Sunday, September 26, 2004

Lies, Fear-and-Loathing ...and Red Tape!

8-Article Newsletter Template

4LAKids: Sunday, 26 September 2004
In This Issue:
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: The President of the United States of America:
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
4LAKids Book Club for August & September—THE HUMAN SIDE OF SCHOOL CHANGE: Reform, Resistance and the Real-Life Problems of Innovation—by Robert Evans
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
FIVE CENTS MAKES SENSE FOR EDUCATION- Target 5� from every federal tax dollar for Education
Last Wednesday the Daily News published a story under
the headline: "Did a lie sway school bond voters?" –
followed the next day with an editorial "Rubin's Ruse".
[links follow]

The article screeches accusations of deliberate falsehoods
against the chairman of the Bond Oversight Committee
and the same-and-worse of committee's consultant that
are impossible to refute or confirm because they quote a
confidential document that in turn cites secret testimony
(and an alleged apologetic confession of deliberate
prevarication) issued by the LAUSD Inspector General.
Neither the committee nor the accused parties have been
permitted access to this report ...even though the
document has been leaked to the Daily News!

• The "secret" report is addressed to the Board of
Education and LAUSD senior staff.
• The Bond Oversight Committee under it's charter and
memorandum of understanding with the Board of Ed is
entitled to access to all information provided the board.
• But the IG – custodian of ethics – refuses to comply.

I publicly and formally requested that the document –
whose "confidentially" has obviously been violated – be
released at a School Board Facilities Meeting on
Thursday – as did members of the school board at a
subsequent meeting on ethics. The allegations of
wrongdoing were publicly spoken of at that board
meeting. The accused parties and the Bond Oversight
Committee Counsel have also requested disclosure.

In a great moment of Orwellian Logic the Inspector
General continues to refuse – citing a need to "protect the
rights of the accused".

There is a undeniably a turf war ongoing within LAUSD
over oversight. Both the Inspector General and the
Oversight Committee are authorized as watchdogs: The
IG by the School Board; the OC by the State of

The Oversight Committee in the person of Consultant
Tom Rubin discovered the infamous $600 million
overspent in the original BB modernization effort. This
money was spent on repairs, but because of inadequate
accounting in the early years of BB $600 Million more
was spent on school repairs than the voters authorized!

• Q: Did the money get spent on projects to fix, repair and
modernize schools in accordance with the voters wishes?
• Q: Bad accounting? A: SURE!
• Q: Unsound business practices? A: YOU BETCHA!
• Q: Inept leadership? A: EXACTLY!
• Q: Reflects poorly on the District's former Chief Financial
Officer (who let it happen) and on the Inspector General
and the District's auditors (who should have caught it)?

Tom Rubin caught this error within months of being
hired. Superintendent Romer hailed Tom's work. School
Board President Caprice Young called Tom "the foremost
forensic accountant in the business."

The problem has been corrected with much better and
more stringent audit processes, many proposed and
developed by Mr. Rubin.

But because no good deed goes unpunished, animosity
remains. This is aggravated by Rubin's whistle-blower
status with his very politically powerful and well
connected former employer: The MTA. They do not
appreciate the irregularities he identified there. MTA and
the Daily News also don't appreciate Rubin's successful
(but independent of LAUSD and the Oversight
Committee) efforts to block development of the Orange
Line in the Valley. Rubin has proven MTA's continuing
malfeasance in court documents. Like whistle-blowers
everywhere, he has not made friends!

So now, in a report purportedly about ethics at LAUSD,
the Inspector General makes secret accusations that are
promptly leaked to media but cannot be publicly disclosed
...replete with proofs, evidence and ostensible confessions
that must remain secret.

The Daily News howls and calls for the end of the
Oversight Committee. They want "true independent

Maybe the Star Chamber ...or perhaps The Inquisition?
Ship the Oversight Committee off to Guantanamo?

Perhaps this exceeds Orwellian. All the way to
McCarthryesque? Or is it just the usual LAUSD
Wonderlandian mantra of "couriouser and couriouser?"

LA Daily News Sep 22, 2004: Did a lie sway school bond voters?

LA Daily News Sep 23, 2004: Rubin's ruse

"We must have education.
Not education but . . . ,
not education if . . . ,
Not education except . . . ;
we need the MOST of the BEST education it is within our power to give our children."
—Robert F. Kennedy, Los Angeles, October 21, 1966

• Letter to the Editor/LA Downtown News (9/20/04)

Dear Editor:

Thank you for a solid introductory article on the
Ambassador Hotel debate at LAUSD ("Ambassador
Battle Heats Up, Again," Sept. 13). There is a clear way
to build seats at the 23-acre school fast and economically
while preserving the historic Ambassador. Anyone who
pits the seats, their cost and timeline against preservation
is biased from the get-go. Where there is a will there is a

If you want cost or timeline problems, try the Belmont
Learning Complex, which could cost the school district
over $300 million by the time it is completed. The plan to
mix preservation and schools at the Ambassador will cost
far less. Secondly, the new Belmont site adjacent to the
Belmont Learning Complex came in $30 million over
expected budget and not a peep was heard from this new
"save money" crowd. Additionally, the facilities leaders
did not even try re-bidding for a lower cost. They moved
ahead to build one high school right next to another.

Thirdly, the Science Center School at Exposition Park is
nearly $100,000 per seat and no one has complained
about this school preserving the historic Armory.
Fourthly, there was a new elementary four blocks from
the Ambassador costing $30 million for 400 kids and no
one complained until the project was folded into the
Ambassador project next door.

Fifthly, we at LAUSD still spend $20 million a year
renting conference and hotel space for training sessions in
spaces akin to the Ambassador. Finally, there is a regional
administration building for LAUSD's subdistrict near the
Ambassador; no one has ordered them out of their
expensive newly furnished site and into the Ambassador
location in order to save money and put administrators
closer to real kids. Waste and abuse can occur at LAUSD
but don't let people, whether the superintendent, a board
member or some special interests, put it all on
preservation. Kids can get seats fast at the Ambassador
and we can still preserve history, space and meaning in
Los Angeles.

It will take more creativity and common sense than is
usually shown in "tear down and build anew" plans. After
all, it has been nearly 20 years since LAUSD laid claim to
the site. Whatever delays can be noted have already
happened. The kids in the Wilshire corridor deserve the
same high quality education, architecture and attention as
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's kid gets at the elite
Archer school in Brentwood, a marvelously restored
building like the Ambassador school can be.

-David Tokofsky, LAUSD School Board

• My colleague and neighbor David Tokofsky raises some
interesting points. Personally I think he's right on some
and wrong on some; differences of opinion are what hone
our thoughts and shape new directions.

• David is flat out right on the Belmont Learning Center,
an albatross around the neck of LAUSD that still drains
the finances and morale of the District. The BLC is the
poster child for the unhappy confluence of Hubris,
Murphy's Law and The Law of Unintended
Consequences. Back in the "Bad Old Days" in the
settlement of Higuchi vs. LAUSD the District – which
wanted to charge Belmont off to the BB Bond was
instructed by the court that it had to open its books to the
original BB Bond Oversight Committee. The District
balked and instead chose to fund the BLC through other
means — in effect picking up it's marbles and going home
— keeping the books closed to oversight and
guaranteeing it's own general fund debt long into the
future. No bond funds are involved in the BLC or its
successor project, Vista Hermosa — or, for that matter:
The purchase of the District HQ at 333 S. Beaudry. The
continuing misadventures at those places persist at the
expense of the general operating (textbooks and teachers)

• The added costs at the Science Center School in
Exposition Park were born by outside funders, not
LAUSD or the bonds — most notably by the California
Science Center and the Annenberg Foundation. The
project is an exemplary joint effort bringing the District
and other public and private sector donors to the table to
build an extraordinary school that incorporates the
historic armory building. This should be the model for
restoration at the Ambassador site.

• On the "Fourthly" elementary school project nearby the
Ambassador: The District quite wisely abandoned that
proposed schoolsite when it proved impossible to relocate
a pre-school already there that served the community. We
simply cannot displace a preschool to build an elementary
school ...not in a school-deprived community like
Wilshire Center/Koreatown!

• Finally, on the Ambassador site itself : The
Superintendent's proposal – a "compromise" reached
without outside discussion or debate – is not resonating
with anyone! The "City Walk" false front facade
impersonating the old hotels' "view corridor" is a farce,
the preservation of the lobby's columns as a ruin in a
courtyard is a slap in the face and the proposal to crate
up the RFK assassination site and put in storage is a
half-hearted attempt that appeases no one. The Cocoanut
Grove has been rebuilt too many times already since it's
glory days. The Embassy Ballroom (where my parents
met!) deserves to have more than it's ceiling preserved if
it is to be preserved at all.

fol•ly n. 4. Architecture: a whimsical or extravagant
structure, either useless or having an appearance
completely unrelated to its purpose, built to serve as a
conversation piece, lend interest to a view, commemorate
a person or event, symbolize a religious, political or
philosophical attitude, etc.: built esp. in England in the
18th century.
— Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the
English Language. (1989)

David Tokofsky – echoing a proposal by American
Institute of Architects President Emeritus John Dale –
proposes that the Ambassador building be preserved; not as a hotel but as offices, conference rooms and learning labs/instruction incubator for the school district — with restoration and renovation funded from outside sources. The schools that need to be built can be built behind and around the perimeter of the hotel building. The "view corridor" can be saved – with the actual view of the actual building ...not a Hollywood false front!

This proposal has merit. It allows the needed schools to
be built on a fast track. It doesn't spend bond dollars on
preservation and it doesn't wait for outside funding to be
secured before construction can be started. It preserves
history in a city infamous for bulldozing it's past.

It may seem late in the process to say this, but it's not too
late: As ideas go, it's a good beginning for a genuine
compromise. —smf

"Ambassador Battle Heats Up, Again," Downtown News – Sept. 13 (fee required)

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: The President of the United States of America:
" I believe the results of focusing our attention and energy
on teaching children to read and having an education
system thatÂ’s responsive to the child and to the parents, as
opposed to mired in a system that refuses to change, will
make America what we want it to be—a literate country
and a hopefuller country."

— George W. Bush, January 11, 2001

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Monday Sep 27, 2004
Hillside Elementary School Playground Expansion
Ribbon-cutting Ceremony
Please join us to celebrate the completion of the playground expansion project at Hillside Elementary School!
Ceremony will begin at 1:00 p.m.
Hillside Elementary School
120 East Avenue 35
Los Angeles, CA 90031

• Tuesday Sep 28, 2004
Central Region Elementary School #18
Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District 5
At this meeting we will present and discuss the site that will be recommended to the LAUSD Board of education for this new school project.
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
28th Street Elementary School Auditorium
2807 Stanford Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011

• Wednesday Sep 29, 2004
Local District 3
Phase III Community Meeting - Defining New School Projects
Please join us at a community meeting regarding the additional new school seats for your area.
At this meeting, you will:
* Hear about new school projects being built in your area
* Learn about new opportunities to alleviate school overcrowding
* Continue to help define new school construction projects in your community
* Find out the next steps in this process
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Audubon Middle School
4120 11th Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90008

Ramona Elementary School Addition Pre-Construction Meeting
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Ramona Elementary School
1133 N. Mariposa Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029

• Thursday Sep 30, 2004
Central Region Elementary School #13
Phase II Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
Local District 3
At this meeting we will present and discuss the site that will be recommended to the LAUSD Board of education for this new school project.
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Pio Pico School Auditorium
1512 S. Arlington Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
*Dates and times subject to change.
Phone: 213.241.4700
Phone: 213.633.7616


4LAKids Book Club for August & September—THE HUMAN SIDE OF SCHOOL CHANGE: Reform, Resistance and the Real-Life Problems of Innovation—by Robert Evans
Publisher: Jossey-Bass Paperback: 336 pages ISBN: 0787956112

This book was pressed into my hands by a senior
educator, high in the DistrictÂ’s hierarchy.

We were wary of each other. She undoubtedly viewed me
as a wild eyed parent activist — intent on upsetting the
apple cart. I am a proponent of the bottom-up reforms
espoused by William Ouchi in “Making Schools Work”; a
would-be empowerer of parents and school site

I viewed her as the protector of the status-quo of slow,
steady improvement as measured by test scores — and
the great top-down centrally-driven bureaucracy that is

WeÂ’d both be right. I have no respect whatsoever for
apple carts; I come from the film industry and apple carts
are always the first to be smashed in the big chase scene!
I press Bill OuchiÂ’s book into as many hands as I can. She
and I discussed at length the LEARN reforms at LAUSD,
a too-brief wrinkle-in-time where principals and parents
were empowered ...until the interest waned and the
political will and money ran out. Until other agendas
took hold. Time passed LEARN by before it had a chance
to work or fail.

I expected EvansÂ’ book to be an apologia for things as
they are, instead I found a truly enlightening vision of
where we are in public education and just how difficult
the very necessary change will be. I returned the borowed
copy with many thanks and bought my own.

Evans is a psychologist - and his analysis is of the
teaching profession and the business of public education.
Imagine youÂ’re a teacher. Imagine you are faced with the
challenges of the classroom, the politics of the schoolsite
and the dynamics of the administration, children, parents
and school district. Now mix in the politicians – right, left
and center – and activists, bureaucrats and theorists. All
call for every flavor of reform imaginable ...and embrace a
new one with every lunar cycle! Even if youÂ’re a good
teacher every successful practice you have and every
decision you make is second-guessed and compared to a
rubric that measures success – or lack thereof – in a new
way every day. And all the while your friends from
college are making three times more money than you!

Evans analyzes management styles and models of reform
and suggests strategies for building a framework of
cooperation between leaders of change and the people
they depend upon to implement it. He is no fan of
top-down central-control — but he truly abhors
‘change-of-the-month-club’ reform! Evans does not tell
us to be slow in school reform, only to be thoughtful,
thorough and respectful of the true instruments of change:
Those in the classroom working with young minds.

Two thumbs-up, one for Ouchi and another for Evans!


• Dr. Robert Evans is a clinical and organizational
psychologist and director of the Human Relations Service
in Wellesley, Mass. A former high school and preschool
teacher, he has consulted to hundreds of schools and
districts throughout America and around the world and
has worked extensively with teachers, administrators,
school boards, and state education officials.

• Editorial Reviews:
"A unique, superb, and penetrating analysis of the human
side of educational change. Evans knows the human
realities of change and portrays them vividly in both
individual and organizational terms. His discussion of
hope and realism in the final chapter is a gem." —Michael
Fullan, dean, Faculty of Education, University of Toronto

"Evans certainly understands what gets in the way of real
school change and what the simple, key elements are that
can make it happen. No board member, superintendent, or
school principal should make one more decision or host
one more meeting without reading this book." —Judy
Cunningham, principal, South Lake Middle School,
Irvine, Calif.

"Evans has written a realistic yet hopeful book that sets a
new standard for providing the leadership needed to
implement school improvements. An engaging and
much-needed update of the critical, but often overlooked,
human side of change." —Thomas J. Sergiovanni, Lillian
Radford Professor of Education and senior fellow, Center
for Educational Leadership, Trinity University

"School leaders will find this book realistic about the
difficulties of change, rich in practical advice about school
improvement, and useful in showing how to transcend the
limits of their own experience to practice effective
leadership." —Thomas W. Payzant, superintendent,
Boston Public Schools

Get CHOOSING EXCELLENCE 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

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is Vice President for Education of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is also the elected Youth & Education boardmember on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
• In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited.
• THE 4LAKids ARCHIVE - This and past Issues are available with interactive feedback at

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