Sunday, July 28, 2013

Would you like some Pearson with that?

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 28•July•2013
In This Issue:
 •  Aftermath …or hangover?: NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, PART 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.
I spent most of this past week in DC with a bunch of bright young middle scholars who wrote essays about how violence affects their lives in the Do the Write Thing Challenge. Fifty young writers, 7th and 8th graders, their parents and teachers out of 71,000 participants nationwide who saw their writing bound in a book archived in the Library of Congress. They were honored at the Library of Congress and at an embassy dinner hosted by the Kuwaiti ambassador on the eve of that nation’s national day of liberation. They went to Capitol Hill and met (and lobbied) congressional staff; some met with congressmen and senators. Two weaseled their way onto the House floor and actually cast votes. A college chancellor pushed them to do greater things. They were addressed by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists and got autographed Harlem Globetrotter basketballs. Museums were visited, the hotel pool was well used and bonds were forged from Texas to Florida and Boston to Detroit to Chicago to Montana to L.A. They learned from each other. One of the two winners from LA is a Dreamer, an uninvited but welcome guest and no less an American than the other: the daughter of a federal magistrate. Welcome to America and all the wonderful complications thereof.

One of the DTWT essayists asked a simple question: “Why is it easier to get a gun than get a job?”

Every piece of writing from all the 71,000 tells a story of young lives touched by violence; not as victims but as change agents. The ghosts of Newtown were exorcized, a proud brother told of how his adoptive sister – a victim of domestic violence – became a member of his family. 80,000 voices were raised and heard and everyone who listened+learned was moved.

If you teach at a middle school or attend a middle school or parent a middle scholar ask to get your students/class/school involved, Do the Write Thing: http;//‎

I ALSO GOT A CHANCE TO SPEND MONDAY AFTERNOON AT THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS TEACH 2013 CONFERENCE, also in D.C. last week. AFT President Randi Weingarten delivered a stem-winder of a keynote speech taking on the forces of so-called ®eform. There was a fascinating discussion of the Common Core State Standards – from a number of perspectives – including that of a California parent. And I attended a workshop on providing healthcare to chronically ill students ion the school setting. All good stuff and I thank the UTLA/AFT contingent for inviting and welcoming me.

A HEADLINE IN AN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TRADE PUBLICATION LAST WEEK: “LOS ANGELES PLANS TO GIVE 640,000 STUDENTS FREE IPADS “ | “Give?” “Free?” Nobody’s is giving anyone anything. And “Free” will end up costing the taxpayers in excess of $500 million dollars when and if the deal goes down.

Well …maybe someone got something for free. There is a third partner – not quite silent but not a signatory to the contract …but given exclusive access to LAUSD’s educational content market: International publisher and testing company –service-provider and public education profiteer Pearson Education.

Read on gentle reader, the sky has not yet fallen!

Sign seen at this week’s AFT Teach 2013 Conference: “Students and Teachers are persons, not Pearson’s”.

Quote o’ th’ Week: "A Pearson monopoly would put our students at the mercy of Pearson’s pricing” - NY Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch

Tisch was referring to Pearson’s new GED exam --from the same wonderful folks who created this year’s New York State Standardized English Exam…. which proved to be an expensive disaster. [] Pearson’s five year contract with New York State to provide standardized tests is for $32 million; a lot of money, the NY complainers complain.

Pearson’s same deal with Texas exceeds $500 million – no complaint there. But there the powers-that-be embrace school privatization. It’s for the kids after all.

Re: Privatization+Pearson: “Pearson is just one part of the picture, albeit a part about the size of Mount Rushmore. Its lobbyists include the guy who served as the top White House liaison with Congress on drafting the No Child law. It has its own nonprofit foundation that sends state education commissioners on free trips overseas to contemplate school reform.

“An American child could go to a public school run by Pearson, studying from books produced by Pearson; while his or her progress is evaluated by Pearson standardized tests. The only public participant in the show would be the taxpayer.

“If all else fails, the kid could always drop out and try to get a diploma via the good old G.E.D. The General Educational Development test program used to be operated by the nonprofit American Council on Education, but last year the Council and Pearson announced that they were going into a partnership to redevelop the G.E.D. — a nationally used near-monopoly — as a profit-making enterprise.” [Preceding 3¶’s: ibid]

Ultimately the New York Regents (The Albany farm team for the Yankees organization?) rejected the Pearson GED test – going with a competitor’s product. Pearson’s GED test cost $120 per student; McGraw-Hill’s $54.

But “We are in LA …not Texas” you say? We have problems of our own.
Yes we do …and Pearson has solutions for them!

Pearson is here in California, selling their GED exam. [cite] In CA state law specifies the GED exam as the only high school equivalency opportunity. GED is a trademark, Pearson controls it.

And now Pearson has quietly been given the exclusive contract to provide content for all these iPads LAUSD is buying.

You don’t remember the usual MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) debate and deep discussion within the educational community over curricular content and pedagogy and scaffolding and all the rest of the drama that accompanies standards-based textbook adoptions?

(I’ve had folks try to tell me these aren’t really electronic textbooks – but they seem to waddle, quack and have webbed feet like e-textbooks and I am convinced they are.)

You don’t remember the work of textbook adoption committees or the discussion at the Board of Ed? State or LAUSD?

That’s because that debate happened in a boardroom in Cupertino, not Beaudry. It happened between Apple and Pearson – because Pearson is a sub-contractor and the software and content is an add-on to the shiny new iPads. Not exactly an afterthought, but whether by deception and/or design on the part of the LAUSD administration - not exactly a transparent process.

Even though, back on February 11: “Vendor representatives raised their collective eyebrows when (Deputy Superintendent for Instruction Jaime) Aquino announced that the District will be looking for devices preloaded with content. Surprising many in the crowd, Aquino made clear that the primary focus of the initiative is on content and instruction. The devices are merely the “tools” to carry out the District’s goals.

Aquino told the bidders conference that the devices are merely “tools" and the “primary focus” was content and instruction. In that case shouldn’t the prime contractor be Pearson and the sub-contractor Apple?

I have read the Apple contract and it’s not light reading. It’s contract language after all, with parties of the first part and parties of the second part, with deliverables and unit prices and points of contact. The Pearson part is pure marketing language – lifted almost verbatim from the Pearson website: a sales document blueprint for a bright new wonderful tomorrow. A description of the metaphorical airplane Boeing will build if you buy it – and they will still be building it when you take flight with those first passengers! Teaching the multiplication beyond the five-times-tables? We’ll get to that in year two!

Out of sheer perversity I have posted the entire contract here:
In a moment of kindness, the Pearson section is here:
No reading assignment is made or implied, no extra credit will be given. But eventually the content will appear on some test, somewhere.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


● Pearson & McGraw-Hill: A VERY PRICEY PINEAPPLE: By GAIL COLLINS, NY Times Op-Ed Columnist | ...


● Pearson and McGraw Hill: GLOBAL EDUCATION AS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY: from Globalization 101, a project of the SUNY...

By Kimberly Beltran | SI&A Cabinet Report |

Thursday, July 25, 2013 :: For years, the Legislature conditioned the use of state bond funds that helped schools make major renovations on requirements that districts set aside some of their own money for facility upkeep and maintenance.

But that system today appears to be on the verge of collapse four years after lawmakers temporarily relaxed the mandate in the wake of the economic downturn and following adoption this summer of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, which made the flexibility permanent.

As a result, some experts warn school facility repair bills could pose yet another looming crisis for taxpayers.

“To my knowledge, there’s been no discussion about what the maintenance standards will be for school districts, and what requirements school districts will be asked to be accountable for in terms of how they’re keeping their learning environments in good repair, per the Local Control Funding Formula,” said Jeffrey M. Vincent, deputy director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities and Schools – a policy research center commissioned last year to report on the status of California’s K-12 infrastructure and to make recommendations for ways the state can protect and improve upon its investment.

“The question is, what does the state want school districts to articulate, in terms of an accountability plan, for being responsible stewards of their school infrastructure?” Vincent said.

Under the Deferred Maintenance Program, state matching funds were provided to schools to assist with major repairs, replacements and renovations – including plumbing, heating and electrical projects.

But sagging under the weight of the downturn in the economy, the Legislature agreed in 2009 to give schools flexibility in the use of the maintenance money along with funding for scores of other categorical programs.

The original plan was to reinstate the requirements after the economy had improved – June of 2013 was the original sunset date.

But Gov. Brown’s initiative to give local officials more authority over spending overtook that plan and requirements that districts set aside 3 percent of their general fund money for facility maintenance was eliminated as part of the 2013-14 budget.

Instead, those monies became part of the pool of cash divided among districts under the local control formula.

As a condition of receiving a share of slightly more than $2 billion set aside in the 2013-14 state budget for the LCFF program, districts will be required to annually adopt accountability plans, developed in consultation with parent advisory groups, that will detail how the money will be used to benefit targeted students.

But there are concerns among K-12 facilities advocates – including legislators and school officials – that without state support and clear expectations, California’s aging network of school buildings will fall further behind as an adequate resource for educating some six million students.

“There are many school districts still operating under structural deficits, that have used the Tier III flexibility to shift deferred maintenance funds to operations,” said Patti Herrera, chief governmental relations officer with the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools.

Herrera meets regularly with school administrators from Riverside County’s 23 districts. She said there “is a lot of nervousness that facilities have taken a back seat” at the state level, and that requirements under the new local accountability initiatives enacted through the state budget will require districts to demonstrate how they will provide safe, clean and adequate facilities. Herrera said that chief business officials at districts are “waiting with bated breath” for guidance from the state on regulatory practices that will be required under the Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP.

State officials are in the midst of developing templates for those plans, required under the adopted budget legislation, but most of the public discussion has centered on making sure that additional monies to offset higher costs of educating disadvantaged students is used for that purpose – and produces successful academic outcomes.

While the legislation implementing the LCFF mentions that districts should be held accountable for meeting existing regulations calling for school facilities to be maintained in “good repair,” it is unclear how and to what degree they will be required to do so.

The new state law mandates that districts adopt accountability plans on or before July 1, 2014, but the legislation also repeals the existing requirement that districts receiving state general obligation bond funding for facilities set aside 3 percent of their general fund expenditures in a routine maintenance account.

Local educational agencies are also now required to “establish local priorities for inclusion in the LCAP,” the new law states, as well as “state priorities” related to the 2004 Williams v. State of California settlement agreement. No details on those priorities are listed.

The Williams settlement came out of a class-action lawsuit against several state agencies, including CDE, that found the agencies failed to provide public school students with equal access to instructional materials, qualified teachers, and safe and decent school facilities. Some $800 million was set aside specifically for the repair and maintenance of facilities.

Staff from the California Department of Education, as well as from the governor’s Office of Planning and Research, has been tapped to develop accountability plan templates for approval by the State Board of Education no later than March 31, 2014.

The Berkeley center report led by Vincent noted a 2008 study that estimated a deferred maintenance deficiency of $25.4 billion, and pointed out that a Legislative Analysts Office survey since then showed that 70 percent of the state’s LEAs had shifted money away from maintenance – one of the toughest decisions for school administrators, the survey also found.

“Deferred maintenance backlogs are believed to have grown substantially in statewide K-12 deferred maintenance; and more and more facilities are outmoded and underequipped to properly support 21st century learning,” reads California's K-12 Educational Infrastructure Investments: Leveraging the State's Role for Quality School Facilities in Sustainable Communities. “As a result, it is likely that deferred maintenance needs will be above $25.4 billion.”

Since its creation in 1998, California’s School Facility Program (SFP) has provided profound support for K12 infrastructure. As a state and local funding partnership, the SFP has invested $101.6 billion in local and state general obligation bond funds in new school construction and major building improvements throughout the state.

State bond funds contributed $35.4 billion to this total while LEA bond funds contributed the balance, about $66.17 billion. Another $10 billion to $15 billion in local developer fees was raised, and the state contributed about $6.2 billion in deferred maintenance funds that were matched by LEAs.

“Together, these capital funds – believed to total about $118 billion between 1998 and 2011 – improved the health and safety of many school facilities, provided new schools for growing communities, relieved overcrowding through new construction and additions, contributed to community and environmental improvements, and have been a job creator,” stated the report.

Its authors also estimate that at least another $117 billion will be needed over the next decade to “improve substandard learning environments and eliminate deferred maintenance needs through annual capital renewals investments (an industry standard), major modernizations for both life safety and educational program delivery, and – where necessary – full replacement of outmoded buildings that hinder health, safety, and/or quality teaching and learning.”

But the future of the SFP is in doubt as well, with voter-approved bond authority all but gone. School facilities advocates – led by the State Allocation Board – are pushing for a new statewide facilities bond on next year’s ballot to renew the program but as yet there has been no indication by legislative leaders or Gov. Brown that support exists for that effort.

To read the Berkeley Center for Cities and Communities report, CLICK HERE

By Rob Kuznia, Staff Writer, LA Newspaper Group |

7/27/2013 10:59:52 [Updated: 07/27/2013 03:48:13] :: It's difficult to believe now, but there was a time -- through the eras of flower children, bell bottoms and disco -- when the Golden State was widely seen as the gold standard on education spending.

Class sizes were low. Schools were well maintained. Textbooks and other instructional materials were new.

Back then, California ranked in the top 10 nationwide in per pupil education spending.

The abundance made an impression on Michael Kirst, now the president of the California State Board of Education, when he moved to California from Virginia in 1969.

"There was free summer school for every kid that wanted it," he said. "I'd never heard of such a thing."

A multitude of factors has caused California's relative standing in school spending to sink like a gold coin in a swimming pool.


• NO LINK: Funding and academic performance aren't necessarily linked. (Texas is funded at a similar level to California, yet its students perform quite a bit better.)
• A LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: Brown's Local Control Funding Formula played surprisingly well among Republicans. (It passed with Republican majorities in both chambers.)
• PAY DAY: California's teachers are the fifth highest paid in the nation, according to the National Education Association.
• RATIO: California's schools are dead last on the ratio of adults to students in schools.
• TUMBLE: Back in the 1960s, California's per-pupil spending ranked in the top 10 nationwide.

- Source: LANG research

The state now ranks 35th in per pupil spending, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Factor in cost-of-living considerations and California's place in the pecking order among all 50 states and the District of Columbia is a dismal 49. That's ahead of only Nevada and Utah, according to a widely cited annual January report by Education Week. (Per-pupil spending figures from Education Week include state and local funds, but not federal money, or funds for capital improvements. Census figures include federal dollars but also exclude capital outlay.)

However, the needle is poised to begin moving in the other direction, thanks to two big game-changers. One is the November passage of Proposition 30, the temporary tax hike that will primarily benefit public education. The other, which was signed into law in late June, is the Local Control Funding Formula -- Gov. Jerry Brown's successful attempt to revolutionize the way school dollars are distributed.

The first wave of replenishment will hit the coffers of local school districts this fall, mostly in modest fashion. The infusion is expected to increase year by year for a time, but specific numbers are tough to come by.

The Governor's Office has projected that, by 2016-17, California will boost its per-pupil spending by $2,800 over the 2011-12 amount, bringing it to somewhere near the current national average in raw dollars. That would be quite a bump, but that projection is questioned in some education circles.

In any event, the approaching relief raises an intriguing question: to what extent -- if at all -- will more money lead to better academic performance? It's a question that the brightest minds in education have been debating for years.

"Some would argue there is very little correlation," said Maggie Weston, a research fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California. "Others would say we probably should be spending more money, but it's about wise investment. So, just spending more money in exactly the same way probably won't lead to better student outcome."

As it happens, California's level of its funding lines up pretty neatly with the performance of its students.

Much as it ranks 49th on cost-adjusted per-pupil spending, its nationwide standing in academic performance on math and English tests among fourth- and eighth-graders ranges from 46th to 49th, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress -- the most authoritative source of interstate comparison on academic performance.

Similarly, Vermont, which occupies the No. 1 spot nationwide on per-pupil spending by Education Week's measure, ranks an impressive 6th in fourth-grade mathematics.

But on the other hand, test scores in California have risen steadily over the past half-decade, even though that stretch of time marks one of the worst five-year periods for school finance in state history.

"If you take the negative angle, you could say 'so money doesn't matter,' " said Peter Birdsall, executive director of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. "Public school educators in California did a wonderful job. ... The problem is, people can only keep up that level of exertion for so long."

And then there is the puzzle of Texas.

Per pupil spending in the Lone Star State is in the neighborhood of California's, clocking in at 44th nationwide by the measure of Education Week. And yet, students in California are vastly outperformed by their peers in Texas -- the nation's second-largest state, whose demographics closely mirror those of California. (In both states, for instance, Latino students have recently become a majority population in the schools.)

Eighth-graders in Texas rank 10th nationally in mathematics; their counterparts in California are at the bottom of the heap, just above Mississippi and Alabama, at 49th.

In his book, "The Money Myth," Norton Grubb, professor emeritus at UC Berkeley, makes the case that money's ability to boost performance in schools is often overstated.

Grubb is quick to clarify this thesis.

"I would never say money doesn't make a difference; money does make a difference," he said.

It's just that some expenditures are more effective than others, Grubb said. Raising teacher salaries, for instance, correlates to better test scores, graduation rates and credits earned, he said. Investing in school counselors tends to reap similar results. Conversely, some spending has produced little in the way of measurable academic benefits. Falling into this category, according to Grubb, are the class-size reduction efforts of recent years and intervention programs for lagging students.

Grubb has even found a relationship between some forms of spending and worse performance. The biggie here, Grubb says, is traditional vocational arts classes such as automotive and shop class.

As for California's low national standing on school spending, it doesn't extend to teacher pay. At $68,500, the salary of the average teacher in California during the 2011-12 school year ranked fifth nationwide, according to the National Education Association.

Conversely, California schools have the fewest number of adults in contact with children. This includes not only teachers, but administrators, librarians and counselors.

"We are dead last," Kirst said. "That is really compelling. More interesting even than class size. We have less of everything -- even janitors."

The history of California's funding decline is complex, but a couple of momentous events are widely seen as change agents.

The first was a landmark lawsuit in the early 1970s -- Serrano v. Priest -- that sought to correct an inequity: school districts in wealthy areas had way more money than their counterparts in poor areas. The courts agreed with the plaintiff, John Serrano -- a parent of a student in the Los Angeles Unified School District -- that the funding formula violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Limits were placed on per-pupil expenditures.

The second was the 1978 passage of Proposition 13 -- an epic shake-up in government that provided tax relief to homeowners but shifted the burden of education funding from the local level to the state.

Why did this cause a drop-off? Experts aren't certain. One theory, put forth in a report by the Public Policy Institute of California, suggests that before the initiative, the property taxes paid by commercial interests subsidized schools to a greater degree.

Another theory -- expressed by Sacramento Bee journalist and author Peter Schrag -- attributes the backslide to white voters' increasing reluctance to support an education system that benefits a higher and higher percentage of nonwhite students.

In any case, by many accounts, Proposition 13 generally marks the point at which California's national standing on per pupil funding began to dip below the national average.

All the while, a massive wave of immigration has led to a demographic sea change leaving schools in a much needier position. (Latinos, who make up one of the most disadvantaged demographics in education, made up just 12 percent of the state's population in 1970, and now constitute 38 percent of all Californians.)

Approved in June by the state Legislature, Brown's Local Control Funding Formula popularly grants school districts much more local control in deciding how to spend their dollars. The controversial part is how it also dedicates significantly more money to the districts serving disadvantaged students.

Many school leaders in the suburbs fear the formula will give their districts short shrift.

Among them is George Mannon, superintendent of the Torrance Unified School District, who believes the numbers are based too much on intuition, and not enough on hard facts. He contends it would have been better to wait a year and use that time to carefully study how much more money is truly needed to educate disadvantaged students.

"We're making decisions without basing them on research," he said.

Legislatively, it has been surprisingly popular. The funding model was approved by not only a majority of Democrats in both the state Senate and Assembly, but of Republicans, who relish the return of local control.

"The current system was collapsing and had no defenders," said Kirst, a professor emeritus at Stanford who is widely considered the father of the state's brand-new formula.

(Brown's Local Control Funding Formula was based on "Getting Beyond the Facts," a 2008 report co-authored by Kirst, former California Secretary of Education Alan Bersin and now-state Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu.)

Grubb sees Proposition 30 and the Local Control Funding Formula as the one-two punch needed for progress: more money, and smarter use of it.

But he cautions that it could be a long time before improvements are measurable. "California has spent about 35 years making these problems," he said. "It's going to take another 35 to get us out of the problems."

Aftermath …or hangover?: NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, PART 2

Editorial by The Times editorial board | child left behind
Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), who helped author a House bill to replace the No Child Left Behind Act, talks to a student at Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. (Renee Schoof / MCT / July 16, 2013)

July 21, 2013, 5:00 a.m. || After Congress dragged its heels for six years on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, House Republicans suddenly passed a jumbled bill Friday that could best be described as the No Accountability Act, eliminating virtually all the school improvement mandates that were in the original law. President Obama has rightly vowed to veto it in the unlikely scenario that it reaches his desk, but even as he does so, he should not ignore the more valid sentiments behind the vote. The nation is ripe for rebellion against the rigid law and the Obama administration's further efforts to micromanage how schools are run.

Passed in 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act used the leverage of federal education funding to push states into doing more for their disadvantaged, black and Latino students, whose academic achievement was appallingly low. Although public schools fall under state rather than federal purview, the rationale behind the interference was that because Congress provided some funding, it had an interest in making sure that the money was achieving its aims. That's fair enough.

Unfortunately, the punitive law ushered in a regimen of intensive testing and harsh sanctions against schools that failed to meet improvement markers that were extremely difficult to achieve, sometimes meaningless and often counterproductive. Later, the Obama administration added more layers of interference by pushing its own favored reforms — such as a common curriculum for all states and the inclusion of test scores as a substantial factor in teacher evaluations — in some cases in return for waivers on the No Child Left Behind requirements.

To its credit, the law raised awareness about just how little students in impoverished areas were learning and resulted in modest improvements for those students; at the same time, it overemphasized standardized testing and fostered an unhelpful "everything is the teacher's fault" credo.

Proponents of a smaller role for the federal government are partly right. It has been overstepping. Yet the House bill threatens to reverse the gains that were made and allow schools once again to pay too little heed to students with the greatest needs.

But the president should take note that even the more moderate legislation awaiting its turn in the Senate would do away with large segments of the No Child Left Behind law and his subsequent rules for states. It would allow states to fashion their own school improvement systems, as long as they pass federal muster, without overly punitive measures or interference in how teachers are evaluated or which curriculum is adopted. The federal government has the right to demand value for its education aid, but not to dictate the minutiae of school operations.

by Mary Plummer | Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC

July 26th, 2013, 6:00am :: As budgets worsened over the past several years, schools throughout California cut where they could, slashing arts budgets so deeply some students have been left with no arts education at all.

Arts educator Carl Schafer of Upland, has been on a campaign to increase that instruction for a year. And in his effort, he found a line in the California education code that shocked him: the state requires arts to be taught to California students.

He'd been advocating for arts education for decades without realizing the state has a law requiring things like dance, music and theater be taught in schools.

He recently wrote about his discovery for the website Zocalo Public Square.

While browsing through the state Education Code online, I learned (embarrassingly late in my career) that the law couldn’t be clearer. Since 1995, the teaching of the arts has been mandatory in California for grades one to 12.

Section 51210(e) mandates the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA), which includes music, dance, visual art, and theater, be included in the school curriculum for all students in grades one to six. Section 51220(g) mandates that the VAPA be offered to all students in grades seven through 12. Arts is a “course of study,” and Section 51050 states “The governing board of every school district shall enforce in its schools the courses of study”.

In short, if a school district is not teaching the arts right now, it is breaking the law.

The problem?

The law has no teeth. Districts are empowered to police themselves.

"There are requirements for the visual and performing arts in California schools, however there is no enforcement authority to ensure that that happens," said Craig Cheslog, principal advisor to state superintendent of Public instruction Tom Torlakson.

Cheslog said he didn't even know about the law until they met with Schafer.

"I think it's a known problem by people who study it," he said. "I have to admit I didn't know that problem was there until we started doing our research and work to prepare for the meeting that we had with Carl last winter."

Schafer, who officially retired two years ago but still teaches part-time at Cal State Fullerton, said he's determined to continue pushing for the law to be enforced. He's planning to attend a public meeting in a few weeks at the Los Angeles County Office of Education to lobby for districts to abide by the law.

"It's been certainly an education in trying to find, how do you get to the right powers that can make these changes?" he said. "And I'm not done."

●● smf’s 2¢: Obscure? Any attorney will tell you: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Failure to teach the arts is a crime against the humanities – and I apologize for that cheap joke. California has this law in the Ed Code; it makes Boards of Education responsible for enforcing it – and exposes them to potential civil action for failure to implement arts education.

California has 146 pages of Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools from Pre-K to 12 – those standards aren’t there to fill dusty binders on shelves or take up bandwidth on the internet! There shouldn’t be a teacher who isn't aware of the California State Standards in his or her subject – the Arts Standards and the Phys Ed Standards and the Health Ed standards and all the rest are no less important than the ones on Math or English Language Arts.

The content standards are NOT a shopping list of things it would nice to have in the best of all possible worlds/budgets/high performing schools.They are NOT elective. They set high expectations – but they are minimum expectations.

Standards based instruction isn’t about teaching to the test; it is about teaching to – and mastering – the standards.

We are not teaching kids to be artists or musicians or dancers or dramatists – we are teaching them to be well educated/well informed/well rounded members of society.

Arts Ed is a way of engaging the student in interpreting truth. Arts Education is NOT shrink-wrapping city buses in Shepherd Fairey bus ads – it is teaching students what they need to know about dance, drama, music and visual art.


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

In REMAKING JORDAN DOWNS - Jordan High's staff shakeup puts students on better track [] The LA Times returns to the NCLB/so-called-®eform meme/theme that forced reconstitution makes a lasting meaningful difference as measured by student test scores. In this version of the story reconstitution won’t just save the high school – it will turn around an infamous housing project plagued by crime, poverty and neglect

The magic bullet, the weapon-of-choice and the the target are all wrong.

Statistics show almost all reconstitution produces better results in the first year – and these results fall off to inconsequential in subsequent years. This is great – if you reconstitute schools every few years – as LAUSD has done at Crenshaw.
Jordan was split into two schools – part of it was given to Green Dot. Where are the well-spun test score results for that school?

Jordan Downs has challenges far greater than can be solved by replacing the teaching staff at the high school. But the article gets one thing right: The project, the community, the challenges+opportunities and the school are are inseparably connected. As they are in every neighborhood.-smf


"Truth is only stranger than fiction if you're a stranger to the truth. Which means you're either a liar or you're fictional." – Pseudonymous Bosch, children’s book author

CHANGING THE FOCUS OF ADULT EDUCATION: Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Weekly Update | Week of July 2...

“I am tired of hearing about data. We teach CHILDREN. Every time I hear about the data I feel like they think we are training lab mice.” –Anonymous Florida Schoolteacher



RECONSTITUTING JORDAN, Not quite half the story: In REMAKING JORDAN DOWNS - Jordan High's staff shakeup puts s...


Pearson & McGraw-Hill: A VERY PRICEY PINEAPPLE: By GAIL COLLINS, NY Times Op-Ed Columnist | ...


Pearson and McGraw Hill: GLOBAL EDUCATION AS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY: from Globalization 101, a project of the SUNY...

Aftermath …or hangover?: NO CHILD LEFT NEHIND, PART 2: The federal government's micromanagement of schools has...

LINKED LEARNING STUDY: Career-based teaching leads to more motivated students: Jed Kim | KPCC Pass/Fail | | 89...





AFT Teach 13: COMMON CORE PANEL URGES THOUGHTFUL IMPLEMENTATION + smf’s 2¢: by Mike Rose, AFT Press Release | ...


REBOOTING ONLINE EDUCATION: San Jose State's experience shows that even well-intentioned programs shouldn't be...

LAUSD, CORE DISTRICTS LEAVE D.C. WITHOUT NCLB WAIVER… but still confident one is coming: By John Fensterwald E...

#TEACH13: smf: Someone has to play the part of the random parent at the teachers' union conference!

Randi at #Teach13:Only by working together can we (the united "we") save public education.

Randi Weingarten DELIVERING a barn burner of a keynote at NFT Teach13 I DC

TURNING THE TABLES: from United Teacher: MR. DEASY’S POST-STULL CONFERENCE MEMO by Warren Fletcher in the Pr...

Giftedness: AMERICAN EDUCATION AND THE IQ TRAP + smf’s 2¢: For students, one score doesn't tell all. A sur...

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

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


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-5555 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Brown: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. THEY DO!.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.