Sunday, October 26, 2014

Another ballad, another thin man

4LAKids: Sunday 26•Oct•2014
In This Issue:
 •  FACTS, NOT HYPERBOLE: Regarding Deasy’s Termination/Resignation…
 •  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?

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 •  4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
 •  4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man had all the answers, the witty wife, the wire-haired fox terrier and the martinis.

We are not so lucky; life’s easier when you don’t have kids.
You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, "Who is that man?"
You try so hard
But you don't understand
Just what you'll say
When you get home.

Novelists invent worlds and populate them with themselves and people they imagine. The real Dashiell Hammett was thin and liked his martinis, the woman we and he imagine to be wife said "Jail had made a thin man thinner and a sick man sicker…”. She wrote “The Children’s Hour”, a book not for kids. It’s all very complicated and we don’t have time for it now if we ever did.
Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

I had a conversation in the parking garage with an undisclosed source one day last week and we agreed that the feeling throughout the District is so much improved. He has contact with many principals; he visits many schools every day. He senses the universal relief. One only needs to look at him to sense his relief.

It’s a contagion and it spreads easily. No protective gear required.

I have met with a couple of principals myself recently. They and their school sites are relieved – but the questions of “What’s next…?” and the rumors abound. The truth is that Deasy’s superintendency was punitive+disruptive and Cortines prior superintendencies were marked with budget cuts and program reductions – driven by efficiency and economic necessity. What will Cortines v. 3.0 do with an increasing budget – even if it’s Deasy’s? Will there be more local districts? …or less? Will ISIC endure? What will happen to Deasy’s initiatives? The Common Core Technology Project? Breakfast in the Classroom? MiSiS?. The alphabet soup of teacher accountability programs? The CORE Waiver?

What will the board do? Do we have to use the MiSiS grade book?

Rumors abound. So-and-so is toast. My favorite is that Cortines is only an interim placeholder; Mayor Tony will soon be superintendent. (Ray Cortines made it clear that he is interim nothing, he is The Superintendent.

Tuesday’s board meeting was a paradigm shift. It started when it was supposed to, superintendent and six board members in their seats at the appointed hour. The latecomer was only slightly late and was probably surprised that the proceedings began on-time without her!
Dylan again: Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled.

Urgency is neither an excuse nor a urinary complaint
It is the Order of the Day.

The closed session ended on time too, at 1:30 when the superintendent said it would. At one thirty Cortines was at his lectern and the board was in their seats as the audience filed in.

Cortines’ brief to the Board on MiSiS was short and to the point – exactly like the man himself:

“I have begun to dig into the issues of our student information system. I have learned a great deal about the situation, but still have much more to learn.

“I want to make sure the Board and public are frequently updated on our progress with MiSiS. We will be transparent about what is working and what is not working.

“We need to have a stronger relationship with all of our collective bargaining partners, especially for MiSiS with UTLA, AALA, and CSEA, so that we can inform our work based on the needs of our employees.

“We need to be more direct and forthright about the issues our schools are facing. I see that the system is improving, but there are going to be issues for the rest of this year.

“We need to have a greater sense of urgency in resolving these issues. It is clear that we are going to need to invest more resources in development, training and support to make this work for our schools.

He will report to the board weekly on MiSiS developments, and when a public comment parent spoke about a student who didn’t have the right classes there was no brush off – there was an immediate response.

As the superintendent wrote in his message to principals Thursday: “I want you to know that if there is something I should know or an emergency at your school, do not hesitate to contact me. We are here for each other and we will move forward together.”

That’s as good a place to end as any – but I want you to think about the sixteen year old in Houston who was denied getting to take her driver’s test at the Department of Public Safety last week because her birth certificate listed two mothers instead of a mom and a dad as the Good Lord and the vehicle code intended. Yes, I know it’s Texas and the public safety is compromised by the daughter of lesbians behind the wheel. But one of her mothers is the Mayor of Houston.

There is Hope and Hopelessness enough to go around.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

FACTS, NOT HYPERBOLE: Regarding Deasy’s Termination/Resignation…
From the AALA Weekly Update for the week of Oct 27 |

AALA thanks Alan Warhaftig, a member of AALA’s MiSiS Committee who shared these comments.

Oct 23, 2014 :: The MiSiS debacle was more of a factor than the iPads. The decision to implement MiSiS this year was irresponsible and schools are in shambles due to MiSiS. Unfortunately, there's no obvious way to extricate ourselves from this mess that affects, to varying degrees, every school in LAUSD. Students will be hurt, and after multiple system failures, employees have lost faith in LAUSD's Information Technology Division.

At a series of eight meetings (22 hours total) hosted by Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) between November 2012 and May 2014, school-site administrators and coordinators warned Chief Information Officer Ron Chandler, Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill and other high District and ITD officials repeatedly, and in compelling detail, about the consequences of potential problems. These District officials chose to ignore the school-based experts who would have to use the system.

Most stories state that Superintendent Deasy raised test scores, so I reviewed the data... The Deasy superintendency began in April 2011, shortly before the CST exams were given, so 2011 seems a sensible baseline. Since the CST was not given in 2014, claims about Superintendent. Deasy raising test scores rest on the 2012 and 2013 CSTs. Click HERE [ ] for a spreadsheet that includes the 2011-2013 LAUSD and (for comparison) statewide CST ELA scores for grades 3-11, the CST math scores for grades 3-6, and the CST Algebra 1 scores for grades 7-11. Cohort views of the ELA and Math are included so that one can see how the same (or substantially the same) group did through three years of testing.

There are a few bright spots (6th grade and 10th grade English; 4th and 6th grade Math; 8th grade Algebra 1), but there are no huge, across-the-board improvements. Besides, the achievement of an 8th grader on the 2013 CST is the consequence of at least nine years of schooling, only two of which were during Dr. Deasy's superintendency.

●●4LAKids published these comments earlier anonymously; another anonymous responder responded with data and graphs here []. So much Excel spreadsheet anonymity, so few names.

by Steve Drummond | NPR Morning Edition |

Listen to the Story | 4 min 40 sec |

October 21, 2014 4:35 AM ET :: If you're a 12th-grader right now in the Los Angeles schools, that means you probably started kindergarten back in 2001. It also means that, as of this week, you've seen four superintendents come and go.

As we discussed today on Morning Edition, the ouster of John Deasy last week as the head of the nation's second-largest district has renewed a long-running debate about leadership of big-city schools, and particularly the challenges of raising achievement in such a politically charged environment.

Deasy told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep last week that there's a clock ticking on "reform"-minded superintendents, such as himself, who want to shake things up quickly. "I think there is," he said, calling it a "worrisome trend in America."

But he said that, regardless of that external pressure, he felt personally that there was no time to waste in his efforts to make a difference for students.

"I think there's always the delicate balance of how slow you're willing to go," Deasy told Morning Edition. "And then you have to square that with looking youth in the eye and say, 'Well, it's not your turn this year,' and that's difficult to do."

So, is there a time limit?

Actually, superintendents tend to get hired, and fired, pretty quickly regardless of whether they consider themselves reformers.

Deasy's tenure, at 3 1/2 years, is about average for an urban superintendent. That's a bit longer than it used to be, but still means that superintendents of any stripe struggle to stick around long enough to make a difference.

What's been called the "revolving door" of urban superintendents has created a lot of policy angst over whether they can be effective in that short a time period.

And it raises this question: How much time would it take to turn around a struggling urban district?

I've often thought of a comparison from the world of baseball: In 1979, when Sparky Anderson took over as manager of the Detroit Tigers, he famously said he needed five years to rebuild the team and win a pennant. And in 1984, right on schedule, Anderson delivered.

Writing about this issue some years ago, I related that story to David Hornbeck, who lasted six years as the superintendent of the Philadelphia schools in the 1990s. And I asked him the question: How long does an urban superintendent need?

He told me the minimum length of time to reasonably gauge a superintendent's tenure was four years.

The first year, Hornbeck said, is hiring and getting a team in place. The second year provides baseline test scores and time spent developing a plan. The third year is for putting that plan in place, and the fourth year provides scores that should be expected to show improvement.

The problem with all this, of course, is that the superintendent by that time has often moved on to his or her next job, or the one after that.

And so while some people see, in highly publicized departures like Deasy's, or that of Michelle Rhee from the Washington, D.C., schools in 2010, a sign of a backlash against "reform," the bigger picture is much more complicated.

Whatever the superintendent's agenda, there are powerful political forces at work in an urban system: mayors, school boards, and teachers and their unions, to name a few. And it's often the case that pleasing one of those factions can alienate or anger the others.

As Michael Casserly, head of the Council of the Great City Schools, told the Huffington Post, "The demands of the job are among the toughest in the nation, with cultural, racial and language challenges; increasingly high academic standards and scarcer resources; demanding unions and communities; and brutal local politics."

Which may be partly why a recent study showed that when it comes to the real test of a school district's performance — student achievement — the person sitting in the superintendent's office doesn't make that much of a difference.

Perhaps what a superintendent can do is create an environment (stable leadership, adequate resources, freedom from labor strife) that will allow the people who actually make a difference — teachers and principals — to do their jobs. That is, if they're given enough time.


Now let's ask if school reform is being stalled in the United States. John Deasy suggests that reformist leaders are being steadily replaced. To hear him tell it, Deasy is one of them. He was superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District until last week, when he had to resign under pressure after three and a half years. Afterward, at an NPR interview, Deasy told us there is a time limit for school reformers.


JOHN DEASY: I think there is. I think there's always the delicate balance of how slow you're willing to go, and then you have to square that with looking youth in the eye and say, well, it's not your turn this year.

INSKEEP: So what's really happening in Los Angeles and across the country? We're putting that question to Steve Drummond. He leads NPR's Ed team, and he's in our studios. Welcome back, Mr. Drummond.


INSKEEP: So first, when we talk about school reformers, who exactly are we talking about here?

DRUMMOND: Well, I think Deasy defines it as a group of leaders who've come in promoting some common ideas in education, technology, how to evaluate teachers. They use greater parental control in terms of choice like charter schools, but I think it's not quite that simple.

INSKEEP: OK, so there's a complexity to reform. But there is a group of people across the country, and we'll be talking about that. Are they facing a time limit? When a reformer comes in at a big city like Washington or Chicago or New York, is there a limit to how far they can go?

DRUMMOND: Well, you've mentioned that John Deasy lasted three and a half years; frankly, that's about average. Reform superintendent or not, the average tenure of an urban school superintendent is about three and half years, so he was kind of in the middle.

INSKEEP: Is that a good length of time?

DRUMMOND: There's a lot of discussion in education about the revolving door of urban superintendents. I once spoke with the head of the Philadelphia schools, a man named David Hornbeck, and I asked him this question - how long do you need? How long does an urban superintendent need? He said four years.

INSKEEP: To turn around a troubled school district.

DRUMMOND: Right. The first year, you're putting your team in place. He said the second year, you get baseline test scores that tell you how you're doing. The third year you're putting your curriculum and your reforms in place, and the fourth year, you would get second-year data to give you even an indication of how you're doing. But as we were just discussing, by that time the superintendent is usually off into his next job. There's a new person in charge, bringing in their reforms by that time.

INSKEEP: So there's a revolving door problem whether your superintendent describes himself or herself as a reformer or not.

DRUMMOND: Sure. Let's take Los Angeles - if you're a senior in the LA Unified District this year, you are on your fifth superintendent since you started kindergarten in 2001.

INSKEEP: And every single one of those people maybe came in saying, I need to change some things, maybe go in a new direction, try to get reforms in place. And, of course, there's some political turmoil each time there is a change. In fact, John Deasy in our interview pointed toward what he saw as a kind of reaction by teachers unions and others opposed to the changes he wanted to make, kind of turning back the clock. Let's listen to a little bit of what he had to say.


DEASY: We now have the three largest school systems, all of which now are being - have been exited by a, quote, "reformer" and being led by either former employees, but certainly people who left their jobs, went into retirement and came back at a significant age.

INSKEEP: A significant age, he says, maybe a reference to the fact that Deasy has been replaced by a former superintendent who's now in his 80s.

DRUMMOND: I don't think age has anything to do with it. There are superintendents who've succeeded at all different ages or failed. There are, however, powerful political forces at work, including teachers. There are 31,000 teachers in the Los Angeles school district. They're the people charged with carrying out whatever reforms are going to be in place. And their unions and the teachers themselves have a big voice, so, too, does the school boards, so, too, do mayors in urban districts. And those are often key factors in whether a superintendent thrives or gets shoved out.

INSKEEP: Maybe we're hearing the real answer why so many superintendents don't last very long.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. And another interesting point, Steve, is that research out this year raises really good questions whether superintendents really have all that much effect when it comes right down to the classroom.

INSKEEP: What do you mean?

DRUMMOND: Well, a study out from the Brookings Institution looked at superintendents and their effect on the actual student achievement, and it found a very minimal effect as to whether who's in the superintendent's chair really has an effect on what happens in the classroom.

INSKEEP: You know, we begin with that word, reformer. Is there any consensus about what really does work, what really can improve the performance of American schools?

DRUMMOND: Well, from the superintendent's point of view, I think the key thing is what these leaders can do is create the conditions for reform. They can create a stable environment with the teachers unions so there isn't a teacher's strike all the time. They can get the budget under control. In Los Angeles, it's $6.78 billion. There are things that can be done that create the conditions for the real important people, the teachers and the principals, to do their jobs.

INSKEEP: If the superintendent has time.

DRUMMOND: Exactly.

INSKEEP: Steven, thanks very much.

DRUMMOND: Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Steve Drummond of the Ed team. It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.


by Emily Hanford, NPR Marketplace |

Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 14:04 :: For years, vocational high schools have been seen as a lesser form of schooling – tracking some kids off to work while others were encouraged to go on to college and pursue higher income professions. But things are changing. Vocational high schools are focusing much more on preparing students for higher education.

At one of those schools - Minuteman Regional High School in Lexington, Massachusetts - students can learn traditional trades like carpentry, plumbing and welding. They can also learn high tech fields such as video game design, engineering, and biotechnology.

Minuteman students spend half their time in vocational classes – often referred to as “career and technical classes - and half their time in academic courses. About 60 percent of the school’s graduates go on to college. That’s not the way things were when principal Ernest Houle learned welding at a vocational high school back in the 1980s.

“The highest-level math I ever had in high school was an Algebra 1,” says Houle. “And that only happened my sophomore year because it fit in the schedule.”

Houle went to Leominster Trade School, in Massachusetts. The school was located in a wing off the regular high school; Houle says he and his classmates were referred to as “trade rats” and no one expected them to go to college. After high school graduation, Houle worked as a welder.

“It wasn’t until I went to become a teacher and I realized that not being offered the classes during high school made it more difficult for me when I got into the college arena,” he says.


Vocational education wasn’t designed to prepare students for college. The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, the law that first authorized federal funding for vocational education in American schools, explicitly described vocational ed as preparation for careers not requiring a bachelor’s degree.

“The early vocational education was driven by a philosophy of fitting people to their probable destinies,” says Jim Stone, director of the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education. “Kids from poor families were tracked off into becoming the worker bees. Others were tracked off to go to universities and be the intelligentsia.”

Stone says vocational education was designed to teach kids the specific skills for one job. To be a welder or a cosmetologist, for example, “with the idea that, once you become a welder, you’ll always be a welder. Or once you become a cosmetologist, you’ll always be a cosmetologist,” says Stone. The goal was, get kids really skilled at one thing, “and life will be good,” he says.

The idea that people could be trained in one area and rely on an industry to employ them for life was a reasonable one for much of the 20th century. There were lots of jobs – good union jobs – for people with just a high school education. But by the 1970s, the good jobs that required just a high school education were beginning to disappear. Technology and globalization were increasing the skill levels required for most occupations, and making the labor market more volatile. Entire sectors of the economy were being wiped out, and new kinds of jobs were being created.

To be successful in this kind of economy, experts say workers have to be multi-skilled and able to retrain for new jobs throughout their careers. Everyone needs a good academic foundation in order to do that, experts say, and most kids in vocational programs were not getting that foundation.


By the late 1990s, vocational education had a major image problem. Vocational programs had become a kind of dumping ground for kids who weren’t succeeding in the traditional academic environment. That included a lot of students with behavior problems, and a lot of students with learning disabilities. In many school districts, vocational education wasn’t much more than a “second-tier special ed program,” says Jim Stone.

At the same time, the standards and accountability movement was taking hold in public education. States had begun to write academic standards, or goals, for what students should learn. In 2001, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act. That law required states, in exchange for federal education funding, to test their students every year and to insure that all students would eventually be proficient in math and reading.

All students meant the kids in vocational programs too. And once states starting testing their students, it became clear that many students in vocational programs were at the bottom in terms of math and reading skills. Under No Child Left Behind, those programs could eventually be shut down for poor performance. If they were going to survive, vocational schools had to up their game in terms of academics.

“The early 2000s was a time of significant change in voc ed,” says Dave Ferreira, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators.

“What we wanted to do was create a student who was able to go out” and get a job, he says, but also able to “get accepted into a four-year college or university.” The idea was to make sure all students were both “career and college ready.”

Massachusetts stands out as a state that devoted significant time and resources to overhauling its vocational education programs, according to experts.

The key was to convince vocational teachers to put aside “the old philosophy of saying, ‘It’s all about the trades. I don’t teach academics,’” says Ferreira, and to help them learn how they could integrate academic instruction into career training. For example, show teachers how to teach writing skills when students were writing up materials lists and job estimates.

And it wasn’t all about integrating academics into career classes, says Ferreira. It was also about adding academic classes to the vocational curriculum.

Massachusetts has largely succeeded in bringing the academic quality at its vocational high schools up to par with its traditional high schools. In 2013, students at regional vocational high schools in Massachusetts did as well on the state English tests (92 percent proficient) as students at traditional high schools (93 percent proficient). On the math tests, they did nearly as well: 78 percent of students at regional vocational high schools were proficient in math compared to 82 percent at traditional high schools.


Ernest Houle, the former welder who is now principal of Minuteman High School, started working at the school as a teacher’s aide in 1996. He says things were already different from when he was a student at Leominster Trade School a decade earlier.

“The students [at Minuteman] had advanced math classes, they had the opportunity to enroll in foreign language classes,” he says.

Houle worked his way up at the school, earning a Bachelor of Science in occupational and vocational education and a Master of Science in educational leadership along the way. To get his Bachelor’s degree, Houle had to take a calculus class, a tall order having had only Algebra 1 in high school.

“It was a lot of hard work and staying after class, working with the professor,” says Houle. But he did it.

“I am probably the poster child for the importance of career and college readiness,” he says with a chuckle. He says his goal is to make sure every student who graduates from Minuteman is prepared for higher education.

“Students get the same kind of college prep here that they’d get at any high school,” he says. “And they get career skills too.” That’s a bonus students don’t get at most traditional high schools, and it’s one of the reasons many students and parents choose Minuteman.


Sean and Brandon Datar went to private school until 8th grade. Their dad is an electrical engineer and their mom teaches at a Montessori school. They’re probably not the kinds of kids you’d imagine at a vocational high school.

But when Brandon was looking at options for high school, Minuteman stood out, says his dad, Nijan Datar.

“Being an engineer myself, I like the fact that schools like this cater to making an actual living,” he says.

The family had been touring public and private high schools in the Boston suburbs, many of them considered among the best high schools in the country. But Datar wasn’t impressed. He says the main goal seemed to be getting students into the best, and most expensive, colleges. But no one seemed to be talking about what kids were going to do with their college degrees once they got them.

His wife, Teresa Datar, says high school students need more direction.

“My feeling is that in many high schools, students don’t know why they’re in the classes that they’re in. They’re just kind of biding time,” she says. “And then they go off to college and they flounder.”

Her son Sean did not want that to happen to him. He says what he liked best when he toured Minuteman is that the students he met seemed to have a plan for their lives.

“When you think about it, you want to know what you want to do, and you want to be sure of it, by the time you go to college,” says Sean. “You don’t want to pick a major, get like $50,000 in debt,” and then realize you want to do something else.

Ed Bouquillon, the superintendent of the school district where Minuteman is located, says one goal of vocational education is to help kids figure out what they don’t want to do.

“Sometimes I’ll have kids who, at the end of their four years, they’ll say, ‘Dr. B, you know, I came here in nursing and I really don’t like it.’ And that’s a valuable thing to know,” says Bouquillon. Better to figure it out in a public high school, where you’re not paying tuition, than at a college that’s charging you thousands of dollars, he says.

But students and families who choose vocational education face stereotypes. Nijan Datar says friends and neighbors in their affluent Boston suburb were kind of startled when they heard his son Brandon was going to Minuteman.

“What we did was definitely not the norm here,” says Datar. “I have had raised-eyebrow looks. It’s almost like you can read that other person’s mind thinking, OK, the reason I did this is because my son is not very smart.”

But Datar says his family chose Minuteman because it seemed like a better path to college than a traditional high school. His sons are “going to a regular high school but also dipping [their] feet into the real world and starting to get an understanding of what it takes to get a job,” he says.

His son Brandon is now a freshman at the Colorado School of Mines, working on a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering. His son Sean is a sophomore at Minuteman, majoring in robotics.


Alice Ofria graduated from Minuteman in 2009. She majored in environmental science. Now she works as a lab technician for the drinking water department in Billerica, Massachusetts.

It started as an internship, the summer after she graduated from Minuteman. But she was so good at the job, the town hired her on as a permanent employee, says John Sullivan, her boss.

“She’s an expert in computers and a whiz in chemistry,” says Sullivan.

Sullivan says it’s hard for the town to find people with Ofria’s skills. There’s a “chasm” between what people learn in school and what’s needed in the “real world,” says Sullivan. Even college graduates don’t tend to have the needed mix of skills and knowledge.

But Ofria was ready to go from day one, he says.

“The program at Minuteman prepared her to actually learn” what she needed to on the job, and fast. “She’s done outstanding work here,” he says.

As a lab technician for the town, Ofria stated off making more than $26 an hour. She gets regular raises, and health and retirement benefits too. Her friends are amazed.

“Most of my friends are waitresses or work as a secretary somewhere, or at a tanning salon,” she says. Some of them are college graduates, struggling to get by. But Ofria recently bought a new truck and went on a vacation to Puerto Rico.

And having a good job – she now makes more than $30 an hour – was a huge help when it came to paying college tuition. In May, Ofria graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Boston with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. And just last month, she picked up a second job – as a teacher’s aide in the Environmental Technology program at Minuteman. She’s thinking about pursuing a teaching career, and if she does, she says she wants to teach at a vocational high school.

“Vocational school is where it’s at, to put it bluntly,” she says. “Because no one experienced a field, a trade and also got the same [academic] education. None of my friends experienced that, except for the friends I went to Minuteman with.”

● This story originally appeared on "American RadioWorks" as part of their hour-long documentary "Ready to Work: Reviving Vocational Ed."


Readers React: By LA Times Letters to the Editor Editor Paul Thornton |

25 Oct 2014 :: The teachers in Los Angeles who write to The Times — and I may be understating the intensity of their views here — are no fans of John Deasy. So when the embattled former superintendent resigned from the Los Angeles Unified School District last week, one might have expected a collective sigh of relief from our educator letter writers.

Hardly. Though a handful of teachers celebrated Deasy's departure, the vast majority who wrote us expressed continued anxiety and frustration over their jobs. If letters are any indication of broader opinion, it's safe to say there may be a morale problem in L.A. Unified classrooms.

●MELANIE PANUSH LINDERT OF LOS ANGELES takes the pulse of teachers: at several campuses:

I thought it couldn't get worse, but indeed it has: LAUSD teachers are even more stressed than last school year.

As an itinerant dance teacher, I work with several dozen teachers a year. I trudge to a different school every day. The teacher inferno has reached epic proportions this year, with no relief in sight. We must remember that what befalls our teachers trickles down to our children.

We have the endless flow of testing. One fourth-grade teacher explained how frustrated she was because there was no opportunity to prepare her children for a math test. Teachers must know the new Common Core curriculum, terminology, objectives and how to record data on computers.

Parents and principals are demanding more. There is a new, complex system for evaluating teachers, and teachers are required to take workshops to comply with this new system.

I thought it couldn't get worse, but indeed it has: LAUSD teachers are even more stressed than last school year. - Melanie Panush Lindert, Los Angeles

Teachers are serious, responsible, caring, creative, resourceful and patient. Why haven't these professionals been part of the team to create the very best system for our kids?

●RANCHO PALOS VERDES RESIDENT MICHAEL WHITTEMORE gives credit to his fellow teachers for gains in achievement:

I am a retired teacher (30 years of experience), and I am amazed by the arrogance of education "talking heads" claiming credit for student achievement.

They don't teach; teachers do. It is the joy of that nexus that brings progress. Teachers love teaching.

Giving us decent class sizes, materials (most teachers spend their own money on classroom materials) and administrative support will result in even greater achievement.

●JIM WAKEMAN OF LONG BEACH says education reforms are driving away teachers:

Deasy's sympathizers give him credit for reducing the number of student suspensions and raising students' test scores.

Well, when teachers are required to keep students in class in spite of their behavior, yes, there will be fewer suspensions. And when teachers' jobs may be threatened by low student test scores, some teachers, understandably, will "teach to the test." Then, yes, test scores will improve.

Neither of these predictable results will improve student learning, but they will drive more teachers away from the profession.


●● smf’s 2¢: The L.A. Times is obviously getting farther out on a limb than they feel comfortable. I guess if your window on the world is through The Times mailbag yours is a rather limited perspective – as evidenced by the editor/headline writer’s use of the qualifier ‘possible’. The world is possibly round and chocolate is possibly tasty. The newspaper industry is in a possible downturn.

District morale is abysmal, all the way to eleven on the knob. And, like Captain Bligh in the old joke, apparently the flogging won’t stop until the morale improves.

All surviving LAUSD staff, whether in the classroom, the school, the local district, or the central office - have been through six years of RIFs, class size+workload increases and program cuts. They haven’t got a raise in slightly less than forever. They have worked hard, they have raised test scores, they campaigned for Prop 30 which brought in more money to schools – and are rewarded by the superintendent taking a 17% pay raise and offering them 2%. There is money for iPads and failed technology but none for the District’s most valuable asset: Its human resources. The powerless-that-be have turned back the billionaires who would break their unions and take away their jobs and outsource public education to charter schools at the ballot box…and are rewarded with a Time Magazine cover that hammers Bad Teachers with a Judge’s Gavel. Never mind that the cover story doesn’t even agree with the cover picture and headline – “Bad Teachers” sells magazines!

“Bad Teachers” allegedly don’t teach to the test with enough urgency. The “Embattled+Beleaguered Superintendent” may have fixed a contract according to The Times own reporting. And the Publisher/CEO of the LA Times goes on the radio and bemoans his downfall.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
"CRENSHAW" UC Santa Cruz graduate student's thesis film examines bitterness of Crenshaw High reconstitution |

ACLU: Jefferson High class scheduling improvement plan may be flawed

9 LAUSD schools each get $50,000 because they’re near a huge garbage dump |

ANOTHER CALIFORNIA EXPORT INDUSTRY: CA Charters plan for future growth ....outside state |



iPAD + MiSiS CRISES: LAUSD Parents Seek L.A.Superior Court Civil Grand Jury Investigation + smf’s 2¢ |



DUNCAN SOFTENS STAND ON K-12 TESTING ....looks for the 'Goldilocks' balance Read:

TIME: "......some tech millionaires may have found a way to change that" |
View summary

TIME MAGAZINE: "It's nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher...." |




Bonds should not pay for iPad curriculum, new L.A. Unified head says /s/IWi9


Politico shout out to Carson High farm program! GOOD MORNING! It's Tuesday, Oct. 21 and I can't stop thinking ab…


"......and I need to find out the extent of the problem so we can deal with the issues." |

"I’m very concerned that it’s not just one or two, three schools, it’s all across the district....

"I don’t think anybody knows the magnitude, neither do I, of the (MiSiS) meltdown," Cortines said. |

Who knew there was a spin cycle on the Polar Express?: EX-LAUSD CHIEF SAYS RESIGNATION CAME IN POLARIZED ATMOSPHPERE

Cortines doesn't want/won't seek Deasy's advice.| | Cortines Interview: 9AM @KPCC 89.3

Cortines contract runs through June 2015, but can be ended by either party with 30 days notice.
0 replies 6 retweets 0 favorites
Scott Folsom @4LAKids • Oct 20

POLITICO MORNING ED: T vs. T - California superintendent battle escalate$ |

30 year LAUSD teacher's CALSTRS pension = $36,009 annually / 4 yr Deasy superintendent's CALSTRS pension = $39,995 |


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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