Sunday, November 08, 2015


4LAKids: Sunday 8•Nov•2015
In This Issue:
 •  DETERIORATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL ARTS PROGRAMS HAS BEEN PARTICULARLY JARRING IN LA …and the LA Times’ misreporting of it isn’t all that helpful either
 •  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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 •  4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
Henny Penny, more commonly known in the United States as Chicken Little and sometimes as Chicken Licken, Wikipedia tells us, is a folk tale with a moral in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase "The sky is falling!" features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. Versions of the story go back more than 25 centuries.

Today’s version of the story goes back to last Thursday: “L.A. SCHOOL DISTRICT HEADED FOR MAJOR FUNDING SHORTFALL, PANEL WARNS” – or, the alternate headline on the same story: “LOOMING DEFICITS COULD PUSH LA UNIFIED INTO BANKRUPTCY, PANEL SAYS” Thursday was Guy Fawkes Day – which commemorates the failed plot to blow-up the British King in his Parliament in 1605.
Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

…that led to great politically-engineered anti-Catholic hysteria throughout the British Isles: “The Papists are coming!”

Having successfully mixed the Chicken Little & Guy Fawkes literary metaphors, it seems appropriate to bring in the V for Vendetta version of Fawkes and introduce him to Eli Broad’s “Education Matters” version of the L.A. Times.

V, the “vaudevillian veteran cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate” in the Guy Fawkes mask has only one year to overthrow a totalitarian government: “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bullet-proof.”

I fully realize The Times will never sell papers with the headline: REPORT TELLS L.A. SCHOOL DISTRICT WHAT IT ALREADY KNOWS …though that might make the $250,000 cost of the report hard to justify.

But The Times reporting on the Report of the Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) – a “high-powered secret panel” of VIP educators, politicos and financial types – the prophesied major shortfall and possible bankruptcy is just so much alarmist squawking. Not by the IRFP …but by The Times itself. The line between reporting and editorializing+commentary has been crossed; helped along by Mr. Broad’s “Education Matters” funding.

The sky is NOT falling; the house is NOT afire.

Yes, there are challenges ahead and the report identifies them – but almost every single one of them – from low per-pupil funding to CalSTRS to the aging workforce to health benefits and other postemployment benefits (OPEB) are universal to most-if-not-all California school districts, L.E.A.s and charter schools …they are just concentrated+intensely focused in LAUSD. As are we all.

The report actually opens on a positive note:

“We believe it is important for readers of this report to be informed that, despite the difficult financial trends described herein, we did not find a failing school system in Los Angeles. We found clear examples of educational, social, and financial success. We believe that any critically informed researcher given access to all of the information, as we were, would also conclude that the examples of effective delivery of educational programs were legion. We found this to be particularly true in the areas that are most challenging, including special education, children of poverty, and those lacking in English language proficiency.”

…and never descends to gloom+doom.

There is very little new news here. The IFRP report points out trends that IF NOT ADDRESSED will lead to rack+ruin. These trends are not revelations; we knew of them before. The panel knew of them before. The Board of Ed and the succession of superintendents knew of them. Ms. Reilly the CFO knew of them. There is nothing here that School Services of California – which facilitated the report – hasn’t been saying for years to anyone who would pay to hear them say it.

The report does tell us there is no long term plan in place, districtwide or statewide, to address the long-term future challenges and trends. And the report and the panel doesn’t offer one.

And neither does Mr. Broad and his “Great Public Schools Now Initiative”.

And I remind us all that the real Fawkes was hanged, drawn and quartered. And that Foxy Loxy and her offspring devoured Henny Penny and Chicken Little and Turkey Lurkey and all the rest of the alarmist poultry

BUT WAIT: I CAN’T LET ELI BROAD’S L.A. TIMES OFF THAT EASILY: OK, we all know that Arts+Music Education is struggling in LAUSD.

• The previous regime pretended it cared.
• There isn’t enough funding to support the Arts@TheCoreResolution.
• “Dr.” Deasy’s funding outreach to Los Angeles’ Creative+Arts Community ended up funding billboards about how wonderful the vanishing LAUSD Arts Ed program and Monica Garcia are, bus signs and Breakfast in the Classroom. (There is an ongoing criminal investigation into the funding of the latter.)

Promises made to children and parents and stakeholders have not been kept and The LA Times is right to bring that up.

However, whenever the LAT gets into the GRADING HOW WELL YOUR SCHOOL SCORED business they tend to slide down the slippery slope into the data quagmire. And that’s what they did on Monday with: DETERIORATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL ARTS PROGRAMS HAS BEEN PARTICULARLY JARRING IN L.A.

Remember when they decided they’d evaluate teachers using their own “value-added” grading algorithm back in 2011? It’s like that.

A quick dive into the data shows that they lumped magnet school students in with the pool of students from the whole school. So it looks like the students are getting almost no arts instruction at performing arts magnets. At Marina Del Rey Performing Arts Magnet, students get 2 hours of sequential arts instruction per day. In the Times’ dataset it states that they receive less than 2 hours per week! Is Hamilton's High’s data accurate? Hollywood High? Fairfax? Are other Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Magnet Schools?

It’s no secret that The Broad Foundation subsidizes The LA Times Education Coverage.

LAUSD is in the middle of the Magnet Application Process in LAUSD (Get your CHOICES application in by Friday Nov 13th! – Uh-oh - What could possibly go wrong?) and this sort of misinformation couldn’t come at a more inopportune time. Some might even say that this is an Eli Broad funded attack on Magnet Schools driven by the recent evidence that Magnets Outperform Charter Schools. There is more here than meets the eye …and a faint whiff of the old brimstone in the air.

If there is a Conspiracy, then the Theory isn’t theoretical.

ARTS EDUCATION WAS FAR BETTER ADDRESSED in a legislative hearing Friday in Beverly Hills: ARTS EDUCATION IN ALL SCHOOLS NEEDS TO BE A PRIORITY AND BETTER FUNDED, ADVOCATES SAY. “How do we really make the case to our school boards and to our superintendents that this is an important part of [the Ed] code?” Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) said. “We’re going to help them put in place good programs, but it’s got to be a non-negotiable portion of the curriculum.”

AND CRUZ v. CALIFORNIA, the lawsuit that forced John Deasy out of LAUSD, finally concluded.

Today/Sunday’s L.A. Times page-one headline is the provocative: DISORDER IN THE CLASSROOM: UNRULY STUDENTS, OVERWELMED TEACHERS AT ISSUE. The article’s subject of LAUSD’s Discipline Foundation Policy + School-Wide Positive Behavior Support certainly invites debate+discussion. The story points out what happens when good thinking is poorly thought-out (“Dr.” Deasy’s legacy) – when programs like Restorative Justice or Breakfast in the Classroom (…or 1:1 computing or a state-of-the-art Student Information System) are rolled out without doing the groundwork or creating consensus+buy-in – without investing adequately in training.

At next Tuesday’s Board of Ed meetings:

● At 10 AM The Board of Education will review the Leadership Profile Report prepared by Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA), and discuss and define the desired characteristics of the next Superintendent. (LAUSD Superintendent Search Survey Reports from HYA |

● And at 1PM the Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) will deliver its report (Final Report Nov. 2, 2015 | +

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

by Howard Blume. LA Times |

Nov. 4, 2015 2:33 PM :: The Los Angeles Unified School District is facing a looming, long-term deficit that could force the system into bankruptcy, a panel of experts has concluded in a new report obtained by The Times.

The group, which met in private over the last several months, concluded that L.A. Unified will face a budget deficit of $333 million in the 2017-18 school year, an additional $450 million the following year and $600 million more the year after that.

This year’s general fund totals about $7.1 billion.

L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines convened the panel in response to critics who said the district could not afford its recent contract agreements with employee unions. These critics included Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly, who helped to oversee the work of the fiscal committee.

The panel’s estimates were consistent with what Reilly and her staff had concluded, although employee unions have questioned whether the situation is as dire as predicted.

Cortines has defended the contracts as affordable, provided that the district takes other necessary steps. He also said the agreements provided stability for employees and labor peace which, he said, is good for students.

All parties agree on the importance of extending a statewide tax increase that funds education and will soon expire.

The panel made a point of offering a vote of confidence in some L.A. Unified efforts -- "we did not find a failing school district in Los Angeles" -- but cautioned that success might not be long lasting.

“We found that many of the near-term successes will be very difficult to maintain and expand in the face of very stark demographic and financial forecasts for the future,” according to the report.

The labor contracts are not the only source of the financial challenge. The district also faces more expensive health benefits and much higher pension contributions that are required by state law.

Declining enrollment also is driving down district revenue; the district’s number of employees has, so far, not matched that decline. The district also spends more than it should on cafeteria operations and compensation for injured workers, the report said.

The panel made numerous recommendations, including: improving student and teacher attendance, offering an early retirement program, advocating for increased funding and reducing the total staffing to keep the number of employees in line with declining enrollment. The report also called for reducing the cost of services provided to disabled students.

The panel’s members are Maria R. Anguiano, vice chancellor for planning and budget at UC Riverside; Delaine Eastin, former state superintendent of public instruction; Michael H. Fine, a school district fiscal analyst; Bill Lockyer, former state attorney general and treasurer; Darline Robles, a retired superintendent who also is part of the superintendent search firm; Miguel Santana, city administrative officer for Los Angeles; Darrell Steinberg, former state Senate leader; Peter J. Taylor, former executive vice president and chief financial officer for the University of California and Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center.

The committee will formally present its findings at next week’s school board meeting.



From the report:

”We believe it is important for readers of this report to be informed that, despite the difficult financial trends described herein, we did not find a failing school system in Los Angeles. We found clear examples of educational, social, and financial success. We believe that any critically informed researcher given access to all of the information, as we were, would also conclude that the examples of effective delivery of educational programs were legion. We found this to be particularly true in the areas that are most challenging, including special education, children of poverty, and those lacking in English language proficiency. We also found that while much has been accomplished in LAUSD, many more educational challenges face the District.”

from Superintendent Cortines:

“This report comes at an important time and is intended to provide a framework to address the substantial future challenges we face together as a District. I hope it will give the Board and the new superintendent an objective view of the District’s financial position and provide a basis for District discussion in the upcoming years. If I were the new incoming superintendent, this is exactly the type of report I would want to see.”

DETERIORATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL ARTS PROGRAMS HAS BEEN PARTICULARLY JARRING IN LA …and the LA Times’ misreporting of it isn’t all that helpful either
by Zahira Torres and Ryan Menezes | LA Times |

Monday Nov 2, 2015 :: Normandie Avenue Elementary Principal Gustavo Ortiz worries that he can't provide arts classes for most of the 900 students at his South Los Angeles school.

Not a single art or music class was offered until this year at Curtiss Middle School in Carson.

At Carlos Santana Arts Academy in North Hills, a campus abuzz with visual and performing arts, the principal has gone outside the school district for help. A former professional dancer, she has tapped industry connections and persuaded friends to teach ballroom dancing and other classes without pay until she could reimburse them.

Budget cuts and a narrow focus on subjects that are measured on standardized tests have contributed to a vast reduction of public school arts programs across the country. The deterioration has been particularly jarring in Los Angeles, the epicenter of the entertainment industry.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is discovering the extent of those cuts as it seeks to regain the vibrancy that once made it a leader in arts education. For the first time, L.A. Unified in September completed a detailed accounting of arts programs at its campuses that shows stark disparities in class offerings, the number of teachers and help provided by outside groups.

Arts programs at a vast majority of schools are inadequate, according to district data. Classrooms lack basic supplies. Some orchestra classes don't have enough instruments. And thousands of elementary and middle school children are not getting any arts instruction.

A Los Angeles Times analysis that used L.A. Unified's data to assign letter grades to arts programs shows that only 35 out of more than 700 schools would get an "A." Those high-performing schools offered additional instruction through community donations, had more teachers and a greater variety of arts programs than most of the district's campuses.

The Times' analysis shows that elementary school arts programs in poor neighborhoods have been the hardest hit despite the district's decades-long attempt to close the gap between low-income and more affluent students.

A key factor contributing to the disparities is the ability of schools in more affluent areas to tap foundations and community members for help as district funds dwindled. Elementary schools that supplemented arts education at their campuses with outside resources had an average poverty rate of 60%, well below the district average. On the other end, at campuses that relied solely on district funding for the arts, 82% of students were low-income.

Thirteen middle and high schools had more than seven full-time teachers, while others had no programs at all. At a majority of elementary schools, an arts teacher visits one or two times a week. Only four elementary schools — West Vernon, Magnolia, Bonita Street and 49th Street Elementary — had an arts teacher five days a week, according to district data.

"I feel real guilty because my kids go to schools where an art teacher and a music teacher are there five days a week," said Ortiz, who pointed to Normandie's limited budget. "I come here and I can't give the kids what my own kids get. It just tears me up. It's such an inequity."

Arts education was not meant to be a luxury in California.

State law requires that schools provide music, art, theater and dance at every grade level. But few districts across the state live up to the requirement.

California is among the states with the strongest policies on arts education. But Sandra Ruppert, who directs the nonprofit Arts Education Partnership in Washington, D.C., said the state faces a "policy paradox" because of weak or uneven implementation.

"The state policy landscape tells you one thing, but then you really have to look at the district and, in many cases, you have to look at the individual schools," Ruppert said. "You can have two schools that are very similar demographically and have very different arts offerings."

State Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), chairman of the state's Joint Committee on the Arts, said that as the economy improves, state and local leaders must begin talking about reinvestment. This week his panel will hold a hearing in Beverly Hills focused on improving arts education.

"They have requirements under law, so the question is how do we work with our school districts to make sure that they are able to figure out a way to get in compliance and provide good-quality arts education to our kids?" Allen said.

The state policy landscape tells you one thing, but then you really have to look at the district and, in many cases, you have to look at the individual schools. - Sandra Ruppert, director of the nonprofit Arts Education Partnership in Washington, D.C.

At L.A. Unified, eight out of every 10 elementary schools don't have the programs needed to meet state requirements, The Times' analysis shows.

Only about a quarter of the students at Normandie take some form of arts classes. And just 60 get the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument.

The numbers don't seem fair to sixth-grader Charles Johnson, who said music is the reason he looks forward to school. He learned to play the violin, guitar, drums, bass and piano at Normandie. He said music helped him adjust to the loss of his baby sister and the death of his grandfather.

"Music can help in lots of ways," Charles said. "It can help you with pushing away from problems, being free and feeling relaxed."

The lack of arts programs at the middle school Charles was slated to attend contributed to his mother's decision to send him to a charter school. That school, however, has only a basic after-school arts program, so now she is left searching for other options.

Research shows that arts education bolsters student achievement and contributes to stronger participation in school activities. Low-income students who participated in arts rich programs had better grades and higher rates of college enrollment and graduation than those who had little or no involvement, according to a 2012 study by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In a resolution passed three years ago, the L.A. Board of Education pointed to such studies and said cuts to arts programs "exacerbate inequality and the opportunity gap" for low-income and minority students. It promised to restore funding within five years.

At its height in 2007, the district invested $32 million in arts education and drew an additional $46 million in grants from the state. That funding plummeted to $19 million during the recession and many campuses were left to fend for themselves. L.A. Unified bolstered its arts budget to $26.5 million this year and hired 45 teachers.

District arts director Rory Pullens, the former head of school at the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., used the survey results this year to direct additional funding and teachers to campuses with the fewest resources. Before then, Pullens said, the district had no way of assessing the needs and disparities at campuses.

Pullens also is encouraging involvement from Hollywood. He is visiting movie studios and production companies and asking them to "adopt" a school, offering to simplify tax deductions for donations, and has hired an employee to publicize contributions. The first to sign on were Sunset Bronson and Sunset Gower studios. Additional partnerships are being negotiated.

At first, Pullens said some companies were reticent because of negative perceptions of the district. One studio executive told him that the company wanted to be associated with "something positive." But Pullens said more Hollywood studios are lending a hand as they realize the district is starting to reinvest.

"They want to see that the entity is doing something for themselves," Pullens said.

Grammy Award-winning trumpet master Wynton Marsalis has long pushed for increased arts education. His organization works with 15 L.A. schools to produce Jazz for Young People concerts.

But Marsalis said that at times, the slow pace of change leaves him feeling as if he is teaching a class to students who don't want to learn.

"For some reason, we are unable to understand the importance of our identity as expressed through the arts," Marsalis said. "We tend to be very pragmatic and bottom-line-oriented. Everything is a metric, and there are things deeper than metrics. The soul is deeper than a metric."

Nearly two decades after former state schools Supt. Delaine Eastin called the decline of arts programs in California a silent crisis, educators and community leaders across the state are still struggling to make significant widespread progress.

The state's new funding formula for public schools — which allocates more money for low-income students and allows greater flexibility in determining how to spend it — has raised hopes among advocates that districts will begin restoring money for the arts.

Districts in wealthier parts of the state — Beverly Hills, Marin County and Davis — have continued to invest in arts education by tapping community members, parents and, in some cases, taxpayers. Those efforts helped fill the gap left by reduced state funds but extended inequities, according to a report issued this year by an arts education coalition formed by state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

Curtiss, in Carson, opted to spend limited dollars on Spanish and science electives rather than the arts.

The middle school was among more than a dozen campuses that were assigned a teacher this year after the district discovered they had no arts programs.

Curtiss now has a choir teacher but remains far behind the level of arts education provided at other district schools. "It's something we wanted, but we just didn't have the money," Principal Gina Russell-Williams said.

Carlos Santana Arts Academy — the highest-rated elementary school for arts classes — is among the few exceptions.

More than 90% of the school's students are low-income, so Principal Leah Bass-Baylis, a former professional dancer, turned to business and personal contacts to provide classes that she could not offer with limited district money.

Bass-Baylis, who was previously the assistant principal at Millikan Middle School, which has a performing arts magnet and where 36% of students are low-income, said she quickly learned the challenges of leading a less-affluent campus.

"When you don't have money, you have to count on people to do things out of the kindness of their own hearts and you say, 'I promise I'll pay you,'" she said.

Pullens said the district is working to change that dynamic but is still far from the $80 million it would need to ensure that elementary students receive an arts education in every grade. The price tag is harder to determine at secondary schools, which manage their own arts budgets.

"Even with this increase in funding, we haven't really restored the arts programs to where they were initially," Pullens said. "We're still underwater. Instead of being 100 feet underwater, we're 50 feet underwater but guess what, that's still drowning.... You have to get your head above water, and we're not there yet."

By Zahira Torres, L.A. Times |

November 6, 2015 8:50 pm :: Getting school districts on track to offer state-mandated arts programs could require incentives, legislation and enforcement, arts advocates said at a hearing Friday in Beverly Hills.

Arts programs across California have waned in the wake of budget cuts and a sharpened focus on academic subjects measured on standardized tests. Thousands of students in the state don’t have access to arts classes, a violation of state law.

“How do we really force compliance?” said state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), chairman of the Legislature's Joint Committee on the Arts, at a hearing focused on improving arts education.

“How do we really make the case to our school boards and to our superintendents that this is an important part of code?” Allen said. “We’re going to help them put in place good programs, but it’s got to be a non-negotiable portion of the curriculum.”

State law requires that schools provide music, art, theater and dance at every grade level. But the law lacks teeth and few districts across the state live up to the requirement.

Lupita Cortez Alcala, deputy superintendent of the California Department of Education, said the state should focus on providing incentives to school districts such as offering professional learning opportunities, providing funding to share best practices and working to make sure teachers are certified in teaching the arts.

She said districts are not trying to skirt the law, they just need help. Many, she said, may not even know the law exists.

“They realize how important it is and they’re just feeling really overwhelmed,” Cortez Alcala said. “We’re just coming out of the recession. We’re still at 46 out of the 50 states in per-pupil spending. We’re not quite where we used to be.”

But Carl Schafer, a veteran arts educator who has been meeting with lawmakers and state leaders to make sure districts are complying with the law, said for far too long arts education has been treated as an option.

Schafer joined parents, teachers and educators who offered solutions that ranged from providing more training to requiring districts to publicly disclose their level of compliance with state law. He warned that districts that don’t comply could face litigation.

"All of these efforts, and my own, have been to persuade,” Schafer said. “Persuasion has not worked and persuasion will not work in the future. The only solution is to require compliance.”

Eight out of every 10 elementary schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District don't have the programs needed to meet state requirements, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.

This year, L.A. Unified asked all of its schools to complete surveys detailing class offerings, the number of arts teachers and the help provided by outside groups for arts programs. A Times analysis, which used L.A. Unified’s data to assign letter grades to arts programs, shows that only 35 out of more than 700 schools would get an "A."

“When you look at the disparity between those schools that were ranked exemplary with As and those schools that were Cs and Ds, it was staggering to see that in a district of this size only 35 schools were ranked as an A in the arts, given all this criteria,” District arts director Rory Pullens said. “It just gives you a sense of the magnitude of the work that we are going to have to engage in to make that change.”

Pullens said that work includes directing additional funding and teachers to campuses with the fewest resources and building a relationship with the city's entertainment industry.

Craig Watson, director of the California Arts Council, said leaders must work to get the public engaged and invested in arts education.
“What’s wrong with this picture that we sell ourselves globally, appropriately, as the most creative place in the world and yet we have this disconnect over what we’re doing with our children and the workforce of the 21st century,” Watson said.

Educators told lawmakers that while more than 170,000 students take theater and dance in California, the state does not offer a separate credential for either subject. The reason, they said, was a typo in legislation that required credentials for music and art, instead of music and arts.

“It sounds like a bill possibility,” Allen said to applause from the audience.


by Teresa Watanabe and Howard Blume, L.A. Times |

Nov 8, 2015 :: In a South Los Angeles classroom, a boy hassles a girl. The teacher moves him to the back of the room, where he scowls, makes a paper airplane and repeatedly throws it against the wall. Two other boys wander around the class and then nearly come to blows.

"Don't you talk about my sister," one says to the other. The teacher steps between them.

When she tries to regain order, another boy tells her: "Screw you."

It's another day of disruption on this campus in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has been nationally hailed by the White House and others for its leadership in promoting more progressive school-discipline policies. The nation's second-largest school system was the first in California to ban suspensions for defiance and announced plans to roll out an alternative known as restorative justice, which seeks to resolve conflicts through talking circles and other methods to build trust.
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The shift has brought dramatic changes: Suspensions districtwide plummeted to 0.55% last school year compared with 8% in 2007-08, and days lost to suspension also plunged, to 5,024 from 75,000 during that same period, according to the most recent data.

The district moved to ban suspensions amid national concern that they imperil academic achievement and disproportionately affect minorities, particularly African Americans.

But many teachers say their classrooms are reeling from unruly students who are escaping consequences for their actions.

They blame the district for failing to provide the staff and training needed to effectively shift to the new approach — and their complaints are backed up by L.A. schools Supt. Ramon Cortines. He said the new discipline policies, which were pushed through by the Board of Education and former Supt. John Deasy and which he supports, were poorly executed. He compared the implementation to the flawed effort to equip students and teachers with Apple tablets.

"I will compare it to the iPad," Cortines said. "You cannot piecemeal this kind of thing and think it is going to have the impact that it should have. Don't make a political statement and then don't have the wherewithal to back it up."
It's called the devil in the details. Sometimes it means stopping what you're doing and then do it right in a few places, and then do it right everywhere. - Richard Vladovic

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said the union backs the new approach and that teachers with sufficient support have used it effectively at such high schools as Augustus Hawkins in South L.A. and Roosevelt in Boyle Heights. But widespread complaints from teachers without such support have prompted union plans to start its own training.

"We're now carrying the consequences of ... not enough staffing to make it work and a lot of frustration," Caputo-Pearl said.

The most assertive supporters of restorative justice on the school board are Steve Zimmer and Monica Garcia. Both said the effort is essential to improving academic achievement, as important as instructional practices and financial management.

"This literally changes kids' lives and their experience in school," said Zimmer, the board president. "We have to get this right."

Zimmer questioned reports of deteriorating discipline, saying such problems existed before the policy was enacted two years ago and resulted from numerous factors at a school.

But board member Richard Vladovic said a hasty rollout had the potential to make things worse.
Teachers with a high number of students with discipline issues are walking a fine line between extreme stress and a emotional meltdown. - Art Lopez

"We have not provided all the training we should, but that's been historic in education," he said. "It's called the devil in the details. Sometimes it means stopping what you're doing and then do it right in a few places, and then do it right everywhere."

Only 307 of the district's 900 campuses have so far received training under the district's five-year restorative justice plan, according to Earl Perkins, assistant superintendent of school operations. Last year, the district only budgeted funds for five restorative justice counselors until community pressure pushed officials to increase that to 25. This year, 20 more counselors were added for a total $7.2 million in spending.

But that covers less than a third of the district's 181 secondary schools, where discipline problems are the most acute.

Community groups that monitor the issue say it is unclear how schools are coping with unruly students under the suspension restrictions — in part because the district has not released data on how many, for instance, are referred to the administrative office and what happens to them afterward. At Manchester Elementary and Markham Middle School in South L.A., principals reportedly sent disruptive students home without recording them as suspensions, but Perkins said no such reports have surfaced this year.

Sylvester Wiley, an L.A. Unified police officer for 32 years, said schools are increasingly calling police to handle disruptive students. "Now that they can't suspend, schools want to have officers handle things, but we constantly tell them we can't do this," he said. "Willful defiance is not a crime."

At Los Angeles Academy Middle School in South L.A., teachers have asked for an after-school detention program, but one has not yet been established. They say they are overwhelmed by what they consider ineffective responses to students who push, threaten and curse them. The stress over discipline prompted two teachers to take leaves of absence in the last two months.
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"My teachers are at their breaking point," Art Lopez, the school's union representative, wrote to union official Colleen Schwab in a letter obtained by The Times. "Everyone working here is highly aware of how the lack of consequences has affected the site. Teachers with a high number of students with discipline issues are walking a fine line between extreme stress and a emotional meltdown."

Lopez wrote that many teachers felt that administrators were pushing the burden of discipline onto instructors because they can no longer suspend unruly students and lack the staff to handle them outside the classroom. Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, which represents principals and others, declined to comment.

Michael Lam, an eighth-grade math teacher, said he has seen an increase in student belligerence under new discipline policies.

"Where is the justice for the students who want to learn?" he said, speaking at a recent forum held as part of the process to select the next superintendent of schools. "I'm afraid our standards are getting lower and lower."

Cortines, 83, said he broke up a fight between students last year at Markham Middle School, which he said was "out of control" toward the end of the school year.

"There were just a lot of problems" and not only with restorative justice, he said. "I don't think we provided the proper support for the administration. I don't think we did proper monitoring."

Cortines said the situation has improved at Markham. Principal Luis Montoya said change would take time, but that progress should pick up this year because the district has provided a full-time staff member for the restorative justice program and a teacher has been named to help lead the efforts.

But some teachers are dubious, in part because high staff turnover has stymied efforts. A highly regarded restorative justice counselor was let go in January because foundation funding ran out, and 10 of the 11 teachers on the school's restorative justice task force last year have left the campus.

Schools with enough staff and training, however, report success. At Jordan High School in Watts, for instance, suspensions have dropped to just one as of October compared with 22 during the same period last year. The school has launched a well-staffed program led by a dean and two counselors, who meet with troubled students in a designated room featuring posters offering pointers about the practice, such as speaking and listening with respect.

At Gardena High School, Principal Rosie Martinez said the school began using restorative justice last year, with all teachers asked to hold discussion circles to build a sense of community and trust. When students misbehave, they are sent to resolve their conflicts with coordinator Deborah Moore.

"It's a slow process getting everyone on board," said Daron Andrade, dean of students. But she added that the new approach seems to have reduced arguments and fights.

Students who have experienced the restorative practices say they have helped.

Nataya Ross, 17, and Maya Smith, 16, were both referred to restorative justice circles after getting into campus fights. The students took turns sharing their feelings about the conflict and how to make things right.

"When I first heard of the circle, I thought it was useless," Nataya said. "Now I think it is good. Me and my best friend were in the circle, and we got good in two minutes. We just had to get a lot of stuff off our chest."

Maya also thought the circle was "dumb" at first. "But it actually helped," she said. "It made me mature just a little. I think I'm way better than how I was last year."

The students said some teachers believe the new approach has exacerbated discipline problems. But they also said restorative justice has the potential to help all students, if they are exposed to it.

Full funding to spread the practice to every campus is the district's ultimate goal, Perkins said.

"We have to teach our students how to be good citizens ... they don't need to miss instructional time to make this happen," he said.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
from @markslavkin: “For me, to "privatize" our schools means to ignore public/community voice and purpose and focus only on personal preference of parents”


"...a powerful figure in a goldfish bowl": LAUSD & THE SEARCH FOR A NEW SUPERINTENDENT — Which Way, L.A.? — KCRW


Cruz v. California: STATE SETTLES LAWSUIT OVER ‘FAKE’ CLASSES + a little history from smf


NAEP+PARCC + COMPARING APPLES-to-ORANGES: Rigging the Test Against Common Core + more

Former Mayor Tony & Former United Way-e® Ryan Smith: "HOW CAN WE BEAT UP ON 'BAD TEACHERS' IF WE DON'T HAVE AN API?

Round up the (un)usual suspects: WHO WILL LEAD L.A. UNIFIED - A Photo Gallery

Dear Congress,


DETERIORATION OF SCHOOL ARTS PROGRAMS JARRING IN LAUSD …the LA Times’ misreporting of it isn’t that helpful either!

¿Flip-Flop? Council of Great City Schools’ Casserly: A CAP ON TESTING TIME IS THE WRONG ANSWER FOR SCHOOLS +smf’s 2¢

BRINGING IT BACK HOME: State comparisons are more useful than international comparisons for improving US Ed policy

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
MONDAY NOV 9th 11:30am-12:30pm: The California State PTA is offering a lunchtime Webinar.
Click here [] to find out more and register


Parents and guardians will learn about critical components of the LAUSD instructional calendar planning and adoption process. Participants will also receive information about the upcoming instructional calendar stakeholder survey.
Save the date. We hope to see you there!

MONDAY, November 9, 2015 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM
LD Northwest @ J. F. Kennedy HS Theatre
11254 Gothic Ave., Granada Hills, CA 91344

TUESDAY, November 10, 2015 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM
LD East @ LD East Saldivar Conference Room
2151 N. Soto St., Los Angeles, CA 90032


THURSDAY, November 12, 2015 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM
LD Central @ Belmont HS Auditorium
1575 W 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90026

Please visit for more information.

►SAVE THE DATE: Board Member Schmerelson would like to invite you to a DISCUSSION ABOUT THE LOCAL CONTROL AND ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN (LCAP) at Mulholland Middle School (17120 Vanowen Street, Lake Balboa) on TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17TH from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. This is will help explain how the new Local Control Funding Formula will allocate State dollars to School Districts and then to respective School Sites.

►MORE SAVE THE DATE: ARTS EDUCATION SUMMIT 2015: Building Momentum in LA County!
Skirball Cultural Center | FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2015 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM (PST)
Join fellow educators, advocates and supporters of arts education as we celebrate our collective successes in advancing arts education in LA County.
RSVP by November 30 :: Info and RSVP:
●REGULAR BOARD OF ED MEETING – TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2015 - 10:00 a.m. - Including Closed Session Items

*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: • 213-241-8333 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-5555 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, county supervisor, state legislator, 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 at

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

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.
• 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. 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.