Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gauchos; My favorite Girl Scout cookies

4LAKids: Sunday 31•Jan•2016
In This Issue:
 •  MAGNET SCHOOLS: No longer famous, but still intact
 •  FROM L.A. UNIFIED TEACHER TO SUPERINTENDENT: Who is the real Michelle King?
 •  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.
When some loud braggart tries to put me down
And says his school is great
I tell him right away
"Now what's the matter buddy
Ain't you heard of my school?
…It's number one in the state!"

Congratulations to the student-athletes of Narbonne High School football team for winning the 2015 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division 1-A State Football Championship.

Narbonne High Wins Historic CIF State Football Title |

This is the first time that a school from LAUSD has won the state title in the 99-year history of the CIF. Congratulations also go to head coach Manuel Douglas , his coaching staff, principal Gerald Kobata, and the outstanding seniors on the team who are – every-last-one-of-‘em – going on to community colleges or universities, many on full scholarships. Congratulations also to all the students and faculty and Narbonne alumni. You are champions all – and Gauchos forever!

And introducing a new subject without changing it: It is Girl Scout Cookie Season!

I was at the School Board’s Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, minding everybody else’s business, when the Narbonne football team was honored for their state championship and student athleticism.

There was a presentation on the Governor’s Proposed Budget+Legislative Agenda - - …and the usual Oliver Twistian “Please, sir, can LAUSD have some more?” commentary. LAUSD’s own Washington DC lobbyist gave a presentation on Federal Legislation+Budget - - and here an interesting development developed.

It seems that the feds have allocated a sizeable ($80 million) budget increase to Charter Schools… and a not-so-sizeable one ($5 million) to Magnet Schools.

Why, pray tell, School Boardmember Schmerelson asked, did charters get a bunch and magnets only get a little?

Well, Joel Packer (the LAUSD lobbyist), said, The National Charter School Association has more and more-effective lobbyists in Washington than the Magnet School Association.

Here I looked up from answering emails and shopping for slippers at Zappos: A D.C. lobbyist was arguing that some D.C. lobbyists are more successful/better funded/better connected than others? The playing field in the lobbies of Congress and corridors of power is not level?

I Was Shocked! – believing as I do that democracy+fair play are as universally clung to as expense account lunches, Georgetown cocktail parties, tasseled loafers and Air Force One cufflinks among the K Street crowd.

But to my surprise, the astonishment among the board of education was not that charter school association lobbyists were more successful than magnet association lobbyists – their surprise was that there is a magnet school association – and that they and/or LAUSD is not represented on-or-by it.

“We love our magnet schools!” It was argued by the board and by Superintendent Michelle King that LAUSD Magnet schools/centers outperform their host counterparts, other LAUSD schools and charter schools.

• In the most recent English-Language Arts (ELA) Smarter Balance Assessment, 65 percent of Magnets scored higher than the state average.
• On the Math assessment, 56 percent of Magnets scored higher than the state average.
• Currently, over 67,000 students attend one of LAUSD’s 198 Magnet programs.
• If LAUSD’s Magnet program were its own district, it would rank as the 54th largest school district in the nation and 5th largest in the state …larger than the Detroit or Boston or San Francisco School Districts.

Gentle reader, the above data+results prove LAUSD’s Magnet Program’s popular acceptance+success …and we are data-driven+outcome-oriented, right?

Except all those data and results and facts and outcomes are meaningless against the claims trump(eted) by Charters. (And like The Donald, charter schools dominate the conversation even when they are not in the room!) They frame the discussion; they must be better! They have the brand: They are Charter Schools. To return to the musical wisdom of Brian Wilson and Mike Love: “Rah rah rah rah sis boom bah!” They have more+better+better-paid lobbyists. They are louder. Their volume knob goes to eleven.
When I'm drivin' in my car
And that man comes on the radio
He's tellin' me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination…

When I'm watchin' my T.V.
And that man comes on to tell me
How white my shirts can be
But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke
The same cigarettes as me

LIBRARY AMNESTY: From February 1 – 14, 2016, the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) will welcome back its overdue books and the people who love them. During these two weeks only, you can return overdue materials to any of the 73 libraries and LAPL will forgive your past and present fines. Your record will be cleared and you can use your library card again. LAPL Misses You - FAQ | Los Angeles Public Library

The L.A. Times, in its newest profile of new superintendent Michelle King, (From L.A. Unified teacher to superintendent: Who is the real Michelle King? - follows) seems to imply in the lead paragraphs that King’s elevation is a victory for Beaudry insiders and District staff.

In other words: The Bureaucrats Won …and of course, bureaucrats in the Times and Eli Broad’s thinking, are champions of the status quo and enemies of disruptive ®eform.

I don’t agree – though I can understand how insiders and outsiders alike might see it that way. I certainly understand the bureaucrats feel relief that John Deasy – an attack dog who didn’t believe anything worth replicating happened before his arrival on the scene – and Ray Cortines, who in his first two iterations at LAUSD was occupied with budget-cutting and rightsizing – are behind us.

(Ray v.3.0 was about damage control; he excelled at that!)

Bureaucrats are essential in an organization – a bureaucracy – as large as LAUSD; they are both the glue and lubrication that keep the moving parts functioning together. The collective noun, or Term of Venery (think a Pride of Lions or a Murder of Crows) applicable here is a Necessity of Bureaucrats.

Michelle King has been a kindergartener and an elementary, middle and high schooler in the District. She was a cheerleader. She has been a teacher’s aide and a teacher and an administrator and a principal. She has been a bureaucrat and a functionary, a cog in the machine – and a thread in the tapestry. She has been an LAUSD parent.

It is too early to know for sure but the hope is that We All Won. She is one of us – We the District – and we have high expectations of her.

To which I add the advice to her and all of us that goes without saying but must be said: “Don’t screw up!”

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

MAGNET SCHOOLS: No longer famous, but still intact
By CHRISTINE H. ROSSELL - from Education Next | Spring 2005 / Vol. 5, No. 2|
●●smf: Sometimes the news isn't necessarily new ...this from ten years ago

The year was 1968. Martin Luther King had been assassinated, and American cities were erupting in flames because of King’s violent death and the decades-long smoldering resentments from racism. In a small city far away from the churning ghettos of Detroit and D.C., a small public school was about to enter the racial hubbub and become part of education history.

That fall, McCarver Elementary in Tacoma, Washington, hung out its shingle inviting students from anywhere in the city to enroll, breaking the link between school assignments and residential location and becoming the nation’s first “magnet” school. Thus began a nationwide experiment to integrate public schools using market-like incentives instead of court orders. (See sidebar, “In the Beginning.”

The following year, 1969, the country’s second magnet school opened–this one, more appropriately, in Boston, soon to be an epicenter of the race-based school wars. But, like its West Coast counterpart, the William Monroe Trotter School, in Beantown’s poor Roxbury section, was built as “a showcase for new methods of teaching”–enough of a showcase, it was hoped, to attract white children to a black neighborhood for their schooling. It was an odd idea, but one whose time seemed to have come. Within a decade there would be hundreds of such magnet schools all over the country.

The idea was simple enough: draw white students to predominantly black schools by offering a special education with a focus on a particular aspect of the curriculum, such as performing arts, or Montessori, or advanced math, science, and technology. Federal and state agencies, anxious to avoid the growing messiness of coercive integration measures like forced busing, directed new resources toward these magnets, encouraging their pioneering academic programs and giving grants for new facilities. Glossy brochures were mailed to parents and press releases to local media. The hope was that these well-funded, themed schools would ignite a passion for learning as well as spark a movement to voluntarily integrate schools.

The names alone give a sense of the new schools’ range and optimism–the Thomas Pullham Creative and Performing Arts magnet (in Prince George’s County, Maryland), the Copley Square International High magnet (in Boston), the School 59 Science magnet (also called the “Zoo School,” in Buffalo), the Greenfield Montessori magnet school (in Milwaukee), the Central High School Classical Greek/Computers Unlimited magnet high school (in Kansas City). Even older and well-established “examination schools,” such as Boston Latin and City Honors (in Buffalo), would soon claim magnet status to avail themselves of new students and additional funds.


The first magnets appeared as the school desegregation battles were heating up. In 1969, the year William Monroe Trotter opened in Boston, a federal court ordered the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in North Carolina to use busing to desegregate its schools. The use of crosstown busing to accomplish desegregation was unprecedented–and the case went right to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the highly controversial forced integration program in 1971. A federal district court in Boston, paying insufficient attention to the ideals of the Trotter school, introduced a forced busing program in 1974 that set off demonstrations and riots. The court order also prompted the city’s educators to include magnets in their formal, citywide forced busing plan the following year. Thus was born the first “forced busing plan with magnet options.”

Coming as they did, in the midst of several different national desegregation crises, early magnet schools offered a relatively uncontroversial–and peaceful–means of integrating schools. And the magnet movement got an early boost from two federal district court decisions in 1976, in the aftermath of the discord in Charlotte and Boston. In approving magnet-driven, voluntary desegregation programs in Buffalo and Milwaukee, the courts seemed more than willing to accept reasonable alternatives to the forced dissolution of geography-based school assignments.

Though it was another decade before the first southern school district (in Savannah) was allowed to desegregate its school system with a voluntary magnet-school plan, the new schools were soon opening almost everywhere–or, at least, everywhere that public school systems needed to stem the white-flight resegregation that was overtaking many urban school districts, mostly in the North. By 1981, there were some 1,000 such magnet schools in the United States; by 1991, there were over 2,400. (See Figure 1/

These new schools proved to be a remarkably robust and popular trend in school choice. In a study I undertook in 1989, I found that 12 percent of the elementary and middle school magnet programs in my sample specialized in basic skills and/or individualized teaching; 11 percent offered foreign language immersion; 11 percent were science-, math-, or computer-oriented; 10 percent catered to the gifted and talented and 10 percent to the creative and performing arts; 8 percent were traditional, back-to-basics programs (demanding, for instance, dress codes and contracts with parents for supervision of homework); 7 percent were college preparatory; 7 percent were early childhood and Montessori. (The remaining preferences, each under 7 percent, included multicultural/international, life skills/ careers, and ecology/environment.) At the high school level, the programs tended to be either career-oriented (medical careers, law and criminal justice, communications and mass media, hotel and restaurant) or schools with some sort of entrance criteria. The Magnet Schools Association of America, based in Washington, D.C., reports a similar distribution of program themes in today’s magnet schools.

My analyses of the success of these magnets in actually attracting whites indicate that school structure and racial composition was important. Predictably, the most popular magnet school structure was a dedicated magnet, where everyone in the school had chosen it and all were in the magnet program. These “perfect” magnets, however, were the least common, because creating them requires that an entire school be emptied out and children assigned elsewhere or a new school be built. The next most popular magnet structure, and the most common today, is a program-within-a-school. Only students who chose the magnet program are in it, but there is also a neighborhood population assigned to the school that is not in the magnet program. The racial composition of the magnet program is different from the school that houses it and is usually around 50 percent white.

The least-popular magnet structure in black neighborhoods is a “whole-school-attendance-zone” magnet: everyone in the school is in the program, but the school has a neighborhood population assigned to it. That these schools and their magnet programs tend to have a racial composition closer to that of the neighborhood–majority minority–only reduces their attractiveness to whites. However, according to most surveys, although whites prefer majority white schools, a sizable, albeit smaller, number will choose schools where whites make up somewhat less than half of the student body.


Even as courts across the country began releasing school districts such as Kansas City, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Savannah, Buffalo, and Boston from long-running desegregation orders during the 1990s, magnet schools continued to thrive. My 1991 randomized national sample of 600 school districts indicated that the 2,400 magnet schools in the United States were operating in 229 different school districts.

And it would appear that their ranks continue to swell despite the declining number of districts operating under court-ordered desegregation plans. The directory published by the Magnet Schools Association of America lists more than 3,000 magnet or theme-based schools as members.
With desegregation waning as a public goal, however, magnet schools have maintained support by attaching themselves to the school-choice movement. For instance, the Magnet Schools of America web site now makes a classic choice-based argument on behalf of magnet schools–that being allowed to choose a school will result in improved satisfaction that translates into better achievement. Thus, although proponents of magnet schools have not disavowed the desegregation goal that is the program’s roots, they currently place almost equal emphasis on magnets as instruments of school choice.

One of the reasons for the sustained growth of magnet schools is the federal government’s steady financial support for the idea. Magnet schools were originally funded as tools of desegregation under the Emergency School Assistance Act from 1972 to 1981. In 1981 they were folded into the Chapter 2 block-grant program, but explicit federal support for magnet schools as desegregation tools resumed in 1985 with the authorization of the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP), included in the Education for Economic Security Act. Under the new program, however, magnet schools not only had to aid desegregation, but also had to focus on improving the quality of education in order to qualify for funds. The Magnet Schools Assistance Program still exists, now run by the Office of Innovation and Improvement in the Department of Education, and with the same twin goals of fostering integration and choice.

Funding for magnet schools is also part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, housed in the portion of the law bannered “Promoting Informed Parental Choice and Innovative Programs.” Funding has not kept pace with either inflation or the growth in magnet schools, but neither has it withered away. (See Figure 2/ The MSAP appropriation was $75 million in 1984, rose to $108 million in 1994, and remained at $108 million in 2004. Though the program falls under the law’s choice provisions, the federal government still considers magnets an important aspect of desegregation policy, defining a magnet school as one that “offers a special curriculum capable of attracting substantial numbers of students of different racial backgrounds.


Perhaps the greatest challenge to magnet schools now comes from fiscal constraints at the state level. Where desegregation has become a secondary goal, resource-rich magnet schools are often a target for cuts when money is tight. States such as Missouri, Ohio, and Michigan have challenged court-ordered desegregation plans in order to reduce their financial and legal liability. But even states such as Massachusetts, Maryland, and California that were never parties to a desegregation lawsuit have been cutting funds for magnet schools. The Prince George’s County, Maryland, school district, for example, eliminated magnet programs at 33 schools in the fall of 2004 because of state funding cutbacks. (smf notes: This was before Deasy’s tenure at Prince George’s County schools.) The only theme programs that will be kept are the Montessori, French immersion, and creative and performing arts, and they will no longer be called magnets.

Indeed, there is probably no school district with an extensive system of magnet programs that has not closed at least one or two magnets because of a budget crunch. In fact, many magnets are the victims of their own success: by the 1990s most neighborhood schools had the science labs and computer technology that had once made magnets unique. Even McCarver in Tacoma removed “magnet” from its name in 1998 and, as a result of No Child Left Behind, became a School in Need of Improvement.

Connecticut is an important exception to this trend, but that is because since 1996, the entire state has been under a state supreme court order to desegregate. Using a complicated formula approved by the court, the state funds magnet schools that accept students from several different districts (at a minimum there must be two) at a per-pupil rate that increases as the number of districts sending students increases–an attempt to bring central-city minority students and white suburban students together in the same school. Thus the scheme eschews outright racial quotas, but achieves some of the diversity that quotas would create.


Though finances will always be a magnet school’s primary concern, the greatest threat to the magnet system going forward is the same as that which gave magnets their early jump-start: the courts. Even the No Child Left Behind Act’s requirement that school districts adopt a voluntary desegregation plan, for instance, may conflict with legal precedents set in most federal appeals courts. In 2001 only the federal appeals court covering the states of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont had upheld the use of race in student assignment or magnet school admissions in school districts not already under court order; it did so on the grounds that the state had a compelling interest in racial diversity. But even in that circuit, several school districts and one state (Connecticut) have continued to avoid the use of racial quotas in magnet admissions because they believe using them invites a legal challenge.

The 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing the use of racial quotas at the University of Michigan–but approving the use of race as one of many factors in admissions decisions–has had little impact on magnet schools, mainly because most had already abandoned the use of quotas. And most school districts now recognize that using explicit racial quotas in magnet admissions when desegregation orders have been lifted is risky. When the court-ordered desegregation plan in Prince George’s County was ended in 2002, the superintendent formed a panel of experts on magnet schools that was thought to be politically and ideologically diverse. Our task was to figure out what to do about magnet school admissions criteria.

All of us were in agreement that race could no longer be used in magnet admissions. We devised a plan in which the district was divided into three subdistricts of roughly similar racial and socioeconomic balance. Students, regardless of their race, could choose any magnet school in their subdistrict. We hoped that racially diverse student bodies would result from the individual choices of students, but there was no way to guarantee it. Since then, as noted above, state funding cuts have prompted the district’s administration to dramatically reduce the number of magnet schools, keeping only the most popular. Similar choices are being made in other districts, where some magnets survive while others are being closed.

Districts throughout the country are responding in one of two ways: either adopting a race-blind system of admissions, thus converting the magnet to a themed school of choice; or constructing a system whereby race is only one of several factors considered in admission. The former is more likely to happen in school districts that have very few whites left and in districts that have had strong appeals court opinions rejecting the use of race altogether. The latter is more likely to occur in school districts such as Fort Wayne, Indiana, that have enough whites left to actually integrate a number of magnet schools and where there has been no strong circuit court decision rejecting the use of race.

It is remarkable, perhaps, that despite the reduction in state funding and the elimination of explicit racial quotas, the total number of magnet schools has not declined. I would suggest three reasons for their resilience. First, the great triumph of the civil-rights movement was its success in getting whites to support the principle of racial diversity in the schools. In districts that still have enough whites to make integration feasible, magnet schools are viewed as an effective way to achieve that diversity, even in districts where court orders have been lifted or never existed. Second, magnet schools have been incorporated into the school choice movement as a means of improving achievement and into No Child Left Behind as a way of increasing the opportunities available to children in low-performing schools. Third, parents like school choice. Although undoubtedly there are some who enroll their children in a theme-based school in order to enable them to pursue a passion, most parents are probably interested in theme-based education as a means of igniting a passion. Magnets have thus developed strong constituencies locally and nationally and, for the foreseeable future, remain an important, if less often noticed, feature of the American education landscape.

• Christine Rossell is a professor of political science at Boston University.

●●smf’s 2¢: The LAUSD Magnet program is the legacy of Theodore T. "Ted" Alexander, Jr., for whom the Alexander Science and Math Magnet School in Exposition Park is named. Alexander was responsible for district integration after a 1977 court order required Los Angeles schools to desegregate, a ruling that prompted a citywide fight over mandatory busing.

To help defuse community opposition to busing, Alexander supervised the establishment of magnet schools. The magnet campuses achieved integration by attracting students of all races from across the city with specialized classes that included science, journalism and curricula for the academically gifted.
- from Alexander's LA Times obituary

by Howard Blume | L.A. Times |

Jan 28, 2016 :: At the announcement that Michelle King had been promoted from deputy superintendent to the top leadership position at the huge and troubled Los Angeles Unified School District, the small throng gathered at district headquarters rose to its feet in applause.

The ovation was a "Survivor"-like salute to a member of the tribe. Here was someone who had navigated a high-stakes, politically treacherous enterprise in which, this year alone, 60,000 employees will spend more than $7 billion in taxpayer-supplied money to give 650,000 students a better chance at succeeding in life.

This very district, after all, had educated King since kindergarten. It provided her first job, as a teacher's aide, while she was still at Palisades High School. And for almost 30 years it has provided her livelihood.

Applause, however, doesn't necessarily mean she's the best person for the job.
If there's not much recent public evidence by which to evaluate King's suitability for one of the most important positions in education, it's because 10 years ago the district swallowed King into the upper reaches of its labyrinthine bureaucracy.

In a home movie of her life, that would be the point at which we switch from vibrant color into grainy black and white.

"It is hard to tell who's the real Michelle because she is always so dutiful to her bosses," said one source who requested anonymity. "I can't remember a time when she said: 'This is what I think.' It was always the party line."

King's earlier career provides some insight.

Take, for example, another show of support that came in 2002, when King walked into her first faculty meeting after being promoted from vice principal to principal at Hamilton High in Los Angeles' Palms neighborhood.

"The entire faculty burst into a standing ovation," says retired teacher Shelley Rose. "I've never seen it before or since."

Hamilton, it seems, had been tearing itself apart. The district had set up two magnet schools on the home campus as part of a strategy to lure back white students who had fled public schools. Some staff complained that the combined campus favored the wealthier, whiter magnets.

The staff already had confidence in King. As an assistant principal, she had "bridged all of the factions," says Merle Price, a former deputy superintendent.

As principal, she reassured the magnets that they could remain independent, while also addressing grievances from the neighborhood school, Price says.

She also began to even out class sizes, so that the magnets no longer had far fewer students.

"Michelle united the faculty, boosted morale, and righted the ship almost immediately," says Barry Smolin, an English teacher. "A lot of it had to do with her calm demeanor, her willingness to hear all sides of an issue and make informed decisions based on sometimes conflicting perspectives — and her genuine concern for students and teachers."

One way she showed that concern, former colleagues say, was by letting teachers with nonconformist styles do things their way — an approach that has been notoriously foreign to some administrators.
English teacher Dan Victor, now retired, remembers telling King that a schoolwide assembly she'd called conflicted with his plan to prepare students for an Advanced Placement test the next day.

"Why don't you do what you think is best," she said.

He kept his students in class.

At least by some important measures her approach worked.

In each of the three years before King became principal, Hamilton's test scores had fallen short of the state's target for how much the school was supposed to improve.

After she took charge, the scores surged well past these annual goals.

Hamilton High performed better under Michelle King

She didn't solve all of Hamilton's problems, though.

The home school continued to perform below the state average and a large divide remained between the higher scores of whites and more prosperous students and those of low-income blacks and Latinos.

That "achievement gap" remains one of the most significant challenges in the district she now runs.


In thinking of the forces that shaped her, King recalls the riots of 1992 when, as a young teacher, she stood in her hillside home in South Los Angeles' largely African American, largely upscale View Park neighborhood, watching large swaths of Los Angeles burn.

Her father had become a lawyer while she was still a child. Her mother worked for the county. Together they provided their daughter with a sheltered life.

"It was assumed and expected you would go to college," King says. "My father looked at my report cards. We were taught to respect our teachers and that we would get good grades."

She attended L.A. Unified schools, including Palisades High, where she was a top student and a cheerleader and one of the few blacks at a school whose student body was mainly wealthy and white.
After attending UCLA, her first teaching assignment was in the San Fernando Valley, a world apart from the worst poverty of the L.A. basin.

King was not oblivious to social ills, but her understanding deepened, she said, as she watched the video of police officers beating Rodney King, followed by the trial that acquitted them.

The community rage that followed made an impression, firing up a long-standing instinct to help foundering students push ahead.

In high school she'd become a student aide because she liked helping students who were struggling. She also tutored at UCLA.

Later, she moved through teaching jobs at Porter Junior High and Wright Middle School while shepherding her own three daughters through school.

Sometimes that meant making choices. The first time King was offered the principal's job at Hamilton she turned it down. Her marriage by then was in trouble, and, even after the divorce, King was determined not to miss back-to-school nights or lose the family's tradition of long Sunday dinners, at which the girls could talk out the issues of their lives, she says.

When one of her daughters wanted to attend a girls school, King enrolled her in the private Archer School in Brentwood.

King says that watching how the all-girl school empowered her daughter made her believe in the value of single-gender schools — an option she has said she wants to expand in L.A. Unified.

Beyond that, King hasn't detailed specific new initiatives she'll suggest for the district, nor has the school board articulated how it plans to measure her success.

In recent years, success has meant remaining in the background and carrying out orders.

"Michelle never really had a chance or opportunity to stand out or share her thoughts," says longtime PTA leader Scott Folsom. "She is always quiet in meetings. I have never heard her disagree with or question the company line."

King acknowledges this trait.

"I've always followed the direction of my superintendent," she says. "I might not agree with him, but ultimately I'm a soldier and it's their ship. It's their vision and I'm going to follow it."

And, she says, she's learned from each superintendent she's served.

As Supt. Ramon C. Cortines' chief of staff, and later as chief deputy superintendent, she learned to "communicate and communicate and overly communicate, particularly with the Board of Education."
As head of operations for Supt. John Deasy, who replaced Cortines, and then was replaced by him after resigning under pressure in October 2014, King learned from "his unrelenting focus on youth and poverty," she says.

King also cites two readings that have influenced her approach to management.

The first befits a former science teacher: "Turning Research Into Results" by Richard Edward Clark and Fred Estes.

"I believe you gather data before you strike out," King says.

The other is "Leadership from the Middle: A System Strategy" by Michael Fullan.

Even now that she's at the top, being in the middle is where she seems most comfortable.

Those who know her best describe a regular-gal charm, a "margarita buddy" who got visibly embarrassed at the raunchier parts of the Spike Lee-produced movie "The Best Man," a person who likes to bowl and is pretty good at it.

Colleagues say she's easy to be with, a team player.

King says her devotion to collaboration was instilled early, as a new UCLA graduate in an intern program that shoved an unproven teacher in front of a room of seventh-graders ready to test her.
That trial by fire seared something into her mind. If her colleagues hadn't rallied to support her, she could have failed, King says. It taught her that educators need to rely on each other.

She wants to apply that same lesson to a fractured school system with a team that now includes parents and district critics. That, she says, is why the board hired her.

"They have charged me with bringing the district together," she said.

- Times staff writers Zahira Torres and Sonali Kohli contributed to this report

By Michael Collier | EdSource Today |

January 27, 2016 | As they presented oral arguments before an appellate court Wednesday, attorneys in a high-profile lawsuit hoped that justices will allow them to go to trial to prove that by inadequately funding public schools the state is violating California students’ constitutional right to a quality education.

The three justices on the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco must rule within the next 90 days on whether to overturn a ruling by an Alameda County Superior Court judge who dismissed the case, Robles-Wong v. California, on grounds that there’s no constitutional right to an adequately funded education. In that ruling, Judge Steven Brick said the Legislature has the right to set funding levels as it chooses.

The case consolidates two lawsuits filed in 2010 — Campaign for Quality Education v. California and the Robles-Wong case.

In a session lasting more than an hour, justices on the court focused on the issue in the lawsuits’ core claim, that insufficient funding levels are denying children their constitutional right to an education that prepares them to participate fully in economic and civil life.

The justices focused on the key idea of the concept of quality, while the attorney for the state, Joshua Sondheimer, said the state does not oversee quality.

Steven Mayer, an attorney for the plaintiffs in Robles-Wong, told the justices that the state Supreme Court has held that education is a constitutional right in the state, “and a violation of that right has occurred.”

The Legislature defines quality education in establishing high academic standards but it hasn’t provided enough funding so that all students can meet those standards, Mayer said.

While a ruling by the three justices won’t be issued for several weeks, it could be groundbreaking if the justices decide that a quality education is constitutionally guaranteed.

Justice Peter Siggins acknowledged that under the state’s current system there is “a disparity of opportunity” for students.

Mayer said that a minimal level of state funding, which Proposition 98 guarantees, doesn’t ensure quality education.

“We can’t have a system where half the students are not proficient,” Mayer argued, and pointed out that California students consistently rank near the bottom of the nation in academic performance. Furthermore, more funding, not simply redistributing funding, is needed, he added.

Sondheimer argued that there is “no qualitative level for education in the state Constitution.”

That prompted Justice Martin Jenkins to assert that “there must be a qualitative element in every classroom.”

Plaintiffs in the Robles case are the California School Boards Association, the California State PTA, the association of California School Administrators, the California Teachers Association, the Youth & Education Law Project at Stanford Law School and 60 individuals, including the lead plaintiff, Maya Robles-Wong, who was a junior at Alameda High School when the suits were filed. The Campaign for Quality Education suit was filed by Public Advocates Inc., which represented five nonprofits serving low-income, minority families.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Steven Brick dismissed both lawsuits in December 2011. In his rulings, Brick acknowledged students’ fundamental right to an education, but he said the state Constitution does not require the Legislature to fund public education at a specific level. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the state appeals court in San Francisco, and the court combined the two lawsuits into one.

Last week, the California School Boards Association released a report on public school spending levels: California’s Challenge: Adequately Funding Education in the 21st Century |

The new figures updated the ones based on decade-old published studies, which the association submitted as evidence in the Robles case.

The new report asserts that the $64 billion that Gov. Jerry Brown proposes to spend on K-12 schools in the 2016-2017 school year to implement the Common Core, other state standards and to fulfill the eight priorities of the Local Control Funding Formula, would fall tens of billions of dollars short of what is needed for the state to ensure that every child has access to quality learning.

John Fensterwald contributed to this report.

By Hailey Branson-Potts – L.A. Times |

Jan 28, 2016 :: The call from Lincoln High School’s principal’s office came unexpectedly, as they often do.

Cedrick Argueta’s friends joked that he might be in trouble. Cedrick didn’t think so.

He was right.

It turned out that Cedrick, the son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse, had scored perfectly on his Advanced Placement Calculus exam. Of the 302,531 students to take the notoriously mind-crushing test, he was one of only 12 to earn every single point.

“It’s crazy,” Cedrick said. “Twelve people in the whole world to do this and I was one of them? It’s amazing.”

Since word of his feat has spread, the lanky 17-year-old senior – who described himself as a quiet, humble guy – has become something of a celebrity at Lincoln High, a school of about 1,200 students in the heavily Latino Lincoln Heights neighborhood.

At a school assembly, students shouted, “Ced-rick! Ced-rick!” when Principal Jose Torres announced his score. Friends started calling him “One of Twelve.”

And Torres said this week that he might as well become the teen’s booking agent, laughing as he held up a typed schedule of Cedrick’s media interviews.

“It’s mind-blowing,” said Torres, who has worked within LAUSD for 31 years. “It’s the first time I’ve had something of this magnitude. A lot of kids expected him to be the one.”

VIDEO: Meet The Kid Who Got A Perfect Score On The AP Calculus Exam

Cedrick and his classmates took the AP Calculus AB exam, a 3-hour and 15-minute test administered by the nonprofit College Board for possible college credit, in May.

Cedrick learned over the summer that he had scored a 5 – the top score – on the exam but had no idea he’d gotten every single question right until last week.

In a letter to Torres last week, the College Board called it a “remarkable achievement.”

As far as math whizzes go, Cedrick is unassuming. He likes to play basketball with his buddies, and his favorite reading of late was the Harry Potter series. Knowing he was going to do television interviews this week, he donned a blue LHS hoodie and sneakers.

Math has always just made sense to him, he said. He appreciates the creativity of it, the different methods you can take to solve a problem.

“There’s also some beauty in it being absolute,” Cedrick said. “There’s always a right answer.”

When asked about his perfect exam score, Cedrick just thanked everybody else in his life.

“It just sort of blew up,” he said. “It feels kind of good to be in the spotlight for a little bit, but I want to give credit to everybody else that helped me along the way.”
The Times' new initiative to inform parents, educators and students across California >>

Cedrick is the son of Lilian and Marcos Argueta, both of whom came to the United States as young adults – she from the Philippines, he from El Salvador. Lilian, a licensed vocational nurse, works two jobs at nursing homes. Marcos is a maintenance worker at one of those nursing homes. He never went to high school.

Lilian Argueta, pausing during one of her shifts this week, said her son’s accomplishment is still sinking in. He texted her when he found out, and she told him it was great but, she said, she didn’t understand the magnitude until reporters started calling.

Argueta said that she always told Cedrick and his younger sister to finish their homework and to “read, read, read,” but that they knew she’d be proud of them whether or not they got straight A’s.

“I’m just thankful,” she said. “God gave me two perfect kids.”

To celebrate, the Arguetas took Cedrick to Roy’s, his favorite restaurant in Pasadena, where he ordered a big pork shank. He was still excited about the free souffle the waiters brought him after learning his score.

On Wednesday, Cedrick hung out in the classroom of his calculus teacher, Anthony Yom, which is decked out with signs that say “Mathlife” and a picture of Homer Simpson.

All 21 of Yom’s AP Calculus students who took the exam last year passed; 17 got the highest score of 5. It was the third year in a row that all of Yom’s kids passed the test.

Yom, 35, said he treats his students like a sports team. They’d stay after school, practicing problem solving for three or four extra hours, and they’d come on weekends. On test day, they wore matching blue T-shirts sporting their names, “like they’re wearing jerseys to the game,” Yom said.

“I think they don’t want to disappoint each other,” Yom said. “Talent can only take you so far. These kids put in so many hours.”

Yom said he knew most of his kids would score 5s, but even he was blown away by Cedrick’s perfect exam. The odds of such a thing, he said, are like winning the lottery.

As if that weren’t enough, Cedrick also earned perfect scores on the science and math sections of the ACT exam last year, he said. This year, he’s taking four more AP exams, including the Calculus BC segment. Friends are pushing him for a repeat perfect performance.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” he said, laughing.

Cedrick graduates in June and hopes to attend Caltech and become an engineer. For his family, a scholarship would be a godsend.

Cedrick’s got big plans. He wants to maybe “design something really cool.” He wants to have his name on something that’s known around the world.

But this summer, he just wants to hang out with his friends.

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



CSBA Report: CALIFORNIA'S CHALLENGE: Adequately Funding Education in the 21st Century


OLD NEWS IN A NEW BLOG: Former Houghton Mifflin Exec Reveals How Pearson Unfairly Won the LAUSD iPad Deal

??? Rumor Seeking Confirmation/Denial: Paul Pastorek - in charge of Education Initiatives at the Broad Foundation - is outta there.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...


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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 13 years. 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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