Sunday, September 14, 2014

Amplification of the Lamb effect with Spin Connection Resonance

4LAKids: Sunday 14•Sept•2014
In This Issue:
 •  STRAINED TIES CLOUD FUTURE OF DEASY, LAUSD: “Deasy …is questioning whether he should step down.”
 •  MiSiS: WHO WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE? + Norm Day Update + smf’s 2¢ (The question isn’t hypothetical, and the answer is Dr. Deasy)
 •  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:
 •  Give the gift of a 4LAKids Subscription to a friend or colleague!
 •  Follow 4 LAKids on Twitter - or get instant updates via text message by texting "Follow 4LAKids" to 40404
 •  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.
A 4LAKids reader emailed me last week, as the revelation that Superintendent Deasy had ‘lawyered up” and was calling for investigations of the Board of Ed’s emails with technology vendors broke. He suggested the line: “Let all the poison that lurks in the mud hatch out” from Robert Graves’ novel “I Claudius” be the title/theme of this week’s essay/rant/screed.

I took the suggestion to heart. Graves is a beacon; a WWI battlefield poet who survived the horror of English boarding schools and the trenches. Graves was a poet-wordsmith of the highest order who lived a very complicated life and wrote poetry+prose that blur the definitions of both – who wrote of the politics of the Roman Empire, the British Empire and the bedroom - and did so with equal measures of artfulness and wit and truth and ink.

(I attended a Youth Over Violence/STOP [Students Together Organizing Peace] ART show Saturday night [] by Franklin High School Students where the written word was celebrated alongside the visual and performance art forms – my heart sings and dances and soars like an eagle – as did the student’s. Vote Here: to encourage similar do-goodery!)

Graves wrote: “The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good.”

I did some superficial research on the context of the quote – in which Claudius explains his decision to name the catastrophic Nero as his successor: “I have been too good an emperor, too fair and too honest. I will give Rome Nero and when he is done with Rome, Rome will be done with emperors altogether. It will be bad, exceedingly bad…worse even than Caligula but they have to have the whole terrible truth about just how bad it can be before they come to their senses. Let all of the poisons that lurk in the mud, hatch out.”

How apropos as we deal the Crisis of the Moment: The continuing/continuous Crisis of Succession as Romer was followed by Brewer and the Party of ®eform inserted the eminently qualified+experienced and fatally flawed (by the economy, mayoral confidence and sex) Cortines …succeeded by the dubiously qualified Dr. Deasy (Ph.D. from University of Louisville, Broad Superintendents’ Academy, Class of ‘06).

Deasy looks good on paper, but the paper itself is suspect. What next as we contemplate Deasy’s end game, rife with conflict and threatened litigation, criminal and civil?

My search for the citation led me into a very vigorous and intellectually rife – and utterly fascinating - online debate by British theoretical physicists over Climate Change and ‘Who Writes History?’ and Poetry and Quantum Mechanics - quoting Feynman and Graves under the heading: “Amplification of the Lamb effect with Spin Connection Resonance.“ I love that title, it takes the X meets Y Hollywood pitch trope and connects Hannibal Lecher to Karl Rove in my twisted thinking. Can Eli Broad’s Frankenstein monster be far behind? And titles, I learned long ago, like jokes and recipes, are not protected by copyright.

I CITED THE THREE STRIKES against Deasy a week or so back.
• The LAUSD/iPad/Pearson procurement– which appears not just to be a RFP that needs to be undone/redone …but an actual criminal act
• The MiSiS Crisis – an act of hubris right out of the LAUSD playbook. Think Belmont Learning Complex. Think Business Tools for Schools.
• The initial rejection of LAUSD’s Local Control Accountability Plan by LACOE

That called third strike seems to have been successfully appealed to the first base umpire – though the decision may be temporary - but it has been followed by two more swings+misses:
• Deasy has lawyered up – acquiring personal counsel expert at defending charges of Contract Fixing.
• Deasy has challenged the Board of Ed itself – questioning their motives+actions in dealing with technology vendors.

It’s easy to find one-word definitions for this strategy. Grandstanding. Misdirection. Etc.

But the first to mind is: Insubordination.

The superintendent reports to the Board of Ed, not they to him. If he suspects them of wrongdoing his recourse is through the Office of the General Counsel. Or the Inspector General. Or law enforcement itself. Hiring his own attorney and going after them is insubordinate – and any number of thesaurus words: Mutinous, disobedient, rebellious, willfully defiant.

To go all pop-cultural, one does not “lawyer-up” and then sing “Take this Job and Shove It!”
Well that foreman he's a regular dog
The line boss he's a fool
Got a brand new flattop hair cut
Lord he thinks he's cool

One of these days I'm gonna blow my top
And that sucker he's gonna pay
Lord I can't wait to see their faces
When I get the nerve to say

Take this job and shove it
I ain't working here no more
My woman done left
And took all the reasons
I was working for.
– Music+Lyrics: David Allan Coe

In light of Deasy’s insubordination I don’t see any other way for the board to act but to ask for his resignation. They should do this quickly and they should do it unanimously.

I just hope when they figure out how much money they will need to pay him to go away that they
a) don’t agree to defend him in any criminal charges that may come down; to agree to such condones his actions as they presently understand them. And
b) that the severance package terminates if there is a criminal conviction or a plea bargain. And
c) that whatever contract settlement is reached is reached openly and publicly.

IT’S PREMATURE TO ASSIGN JOHN DEASY TO THE PAST TENSE, but the LA Times writes (following): “Supt. John Deasy ’… is questioning whether he should step down’.”

While Deasy implodes we can all see the end of this chapter of the nightmare. There may be a sigh of relief but we cannot gloat, we cannot celebrate. There isn’t time. There is and will much work to do.

This district will continue to suffer from lack of effective leadership until some can be found; both in the superintendent’s office and on the board itself.

The board will need to coalesce and reconcile. They will need to agree to:
1. An interim superintendent. Someone to hold down the fort.
2. A transition plan.
3. A national search for a permanent superintendent.

(“Permanent” is a misnomer: I sat down with Dr. Cortines (a superintendent six times over) at one point and it was he who drew the baseball manager analogy: On the day any superintendent is hired he or she must realize that the day will come when they will be fired.)

When Deasy departs there are some folks who will need to leave with him, hopefully they will know who they are. We don’t need a witch hunt or a whole lot of “you agreed with him, you gotta go”, any more than we need any “I was always secretly against everything he stood for.” Breakfast in the Classroom is a case in point – it’s a program that should survive (with improvements) A.D.

Earlier I said the board must reconcile among themselves. Reconciliation between teachers and administrators and staff and parents and students and, critically: Voters, taxpayers and the community will take time. Faith has been breached.

Reconciliation will not be negotiated or established by policy or resolutions; billboards and bus ads about a “Whole New LAUSD” won’t cut it. It must be earned.

Whatever happens from here on out needs to be transparent and open; ethical, moral and legal.

We expect and require no less.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

STRAINED TIES CLOUD FUTURE OF DEASY, LAUSD: “Deasy …is questioning whether he should step down.”

By Teresa Watanabe, Howard Blume | L.A. Times |

Sept 13, 2014 :: The controversy engulfing Los Angeles Unified's $1.3-billion technology project has inflamed long-held tensions between the Board of Education and Supt. John Deasy, who is questioning whether he should step down.

In an interview, Deasy acknowledged that the continuing focus on the project, which aimed to give every student, teacher and campus administrator an iPad, has hampered his effectiveness and eroded his support on the board.

"I have thought about whether I have the ability to do what I need to do effectively. I think about it all the time," Deasy said, adding that he no longer feels he and the board are "united on the same mission and in the same way to accomplish this mission as when we started."

The school board appears to be dysfunctional. There is too much petty politics. There is too much micromanagement. - George Kieffer, chairman, Civic Alliance

The superintendent exposed the strain this week when he demanded emails between the board and technology companies, including those involved in the iPad program. Deasy requested the records to ferret out any potential ties. The superintendent is under scrutiny for precisely such connections between himself and those firms.

A highly critical report from a school board member, released last month, found that the bidding process may have had the appearance of favoritism toward Apple, which supplied the iPads, and Pearson, which provided the instructional software. Soon after, district emails were released that showed Deasy and former Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino had begun discussing a possible contract with Apple and Pearson two years before the bidding for the project began.

Deasy suspended future purchases under the contract and relaunched the bidding.

The district's inspector general has begun a full investigation into the procurement process.

Deasy and Aquino have denied any impropriety.

But Deasy said in the interview this week that damage has been done.

"These topics have wounded my ability around aggressive leadership," he said.

School board President Richard Vladovic declined to speculate about whether Deasy's leadership had been compromised.

"Any distraction is a hindrance, but we're going to continue to move forward," Vladovic said.

Civic leaders and community groups that organized campaigns to press for Deasy's contract extension last year have not mounted any similar show of support. Leaders say they are still watching the situation.

Some have said they are cautious about launching a collective campaign to back Deasy until all questions are answered over the iPad deal. Some also said the issue has never sparked the passion of their members as much as, for example, equitable spending for needy children.

"In the 50 years I've lived in Los Angeles, there has never been a better, more effective superintendent of the LAUSD than John Deasy," philanthropist Eli Broad said in a statement. "I'm disappointed that John's detractors have seized upon this issue to further criticize his work and to attempt to derail the progress under his leadership. My support of John Deasy has never been stronger."

George Kieffer, chairman of the Civic Alliance — a network of leaders from major foundations and civic groups — said this week that the majority of members continue to support Deasy. He and leaders of such organizations as InnerCity Struggle and Community Coalition have credited Deasy with leading successful efforts to increase student attendance, graduation rates and completion of college preparatory courses, among other matters.

Kieffer said Deasy must take "ownership" of problems in the iPad rollout and resolve them.

But he and other allies also chided the school board for what they view as an excessive focus on the iPad project at the expense of issues directly tied to student learning.

"The school board appears to be dysfunctional," Kieffer said. "There is too much petty politics. There is too much micromanagement."

Elise Buik, who heads United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said the iPad issue "is being used as a platform to personally attack" Deasy and called on all sides to refocus on student learning.

School board member Steve Zimmer rejected that criticism. He said his responsibilities required him to make sure the district was getting the best technology deal possible for the millions of public tax dollars being spent.

The investigation underway, he said, was not aimed at Deasy but at the "integrity of the process."

Zimmer also took issue with the perception that the board was not focusing on educational issues.

In the last few days, he said, he and Deasy have discussed how to stabilize schools facing declining enrollments, invest in dual immersion language programs and keep struggling students engaged in school through athletic programs.

Still, it is clear that fallout over the iPad project has weakened Deasy's position with the school board after months of relative peace during which they were able to forge key agreements to increase spending for needy students, improve discipline policies and rein in campus police practices.

Deasy always has had frosty relations with board member Bennett Kayser, the closest ally of the teachers union. Kayser's office complained early that Deasy made no effort to forge a working relationship, and any rapport now seems long beyond repair.

The superintendent reached out to board member Monica Ratliff after she was elected last year. Ratliff, however, was the author of the report critical of the iPad project, and their relationship appears to have been harmed by her unrelenting focus on it.

The superintendent's political allies had unsuccessfully targeted four current members of the school board for defeat in recent elections — Zimmer, Kayser, Ratliff and McKenna.

It was probably only a matter of time before Deasy had to deal with the fallout, whether it was over iPads or something else.

Stalled contract talks with the teachers union have only exacerbated Deasy's problems.

Deasy said he doesn't believe the union is willing to reach a deal with him — a point on which some of his supporters and critics agree.

Union leader Alex Caputo-Pearl doesn't go that far. But he does suggest Deasy's leadership style is ill-matched to the job and that, on merit, Deasy could be replaced for his handling of the iPad contract and a new student information system, called MISIS, that has malfunctioned.

For Caputo-Pearl and board members, personal and policy issues have combined to make Deasy's future in the district less tenable.

Deasy said he is trying to concentrate on what needs to get done in schools.

"I work every day for the benefit of youth and their parents. I don't try to measure if I'm appreciated," he said.

"I do the work I think is right."


By Howard Blume | LA Times |

12 Sept 2014 :: LAUSD Supt. Deasy is requesting records of contacts between board members and tech firms

L.A. Unified leaders request for board members' emails opens a new front in battle over iPad plan

In a bold challenge to his bosses, L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy has filed a public records request seeking emails and other documents involving school board members and nearly two dozen companies including those at the center of the controversial iPad project.

The move opens a new front in the fallout over a contract between the L.A. Unified School District and Apple. Until now, the focus has been on communications that Deasy and his top deputy had with the computer giant, which supplied the iPads, and with Pearson, the curriculum company that provided the instructional software on the devices.

The contract was the major piece in a $1.3-billion effort to provide a computer to every student, teacher and campus administrator in the nation's second-largest school system. Deasy recently suspended future purchases under that contract. He has denied any improprieties in connection with it.

The district's inspector general has begun reviewing communications among the two companies, Deasy, and then-Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino, who left the district at the end of 2013. Aquino also has defended his actions.

Deasy, through his Century City lawyer, Harvey I. Saferstein, apparently is attempting to unearth any possible ties between board members and technology companies.

At one level, Deasy's focus on the Board of Education does not seem surprising, said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

"It's not as if they were going on long camping trips together before this happened," he said, referring to tensions between Deasy and some board members. "Deasy obviously feels he's been unfairly attacked for communications he believes are completely appropriate. This looks like his effort to find out if the pots are calling the kettle black."

The Deasy and Aquino emails contain detailed instructions about a possible contract between Pearson and L.A. Unified. Deasy has described it as a potential pilot program that never occurred. The exchanges discussed training 2,000 teachers who, in turn, would coach their colleagues across the sprawling school system. Other correspondence alluded to a possible partnership with Apple to provide devices. In one email, Aquino noted the need to ensure that Pearson is the low bidder.

Aquino has said he was merely reminding Pearson about the rules for winning contracts.

Deasy obviously feels he's been unfairly attacked.... This looks like his effort to find out if the pots are calling the kettle black. - Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC

The district eventually conducted a formal bidding process that resulted in the selection of the Apple/Pearson team. Deasy recused himself because he owned Apple stock. Aquino supervised the bidding, but said he did not intervene in evaluating the proposals.

Deasy has said that contacts with vendors are routine, even when they occur before the start of bidding. He also has said that the elected school board members meet with companies and accept campaign donations from them even though they later must vote on contracts involving those firms.

Deasy declined to comment about the records request. Saferstein could not be reached.

The Public Records Act request, dated Sept. 10, targets board members George McKenna, Monica Garcia, Tamar Galatzan, Steve Zimmer and Bennett Kayser. It seeks "all meeting notes and correspondence (including emails and letters)" from Jan. 1, 2012, through Sept. 1, 2014, involving board members and their staff in connection to a list of 18 technology companies and two individuals.

The companies include Lenovo, Microsoft, Apple, Toshiba, Dell, HP, Acer, Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Amplify Education Inc. and News Corp.

All of these companies sell computers or materials, such as curriculum or software, to school districts.

The request also includes Meg Whitman, the HP chief executive who ran unsuccessfully for California governor, and Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City school system; he left that job to head Amplify, a subsidiary of News Corp.

An earlier request, on Aug. 28, from Saferstein sought the same records from board President Richard Vladovic and board member Monica Ratliff.

Ratliff headed a panel that examined the district's technology program. Last month, she released a critical report on those efforts. She faulted senior officials for creating the appearance of favored treatment for the winning vendors.

When asked about the records request, Vladovic responded: "It doesn't bother me. I'm very transparent."

Vladovic was reluctant to comment on whether Deasy's action indicated a deteriorating relationship with some members of the Board of Education, which supervises the superintendent.

"I don't believe so," Vladovic said. "I'm not going to speculate on that."

Zimmer said he had "no way of knowing what is motivating this request."

"It is certainly within his right if he feels he has to do this in the interest of full and fair public scrutiny," Zimmer said. "It doesn't feel good, but I understand."

He added: "I'm going to work with the superintendent as I did before."

The requested emails cover a period dating back more than two years. Under current district policy, many of those emails might have been automatically destroyed after one year. Emails haven't been routinely deleted because of technical and staff limitations.

Ratliff said earlier this week she would ask the board to change the policy to preserve documents for longer periods.

Board member Garcia, a Deasy ally, declined to comment about the records request. Ratliff, Galatzan and McKenna could not be reached Thursday.

Times staff writer Teresa Watanabe contributed to this story.

●●smf's 2¢: couriouser+couriouser:

• Thursday morning LAUSD hosted a special: CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RECORDS ACT LAUSD ATTORNEY TRAINING at Beaudry, conducted by the law firm of Albright, Yee and Schmitt, LLP. The PowerPoint is here:
• Doesn’t the superintendent report to the board of education? …not vice versa?
• Isn’t the Inspector General the investigative arm of the school district?

DEASY LAWYERS UP: From the bio page of Deasy’s lawyer, Harvey I. Saferstein |

Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC

Harvey Saferstein

“Harvey has also represented persons and companies alleged to have been involved in criminal price fixing.”

….and under “Representative Matters”:

“Currently representing a company in a bid-rigging investigation in Los Angeles County”

MiSiS: WHO WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE? + Norm Day Update + smf’s 2¢ (The question isn’t hypothetical, and the answer is Dr. Deasy)
Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Update Week of September 15, 2014 |

“T’was the day before Norm Day - ” Thursday, Sept 11, 2014 :: While the billion-dollar iPad initiative has resulted in national negative media attention and critical questions about the procurement process which will be investigated by the Office of the Inspector General, it is the MiSiS crisis that has made us doubt the wisdom of LAUSD’s priorities and decision making. Recognizing that schools are complex, living entities that require immediate access to information to function smoothly, AALA supported the stated purpose of MiSiS - a reliable student information system that promised to do more than either the 1980s Student Information System (SIS) or the awkward combination of SIS and its failed replacement, the Integrated Student information System (ISIS). Administrators were looking forward to using a system that would facilitate their data management and enormous compliance constraints by aligning student and staff information across multiple platforms.

We knew that the software development project was enormously complex and ambitious because it necessitated tracking attendance, grades, discipline and other data for 650,000 students from 35-40,000 data entry/access points in classrooms and offices. We respect the hard work of the MiSiS Team and know that it must be frustrating to be responsible for implementing new software with absolutely no backup plan, at least a year before it was ready. Given another year to refine and perfect its functionality, MiSiS probably would have worked reasonably well in August 2015, but in 2014, it is negatively impacting the school year and has made life truly miserable for thousands of LAUSD counselors, clerical staff, coordinators and administrators.

At the August 26 Board Meeting, Chief Information Officer Ronald Chandler admitted that he recommended that the implementation of MiSiS go forward this year. At the same meeting, Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill also accepted responsibility for recommending to Superintendent Deasy that the project proceed. Obviously, these recommendations were premature, resulting in an untenable situation for school personnel. Meanwhile, Superintendent Deasy was quoted in L.A. School Report (8/21/14) saying that he now plans to hire an “independent liaison” to keep him informed about MiSiS. “This is not my area of expertise,” he said. We suggest that he should have considered this action prior to the 2013-14 school year.

Reports from the field are critical and demoralizing. These are just a few of the most recent complaints that AALA has received from its members and other school-site personnel:

• Teacher rosters of students who have submitted free/reduced lunch applications cannot be run. With the deadline for reporting this crucial count rapidly approaching, September 23, schools do not know which students/parents need to be contacted to turn in their applications. This could result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding.

• In a school last week, paramedics had to be called for two students and staff was unable to print their emergency information from MiSiS. They had to resort to SIS, which has not been updated since last spring, and which may have contained dated information (or none at all if the students were new to the school).

• Some students who were enrolled or who had information changed during the first week of school seemed to have random parents/guardians and telephone numbers assigned. They did not even recognize the people listed in their records.

• A student who was killed in a hit/run accident and marked withdrawn before school began, is still showing up on teacher attendance sheets. Fortunately, Connect-Ed calls have not been made to the student’s home.

• Transcripts printed from MiSiS are not accurate, containing incorrect CAHSEE and other test results. The graduation year field is blank for many students and data cannot be entered into it. Without reliable information, counselors cannot guide students along the path to graduation.

• As soon as students are withdrawn at one school, they are often automatically reenrolled. This means that they won’t show up in MiSiS at the school they actually attend.

• Elementary principals sent AALA these comments: No ELD Rosters to start the year; log-on time is too long; we input student information and then it disappears; have to enter and exit several screens before being able to find the information one needs; Help Desk is not always helpful and wait time has been as long as 3 hours; cannot do class rosters or print labels; problems already with the classification report; new teachers’ information still not captured by MiSiS.

We take no pleasure in saying, “I told you so,” but Messrs. Chandler and Hill were warned, repeatedly and in compelling detail, during a series of eight meetings, a total of 22 hours) between November 2012 and May 2014. AALA hosted these meetings, and both Matt Hill and Ron Chandler, along with other high-level ITD staff attended a majority of them; AALA and UTLA members with decades of experience using SIS and ISIS represented LAUSD’s schools. Summaries were published following each meeting. Now, in a move that is just a replication of what AALA initiated two years ago, Mr. Hill is establishing focus groups of principals and teachers to find out specific needs at the school site.

We would characterize this as a comedy of errors if basic school procedures were not so severely impaired; but five weeks into the school year, we have to wonder of what use MiSiS will be this year-and how even the most basic school functions will occur as the year progresses. While senior staff members are accepting responsibility and focusing on their new theme of precision and empathy, those in the field continue to suffer. This entire scenario is absurd and causing so much unnecessary stress and overwork for employees that it cannot be brushed aside with more politically correct justifications.

The Superintendent is charged by the Board of Education to hold teachers, administrators and other staff members accountable for their actions or omissions. How will those responsible for the MiSiS debacle be evaluated and held accountable?

●● NORM DAY UPDATE: This is a MiSiS status report just from one source at a comprehensive high school – (also cited above) - but shared after the above piece was written:

►THURSDAY SEPT 11: Things were needed to do Progress Reports this week.

Please pardon my growing bitterness.
• Secondary Schools Report Cards –
> Still doesn't work for the whole school without timing out.
> Magnets don't exist as far as report cards are concerned
• Missing Grades – Secondary Report – MUST HAVE ASAP! DOESN'T WORK
> Runs, but gives erroneous and totally incomplete data
• Teacher Verification of Marks-Secondary
> Still doesn't work for the whole school
• Instructions posted for Missing Grades – Secondary Report
> Still no instructions, but it's not like the report works
• Instructions posted for Teacher Verification of Marks-Secondary
> Still no instructions, but it's not like the report works
• Gradebook – teachers who used the MiSiS gradebook and submitted early submitted number grades which jam up the grades module. MiSiS sent out instructions YESTERDAY, but they just say how teachers should do it, not how to fix the errors caused by teachers who chose to use the flawed gradebook. (You go to grading scales, click save, then re-export. See, that wasn't hard)
• This is how you treat early adopters?

I am not looking forward to handing out progress reports. Our parents expect more from us. Even if report cards start to work, the data entered is very flawed. I hope you're putting extra people on the help lines and extra staffing at board member & district offices to deal with parent calls.

Again, pardon my growing bitterness.

These things were needed for accurate norm day enrollment

►FRIDAY AM: SEPT 12 [NORM DAY]: On Thursday, September 11, we demoted students from 11th to 10th grade based upon credits.


Not as 11th graders, not as 10th graders. They are gone.

They didn't show Thursday afternoon.

They do not show Friday morning.

The students were demoted with the new "Grade Level Change" button found in enrollment history.

This is big. Even if this issue eventually resolves itself automatically, you will have incorrect data from many schools on their norm day classification reports if data is captured by the district before this is done for other locations.

►AN HOUR LATER: The other issue I'm noticing on our classification report is that on our Week 1, through Week 4 reports that were captured by the district, we don't show any students as Advance to Literacy. If I run the report for a given day, I show the 14 that we actually have. This error needs to be fixed prior to tonights norm day capture or schools will not get the positions they are entitled to.


by Lee Funk | SI&A Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet |

September 10, 2014 :: Using standardized tests as the sole measure of educational performance is a bit like using a measuring tape to calculate weight. You’ll get a number, all right, but it will have limited meaning.

Yet that’s exactly what we have been doing throughout the country since the inception of No Child Left Behind. And nothing much has changed with the waivers granted by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wherein there is flexibility in setting measureable objectives but no provision for de-emphasizing statewide academic assessments.

Whole scale achievement testing provides information about scholastic attainment for the general population and, with data disaggregation, the same measurement for various sub-groups. It also gives a glimpse into general progress as far as subject matter competence is concerned.

Such scores are necessary and profoundly valuable. After all, universal academic proficiency is a primary task for our educational institutions.

But it is not their only purpose.

More than any other social institution in America (even more than churches where, like it or not, attendance has declined to less than 20 percent of the population) schools are expected to be the arbiter of morality, civic responsibility, and social consciousness. They are community hubs wherein at the more than 14,000 local education agencies nationwide priorities for our country’s future our determined every day.

Thomas Jefferson outlined this responsibility in a report for the University of Virginia, nearly 200 years ago, when he stated, “The objects of... primary education …[are]: To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business; to enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts in writing; to improve, by reading, his morals and faculties; to understand his duties to his neighbors and country… to know his rights…and in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.”

An extremely broad charge that has been reinforced by the plethora of state and federal laws mandating that the schools address a host of societal concerns, not necessarily associated with academic prowess, including tobacco use, substance abuse, racial as well as gender equality, bullying, littering, vaccinations, parent engagement, child endangerment, patriotic obligations, and community safety, just to name a few.

On the surface it may seem like it would be impossible to hold educational institutions accountable for such a vast array of enterprises but in fact the voluminous research on quality indicators for schools, often referred to as determiners for “school effectiveness,” provides a very useable and applicable roadmap. In addition to gaging the skills acquired by the student body through school work, we could be determining if the schools themselves are working for the students. Rather than simply institutionalizing knowledge as a quantifiable product we should also be assessing the institution to see if it is productive.

The actual hallmarks of effective schools vary in the literature but there is a core group of five upon which most scholars and practitioners alike agree:

• Dynamic and responsive site level leadership
• Meaningful and active parent engagement
• A productive and positive school climate
• Student centered faculty culture
• High expectations for student performance.

With the exception of the last, none of these characteristics are measureable through mass standardized exams. But there are other instrumental indices available: graduation rates, staff development reports, surveys, student evaluations, etc. The notion that these qualifiers cannot be systematically quantified is a lazy argument. Social science researchers put numbers to abstract concepts like self-efficacy, vocational aptitude, intelligence, even motivation all the time. With operational definitions and ingenuity we could do the same for measuring school performance.

States do not have to wait for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to enact changes in their accountability systems. ESEA only designates minimal standards for measurement. There is nothing to prohibit the designation of additional benchmarks.

If the phrase frequently attributed to Peter Drucker, the nationally recognized expert in management practices, is correct and “what gets measured gets done,” and if we truly expect our school system to be a foundational component of our democracy then we need to broaden the scope for assessment. And after thirteen years of myopic testing we need to enact additional metrics now, before another wave of young people go through the grades as slaves to one narrow aspect of accountability.

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

EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED: "So Bill Gates Has This Idea for a History Class ..." |


A: Because the only things that matter: are money + test scores :: TRUANCY COSTING CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS BILLIONS! |

B: Because the only things that matter are money + test scores :: TRUANCY IS SAVING TAXPAYERS BILLIONS! |

STRAINED TIES CLOUD FUTURE OF DEASY, LAUSD L.A. Times: "Deasy ' questioning whether he should step down'.” |


LAUSD's email rule might not be intended to hide shenanigans, but it certainly could prove a useful tool for doing so.



PLAYING HARDBALL?…OR GONE FISHING? Deasy's request for board member emails opens a new front in battle over iPad plan




ANTI-UNION BIAS @ CRENSHAW: “The District contends that Deasy was not involved.” Where have we heard this before? |



Should L.A. schools be run like businesses? Here's what the new UTLA chief says |

MiSiS a “severe crisis” &/or “a complete joke”, 40,000 students unaccounted-for but “we are continuing to improve.”

A(n in)complete joke on the day before ‘Norm Day’: THE MiSiS CRISIS CONTINUES AT LAUSD | 3 stories |




CORRECTION: "We vs. iPads" where credit’s due |

LAUSD TEACHERS ARE PAID LESS THAN OTHERS IN CALIFORNIA: Compensation including benefits is 1.7% less than CA average

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Committee of the Whole – Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 2:00 p.m.

• 20 Years in the Struggle for Immigrant Rights: From Proposition 187
• Administrative Relief Now
• Unaccompanied Minors: Situation at the Border and in our Schools
• Miguel Contreras Foundation Programs
• Progress Towards The New School Report
• Progress Towards The New Arts Equity Index

And, Ahoy shipmates: Friday Sept 19 is International TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY! Argggh!

*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.