Sunday, May 30, 2004

4LAKids: Memorial Day Weekend, May 30, 2004

This is the Memorial Day weekend – and we remember and honor the hundreds of thousands who made the sacrifices that guarantee what we all take for granted. There is a fine line between taking something for granted and holding it dear — and occasionally we need to cross that line in our thoughts, and if we go there, in our prayers.

There is much more here than the first long weekend of summer; more than the auto race and the backyard barbecues. The things we celebrate on the Fourth of July were made possible and made real by the individuals we honor on Memorial Day. This is the first Memorial Day to consider the sacrifices made by 806 young men and women in Iraq and 122 in Afghanistan. We should and indeed must hold each and every one of them dear – for the moment and forever.

Because of sacrifices made we can and do take an awful lot for granted ...but never their lives, frozen in time — forever young.

"I'd like to see the effort we put in observing Memorial Day better spent throughout the entire year. In the United States we spend seven times more preparing for war than we do in educating our children. There's something wrong with that." — Andy Rooney


In Walt Disney’s Bambi, Thumper the Rabbit’s mother
asks Thumper to recall and repeat some important
advice from his father. (Thumper is the rare Disney
character with both a mother and a father.)

Thumper, chagrined and embarrassed, paws the earth
and slowly recites: "If you don't have something nice
to say ...don't say anything at all."

These are difficult words to live by. At the risk of
being glib, Thumper’s dad obviously never had to deal
with LAUSD. Or NCLB. Or any of the rest of the
alphabet soup of edu-speak!

On Tuesday Superintendent Roy Romer delivered his
proposals for restructuring the local districts.

In Romer’s defense he doesn’t want to do this. He
believes the eleven local districts have been effective in
administering LAUSD; he points to successes in
raising student achievement and construction — these
he attributes in part to the local districts.

Critics argue that the local districts are costly
bureaucracies the District cannot afford.

• UTLA, the teacher’s union, savages them as being
eleven fiefdoms of power with inflated budgets and no
• Parents groups – PTA among them – criticize some
local district administrations as being uncommunicative
and non-responsive; instruments that take local control
way from the schools in contravention of their original
• AALA (the principal’s union) President Mike
O’Sullivan simply says the District simply cannot
afford all eleven. He calls for there to be only as many
local districts as LAUSD can afford.

Much of the good news, the test score improvements
and constriction programs, can be directly attributed to
Superintendent Romer’s leadership. He has directed
the eleven local district Superintendents, he has hired
and occasionally fired them. As such they have been
effective tools of his leadership. His single minded
focus on student achievement – and ‘turning the
district around’ has paid off — but at a cost.

In a time of diminished resources his mission is being
questioned. By the school board. By the unions. By
parents. Many believe LAUSD can do even better
with less central control, less bureaucracy — put
principals and school site councils in charge of their
schools and their budgets, place more of a focus on the
classroom and the neighborhood school.

Simply stated: Less adherence to ‘the script’ ...and
more innovation where the instruction meets the

Looking to the long term there is an evolving
opportunity for LAUSD to continue on the forefront
of big city school reform. Proactive, not reactive,
reform. The budget crisis offers an opportunity to
revise the structure of the district to better serve the
community of – excuse my hyperbole – the greatest
city in the world with a program of true educational

* * *

The seven plans the Superintendent grudgingly
delivered to the Board of Education on Tuesday are an
incomplete start. They represent a couple of ways to
go, but they are basically only maps with demographic
data attached. It is obvious that Gov. Romer is
unhappy with the exercise – he unmistakably doesn’t
like any of them! How can he possibly have a favorite?

Tuesday’s plans were drawn up by demographers with
computer mapping software while the superintendent
was on vacation. Nowhere is there any information
about the instructional merits or lack thereof of any of
the schemes.
• What do educators think?
• Which of the blueprints best supports schools?
• Which one is best for local communities, parents,

Two obvious political issues are addressed. The San
Fernando Valley gets its own district(s). And the small
cities of the southeast (South Gate, Maywood, Bell,
Cudahy, etc.) are kept together.

However a couple of the plans don’t even meet the
basic criteria for any redistricting — that districts be
compact and contiguous. Some districts are absurdly
drawn; in four of them the San Fernando Valley is
bisected North and South, seemingly spanning entire
time zones!

And nowhere in the plans is the future addressed!
• Where are the schools we are building?
• How do they fit in?
• Are we planning for July 1, 2004 ...or for the future?

I’m going to ask again: Please, let us have some real
reform in the structure of the District! A Central
office and Local Districts that assist and support
schools – not command and control them. Involve
teachers, administrators and parents in the process.
Allow for dynamic long term planning. Budgetary
reform. Empowerment of principals. True

Please. No more quick fixes.

The seven maps can be viewed here.

and the Daily News:

• From the Los Angeles Times:
By Cara Mia DiMassa and Jean Merl - Times Staff Writers

May 30, 2004 - One year after a slate of candidates backed by the teachers union forged a new majority on the Los
Angeles Board of Education, United Teachers-Los Angeles and its scrappy president are making their political muscle strongly felt and are increasingly clashing with district Supt. Roy Romer.

Turning up the pressure in recent weeks with marches,
speeches and lobbying of school board members, the
union and its president, John Perez, are pushing to
dismantle the Los Angeles Unified School District's
system of 11 administrative subdistricts.

Perez seems headed for at least a partial victory on the
issue. A majority on the seven-member school board
— five of whom were elected with at least some
financial support from UTLA — has voiced support
for reductions in that area. Though insisting that the 11
geographic units are needed, Romer is now offering
backup plans that would cut the number to six, seven
or eight.

Perez, a former government teacher who won the
union presidency in 2002 by a narrow margin, calls
district administrators "fat cats" and "six-figured
bureaucrats" at public meetings. He talks about the
school bureaucracy's "rapacious appetite" and labels
the local districts "the worst example of LAUSD waste
and misplaced priorities."

In an interview last week, he made no apologies for
what he says is his increased activism. His goal, he
said, is to do all he can to protect the 45,000 teachers
and other staffers he represents and their classrooms.
Though teachers have not been laid off, the nearly
$500 million in trims this year from the district's
$5.7-billion operating fund have made teaching more
difficult by cutting into support services and supplies,
he said.

"In a political world, if you do nothing, you get
squashed. We have to play within the political system,"
said Perez, who is running for reelection next year.

Using inflammatory language is sometimes necessary,
he said. "Do I plead? Absolutely, I do. It's in the nature
of the political process."

But others question his tactics and the union's
influence over the board's decisions. They fear that
tense relations between Romer and Perez are spilling
into already tough negotiations over health benefits
and other contract issues.

Perez "does all the political stuff … but he has created
a situation where you can't get anything done," said
Nancy Brown, a teacher who ran the campaign of
Perez's chief competitor for union president, Becki

For Perez, the subdistricts symbolize misplaced
priorities and "all the pressures that have been put on

However, Romer said Perez's campaign against the
subdistricts was "about as irresponsible an act as I can
imagine," with "potentially tragic" consequences. He
believes such a sudden, drastic overhaul would
threaten the academic gains the district has made in the
last few years and disrupt its $14-billion school
construction program.

Designed to bring services closer to campuses, each
subdistrict oversees 59,000 to 80,000 students. For
each local district eliminated, L.A. Unified would save
only about $2 million to $2.25 million in operating
costs, Romer estimated. UTLA officials say the figure
would probably be higher, in part because they believe
many employees would retire rather than accept new,
sometimes lower-paying, assignments at schools.

The subdistricts employ 987 of the district's roughly
75,000 employees, according to L.A. Unified officials.

The union recently sent its members a flier that
portrayed Romer as trying to keep bureaucracy at the
expense of teachers. In an interview last week, the
superintendent called the flier "pure intimidation."

But otherwise, he declined to discuss Perez's tactics.

"I am desperately trying to solve problems for this
district, and this involves negotiating with the union,"
Romer said. "A fundamental problem is that school
board members are elected, so they are dependent on
campaign money. I am trying not to get into that at
this time."

The balance of power on the board has changed
dramatically twice in the last five years.

In 1999, the Coalition for Kids, a civic organization
supported by then-Mayor Richard Riordan and
billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad spent nearly $2
million to get a reform slate elected. That altered the
balance of power, removed some of the teachers
union's sway and led to Romer's hiring in 2000.

But in last year's election, a resurgent UTLA gave
about $1.4 million to candidates in board races,
compared to the $1.1 million spend by the coalition.
Three UTLA-backed candidates — Jon Lauritzen,
Marguerite Poindexter-LaMotte and David Tokofsky
— defeated coalition-backed opponents. They joined
member Julie Korenstein in the majority of
union-backed votes.

Perez then pushed for Jose Huizar — who had
received backing from both UTLA and the coalition
when he was elected to the board in 2001 — to
become president.

According to several board members, the union head
now meets or talks regularly with the board members
that the union backed. (All of the board members
except Poindexter-LaMotte, who was unavailable,
were interviewed for this article.)

Perez calls his frequent interaction with board
members "people of like minds banding together."

Lauritzen said he saw Perez "a couple of times a
week," sometimes on social occasions and sometimes
on business. "He is not afraid to call and give me his

"I don't make decisions based on what the unions have
to say," Lauritzen said. "But when they give me an
opinion, I give it maybe more than a little weight than
the other areas, just from past history."

Board member Marlene Canter, who was not backed
by the union, said UTLA had become more active
behind the scenes, and that had caused more tension.
"It is distressing to see that, when there is so much on
the table to be united about," she said.

Some board members say they have seen UTLA
leaders passing notes to the dais when the board is
considering issues important to the union. "UTLA is
controlling the puppet strings on these board
members," said trustee Mike Lansing, who was
supported by the Coalition for Kids in his reelection
last year.

In recent weeks, Lansing has become increasingly
critical of Perez. At one meeting, the trustee
sarcastically suggested that the board simply replace
Romer with Perez. "I can't speak for the
superintendent," Lansing said in an interview, "but I
think it must be really tough."

The union, he said, should "definitely have influence."
But he said the extent of that influence has become too

After Tokofsky voted to postpone a vote on
Lauritzen's initial motion to dismantle the local
districts altogether, the union urged its members in the
same flier that criticized Romer to contact Tokofsky
and pack upcoming meetings.

That flier, Tokofsky said, contained "brash
manipulations of the truth." The union, he said, made it
seem, incorrectly, that he was blindly supporting the
local districts. In fact, he said, he is interested in
changing the district's top-down approach to
management, no matter how many subdistricts there
are. "That could be in none, or four or six or 11," he

Perez said the union sent the flier in response to
members who were upset about Tokofsky's vote.
"Should I remain deaf, dumb and blind" to members'
complaints, he asked.

Darry Sragow, a Democratic political consultant who
has managed three successful bond measure campaigns
for the district, said union efforts to affect policy didn't
always succeed.

"I know people are cynical about this, but it has been
my experience that once you are in office, no matter
which interest group helped get you there, you are
going to have to thread your way through competing
arguments … or risk being blamed by voters if you
make the wrong choice," he said.

In the months ahead, he said, both Romer and Perez
will be vocal.

"Here you've got two very tough, strong-willed
leaders, and they'll both press hard on the school board
members," Sragow said.

• from the Los Angeles Daily News:
ROMER’S UPHILL BATTLE: LAUSD's chief faces pressure from UTLA

By Jennifer Radcliffe - Staff Writer

Saturday, May 29, 2004 - With just a year left on his
contract, Los Angeles Unified School District
Superintendent Roy Romer faces intense pressure from
the teachers union and its handpicked school board
majority, who are demanding he dismantle the
localized administrative system, pour money into
employee health benefits and weaken teacher

Romer fears union pressure could end up destroying
the legacy he's trying to create by improving test
scores and building $10 billion in new schools in the
once-faltering district.

While supporters note that Romer, as a former
governor of Colorado, is a skilled politician and
negotiator, they worry that the 75-year-old architect of
LAUSD reform will get fed up with interference from
United Teachers Los Angeles and the board it helped

"I've already told him: Do not take an extension in
your contract if this continues. It's not worth your
health. It's not worth your life," board member Mike
Lansing said. "If I were him, I'd tell everybody to go
take a flying leap."

Since Romer took the reins of the LAUSD in July
2000, elementary students' scores have steadily
increased, a districtwide reading program has been
implemented, teacher training has been increased and
schools are being built.

Romer said he's not going to be driven away by the

"I'm not a quitter. If I were a quitter, I would have quit
a long time ago," said Romer, former chairman of the
Democratic National Committee.

He vows not to let the politics get in his way. He said
that while he still wants to preserve LAUSD's 11 local
districts, he's willing to consider a compromise of eight

Any further reduction may threaten the district's
future, he said. The board will decide June 8 whether
to reduce the number of local districts to between four
and eight.

"When somebody starts taking apart the opportunity of
kids getting a better education, I get upset. We've been
making dramatic improvement in the last four years --
I don't want someone to put that in the trash can. I'm
not going to allow that if I can avoid it."

Faced with a $500 million budget shortfall this year,
UTLA has been calling for blood from LAUSD's 11
local districts. The union insists the money could be
better spent at the schools and on teachers' health

UTLA President John Perez said the union turned to
the local districts because they're the most obvious
waste of money. About 10 percent of the district's $5.3
billion budget goes to administrators, he said.

"That's far in excess of what was necessary," Perez
said. "The superintendent should have voluntarily cut
back on the administration."

For months, Romer refused to make anything more
than minor cuts to the local districts, saying they are
needed to oversee construction, implement programs
and serve parents -- especially as new schools are built.

But in a series of emotional board meetings,
union-supported board members laid out their own
plans for restructuring the district.

The union's role was highly visible at those meetings.
Several board members were getting calls and e-mails
and even hand signals with directions from union

"It's so blatant. It's like a baseball game -- people are
giving signals out there. It's ridiculous," Lansing said.
"These guys are puppeteers, and we've got board
members who can't think for themselves."

At one point, West San Fernando Valley board
member Jon Lauritzen, who received nearly $750,000
from UTLA in the last election, moved to conduct the
vote on the massive restructuring when Romer was
scheduled to be out of the country.

Lauritzen said that as a retired teacher, he agrees with
the union. He said he pressured Romer to make him
realize how serious they are about cutting bureaucracy.

"One of the things that this board perceives is that the
superintendent is communicating everything top down.
If we feel the schools should have more autonomy and
less direction from the top, that's what we need to tell
him," Lauritzen said.

"Sometimes he still thinks he's governor."

Union-backed board member Julie Korenstein said that
while she was upset that Romer stalled on offering the
alternatives, she's glad he finally got the message. The
relationship between the board and the superintendent
is now on the upswing, she said.

"I'm feeling better now than I was two or three months
ago, and I think the superintendent is really working
hard to find the best way to resolve the differences."

But board member Marlene Canter maintains that
Romer is being forced into a compromise he doesn't
believe in.

"My feeling is that we hired Roy Romer to implement
our goals and objectives. I'm very uncomfortable when
as superintendent he says, 'This isn't really what I want,
but I have to do this.' You don't want to tie the hands
of the superintendent.

"I look at Roy Romer as a gift to Los Angeles. The
man does not have to do this."

Canter and Lansing are both holding out hope that the
board will vote June 8 to keep the 11 minidistricts.

And with the LAUSD slated to receive an additional
$30 million from finding other savings, some people
think the controversy surrounding the 11-district issue
may be fizzling out.

The extra money is expected to be used to reinstate a
$50-per-student cut, offset health benefit cost
increases and reinstate school nurses and counselors --
all items the union has been fighting for.

Some controversial teacher review programs, called
Red Teams and Learning Walks, may also be
restructured or eliminated to meet other union

"There is a deal to be made that helps the classrooms,
the teachers and the institution. But it may not help to
have the rhetoric continue to be so escalated. It will
require good deal making by the head of the union and
the head of the district," board member David
Tokofsky said.

But some union officials said that a reduction to the
local districts is still needed to show that Romer is
loyal to teachers and students, rather than his army of

"The teachers don't feel that he's been the best friend
we can have," UTLA member Matt Taylor said. "I
think everybody likes the governor. He's a nice man,
but he makes my job way more difficult. He's listening
to administrators instead of us."

For some teachers, the jury is still out on Romer. He's
yet to meet their expectations, but there's still time,
Taylor said.

"You say 'Romer' and people just kind of shrug.
There's still hope that the democratic governor from
Colorado with a nice personality ... would be able to
get in between the factions of the second-largest
district in the nation," he said.

Parent Edwin Ramirez said it would be a shame to cut
the local districts solely because of politics. UTLA is
really only interested in securing the increased cost of
teachers' health benefits, and the board needs to
support Romer, he said.

"The biggest problem the district has it that the board
will not stand up to UTLA," he said. "The board does
not have the courage."


• smf notes: This a story about a math teacher – a truly
outstanding teacher who helps 100% of her at-risk
students meet the federally mandated No Child Left
Behind mathematics standards for 2007 – yet doesn’t
meet the statutory requirement for being ‘highly

Welcome to the Catch 22-land of NCLB, where “highly qualified” equals adequate ...and “excellent” isn’t
good enough! 

• from National Public Radio: May 28, 2004

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: From NPR News, this is

The No Child Left Behind law requires that teachers
be highly qualified in the subjects they teach. For
mathematics teachers, that often means having an
advanced degree in math. Some researchers believe it
takes more than that to be a good teacher, and they
say it's not only an understanding of the subject that
counts but the ability to understand how children learn.
From Ann Arbor, Michigan, Robert Frederick reports
on efforts to find out what mathematical knowledge is
needed to teach math.


Twice in the last four years, Detroit City High School
has had 100 percent of students proficient in
mathematics, meeting the year 2013 goal of No Child
Left Behind policy. Charlene Peak has taught for
35-plus years. She leads the otherwise young math
department at this alternative high school that serves
at-risk students. She says her success comes naturally.

Ms. CHARLENE PEAK: I just have this little knack
of being able to break it down so that the students
really understand it, and then I sit back and I study a
lot. People call me a nerd because if I go out to dinner,
I'm alone, I read a math book. I do math problems.
And it's just that I just have an affinity for math. I love

FREDERICK: But Peak didn't start out as a math
teacher. After an undergraduate degree in English, she
began teaching fourth grade. She then put herself
through two master's degree programs, but neither one
was in teaching math.

Ms. PEAK: When I thought about going back to get a
degree in teaching math, I found that I had been
teaching too long. And a lot of the ideas that they were
giving teachers and the approaches that they were
giving the teachers to me just were not practical. So I
felt that I didn't want to go into a classroom and be
cynical in the classroom and tell the young people the
way it really is in the classroom.

FREDERICK: Teachers who don't have Charlene
Peak's natural knack for teaching math don't stay long
in the classroom. Deborah Ball teaches teachers at the
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She illustrates
one aspect of what a teacher needs to know by looking
at a simple arithmetic problem, 35 multiplied by 25.
The answer is 875.

Ms. DEBORAH BALL (University of Michigan): And
I show mathematicians different methods, all
producing 875, many mathematicians are very, very,
very slow at trying to ascertain whether those other
methods in fact are viable if you were to use them in
general for other numbers. And teachers can't afford to
be all that slow. Or suppose I were to show
mathematicians four different answers now that are not
875. It won't be good enough as a teacher just to say,
`Oh, this is the wrong answer.' It's not useful. As a
teacher you actually have to be able to see, like, what
went wrong.

FREDERICK: How do you teach a teacher how to see
what went wrong? Experts funded by the National
Science Foundation are trying to figure that out. Judith
Ramley of the NSF attended a recent conference on
this topic at the University of Michigan.

Ms. JUDITH RAMLEY (NSF): One of the things
we're learning is that it isn't enough to know the
material. But we're also learning that if you don't know
the material, nothing else will substitute because it's a
necessary condition. The challenge is that that is not
sufficient. They also need to understand how the minds
of young people work and how to diagnose, if you
will, the kinds of tangles kids get into.

FREDERICK: But defining success for math teachers
eventually all comes down to whether students
improve on their math tests. Asked whether teachers
should teach to the test, Ramley quickly responds.

Ms. RAMLEY: One important thing to keep in mind is
that if the test is a good test, there's absolutely nothing
wrong with teaching to the test.

FREDERICK: But, she adds, what is on the test and
whether it is a good test is decided vocally.

Ms. RAMLEY: If teachers are teaching to the test, if
students are spending more time in activities that aren't
really drawing them into thinking more deeply about
mathematics, then maybe it's time to rethink the
choices that those schools are making.

FREDERICK: Back at Detroit City High School,
Charlene Peak wonders if federal No Child Left
Behind policy will let her continue to teach
mathematics. That policy requires her to become
highly qualified by the 2005-2006 school year. But
because she doesn't have a degree in math and she's
not enrolled in an alternative certification program, she
doesn't know what will happen.

Ms. PEAK: As far as myself as being grandfathered in,
will I still be teaching math? I don't know. I might. I've
been pretty lucky, you know, because I find my
principal here and the other principals that I've worked
for over the years have said--thought I was OK. So I
might be all right. Maybe I'll just help the children do
their remedial work. I'll be happy doing that.

FREDERICK: For NPR News, I'm Robert Frederick.

You can hear this story and/or you can try to figure out where students go wrong in some sample math problems on the NPR Website.


• smf asks: Please read the following article from the
Daily News— and then answer: What’s wrong with
this picture?

LA Unified is in the midst of laying-off 60+ attendance
counselors - the folks we used to call “truant officers”
- school district employees who make sure students are
in class.

Attendance in school is good because:
a) it’s the law.
b) it’s a good idea — it keeps children off the streets,
away from TV and out of the malls between
8AM–3PM Monday through Friday.
c) it’s what the taxpayers pay for.
c) education is a good thing.
d) students in seats produce $26 a day for the school
f) all of the above.

If you didn’t answer f.) the test is over. You may put
down your pencil and go out and play.

Attendance counselors make money for the district but
we are letting them go ...and LAUSD wants to boost

The District central office downtown is proposing to
‘reward’ cash strapped schools by giving them half of
the income they might earn in improving student
attendance; improvements they must make without the
assistance of attendance counselors. I’m sorry - but by
grabbing half of the ADA (Average Daily Attendance)
revenue gain the central office is reducing services and
increasing fees. Tea has gone into harbors for less! All
of that ADA increase should go to the school site!

And then there’s this:

• Districtwide student attendance is at 93.5 percent.
• Employee attendance is worse at 93 percent.
• Every missed student day costs LAUSD $26.
• Every missed teacher day costs about $234. for a
substitute teacher plus benefits. And instruction is

Do the math. Maybe some of the attendance
counselors need to be transferred to the employee
attendance department.

• from the Daily News:
LAUSD plans campaign to boost attendance
By Jennifer Radcliffe - Daily News Staff Writer

Thursday, May 27, 2004 -

The Los Angeles Unified School District will launch a
public-awareness campaign this summer to increase
high school attendance by 2 percent -- an effort to
increase student achievement and raise LAUSD's state
revenue by $30 million.

The campaign will be the first step aimed at improving
what district leaders consider a dismal attendance rate
of 89.9 percent for high schoolers, compared to 93.5
percent districtwide.

LAUSD's high school attendance rate is nearly 5
percentage points below the rates of Fresno, San
Francisco and Long Beach.

"This is something we're going to have to tighten up
very quickly," said Tim Buresh, chief operating officer.
"Kids that are gone more will not learn as much. Those
kids will fail because of that."

Improving attendance is also a quick way to increase
revenue. The state gives LAUSD about $26 a day for
each of its 750,000 student who attend class.

District leaders said they'd also like develop a policy
that punishes students who miss too many classes and
create a program that awards extra revenue to schools
that post attendance gains.

The proposals come on top of a recent move to crack
down on employee absenteeism. About 7 percent of
employees miss work on any given day, costing
LAUSD about $430 million a year.

As of Thursday morning, 800 teachers had already
called in sick for today, which sets a bad example for
students, Buresh said.

"As the adults on campus behave, so do the children,"
he said.

The focus on employee and student absenteeism
follows another round of budget cuts. LAUSD has
chopped more than $1 billion from its budget in the
past 18 months, and more reductions are expected to

LAUSD hopes to enlist the help of the Los Angeles
Dodgers as part of the public-awareness campaign.
They plan to ask the team to post messages and make
announcements during a July game, reminding parents
to make sure their children go to school.

Under the proposal, the district will also give schools
who post gains 50 percent of the additional revenue.
Schools will be able to chose how to spend that

"One of the reasons I'd like to see the (school) board
get on board with the campaign is that this is where we
can encourage parents to get involved," board member
Jon Lauritzen said. "Here's a positive thing they can
do: Just increase attendance at their school and they'll
have more revenue coming in."

To make the effort a success, however, Lauritzen said
the district must offer secondary students classes that
interest them. Too often, students feel that school is
irrelevant, he said.

"So many of them feel like they're in a dead-end
situation and they just quit coming to school," he said.

The most aggressive part of LAUSD's plan asks the
board to craft a policy that says students will fail their
classes if they have too many absences -- a policy
many districts already have.

"It's time we contemplate exactly that type of policy
here," Buresh said.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
note: the LAUSD Facilities Calendar was unavailable at this writing. Check it out at:


A free seminar designed for LAUSD parents/guardians to encourage student achievement is scheduled Saturday, June 5, from 8 a.m.-noon at Wilmington Middle School, 1700 Gulf Ave., in Wilmington. The topic to be discussed is "How to Be an Informed Parent."

Los Angeles Board of Education member Marlene Canter from District 4 will be the keynote speaker.

The event, presented by the LAUSD's Beyond The Bell Branch, in partnership with The School Volunteer Program, is part of the E-Factor Series: "Educate, Energize & Empower." A Continental Breakfast and Translation will be provided.

details: The School Volunteer Program
333 S. Beaudry Avenue, Suite B2-216
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Phone: 213-241-6900
Fax: 213-241-8974
Phone: 212.241.4700
Phone: 213.633.7616


4LAKids Book Club for April & May – LETTERS TO THE NEXT PRESIDENT: What We Can do about the Real Crisis in Public Education
Carl Glickman, Editor, Prologue by Bill Cosby,
Epilogue by The Late U. S. Senator Paul Wellstone (Teachers College Press, 2004 Paperback: 272 pages)

• KIDS, HERE’S A FINE MESS THEY’VE GOTTEN US INTO - from the prologue by Bill Cosby

Dear President-to-Be,

I'm looking at the junkiest room I've ever seen. It is a classroom in an American public school; it is public education in America today. A child did not make the room junky; generations of litterers — legislators, school board members, superintendents, principals, taxpayers, teachers and presidents did.

Given the mess, it is a wonder that our children are able to do even as well as they do. We must be grateful that there always have been talented and determined teachers who find their way through the maze of rules and special interests and do what they became teachers to do: help their students shine.

Our neighborhood schools are cluttered and crumbling. Of course, I'm assuming that anyone
applying to be president probably never went to a poor and neglected public school where books have missing pages, walls have peeling paint and children have nothing to write with. Wealthy people comfort themselves that money is not the issue. But nothing dear to America was ever maintained without it. We need money to secure great teachers, money to update teaching methods, money for technology and supplies, and money for time.

Time is a precious commodity and teachers need it to plan lessons and meet with students, parents and administrators.

When the junk is cleaned out of that junky room, its structure is sound: Public education is a good foundation on which to build a better life for each of us. And if we want to prove to these children who never made the mess in the first place that education is worth the trouble, our schools have to inspire them so they can do what they ought to do.

A young teacher, returning to college to hone her skills, asks herself why she wants to teach children who do not have a safe environment to learn in and who lack resources and support from administrators and family. Besides her intrinsic love for teaching, we need to give her a reason to stay.

We must make firm commitments to educators who can show us the way, and learn from the many clear examples of their success. The media constantly focus our attention on the very worst schools when we should really have before us, like shining examples, these school success stories. Why do we accept failure as an example when we can demand that the successes be made visible?

School leaders have to be seen to be heard and to be supported. And we ought to pay them livable salaries, at least enough to afford the chalk and crayons and countless other supplies they buy out of their own pockets. I invite you to look into this room. You can say to our nation, "We must begin — we cannot wait
for someone else to clear out the mess."

• This stellar collection of more than 30 letters speaks to the heart of public education, the future of American students, and the need for an educated and engaged citizenry. Contributors include students, parents, teachers, prominent educators, and public
leaders who write to our next president, and to all fellow citizens, in an honest and direct way about the dangerous shortcomings of current state and federal policies. The letters provide provocative answers to
critical questions such as:

• What kind of education do we want for all of our children?
• What changes must we make to achieve that goal?
• How do we ensure that the voices of parents,
teachers, students, and citizens who care deeply about public education are heard at local, state, and national levels?

This timely volume provides a strong response to government intrusions that have resulted in thousands of pages of simplistic directives and under-funded requirements for local schools and districts. It offers practical and just solutions for guaranteeing higher standards with comprehensive assessments, allocating
equitable resources with responsible local control; attracting and retaining good teachers; improving school choice and the promise of small schools; providing for universal high quality early childhood education, and ensuring a rich, academically sound and engaging curriculum-both inside and outside of school—for all students.

Get LETTERS TO THE NEXT PRESIDENT from your local library, bookstore - or order it by clicking here.

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, May 23, 2004

4LAKids: Sunday, May 23rd, 2004

No News is Really Not Enough News ...but it fits.

It’s been a little slow at the ol’ LAUSD this past week
— slow after the recent excitement over the school
district budget and restructuring the local districts. Of
course, the budget isn’t solved ....and the mini-districts
aren’t resolved.

The Governor has delivered his May revision to the
state budget. It, or something appallingly close to it,
will undoubtedly pass the legislature. There’s not
enough money, but there’s more then we thought
there’d be.

We find ourselves in the meteorologically
metaphorical eye of the storm. The Superintendent is
on vacation. The School Board President will soon be
off on vacation. The County Office of Education waits.
Principals and School Site Councils wait. 750,000 kids
wait. We wait.

Q: Will the number of mini-districts be reduced?
A: Almost certainly.

Q: How many will remain?
A: Somewhere between 4 and 6 seems to be the
conventional wisdom; my guess would be 6 rather than
4. 5 is a compromise number.

Q: What will this mean?
A: That remains to be seen. If the mini-districts
become support structures for the schools - with true
decision making at the school site, principals
empowered and accountable, etc. – true reform of
LAUSD just might be in the wings! I’m not holding
my breath.

Q: What about the budget?
A: There apparently has been some creative
budgeteering at 333 S. Beaudry and some ‘unidentified
funds’ have been ‘identified’ to save some counseling
positions in secondary schools. That’s a good thing.
Hopefully the same can be said about school
psychologists and nurses. There certainly is sympathy
on the Board to return all or most of the $50 per
student back to the schools. Hopefully that money will
be returned unencumbered — hopefully it won’t come
with the “you save the counselors, psychologists and
nurses you want so badly” string attached!

It is, as they say in B-Movies: “Quiet. ....too Quiet!”

Memos with small bits of good news go out from
mini-district offices. Mostly it’s all about waiting for
the Board meeting on June 8th.

The District is in the middle of testing, that will keep a
lot of folks occupied. The new school year starts in
five weeks for year ‘round schools — and they don’t
know what their budget will look like, what their final
staffing numbers look like, how many reams of Xerox
paper and cases of paper towels and #2 pencils they
will have until June 9th at the best!

The District is beginning it’s roll out of Full Day
Kindergarten on July 1st in some schools — with a
commitment for districtwide implementation in four
years. This is probably the most important educational
initiative ever undertaken in LAUSD. The voters voted
$100 million dollars for this in Measure R and two
things are quite apparent.

1. There isn’t a budget or a plan on how to use that
money - and not one cent of bond funds can be spent
without both being done in advance.

2. $100 million isn’t going to be enough.

And in addition to the money ...the mission is being
questioned. LAUSD is too large to roll out a program
as big as FDK universally ...and I agree — we have to
start somewhere. But I’m not happy with the level of
planning to date, we seem just one or two steps
removed from ‘making it up as we go along’. Next
yaers kindergarteners deserve better!
[See: FDK: When 'Fair' Goes Too Far]

So, what can you do?

• Phone, write, e-mail your Board Member and the

• Ask for/Request/Plead for/Demand real reform in
LAUSD/The Budget/Full Day K. And in the Local
Districts. And at your school. With local accountability
and local control. Ask how principals and teachers can
possibly be held accountable when the decisions are
made elsewhere? Ask questions. Require answers.

• Ask that the decision making process in school
district reform/restructuring be opened up, that we –
the parents, the community, taxpayers, the public – be
engaged in it. Ask for a School District that is ours,
one we can work with and make this city proud of.

• Advocate for Kids. Plan to come on down to the
Board of Education on Tuesday June 6th at 1PM !

LA Times Editorial: FULL DAY K – When 'Fair' Goes Too Far
Editorial: May 23, 2004

The decision by Los Angeles school officials to offer
full-day kindergarten this fall seems a no-brainer.
Research shows that the extended classes deliver
benefits that last for years. The district has set aside
$100 million to pay for the additional classrooms, and
the school board voted 6 to 0 to begin phasing in the
popular classes next semester. So why did Supt. Roy
Romer have to plead in Sacramento for the program's
life? Because full-day kindergarten is the latest symbol
in a debate over how far an academically struggling
district such as Los Angeles Unified should bend to
balance benefits and burdens across its large, diverse
student body.

In this case, crowded inner-city schools won't be able
to offer the longer day program because they have no
room for expanded classes. Less-crowded schools will
start full-day kindergarten this fall, thanks to a waiver
from the state Board of Education exempting the
program from laws requiring equitable treatment of all
students. Is that fair? No. Is it a good decision?

The district plans full-day kindergarten at every school
within four years. Among the 180 schools in the first
round are most of the best-performing elementary
campuses, but officials promise that the next group
will include more struggling schools. That imperfect
solution reflects the reality of balancing needs in a
district that draws children from million-dollar homes
in the Palisades and converted garages in Pacoima.

The challenge is to equalize opportunity for deprived
kids without alienating the middle-income families who
had stayed with the district..

Fifteen years ago, every school in the district was put
on a year-round schedule to share the burden of

Later, fundraising at individual schools was limited to
keep wealthier neighborhoods from shoring up
academic programs beyond what schools in poor
neighborhoods could afford.* Both moves cost the
district middle-class support. More than three-quarters
of district students now come from homes so poor that
they get free or reduced-price school lunches. The
district's school-building program, however, has
middle-class parents taking a second look at public
schools; full-day kindergarten would be another lure.

Studies show that full-day kindergarten helps children
learn faster and perform better for years. Poor,
immigrant children benefit most, and United
Teachers-Los Angeles has argued that their schools
ought to get full-day kindergarten first.

"Again, the 'haves' get help and the 'have nots' don't,"
complains teachers union official Mike Dreebin. "What
do you tell those parents [at overcrowded campuses]
who know there are schools in other parts of the
district that will have the classes and they won't?"

More damaging to the district itself, however, would
be telling other parents that their children can't have a
proven beneficial program because a school across
town doesn't yet have space.

* I don’t think that ‘every school in the district’ was
ever really put on a year-round schedule! And limits on
fundraising, though contemplated, have never been
enforced in LAUSD. —smf

TESTING ...1 ...2: One Poor Test Result: Cheating Teachers
Reseda School Puts Character Above Scores

smf notes: This story - about adults cheating on student’s tests - has been covered previously as a national story in 4LAKids; this coverage brings it home.

The truth is that the tests really no longer simply measure student achievement, they gauge teachers, principals and school districts! Still, with CAT6 testing underway in LAUSD, these storys bring home just how important standardized
testing has become ...with just a bit of the film@eleven/ sweeps week/eyewitness news’ dramatic intensity!


By Erika Hayasaki - LA Times Staff Writer

May 21, 2004 - One cheater whispered answers in
students' ears as they took the exam. Another
photocopied test booklets so students would know
vocabulary words in advance. Another erased score
sheets marked with the wrong answers and substituted
correct ones.

None of these violations involving California's
standardized tests were committed by devious
students: These sneaky offenders were teachers.

Since a statewide testing program began five years
ago, more than 200 California teachers have been
investigated for allegedly helping students on state
exams, and at least 75 of those cases have been
proved, according to documents obtained by The

Most cases have led to reprimands and warnings that
future scores will be monitored, but a few teachers
have been fired or have resigned, say school
administrators and union officials.

Some educators say teacher cheating comes as no
surprise, given increased anxiety surrounding state
tests and the federal use of them under the No Child
Left Behind law.

While students may want to do well on those tests to
please parents or avoid remedial classes, their regular
report cards are more important. But principals
pressure teachers to work on raising scores not just for
bragging rights. The staff of a school with consistently
bad results can be reassigned and federal funding can
be withheld.

"Some people feel that they need to boost test scores
by hook or by crook," said Larry Ward of the National
Center for Fair and Open Testing, a watchdog group
that has criticized many standardized tests. "The more
pressure, the more some people take the unethical

Nearly 2,500 pages of documents from a Public
Records Act request detail cases of teachers allowing
extra time, erasing and changing score sheets, reading
answers and dropping hints during tests.

Some records include detailed investigations but omit
the teachers' names and possible punishment. Others
identify only the district and campus. Some cases were
blatant, while others were found to be a result of
confusion over testing rules.

According to state documents, incidents in the last five
years include the following:

• In the San Joaquin Valley's Merced County, a
third-grade Planada School District teacher gave hints
to answers and left a poster on a wall that also
provided clues.

• In the Inland Empire, a Rialto Unified School
District third-grade teacher admitted telling students:
"You missed a few answers; you need to go back and
find the ones you missed." A student reported that the
teacher looked over pupils' shoulders and told them
how many questions were wrong.

• Near the Mexican border, in the El Centro
Elementary School District, a principal asked a student
why he had erased so many answers. The student
responded that the teacher had told him to "fix them."

• In El Monte, a Mountain View School District
eighth-grade teacher admitted using the board to
demonstrate a math problem and saying, "This is a silly
answer. If you marked this one, erase it and pick
another." Records stated that the teacher "said she was
very sorry and wept during the interview."

• In the Ontario-Montclair School District, a student
told investigators that a teacher read 10 math answers.
One student said he handed his test booklet to that
teacher and then went back to change five answers
after the teacher said, "Why don't you try again?"

• Near Salinas, a Hollister School District teacher
admitted changing about 15 answers.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, testing
official Esther Wong said her office investigated three
to four potential teacher cheating cases a year. Most
cases were cleared after inquiries showed that "there
were just as many erasures from wrong to right as
right to wrong."

Several years ago at L.A. Unified's Banning High
School in Wilmington, one teacher resigned and a
dozen were disciplined after they showed exam copies
to students before testing.

Statewide, most testing "irregularities" are detected by
a computer analysis flagging classes with unusually
high numbers of erased answers. Investigations can
also start with tips from parents, students or staff.

"People are paying more attention to it in local
districts," Bill Padia, director of policy and evaluation
for the state Department of Education, said of
potential cheating by teachers.

California allows districts to determine punishments,
and most districts, citing privacy, do not disclose those

"I'm sure there are some districts who don't take it as
seriously as others, but we don't get involved," said
Les Axelrod of the state Education Department.

Beverly Tucker, California Teachers Assn. chief
counsel for 16 years, said the number of teachers her
office defended against allegations of cheating had
risen. She could recall one or two cases stemming
from the decade before the current testing began.
Since 1999, she estimated, the union has defended
more than 100.

"It's serious," Tucker said. "And I can understand
there might be cases where dismissal is warranted
because of a blatant violation…. Teachers really are
supposed to model appropriate behavior for children."

Under a previous testing program, cheating was
discovered at 40 elementary schools statewide in 1985.
L.A. Unified that year turned up 11 additional schools
where teachers changed answers or coached during the

California Teachers Assn. President Barbara Kerr said
that the union didn't excuse cheating but that she felt
bad for teachers who broke rules under what she
described as "horrendous" pressure.

"We have gone to such extremes — where your whole
life and existence is measured by one test — that the
pressure is on the kids, the pressure is on the teachers,
the publicity is so overblown," she said.

Financial rewards for higher scores used to be
distributed to schools and teachers, but that ended in
2002 amid budget cuts.

Low scores can still bring trouble, however. So far the
state has intervened at 56 schools with poor scores,
shaking up staffs. The federal government has warned
11 California campuses that they could lose funding or
face other sanctions.

State education officials contend that the numbers of
proven cases are small in a state with more than
200,000 teachers.

But a study in Chicago schools suggested that teacher
cheating might occur in 4% to 5% of classrooms.
Harvard professor Brian Jacob and University of
Chicago professor Steven Levitt made that estimate
last year after analyzing more than 700,000 students'

Jacob and Levitt also found that teacher cheating
increased after the 1996 introduction of high-stakes
testing and that cheating was likely if a class performed
poorly in a prior year.

Jacob suggested that districts implement security
measures, such as more proctors, random auditing and
some retesting.

California officials concede that they are not doing
much to curb cheating.

"We don't go out and do our own investigations; we
don't have a staff to do that," said Axelrod of the
Education Department. "If we had a proctor in class,
we would need another 200,000 people. Who is going
to pay for that?"

In Marin County, the San Rafael City School District
found that a teacher in 2001 repeatedly read questions
to her five classrooms during Stanford 9 math exams,
helped students with problems on scratch paper and
gave some answers.

Davidson Middle School Principal Ed Colucci thinks
the teacher desperately wanted the students to do well,
but he said that was no excuse. The teacher was fired.
"Stress is nothing worth losing your job over," he said.
"Tests are supposed to measure what kids are
learning…. But don't fudge it."

In 2001, the state flagged test results for five
Bakersfield classrooms with a lot of erasures. District
officials concluded that three teachers had coached
students to change answers.

Marvin Jones, director of research and evaluation for
the district, said the teachers' explanations included not
understanding the rules, "everybody does it" and "I
was trying to help the students do what I knew the
students can do."

The teachers were not fired — partly because "we
have unions to deal with," he said. "I hear a lot of
people say that the pressure to get high test scores is
so high that it drives people to use desperate


By Erika Hayasaki and Christiana Sciaudone - LA Times Staff Writers

May 23, 2004 - At Cleveland High School, students
sign "commitment to character contracts" promising to
be responsible citizens, and weekly awards are made to
recognize good deeds, honesty and responsibility.

So news last week that dozens of California teachers
had helped students cheat on state exams did not go
over well.

"I would expect more from a teacher," said Deborah
Hefter, 18. "It seems ridiculous that a teacher would
do this."

Students and teachers at the Reseda campus know
about the pressures of testing. On Friday, they
celebrated the end of a grueling week of standardized
state exams, the same kind of tests that had prompted
investigations of more than 200 teachers, with 75
proven cases of cheating over five years.

According to state records, teachers on some
campuses across California have allowed extra time,
erased and changed score sheets, read answers and
dropped hints during state tests.

The Cleveland students don't care much for the exams
— they complained about having been holed up in a
classroom all week. Unlike Advanced Placement or
college placement exams that directly affect their
education, some said, they see little point in a state

"I think it's a waste of time," said Masha Grigoryan,
16. "It's really tedious."

But their teachers have tried to impress upon them the
importance of the tests. Under state and federal
education codes, a school can lose funding or teachers
can be reassigned if scores are consistently poor.

"We know how big an issue it is; it's a huge pressure,"
social studies teacher Danielle Aucoin said.

Still, among students and staff there was little empathy
for cheaters. Those teachers "are being hypocrites
because they punish students for cheating off of each
other," Grigoryan said. "I don't think cheating is
acceptable in anything, whether it's a game, or a test or

Assistant Principal Barbara Garry agrees.

"Cheating is always unconscionable. Nothing is worse
than losing your professional or personal integrity,"
she said.

The campus daily emphasizes ethics as part of a
program begun three years ago by local district Supt.
Bob Collins, who oversees the southwest San
Fernando Valley area of the Los Angeles Unified
School District. Collins requires all 77,000 students in
the subdistrict to sign the so-called character contracts,
promising to be responsible citizens.

Cleveland Principal Allan Wiener said he makes
regular announcements over the public address system
about the importance of good character. And when
teachers spot students on his campus displaying
exemplary behavior — good sportsmanship, good
manners, peacemaking efforts — they recommend
them for recognition in the weekly award program.

Students who violate certain school rules may be
assigned to read a book or story with an ethical
message and write an essay about it instead of being
suspended, Weiner said.

Before state tests are held, Wiener holds assemblies to
tell students how important the exams are to the
school's reputation and to warn them not to cheat. "It's
not worth it to look at someone else's paper or ask for
answers," Wiener said he tells students. "The
consequences are too great."

He said he expects the same ethical behavior from

He reviews testing rules with them, too: no reading
aloud of test questions more than once; no translation
of questions into other languages; no posters, books or
other items in the classroom that might contain hints
about answers. Question books and answer sheets
must be turned in to authorities immediately when
testing time ends.

Many students and staff at Cleveland said the demands
to boost test scores probably pushed some teachers to
bend rules.

"I don't think it's right, and I would never do it,"
Aucoin said, "but at the same time, there's so much
pressure with testing and getting kids to take it

That's no excuse, said Stacey Klein, 18. "They are role
models. If kids see their teachers cheating, they are
likely to do so themselves."

THE ELECTION: Kerry Accuses Bush of Plans to Cut Education Funding

Don't look now ....but there's politics in public education! Who woulda thunk it?

By Michael Finnegan - LA Times Staff Writer

May 21, 2004 - PHILADELPHIA — Democratic
presidential hopeful John F. Kerry hammered President
Bush on Thursday for proposing cuts to federal
programs that ease access to college for students from
low-income families.

Kerry's attack was the latest variation on his broader
argument that Bush had failed to provide enough
federal money to sustain the education reforms that he
signed into law two years ago.

To illustrate his case, the Massachusetts senator
campaigned Thursday at a local high school where
students told him how the college-preparation
programs had helped them.

Kerry faulted Bush and his supporters for portraying
themselves as "trying to help kids and help education"
even as they tried to cut those programs.

"There's such a disconnect between the truth and their
talk, and what's really happening to young people,"
said Kerry, who for months has fought charges of
inconsistencies in his own record on education and
other issues.

Kerry's visit to the school was one of a string of recent
stops designed to keep his campaign focused on
schools, healthcare and jobs at a time when Bush was
immersed in the crises in Iraq.

Since Monday, the presumptive Democratic nominee
has touted his record on civil rights and affirmative
action — themes with potential appeal to African
Americans and other minority voters.

In an interview Thursday with the Philadelphia affiliate
of Univision, a Spanish-language television network,
Kerry said he would "guarantee the continued
enforcement of the set-asides, the minority-business
funding, the affirmative action efforts, the procurement
programs that empower people to be able to achieve
wealth, to do better in business, and to break into the

At Philadelphia's Edison High School where he
campaigned Thursday, 97% of the students enrolled
are Latino or black. In a speech to hundreds of
cheering students on bleachers in the gymnasium, he
framed his support for more college preparation
programs as partly a matter of race.

"In America, only 18% of African Americans have a
college degree, and only about 14% of Latinos have a
college degree, but we need to change that," he said.
"We need to make certain that every young person
who wants to go to college can go to college in the
United States of America."

Minority voters are a central part of the Democratic
Party base, and Kerry's hopes for winning the White
House depend partly on his success in mobilizing them
in Philadelphia, Detroit, Miami and other cities in the
most hotly contested states.

His criticism of Bush on Thursday stemmed from the
president's proposed cuts in federal spending on
GEAR UP, an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness
and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. The
programs help low-income students prepare for
college and navigate the admissions and financial-aid
process with tutoring, mentoring, college visits and

Kerry, however, told the students that it was
"inconsistent" for Bush to tell Americans, "We're
going to leave no child behind," and then "make
choices to cut programs like this, or to starve them so
that they can't do the full job."

Kerry, who has proposed a $200-million increase in
spending on GEAR UP, said Bush last year had
proposed a $70-million cut.

Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for Bush's reelection
campaign, said annual funding for the
college-preparation programs has risen from $295
million to $298 million since Bush took office in 2001.

According to the GEAR UP website, the
administration has proposed freezing the program's
budget at $298 million in fiscal 2005.

Schmidt cited a rise in overall federal funding for
education — a total of 48% since Bush became

Kerry, he said, voted for the president's signature No
Child Left Behind education reforms, "but now attacks
it daily on the campaign trail, not out of principle, but
out of cold political calculation, and that is a consistent
theme of the Kerry campaign."

CENTER TO AID TEEN MOTHERS: Facility to serve students, low-income families

By Jennifer Radcliffe - Daily News Staff Writer

Friday, May 21, 2004 - Bright plastic dump trucks are already positioned in the sandboxes and finger paints are waiting on the knee-high tables.

All the Cleveland Early Education Center needs are some toddlers to come do the dirty work.

As soon as its first class of youngsters enrolls, the $6 million center will provide child care on the Cleveland High School campus for teenage mothers enrolled in the school, as well as children of low-income families in the community. The Los Angeles Unified School District has seven similar facilities, including one at San Fernando High School.

"They identified the surrounding area as a critical-need area for child care," Cleveland High School Principal Allan Weiner said. "There's a lot of adults who have children between the ages of 2 and 5 who cannot work because they can't afford to pay for child care."

The center will open to 18 infants, whose mothers are students at Cleveland High, and 120 preschoolers of low-income parents who are working, going to school or searching for jobs.

Teenage parents who send their babies to the center will be taught about nutrition and parenting techniques. They are required to be involved with the center and their children.

Workers hope that portion of the program will help young mothers finish high school and spread the message to their peers that being a parent isn't easy.

In Los Angeles County, the number of births to teenage girls ages 15 to 19 dropped by more than 3,000 from 1997 to 2001 -- from 18,645 to 15,550, according to a report last week.

"We're not saying it's great, but since it's happened to you, we're going to support you," said Karen Bowles, principal of the new Cleveland Early Education Center.

The LAUSD has 103 early education centers that help prepare about 12,000 children for school. The state provides $106 million for the centers and the school district chips in an additional $5 million, said Carmen Schroeder, assistant superintendent of the early childhood education division.

While only a small fraction of the service targets teenage parents, it's an important component, Schroeder said.

"If we don't have this kind of program, the girls don't go to school," she said. "We want to support our teen moms to help them get their diplomas."

The infant program, which is limited to Cleveland High students, is expected to open in September. The preschool program will open when a class fills, but enrollment is off to a slow start, officials said.

Bowles said she's confident it will pick up once neighbors learn that the center is ready to open.

"We're not worried. We know they'll come," she said. "As the word gets out, it won't take long to fill up."

For more information on the Cleveland Early Education Center, call (818) 718-9420.

Monday, May 17, 2004

4LAKids Special: Brown@50 • May 17 1954 — 2004


“We conclude that in the field of public education the
doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate
educational facilities are inherently unequal.” —

Brown v. Board of Education

“A person’s a person. No matter how small.” —

Today, April 17th, 2004 is the fiftieth anniversary of
the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. This year is Dr. Seuss’ one
hundredth birthday as well — and the fiftieth
anniversary of the publication of “Horton Hears a

Brown v. School Board is a watershed in United
States history. And no contemporary commentator
better distilled the moral of Brown than Seuss’
character Horton the elephant.

The Supreme Court, in ruling that the doctrine of
separate-but-equal was unconstitutional, overruled it’s
own previous ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson and reversed
the official national acceptance of racial segregation.
After Brown the national policy regarding race was
integration. It would be wonderful to write that Brown
decided this once and for all, obviously that is not true.
We have had Montgomery, Selma, Watts and South
Boston; Rosa Parks, Dr. King and Rodney King;
Malcolm X and Faubus, Wallace, Thurmond and Co.
Fifty years later were are still living with racial
injustice, discrimination and outright racism. It’s just
not policy ...but it is institutional.

If you doubt this, read the op-ed that follows: “What’s
today’s vocabulary word?” – from last Saturday’s LA

Earl Warren’s Supreme Court was an interpreter of its
times, as much so as the court was in 1898 for Plessy.
By 1954 the military services were integrated.
Professional sports were integrated. California schools
(Warren was the former governor of California) were
integrated by the federal courts in Mendez v
Westminster in 1945— if not the precident, surely the

Although “Horton Hears a Who” was published after
the Brown decision in August of ‘54 — Horton's story
takes precident: “On the fifteenth of May, in the jungle
of Nool, In the heat of the day, in the cool of the

Brown’s impact on race and civil rights was
monumental; the effect on public education no less so.

Brown was decided at the peak of the Baby Boom –
when schools were already bursting at the seams. The
inevitable effect was white flight – and not just in the
South and border states. Some public school systems
dissolved rather than integrate. Some communities
resisted – Little Rock being the most famous – but for
the most part the withdrawal of White middle class to
the suburbs and/or private education – and their
support of public education in general – was quietly

Some students of education policy believe that it was
Brown and the ‘Brown Backlash’ that triggered the
decline on education funding – and the subsequent
decline in public education in this country. The so
called “golden age’ of public education (“Golden age?”
Pu-lease – I was there!) in the late fifties/early sixties
was played out against the public reaction to Brown
and forced busing.. As attendance dropped –
occasioned by White flight and the decline in the birth
rate – we as a society reduced our support for public
education, we stopped passing school bonds and
building and adequately funding schools. By the time
Prop 13 passed California Schools were already in
decline. And who wants to pay for a failing system? Or
consent decrees? Especially if its for ‘other people’s

Brown was rightly decided; the court spoke the truth
with an awesome and awful clarity. But human nature
is human nature and racism in all its forms is ugly – no
good deed goes unpunished. Lincoln turned a phrase
as well as anyone since Shakespeare and his appeal to
‘the better angels of our nature’ puts the human
experience in it’s best perspective: We are only at our
best when we listen to their quiet voices.

Fifty years later it’s time to undo the unintended
consequences of Brown; not in the courts, but in our

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“I’ve got to protect them. I’m bigger than they.”
So he plucked up the clover and hustled away.
Through the high jungle tree tops, the news quickly spread:
“He talks to a dust speck! He’s out of his head!
Just look at him walk with that speck on the flower!”
And Horton walked, worrying, almost an hour.
“Should I put this speck down?…” Horton thought with alarm.
“If I do, these small persons may come to great harm.
I can’t put it down. And I won’t! After all
A person’s a person. No matter how small.”

Brown–9 : Info on Mendez v. Westminster

Horton@50: "Horton Hears a Who"

BROWN@50: What’s Today’s Vocubulary Word: C-R-I-M-I-N-A-L

By Kerri Ullucci

May 15, 2004

The bullhorn blares across the yard. Young Latinos
and African Americans quickly scan their
surroundings, noticing the many faces that watch them.
A chain-link fence, 20 feet high, surrounds them on
three sides. Dutifully, they fall into place in line. Heads
up, hands clasped behind their backs, shoulders
straight. Most know better than to talk. A few test the
rules and murmur among themselves. "You're wasting
my time!" barks the attendant. Rumpled play dollars
are doled out to the well behaved; order is maintained
through this token economy. Thus begins their day.

A day at boot camp? A day in juvenile hall?

No. This is elementary school. First grade. Our
inmates are 6 years old. They are not criminals. Small
and wiry, these are children whose usual offenses are
pulling braids or not sharing Hot Cheetos. The children
must walk in straight lines. Hands must remain behind
their backs, as though in handcuffs. The high fences
separate them from the outside, physically and

What does it mean when you are 6 and your school is
run like a prison?

It is lunchtime. The students are herded through line,
picking up their cardboard trays of chicken nuggets
and milk. Eating must be done in silence. Misbehaving
children face a "three-strikes-you're-out" policy." The
same policy that puts many neighborhood men in jail is
also used to deny chattering children recess. A teacher
bends over to help a girl open her ketchup. An
administrator reprimands her for being too soft with
the child. "You are enabling her dependency," he

In the years I have worked in public schools in
South-Central Los Angeles, it is hard not to notice
how schools are run like prisons. Or how the language
we use to talk about these children assumes
criminality. It is hard to ignore that this is the way we
speak in this place. The vocabulary of prison is not
used with wealthy children. Such practices are not
used in private schools. Where do we learn that it is
OK to treat children of color like this?

Educators and parents expect their children to be well
behaved and respectful. But there are distinct
differences between teaching children internal control
and self-regulation and treating them as if they are
incapable of controlling themselves. This prison model
insists that the only way to maintain order is through
coercion, manipulation and threats. We must ask
ourselves what a system like this prepares children for.

In 2000, there were 188,500 more African American
men in state and federal prison systems and local jails
than in higher education, according to a Justice Policy
Institute report.

There are many social forces and individual choices
that shape such outcomes, but I can't help but think
how far back this path begins. I am not suggesting that
the language used in first grade equals a one-way
ticket to San Quentin, but the link between how we
treat children of color in schools and current statistics
must be noted.

We provide these children with the bare minimum of
resources, in dilapidated facilities, surrounded by
communities that have been abandoned by the city. We
then fill the children up with the language of
criminality. Children will rise to the level educators ask
of them. By using such language and adhering to such
policies are schools simply creating a self-fulfilling


Kerri Ullucci teaches at Cal State Los Angeles and has
trained new teachers in the Los Angeles school system.

BROWN@50: More on Brown v. Board of Education

BROWN@50: L.A.'s Busing Battles – Mandatory school integration polarized communities

By Jennifer Radcliffe - Los Angeles Daily News Staff

Saturday, May 15, 2004 -

Deborah Mack dreaded waking up at the crack of
dawn to catch a school bus that took an hour to
transport her and other African-American and minority
students to Westwood Elementary School.

The 8-year-old didn't understand why the school just
minutes away from her Mid-City home in Lafayette
Square wasn't as good as her new school in West Los

"I would always ask, why can't we go to the
neighborhood schools and make them better?" recalls
Mack, 42, who is now an aide to Rep. Juanita
Millender-McDonald, D-Torrance.

"I didn't get all the bigger political implications."

Mack was taking part in a voluntary Los Angeles
Unified School District busing program in the 1970s
designed to give African-American and other minority
students an opportunity for a better education.

But a few years later, when the courts mandated
busing for tens of thousands of students in an
ambitious attempt to integrate Los Angeles public
schools, it created one of the most polarized political
climates in the city's history.

Coming more than two decades after the Supreme
Court's landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education
decision, L.A.'s short-lived mandatory busing
experiment infuriated both white and minority
communities, which objected to sending children to
schools in distant neighborhoods.

Although now viewed largely as a failure, the program
that ran from 1978 to 1981 was seen at the time as a
chance to set an example for the nation.

"With just a few things being different, L.A. could
have been the place where (integration) really
happened," said Rita Walters, who served on the
school board from 1979 to 1991.

"But the coming together of those (anti-busing) groups
managed to create a climate of fear. The fear they had
was just not justified, in my opinion, but it served to
frighten a lot of people."

Bobbi Fiedler, 67, who spearheaded Bustop, an
anti-busing campaign that started in the San Fernando
Valley, said the fears ran deeper than race.

"Anybody who was affected by it remembers it vividly.
It changed the lives of a large number of families,"
Fiedler said. "I wanted my children to be educated in
the community where we purchased a home -- just like
everybody else."

On Sept. 12, 1978, the first day the buses rolled,
hundreds of LAUSD employees and police officers --
even the mayor -- were involved in making sure the
transition went smoothly.

Black and Latino students from areas like Watts and
Boyle Heights were bused to the San Fernando Valley,
whose white students were bused over the hill to black
and Latino neighborhoods.

An estimated 10,000 students missed class that day,
and some parents staged protests and boycotts. One
Reseda mom even drove her car slowly on the freeway
in front of a bus carrying black students from the
Crenshaw area to Woodland Hills.

Buses that were supposed to be carrying white
students to black neighborhoods were virtually empty.

"Children were assigned to new schools, and a lot
didn't show up to go to the new schools," said
Theodore Alexander Jr., the LAUSD associate
superintendent who oversees integration programs.
"Most people didn't want their children transported in
the first place.

"But for the most part, children of color who were
asked to transfer did. White children did not."

An unprecedented number of white parents that year
withdrew their children from LAUSD and enrolled
them in other districts and private schools -- further
complicating the district's integration efforts and
leading to an academic decline from which LAUSD is
still recovering.

The effect of busing in the San Fernando Valley was
staggering: More than 20 schools closed because of
low enrollment.

"Those were crazy times," said former school board
member Caprice Young, who was bused to a Balboa
magnet school. "I think busing caused some real
problems in Los Angeles -- mainly (it) exacerbated
white flight."

While many African-Americans relished the chance to
get out of inferior schools in their neighborhoods, no
one enjoyed the long bus rides.

And parents of bused minority students said their
children were treated as outsiders, blamed unfairly for
anything that went wrong and were targets of violence.

At Sepulveda Middle School, some remember white
children singing songs from "Soul Train," a popular
TV dance show featuring black entertainers, when the
bus from Los Angeles arrived every morning.

Current school board president Joe Huizar remembers
fearing being bused, like his older brothers and sisters.
Luckily, he said, the program ended in 1981, the year
before he was slated to be sent to a Valley school.

"I remember them telling stories about being bused to
the Valley. There was a lot of racial tension. They felt
unwelcome at the school," he said. "I dreaded the bus
ride. From what I hear, it wasn't a happy ride."

One failure was that LAUSD did not factor
socioeconomic issues into the busing equation.
Wealthy African-Americans, for example, were bused
into lower-class white schools, where they had little in
common with their new classmates, Alexander said.

"When we did not take those things into account, the
program failed," he said.

Despite its drawbacks, mandatory busing forced
parents and educators to see the inequalities and to try
to understand people from other races.

Mack, who graduated from Yale University, said
busing gave her a world-class education, adding that
some of her closest friends are classmates with whom
she rode the bus.

"It was a cool experience," she said. "'We had an
amazing education that people pay a lot of money for

BROWN@50 • Newsweek May 17 issue: THE DREAM DEFERRED
By Ellis Cose

Sometimes history serves as a magnifying mirror —
making momentous what actually was not. But Brown
v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, is the real
thing: a Supreme Court decision that fundamentally
and forever changed America. It jump-started the
modern civil-rights movement and excised a cancer
eating a hole in the heart of the Constitution.

So why is the celebration of its 50th anniversary so
bittersweet? Why, as we raise our glasses, are there
tears in our eyes? The answer is simple: Brown, for all
its glory, is something of a bust.

Clearly Brown altered forever the political and social
landscape of an in-sufficiently conscience-stricken
nation. "Brown led to the sit-ins, the freedom marches
... the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ... If you look at
Brown as ... the icebreaker that broke up ... that frozen
sea, then you will see it was an unequivocal success,"
declared Jack Greenberg, former head of the NAACP
Legal Defense & Educational Fund Inc. and one of the
lawyers who litigated Brown. Still, measured purely by
its effects on the poor schoolchildren of color at its
center, Brown is a disappointment—in many respects a
failure. So this commemoration is muted by the
realization that Brown was not nearly enough.

How has Brown changed America's educational
system? Click here to take the poll
While most white and Hispanic Americans (59 percent
for each group) think their community schools are
doing a good or excellent job, only 45 percent of
blacks feel that way, according to an exclusive
NEWSWEEK Poll. That is up considerably from the
31 percent who thought their schools were performing
well in 1998, but it means a lot of people are still
unhappy with the deck of skills being dealt to black

Only 38 percent of blacks think those schools have the
resources necessary to provide a quality education,
according to the poll. And African-Americans are not
alone in feeling that funding should increase. A
majority of the members of all ethnic groups support
the notion that schools attended by impoverished
minority children ought to have equivalent resources
to those attended by affluent whites. Indeed, most
Americans go even further. They say schools should be
funded at "whatever level it takes to raise
minority-student achievement to an acceptable national
standard." Sixty-one percent of whites, 81 percent of
Hispanics and a whopping 93 percent of blacks agree
with that statement—which is to say they agree with
the proposition of funding schools at a level never
seriously countenanced by the political establishment: a
total transformation of public education in the United

So now, 50 years after the court case that changed
America, another battle is upon us—and only at this
moment becoming clear. It began at the intersection of
conflicting good intentions, where the demands of
politicians and policymakers for high educational
standards collided with the demands of educators and
children's advocates for resources. Throw in a host of
initiatives spawned, at least in part, by frustration at
low student achievement—vouchers, charter schools,
privatization, curbs on social promotion, high-stakes
testing (all issues now swirling around the presidential
campaign)—and you have the making of an
educational upheaval that may rival Brown in its
ramifications. It may in some ways be the second
phase of Brown: a continuation by other means of the
battle for access to a decent education by those whom
fortune left behind.

The decision rested on an assumption that simply
wasn't true: that once formal, state-mandated
segregation ended, "equal educational opportunities"
would be the result. A half century later, school
segregation is far from dead and the goal of
educational equality is as elusive as ever. Since the
early 1990s, despite the continued growth of
integration in other sectors of society, black and
Latino children are increasingly likely to find
themselves in classes with few, if any, nonminority

The shift is due, at least in part, to Supreme Court
decisions that essentially undermined Brown. In 1974
the court ruled that schools in white suburbs were not
obliged to admit black kids from the inner city. And in
1992 the court decided that local school boards, even
if not in full compliance with desegregation orders,
should be released from court supervision as quickly as
possible. "Racial balance is not to be achieved for its
own sake," proclaimed the court.

For most black parents, of course, Brown was never
about integration "for its own sake"—though blacks
strongly support integration. Instead, it was about
recognition of the fact that unless their children went
to school with the children of the whites who
controlled the purse strings, their children were likely
to be shortchanged.

Most blacks are no longer convinced their kids
necessarily do better in integrated settings. Some 57
percent of black parents say the schools' racial mixture
makes no difference, significantly more than the 41
percent who said that in 1988. But they also know
resource allocation is not colorblind. Hence, 59
percent of blacks, 52 percent of Hispanics and 49
percent of whites agree that it will be impossible to
provide equal educational opportunities for all "as long
as children of different races in this country basically
go to different schools."

Adapted from "Beyond Brown v. Board: The Final
Battle for Excellence in American Education," a report
by Ellis Cose to the Rockefeller Foundation, Copyright
© 2004, Ellis Cose. For full report see

How has Brown changed America's educational system? Click here to take the poll

FACTORING-IN SCHOOLS: A massive LAUSD building effort may boost interest in surrounding neighborhoods.
By Darrell Satzman
Special to The LA Times

May 16, 2004

When Jennifer and Marcus Errico purchased their
home last year in Pasadena for just under $450,000,
they had two things on their minds: affordability and
steering clear of Los Angeles Unified School District.

It was much the same story for Giselle and Craig
Arteaga-Johnson, who in April bought a $326,000
Pasadena house. Both couples hope to start families in
the next year or two, and concerns about where their
kids might someday be learning the alphabet and social
skills figured prominently in their decisions on where
to buy.

"Education and school systems were at the top of our
list," said Marcus Errico, news director for E! Online.
"One reason we didn't look in Eagle Rock is we were
terrified of our kids going to LAUSD schools."

In Los Angeles County's overheated housing market,
where just about anything not straddling a fault line
has soared in value, real estate experts say that, all
things being equal, quality schools accelerate home
sales and appreciation. And although precise dollar
amounts are difficult to gauge, brokers have been
successfully selling test scores and superior schools for
years in communities such as Burbank, Glendale and
Calabasas. Now a fleet of new and improved schools
may give a similar boost to LAUSD neighborhoods.

Quality schools are considered a cornerstone of
healthy neighborhoods, according to G.U. Krueger,
vice president for market research at IHP Capital
Partners, an Irvine-based real estate venture capital

"The most important variable for people when they are
looking for housing is the perception of the schools,"
Krueger said. "It doesn't matter if the housing stock is
new or old, people see schools as a reflection of

Conversely, a widespread aversion to LAUSD —
borne of low test scores, managerial fiascoes such as
the long-delayed $200-million Belmont Learning
Complex and facilities in disrepair — hasn't helped
market homes in parts of that district.

Long hammered by local politicians, the district has
alienated two generations of parents as a result of
substandard performance and inefficiency. But test
scores have been inching up in recent years, and the
fractiousness that once characterized the school board
has somewhat abated.

An unprecedented school building boom is underway
that will deliver state-of-the-art campuses in
neighborhoods from Panorama City to Pico Union and
Sun Valley to El Sereno. The push has already resulted
in new schools opening in Silver Lake, Van Nuys and
Los Angeles, to name a few.

Tapping roughly $9 billion from state and local bonds
passed between 1997 and March, the district has set
out to build 160 new schools and add 162,000 new
student seats by 2012, while at the same time
improving dozens of other campuses districtwide.

Phase 1, funded by the passage of Measure BB seven
years ago, is plowing forward with a goal of 80 new
schools by 2007 to relieve overcrowding and cut down
on year-round schedules in the district's most densely
populated areas. So far, 23 projects have been
completed and nearly 100 others have broken ground.

Highlights of the first phase include an $87-million arts
high school next to Walt Disney Concert Hall and the
$111-million Vista Hermosa High School, also
downtown, which will accommodate 2,600 students in
four distinct campus communities and include an
adjacent park. The arts campus is scheduled to open in
2006; Vista Hermosa in 2007.

Overall, the district's task represents a public works
project more on the scale of a small nation than a
school district, and some question whether LAUSD
has the wherewithal to pull it off. And even if the
building goes well, there is no guarantee that the new
schools will do any better than existing ones at
churning out accomplished students.

On the other hand, the lure of shiny new campuses,
with new textbooks, air-conditioning, clean bathrooms
and perhaps even reinvigorated teachers is sure to play
a role in the ever-shifting dynamics of neighborhood
desirability in Los Angeles.

"LAUSD didn't necessarily have a distinguished history
of success in the facilities construction area," said Jim
McConnell, chief facilities executive for the district,
and a former Navy captain with the Seabees. "But the
culture is changing."

For Phase 1, the district has used the power of eminent
domain to force owners of about 300 pieces of
commercial real estate and 227 single-family homes to
sell, according to McConnell. The district needed to
acquire about 800 parcels of land, roughly 440 acres,
for that phase alone.

Although the use of eminent domain acquisitions has
drawn criticism from some, the district hopes benefits
to remaining residents will outweigh the negatives.

"Most of the neighborhoods we're building in
desperately want us to build new schools," McConnell
said. "And it's amazing to see how quickly they
become centers of the community."

One reason is that resources have also been put toward
athletic facilities, grass fields and play equipment.
Outside of school hours, the district will maintain an
open-door policy for the 240 acres of recreational
space that will come with the new schools. Such
spaces can be a big draw in parks-starved Los Angeles

Clearly, the district views its construction boom in the
context of neighborhood building. School Board
President Jose Huizar points out that the new schools
are the first to be built in 30 years, even as the district's
population swelled by 50% to its present total of about
750,000 students.

"Today, most of our schools are over 60 years old.
Overcrowding has meant more busing, more
bungalows and more year-round school schedules,"
Huizar said. "These [new] schools are a community
resource that are an important piece of a larger

Will district perceptions change as new and renewed
school facilities come on line?

Already, some areas of the district are forging
reputations for strong academics and quality schools.

That's been a boon for property owners in areas of the
city such as Mt. Washington and the Wonderland
Avenue Elementary School neighborhood in the
Hollywood Hills, to name two, where top-notch
instruction and active parent involvement have clearly
had an effect on neighborhood desirability.

"Mt. Washington is crazy. You'll see bidding wars on
houses that are 700 square feet," said Michael Raske,
an agent with the Los Feliz branch of DBL Realtors
who represented the Arteaga-Johnsons in their search.

"I know a lot of people who will consider spending
$150,000 more than they want to because if they have
two kids they figure they won't have to put them into
private school."

Among schools set to open by the end of 2005, those
in the Mid-Wilshire and Koreatown neighborhoods are
expected to have a positive influence on property
values in those areas, according to Jack Kyser, chief
economist for the Los Angeles County Economic
Development Corp.

"New schools can do much to bring back those
neighborhoods," he said. "There are a lot of areas in
the urban core that have character and proximity to
amenities, but they've slid. And that starts with the
schools going downhill."

But amid the optimism, there are doubters.

Although real estate appraiser Don Glaza agrees that
superior schools can lift property values, he questions
whether new schools will automatically make a
difference. The key for parents, he said, is consistently
high test scores, not new facilities.

And there are other considerations as well.

"If you live two blocks away from a new school, that's
great," he said. "But the houses right next to a new
school can actually lose value because that's where the
traffic is."

Krueger also strikes a cautious note. "New schools,"
he said, "can't be a substitute for improved instruction
and better scores."

Errico said he and his wife scoured the Internet for test
scores and spoke to people in the neighborhood about
area schools before making their decision to buy in
Pasadena. Still, they are hoping the local schools
improve a bit in the next few years.

"I would love to send my kids to public schools,"
Errico said. "And not just for economic reasons."

And would he consider buying a house in Los
Angeles? Perhaps.

"All this money being poured into building new
schools gives me hope for the future," he said.


Darrell Satzman is a freelance writer based in Los