacking adequate instruction or materials—a problem that is exacerbated by communication and cultural barriers between schools and parents, it says.

School-based efforts to strengthen parental involvement could help increase parental efficacy and advocacy, says the brief, written by William Mathis of the NEPC. Improved communication, collaboration with families, and an embrace of community culture, it says, could help alleviate educational challenges for ELLs. Providing parents with avenues to learn English would also help promote ELL parent involvement and encourage parents to read and write with their children at home.

For policymakers, adequacy studies and identified financial inequities in serving ELL students, once reviewed and updated, should be utilized for improved legislation and budget allocations, the brief recommends.

English Language Learners and Parental Involvement


By Mark Slavkin / commentary in EdSource Today |

March 26th, 2013 :: A well-rounded education that includes the arts is essential to prepare California students for college and careers. A year of fine arts is required for admission to the CSU or UC campuses. Further, the skills students gain in the arts – imagination, creativity and innovation – are essential for success in the California economy, no matter the industry or sector.

While the California Education Code has long established the place of the arts in the required course of study, actual implementation in California classrooms varies widely. Recognizing these disparities and understanding the need for additional resources, the Legislature in 2006 established the Art and Music Block Grant, a $105 million line item in the California Department of Education budget that provides every school district an allocation based on their total enrollment.

Just as districts began to gain traction in expanding arts programs, the state economic crisis threatened all school funding. In light of state budget cuts, the Legislature granted districts special flexibility, allowing many categorical funding sources to be used to sustain basic operations.

As the state emerges from the economic crisis and school funding begins to improve, it is time to turn back to the question the Legislature addressed in 2006: How can we best ensure all California students have equitable access to quality arts education?

The governor’s proposed 2013-14 budget would eliminate almost all categorical programs in the name of local control and flexibility. We have strong concerns about whether all kids will have equitable access to the arts under this new funding model. Historically, students in high-performing schools in more affluent communities have had the greatest access to the arts. Sadly, those students in underserved communities who might benefit the most from a more engaging and well-rounded curriculum receive the least. We urge the Legislature to give careful thought to this issue and consider the options below to address it.

Establish “innovation matching grants” to encourage districts to invest in the arts. Perhaps half of the existing Art and Music Block grant could be set aside for competitive matching grants for districts that increase student access.
Require districts to publish an annual “arts education report card” documenting the current status of arts education in their schools. This could empower parents and other concerned citizens to understand current gaps and advocate with their school board to make arts learning a greater priority.
Require districts to include their plan for arts education in the overall “academic achievement plan” called for in the governor’s budget proposal.
Require that student learning in the arts be included in the expanded Academic Performance Index now being developed by the State Board of Education.

We look forward to working with the governor and Legislature to ensure all students gain equitable access to arts education.


Mark Slavkin chairs the board for the California Alliance for Arts Education, a statewide coalition working to strengthen arts education in K-12 schools. A former member of the Los Angeles City Board of Education, Slavkin directs education programs for The Music Center in Los Angeles.

●●smf: Most excellent! Except that “perhaps half of the existing Art and Music Block grant could be set aside for competitive matching grants for districts that increase student access” rewards school districts for doing the right thing …and penalizes students who attend districts that don’t!

Competitive grants don’t create equity, they guarantee otherwise.

¿How about just insisting that the California Arts Education Standards be taught and providing enough money so that they will be?

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
Opinion: HOW I BEAT THE POWERBROKERS IN A SCHOOL BOARD RACE: By Bennett Kayser, Op-Ed in the LA Daily News |




Michelle Rhee: TAKING A CRACK AT CALIFORNIA’S EDUCATION SYSTEM + smf’s 2¢: Michelle Rhee came to prominence as...

2 ON ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS: Dropouts + Parents: Language and Dropouts "The English-Learner Dropou...

Experts: LATER SCHOOL START HELPS SLEEP-DEPRIVED TEENS: Symposium looks at research, solutions by Gina Cairn...

Elementary principal to take district helm: NEW SAN DIEGO SUPERINTENDENT HAS DEEP PARENT TIES: By Michele Moln...

LAUSD SALVAGES SUMMER SCHOOL, BUT CLASSES WILL BE LIMITED: ●●smf’s 2¢: …maybe that should be LAUSD Savages Sum...

TO OCCUPY… OR BE OCCUPIED…: by smf for 4LAKidsNews: When the following email with the title above popped up i...


What they talk about in D.C. during Spring Break: THE “EDUCATION INDUSTRY” EVALUATES TEACHERS + PLUS SCHOOL DI...

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Thursday Apr 04, 2013
Washington Preparatory High School Wellness Center: Grand Opening and Ribbon-Cutting
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Washington Prep Wellness Center
1555 West 110th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90047
• Parents of children with IEPs and all other members of the LAUSD community are invited to provide comments to Mr. Frederick Weintraub, the court appointed Independent Monitor, during two hearings scheduled for Thursday, April 11, 2013 (9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.). The hearings will be held at LAUSD Board Room located at 333 S. Beaudry Avenue.

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-241.8700

Parents of children with IEPs and all other members of the LAUSD community are invited to prov LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION & COMMITTEES MEETING CALENDAR

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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