Sunday, July 26, 2015

A good IDEA and wasted time

4LAKids: Sunday 26•July•2015
In This Issue:
 •  “You have nothing to worry about”: TEACHER JAIL + THE SSIT + smf’s 2¢(x2)
 •  Rhymes with Bingo, Gringo!: THE SHOES CONTINUE TO DROP IN THE ¡VOTERIA! STORY + smf’s 2¢
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?

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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.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – the federally mandated program that requires schools to serve the educational needs exceptional students.

IDEA promises that the feds will finance 40% of the excess cost of providing special education and related services for students with disabilities and those with gifts and talents – and mandates that all public schools educate all children.

The promise of funding has never been kept.

IDEA is currently funded at about 16% and the underfunded mandate is questionably and unevenly followed; that requirement for eligibility being a bureaucratic and administrival minefield.

IDEA ensures students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), just like all other children. Schools are required to provide special education in the least restrictive environment. Schools must teach students with disabilities in general education classroom whenever possible.

Under IDEA, parents have a say in the educational decisions the school makes about their child. At every point of the process, the law gives parents specific rights and protections called procedural safeguards.

Every child is special. The Individual Education Plan and those Parent’s Rights shouldn’t be a contested goal for special ed students; that plan and those rights should be a right of every child and their parent.

But the plan isn’t funded and God bless the child who has his own.


ALL LIVES MATTER. Going to a movie or changing lanes without signaling or being a military recruiter shouldn’t carry a death sentence.


IT SEEMS LIKE THE SEVEN MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION must’ve have had something else better to do in the last month then begin the process of hiring the next superintendent.

There were, we are told, scheduling conflicts that needed to be accommodated.

“Scheduling conflicts” got on the way of every Man-Jack/Woman-Jill of them in addressing the one issue facing them for the month of July.

Superintendent Cortines said he would like to leave by December.

The Council of Great City Schools said the search+hiring process should take about eight months.

They had the opportunity to get started July 1. Did no one do the math?

Instead they took the month of July off and reluctantly agreed to start July 30.

“So you can get on with your search, baby,
and I can get on with mine.
And maybe someday we will find,
that it wasn't really wasted time.”

¡Onward/Adelante! – smf

• The view from 4:36 light hours away away, left over from last week: MORE FROM PLUTO

Op-Ed Commentary by Diane Ravitch | L.A. Times |

July 23, 2015, 4:23 AM :: The Los Angeles Unified School District has at most a year to replace Ramon C. Cortines as superintendent. This is a crucial time for the district, which has weathered many controversies in the last decade. It is also a crucial time for American public education, which has been under assault for 30 years.

What should the next superintendent bring to the job? Start with the vision and skills to revive public confidence in Los Angeles' public schools. The ideal superintendent would have the courage, and the support of the board, to resist those who seek to undermine and privatize public schools.

I write as a historian who has studied American education for almost 50 years. There has never before been a time such as now, when the very survival of public education is at risk. A powerful coalition of billionaires, libertarians and religious zealots has converged to challenge the legitimacy of public education in Los Angeles and across the nation.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was California's governor, he appointed a majority of charter school advocates to the state school board, even though at the time only 5% of the state's children attended these privately managed schools. The Legislature and the state board strongly supported the creation of more charter schools, and the California Charter Schools Assn. became a major player in Sacramento, pushing pro-charter policies.
During the last school year, of LAUSD's nearly 644,000 students, 138,672 attended 264 charter schools, more than any other city in the nation. Some charters are good schools, but what is the value of having two publicly funded school systems? In general, charter schools operate with minimal oversight, receiving public funds but not necessarily acting like public schools.

Even in California, where charters by law are supposed to accept all comers, many find loopholes that allow them to shape their student bodies in a way true public schools cannot. They boast about their good test scores, but it is easier to get high scores when you're not necessarily educating all comers.

Charter schools have plenty of influential cheerleaders, including U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and businessmen/philanthropists Eli Broad and Bill Gates, and a host of high-profile conservative governors (and presidential candidates) such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

There needs to be a countervailing force in Los Angeles that bolsters the core American tradition of public education: schools that are controlled not by private, unaccountable boards but by the public, through elections. LAUSD needs a superintendent who will scrutinize charter schools for their use of public funds and subject them to regular public audits. It needs a superintendent willing to fight to impose a moratorium on new charters to stop the flow of funds and students from public schools.

The next superintendent must double down on LAUSD's classroom deficits. First, he or she should go to the mat for the funding to reduce class sizes, which is especially important for children who are struggling with their studies. The next superintendent must ensure that every school has a full and rich curriculum: history, geography, civics, the arts, science, foreign languages and physical education, as well as reading and math. Los Angeles has one of the most vibrant arts communities in the world, yet many of its public schools have lost their arts teachers. This is shameful.

The new superintendent must also work to reduce the importance of federally driven standardized testing. California administers new Common Core tests although it is not yet using the results to rate students and teachers. Several other states have rejected the new exams because they test students on material they were never taught and set the passing standard at an unrealistic level, sometimes two grade levels above where the children are.

But all children — especially poor children and English learners — aren't going to reach a standard that is arbitrarily rigorous. Nor does it encourage or motivate students to label them as failures beginning in third grade. After 13 years of No Child Left Behind, we've learned that more testing doesn't improve educational outcomes. The new LAUSD superintendent should advocate for minimal state standardized testing, for reasonable passing standards and for teacher-made tests instead.

Finally, the next LAUSD superintendent must create an atmosphere of respect for the district's teachers, who all too often are expected to work without adequate resources or support. Teachers should be treated as professionals, not harassed, bullied or threatened. To be sure, bad teachers should not be protected; they should be removed, with due process.

Contrary to the popular myth that traditional public schools are failing, students in affluent districts nationally do very well indeed. What works is schools that are well resourced, have strong family support and hold their teachers in high esteem. That is what Los Angeles should be trying to replicate in all of its schools, making sure the neediest students get the human and financial resources to succeed.

We cannot afford to write off the guarantee of a good public education for all. Countries that do the best job at educating their citizens — Finland, Korea, Japan, Singapore and Canada — do it with strong and equitable public school systems, not charter schools or private school vouchers. LAUSD needs a leader who believes in restoring and strengthening public education, which society counts on to develop citizens with the talent, skills and knowledge to sustain our democracy.

●Diane Ravitch is the author of, most recently, "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools."

▲ DIFFERENT VIEWS OF LAUSD NEEDS | letters to the Editor 7/25
Re “To lead LAUSD,” Opinion, July 23

Thanks to Stanford education historian Diane Ravitch for the unobstructed view of what Los Angeles Unified School District should be looking for in its next superintendent.

Ravitch believes the new superintendent should place a greater emphasis on public schools and should be suspicious of the claims for charter schools, which, according to her, “operate with minimal oversight, receiving public funds but not necessarily acting like public schools.” Ravitch maintains that countries who do the best job of educating its citizens — she names several — do it with strong and effective public schools, “not charter schools or private school vouchers.”

When we the citizens hear the claims and counter-claims of those supporting alternate school systems like charter schools, we should at least be aware of the possibilities that in some cases we are sadly watching resegregation at work, and charter schools are not always as inclusive as they might seem.

Monterey Park


Ravitch’s view on what the next superintendent should bring to L.A. Unified is too rooted in the past to be meaningful. The standardized testing to which she objects was designed to determine whether students were acquiring the basic skills for even modest jobs. The tests have demonstrated that the type of leadership for which she yearns have failed to deliver at this most basic level.

The leadership we need will not come from looking at the last 50 years, as Ravitch has done, but by trying to look forward 50 years. If that vision leads us to charter schools and higher standards, then we need to accept that and stop trying to live in the past.

In L.A. Unified, about 20% of the students are attending charters, and most operate on a lottery system because there are so many parents opting out of the traditional and into charters. Our leaders on the district’s Board of Education and in administration need to be open to these changes and embrace them.

Los Angeles



Re “To lead LAUSD,” Opinion, July 23 [Letter from 7/26 LA Times]

As the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education takes on the challenge of finding a new superintendent, I hope it solicits input from the wide spectrum of students and families it serves. While I agree with Stanford education historian Diane Ravitch that our next schools’ chief should go to the mat for small class sizes and arts education, a moratorium on new charter schools would be detrimental to learning.

The next LAUSD superintendent should embrace multiple learning environments — from charters to magnets to co-located schools — and hold all schools accountable for learning and spending outcomes. No matter where we find innovations that help our neediest students make gains, the new superintendent should focus on scaling those solutions across the system.

More than anything, the next superintendent should view students in all schools authorized by LAUSD as his or her students.


Los AngelesThe writer is executive director of Teach for America in Los Angeles


by Mike Szymanski | LA School Report |

July 22, 2015 1:23 pm :: “The board will meet on July 30 to start just the technical part of the [search] process,” board president Steve Zimmer said in an interview with KPCC. (follows)

“I can’t say for sure what the calendar will be until the board meets and is able to discuss it together,” he said. “But I can, in broad strokes, outline that there will be a period of listening, there will be a period of search, there will be a period of winnowing down from that search.”

Just after Zimmer was elected board president last month, he tried to schedule a meeting with all the members for some time in August, well before the first regular meeting of the new school year, on Sept. 1, but there were scheduling conflicts that needed to be accommodated.

Zimmer has stressed that finding a new superintendent is the most important task facing the board for the upcoming school year. He insisted that there was no “shortlist” of candidates for the position.

“There will be the deliberation over the group of finalists, all of whom I hope will be consensus builders, collaborators, and will have the proper balance of urgency and periphery to understand that to move forward it has to be all of us together,” Zimmer said in the radio interview. “There’s no shortlist.”

He also said that he has not yet set a schedule for when the new superintendent will get chosen.

“I don’t have hard and fast deadlines,” he said. “What’s really important to me is that we kind of listen to the soul of the process, that we’re not thrust forward artificially but that we are exacting in our work, that we are professional and that we understand the urgency at hand.”

The district has no real blueprint for how to select a new superintendent. Since 1937, 15 men — and all have been men, by the way — have served in the position, including three separate terms for Cortines.

The replacement process has been done with large-scale community input, as the case with David Brewer, who was hired in 2006. His hiring culminated an eight-month process that the district said included “extensive outreach to thousands of parents, staff, and community leaders to identify the qualities they wanted to see in the next superintendent.”

A search committee of community and business leaders, elected officials and faith-based representatives interviewed candidates and winnowed the list to a group of five candidates that were presented to the Board of Education, from which Brewer was selected.

On the other hand, as Cortines was stepping down after his second period as superintendent in 2011, the board eschewed a national search in favor of elevating a Cortines lieutenant, John Deasy. It was a decision not universally appreciated.

“Our concern is that the school board did not go through a transparent process of doing a national search,” Judy Perez, then the president of Associated Administrators Los Angeles, told the LA Daily News at the time. “This was done behind closed doors.”

He said he would like to be at “a final stage” by early 2016, adding, “If we’re able to arrive there sooner, we’ll know it. If it feels that we need more time and we’re truly listening while moving, we’ll know it.”

Zimmer has not made public his preference for how the search should be conducted. But he told KPCC he favors transparency in the process.

“I expect that the type of transparency we’re hoping to have will lend a certain confidence to finding the right mix of velocity and care,” he said.

By Mary Plummer | KPCC 89.3 |

July 21 2015 :: Steve Zimmer won the backing of his colleagues on July 1 to step in as Los Angeles Unified's new school board president and his plate is already piled high.

Zimmer, who has held a seat on the school board since 2009 and served as a teacher and counselor at Marshall High School for 17 years, takes the helm of the seven-person board in the midst of ongoing troubles with the district's student data system, a burst of new state education funding, and questions about expansive, wasteful spending in the district's food services division.

Those are just a few of the items on a long to-do list for the school district, which is charged with educating over 540,00 students and is the country's second largest.

Education reporter Mary Plummer sat down to speak with Zimmer on Friday at KPCC's studios. The Q&A below has been edited for length and clarity.


The most important task that the school board has in the coming school year is the search for the next superintendent of LAUSD. This search, both in process and outcome, is in many ways an assessment of the board and our ability to work together collaboratively, our ability to ensure that we have genuine public input into the process.

We are at a defining moment in public education. The definitional battles of the last five or six years about the role of public education, the role of democratically elected school boards, I think have largely been played out. I think that there is a collaborative sense of mission around public schools and particularly around our school district. We need to capture this moment. We can't transform outcomes fighting over different agendas. We can only transform outcomes by coming together and working collectively on behalf of kids. Our process has to really capture that.

The board will meet on July 30 to start just the technical part of the [search] process. I can't say for sure what the calendar will be until the board meets and is able to discuss it together. But I can, in broad strokes, outline that there will be a period of listening, there will be a period of search, there will be a period of winnowing down from that search.

And then there will be the deliberation over the group of finalists. All of whom I hope will be consensus builders, collaborators, and will have the proper balance of urgency and periphery to understand that to move forward it has to be all of us together. There's no shortlist.

I don't have hard and fast deadlines. What's really important to me is that we kind of listen to the soul of the process, that we're not thrust forward artificially but that we are exacting in our work, that we are professional and that we understand the urgency at hand.

We know roughly the first part of 2016 is when we need to be at a final stage. If we're able to arrive there sooner, we'll know it. If it feels that we need more time and we're truly listening while moving, we'll know it. I expect that the type of transparency we're hoping to have will lend a certain confidence to finding the right mix of velocity and care.


That number has gone way down, I don't have a precise number. There were problems. There has been some trouble producing transcripts where students took courses at institutions other than LAUSD institutions. There have been some cases where certain tabulations were off. We're trying to understand how that happened and rectify that.

The problems weren't only due to MiSiS [the district's student data system]. In this instance, it really allowed us to do a deeper dive into oversight around transcripts and diplomas and critical end-of-school-career documents that I think is going to help us a lot moving forward.

That's not to say that any mistake is forgivable. These are kids' lives, and we're doing everything we can. We really put a team in place this summer to rectify the situation. I'm confident that by the time school starts this part of the situation will be resolved to the point that we will be sure it won't happen again next year.

This is not a full blown catastrophe or crisis. This is a fixable situation and I'm confident that we've got a team in place and that team together, I think, has really done some great work to resolve this over the summer.

Do I wish this never happened? Of course. We're trying to understand exactly what happened, how much of this was purely system error, how much might have been for whatever reason human error, and how much of it is kind of a hybrid of the two.

Superintendent [Ramon] Cortines has assembled the right team to understand what we need to learn to move forward and make sure this doesn't happen again.


I don't use words like resolved. I use words like progress. I use phrases like we are really working on this and are attentive to it. I don't think it's going to perfect. I still think there are going to be struggles. There is no way we will see what happened last year.


I'm not going to comment publicly on the food audit until I have the chance to meet with the entire board, other than to say it is something that is very serious and we're taking [it] very seriously.

What I will say in general is that our oversight and accountability actually affects the credibility of this district. Whether it is food services, construction management, instructional technology, our processes for procurement and our outcomes under that procurement are not at all separated from instructional outcomes.

It's an important thing to clear the fog around procurement processes and raise the level of stakeholder understanding of what these processes are. Only positive things will happen for kids when we do that.


I want to make sure that I continue [former school board president Richard] Vladovic's style of making sure that all voices are heard.

In terms of running things differently, I think that there's always a desire for kind of the nexus of greater efficiency, but also for the board to really perform the collaborative oversight role that we're charged with.

We are going to try and make committee work and the board meetings focused but also effective in terms of making sure that every minute that we spend is about children, about our schools and about the necessary roles that the board has to play to make sure that LAUSD is able to function.

That is a responsibility that's both awe-inspiring and awesome. I think each of us really has a sense of the weight of that and every indication that I've had so far is that there is a definitive collaborative spirit on this board and we understand that our work on the tasks at hand has to match the power of the dreams that every family in our school district has for their children.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: Sarah Angel, the California Charter Schools Asso Managing Director, Regional Advocacy—L.A., offers a different view.

“You have nothing to worry about”: TEACHER JAIL + THE SSIT + smf’s 2¢(x2)
By Jay Mathews | The Washington Post |

July 19, 2015 :: Fifth-grade teacher Rafe Esquith’s worst nightmare began March 19, during a puzzling meeting in his principal’s office. Hobart Boulevard Elementary School’s principal indicated something had happened, but Esquith says that he was told he had nothing to worry about.

That was wrong. I consider Esquith to be America’s best classroom teacher. The Los Angeles educator’s annual Shakespeare productions, real-life economics lessons, advanced readings and imaginative field trips are phenomenal. Yet he has been removed from his classroom since April and told by his school district to say nothing about what is going on.

Fortunately, his attorneys have prepared a detailed account of the administrative incompetence and wrong-headedness that created this situation as Los Angeles Unified School District investigators continue to search for anything they can use against their most-celebrated teacher.

At that March meeting, according to their account, the principal told Esquith: “You have nothing to worry about. This is a bump in the road. I need to counsel you that you need to be careful what you say in front of students.” Esquith said fine, still not knowing was they were talking about. He went back to teaching and preparing for “The Winter’s Tale,” as acted, danced and musically accompanied by his students, mostly from ­low-income Hispanic and Korean families.

Three weeks later, Esquith learned that the district had forwarded a complaint to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, but the teacher still didn’t have details. Esquith said the principal told him he had nothing to worry about and that “this is about nothing.”

The next day, Esquith learned the truth: A school staffer had reported to administrators that Esquith made a joke about nudity that she thought might offend students and their parents. Esquith had read to his students a passage from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in which a character called the king comes “prancing out on all fours, naked.” Esquith reminded the students that the district did not fund the annual Shakespeare play, and if he could not raise enough money “we will all have to play the role of the king in Huckleberry Finn.”

Esquith was told that the district was pressuring him for an apology. Esquith wrote and signed one: “I am deeply and sincerely sorry that any comment someone heard, or thought they heard, has anyone uncomfortable.” Nonetheless, two days later, April 10, the district removed him from his classroom — giving no reason — and sent him to an office for disciplinary cases commonly known as the teacher jail. (He was later allowed to stay home, with pay.)

On May 27, the state credentialing commission rejected the district’s complaint. That same day, investigators met with Esquith and asked him bizarre questions, such as did he know any teachers who didn’t like him and which women he dated in college.

Investigators eventually said they found a man who said Esquith had abused him when he was 8 or 9, during a time when Esquith was a teenage counselor at a Jewish summer day camp. The alleged incidents happened 40 years ago. The man told the Los Angeles Times that he reported this to a Los Angeles school board member and the police in 2006, but nothing came of it. Esquith has denied wrongdoing.

Los Angeles Times reporter Howard Blume revealed recently that cases like Esquith’s had previously been left up to principals, but after a 2012 molestation scandal, the district began to suspend and investigate hundreds of teachers for even small alleged infractions.

Esquith is being treated like a Wall Street cheat. On July 8, the district’s investigators asked him for all of his tax returns, loan and bank records since 2000, giving no reason. Many other teachers being similarly targeted are asking Esquith’s lawyers for help.

This is an investigation gone rogue. If it continues, the Los Angeles school district — previously devoted to helping its students — is at risk of not only losing an exceptional teacher, but also its very soul.

●Jay Mathews is an education columnist and blogger for the Washington Post, his employer for 40 years.

●●smf’s 2¢: WaPo columnist Mathews is not some Washington Beltway pundit opining on LAUSD from three thousand miles away. He knows of who+what+where+when+why he speaks. Mathews is the journalist who ‘discovered’ Jaime Escalante: JAIME ESCALANTE TURNS STUDENTS INTO CALCULUS WHIZZES (Dec. 12, 1982)

From Mathews 2010 obit for Escalante: “From 1982 to 1987 I stalked Jaime Escalante, his students and his colleagues at Garfield High School, a block from the hamburger-burrito stands, body shops and bars of Atlantic Boulevard in East Los Angeles. I was the Los Angeles bureau chief for The Washington Post, allegedly covering the big political, social and business stories of the Western states, but I found it hard to stay away from that troubled high school.

“I would show up unannounced, watch Jaime teach calculus, chat with Principal Henry Gradillas, check in with other Advanced Placement classes and in the early afternoon call my editor in Washington to say I was chasing down the latest medfly outbreak story, or whatever seemed believable at the time.” |

Mathews’ 1988 book ESCALANTE: THE BEST TEACHER IN AMERICA traced Jaime Escalante’s career from his native Bolivia to Garfield High School in East Lost Angeles, where he taught advanced mathematics courses to disadvantaged high school students, mostly Latino. Escalante’s story was the subject of the film STAND AND DELIVER (1988), which starred Edward James Olmos.


TO SPEED UP PROBES, LAUSD HAS DOUBLED INVESTIGATION TEAM: The staff that investigates allegations against inmates of LA Unified’s “teacher jail” has doubled since the team started last year, with the aim of clearing cases faster.

by Mike Szymanski | L.A. School Report |

July 20, 2015 9:28 am :: The Student Safety Investigation Team (SSIT) now has 15 members, including six full-time investigators, four LA school police, two forensic specialists and one supervising investigator. The team is directed by Jose Cantu, who has worked at LAUSD for more than 30 years, including 14 years as a principal at Eastman Avenue Elementary School.

“This is unique for a team like this in any school district in the United States,” said district spokeswoman Shannon Haber.

The backgrounds of the staff working on the SSIT reflect expertise in police policies and investigative education.

One of the investigators is formerly from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department. Three investigators once worked for the Los Angeles Police Department.

One of the investigators has had FBI experience and one is from the Department of Social Services.

The SSIT investigates employee misconduct against students while the subject of the investigation, a teacher or staff member, is moved from the classroom to “jail.” The team responds to complaints from a variety of sources, such as students, a fellow teacher or a parent. If an investigation produces evidence of criminal misconduct, the SSIT will take it to the proper authorities.

As of July 1, SSIT members were investigating 174 district employees, most of them teachers. The total includes 65 accused of questionable sexual abuse or harassment while the rest face accusations on a variety of other issues, including 55, who have been cited for acts of violence.

The total reflects 151 certificated employees and 23 classified, such as teacher assistants, library aides, janitors and other support staff.

●●smf’s 2¢: It’s a cheap shot too easy and politically incorrect to pass up: The acronym starts with SS and the German translation is Schüler Sicherheitsuntersuchungsteam. If the irony of ‘Schüler’ is lost on you I apologize …the story is so last year.

I remain unclear as to what exactly the role of the SSIT is.

Are they law enforcement?
Are they private detectives, LAUSD’s own Pinkertons?
Do they report to the district attorney?
The LAUSD general counsel?
The superintendent?
The board of education?
The citizens+taxpayers?
Do they have the power of arrest? Subpoena?
Are they like the LAPD Internal Affairs Group, hidden away in plain sight the Bradbury Building? (Was that a secret?)
Or are they like the TV NCIS, off the base with quirky characters and trendy haircuts?
What does the word “extrajudicial” mean to you?

By Sarah Tully | EdSource |

Jul 24, 2015 :: The state’s superintendent announced today the formation of a new task force to help overhaul California’s accountability system, along with a new plan to guide public schools.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled the Blueprint for Great Schools 2.0, a 20-page document that outlines plans for everything from early education and English learners to funding and teacher preparation.

This is the second blueprint for second-term Torlakson, who released his original plan in 2011 shortly after his first election.

The task force comes at a time when the state’s accountability system is changing.

At the time of the last blueprint, students were still taking the paper-and-pencil California Standards Tests, the basis for the three-digit Academic Performance Index, or API, assigned to every school that is now suspended. This past spring, students took for the first time the Smarter Balanced Assessments, which measures their learning based on Common Core standards. The results are expected next month.

The task force is expected to come up with a recommendation for a new accountability system based on multiple measures, including the new assessments.

Torlakson said he expects to present a plan to the State Board of Education within the next 12 to 14 months. The new plan will be more like a dashboard with measures, such as dropout, graduation and absence rates.

“We’re going away from the era where two test scores were like the obsession of school districts and principals and teachers, just to concentrate on their math and language arts test scores,” Torlakson said. “We want a broader definition of success.”

The blueprint has five focus areas for the next four years: California standards; teaching and leading excellence; student success; continuous improvement and accountability systems; and “systems change and supports for strategic priorities.”

It addresses some of the major changes in education since 2011. At the time, schools were reeling from the budget cuts tied to the recession, when about 30,000 teachers were laid off.

This year’s budget, however, contains record money for education, yet schools are facing an emerging teacher shortage. The blueprint calls for addressing the impending teacher and principal shortage by figuring out the causes and building up the “pipeline” into the profession.

The first blueprint alluded to an idea of a funding system to address students’ needs, which now has turned into the Local Control Funding Formula. Schools now must develop Local Control and Accountability Plans to show how they are using money to improve achievement for students. The blueprint calls for more support and parent involvement as schools develop their plans.

Torlakson said he also wants to emphasize future standards in science and social studies, as well as career preparation.

The co-chairs of the task force are Eric Heins, president of the California Teachers Association, and Wes Smith, executive director of the Association of County School Administrators. The other members have yet to be named.

• Sarah Tully covers Common Core and early education in the Los Angeles area

• The Blueprint for Great Schools 2.0

Rhymes with Bingo, Gringo!: THE SHOES CONTINUE TO DROP IN THE ¡VOTERIA! STORY + smf’s 2¢

●●smf’s 2¢: Call me old fashioned, but I like to read my news on the news pages and get other peoples’ opinions on the Op-Ed pages. But the Times Editorial Board got the outcome they advocated-for (the election of ‘upstart Ref Rodriguez’) …even if they didn’t like the process. And there was a lot more process than the ‘gimmicky lottery of sorts’ not to like!

Here we find – for the first time – that Mr. Rojas was the first runner-up in the ¡Lotteria!

It's not just noteworthy, it’s newsworthy that the first winner threatened to call the FBI because she didn't believe the contest was legitimate. Eventually, she turned down the money when told that her name would be made public.

The questions of the contest’s legitimacy persist.

By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board |

21July2015 :: Perhaps the leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles will learn a lesson from the May election defeat of school board incumbent Bennett Kayser, whom they backed, by upstart Ref Rodriguez. Unfortunately, that lesson may well be that they must back up their next candidate for office by offering voters a cash prize to entice them to come to the polls.

That's the problem with the Voteria, a gimmicky lottery of sorts run by the Southwest Voter Registration Project. The organization, which works to boost voter turnout, especially among Latino voters, dangled a $25,000 prize to anyone who voted in the Kayser-Rodriguez election. Late last week it was announced that the prize went to Ivan Rojas, a 35-year-old security guard.

Rojas was the second person selected for the prize. It's noteworthy that the first threatened to call the FBI because she didn't believe the contest was legitimate. Eventually, she turned down the money when told that her name would be made public.

That's an understandable reaction. The civic act of voting for elected representatives doesn't readily mix with cash prizes and lotteries. It's true that too few people vote, especially in local elections, and more should be done to help potential voters understand what they stand to win or lose at election time. But bribing them is a bad idea; and as pure as the contest organizers' motives may have been, there is too much about the Voteria that is redolent of bribery.

After all, when every voter is automatically entered, every voter has a shot at winning, and a monetary value can be assigned to that chance. The Voteria organizers weren't promoting any particular candidate, but the Southwest Voters Registration Education Project does have a constituency — Latino voters. The organization is adept at communicating with those voters, some of whom, presumably, were on the fence about bothering to cast their ballots but did so after they heard of the contest. In this election, the Latino candidate defeated his non-Latino opponent. Voters who were aware of the prize were more likely to vote for Rodriguez by 2 to 1, according to the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University.

Suppose that next time the organization offering cash payments to lucky voters is indeed pushing a particular candidate and does its outreach among voters likely to back that particular candidate. Suppose it's UTLA, for example. Or the police union, a real estate developer, a political party or anyone else. Or all of them at the same time.

Cash contests like the Voteria leave too much space for mischief and require careful examination and perhaps rule-making. That's something the Legislature should consider during the remainder of its term.

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THE SHOES CONTINUE TO DROP IN THE ¡VOTERIA! STORY –or– Whatever you call it, bribing voters is a bad idea + smf’s 2¢

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Thursday July 30, 2015 - 6:00 p.m. :: SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION - - Including Closed Session Items

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Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and was Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and has represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for over 12 years. He is Vice President for Health, Legislation Action Committee member and a member of the Board of Directors 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 "WHO" Gold Award and the ACSA Regional Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award - honors 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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