Saturday, December 05, 2015


4LAKids: Sunday 6•Dec•2015
In This Issue:
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
 •  ► Friends4smf :: The GoFundMe campaign
 •  Follow 4 LAKids on Twitter - or get instant updates via text message by texting
 •  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.
If you don’t know the numbers, you should:

• UP UNTIL WEDNESDAY, HERE HAD BEEN 354 MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE U.S. SINCE JAN 1, 2015; the mass shooting in San Bernardino on Wednesday was #355. . A “mass shooting” is defined as a single shooting, which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.
• Of the 355, two were perpetrated by Muslims.
• SCHOOL SHOOTINGS: There have been 62 school shootings so far in 2015, and 161 since the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut on 14 December 2012 - although those figures include occasions when a gun was fired but no-one was hurt.
• ALL SHOOTINGS: The school shootings and other mass shootings dominate the headlines, but the vast majority of gun deaths in the US occur in smaller, often unreported incidents. Some 12,223 people have been killed in the US by firearms so far this year, and 24,722 people injured.

Those familiar with these pages will expect a snippet from Bob Dylan and “Blowin’ in’ the Wind” here.

Let’s give Bob a rest and Bruce a turn:
“It ain't no secret (it ain't no secret)
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin.”

The events of Wednesday continue to unravel. San Bernardino has ceased being a place and is suddenly an event. A hashtag. #SanBernardino … to join #SandyHook and #Charleston and #Roseburg and #ColoradoSprings …so three-years-ago/six-months-ago/two-months-ago/last week.

The pundits and politicos and Eyewitness Newsies struggle to connect any and all of the dots in any way they may or may not fit. Is it about I.S. or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh or the Caliphate whatever we call them? Is it Islamic Terrorism or just our homegrown domestic T? An office holiday party gone as bad as can be? Or proof positive that too many guns are in too many of the wrong hands? Or a Kozmic Cocktail of all of the above?

Who radicalized whom/when/where/why/how?

What part of “a well-regulated militia, being the best security of a free state…” is evidenced by this madness?

The New York Times put an editorial on their front page Saturday for the first time since 1920, bemoaning the inaction on assault weapon regulation. (In 1920 they bemoaned the nomination of Warren Harding for president; one needs only look to history to see how that turned out.)

“I would have thought after Sandy Hook, after seeing all those children massacred, that the Congress would need nothing more to do its job, but even after that horrific tragedy, we sat idle,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said Thursday on CNN.

“I’m tired of the moments of silence,” said Schiff.

President Obama spoke about “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims in San Bernardino” – and the Chorus o’ Candidates (R) tweeted in echo: (Duck’s quacks DO Echo!) about their Thoughts+Prayers – and no less an Ethical+Moral Compass than the New York Daily News turned on them with the headline: “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS: As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes”.

A bit over-the-top perhaps …but one suspects that the Shaper and Ruler of the Universe doesn’t give all that much weight to the tweeted thoughts+prayers of candidates from either party. Or the agenda of the National Rifle Association.


THE LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION is actually considering the names of superintendent candidates – including this very (Sunday) morning at a meeting that begins at 8:30 AM, when they will call the roll, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and retire into secret closed session …unless a public speaker or two seeking their three minutes o’ fame on their way to church shows up at Beaudry!

A list of rumored candidates seeps into my e-mail – I’m not going to name any names other than to say some are preposterous and some are curious and others are curiouser still. I do understand that the deal is far, far from done among the board. They might not even be agreed upon the preposterousness!

• ELI BROAD’S PLAN TO CHARTERIZE HALF OF LAUSD continues to draw fire. Eli’s plan to “save” the LA Times draws tweets+denials. Denial is the longest river.
• …and the source of political donations to previous pro-charter political campaigns become a little clearer. Kinda. Sorta. PAC SHIELDED $2.3 MILLION IN DONATIONS BY CHARTER SCHOOL BACKERS IN LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS
• An L.A. Times Letter-to-the-Editor writer wrote: “Being a wealthy businessman doesn't make you an education expert” …and The Times – independent of Broad’s influence – printed it!
• And charter school advocates bragged/whined about how compliant+transparent they are. Because we have no shame, laundering campaign contributions in ‘a common and fully legal electoral practice’ we have nothing to be ashamed of. The Times printed that too!

THE GAS LEAK IN PORTER RANCH LOOKED LIKE A STRETCH FOR THIS BLOG – but the Daily News obliged with “Porter Ranch schools working to protect students from leaking gas, LAUSD says” Perhaps the Global Warming Summiteers in Paris would like to contemplate that that leak constitutes 25% of California greenhouse gas emissions every day! [also see: SCHOOLS, CHILDREN AND CLIMATE CHANGE | ]

AND IN CONGRESS the seven-year-plus overdue reauthorization of the lamentable-but-unlamented federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) /aka/ Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is suddenly on a fast track for passage …in the end a another piece of legislation we will have to deconstruct and figure out after it passes.

¡Happy Hanukkah/Hanukkah Sameach! There were miracles in those days.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


by Mike Szymanski | LA School Report |

Posted on December 2, 2015 2:45 pm :: The LA Unified school board said today it will begin the first round of interviews of candidates for superintendent at 8:30 Sunday morning.

It’s the start of the endgame for the seven board members, who are seeking to find a successor to Ramon Cortines before he steps down at the end of the year. In the first round of interviews, the board members will be guided by information and concerns that its search firm collected from interviews and community forums.

The second round of interviews will be conducted in a less formal setting and allow for more of a dialogue with board members. The entire interview process is planned as confidential, and no candidate’s name will be released before the final decision — unless, of course, somebody leaks a name or two.

The next regularly-scheduled school board meeting is planned for Tuesday, Dec. 8, with an agenda that will include a vote on Scott Schmerelson’s resolution against the Eli Broad Foundation’s plan to increase charter schools in the district.

Also up for a vote is a measure from Mónica Ratliff that seeks greater transparency from charter schools and charter school compliance with state guidelines for open meetings.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez | KPCC |

December 01, 05:14 PM :: On Tuesday L.A. Unified’s school board got a first look at a list of people who want to be the school district’s next superintendent.

Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, the firm hired by the school board to search for superintendent candidates, gave the board a binder full of names.

The names are confidential, but a source involved in the search process tells KPCC the school board will begin “three to four days” of first round interviews with top candidates starting this Sunday.

The school board had agreed to a list of nearly two dozen desired characteristics that the search firm would use to find candidates. The traits include having been a teacher and principal in an urban environment, and possessing a drive to address the struggles and challenges facing students of color and in poverty.

The source said the candidates given to the board meet the criteria.

In the first round, school board members will ask scripted questions from a list they agreed to last month. (As with the names of candidates, the questions are confidential.)

The second round of interviews will be less structured, involving discussion and dialogue between board members and the candidate on a wide range of topics. This could happen over dinner.

The pace of the search is speeding up. The school board has promised to find a replacement for Superintendent Ramon Cortines this month. Cortines has said he wants to retire in January.


Howard Blume | LA Times |

Dec 1, 2015 | 8:30AM :: The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday is expected to move from the theoretical to the nitty-gritty in its search for the next leader of the nation’s second-largest school system.

After a brief session in public, the seven-member board plans to go behind closed doors to review questions for superintendent candidates, discuss its overall approach to interviews and take a first look at a binder of possible choices assembled by the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates.

Interviews are expected to begin on Sunday in an all-day private meeting, said sources close to the process who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to comment.

The mission is to find a replacement for Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, 83, who hopes to retire by the end of 2015. He appears to mean it, talking about next week’s school board meeting as the last in which he will play a leading role.

Cortines has headed the L.A. Unified School District three times, returning most recently after Supt. John Deasy resigned under pressure in October 2014.

The next schools chief will oversee the education of 650,000 students: most from low-income families; most of whom also fall short of state academic standards. There’s also a looming budget deficit and the challenge of an outside, privately funded plan to expand rapidly the number of students enrolled in charter schools.

Charters, which are publicly funded, are independently managed and exempt from some rules that govern traditional schools.

The board’s closed-door proceedings on Tuesday and Sunday are expected to last hours, possibly all day, and no announcements are anticipated at the conclusion of either gathering.

The candidate screening and interviews follow two months of build-up that often resembled pageantry. First, a team of consultants, through a survey and more than 100 meetings, gathered input from the general public and specific segments of the community, including teachers, clergy, parents and civic leaders.

Then, the consultants unveiled a leadership profile compiled from this input and the board debated it. Board members acknowledged during a November meeting that they have significant disagreements over the future direction of L.A. Unified.

“We have real tensions,” board member Monica Garcia said about how to help the under-served youth of Los Angeles. “We need to find that common ground where at least four board members can agree to trust a person.”

So far, there appear to be no front-runners for the job. Even when they emerge, the board members intend to keep the process confidential until a choice is made.

By Howard Blume L.A. Times |

Dec 3, 2015 2:50 PM :: Los Angeles school board member Scott Schmerelson, who recently urged his colleagues to oppose a massive charter school expansion plan, has revised a proposal to make it more general — opposing market-driven education reforms.

Schmerelson's amended version has moved away from asking the board to vote to take a stand against efforts by the locally based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which had been spearheading the charter plan.

As his motion is now written, Schmerelson criticizes the Broad plan but asks the Board of Education to oppose “external initiatives that seek to reduce public education in Los Angeles to an educational marketplace and our children to market shares.”

A confidential draft of the charter proposal, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, called for half of district students to enroll in charters over the next eight years. The plan was developed without input from the L.A. Unified School District and could be pursued whether the district likes it or not.

Since then, the Broad Foundation has characterized the leaked plan, which called for raising $490 million, as a “preliminary discussion draft” rather than a call to action. And last month, two charter advocates formed a nonprofit organization that they said would be the next step in the effort. They insisted that the new entity would be devoted to creating superior public schools of any model, charter or otherwise, although documentation they provided mostly touted the benefits of charters.
Amid acclaimed teacher's firing, LAUSD faces test over how it handles misconduct allegations
Amid acclaimed teacher's firing, LAUSD faces test over how it handles misconduct allegations

Charter schools are publicly funded and independently managed; they are exempt from some rules that govern traditional campuses. Most are nonunion.

The nonprofit, called Great Public Schools Now, will include Broad as a board member, but he would not be in charge, according to former banker William E.B. Siart, who will chair the governing board.

Schmerelson modified his motion to move away from Broad as the central focus after the nonprofit was created. But he has not diverged from his publicly stated concerns that some charters don’t serve all students and that the growth of charters could limit L.A. Unified's ability to provide adequate resources to district-operated campuses.
Nonprofit is formed to advance charter-school plan in Los Angeles area
Nonprofit is formed to advance charter-school plan in Los Angeles area

The motion criticizes external efforts that fail to support “districtwide programs and strategies that benefit every student whom we are sworn to serve.”

Charter advocates said such criticisms are unfair and inaccurate. The schools have proved popular with many parents and currently enroll about 16% of district students. L.A. Unified has the most charter schools of any district in the nation.

Schmerelson also added to his resolution a recognition of efforts that could be expanded to serve, recruit and retain more students. They include expanding early learning opportunities, holding school leaders more accountable, better involving parents in their children’s learning, improving student and staff attendance, and advocating for increased state and federal funding.

“He decided that the resolution also needed to include language that speaks to the accountability of the board and their commitment to attract and retain students,” said Arlene Irlando, Schmerelson’s chief of staff. "He felt that it's not enough to speak about what is opposed without some language affirming the need to improve outcomes for all LAUSD students.”

Consideration of a separate, charter-related motion, requiring more disclosures from these schools, is being postponed, according to an agenda posted on the district's website Wednesday.

The board could vote on Schmerelson's motion at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

CAVEAT: The Times receives funding for its digital initiative, Education Matters, from the California Endowment, the Wasserman Foundation and the Baxter Family Foundation. The California Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Los Angeles administer grants from the Broad Foundation to support this effort. Under terms of the grants, The Times retains complete control over editorial content.


by Howard Blume, LA Times |

Dec 1, 2015 | 6:24pm :: Nearly $2.3 million in donations made by charter school supporters during this year's Los Angeles school board races were shielded from disclosure until after the election was over, a review of records shows.

Those contributions — from philanthropist Eli Broad, heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune, former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and others — were made prior to the May 19 election to California Charter Schools Assn. Advocates, a political action committee in Sacramento. That group then forwarded campaign funds to a local affiliated committee.



An earlier version of this post stated that Wal-Mart Corp. heirs Carrie W. Penner gave a combined $620,000 in 2014. They gave $720,000.


The Los Angeles-based PAC was required by campaign laws only to identify the state charter group as the source of the funding, not the individual donors.

As a result, the donors remained anonymous in Los Angeles campaign filings. In September, the state charter group filed a required state report listing all its contributors.

While the practice appears to be within the law, state campaign regulators said they are concerned about how the contributions remained unreported for so long.

Jay Wierenga, a spokesman for the California state Fair Political Practices Commission, said the goal of state law is "to elicit and promote meaningful disclosure to the public when it counts — before an election."

A state charter association spokesman said the group did nothing wrong in the way it handled the contributions. He emphasized that the group's objective is to improve education opportunities for families.

The donors "see the value in our goals and mission to provide a high-quality educational option to parents and students," said Richard Garcia, director of elections communications for the California Charter Schools Assn.

Garcia noted that charter advocates lack the extensive financial base of dues-paying members that unions can rely on. The L.A. teachers union was the main force opposing charter-backed candidates in school board elections that are widely recognized as the costliest in the nation.

Charters are independently managed, publicly funded schools that are exempt from some rules that govern traditional campuses. Most are nonunion.

Earlier this year, The Times asked the charter group for a list of donations made in 2015 in advance of the election. The group declined. But Garcia said in a recent interview that it was not trying to hide anything in setting up the local PAC to receive money from the state PAC.

"Local committees are established across the state to give a local flavor to each race, including [a] local name on disclaimers for campaign materials," he said. "This is a common practice as campaign consultants believe it best to maintain local name ID."

Voters following the election in Los Angeles knew only that the money flowing into the campaign during 2015 came from the state charter PAC.

While the names of the donors were absent from L.A. records, some did appear in campaign reporting documents related to a state Senate race in the San Francisco Bay Area. In that contest, the state charter group had not created a local PAC to channel the funding through. As a result, some contributors were revealed.

The name the charter group gave its Los Angeles PAC was Parent Teacher Alliance in Support of Rodriguez, Galatzan, and Vladovic for School Board 2015. Incumbent Tamar Galatzan lost despite charter support, while Richard Vladovic, who was supported by unions and charters, was reelected.

The charter PAC was the biggest money player in these contests, spending about $2.7 million. The teachers union spent about $1.6 million, according to state and local records.

Among the charter donors not disclosed in L.A. filings was Bloomberg, who gave $350,000 in 2015. Bloomberg already had contributed $250,000 in 2014, an amount that was disclosed prior to the election because the funds arrived before the end of 2014.

Other donors from 2015 who were disclosed after the election included:

• Gap clothing co-founder Doris Fisher ($750,000). The longtime charter supporter also gave $550,000 in 2014.

• Wal-Mart Corp. heirs Carrie W. Penner ($150,000) and Jim Walton ($225,000). The two also gave a combined $720,000 in 2014.

• Grower Barbara Grimm ($500,000), owner of one of California's largest farming operations, who started a charter school near Bakersfield. Grimm also gave $586,400 in 2014.

• Emerson Collective ($150,000), a corporation under the control of Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, which supports charitable and political causes.

• Investor John H. Scully ($100,000). He and his wife also gave $400,000 in 2014.

• Philanthropist Eli Broad ($50,000). He also gave $305,000 to the state charter PAC in 2014.

Broad contributed to the state charter PAC not to delay disclosure but "because he supported the organization's statewide election strategy," said Karen Denne, chief communications officer for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

Recently, the Broad Foundation spearheaded a proposal to enroll half of Los Angeles students in charters over the next eight years. Potential funders listed in a confidential June draft, obtained by The Times, included key donors to the charter PAC or the affiliated state charter association, which is a nonprofit.

The issue of so-called "dark money" has touched Broad and the Fisher family before. In the 2012 election, the Fishers gave $9 million and Broad, $1 million, to groups that concealed the sources of these donations. The money was used to oppose a tax increase to fund education and in support of a ballot measure to limit union participation in political campaigns. The tax increase passed, the anti-union measure failed and the dark money maneuvering led to fines for some of the participants, although not the donors.

Under election law, donors cannot direct a PAC to spend money in a particular election, and the charter group said it followed these rules. About three-quarters of its reported 2015 spending was in the L.A. board races. Nearly all the rest went to the Bay Area state Senate race.

Garcia likened the charter group's donations to funding that the local teachers union received from the California Teachers Assn. and the American Federation of Teachers.

Donations from those unions and others were disclosed prior to the election. Combined, the PACs from four statewide and national teachers unions provided $390,000, according to records filed with the L.A. Ethics Commission. The union also assembled its war chest through a $400,000 loan from the union's strike fund and $40,900 a month that is collected from voluntary contributions to the United Teachers Los Angeles PAC, which is called Political Action Council of Educators, the union said.

"In UTLA's case, many members voluntarily give $8.33 per month to our PAC," union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said.

As in this year's elections, the mega-donors have not always carried the day. In the 2013 elections, candidates backed by wealthy donors lost two of three contests, including one in which incumbent Steve Zimmer prevailed. He used the identity of the donors as an effective counterpunch to their resources.

"They're truly funded by and accountable to the 1%," Zimmer said of the charter advocacy group.

But that issue was not the linchpin of this year's election. The two defeated incumbents were successfully targeted for being in office during L.A. Unified's failed and costly effort to provide every student, teacher and campus administrator with an iPad. The charter group spent its money to use the iPad debacle against incumbent Bennett Kayser, who lost to Rodriguez. The teachers union used its dollars to do the same to Galatzan, who lost to challenger Scott Schmerelson.

Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have presumed that voters would have full knowledge of who was contributing to campaigns when it struck down many limits on the amount of donations, said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who specializes in election law and heads the L.A. City Ethics Commission.

"The purposes of the disclosure laws are to give the public information, which is much more useful the faster it comes," said Levinson. "The concern is that you can use an intermediary and, essentially, legally mask who is behind a donation."


CAVEAT: The Times receives funding for its digital initiative, Education Matters, from the California Endowment, the Wasserman Foundation and the Baxter Family Foundation. The California Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Los Angeles administer grants from the Broad Foundation to support this effort. Under terms of the grants, The Times retains complete control over editorial content.


Letters to the Editor of the L.A. Times |

Dec 4, 2015 :: To the editor: The inundation of a local school race with money from billionaires is just another example of how the 1% seek to control government. We see this in efforts to privatize Social Security, Medicare, the U.S. Post Service, schools and prisons. ("PAC shielded $2.3 million in donations by L.A. charter school backers," Dec. 2)

The wealthy donors to Sacramento political action committee California Charter Schools Assn. Advocates may be motivated by good intentions, but they have biases ingrained by their milieu of wealth, self-importance and association with those who believe that capitalism can do no wrong.

The Walton heirs have succeeded by paying Wal-Mart workers wages so miserly that they qualify for welfare. These 1% believe that, since they have succeeded in business, they can provide better answers to educational problems than people who work in the field.

Campaign financing must be reformed. A first step would be the enactment of the Voters' Right to Know Act.

Lloyd A. Dent, Northridge


Dec 4, 2015 :: To the editor: This article takes common and fully legal electoral practice and turns it into “gotcha” politics.

California Charter Schools Assn. Advocates is very proud of its compliance and transparency record. The Fair Political Practices Commission and our independent auditors have consistently found our reporting to be fully compliant.

Our donors are longtime education reformers who want nothing more than to see children receive better educational opportunities. They, and we, are certainly accustomed to having that support be a matter of public record. We have never tried to shield anyone from anything. We have worked tirelessly to build political will for positive changes in public education and we will continue to do so.

Furthermore, we believe readers are more interested in examining the creative ideas and educational models, such as charter schools, that are delivering much-needed results and have the power to transform the L.A. public education system.

Gary Borden, Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of California Charter Schools Assn. Advocates.

By Alyson Klein | EdWeek |

December 2, 2015 7:15 PM :: Washington :: Almost 14 years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted by a huge, bipartisan margin to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, which put the federal government front and center when it came to how K-12 schools measured student performance and fixed struggling schools.

But on Wednesday, the House almost as overwhelmingly approved the Every Student Succeeds Act, 359 to 64. The bill would scale back the federal role in education for the first time since the early 1980s, handing greater control over accountability and school improvement back to states. It also would keep in place the NCLB law's signature transparency requirements—including annual testing—and focus on helping traditionally overlooked groups of students and flailing schools.

ESSA's political prospects appear rosy from here on out. A similar piece of legislation passed with big bipartisan support in the Senate earlier this year, and the bill is expected to sail through that chamber in coming days. And the White House has said it strongly supports the bill.

The bill would direct states and districts to turn around their lowest-performing schools, schools with high dropout rates, and schools where so called "subgroups" of students—like English-language learners, students in special education, and racial minorities—are struggling.

It would consolidate some 50 programs into a big block grant and seriously curtail the U.S. Secretary of Education's authority, while maintaining the Education Department's important enforcement protections, one sponsor says.

And, in a nod to concerns that the NCLB law placed too much emphasis on a single test score in rating schools, the measure calls for states to consider other factors in gauging school performance, such as school climate and teacher engagement. (Lots more on the ins-and-outs of the bill in this cheat sheet.)

The debate on the House floor Wednesday was full of bipartisan backslapping and a sense from lawmakers across the political spectrum that ESSA strikes the right balance between flexibility for states and civil rights protections.

"Parents, teachers, superintendents, and other education leaders have been telling us for years that the top-down approach to education isn't working," Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and a co-author of the bill said during the debate. "Yet some still believe that more programs, more mandates, and more bureaucrats will help get this right. Well, those days will soon be over."

For his part, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., another architect of the legislation, said the bill offers much-needed leeway, while maintaining the civil rights legacy of the underlying law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

"It maintains high standards for all children, and requires states to put into place locally designed evidence-based strategies that meet the unique needs of schools," he said.

The tone was a big departure from July's debate over a version of the bill backed only by Republicans that barely squeaked through. And a similar bill was pulled from consideration when it failed to garner sufficient support among Republicans back in February—in part because of opposition from the conservative Heritage Action fund. (Heritage is also not a fan of ESSA.)

Since then, however, the legislation has been merged with a bipartisan Senate bill, sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash.

And U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a sunny statement after the passage of a bill that many say would cut his successors off at the knees.

"We are encouraged that the bill passed by the House today would codify the vision that we have long advocated for giving a fair shot at a great education to every child in America - regardless of ZIP code," he said. "The bill that the House passed today reflects more of that vision than nearly any observer expected."

A broad coalition of civil rights, education redesign, and disability groups said in a statement Tuesday that the legislation isn't exactly the bill that they would have written. But overall, they offered a measured endorsement.

And the groups made it clear they see the legislation as an improvement over the Obama administration's temporary NCLB waivers. Civil rights advocates in particular are heartened by the bill's call to get rid of so-called "supersubgroups," which allow states to combine subgroups of students, including English-language learners, students in special education, racial minorities, and low-income children for accountability purposes.

For their part, state chiefs are jubilant—and clear that they won't drop the ball when it comes to ensuring progress for disadvantaged students.

"We welcome accountability," said Thomas Bice, Alabama's state superintendent in a recent interview. "We believe in assessment. But one size doesn't fit all. What we need in Alabama may look different than what they need in Montana." (Teachers' unions and school administrators are also big fans of the bill. More on reaction here.)

For his part, Duncan said the administration got a lot of its wish list, including a requirement that states turn around their lowest-performing schools, annual assessments, an investment in early education, and a program that mirrors Investing in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhoods.

(He forgot to mention that it doesn't include a requirement for teacher evaluation through student outcomes, the continuation of the administration's dramatic turnaround remedies, or an authorization for Race to the Top, all of which were part of the administration's initial reauthorization vision. What's more, the bill seeks to stamp out so-called supersubgroups and conditional waivers like the Obama administration's, two other policies closely associated with Duncan and company.)

If all goes as expected, the bill will make it to the president's desk by the end of the year. If so, the rest of this school year—and next school year—will help provide a transition between NCLB and the Obama administration's waivers to the new law. And schools will be fully under ESSA in the 2017-18 school year, when a new president and education secretary will be in place.

It's been an open question how the limits on the secretary's power would square with the accountability provisions in the bill. Ahead of the vote, Scott told reporters he's not worried about how those prohibitions will impact regulation and implementation of the legislation, in part because the bill doesn't make changes to the secretary's enforcement authority.

"It would have been nice if there was more explicit authority" for the secretary, he said. "But I think they have enough to get the job done."

And in a wonky, but important twist, when asked if the secretary will be able to regulate on a key word in one part of the bill—"much"—Scott said he hadn't read anything in the legislation that would appear to prohibit that.

Some background on why that matters: The legislation says that academic factors (like test scores, graduation rates, and English-language proficiency) have to weigh "much" more as a group than new indicators that get more at whether students have the opportunity to learn and are ready for college (like school climate, success in advanced course work, and student engagement).

So it sounds like the secretary could be able to help states pinpoint the right mix. (The word "much" was traded for other language that could have allowed the secretary to pinpoint a range for each indicator. The wonky backstory here.)

Staff Writer Daarel Burnette contributed to this report.

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



Educators Survey: USING TECHNOLOGY IN OUR SCHOOLS + a Lexicon of Buzzwords from the reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB

Tweets and #thoughtsandprayers are not enough

ESEA & NCLB GO TO CONGRESS AND BECOME ESSA …and pardoning Jack Johnson



1st Look: LAUSD BOARD GETS FIRST NAMES OF SUPERINTENDENT CANDIDATES …do they get the last names next Sunday?

MYSTERY MONEY: Donors behind LAUSD election unmasked - LA Times




EVENTS: Coming up next week...
● SUNDAY DECEMBER 6, 2015 - 8:30 a.m. Special Board Meeting - - Including Closed Session Items
● TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2015 - 9:00 a.m. Regular Board Meeting - - Including Closed Session Items
● TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2015 - 11:30 a.m. Regular Board Meeting -
*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.