Sunday, June 30, 2013

We the People, in consensus assembled

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids:Sunday 30•Jun•2013 Mayor Tony's last day
In This Issue:
 •  ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA LEAVES HIS MARK ON L.A. SCHOOLS. Really…? The article, the interview transcript & the unanswered questions.
 •  UTLA President’s perspective: NEW FUNDING BRINGS NEW OPPORTUNITIES + smf’s 2¢
 •  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:
 •  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.
Rachel Maddow, all eyebrows, bone structure and attitude was beyond bemused on Thursday evening. (’Bemused’ is her stock-in-trade) The CNBC anchor – who covers and uncovers hubris - loved but was exhausted-by the previous 24 hours plus:

THE HOPELESSLY CONSERVATIVE SUPREME COURT MAJORITY had stuck down (and struck out on) the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and found it unconstitutional on the silliest and most gutless of technical adminsitrivial premises (the formula is outdated) -- and by the narrowest of margins: 5-4.

[Earlier in the week SCOTUS compromised with itself+justice on affirmative action - UCLA IDEA: Justices Bury their Heads on Diversity |]

One must remember: In a 5-4 ruling, every vote is a swing vote.

THEN THE TEXAS STATE LEGISLATURE (The late Molly Ivens benighted “Lege”) – in which Gov. Rick Perry stands like an intellectual colossus – got themselves outmaneuvered, outflanked and undone by a mere woman senator who filibustered like Jimmy Stewart for eleven-plus hours (keeping Rachael and the rest of us up past our bedtimes) …and then a bunch of Lib-Dem /Baby Blue/Good-Ol’-Girls out good-ol’-boy-ed the Red blooded/Red State/Real-Deal/Good Ol’ Boy Texas State Senate right there on live TV. They were coverin’ these shenanigans on th’ BBC!

Boy Howdy …even cheatin’ didn’t work!

AND THEN - THE NEXT MORNING THE SAME SUPREMES who tossed out the Voting Rights Act tossed out the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Prop 8 ban on same sex marriage. On the Thursday before LGBT Pride weekend.

Mr. Justice Scalia, predictably and quotably fumed about the invalidation of DOMA: ““That is jaw-dropping. It is an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive,” he wrote, adding that the framers of the Constitution created a judicial branch with limited power in order to “guard their right to self-rule against the black-robed supremacy that today’s majority finds so attractive.”

Yet Justice Scalia had not problem a day earlier in the “black-robed supremacy” of that day’s majority – (with whom he concurred) in “assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive” in overturning the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Double standard. Bipartisan. Bipolar. What’s the diff?

ALSO THURSDAY THE US SENATE PASSED THE IMMIGRATION BILL – and House Speaker Boehner promptly announced the Senate Bill was dead in the House. Some house member even questioned the lack of a border fence between the US and Canada.

Rachael asked only that Friday not be so exciting and jam packed a news day. And for the most part she got her wish.

●OH SURE – ON THURSDAY EVENING SOME UNDISCLOSED SOURCE tossed Richard Vladovic’s campaign for school board president under the bus by disclosing that the District is secretly investigating allegations of employee abase against him dating back as far as twelve years. One wonders whether the leak came from the Bolivian embassy in London, the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow –or a corner of the 24th floor at 333 S. Beaudry. My guess is the third floor at City Hall – but it’s not a guess I’d back up with any betting money!
•If gambling/risk management is your forte it turns out that LAUSD can’t get insurance against claims of child molestation by employees anymore …and that the deductible on the insurance they can get is up at $10 million.
●And the 9th District Court of Appeals vacated their injunction against same sex marriage in California 24 days earlier than expected. On the eve of LGBT Pride Weekend.

I’m sure Mr. Justice Scalia is still fuming as the ride vehicle returns to the station after our exciting adventure.“Welcome to Hades International Airport, it is OK to use your cell phone – but please leave your seatbelt fastened until the hand basket arrives at the gate.”

I think the Mayan calendar has finally ended. Time to get a new one at Staples - show 'em your PTA card for a discount. Don't have a PTA card? See me.

On Monday we will have a new mayor, city attorney and controller; and 5½ new city council people. On Tuesday the paradigm shifts in the LAUSD boardroom .Hopefully that shifty pair of dimes is worth more than ten times my two cents worth.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA LEAVES HIS MARK ON L.A. SCHOOLS. Really…? The article, the interview transcript & the unanswered questions.


June 27, 2013, 7:40 p.m. :: In the middle of Watts, at one of the worst-performing high schools in Los Angeles Unified, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was in his element.

As he sat with Jordan High students late last year, he shared snippets of his life story, as he's done during scores of school visits during his eight years as mayor. He was raised without a father, was kicked out of one school and dropped out of another before graduating from Roosevelt High with a 1.4 GPA — because his mother and a teacher believed in him, he told students.

"Do you believe in you?" he asked them. "I believe in you. I believe you can reach for the stars."

No other issue has stoked the mayor's personal passion as much as public education. Despite lacking any formal authority over the nation's second-largest school system, Villaraigosa has left a major imprint.

Soon after taking office in 2005, he tried to take control of L.A. Unified. When that ambitious effort failed, the school board allowed a nonprofit foundation he created to manage more than a dozen low-performing schools. He raised millions of dollars and vowed to turn the schools into incubators of reform.

His nationwide fundraising also helped elect a loyal school board majority that installed superintendents he favored. Through them, he has pushed for a brand of reform that includes tying teacher evaluations to test scores and providing more choices for parents, such as charter schools.

Along the way, the onetime teachers union organizer has confronted his former allies by challenging seniority-based layoffs and advocating a higher bar for tenure. He blasted the United Teachers Los Angeles union as "the one unwavering roadblock" to improving public education.

As he leaves office, Villaraigosa points to successes: an increase in the graduation rate to 66%. A doubling in high-performing schools, as measured by the state's Academic Performance Index, which is based on standardized test scores. An explosion in publicly financed, independent charter schools.

A Times analysis found a mixed record at the schools his nonprofit controls. Overall, the mayor's schools have performed comparably to district schools with similar demographics. Some of his schools, notably 99th Street Elementary, have seen significant improvements. But others, such as Gompers Middle School and Roosevelt High, have seen comparatively modest gains.

Villaraigosa sometimes exaggerates his effect: He has taken credit for the district's massive school-construction program, although it was firmly established by the time he took office. Overall, L.A. Unified has improved slightly faster than the state, but test scores remain below the state average. And the district's upward trend began before Villaraigosa became mayor.


L.A. Unified schools controlled by the mayor showed a range of results in the percentage of students scoring proficient or above in English and math in 2012.

"The biggest impact Villaraigosa has had is simply changing the conversation," said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. "The fact that there is a debate in Los Angeles about charters and choice, about teacher support and evaluation, is due to the mayor's use of the bully pulpit."

Villaraigosa followed in the path of former Mayor Richard Riordan, who helped elect a school board that replaced a superintendent, launched the nation's largest school construction program and returned phonics to classrooms.

Recent academic gains came despite a punishing economic recession.

School board President Monica Garcia, a close ally, praised the mayor for "having the guts to do what's really hard … fighting for better in a very difficult time."

The mayor's combative style, however, has alienated key players, starting with teachers, said school board member Steve Zimmer, who beat back a Villaraigosa attempt to unseat him.

"I don't think that he's wrong in insisting that every child has a right to an excellent teacher every day," Zimmer said. "The difference is really in the pathway. Not enough care was taken to make sure that teachers felt supported."

Villaraigosa's odyssey into education began haltingly and only at the instigation of others. His pledge to take over L.A. Unified in his second bid for mayor was among a series of one-upmanship moves with incumbent James Hahn over education.

The state takeover law was challenged by the school board and ruled unconstitutional by an L.A. County Superior Court judge in 2006.

By that time, however, the mayor's Plan B was already in progress. He set out to seize de facto authority by helping elect a school board majority in 2007.

The new board quickly agreed to hand over Locke High to a charter school operator, Green Dot Public Schools — the first time L.A. Unified had made such a move. The board also approved scores of start-up petitions and renewed nearly all charters that came before it, giving the district 201 independently operated charters, the most of any school system.

The mayor's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools took control of 15 of the district's lowest-performing campuses. Villaraigosa helped raise $72 million for the effort.

Without his commitment, philanthropist Melanie Lundquist said, her family would not have pledged $50 million over 10 years, resources that benefit some of the city's neediest students through teacher training, computers and more.

As part of the effort to recruit strong leaders, for example, Villaraigosa personally called then-Monrovia principal Traci Gholar, an administrator his team wanted on board. Gholar said Villaraigosa's support for schools was "pretty significant" in her decision to take a job at one of his schools.

But some critics, including former state Sen. Gloria Romero, said Villaraigosa should have focused more attention on helping all district schools.

"It became a conversation about his schools versus the rest," she said.

Some partnership initiatives have spread to the district at large, such as a new school report card, wider testing to identify more minority students as academically gifted and a parent training program.

Elise Buik, president of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said the mayor's leadership deepened the nonprofit's own education involvement. In the last five years, United Way has donated about
$8 million for after-school programs and training for parents and middle school principals — one of many community organizations now allied with the mayor.

They applauded a landmark lawsuit, supported by Villaraigosa, that allowed district officials to prevent seniority-based layoffs from disproportionately harming campuses.

Many teachers opposed this attack on their job protections and believe Villaraigosa also reneged on promises to give them substantial control at partnership schools. And a "top down" approach districtwide left parents feeling cut out of major decisions, said Ingrid Villeda, an elementary teacher and union activist.

Santee teacher Jose Lara said the partnership has supplied teachers at his high school with laptops and protected them from a charter-school takeover. But otherwise, he said, the experience has been one of "broken promises" and "photo ops."

In an interview, the mayor extolled teachers but offered no apologies for actions that angered many of them. "Change comes when you're willing to mix it up and push hard," he said. "I don't ask for forgiveness in standing up for these kids."

By most indications, incoming Mayor Eric Garcetti plans to tread an involved but less confrontational path, which worries Villaraigosa allies. They view the local reform mission as a battle against opposing interests that needs to be won.

Villaraigosa said he intends to remain involved in influencing school board elections. That effort stumbled this year when a backlash against donations by wealthy out-of-towners, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, contributed to the defeat of two of the three candidates Villaraigosa endorsed.

The mayor also said he will continue to raise money for the partnership and push for policies that could transform student lives.

"Every time I go to these schools," he said, "I look in their eyes and I see me."

Alejandra Suarez, 17, has met the mayor a few times at Jordan High. Before key exams, she followed his advice — she looked in the mirror and said: "OK, I believe in myself. I can do it."

And she did. This fall, the daughter of Mexican immigrants will be the first in her family to attend college: UC Berkeley.

●●SEE: MAYOR TONY LEAVES HIS MARK ON L.A. SCHOOLS II*: The exit interview with notes, fact checking and background …and many more questions left unanswered than answered. Sometimes an interview contains a smoking gun. Sometimes enough rope to hang someone. .Sometimes the gunman with the rope spins a tale so tall we all get dizzy!


Also see:
POLL SHOWS SPLIT IN APPROVAL FOR OUTGOING MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA: Voters give Villaraigosa a 47% favorable rating, 40% unfavorable. He gets high marks for public transit and safety and low ones for education and economic issues.
“The poll also showed that despite long standing gripes about traffic, schools, housing, and unrepaired streets, Los Angeles voters upbeat about the city's quality of life and optimistic that after four years with Garcetti as mayor, Los Angeles will be better off than it is today.”


By Alan Singer, Social studies educator, Hofstra University in The Huffington Post |

● Imagine an experienced surgeon in the middle of a delicate six-hour procedure where the surgeon responds to a series of unexpected emergencies being evaluated by a computer based on data gathered from a fifteen-minute snapshot visit by a general practitioner who has never performed an operation.
● Imagine evaluating a baseball player who goes three for four with a couple of home runs and five or six runs batted in based on the one time during the game when he struck out badly.
● Imagine a driver with a clean record for thirty years who has his or her license suspended because a car they owned was photographed going through a red light, when perhaps there was an emergency, perhaps he or she was not even driving the car, or perhaps there was a mechanical glitch with the light, camera, or computer.
● Now imagine a teacher who adjusts instruction because of important questions introduced by students who is told the lesson is unsatisfactory because it did not follow the prescribed scripted lesson plan and because during the fifteen minutes the observer was in the room they failed to see what they were looking for but what might have actually happened before they arrived or after they left.

Posted: 6/10/2013 3:03 pm :: A New York Times editorial [Better Teachers for New York City |] endorsed the state imposed teacher evaluation system for New York City as "an important and necessary step toward carrying out the rigorous new Common Core education reforms." The system is based on the Danielson Framework for Teaching developed by Charlotte Danielson and marketed by the Danielson Group of Princeton, New Jersey.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the city's teachers union, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also announced that they are generally pleased with the plan. According to the Mayor, "Good teachers will become better ones and ineffective teachers can be removed from the classroom." He applauded State Commissioner John King for "putting our students first and creating a system that will allow our schools to continue improving."

Unfortunately, nobody, not the Times, the New York State Education Department, the New York City Department of Education, nor the teachers' union have demonstrated any positive correlation between teacher assessments based on the Danielson rubrics, good teaching, and the implementation of new higher academic standards for students under Common Core.

A case demonstrating the relationship could have been made, if it actually exists. A format based on the Danielson rubrics is already being used to evaluate teachers in at least thirty-three struggling schools in New York City and by one of the supervising networks. Kentucky has been using an adapted version of Danielson's Framework for Teaching to evaluate teachers since 2011 and according to the New Jersey Department of Education, sixty percent of nearly 500 school districts in the state are using teacher evaluation models developed by the Danielson Group. The South Orange/Maplewood and Cherry Hill, New Jersey schools have used the Danielson model for several years.

According to the Times editorial, the "new evaluation system could make it easier to fire markedly poor performers" and help "the great majority of teachers become better at their jobs." But as far as I can tell, the new evaluation system is mostly a weapon to harass teachers and force them to follow dubious scripted lessons.

Ironically, in a pretty comprehensive search on the Internet, I have had difficulty discovering who Charlotte Danielson really is and what her qualifications are for developing a teacher evaluation system. According to the website of the Danielson Group, "the Group consists of consultants of the highest caliber, talent, and experience in educational practice, leadership, and research." It provides "a wide array of professional development and consulting services to clients across the United States and abroad" and is "the only organization approved by Charlotte Danielson to provide training and consultation around the Framework for Teaching."

The group's services come at a cost, which is not a surprise, although you have to apply for their services to get an actual price quote. Individuals who participated in a three-day workshop at the King of Prussia campus of Arcadia University in Pennsylvania paid $599 each. A companion four-week online class cost $1,809 per person. According to a comparison chart prepared by the Alaska Department of Education, the "Danielson Group uses 'bundled' pricing that is inclusive of the consultant's daily rate, hotel and airfare. The current fee structure is $4,000 per consultant/per day when three or more consecutive days of training are scheduled. One and two-day rates are $4,500/per consultant/per day. We will also schedule keynote presentations for large groups when feasible. A keynote presentations is for informational/overview purposes and does not constitute training in the Framework for Teaching."

Charlotte Danielson is supposed to be "an internationally-recognized expert in the area of teacher effectiveness, specializing in the design of teacher evaluation systems that, while ensuring teacher quality, also promote professional learning" who "advises State Education Departments and National Ministries and Departments of Education, both in the United States and overseas." Her online biography claims that she has "taught at all levels, from kindergarten through college, and has worked as an administrator, a curriculum director, and a staff developer" and to have degrees from Cornell, Oxford and Rutgers, but I can find no formal academic resume online. Her undergraduate degree seems to have been in history with a specialization in Chinese history and she studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and educational administration and supervision at Rutgers. While working as an economist in Washington, D.C., Danielson obtained her teaching credentials and began work in her neighborhood elementary school, but it is not clear in what capacity or for how long. She developed her ideas for teacher evaluation while working at the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and since 1996 has published a series of books and articles with ASCD (the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). I have seen photographs and video broadcasts online, but I am still not convinced she really exists as more than a front for the Danielson Group that is selling its teacher evaluation product.

The United Federation of Teachers and the online news journal Gotham Schools both asked a person purporting to be Charlotte Danielson to evaluate the initial Danielson rubrics being used in New York City schools. In a phone interview reported on in Gotham Schools, Danielson was supposedly in Chile selling her frameworks to the Chilean government, "Danielson was hesitant to insert herself into an union-district battle, but did confirm that she disapproved of the checklist shown to her." The checklist "was inappropriate because of the way it was filled out. It indicated that the observer had already begun evaluating a teacher while in the classroom observation. She said that's a fundamental no-no."

Bottom line is that 40% of a teacher's evaluation will be based on student test scores on standardized and local exams and 60% on in-class observations. In this post I am most concerned with the legitimacy of the proposed system of observations that are based on snap-shots, fifteen minute visits to partial lessons, conducted by supervisors potentially with limited or no classroom experience in the subject being observed, followed by submission of a multiple-choice rubric that will be evaluated online by an algorithm that decides whether the lesson was satisfactory or not.

When I was a new high school teacher in the 1970s, I was observed six times a year by my department chair, an experienced teacher and supervisor with expertise in my content area. We met before each lesson to strengthen the lesson plan and in a post-observation conference to analyze what had happened and what could have been done better. Based on the conferences and observations we put together a plan to strengthen my teaching, changes the supervisor expected to see implemented in future lessons. The conferences, the lesson, and the plan were then written into a multi-page observation report that we both signed. These meetings and observations were especially important in my development as a teacher and I follow the same format when I observe student teachers today.

As I became more experienced the number of formal observations decreased. I still remember a post-observation conference at a different school and with a different supervisor who had become both a mentor and a friend. After one lesson he virtually waxed poetic at what he had seen, but then suggested three alternative scenarios I could have pursed. Finally I said I appreciated his support and insight, but if I had done these other things, I would not have been able to do the things he really liked. He paused, said I was right, and said to just forget his suggestions.

But under the new system, principals will drop in for a few minutes and punch in some numbers. Teachers then will be rated, mysteriously or miraculously, based upon a computer algorithm using twenty-two different dimensions of teaching. Astounding!

And this assumes principals know what they are doing, have the independence to actually give teachers a strong rating, and are not out to get the good teacher who is also a union representative or just a general pain in the ass like I was.

But that is a big assumption. Teachers in the field report to me that the New York City Department of Education is already trying to undermine the possibility of a fair and effective teacher evaluation system. I cannot use their names or mention their schools because they fear retaliation. I urge teachers to use Huffington Post to document what is going on with teacher evaluations in their schools.

Within hours after an arbitrator mandated use of the Danielson teacher evaluation system, New York City school administrators received a 240-page booklet explaining how to implement the rubrics next fall. Teachers will receive six hours of professional development so they know what to expect, not so they know how to be successful. Teachers are being told that while there is no official lesson plan design, they better follow the recommended one if they expect to pass the evaluations.

Administrators are instructed how to race in and out of rooms and punch codes into an IPad with evaluations actually completed in cyberspace by an algorithm. Teachers will fail when supervisors do not see things that took place before or after they entered the room, if lesson plans do not touch on all twenty-two dimensions, or when teachers adjust their lessons to take into account student responses.

Teachers expect to be evaluated harshly. In December, 2012 the New York Daily News reported that the Danielson rubric, while still unofficial, was being used to rate teachers unsatisfactory.

This year there also appears to be an informal quota system for the granting of tenure. Teachers recommended for tenure by building administrators are being denied by central administration, which suggests how low the opinions of building based administrators are valued.

As I have written repeatedly in other posts, there are useful educational goals established by the Common Core standards. But unless the standards are separated from the high-stakes testing of students and the evaluation of teachers and schools they will become an albatross around the neck of education and a legitimate target for outrage from rightwing state governments, frustrated parents, and furious teachers, and they will never be achieved.

●●smf: The 2013 edition of The Danielson Rubric [link follows] is 113 terse, verbose jargon –laden/student, teacher-and-parent unfriendly pages long. SEE CARTOON:

►The Danielson Rubric: THE FRAMEWORK FOR TEACHING | Evaluation Instrument | 2013 Edition


By Barbara Jones, LA Daily News |

6/29/2013 4:12:49 PM PDT :: Two senior Los Angeles Unified administrators have been demoted and a principal has left the district following a two-month investigation into the handling of sex-abuse allegations against an elementary school teacher in Wilmington, Superintendent John Deasy said Saturday.

The inquiry focused on claims that parents had told district officials in 2009 that teacher Robert Pimentel was molesting their daughters at George De La Torre Elementary School, but that nothing was done. Deasy said he could not comment on what investigators had learned, but he did say that personnel changes had been made.

Linda Del Cueto, 53, the local superintendent and highest-ranking official in the San Fernando Valley, has been reassigned to an administrative post in the Office of Curriculum and Instruction, Deasy said. Del Cueto has worked for the district since 1982, and was honored in 2008 as an Outstanding Superintendent by the Association of California School Administrators.

Michael Romero, 50, a 25-year employee who was named last July to head the Adult Education Division, will be assigned to a yet-to-be-determined position at LAUSD's downtown headquarters, Deasy said.

Del Cueto and Romero, who each earned $171,239 annually under the previous jobs, will now "be eligible for a principal's salary," Deasy said.

According to the LAUSD salary table, the top yearly pay for a veteran principal is $134,290.

In addition, Valerie Moses, who had worked the last two years as principal of Los Angeles Elementary, has "separated from the district," said Deasy. He refused to say whether Moses had resigned, retired or been terminated. Moses, 57, had started her LAUSD in 1980 as a teacher's aide.

In 2009, Del Cueto was the local district superintendent overseeing De La Torre. Romero and Moses worked in her office, according to district records.

Deasy also said that David Kooper, another subject of the inquiry, has been reinstated as principal of Gulf Avenue Elementary. In 2009, Kooper was chief of staff to South Bay school board member Richard Vladovic.

Deasy put the four administrators on paid leave and opened the investigation in April, shortly after a lawsuit was filed by three alleged victims of Pimentel.

The suit claims parents had complained about the fourth-grade teacher as far back as 2002, but that district officials had failed to discipline him or notify authorities. It also alleges a district "cover-up" in the handling of the Pimentel case.

That claim is based on a confidential memo written by district social worker Holly Priebe-Diaz, recapping a meeting she had with De La Torre parents on Oct. 12, 2009. The parents told Priebe-Diaz they'd complained to Principal Irene Hinojosa that Pimentel had molested their daughters, but that she'd been "protecting" the teacher, according to the memo.

District officials have said that Priebe-Diaz reported parents' suspicions to police and county welfare workers. It's unclear what those agencies did with the information.

According to the suit, Del Cueto, Hinojosa and other administrators attended a meeting in October 2009, when parents repeated their complaints against Pimentel. The lawsuit claims district officials failed to notify authorities or take action against Pimentel, which allowed him to continue abusing young girls.

In March 2012, parents took their complaints against Pimentel to police, and he was removed from the classroom. Deasy has said he removed Hinojosa from her job after reviewing personnel files and determining that she'd failed to act on complaints against Pimentel in 2002 and 2008.

Pimentel and Hinojosa retired in April 2012, as Deasy was taking steps to fire them.

Pimentel, 57, was arrested in January and has pleaded not guilty to charges of molesting nine girls in 2011-12 and a female relative from 2002-04. He remains jailed on $14 million bail.

●●smf: The timing of all of this remains suspicious …or perhaps curiouser and curiouser. Every person named n this story at one time or another reported to Dr. Vladovic - who is a candidate for President of the Board of Education. Dr Deasy, as superintendent, reports to the Board of Education. Admittedly, there is no “good time” for this story – but why was this story released on a Saturday? Why this Saturday of all Saturdays?

UTLA President’s perspective: NEW FUNDING BRINGS NEW OPPORTUNITIES + smf’s 2¢
By Warren Fletcher - UTLA President | United Teacher Newspaper |

●"The Los Angeles Unified School District needs better schools and more resources to help all of our students meet or exceed their potential. That is why I became a teacher so many years ago. That is also why I ran for the Los Angeles School Board".

—Bennett Kayser
LAUSD School Board Member

●"We should seize the moment—when the money, the will, and the desire come together— to start rebuilding".

—Monica Ratliff
School Board Member-elect

June 21, 2013 :: This month, the California State legislature adopted the state budget for 2013-14. It is a budget that looks very different from the budgets we have seen over the past six years.

Since 2008, the annual debates in Sacramento have not been about how to help children and schools. Since 2008, the political wrangling has been over how deeply education funding would be cut, and over which irreplaceable functions and services (such as primary grade instruction, libraries, academic counseling, middle and high school class sizes, student mental health, adult and early ed programs, and essentially everything else) would be “thrown over the side of the boat” in the interest of balancing the books. They have been dark and painful times. We’ve seen our colleagues’ careers derailed by RIFs, and we’ve seen countless children’s educational experiences harmed.

This year, the debate in Sacramento was over how to pump funds into the schools. With Proposition 30 funds beginning to come in (thanks in no small part to our hard work last November), the governor, the Assembly, and the State Senate each came up with a different plan for how to get those new dollars into California’s classrooms. In the end, the final budget compromise favored the approach advocated by Governor Brown. His plan (called the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF), has two goals. The first is to apply the new tax dollars quickly, so that all school districts in the state can get back to their 2007-08 (pre-recession) funding levels as soon as possible. His second goal is to overhaul how state funds are distributed among the different school districts across the state, with the objective of sending more funds to districts that have large populations of students who live in poverty, who are English learners, or who are in foster care.

In other words, to districts like LAUSD.

The LCFF acknowledges what all of us already know: Inner-city districts face challenges that most suburban districts don’t, and schools and districts with high concentrations of higher needs students need more resources, not fewer.

Over the next several years, the LCFF will allocate significant extra dollars to districts where low-income and English learner students make up more than 55 percent of the population. In LAUSD, those students make up 86 percent of the current enrollment. The first allocation of those new dollars arrives this July 1. The people who voted for Prop. 30 naturally expect that the new dollars will go to the classroom. There are two simple ways to accomplish that.

A first priority for those dollars must be to reduce class size and restore full staffing to L.A. schools by bringing back the educators who remain on the RIF rehire list. I’m proud to say that, because of constant pressure from UTLA, the majority of educators who were RIF’d between 2010 and 2012 have already been returned to contract status.

But, as of this writing, 549 teachers and health and human services professionals remain laid off. It would be unconscionable for the District (or for us) to walk away from those colleagues when new state monies are arriving in time to save them and their careers. (The approximate cost to bring back all 549 people would be about $47 million, easily within the range of the new LCFF monies arriving in LAUSD this coming year.)
A co-equal priority is to put the new dollars into the classroom the old-fashioned way: by across-the-board salary increases. Since 2008, teachers and health and human services professionals have made deep financial sacrifices to keep the District financially afloat.

We have every reason to expect, with the District now moving slowly into the black, that the financial hits we have taken these last five years will be acknowledged and that the District leadership will take affirmative steps to essentially “pay us back” for the pain we have endured. Even the current superintendent, John Deasy, acknowledged as much in his recent policy report titled “Next Three Years: Policy and Investment.” In that report, he offers a “two-pronged proposal for compensation,” stating: “The first [prong] being across the board raises. Cost of living adjustments and salary enhancements have not been offered to our employees since the 2007/08 school year. Our employees have done so much more work for so much less compensation that it is paramount that we honor this hard work first and foremost.” Before you get your hopes up about a “kinder, gentler” John Deasy, we should note that the second “prong” of his planned salary proposal is (predictably) a merit pay scheme. Nonetheless, when Sacramento and Beaudry are both talking about how to better fund schools and the classroom, and when even administration is openly talking about pay raises, it clearly is a moment of opportunity.

End to the School Board “Reign of Error”?
The next key piece of the puzzle is the School Board. During the Reign of Error that has characterized Monica Garcia’s tenure as Board president, talking to the Board of Education about fiscal priorities and educator pay has been like talking to a wall. But that is clearly changing.

On June 18, the School Board adopted a resolution co-authored by Board members Kayser, Vladovic, and Zimmer, titled “Creating Equitable and Enriching Learning Environments for All LAUSD Students.” That resolution committed the District to: • A multi-year plan for class-size reduction and full health and human services staffing.

• A multi-year plan for restoration of the Adult Education and Early Education programs.

• A multi-year plan “to implement competitive wages for District employees whose pay rates have been cut repeatedly over the past several years.” The resolution passed on a 5-2 vote.

Two years ago, during the darkest days of RIFs and Public School Choice giveaways, it would have been difficult to imagine that the L.A. School Board would have ever passed a motion in which they would take the lead (much less be on the right side) on issues like class size, sufficient staffing, and competitive salaries.

But on June 18, they did exactly that.

Our role to play The final piece of the puzzle is, of course, us. I began this piece with two quotes, one from Bennett Kayser and one from Monica Ratliff. Ratliff perfectly summarizes the situation in which we find ourselves. Opportunities are presenting themselves, but opportunities are, by definition, limited time offers. We owe it to our schools and our students to capitalize on these opportunities.

Sacramento can’t do it, and the School Board can’t do it. We, the united teachers and health and human services professionals, through the united voice of UTLA, are the only people who can—through focus, discipline, and unity—convert these opportunities to realities.

As always, it’s up to us.

●●smf: Warren Fletcher is right …but the “us”can’t just be UTLA – it needs to be all of-us: teachers and administrators and other school staff - and parents and voters and taxpayers and students and hopefully (though not necessarily) weird Uncle Harvey. “We the People” is the expression from another time and for this time and for all time.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
POLL SHOWS SPLIT IN APPROVAL FOR MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA: High marks for public transit+safety/ low on education & economy




UCLA IDEA: Justices Bury their Heads on Diversity |


MAYOR TONY LEAVES HIS MARK ON L.A. SCHOOLS II*: The exit interview with notes, fact checking and background …a...

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA LEAVES HIS MARK ON L.A. SCHOOLS: The mayor vowed to turn the district into an incubator o...

Dr.V disclosure comes 5 days before LAUSD Board President vote: "This is a political hit & run if I ever saw one.” |



The New Yorker/Bert&Ernie/End of DOMA Cover |

On the eve of the board president election, ‘The Daily News has learned…’: LAUSD BOARD MEMBER RICHARD VLADOVIC...


UTLA President’s perspective: NEW FUNDING BRINGS NEW OPPORTUNITIES: By Warren Fletcher - UTLA President | Unit...

#SCOTUS: PROP 8 APPEAL REJECTED. Lower court ruling of unconstitutionality of CA gay marriage ban upheld.

#SCOTUS: #DOMA Unconstitutional!




EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Administration of the oath of office to Boardmembers Mónica Garcia, Mónica Ratliff and Steve Zimmer
• Election of the Board President

*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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