Saturday, March 27, 2004


As a parent representative and a parent leader in LA
Unified I go to lots of meetings. Good meetings, bad
meetings, indifferent meetings. The occaisional adult
equivalent of a food fight. On Thursday I went to
three, good positive meetings – three parts of
processes that promise to lead to good results.

• First we had the Air Conditioner Sound Issues
Subcommittee of the Bond Oversight Committee — a
pretty dry subject, but an important one as we build
and modernize schools in the District. Air conditioners
make noise and noise is counterproductive to learning.
The District has made mistakes in the past in
purchasing HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air
Conditioning) units - there are classrooms where it’s
difficult to concentrate, listen attentively and learn
because of air conditioner noise.

• Most LAUSD primary students are learning English
– which represent totally new and different sounds to
• 20-25% of these same youngsters – English learners
or not – suffer identifiable hearing impairment at any
one time because of childhood ear infections.
• How many of these children just can’t hear the
teacher well enough to understand?

There are evolving new standards for A/C noise in
classrooms, and these represent challenges for HVAC
manufacturers. And LAUSD is about to undertake a
large procurement for installing and retrofitting HVAC
in existing buildings and portables.

Present at the meeting were Oversight Committee
members, senior Facilities staff, health and safety
experts, representatives of school board members, a
panel of sound engineers and an HVAC engineer by
phone hookup – as well as Gene Krisher of Friends of
the Children – citizen-advocate for LAUSD
schoolchildren on health and environmental issues. Most all of the right people were at the table and the conversation was informative, technical, practical - and most important: Shared!

It was a fine beginning to a process that will benefit
schoolchildren long into the future.

• Following this there was the Full Day Kindergarten
Working Group, a meeting of senior staff, union
leadership, administrators and many kindergarten
teachers to discuss and formulate curriculum and
planning - the ‘how’’ and ‘what ‘of Full Day K.
Exactly ‘when’ and ‘where’ are issues still to be
resolved by the Board, but the process is beginning
and the dialogue was encouraging. There is a way to
go and I’d certainly like to see some additional parents
in the process. But hey, as someone senior in the
District pointed out: “This is a big district capable of
progress only in tiny, baby steps.”

We are making those steps in the right direction.

• And finally the Bond Oversight Committee Outreach
Subcommittee held an evening meeting in Local
District J - the South Gate/Bell/Cudahy/Huntington
Park area where schools are most severely
overcrowded and new construction and modernization
most needed. The turnout by the community was
fantastic, the pizza and soft drinks much appreciated,
the coffee strong and the sharing of concerns genuine,
heartfelt and heard. As a member of the committee I’m
not about to issue our report here — but there is
unquestioned room for improvement in the District’s
outreach efforts, especially as regards modernization
of existing buildings. And it’s very unfortunate that a
representative of Local District J’s modernization
program was not present.


This is a story that resonates! A Google News Search
turns up 600+ references — it’s approaching “urban
legend” status ...and its’s true! - smf

• NAP TIME: The Article That Started It All!
By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 15, 2004; Page A01

After lunch and snacks, alphabet and story times, the
lights go off. Sixteen tiny bodies sprawl on a sea of red
foam mats, the sounds of classical piano coaxing them
to sleep.

And there they stay, tucked under Spider-Man and
Powerpuff Girls blankets, until teacher Chantay Wynn
switches on the lights 45 minutes later. "Come on, get
up," Wynn chides 4-year-old Steven Dieu, lifting him
from his mat. "Open your eyes."
It's a daily ritual for the pre-kindergarten students at
Hoffman-Boston Elementary School in Arlington, as it
is at countless schools across the country. But in the
increasingly urgent world of public education, is it a
luxury that 4-year-olds no longer can afford?

By asking that question, a few leaders of Washington
area school systems have begun to challenge one of the
pillars of the early school experience: afternoon naps.
"Nap time needs to go away," Prince George's County
schools chief André J. Hornsby said during a recent
meeting with Maryland legislators. "We need to get rid
of all the baby school stuff they used to do."
Hornsby wants to convert his pre-kindergarten classes
into a full-day program. If he secures the funding to
begin that next fall, there will be no mats or cots
allowed, he said. In Anne Arundel County, where
full-day pre-kindergarten is in place, Superintendent
Eric J. Smith also has opted not to build nap time into
the schedule.

Educators including Hornsby and Smith find
themselves under growing pressure to make school
more rigorous -- even in the earliest grades -- in the
belief that children who are behind academically by age
6 or 7 have a difficult time catching up. "The time is
very precious," Smith said. "When they come into first
grade or kindergarten for the first time, they learn
within a few weeks of the school experience that
they're not as capable, and that's a burden that is
extremely damaging."

Critics of eliminating school naps say the reality is that
many 4-year-olds don't get enough sleep at home.
There are piano lessons, soccer practices and other
scheduled activities during the day, and many kids stay
up past their bedtime because their parents come home
late from work and want to talk or play.

"Kids are often kind of overscheduled even as
toddlers, even as preschoolers," said Kenneth A.
Haller, assistant professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis
University School of Medicine.

"We are a sleep-deprived society," agreed Stephen H.
Sheldon, director of the Sleep Medicine Center at
Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Typical 4- and 5-year-olds need 10 to 12 hours of
sleep, and if they don't get that at night they will likely
fall asleep during the day, according to the American
Academy of Pediatrics. The amount of sleep a
school-age child needs decreases each year, and the
need for naps diminishes after age 3, pediatricians say.
Most evenings, Adrian Moreno tries to get his son,
David, to fall asleep by 9 p.m. The goal is to wake
David at 7 a.m. to get him ready for pre-kindergarten
at Hoffman-Boston, where administrators continue to
support naps. But David, who recently turned 5, has a
3-year-old sister, and the two often keep each other
awake playing games until 10 p.m. or so, Moreno said.
It's no wonder that on a recent rainy day, David was
fast asleep soon after Wynn switched off the classroom

"I think they need to sleep a bit," Moreno said.
"They're small. They have to rest their minds."
Nia Baker, 4, wakes up around 6:30 every morning to
get ready for day care and later spends almost three
hours in pre-kindergarten at Seabrook Elementary
School in Prince George's, said her mother, Aisha
Baker. Then she goes back to day care until 6 p.m.,
when Baker, a single mother and a cashier at a D.C.
restaurant, picks her up.

The rest of Nia's evening usually goes like this: She
eats dinner, reviews what she learned in school for
about 20 minutes, plays a little, then watches TV for
10 minutes. Bedtime is 7:30 p.m.

"You get tired," Nia said, reflecting on her schedule.
Nia gets a 30-minute nap at day care, which her
mother appreciates. "They need a break to take a nap
and get rejuvenated," Baker said.

But support of naps is hardly unanimous.

"Do all 4-year-olds need nap time? The answer is
certainly no," said Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Texas
and author of the book "Baby 411."

Smith, who came to Anne Arundel County in July
2002 from Charlotte, is a firm believer that
pre-kindergarten students don't need naps. His
teachers and principals urge parents to make sure the
children get enough sleep at home. In place of nap
time is "quiet learning time," during which students
look at books or play with puzzles, said Barbara
Griffith, coordinator of the county's early childhood

If they do fall asleep, the teacher doesn't wake them.

But the message is clear: "This is not a child-care
program. It's an educational program," Griffith said.
In effect, kindergarten is becoming more like first
grade, teachers say, which makes preschool more like
the kindergarten of yesteryear. "When I was in
preschool, I remember learning socialization skills,"
Wynn said. "By the time they get to kindergarten, they
have to hit the ground running."

Wynn followed a recent "quiet time" -- what many
schools now call any break in the school day -- with a
rhyming drill. By the end of pre-kindergarten, Wynn's
students have to master seven skills, from writing their
names to memorizing words in a sentence to matching
words that rhyme. She tests them each fall and spring
to track their progress.

Zahava Johnson teaches two pre-kindergarten classes
at Seabrook Elementary, each almost three hours long,
one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Johnson said her students stop paying attention to her
lessons after 15 minutes. So she offers an occasional
respite with fun activities, like singing a song about

If she teaches a full-day class next year, she said, she
wants the students to take a nap. Or at least take a
break from the learning. "This is an introduction to
school, and to have them work like a 6-year-old, I
don't think that's going to work," she said.

Seabrook Principal Marvel Smith is more supportive
of Hornsby's move to eliminate naps. "They can't be
babied," she said. "These are young minds. We have to
take advantage of this early stage when they grasp

• NAPTIME II: More from The Post:
By Donna Britt
Friday, March 19, 2004; Page B01

Some ideas, you're unsure of. You listen to them,
weigh them and, even if you're unconvinced, you think,
"Maybe that makes some sense."

Other ideas seem so head-slappingly,
hold-my-Starbucks-while-I-recoil-in-disbelief dumb
that your only response is: "Huh?"

That was my reaction to the newfangled notion,
embraced by certain school systems, that naps should
be eliminated for pre-kindergarten children. As
described by an article in Monday's Post, that means
discouraging 4-year-olds in pre-kindergarten classes
from lying down for a brief after-lunch snooze.
As if today's kids somehow don't need the break
prescribed forever by parents, day-care centers and
preschools -- and that most grown-ups would take if
(A) coffee didn't exist and (B) our bosses wouldn't fire

All together now: Huh?

"Nap time needs to go away," Prince George's County
schools chief André J. Hornsby said recently during a
meeting with Maryland legislators. "We need to get rid
of all the baby school stuff they used to do."
It was inevitable. In a 24-7 world, napping has become
"baby school stuff" that's beneath modern
post-toddlers. As a mom, I know that the American
Academy of Pediatrics is correct in asserting that every
4-year-old doesn't require a nap. Individual sleep needs
vary. By age 3, the organization counsels, fewer
children need naps.

Educators -- under increasing pressure to make
schools tougher and learning a priority for even the
youngest children -- are incorporating more
pre-kindergarten programs. It isn't surprising that some
believe that young students' time is better spent
preparing for reading than dozing.

So why don't more experts feel that pre-kindergarten
nap time should be jettisoned?

Nursery school teacher Kay Valge of The Children's
Centre in Bowie has taught reading and math readiness
to 4-year-olds for two decades. "If 4-year-olds go all
day long, they aren't able to concentrate on learning,"
Valge says. "They need to disengage -- some
downtime just to relax.

"Tired adults don't learn or concentrate well, either."
Silver Spring pediatrician Gabrielle Virgo fondly
recalls napping as a kindergartner, adding, "I don't
think it damaged me academically."
"When you look at brain growth, the critical years
extend to age 5," Virgo says. Far from time wasted,
nap time is actually when "kids incorporate lessons
they've learned, solidify their knowledge. . .
Mandating not sleeping for a large percentage of
4-year-olds will mean that they will not learn as well . .
. which almost flies in the face of what [educators] are
trying to do."

Surely the new no-nap proponents want only what's
best for students. So why does it feel so wrong?
It isn't enough that the run-amok pace kept by
America's sleep-deprived adults has made
multimillionaires of the Starbucks-Caribou
Coffee-Coffee Beanery crew. Or that our
elementary-schoolers are so weary that the National
Institutes of Health has launched a sleep awareness
program () for 7- to 11-year-olds to help them avoid
becoming teenagers who doze off behind the wheel.
Forget even, as we modern folk do, the body's natural
circadian rhythms. Are we so performance-obsessed
that even tiny children -- whose parents peel them out
of bed at 6 a.m. and don't see them again for 12 hours
-- can't catch a break?

Downplaying pre-kindergartners' sleep needs typifies
society's suggestion that "sleep is a nuisance, not a
necessity," says Carl E. Hunt, director of NIH's
National Center on Sleep Disorders Research in

Hunt, a pediatrician, says most 4-year-olds -- unlike
their 5- and 6-year-old counterparts -- "wouldn't be
fully rested without an afternoon nap, no matter how
much sleep they get at night."

And, he adds, "most 4-year-olds and their families
don't get to sleep early enough."

So is it the schools' responsibility to play parent? Or
shouldn't they adjust, and readjust, to their students'
real lives?

Anne Arundel County schools chief Eric J. Smith is
proud of his system's nap-discouraging pre-K program,
first introduced in Charlotte, where he was
superintendent for six years. "I never got a single
complaint, here or there," Smith says.

Smith's mission is laudable: to make low-income
students competitive with their wealthier classmates.
Instructors of 4-year-olds "have a golden opportunity
to prepare them to enter kindergarten competitive with
their peers," he says. Most low-income children have
had far less exposure to books, educational trips and
even vacation, "all the outside experiences . . . that
help prepare more-affluent children for learning."
So teachers in his program "focus primarily on
language development and reading readiness," Smith
says. "The time we have with the children is critical.
We have to use it wisely."

So naps aren't encouraged. If children become tired,
teachers provide blankets on which they can curl up.
"But it's not mandatory," Smith explains. "We
encourage parents to make sure children have
adequate sleep at night."

But most kids don't get enough sleep. Even as Smith's
words moved me from "Huh" to "Hmmmm," I couldn't
help wondering why naps -- which most kids could use
-- were sacrificed.

Instinct just said, "That's wrong."

Clinical psychologist and former pediatric nurse Roxy
Wolfe knows why. Most Americans who care about
kids feel that "if we're going to take children out of the
home at a young age, we want a balance of nurturing
and enrichment," Wolfe says. "Whenever that gets out
of balance, we get worried."

Just thinking about it makes me want to lie down.

• NAPTIME III: from the LA Times:

A Plot to Zap the Nap
March 21, 2004

Good for school administrators near Washington, D.C.
With all other educational challenges now solved,
they're finally cracking down on naps by preschoolers.
You may not realize that, for generations, 4-year-old
laggards have been nodding off after the afternoon
snack when the teacher unfurls the mats, turns down
the lights and maybe plays soft music so little eyes
close and young minds drift away somewhere peaceful
and quiet for half an hour. Squandering time like this is
a scandal on a par with the tooth fairy myth. These
kids just lie there sound asleep like logs, only softer.
What an obvious waste of childhood time rest is!

How are these fresh-faced innocents going to learn to
be driven, to get their personal priorities out of whack,
to drink and eat too much, to get their stress and
cholesterol levels up, to misdirect their impatience and
to miss important family moments because of office
tasks they can't recall a week later? There'll be plenty
of time for naps later in life during unnecessary
meetings and long business flights among sneezing

Who gave toddlers the right to loaf like this while
we're out slaving away after an extended lunch that
nobody seemed to notice? Who earns the money to
pay the property taxes to underwrite useless naps?
With all there is to do and learn in life, these wasted
30-minute nap times can add up.

And who isn't tired anyway? Twenty-first century life
is supposed to be exhausting, what with learning how
to program new time-saving things that do the same
old things, only with baffling instructions written by
Japanese engineers who fell asleep in English class. By
allowing snoozes, what are American preschools
teaching these 48-month-old toddlers about the other
888 months in the average American life? That when
grown up they can sleep in on Saturday? Nod off on
the couch during Larry King's weekly interview with
Carol Burnett? If these youngsters get away with naps
in preschool, what will they do someday in an
overheated college lecture hall when a tenured
monotone in a bow tie goes on about the Weimar

"Nap time needs to go away," Andre Hornsby, a
Maryland county school chief, told wide-awake state
legislators recently, "We need to get rid of all the baby
stuff they used to do." You'll never guess what this
Prince George's County educator wants: More money
for full-day preschools with no nap time lollygagging.
Everyone who's ever been within whining distance of
tired 4-year-olds knows how cooperative and attentive
they would be by 2 p.m. of a full business day,
especially when told to sit still.

Here's another idea: Give Hornsby and his pals a
timeout in the corner to rethink this idiocy. Childhood
naps are neat. Without them, little people grow up to
become airhead administrators.

ACADEMIC ATROPHY: Study Released Concluding that Liberal Arts Suffering Under No Child Left Behind

The Council for Basic Education (CBE) has released a
new report that found that subjects such as foreign
languages, history, and the arts are getting less
attention in K-12 classrooms since the passage of the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known
as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). While eight
subjects should be covered in a liberal arts curriculum
(English, math, science, history, civics, geography,
foreign languages, and the arts), many schools
narrowed their curricula to focus on the subjects tested
under NCLB.

• WASHINGTON – The first significant study of how
the No Child Left Behind Act is influencing
instructional time and professional development in key
subject areas reveals that schools are spending more
time on reading, math, and science ...but squeezing out
social studies, civics, geography, languages, and the

The report, conducted by the Council for Basic
Education (CBE) and funded by the Carnegie
Corporation of New York, says that the shift away
from these liberal arts subjects is most pronounced in
elementary schools and schools with large minority

The study, Academic Atrophy: The Condition of the
Liberal Arts in America’s Public Schools, is based on
a survey of more than 1,000 principals in four
representative states (Indiana, Maryland, New Mexico,
and New York) that were chosen for their
socio-economic, political, and geographical diversity.


According to the report, three-quarters of all principals
surveyed say that instructional time for reading,
writing, and mathematics is increasing greatly or
somewhat, while a similar majority also reported
moderate or large increases in time for teachers to
hone their skills and knowledge in these areas. Close
to half of all principals surveyed reported increased
instructional time for science, and even larger numbers
project such increases over the next two years.

However, while these courses are receiving greater
emphasis, the overall curriculum is becoming
narrower, the report reveals. For example, elementary
school principals reported decreases in instructional
time for social studies, civics, and geography. Nearly
three in ten principals (29 percent) overall reported
decreases in time for social studies, compared to 21
percent who reported increases.

One of the areas subject to the largest cutbacks is the
arts. One quarter (25 percent) of all principals reported
decreased instructional time for the arts, with only 8
percent reporting an increase in this area. One third
(33 percent) of all principals anticipate further
decreases in arts instructional time, while just 7
percent anticipate increases.

In Maryland, which mandates elementary- and
middle-school assessment in only mathematics and
reading, evidence of waning commitment to certain
academic disciplines is especially pronounced. Over
half of Maryland elementary school principals reported
decreases in instructional time for social studies; nearly
four in ten (39 percent) of all Maryland principals
foresee reductions in instructional time for the arts,
while only two per cent expect increases.

"The narrowing of the curriculum is worrisome
because students need exposure to history, social
studies, geography, and foreign languages to be fully
prepared for citizenship, work, and learning in a
rapidly changing world," says Raymond "Buzz"
Bartlett, president of the Council for Basic Education.
"Truly high expectations cannot begin and end with
math, science, and reading."


The most troubling evidence of curricular narrowing
occurred in schools with large minority populations,
the very populations whose access to a full liberal arts
curriculum has been historically most limited. Nearly
half (47 percent) of principals at high minority schools
reported decreases in elementary social studies; four in
ten (42 percent) anticipated decreases in instructional
time for the arts; and three in ten (29 percent) of
high-minority school principals foresaw decreases in
instructional time for foreign language.

"These findings raise the specter of a new opportunity
gap between white and minority students," says
Bartlett. "We’re seeing that low-income minority
students are being denied the liberal arts curriculum
that their more privileged counterparts receive as a
matter of course. In our effort to close achievement
gaps in literacy and math, we risk substituting one
form of educational inequity for another, denying our
most vulnerable students the kind of curriculum
available to the wealthy."

"No Child Left Behind may turn out to be a Pyrrhic
victory if we define its vision for achievement too
narrowly and thus institutionalize long-term academic
mediocrity and inequity," says the report’s author
Claus von Zastrow, director of institutional
development at CBE.


On the positive side, CBE’s study did identify
promising trends, particularly in higher grades.
Principals in middle and high schools are allotting
more instructional and teacher professional
development time to social studies, civics, and
geography. Principals interviewed for the study
suggested that events such as September 11th and the
Iraq war had strengthened schools’ commitment to
these subjects.


In the report, CBE urges states to ensure adequate
access to a liberal arts curriculum by integrating all of
the core subjects into state systems of standards and
accountability, maintaining high goals for excellence in
the liberal arts, and working to better prepare teachers
to integrate the liberal arts into reading instruction.


CBE’s study of the liberal arts combined a mail survey
of 956 elementary and secondary principals in four
states with focus groups of principals from across the

The survey sample included a representative selection
of urban, suburban, and rural principals in each target
state. The databases from which the sample was drawn
were supplied by the National Association of
Elementary School Principals, the National
Association of Secondary School Principals, and the
American Federation of School Administrators. The
response rate for the survey was approximately 32
percent. 417 surveys were returned from Illinois, 155
from Maryland, 56 from New Mexico, and 310 from
New York. The remaining 18 surveys included no
information about state of origin and were not
included in the state-by-state analyses.

Founded in 1956, The Council for Basic Education is a
national non-profit organization advocating high
academic standards for all students and working to
strengthen teaching and learning of the liberal arts to
prepare students for lifelong learning and responsible
citizenship. CBE has worked with over 25 states, 28
districts, and 8 countries, as well as the U.S.
Departments of Education and State, the National
Science Foundation, National Endowment for the
Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

[LINK] Download the Report:



• Content standards: Statements that define
expectations for students in terms of knowledge and
skills. They identify what students are expected to
learn in the various subjects as part of a good
education. Content standards provide details for more
general, abstract educational goals by specifying what
thinking and performing capabilities students should
master and what knowledge they should possess.

• Learning benchmarks: Points of reference used to
gauge the progress of students toward meeting content
standards, usually provided in terms of a grade level.
Learning benchmarks give an idea of what students are
expected to learn by a certain point in their schooling,
without being so specific that they ignore variations in
individual student progress or in the scope and
sequence of curricular offerings.

• Curriculum: The description of how and what
students will actually be taught in the relevant
course(s) to achieve the objectives described in the
content standards. The curriculum normally includes
lesson plans or outlines, primary source materials,
textbooks, videos, lectures, and other sources of

• Performance standards: A description of the kind
of mastery students are supposed to achieve, normally
given in connection with a content standard. Content
standards identify something to be learned;
performance standards identify how well students are
supposed to learn it. Performance standards sometimes
identify more than one level of achievement for a
content standard, and label each level accordingly (for
example, basic, proficient, advanced).

• Opportunity-to-learn standards: Descriptions of
the nature and quality of the educational experiences
and resources that educators should make available to
students. In standards-based reform,
opportunity-to-learn standards measure what the
education system does to enable students to meet the
expectations set by the content and performance


• Shared expectations for learning, through standards,
can make students’ education more coherent by
coordinating teaching, learning, and testing.

• Content standards reflect the public’s view of
society’s purposes for schooling. Therefore, the
standards-setting process should allow for
participation by the public, including parents,
educators, and the business community.

• Content standards should be clear and usable. They
should guide—not constrict —teaching and learning.

• Content standards do not determine the curriculum,
nor do they represent a fixed unit of class time. How
and when a class operates are not as important as
whether students are reaching the standards. What is
important is that all children reach high levels of

• Not all students will reach benchmarks at the same
time. Some students may need more assistance. While
the old system essentially gave up on underachieving
students by expecting less of them, a standards-based
system establishes high expectations for all students.

• Standards provide many ways for students to show
their abilities. Beyond written exams, students will
build portfolios and undertake projects to show their
progress toward meeting standards.

• It is important to resist the temptation to focus only
on your child’s achievement. Support your child’s
progress, as well as achievement, for progress is the
key to achievement.

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS + HIGH SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY TEACHERS: You’re young. You’re passionate. You know technology. You can make a difference today!

From now until April 30, 2004, is
sponsoring You Can Make a Difference, a program for
high school students who have a desire to make an
impact with technology. We’re accepting proposals for
software projects that will benefit a charitable

All students that submit proposals will receive a copy
of Microsoft Visual Studio .NET Academic Edition
via a Premium Membership on theSpoke.

But that’s not all. We’ll award the top 10 proposals (5
to female entrants, 5 to male entrants) a $5,000 grant
to be divided up as follows:

• $2,500 – Student scholarship
• $1,500 – To be used to implement the
charitable project
• $1,000 – Technology grant to the school the student attends

• smf's SHAMELESS PROMOTION!: If you are looking for a non-profit to work with, the Los Angeles Tenth District PTA Dental and Vision Clinics - serving low income LAUSD students - need help with technology!


Interested? [Link} You Can Make a Difference site

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Tuesday Mar 30, 2004
• Central Region Middle School #7
Phase II Site Selection Update
Local District H
Your participation is important! Please join at this meeting where we will review:
* Criteria used to select potential sites
* Sites suggested by community and by LAUSD, and
* We will present and discuss the most suitable site(s) for this new school project
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Ascot Avenue Elementary School Auditorium
1447 E. 45th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90011
Community Organizer: Fortunato Tapia

Wednesday Mar 31, 2004
• Central Region Elementary School #14
Phase II Site Selection Update
Local District F
Your participation is important! Please join at this meeting where we will review:
* Criteria used to select potential sites
* Sites suggested by community and by LAUSD, and
* We will present and discuss the most suitable site(s) for this new school project
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Rosemont Avenue Elementary School Auditorium
421 N. Rosemont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Community Organizer: Lily Quiroa

• South Region High School #2
Phase II Site Selection Update
Local District I
Your participation is important! Please join at this meeting where we will review:
* Criteria used to select potential sites
* Sites suggested by community and by LAUSD, and
* We will present and discuss the most suitable site(s) for this new school project
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
McKinley Avenue School
7812 McKinley Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90001
Community Organizer: Carlas McCauley

Thursday Apr 01, 2004
• East Valley Area New High School #1B
Groundbreaking Ceremony
Please join us to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new community school!

Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.

• East Valley Area New High School #1B
5525 Vineland Avenue
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Community Organizer: Sofia Torres

*Dates and times are subject to change.
Phone: 212.241.4700
Phone: 213.633.7616


4LAKids Book Club for February & March – THE IRREDUCIBLE NEEDS OF CHILDREN by T. Berry Brazelton, MD & Stanley I. Greenspan, MD
LEARN, AND FLOURISH - Perseius Publishing -225
pages ($14.00) [Amazon has it on sale @ $10.50, but they also have used ones for a low as .99!]

• The last title in the 4LAKids book club “RAISING
AMERICA” was a pretty heavy criticism of the
phemeominon of American Baby Doctors in Print - so here we are with a work by the foremost contemporary ABDIP! I apologize to anyone who looks for an agenda; it’s just that my sick mind works that way! —smf

The Irreducible Needs are:

• The Need for Ongoing Nurturing Relationships.
• The Need for Physical Protection, Safety and
• The Need for Experiences Tailored to Individual
• The Need for Developmentally Appropriate
• The Need for Limit setting, Structure and
• The Need for Stable, Supportive Communities and Cultural Continuity.

"What do you get when you cross an esteemed child psychiatrist (Greenspan) with a noted pediatrician (Brazelton), both at the apex
of their abilities? A darned important book, that's what." -Library Journal (starred review).

From Publishers Weekly:
Pediatrician Brazelton (Touchpoints) and child
psychiatrist Greenspan (Building Healthy Minds) join together to present a hard-hitting treatise on what children really need from their parents and from society. While the text is densely written, it is engaging. The two childcare experts share the mutually strong conviction that society is not currently meeting the basic needs of children. Each chapter is devoted to
the discussion of an "irreducible" need, such as the Need for Ongoing Nurturing...

What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member. Or your city councilperson, mayor, assemblyperson, state senator, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think.
• 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.
• Vote.

Contact your school board member

Sunday, March 21, 2004


California School Finance 101

Last Thursday March 18th I Attended the 27th Annual
EdSource Conference in Manhattan Beach, the subject
was Overhauling California’s School Finance

Before the conference there was a forty-five minute
pre-conference California School Finance 101. My
congrats to EdSource Deputy Director Mary Perry for
an excellent and concise explanation of an arcane
Byzantine process and its historic perspective. I
suggest this presentation be made as a program to all
PTAs, parent groups, Boards of Education and
interested citizens, taxpayers and voters groups. School Finance: Resources at a Glance

At the very outset of the main program of the
EdSource conference, moderator Gerald Hayward
posed the day’s most interesting questions:

• Are we meeting current needs?
• Are we increasing or reducing expectations?
• Have we raised or lowered our standards?
• Are we seeking solutions for the future ...or for
the meantime?

And ultimately:

• How do you hold teachers, principals, schools and
school districts acceptable when the real decision
making occurs elsewhere?

Mr. Hayward kept a self-deprecating running joke
going throughout the day re: injecting word-of-the-day words into the discussion to create the impression of one’s intellectual gravitas. His contributions – frequently used to everyone’s amusement were: “Herculean” (‘Budget Reform is a Herculean task ...or is it an Herculean task?’) and “Ebullient” (‘So-and-so is an ebullient speaker’) My contributions to this list are “Byzantine” and “gravitas” — I’ve done it early and I’m done!

After a brief clip from “First to Worst’, the PBS
documentary critical of California School Finance post
Prop 13, program led off with keynote speaker
Lawrence Picus, a USC professor of education active in education finance reform in a number of states like
Montana and Arkansas.

Doctor Picus said the key question that must be asked
of every one of California’s nearly 1000 school boards
and superintendents is: “Do you have a long term
strategic execution plan to address the needs of your

The universal answer will be nearly 1000 “No’s” It’s
just too hard. Budgets figures are too nebulous. Too many variables. Change is too constant. The law only calls for one year’s budget at a time. Excuses, excuses,

smf note: I have been asking for this in LAUSD at the school board and in these pages for some time now – ever since I witnessed the difference a strategic execution plan has made in school construction.

Picus argues that :
• school finance reform in California is long overdue,
• that previous models of school reform that fail to
address finance are flawed
• and that the newer models he has championed that
reform school finance and education have applicability in California.

He was followed by Economist Jon Sonstelie, who
didn’t refute the need, but argued that there just isn’t
enough data to prove that the input of money alone
will make enough difference in California Schools –
and that certainly no source of such money has been
identified. . Questions and answers followed, the debate was lively.

Following this we heard from a panel consisting of former Executive Director of the State Board of Education (and LAUSD Budget Consultant) John Mockler, Sacramento Bee editor and education critic Peter Schrag, UCLA Professor Jeannie Oakes, and Stanford Professor Mike Kirst – on Where Do We Go From Here?

There was agreement that change is needed and that school finance reform is key, but there was also agreement that money alone is simply not enough.
The legislature has been reforming schools with varying success through standards and accountability – throwing law, regulations, incentives and mandates at the problems ...but every quick-fix attempt at finance
reform only adds to the serpent’s nest of complications. One only needs to look at the inflexible 20:1 requirement in class size reduction in K-3!

But the current bipartisan consensus in Sacramento to
“suspend” Prop 98 (The so-called constitutional
guarantee of school funding at current levels) and cut the education budget by two billion dollars in 2004-05
will be disastrous – especially following the previous
three years of economic chaos in education. Mockler
stated unequivocally that this cut — if approved by the
legislature and signed by the governor (both de-facto
‘done deals’) — proves a lack of political will to
support California Schools. Both the immediate result
and the long-term impact on California’s future will be
grim indeed. Peter Schrag argued further that it may
take this bleak result – coupled with a decision against
the state in the Williams v. California lawsuit
(contending that the state is not delivering an adequate
education to the states’ underprivileged students) – to
trigger the disaster mentality necessary get anything
accomplished in Sacramento!

Blowing the whole thing up and starting anew seemed
to be the most popular proposed solution!

Much of the day’s discussion revolved around a
funding mechanism called Weighted Student Formula
(WSF). This would require first that the annual cost of
a sound basic education to an individual child (SBA)
be established, this might be modified with a Grade
Level adjustment (GLA - it costs more to educate a
5th grader than a kindergartner, more still for an 11th
grader) and would be further modified by special needs
factors such as whether the student is an English
Language Learner (x), is in Special Ed (y), gifted (y)
or has other special needs (z). This would create an
algebraic formula [WSF=SBA+AGL+a+b+c) to
establish the amount the state would pay to educate
that individual student. This WSF allocation would
follow the child no matter where he or she goes to
school and would replace the current ADA (Average
Daily Attendance) allocations as the key to funding
schools. As one of the speakers said, “the algebra is
easy, the politics is hard” in WSF. I can also see a
potential for lots of appeals and annual review much
like the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process in
Special Ed This attempt at simplification could quickly
complicate matters further. It would be an everyone’s
interest (student, parent, school and district) to run up
the numbers - there is potential for abuse. This
weighting could also lead to favoritism of students in
enrollment: Would a principal rather have (or keep) an
average kid at his or her school — or an English
language learning, dyslexic, mobility-challenged gifted

Further speakers spoke to the Williams’ lawsuit, the
ongoing program in school reform and funding in New
York State, and to the anticipated Reiner-CTA
Initiative on the November ballot.

• The Reiner-CTA Referendum is nothing more than
“tinkering towards Utopia” reform.
• The Williams’ litigation is currently recessed, the
new administration is Sacramento is studying it’s
options. Williams’ basic contention that the state
has a constitutional obligation to educate every
child to a minimum standard (“an adequate public
education”/in the similar New York lawsuit “a
sound basic education”) without regard to race,
ethnicity or economic circumstance is irrefutable;
that there is inequity in the current system is
similarly obvious. The state counters that the
school districts bare the obligation; this seems hard
to justify in an environment where the state
controls the funding. It would be much better for
all if our political leaders settled Williams and
corrected its issues before it is decided in the
courts; not with a consent decree, but with genuine
• The case of education reform in New York is an
interesting parallel. New York and New York City
– as opposed to Montana and Arkansas or even
Texas and Florida – have problems most like
California and LA.

But similar isn’t the same!

• New York’s school governance is different and the
tax laws are completely different.
• New York hasn’t had the experience of Serrano
and Prop 13. Resources for the EdSource 2004 Forum on Public Schools


My opinions, and these are admittedly both currently
unformed and uninformed — and subject to change
— are these:

• We shouldn’t reform schools or school finance in
reaction to disaster! We – and that’s the big parents- teachers-community-policy makers and politicians ‘we’ – need to be proactive, not reactive!
• Court ordered reform – in the middle school
vernacular (I am a middle school parent!): Sucks!

Note: Elementary kids say bad stuff is “unfair.”
Next year I will be high school parent and will select a word from the API word-study list – next year I will say: “Court ordered reform is ‘intrinsically inequitable!’”

• Court orders (and their evil stepchildren consent decrees) are mandates; fiats not subject to debate and public opinion – decisions not democratically arrived at. They are one-size-fits-all/carved-in-stone solutions and all the wiggle room for creative solutions are also called
• The Reiner-CTA reform is a another small step, special interests (in this case the teacher’s union and early education supporters) pushing the inert mass slightly in the direction of their choice – a result that produces no genuine. progress. Love the teachers, love the teacher’s union, love Rob, love universal pre-school — but real education reform needs to address the entire big enchilada: K-12 School Finance in California.

These questions need answering:
• How much difference can money make?
• How much money is enough?
• Where will it come from?
• Who is ultimately in charge of collecting/allocating/ distributing and overseeing the money?
....and what is the role of:
• The Legislature
• The Governor
• The State Board of Ed
• The State Office of Ed
• The County Office of Ed?
• Local Boards of Education?
• The Superintendent?
• The Principal and the School Site Council?
• Parents, Classroom Teachers and Students?


The conference was addressed last by Education
Secretary Richard Riordan.

Unfortunately Secretary Riordan was a hit-and-run
speaker who hadn’t been there for previous debate and
didn’t really address the conference’s subject of
finance reform. I am a fan of his, but the conference
really didn’t want to hear about accountability reform
and the role of principals in the school – they wanted
to hear about the money!


Probably the most interesting presentation was by
Jeannie Oakes, who refuted popular opinion (...and
the thesis of “First to Worst”) that California’s
education woes trace from the Serrano decision (1968,
equalizing school expenditures across all school
districts in the state) and Prop 13 (1978, limiting
property tax and putting the state in charge of all
education finance).

Dr. Oakes traces the decline all the way back to
popular reaction to Brown v. School Board (1953 –
desegregating all schools) and a subsequent federal
lawsuit that desegregated schools and redistributed
school finances in Detroit. It was widespread popular
backlash to these not-universally-popular court
decisions which limited local control of education
(remember what I said about court decisions?) that led
voters to began limiting school expenditures. The
voters and taxpayers in the middle years of the
twentieth century were not all that interested in paying
for the education of – and I quote: “Other people’s
children’! California per-pupil spending had already
lowered drastically before Serrano in ‘68 – it may have
been this very decrease that actually drove Serrano!

[LINK] - Office of the California Secretary for Education


We have nowhere to go but forward; we have nothing to do but improve. There is no time like the present —with crisis looming and the wolf at the door..

• The role of the federal government must be explored.
• The role of all the other players must be explored.
• Revenue sources beyond property taxes must be
• A sales tax on services?
• A value added tax, where the profits on any transaction is taxed?
• Prop 13 revisions eliminating corporate loopholes – such as those proposed in Reiner-CTA - must be on the table.
• Entitlements and categorical programs must be streamlined.
• Adequacy must be defined. What exactly is an adequate public education?
• Equity must be attained, but an equalizing up, not down.

* * * *

We started out with the Herculean Task, let's end with
the Apollonian Goal.

Though adequacy in funding must be guaranteed,
excellence in achievement must always be the goal.
This may seem a little like Garrison Keillor’s ironic utopia of Lake Woebegone – ‘...where all of the children are above average’ – but we have already set the bar extremely high in expecting all schools to achieve API 800, a goal 70% above the national norm!
The Greeks of the Golden Age – the ones that invented western civilization – created the goal of perfection..The ideal is the model; a goal that is by its very nature unobtainable. But it is a prize that we can visualize, just over the horizon! Nothing less can be acceptable.

ED-DATA—Education Data Partnership: Clearinghouse for Fiscal, Demographic & Performance Data on California Schools—by state, county, district & school

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Monday Mar 22, 2004
South Region High School #4
Phase II Site Selection Update – Meeting #2
Local District K

Your participation is important! Please join at this meeting where we will review:

* Criteria used to select potential sites
* Sites suggested by community and by LAUSD, and
* We will present and discuss the most suitable site(s) for this new school project

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Broadacres Avenue Elementary School
19424 S. Broadacres Avenue
Carson, CA 90746

Community Organizer: Tony Arias

• Tuesday Mar 23, 2004
Central Region Elementary School #18
Phase II Site Selection Update – Meeting #2
Local District H

Your participation is important! Please join at this meeting where we will review:

* Criteria used to select potential sites
* Sites suggested by community and by LAUSD, and
* We will present and discuss the most suitable site(s) for this new school project

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
28th Street Elementary School
2807 Stanford Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011

Community Organizer: Fortunato Tapia

• Wednesday Mar 24, 2004
South Region Elementary School #4
Phase II Site Selection Kick-off Meeting
Local District J

All community residents, parents, students, teachers -- Be part of identifying and selecting sites for this new community school!

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
South Gate High School
4100 Firestone Blvd.
South Gate, CA 90280

Community Organizer: Mario Hernandez

• Thursday, Mar 25, 2004
The Los Angeles Unified School District Bond Oversight Committee wants to hear from LAUSD Parents, School Neighbors and Community Members about Your Questions, Concerns, and Suggestions Regarding Modernization of Existing Schools and Construction of New Schools in LAUSD Local District J (Bell, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood, South Gate and Vernon)

Thursday, March 25th, 6-8PM
Huntington Park Family Center
3355 Gage Avenue
Huntington Park

For information about the meeting time, site and scope:
Phone: 213.241.4700
Fax: 213.241.6823

*Dates and times subject to change.
Phone: 212.241.4700
Phone: 213.633.7616


Friday, March 12, 2004



By Jean Merl - LA Times Staff Writer

March 12, 2004

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of
Education took a big first step Thursday toward
erasing a budget deficit of nearly $500 million, in part
by eliminating about 480 jobs in central administration
and in the 11 subdistricts that provide services to

Board members still need to find $61.3 million to slice
from the LAUSD's $5.7-billion operating budget
before the 2004-2005 fiscal year starts July 1. They
gave Supt. Roy Romer until April 9 to recommend
further cuts, including more from administration and
the subdistricts.

In voting on Romer's budget proposal, board members
stuck with their goal of keeping cuts as far away from
classrooms as possible, although they acknowledged
that many of the jobs cut, such as in special education
and environmental health and safety, would reduce
services to students. They postponed action on some
proposed cuts in nursing and other health services.

"It preserves our instructional program … and
continues to build on the gains we've made" in
academic achievement, Board President Jose Huizar
said, noting that the budget called for no layoffs of
regular teachers and no increase in class sizes.

The 750,000-student district employs about 75,000
people, nearly 50,000 of them teachers.

Board member David Tokofsky urged his colleagues
to hold off on many of the cuts so that "we don't slip
on the banana peel of unintended consequences." By
law, the district does not have to adopt its budget until
June and it can revise the budget in August or

But he got no support from the other six board

"We need to let everyone know as soon as possible
what the situation is, so they can make decisions,"
board member Mike Lansing said after the vote.
Referring to the two previous, highly contentious years
of budget-cutting, Lansing said, "We've taken our time
in the past and it has forced everybody into a big, mad
scramble at the end."

And Huizar said it was important to "send a message"
— to county fiscal watchdogs and to others — that
"this district is taking control of its finances…. It's
making the tough decisions."

During a special meeting Wednesday, the board's
private budget advisor, school finance expert John
Mockler, had urged the board to act as soon as

"The earlier you make the cuts, the more you save,"
said Mockler, a former state secretary of education,
adding that he did not expect the fiscal situation to
improve soon.

Reeling from several years of cuts from the financially
strapped state, which provides much of local districts'
funding, Los Angeles Unified has made about $1
billion in spending reductions over the last three
budget years. Those reductions made this year's gap of
nearly $500 million especially difficult to close.

The board voted to send 171 layoff notices to
psychiatric social workers, attendance counselors and
others who could lose their jobs. State law requires
certain groups of employees to get such notices by
March 15; if the notices aren't received by then, the
board cannot cut the positions for the coming fiscal
year, although it can rescind notices that have been
received by the deadline. Other groups of employees
require much shorter notice or no notice for layoffs.

The district is trying to figure out how many positions
in various categories may be empty because of

Romer had proposed cuts that would have solved all
but $56 million of the budget problem, but board
members added back — for the time being, at least —
$1.8 million in nursing and other health and human
services jobs. And they added $3.5 million to put more
school police officers at middle schools and high

"Safety is a top priority for this board," said board
member Marlene Canter, who pushed for more police
with Huizar and board member Julie Korenstein.

Romer said he was pleased with the board's resolve to
make the cuts in a timely fashion. "They took a very
large step in solving the problem," Romer said after
the vote. "It's going to be very difficult to find that
next $61 million, but we've got to do it."

But John Perez, president of United Teachers-Los
Angeles, repeated the union's position that the board
ought to eliminate all 11 subdistricts. "You must do
more to curb the LAUSD bureaucracy," Perez told the

Other steps the board approved Thursday included
saving $144 million by refinancing debt and using
other one-time money sources, cutting $61 million
worth of employee work hours, and eliminating $71
million from campus maintenance and from support
programs for new teachers. The proposed budget also
assumes that the district will be successful in its
current negotiations with employee unions to save $25
million in benefit costs.

• smf notes: It's interesting that the amount LAUSD needs to cut from its budget exceeds the total the Bush administration proposes to add to the national education budget. (see: Math Class vs. Sex Class below)

The tragedy is that the district is intending to
eliminate student psychological services and programs in a time when the county health department and the state is doing the same. LAUSD nursing services are already
at one nurse-day-a-month at some schools! School
nurses and psychologists are often the only medical
and mental health professionals many LAUSD
students ever see.

• I'm a parent and a PTA president at a middle school – I'm for school police on every secondary school campus! But student safety is more than school police on campus and metal detectors in the doorways. Remember Columbine? How exactly do school psychologists and counsellors identify at-risk students from the unemployment line?

• Refinancing debt always ends up costing more; the
district is using one credit-card to pay off another. By
delaying the payment of debt long enough the District
can effectively get today’s schoolchildren to pay for
their own education!

• Putting off maintenance? We can repair it now ...or
replace it later!

• Reducing support for new teachers? I guess
supporting new teachers was last week’s flavor of
school reform!

• And of course the mother of all assumptions is “the
district will be successful in its current negotiations
with employee unions to save $25 million in benefit
costs” – this borders on delusional Pollyannaism.
Hopefully the superintendent and board will consult
with one of those psychologists they are handing pink
slips to! 

by UTLA President John Perez
From the United Teacher - March 5, 2004

The 2004-2005 LAUSD budget will be the third in a
row to carry a deficit, and District officials claim the
funding gap is more than $530 million. This after the
two previous budgets were cut by a combined $700
million! How has the District gotten itself into this
mess? History, inertia, and just plain bad planning are
the culprits.

First the history: Since the passage of Proposition 13
in 1978, California has underfunded its schools, so our
District—like all districts—does not have enough
money to adequately educate our students.

Now the inertia: More than 20 years ago, John
Mockler, the guru of school finance in our state and
the District’s first independent analyst, told the District
it did not have a rational budget process, and it still

And finally the bad planning: District officials have
refused since the last budget crisis in 1992, even
though we have asked them to, to look seriously every
year at every program to see if it adds value to the
education of our students. Instead, they have
continuously pumped up the bureaucracy, with the
number of nonclassroom personnel ballooning by 22
percent—which is double the rate of increase of
students and teachers combined! So the budget has a
lot of bells and whistles that cost millions of dollars but
add nothing to the education of the kids.

What’s to be done? As we have since last July, we
continue to offer a few practical, concrete suggestions.

• The superintendent is said to want a 20 percent cut in
central office administration. That would be a good
start, and it would save the LAUSD something like
$100 million.

• Cut all 11 mini-Districts. This could save tens of
millions. (Hard to tell on this one because every time
we ask how much the LAUSD spends on mini-
Districts, we get different answers. Also, we hear from
downtown “insiders” that one high-up bureaucrat
wants the superintendent to make phony cuts by laying
off school psychologists and school nurses who are
paid out of the mini-District budgets and count these
as cuts in mini- District “bureaucracy.” What they’d
actually be cutting is direct student services.)

• Cut out conferences and conventions at expensive
hotels. This could save $20 million.

• Cut back on the number of lawyers the District uses.
Our District hires more law firms than the school
districts in New York City, Chicago, Houston, and
San Diego combined. In 2003 the District spent $29
million on lawyers. When I started as a teacher in
1969, the LAUSD had 650,000 students and two
lawyers. They could probably save another $20 million
in this category.

• Cut every consultant contract that is paid for out of
the general fund. How much this will save is anyone’s
guess, because no matter how many times we ask, we
never get the answer to the question: How much
general fund money goes for consultants?

In the third year of a severe budget crisis—partly the
fault of the District and partly the fault of the
state—the classroom must be held harmless as we face
massive budget cuts.

The only reason the LAUSD exists is to educate the
children of this community. The District must not lose
sight of a simple fact: Our kids are educated in
classrooms, not boardrooms.

evening distinguished Board members, Mr.
Superintendent and members of the audience. My
name is Mike O'Sullivan, and I have the honor to serve
as President of the Associated Administrators of Los
Angeles, which represents approximately 2700 active
middle managers, and over 1000 retirees.

You are to be commended for your tenacity and
thoroughness during the past three days of hearings
where virtually every division and department in the
District has gone through their proposed cuts in
sometimes excruciating detail. I am sure you realize,
however, that that was the easy part. Now the
difficulty of the Board of Education Members making
the decisions that impact the lives of students and staff
will soon begin.

I wish to make a few general observations.

Do you honestly feel that you have received all the
information you need to make these cuts? For
example, there is the question of reducing the IMA
allocation for each of the Early Education sites totaling
a staggering $1,000,000. You heard from the Assistant
Superintendent of that unit but do you really know
how that would impact the students, teachers and
principals in the schools? AALA believes that a cut of
that magnitude would make day to day operations at
these sites almost impossible. Why not request a set of
comparison figures from a few school site principals?
As Board members you need accurate information
from the Superintendent's staff, and individual division
heads should seek accurate input from their principals.

We note that many departments have suggested cuts of
unfilled positions. Are these really cuts? One could
argue that any positions unfilled prior to the current
freeze on hiring which went into effect on January 4,
2004 should have been taken off the top before any
discussion of reducing actual personnel is considered.
Certainly no department or division should now be
allowed to retain authority to staff any remaining
unfilled positions while the District is contemplating
the release of current employees.

Are we possibly working at cross-purposes? On the
one hand, Board members have appropriately noted
the extra income which could accrue to the District for
even the smallest of increases in our ADA, yet at the
same time, significant cuts are contemplated to school
counseling allocations, PSA counseling, EBIC
Programs and other support services units which
actually provide an impetus to improved attendance
and as some would suggest actually end up paying for
themselves. Counselors are not members of our
bargaining unit, but we recognize their value to
students, teachers and school administrators, as well as
to District ADA finances.

We are likewise pleased that the Superintendent and
Board are still committed to maintaining employee
health benefits at a level which does not betray the
commitment first made over thirty years ago by former
Superintendent Bill Johnston with the concurrence of
the then Board. All Boards and Superintendents
thereafter have held fast to this commitment. Retention
of the current health benefits program is crucial to the
morale of all District employees.

Lastly, our Association has a sense that the Board
believes student and staff safety on school site
campuses comes before any other consideration. We
look forward to an early Board directive to fund the
assignment of school police officers at a minimum of
one to every secondary and span school campus.

Thank you for listening and for your willingness to
tackle this painful but necessary budget process. Please
know that AALA leadership will continue to monitor
Board and Senior Staff actions as they impact our
membership and the students we serve.

[link to LA Times Education News]

Facing a budget crisis, officials slash programs in the
eastern Bay Area. Students and parents protest the
By Erika Hayasaki and Patrick Dillon
Special to The LA Times - March 11, 2004

RICHMOND, Calif. — Parents and students are
crying foul over the West Contra Costa school
district's decision this week to eliminate all sports,
libraries and counselors from its six high schools after
voters failed to approve a special parcel tax.

"What's Friday night without a football game?" asked
Ed Hammer, baseball coach at the Northern California
district's De Anza High School, near Berkeley. "You
go have pizza, go out with girlfriends and buddies….
It is something kids are going to miss out on. It's

• smf notes: The New Yorker has a feature: “Stories
we never finished reading.” This one goes in that
category! ALL libraries and counselors are being
eliminated from a district’s high schools and the news
lead is about sports? Missed opportunities with
girlfriends and buddies? No pizza? Fershame!

[Newslink] To finish the article

What’s the fun of all this testing if we can't complain about the scores?

I spent a couple of hours Thursday having the importance of all this explained to me and I’m afraid I
still don’t really care. The exciting news, I’m told, is
that test scores are going up and that low performing
schools are doing better! The bad news is that though
many schools in the lowest rank of API scoring have
gone up – and some a lot – they are still in the lowest

    The telling truth to me is this:
The State Board of
Education spent a long anguished meeting Wednesday
deciding how to identify which entire school districts would
be listed as needing improvement under No Child Left
Behind – the so called “Program Improvement

The formula the board had previously agreed to
identified 300+ districts in California (including
LAUSD) for PI status under NCLB. Three hundred is
an awful lot the state school board redid the
formula so only 30+ districts were identified! Guess
which district passed under the new rubric?

Hooray! 

Find your School's API Scores

LA Times Editorial: MATH CLASS vs. SEX CLASS
March 8, 2004

President Bush proposes some important new
expenditures for education — $100 million for reading
programs to help middle and high schoolers who still
struggle to sound out Seuss-simple words; $40 million
to help professionals in math and science make the
transition to teaching; $52 million to bring Advanced
Placement classes to more high schools.

Yet all these added together would be eclipsed by the
$270 million the president would devote to a school
program promoting sexual abstinence — despite there
being little evidence that such programs reduce teen
sex or pregnancies.

Credit the president's budget for putting new money
toward older students. Most educational reforms have
focused on primary grades while slighting a generation
of high school kids. The worst-off, many in
impoverished schools, must learn basic literacy before
heading to the work world; the most promising
deserve the same chance at college admissions that
Advanced Placement classes provide to students at
more affluent schools. They all deserve qualified math
and science teachers.

Bush's proposal to create a corps of adjunct teachers in
math and science shows real innovation. These are the
two subjects in which teachers are least likely to have
expertise. The money would be used to set up school
and business partnerships that would bring
professionals in math and science to the schools,
teaching part time while working at their regular jobs,
or full time during work leaves. Their knowledge and
fresh perspective could invigorate teaching in these

In fact, the idea deserves more funding if it's to have
any real effect. Instead, Bush wants to double the
amount of money for sex education programs that
promote only abstinence; the $270-million figure is
more than six times what he would spend on the math
and science initiative.

This administration has vocally advocated spending
money only where research shows it to be effective.
Studies show that students learn math and science
better when their teachers have expertise in the
subjects. Numerous studies also show that arts
education — a target for cuts under Bush's budget —
help children achieve academically in a whole range of

An independent evaluation commissioned by the
Department of Health and Human Services two years
ago found no reliable evidence that abstinence-only
education reduced teen sex or pregnancies. Congress
will have to help the president get his educational
priorities in order: The schools need math teachers a
lot more than abstinence teachers. 

Letters to the Editor: A SCHOOL CURRICULUM

March 10, 2004

Re "Math Class vs. Sex Class," editorial, March 8: As
usual, President Bush's proposal to spend $270 million
solely for the purpose of promoting sexual abstinence
misses the point and panders only to his right-wing
base. Imagine if that kind of money were used to
launch a required family relations/parenting class for
every high school student. Imagine if they were taught
how to resolve relational conflicts, how to discipline
children without violence, how domestic violence
breeds criminality, sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, etc.

Such a curriculum would do far more to strengthen the
fiber of our society than some moralistic agenda that
kids would inevitably ridicule and reject.

Alitta Kullman
Laguna Hills


This conundrum, weighing the importance of
educating and informing young people about health
and sex against "standards-based" requirements such
as English, history, math and science, is complicated
enough — driven as it is by testing, testing, testing —
without injecting the politically driven agenda of
"abstinence only." There is no exit exam for health and
family education. Consequently, with a shortage of
both money and instructional time, these are easy
programs for cash-strapped school districts to cut or

Currently, LAUSD Supt. Roy Romer is proposing to
eliminate middle-school health classes, where
reproductive health is taught to kids most in need of
the information, in favor of "hard" science classes,
purely to drive up test scores. Though it is true that
there is no testing in health, there's plenty of room for

The young person who becomes infected with a
sexually transmitted disease or becomes pregnant fails.
The student who becomes overweight, asthmatic or
diabetic because he or she doesn't know about proper
nutrition and exercise fails. It is the school district and,
ultimately, society that flunks the test.

Scott Folsom
Vice President for Education
L.A. 10th District, Parent
Teacher Student Assn.

Daily News Editorial: HARD ISSUES AHEAD: Schools chief must get control of the bureaucracy
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - While Los Angeles schools continued to make slight gains this year in the statewide ranking program, troubling questions remain to be answered about whether the poorest-performing schools are progressing fast enough and whether gains made in elementary schools are showing up in junior and senior high schools.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Roy Romer has gotten the district back on track building new schools after 30 years of abandoning the children to year-round calendars and overcrowded campuses.

But much of the bureaucracy remains locked in the chokehold of a can't-do attitude, where friendships and connections are more important to advancement than performance and the blame for classroom failure is too often put at the feet of the children.

LAUSD, with all its resources and money, should have some of the best education in the country. That it doesn't, and continues to lag behind, shows that Romer has a lot of work to do besides building schools where children will still get an inferior education.

Whittling away the bureaucracy, empowering teachers and principals and holding them accountable for results are a large part of the answer.

Romer and the school board have a responsibility, as they make massive budget cuts, to be sure they are being made for the best advantage of the children -- and not the staff. 

[link to article]