Sunday, December 22, 2013

The great expectations of deserving no less.

4LAKids: Sunday 21•Dec•2013 The Winter Solstice
In This Issue:
 •  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...
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Dec 21, 2013 :: Claire Davis, the 17-year-old student from Arapahoe High School, died Saturday. She spent eight days at Littleton Adventist Hospital on life support after being shot in the head by a fellow student. Claire died with her family by her side.
How many deaths will it take till we know
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.


BEFORE 4LAKids GOES ALL POSTAL ON THE WACKINESS, imagined+real/past present and future, of LAUSD let me point you to Something Good To Read – a mandatory assignment - in today’s LA Times: The Sunday Column One IN THE 'SILENT PRISON' OF AUTISM, IDO SPEAKS OUT | – a backgrounder and book review of Ido Kedar’s “Ido in Autismland” –itself a series of autobiographical essays about growing up on the spectrum in LAUSD.

Ido is not everychild; no child is. But he does answer the question “What if Temple Grandin attended LAUSD in the first decade of the twenty-first century?” The answer is not pretty but it is inspiring. Because of the publication and printing format of the article – using italics and photos and videos and multiple levels of quotation, publishing the article from the Times in this e-newsletter/blog won’t work and can’t do the journalism, the book or and/or Ido justice

Please read the article – and then walk, don’t run to buy the book, get it at the library, or download it to your e-reader. Maybe our school libraries should have it in their collections? There is a lot in print about the autism spectrum of late: Temple Grandin’s work and the movie about her. The novel and now the stage play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Add Ido Kedar’s book to the literature. Ido – who is nonverbal - has become an authentic celebrity in a time when celebrity is cheap (‘Duck Dynasty’ anyone?):

“Ido's grown accustomed to public appearances. He says he only gets embarrassed when people gush over him: “’It drives me crazy when people do that. My situation may be new and tragic to them, but it is my life.’

“I'm a strange mixture. I am smart as a mind and dumb as a body. I can think of insights and my body ignores them.”


LAUSD HAS PUBLISHED ITS INTERPRETATION OF MOST RECENT TEST RESULTS [ ] – THE LOVELY ACRONYMIC TUDA of THE NEAP - because test scores & acronyms are the warp and weave of the fabric of the District! LAUSD is doing better, the nation is doing better, the improvements are incremental and minuscule …but our miniscule growth is bigger than theirs (whoever they are). And nobody can figure out what it means or why it happened. 4LAKids suggests that it didn’t happen because of the Culture of ®eform – but in spite of it. And the LA Times pretty much agrees: WHAT'S DRIVING L.A. UNIFIED'S BETTER TEST SCORES?

TUESDAY‘S BOARD OF ED MEETING started with a quiet recognition of Marguerite LaMotte’s empty seat and a call from the District’s labor partners for reasoned unity.

What followed was a display of disunity from the board and community on how or how not to respectfully honor the memory of the deceased; when and how to fill the empty seat, whither elect or appoint and whether the superintendent’s decision to defer the decision on iPads should be honored …with his allies vociferously opposing him and his opponents almost half-heartedly supporting.

The decisive vote to take no decision was undecided by a 3 to 3 tie – with Monica Garcia presciently opining that no action in itself is a political act. An act in this case poorly acted by bad actors in a play about life+death, power, passion, greed and misunderstanding. A tragedy badly written and poorly cast. Not the farce that Marx predicted at the second coming of history (some of this is the twelfth re-run) - but perhaps just plain bad comedy …but not bad enough to be good!

Read Joseph Mailander’s AFTER MARGUERITE LAMOTTE’S DEATH, LAUSD MELTS DOWN YET AGAIN | . I don’t agree with where he gets but I support how he got there! He uses ‘ninnyhammer’ and ‘lumpenproletariat’ so they make-sense-in-the-nonsense and twists dumb things school boardmembers do to make them dumberer still:

“Monica Garcia issued a statement: ‘I look forward to a healthy discussion befitting Ms. LaMotte’s legacy and the District’s leadership when the Board of Education meets on January 7, 2014. The children and families of District 1 and the greater LAUSD deserve no less.’"

Mailander: “The students of District 1 deserved ‘no less’ than a delayed decision in which indecision ruled the day about as much as they deserve Monica Garcia telling them what else they deserve after failing them for so long.”

WEDNESDAY THE BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE MET and weighed in yet again on the Common Core Technology Project [iPads] Phase 2 and Phase 1L - and the superintendent’s ask for iPads for Common Core State Standardized Smarter Balanced Testing.

●●: If the following is confusing please except my apology. I am confused myself and in writing it out I am trying to understand it better. I am sometimes suspicious that that confusion wasn’t the intent.

At the board meeting the day before Superintendent Deasy spoke about how it was important for the BOC to weigh in …but he didn’t personally make the presentation to the BOC and didn’t send anyone from his executive staff (the so-called “sponsors”) to present to the BOC. (At earlier meetings the BOC was informed that Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill was the official point-of-contact for the BOC on the Common Core Technology Project). Matt Hill wasn’t there Wednesday.

Geraldo Leora and Bernadette Lucas from the office of instruction had no presentation to make – announcing they were present only to answer questions.

● They were questioned on the Board Report dated December 10th (which makes up the superintendents official request for devices)
● And also on the letter from the superintendent to the Bond Oversight Committee (also dated December 10th) that MODIFIED/REDUCED the requests of the Dec 10th Board Report and addressed almost all of the BOC’s request for information in our resolution 2013-33 of Nov 20th.

[The Dec 10th Board Report was actually posted on December 5th to meet the 72 hour advance notice requirement for Board Action; the superintendents letter to the BOC was actually sent December 10th – so the BOC anticipated that the Superintendent’s letter a further modified position]

NOTE: All meeting materials referred to here are available here:

It became embarrassingly obvious at Wednesday’s Bond Oversight meeting that Mr. Leora and Ms. Lucas were unaware of the superintendent's letter of December 10th. They had been sent to defend the Board Report. So ether Dr. Deasy had not communicated his Dec. 10th position to his staff – or he has reverted to his previous position

The situation becomes more confusing in that there are two versions of the Board Report 129 13/14 dated December 10th, the earlier one (from prior to the BOC input of Nov 20th) contains the request for iPads for all teachers and administrators, abandoned shortly after the 11/20 BOC review. Boardmember Garcia continued to refer to this version in the Nov 1th Board Meeting.

►District staff was requesting APPROVAL of the most recent (12/5) Board Report, there was no motion from the BOC for approval or second so the Motion died without action.

►There was then a vote to REjECT the Board Report, and that carried by a majority vote.

►There was then a motion to AMEND THE BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE’S NOV 20th RESOLUTION 2013-33 OF LIMITED SUPPORT for Phase 2 and 1L to include support for MOST of the superintendent’s most recent request but specifically stipulating that the reduced numbers and budget are Not To Exceed Limits and that the BOC requests regular reporting+accountability and expects further downward modification as a districtwide inventory of existing computers is completed in January. That motion CARRIED by a majority and the BOC’s amended recommendation will be returned to the Board of Ed for final action as RESOLUTION 2013-33A Again, see: for the sordid details.

Unaddressed in any of the action on Wednesday was the Apple/Pearson contract and/or the Pearson content.

The iPads specifically for testing – and the laptops for phase 1L high schools will not have the Pearson content.

See: IT’S TIME TO INVESTIGATE PEARSON IN TEXAS, TOO …but why stop there? California’s nice this time of year!

AT THE LEAST THE CELEBRATION OF THE MIDWINTER SOLSTICE, THE KRONIA/SATURNALIA/YALDA/ALBAN ARTHUAN/CHRISTMAS SEASON is a combination of hype and commercialization. At its best it is a juxtaposition of hope with the promise of salvation. Kind of like education.

The single known historical event in the Christmas story; the Augustinian census and the speculative appearance of a strange celestial event coincide, like all coincidences do. Was the Nova Bethlehem a comet, the “Chinese Star”, or a supernova?

[Some Notes on the Visibility of the 5BC Chinese Star |]

Was it a fiction to fulfill a prophesy ...or was it a miracle?

Every birth is a miracle – every life miraculous. And fiction is something that didn’t happen, not something that isn’t true.

In the end we accept what we accept on faith; faith is the substance of hope.

“And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people’.”

Happy Holidays –

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


By The Times editorial board |

December 20, 2013 :: Los Angeles schools showed the second-highest improvement in the nation on a test of urban school districts that is widely considered one of the most reliable measurements of student skills. This is cause for applause but also some frustration, because even the experts don't know which factors are driving the improvement. The long-term success of students here and across the country depends on finding out.

The Trial Urban District Assessment uses the biannual test that's familiarly called the nation's report card, or more formally the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The program oversamples fourth- and eighth-grade students in participating school districts in order to get valid results for them.

L.A. Unified's scores have been rising slowly since the urban district assessment began a decade ago, but figures released this week showed a more significant jump. Among L.A.'s fourth-graders, for example, the percentage of math students scoring at the bottom level — known as "below basic" — fell from 37% to 31%.

None of this makes L.A. Unified a high-achieving district. Only 25% of its fourth-graders tested at proficient or advanced levels in math, and only 18% in reading. Still, improved scores indicate that something has been going right. The question is, what?

Researchers say it's impossible to ferret out the reasons because the implementation of school reforms tends be haphazard, overly broad and seldom assessed. The higher scores seem to indicate, as reformers have claimed, that smaller class sizes don't necessarily matter much; class sizes increased during the last few years because of the state's budget crisis even as the test scores went up. At the same time, scores rose without the change sought by Supt. John Deasy and other reformers that would tie teachers' performance ratings to their students' test scores. Apparently, teachers are successfully improving scores without that kind of pressure.

The higher test scores might reflect policies from years ago that are only now starting to show results. Or some factors might not even be related to changes at schools at all, said UC Berkeley education professor Bruce Fuller. Education levels among Latina mothers have been rising, and maternal education has long been considered an important factor in early literacy.

With hundreds of millions of dollars coming to L.A. Unified from an improved state budget and a new school funding formula, it's more important than ever for the district to use the money in targeted ways that can be measured and then copied if they're successful. Future progress depends on knowing what works.

by Tom Chorneau - SI&A Cabinet Report |

December 19, 2013( Calif.) :: New eligibility requirements for participating in the California Public Employees’ Retirement System exclude private operators of charter schools, officials at the California Charter Schools Association said Wednesday.

The new requirements were adopted earlier this year in anticipation of changes to federal tax law that would tighten the definition of a government entity participating in a public pension. That is, whether an applicant is truly an agency or political subdivision of the state – a test private charter operators apparently can no longer meet.

Charter advocates charge that five recent applicants – all of which are controlled by a private, non-elected board have been rejected by CalPERS for enrollment under the new policy.

They call the action premature and argue it violates the rights of charter schools under current law.

“Nowhere else is this sort of policy being even considered,” said Myna Castrejon, senior vice president of government affairs for the association. “It is jeopardizing the security and retirement of charter school employees and we’re urging that the board to reverse this decision and return to the policy of admitting all public charter schools and their employees into the system.”

If left unchallenged, the move could pose an enormous problem to the charter movement nationally given that CalPERS manages the second largest pension funding in the U.S. and is well known as a trend setter.

At issue are proposed changes to the definition of a “government plan” being considered by the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department. The two agencies offered draft regulations two years ago aimed at updating the code.

According to a CalPERS staff report made to the Pension and Health Benefit Committee Tuesday, the new rules require that public pension managers ensure new participants conform under a list of eligibility tests. The questions include: who controls an entity’s board; who bears fiscal responsibility; and the entity’s authority to exercise “sovereign powers of the state” such as taxation.

Pension staff reported that although the IRS regulations are not final, the new rules are based on existing guidance and reflect current law. They also noted that allow even one non-governmental entity to be included in CalPERS “could jeopardize” the system’s status.

Castrejon noted that no similar action is being considered at the California Teachers’ Retirement System, which continues to accept all credentialed employees at charter schools.

Further, she said, that every other state that authorizes charter schools either requires or permits charter school participation in the state’s retirement system.

Finally, she said, after hearings held across the country about the proposed tax rules – charter schools made strong objections to the proposed language, generating more than 2,000 critical comments and letters in opposition from nearly two dozen members of Congress. “Yet, in February, CalPERS decided to revise its procedures, making it the only state retirement system in the country to do so,” Castrejon said.

●● smf's 2¢: Certain federal courts and the Bureau of the Census, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, have previously determined that charter schools are not public schools (as they claim) but private schools. Like defense contractors they are private entities using public funds doing public work.


Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice |

December 6, 2013 · 1:00 am :: The rollout of iPads in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is becoming a classic case study of what not-to-do when implementing any innovation whether it is high-tech or low-tech. I wrote about the adoption of the innovation six months ago.

What is clear now is that teachers and principals were excluded from the decision-making process. The Total Cost of Operation (TCO) was a mystery to the Board of Education who made the decision. And the initial deployment of the devices was so botched that the pilot project was put on hold. Phase 2 and the eventual distribution of devices to all LAUSD students remains to be decided once errors have been sorted out.

Called The Common Core Technology Project, each iPad costs the district $678, higher than the price of an iPad bought in an Apple store, but it comes with a case (no keyboard, however) and an array of pre-loaded software aimed at preparing students for the impending Common Core standards and the state online testing system. The Board of Education and Superintendent John Deasy want each student to have access to an iPad. With mostly Latino and poor students in LAUSD, the eventual cost of this contract with Apple Inc. could run over $400 million.

Were the Board and Superintendent to have paused and examined the history of using technology in public schools, they might have thought twice before major bollixes occurred.

1. There is no body of evidence that iPads will increase math and reading scores on state standardized tests. There is no evidence that students using iPads (or laptops or desktop computers) will get decent paying jobs after graduation.

These are the most common reasons boards of education and school administrators across the nation give for buying tablets for K-12 students. But not in LAUSD.

Acquiring 1:1 iPads for students, according to the LAUSD press release is to: “provide an individualized, interactive and informative-rich learning environment” for every student. One would have to assume that such an “environment” would lead to gains in test scores. But it is an assumption. Since many low-income families do not have computers at home or Internet connections, providing iPads is a worthy reason–what used to be called “closing the digital divide“–for the large expenditure.

On what basis, however, will the district determine whether to move to phase 2 of the plan? Again, according to the official press release, the assessment of this first phase “will include feedback … from teachers, students, parents and other key stakeholders.” That’s it. No hard data on how often the devices were used, in what situations, and under what conditions. Nor mention of data on student outcomes.

Now, informal surveys of teachers and school administrators show mixed reactions, even disaffection for iPads in classrooms.

2. Apart from “closing the digital divide,” the main reason for the Apple Inc. contract is that Common Core standards and accompanying online tests are on the horizon and due to arrive in 2014-2015. LAUSD wants teachers and students to be ready.

3. The true cost of this experiment runs far higher than the projected $400 million to give iPads to 655,000 students. That is what Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) means. The cost for the iPad is given as $678 per unit (remember, there is no keyboard usually listed at $100 which will have to be bought eventually for secondary school students).Now, budget-watchers discovered that the devices will cost even more. An Oops! that surprised the Board of Education.

Funds to hire school technical assistants, providing the wireless infrastructure, loss of tablets, and repair of broken tablets, insurance, professional development for teachers, costs for replacement devices when three-year warranties expire—I could go on but these numbers double and triple the published hardware and software costs. Consider that the reports of the $30 million contract with Apple Inc. omitted that the Board of Education approved $50 million for this first phase to accommodate some of these other costs detailed above.

And just a few days ago, a major Oops! was announced when the Board of Education, in questioning a top administrator, discovered that the software license to use the math and English curriculum expires after three years—the clock began ticking last July when the Board approved the contract. Renewal of the license in just over two years will cost another $60 million. Add that to the TCO.

Intel, a company with a vested interest in Microsoft tablets and a losing competitor in the LAUSD bid for a contract, produced a white paper [follows] that pointed out that TCO runs from two to three times higher than the announced price of the device. No one said a word about that.

The point is that administrators and school boards eager to buy devices hide TCO in separate documents or glossy verbiage. In other instances, they simply do not know or care to find out in their enthusiasm for the innovation. LAUSD experienced a perfect storm of mistakes in plunging into iPads without much forethought and a glance in the rear-view mirror for earlier reform debacles in putting into practice a high-tech innovation.

Larry Cuban is a former high school social studies teacher (14 years), district superintendent (7 years) and university professor (20 years). He has published op-ed pieces, scholarly articles and books on classroom teaching, history of school reform, how policy gets translated into practice, and teacher and student use of technologies in K-12 and college.

His most recent research projects have been a study of school reform in Austin (TX) 1954-2009 and of a large comprehensive high school in Mapleton (CO) being converted into several small ones between 2001-2009. The Austin book, As Good As It Gets, and the Mapleton study entitled Against the Odds (with co-authors Gary Lichtenstein, Arthur Evenchik, Martin Tombari, and Kristen Pozzoboni) were published in early 2010. He and Jane David have just finished a second edition of Cutting through the Hype that was published in late 2010.

Currently, he has just completed a two-year study of a high school where teachers and students have had 1:1 laptops since 2004. He has been writing vignettes of teachers and other aspects of the study and posting them from time to time on this blog



by Eloise Porter, President, Los Angeles City Elementary Schools Music Assoc writes 4LAKids

Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 11:14 PM

So it seems the powers-that-be at LAUSD care not for children--only for numbers.

In the latest effort to be 'fair' in assigning the correct number of arts semesters based on enrollment numbers in our elementary schools, the District, in its great wisdom, is again creating chaos for students and destroying long-standing instrumental music programs, as well as bringing confusion to schools with other art teachers who are being moved after schools planned for their schedules.

For some background, itinerant elementary music teachers have always been assigned to schools for an entire year, although the newer program of Dance, Theater, and Visual Art (VAPA) was scheduled in shorter blocks of time. This school year there are 36 schools with general music programs that have been down-graded to one semester only. This is NOT creating a music program. However, we were told that the administrators in the Arts Branch understood that they had to maintain year-long programs for instrumental music, due to the distribution of instruments and the amount of time needed for a child to become skillful on any instrument.

However, on Tuesday last week, December 10, two of our instrumental teachers were told (without prior notice) that they would have to leave one of their schools (schools with long-established instrumental programs) and move to another school in January that has never had an instrumental program. This change of assignment, they were told, was because of changes in enrollment on norm day last September. This means several things:

Children will be devastated and orchestra programs destroyed
Instruments will have to be collected from students who have learned to play them.
Students in the new school will not have any instruction until at least mid February, because of the audition process and process for distributing instruments
Principals in future will not trust that they can sign up for an instrumental program and expect it--or any other arts program--to continue.
People who knew about this in October did not share it until now, making it impossible for schools to find another solution, such as raising funds to keep their program.

The elementary instrumental music program has never been an 'introduction to instruments' program, but rather a sequential learning experience building to elementary orchestra and on to middle and high school bands and orchestras. The School Board passed a resolution the establish the arts as a core subject. In addition, they asked Deasy to provide a budget to support restoration of the arts program to 2008-9 levels. This recent action is definitely NOT the way to do it. To destroy established instrumental programs in Title I schools in the middle of the school year seems especially egregious, unnecessary, and totally ineffective in delivering music education.

Because of lack of transparency in the District, it is impossible for us to know or find out who is responsible for this decision. Steven McCarthy or Judi Garret, Arts Administrators? (Both theater people by training) Susan Tandberg or Gerardo Loera or Jaime Aquino in the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and School Support (OCISS)? John Deasy? Who knows???

Thank you for any help you can give bringing this matter to the attention of the public.


Eloise Porter, President, LACESMA
Los Angeles City Elementary Schools Music Association

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
IN THE ‘SILENT PRISON’ OF AUTISM, IDO SPEAKS OUT: The high school student's 'Ido in Autismland' is part memoir...


IT’S TIME TO INVESTIGATE PEARSON IN TEXAS, TOO …but why stop there? California’s nice this time of year!: In ...


RELEASE OF NAEP 2013 READING AND MATH DATA FOR LAUSD: tweeted and posted online by Howard Blume of the Los Ang...

CalPERS MOVES TO EXCLUDE PRIVATELY RUN CHARTER SCHOOLS: by Tom Chorneau - SI&A Cabinet Report | http://bit.l...

1st Look/Taking Initiative: THE PROTECTION OF LOCAL SCHOOL REVENUES ACT OF 2014: via email from Educate our St...

®hee-Form 2014: “BAD TEACHERS” THE TARGET OF TWO PROPOSED BALLOT INITIATIVES 2014: California measure would re...

TWEET: Public Comment on the Draft Revised #LCFF Regs & Accountability Template (cont)


UCSF CHANCELLOR RESIGNS TO HEAD GATES FOUNDATION: Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chancellor of UC San Francisco since...

The 1st of 3-to-3-ties?: LAUSD BOARD DELAYS ACTION ON FILLING BOARD SEAT, iPAD NEXT PHASE: L.A. Unified board ...

TWEET: "Some things will be imperfect" because of the iPad delay”, Deasy said. Because perfection would've been the outcome otherwise!

A SECOND LOOK AT THE iPADS IN LOS ANGELES: Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice | http://bit.l...


CHARTERS GET KIDS CUBICLE-READY: Samantha Winslow | LaborNotes | A Rocketship char...


HOW TO START A REVOLUTION: Diane Ravitch and the Angry Rebellion against Common Core: Wielding her influential...

Jackie Goldberg & David Tokofsky: Holding a special election in #LAUSD Board District 1 would waste time and money.

ACT NOW AND NAME A REPLACEMENT L.A. SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: The late Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte's District 1 c...

#LAUSD | East L.A. high school girls volleyball coach accused of lewd acts


EVENTS: Coming up next week...

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


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

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

Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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