Sunday, January 09, 2005

The State of the State

8-Article Newsletter Template
4LAKids: Sunday, Jan 9, 2005 STATE OF THE STATE
In This Issue:
 •  State of the State: EDUCATION BUDGET ON HIT LIST
 •  4LAKids Book Club for December & January — ALL TOGETHER NOW: Creating Middle-Class Schools Through Public School Choice by Richard D. Kahlenberg
 •  What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
 •  READING TO KIDS: Read to some kids the second Saturday morning each month. Make a difference. Change some lives (including your own!).
 •  The Blueprint for School Reform: MAKING SCHOOLS WORK — Get the Book @
 •  THE BEST RESOURCE ON CALIFORNIA SCHOOL FUNDING ON THE WEB: The Sacramento Bee's series "Paying for Schools."
 •  FIVE CENTS MAKES SENSE FOR EDUCATION- Target one nickel from every federal tax dollar for Education
• "California's public school system lags behind most of
the nation on almost every objective measurement of
student achievement, funding, teacher qualifications and
school facilities." – RAND Report: “California's K-12
Public Schools: How Are They Doing?”, January 3, 2004

• The state owes several billion dollars to education that
Schwarzenegger proposed to pay back over 15 years.
But under the governor's plan to reform the state's budget
process, any across-the-board cuts would be automatic,
and schools wouldn't be repaid. - from an AP Report on
the governor's State of the State address, January 5, 2005

The students of this state got hit with the old one-two on
the first few days of the New Year:

1. Things are bad. And
2. There apparently isn't the political will in the governor's office to fix it.

There's really not much new in the RAND report, so
there's not much to argue with . . . it's just laid out plainly
in a single document. Making it easier – and harder – to

The governor's State of the State is a bit harder to take.

The good news is that the California economy is
improving. The better news is that now the state has the
revenue to begin to pay back the money borrowed from
education over the past few years – money could begin to
flow back to school districts next year! The bad news is
that the governor does not intend to pay back the money.
Not this year. Maybe never.

Before I get tagged for Schwarzenegger bashing, let me
back up a step. Let me make even more enemies by
saying that some of the governor's proposals – like merit
pay for teachers – have merit and are worthy of
consideration. Good Teachers who teach well are
preferable to poor teachers who merely survive! And
good grief, of course the prison system and the CYA is a
mess! By all means, shake 'em up! Go ahead, change their

[Name the American profession in which workers get almost no rewards for a job well done, that's having a tough time attracting and keeping the best people, faces an unprecedented demand for new hires; and in which the quality of the worker determines our very future. Read Louis V. Gerstner, Jr's argument for merit pay for teachers: DO THE MATH (below)]

Last year the governor worked out a compromise with
the education community in this state. It was not a happy
compromise, they rarely are. As the Times says (below)
the deal allowed the state to suspend Proposition 98 for a
year and forgo $2 billion owed to schools. In exchange,
Schwarzenegger promised to protect schools against
further cuts and he pledged to restore the $2 billion in the
coming year's budget.

Children in this state were shortchanged in the
compromise, their education was not funded to the extent
guaranteed in the state constitution. The compromise was
founded on certain promises made between the governor,
the education community and the legislature. One of the
promises was that the state would fully fund the
educational guarantees as soon as possible and pay back
the money borrowed. These are the promises that the
governor has proposed to renege on.

• Here are this week's vocabulary words: Promised.
Pledged. Guaranteed. The California Constitution: the
system of fundamental laws and principles that prescribes
the nature, functions, and limits of a government.

This is similar to promises broken under "No Child Left
Behind"; children are left behind for the very reason that
the mandates of NCLB are underfunded. Money was
promised, but only 40% of it comes. It costs school
districts more to comply with the administrivia and
paperwork of NCLB than the feds pay.

Recently we have seen "revisions" to promises made to
the voters and children of LAUSD. The Board of
Education voted last month 6-1 to build less schools in
the Valley and San Pedro than was promised the voters
that same year! Valley and San Pedro voter-taxpayers
were promised school in their neighborhoods that are not
going to be built. In essence 335,230 voters voted for the
schools, but six school boardmembers voted no! District
staff has consistently requested – and the Board of Ed
has consistently approved - paying for projects not listed
in the bonds. This, called by some "bait-and-switch" is
done at the expense of projects listed., either
circumventing or ignoring the objection of the Bond
Oversight Committee.

All of us, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives,
radicals, fundamentalists, middle-of-the-roaders, fringies
of every stripe; governors, school boardmembers,
doctors, lawyers, paleteros, politicians and teachers and
students and parents and children — we all need to
remember what we learned in kindergarten from Horton
the Elephant: "I meant what I said and I said what I
meant. An elephant's faithful one-hundred percent."

Jan 3, 2005 - California's public school system lags behind
most of the nation on almost every objective
measurement of student achievement, funding, teacher
qualifications and school facilities, according to a new
RAND Corporation analysis that is the first
comprehensive examination of measurable dimensions of
the state's education system.

The study issued today chronicles how the state's K-12
school system has fallen from a national leader 30 years
ago to its current ranking near the bottom in nearly every
objective category. It was funded by the William and
Flora Hewlett Foundation, which is working to build
support for improving California schools.

While the assessment of California schools is generally
negative, researchers also note several positive trends,
including significant improvement in student math
achievement in recent years, and funding increases for
school construction and repair.

“A lot of people have expressed concern about the state
of K-12 education in California,” said Stephen Carroll, a
RAND senior economist and lead author of the report.
“We found that those concerns are well placed. California
schools are lagging behind most other states and these
findings suggest policymakers need to make major
changes in order to repair the problems. Despite some
improvements, the state has a long way to go to reclaim
its standing as a national leader in K-12 education.”

“This report makes the scope of the California education
crisis crystal clear,” said Marshall S. Smith, director of
the Hewlett Foundation's education program. “We need
so much more than short-term Band-Aids — we need
long-term solutions that deal with the system's underlying
problems. To secure California's future, we need serious
school finance reform to ensure that all children have the
educational resources to achieve high standards.”

California currently spends more than $50 billion each
year to educate about 6 million elementary and secondary
students — about 12.8 percent of the nation's school-age

RAND researchers examined the status of K-12 education
in California across several broad measures, including
student academic achievement, teacher qualifications,
school facilities and non-educational benchmarks such as
teenage pregnancy rates. Among the findings:

* California student achievement on national
standardized tests is near the bottom of the 50 states,
ranking above only Louisiana and Mississippi. California's
low scores cannot be accounted for by a high percentage
of minority students, who generally have lower scores
because many come from low-income families and
sometimes must learn English as a second language.
Controlling for students' background, California's scores
are the lowest of any state.
* California students have made gains on national
achievement tests in both math and reading. In particular,
the improvement seen among 4th graders in California in
the past seven years has been greater than their peers in
other states.
* California has the second highest ratio of students per
teacher in the nation, even after a major effort began in
1996 to reduce ratios for K-3 and 9th grade. California
K-12 schools have an average of 20.9 students per
teacher, compared with a national average of 16.1.
* California school districts' teacher standards are
generally lower than in other states. Just 46 percent of
school districts in California require teachers to have full
standard certification in the subjects they teach, compared
with 82 percent nationally.
* The real average annual teacher salary in California
during the 2000-2001 school year was about the same as
it was in 1969-70, when adjusted for inflation. The
adjusted annual average salary of about $39,000 (in
today's dollars) places California last among the five
largest states and 32nd nationwide.
* While California spent less per pupil on school
facilities than other states during the 1990s, progress has
been made in recent years with passage of both state and
local bond measures. However, schools in central cities
and in rural areas still have a high number of inadequate

The decline of California's K-12 system has paralleled the
shrinking of per pupil financial support for education
during the past three decades, according to the RAND

The decline began about 30 years ago when the state
became the first to implement school finance reform that
moved responsibility for school funding from local
jurisdictions to the state. The change helped to make
spending per pupil more equal across the state. While
there is evidence the change narrowed the gap between
rich and poor districts, it also contributed to lower
spending levels overall.

While California's annual per student spending was about
$400 above the national average in 1969-70, it fell to
more than $600 below the national average in 1999-2000,
according to the report. The state ranked 27th in per pupil
spending in 2001-2002.

Support for K-12 education as a proportion of the per
capita income of Californians has fallen as well. California
spent about 4.5 percent of the personal income of state
residents on public education in the early and middle
1970s — about the same as the rest of the country. But
from the late 1970s through the middle 1990s, California's
support lagged about 1.2 percentage points behind the
national average, according to the report.

Researchers note that California is among the nation's
most ethnically diverse states, with a young population
that poses many educational challenges.

California's large immigrant population means the state
has an abundance of students learning to speak English
and parents who do not speak English. The 2000 Census
showed that 5.8 percent of California school-aged
children had trouble speaking English, compared with a
national average of 2.5 percent. This creates challenges
for the state's schools by imposing the need for higher
staffing, and by hampering communication between
schools and parents.

In addition to academic issues, Carroll and his colleagues
also examined others measures of youth achievement,
such as teenage pregnancy trends, that can be influenced
by schools. The findings on these measures were mixed
for California's students.

The pregnancy rate for 15-17 year olds in California is
higher than in any state other than the District of
Columbia, although it is falling faster in California than
anywhere else. In contrast, California youths have
relatively low use of cigarettes and alcohol when
compared with youths nationally.

The analysis includes information about California's
academic standing primarily among students in grades
K-8 because too little information is available to make
meaningful comparisons for students in high school,
according to researchers.

Other authors of the RAND report are Cathy Krop,
Jeremy Arkes, Peter Morrison and Ann Flanagan, all of

The report can be downloaded free below. A printed copy of the entire report (ISBN: 0-8330-3716-1) can be ordered from RAND's Distribution Services for $24 ( or call toll-free 877-584-8642).

Click to download “California's K-12 Public Schools: How Are They Doing?”

• Governor will propose cutting $2.2 billion. Angry
educators blast him for reneging on last year's agreement
to protect school funding.

By Evan Halper
Times Staff Writer

LA Times/January 6, 2005 - SACRAMENTO — Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger will propose cutting state
spending on K-12 education and community colleges by
$2.2 billion when he presents his budget Monday,
administration officials said.

The news came to school officials as they also were
learning of the governor's plan to weaken Proposition 98,
a constitutional provision to guarantee that education gets
a set share of state revenues.

"We are left absolutely speechless by his proposal to
suspend and amend Prop. 98 and resolve the state's fiscal
troubles at the direct expense of 6 million public
schoolchildren," said Scott P. Plotkin, executive director
of the California School Boards Assn.

The governor's proposal would implement
across-the-board budget cuts when the state overspends.
Schools, like all other programs, would endure large,
unanticipated reductions if the state budget falls out of

State Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell called the
spending proposals "devastating" and education groups
immediately began mobilizing to fight the governor.

Schwarzenegger had vowed to protect schools from such
cuts in return for their acceptance of billions of dollars in
reductions last year to help balance the current budget.
But Finance Director Tom Campbell told the school
groups Wednesday afternoon that the governor would not
be able to honor that deal. The administration will instead
propose using $2.2 billion owed education to help close
the state's projected $8.1-billion shortfall.

As the governor prepared to cut education, however, he
said in his State of the State speech Wednesday that
schools are already failing: About 30% of high school
students do not graduate, he said.

And in a move that probably will draw further fire from
educators, he proposed that teachers be paid based on
merit rather than seniority.

"This is war," said Brett McFadden, legislative advocate
for the Assn. of California School Administrators. "We
are going to be out in the streets, in the schools, at the
PTAs. We had a deal. We shook hands and put it in

That deal began to unravel, however, when the
nonpartisan legislative analyst's office reported in
November that education spending was projected to grow
much faster than originally anticipated. Voter-approved
formulas automatically set aside a specific share of all
revenue that comes into the state for education, and more
revenue than projected has been coming in.

The analyst suggested that the state could take as much as
$2.8 billion of that money away from schools through the
middle of next year, and they still would have enough to
cover enrollment growth and cost-of-living adjustments.

The administration has decided to proceed with that
proposal, but has adjusted the amount to $2.2 billion.

In proposing the cut, the governor would be taking on
one of the state's most politically potent groups, with a
grass-roots network of tens of thousands of parents and
the financial resources to mount an aggressive campaign
in opposition.

But Campbell said education spending would still go up
7% despite the cut. The increase without the cut would
have been double, he said, and the administration could
not justify that in a year when so many other programs
face drastic reductions.

"It is just not responsible with an overall budget gap of
this size for any one item — even an item as important as
this one — to go up that much," Campbell said. "The
governor has the duty to represent all people, and to be
fair in the face of different circumstances."

Democrats were circumspect about the proposal.

"This is just the opening shot and we have a long way to
go in this process," said Assembly Budget Committee
Chairman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz).

Education groups, meanwhile, called the governor's
proposal to subject schools to unilateral budget cuts

"When you do across-the-board cuts it means you have
no priorities," said Kevin Gordon, executive director of
the California Assn. of School Business Officials. "We
need leaders that have priorities. That's Public Policy

But Campbell argued that the proposal would protect
schools from the kinds of cuts they are now enduring, as
it would prohibit the state from borrowing from one
program to pay for another.

As for programs such as schools suffering because of
overspending in unrelated areas, Campbell said, "That's
how it works in a family. When you have a particular
crisis, everyone spends less. It's how average Californians
deal with it."

Times staff writers Cara Mia DiMassa and Nancy Vogel
contributed to this report.

Transcript of Gov. Schwarzenegger's State of the State Address

By Duke Helfand and Joel Rubin
Times Staff Writers

LA Times/January 7, 2005 - Education leaders and school
district superintendents responded furiously to Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget plans Thursday, saying
that the proposals would gut funding guarantees that have
protected schools for more than a decade.

Schwarzenegger is expected to propose a state
constitutional amendment to alter Proposition 98,
approved by voters in 1988 to ensure that schools and
community colleges receive at least 40% of state spending
each year.

Proposition 98 has served as a financial buoy for schools,
establishing a statewide funding base that rises when the
economy is strong.

It has also allowed the state to hold back school funding
when revenues slump, with the requirement of paying
back the money. Those funds become part of the state's
minimum obligation to schools in future years.

Schwarzenegger's plans would eliminate protections and
could strip billions of dollars from schools, education
groups said.

School district leaders warned of dire consequences,
including school closures, layoffs, larger classes, fewer
buses and requiring school employees to pay more of
their healthcare costs.

A report released this week by the Rand Corp.
underscored educators' concerns: It showed that
California's level of funding per pupil has fallen below the
national average for nearly three decades.

"It's a terribly serious undermining of public education,"
Los Angeles schools Supt. Roy Romer said. "You will
put public education in the state of California on a roller
coaster that depends on what happens with the governor
and Legislature each year."

But administration officials said the governor's proposals
would put an end to political leaders raiding education
funds to help balance the budget. Schwarzenegger and the
Legislature took such action last year, diverting $2 billion
originally earmarked for education spending.

Altering Proposition 98 is part of Schwarzenegger's
broader plan to make across-the-board budget cuts in
state spending if legislators can't resolve future deficits.

H.D. Palmer, deputy finance director of the state
Department of Finance, said education would suffer the
same degree of cuts as other agencies instead of falling
victim to deeper reductions.

"I think when [educators] find out what's in the budget,
they will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the
governor's proposals Â… will eliminate the ability of the
Legislature or the governor to borrow from education,"
Palmer said.

He also said the budget Schwarzenegger will unveil
Monday will include a $2.9- billion increase for schools in
the coming year — a 7.1% rise in general fund education
spending from this year and nearly twice the 4.2% rate of
increase in overall state spending.

But that is still not as much as school districts were
expecting or what they were owed this year.

Education groups complained that another
Schwarzenegger proposal — one that would require
school districts, rather than the state, to fund
contributions to California's teacher retirement system —
would cut into the anticipated funding increases.

If that occurs, districts might have to renegotiate teachers'
contracts — an unwelcome prospect that could trigger
ugly battles with unions, education leaders said.

"We're going to have strikes up and down the state as
school districts pick up on this time bomb," said Scott
Plotkin, executive director of the California School
Boards Assn.

Plotkin and other education leaders in Sacramento
assailed Schwarzenegger for reneging on a budget deal he
made with education groups last year.

The deal allowed the state to suspend Proposition 98 for
a year and forgo $2 billion owed to schools. In exchange,
Schwarzenegger promised to protect schools against
further cuts and he pledged to restore the $2 billion in the
coming year's budget.

Educators said they do not expect to get that money, or
an additional $2.2 billion owed to schools as a result of
the improving economy.

"I feel that teachers and children have been betrayed,"
said Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers
Assn., which negotiated the budget deal with
Schwarzenegger. "I am very disappointed. We had an
agreement. I worked very hard to have a bipartisan
organization. Right now I don't feel very bipartisan."

This is the Schwarzenegger administration's opening salvo
in what is expected to be a protracted budget fight. The
governor and the Legislature will haggle over the budget
until May, when Schwarzenegger will release a revised
spending plan.

School district leaders were scrambling Thursday to glean
details of Schwarzenegger's initial proposals — and
weighing new budget-cutting options.

In Santa Ana Unified, a heavily Latino district where
more than two-thirds of the students are still learning
English, Supt. Al Mijares said the governor's plans could
force increased class sizes in primary grades.

The Santa Ana district has struggled through three years
of funding cuts in programs and administrative staff.

To help close a $29-million budget shortfall this year,
Santa Ana's teachers agreed to a 4% pay cut last March.

"I understand that we are in a fiscal crisis. I think
everyone in public education understands that," Mijares
said. "But at some point you have to prioritize. We are,
right now, on the edge. We cannot bear any more
reductions in funding."

The superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School
District sounded a more understanding note — even as
she prepared to go before her school board with a
budget-cutting plan that may include closing as many as
five schools.

"The governor has to look at the whole state, and I do
understand his dilemma," Supt. Arlene Ackerman said.
"But at the same time, education is woefully underfunded.
We have one of the strongest school accountability
systems in the country, but we lack the resources to
assure that students can succeed."

Though school financing dominated Schwarzenegger's
education agenda during his State of the State address
this week, he also proposed a system that would tie
teachers' pay to merit rather than seniority.

Education Secretary Richard J. Riordan said local school
districts would work out details with teachers unions and
the state. He said such things as teacher evaluations and
student test scores could be weighed in pay decisions.

The merit pay idea drew immediate criticism from unions.
The head of the Los Angeles teachers union issued a blunt
assessment of the proposal, saying that it is unproved and
would pit teachers against one another.

United Teachers Los Angeles President John Perez
suggested spending more money in classrooms and
reducing class sizes.

"Shouldn't we do what other states are doing that is
causing them to outperform us?" he asked. "First you try
the Â… proven methods, then you try something new. We
haven't tried what we know works in other states."


Times staff writers Cara Mia DiMassa and Evan Halper
contributed to this report.


January 7, 2005 - I keep thinking it's going to be
impossible for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to outdo
himself, and he keeps reminding me never to
underestimate him.

For two years, he's been telling us public education in
California is one of his top priorities. In his State of the
State speech Wednesday, he said schools are a disaster,
with 30% of high school students dropping out. This
followed a grim Rand Corp. report that gave California
schools lousy grades for funding and student

So what's Big Boy going to do about it?

Take an ax to education funding.

Yeah, that oughta get Johnny reading.

"Devastating," state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack
O'Connell said of the $2.2-billion cut expected when
Schwarzenegger's budget is released Monday.

With no clear plan for balancing the budget, mountains of
new debt, and so many close friends in the anti-tax
business community, it was obvious that a day of
reckoning was fast approaching for Schwarzenegger. But
who would have thought he would drop a hammer on the
state's children?

It's too bad they aren't represented by the state Chamber
of Commerce.

Some educators were left speechless by news of the cuts,
probably because it's hard to talk while removing a knife
from your back. Schwarzenegger promised last year,
while whacking education funding, that he'd keep schools
off the chopping block next time around.

And do you know how Schwarzenegger, who keeps
saying he represents the will of the people, is going to
make that $2.2-billion cut? He's going to trample on
Proposition 98, the education funding protection
approved by California voters.

See what I mean? And he doesn't even blink when he
feeds us this stuff.

Not that Big Boy's State of the State didn't score a few
points. The governor wants caps on irresponsible
spending, he wants redistricting so we don't end up with
so many left-wing nuts and right-wing kooks in the
Legislature, and he's gunning for the dastardly prison
guards union.

But on education, you would have expected more from a
guy who has used schoolchildren as political props, and
who struts around talking about blowing up boxes. While
he preens — is it me, or is his hairdresser toning down the
reds? — other states are leaving us in the dust.

Education Week reports that 31 states are rethinking how
they finance public education. In 16 states, angry parents
and children's advocates got so fed up with the sorry state
of public schools, they sued for adequate funding.

In California, state spending per pupil has gone from
among the highest in the nation, before Proposition 13, to
the company of backwater cellar-dwellers. When Warren
Buffet made the unforgivable mistake of telling the truth
about the crippling effects of Proposition 13,
Schwarzenegger vaporized him.

Money alone can't fix the schools, but the wealthiest state
in human history ought to be ashamed of its status as a
national laggard. This has gone on for so many years that
mediocrity has become acceptable, if not something to

Do you think we couldn't fix this if we really wanted to?

Parents of means, like Arnold and Maria and their pals,
don't have to worry. They have the choice of shelling out
for private school or moving to one of the handful of
well-heeled communities where public schools actually

Parents without means?

Good luck and God bless.

The only saving grace in Schwarzenegger's plundering of
California schools is that it might get people ticked off
enough to do what the governor doesn't have the courage
to do.

Chris Cabaldon, of EdVoice, is exploring support for a
statewide parcel tax.

Mike Kirst, a Stanford University professor, says he
thinks it's high time to join other states and organize a
lawsuit that would require reasonable funding.

Phil Angelides, the state treasurer, says the top 1% of
California's income earners will get $12 billion in federal
tax cuts this year. He wonders why Schwarzenegger can't
borrow an idea from Govs. Wilson and Reagan and
temporarily squeeze the top tax bracket.

"There needs to be some radical, systematic overhaul,"
says Jeannie Oakes, a UCLA education professor.

"Ninety-nine percent of California's kids are in districts
spending less than the national average. California is No.
8 or 9 in terms of personal income per capita, and we are
down around 30 or 40 in the country in the percentage of
income we devote to education."

Oakes noted an obvious irony: The governor is willing to
move heaven and earth for California's business leaders,
arguing that we can't afford to have them leave the state.

But if we don't fix the schools, who are they going to


January 7, 2005 - Last year, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger was making pacts with his new friends,
the teachers unions: Let me, for one year, suspend
Proposition 98, which guarantees a set share of state
revenues for education, and next year I'll make it up to
you. Now the governor is reneging on the deal, shifting
$2.2 billion away from schools in his proposed budget
and asking to end mandatory funding levels.
Schwarzenegger implied in his State of the State address
that educators had poorly spent the billions they had
already been given.

Schwarzenegger also was brave enough to say what many
parents whisper: Teachers' pay should be linked more to
performance than seniority. And firing teachers who don't
measure up shouldn't be such an impossible task. Some of
the most ineffective teachers are burnout cases, doing
minimal work but pulling in the top-scale salaries. They're
a tiny minority, but a couple of them during a school
career is enough to bring a child's academic progress to a

Screams of imminent disaster are baseless. The governor
is still proposing a 7% hike in the education budget,
enough to keep schools on the same mediocre track. The
billions for schools, however, are less generous than
Schwarzenegger thinks. A Rand report released this week
showed the state's classes were more crowded than in
comparable states, its teachers less well paid and its
per-pupil spending lower.

Schwarzenegger would be in a better position to propose
smart spending had he done his job a year ago and
appointed his share of members to the Quality Education
Commission. Instead, he proposes to kill it altogether.

Authorized two years ago, the commission was supposed
to start meeting last January. Its mission: Examine
schools top to bottom to determine the real cost of a
good public school education. That means taking a fresh
look at what makes a good education. Which methods
work, and which don't? Where are schools spending with
little result, and what might be better ways of using that

The 13-member commission would be unpaid, and private
foundations have granted $500,000 for its work. But
facing what a decent education costs could put
Schwarzenegger in a quandary — he might be forced to
admit that state budget restraints, not most teachers, are
what's shortchanging students.

• LA Times Commentary: DO THE MATH: Money Plus
Merit Equals Better Teachers – Professionalizing their
pay would be the most effective education reform.

By Louis V. Gerstner Jr.

January 7, 2005 - Pop quiz. Name the one American
profession in which workers get almost no rewards for a
job well done; that's having the toughest time attracting
and keeping the best and brightest people, just as it faces
an unprecedented demand for new hires; and in which the
quality of the worker determines, more than any other,
whether or not our young people excel.

The profession is teaching. And that's why Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger's call to usher California's schools into
the modern era with performance-based pay for teachers
is the right reform at the right time.

Few Californians need convincing that the state's schools
are subpar. A Rand Corp. study, released this week, put it
starkly: "California's public school system lags behind
most of the nation on almost every objective
measurement of student achievement, funding, teacher
qualifications and school facilities." The report noted how
far the state's position had fallen since it was a clear
national leader a generation ago.

What makes good schools good? If we could wave a
magic wand and improve one thing, what would it be?
Buy new desks and books, cut class size or put an
exemplary teacher in as many classrooms as possible?

First, consider what the Center for the Future of Teaching
and Learning reported last month: "Nearly 60,000
California teachers are over the age of 55. If those 60,000
teachers leave the profession at the average Â… retirement
age of 60, California will need to replace one-fifth of the
state's teacher workforce in the next three to five years."

One reform rises above the rest in urgency and
importance: investing in teachers. Invest in them now by
building a teaching profession in California that is the
envy of the world. Improve preparation programs, which
currently don't give teachers the training they ought to,
particularly in the subject area they teach. Streamline
certification and licensing systems. Strengthen
professional development. (According to the Rand study,
just 46% of California school districts require teachers to
be fully certified in the subjects they teach.) And attract
the best with good base pay and modern incentives for

While other professions have offered more and more
rewards to people who do good work, teaching has
lagged behind. All good teachers in the state are
underpaid compared with other professions — one study
shows teacher pay in California falling below the national
average when adjusted for the state's cost of living. And
for professionals talented in math, science or engineering
who can earn far more in fields outside education, the
shortfall is stark.

And that will remain the case until we professionalize
teacher compensation. The norm now is that a teacher
equals a teacher equals a teacher, no matter how
desperately society may need a certain skill set and no
matter how well a teacher performs in the classroom. The
precious few exceptions, like Denver public schools —
where teachers approved a plan that would phase in a
system that takes into account student growth, market
incentives, evaluations and teacher knowledge and skills
— aren't yet enough to change the paradigm; California

Schwarzenegger deserves credit and support for leading
the charge for change. And he's not alone; others, like the
Broad Education Foundation in Los Angeles, have been
working to develop innovative pay systems.

There is no doubt that we will hear from naysayers: Merit
pay can't be done fairly; it rewards teachers who have the
easiest students to teach — the ones who come from
wealthy homes or start out with a head start; it breeds
unhealthy competition.

But the fact is, a merit pay system can be built fairly to
give the most to teachers who produce the biggest annual
academic improvement, and to factor in a wide variety of
measurements of excellence, including peer and principal
review. Even an imperfect system would be far better
than the current single-salary schedule. And while we
reward the best, we need to empower principals to lead,
making sure they have the proper authority to hire and
fire teachers. And as far as competition goes, since when
is a little healthy effort to be the best at improving reading
or math scores such a bad thing?

This is not a Republican issue. Building a system that pays
teachers based more on results is one of the core
recommendations of the bipartisan nonprofit organization
I founded — a group that includes a former Democratic
secretary of Education and two former Democratic

This is not a time for red-hot rhetoric. It's time to look
honestly at the shortcomings of the current compensation
system and work together to design one that works better
for teachers, for students and for us all.

• Louis V. Gerstner Jr. is the former chairman of IBM and
the founder of the Teaching Commission and
Reinventing America's Schools, Inc.

The Teaching Commission Website

• ROMEO & JULIET FOR TEACHERS: Just what our kids need: Murder, gang warfare, sex, drugs and a teenage double suicide! - smf

Shakespeare Festival/LA, Autry National CenterÂ’s
Museum of the American West and Native Voices
are pleased to announce a free teacher in-service training
exploring William ShakespeareÂ’s ROMEO & JULIET
and the world premiere of James LujanÂ’s KINO &
TERSEA: Teresa: A Native American Adaptation of
Romeo and Juliet

Teachers attending this two-day workshop will receive:
• Multicultural Salary Point
• A Teacher’s Edition of Romeo and Juliet
• A full classroom set of Romeo and Juliet, donated by Penguin Books
A Special Incentive: The first fifty teachers enrolling will
also receive a free ticket to Sir Peter HallÂ’s production of
AS YOU LIKE IT, playing at The Ahmanson Theater.

Dates: Sat., January 29, 2005, and Sat., February 5,
2005, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at Shakespeare
Festival/LA, 1238 West First Street LA, CA 90026

• For More Information Call Marina Oliva at


The twenty-fourth LAUSD Academic Decathlon
competition will take place on Saturday, January 29 at
Bravo Medical Magnet High and Saturday, February 5 at
UCLA. Come out and support some of the most brilliant
scholars in the Nation by volunteering to help with one or
both days. Help is especially needed with the Speech and
Interview events on January 29.

Volunteers from previous years are encouraged to wear
their Aca Deca t-shirts in support of the students who are
competing this year.

A volunteer application and more information can be
obtained by going to: Decathlon.


• Tuesday Jan 11, 2005
South Region Elementary School #1
Schematic Design Meeting

Please join us for a community meeting regarding the design for South Region Elementary School #1.

At this meeting we will:

* Present schematic design
* Collect community input on the design of the project

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

75th Street Elementary School
142 W. 75th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90003

• Wednesday Jan 12, 2005
South Region Elementary School #4
Pre-Design Meeting

Join us at this meeting where we will:

* Introduce the Project Architect to the community
* Provide overview of the school facilities, including: number of classrooms, library, lunch area, etc.
* Review LAUSD design principles
* Receive community input on school design

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Bryson Elementary School
4470 Missouri Ave.
South Gate, CA 90280

• Thursday Jan 13, 2005
South Region Span K-8 #2
Revised Project Definition Meeting

At this meeting, we will present and discuss the RECOMMENDED PREFERRED SITE RECONFIGURATION and REVISED PROJECT DEFINITION that will be presented to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval

We will also:
* Review the factors used to revise the project definition
* Go over next steps in the school construction process

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Normandie Elementary School
4505 S. Raymond Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90037

*Dates and times subject to change.
Phone: 213.241.4700
Phone: 213.633.7616


4LAKids Book Club for December & January — ALL TOGETHER NOW: Creating Middle-Class Schools Through Public School Choice by Richard D. Kahlenberg
• Paperback: 390 pages
• Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (Dec. 1,
•ISBN: 0815748116

All Together Now comes highly recommended by Dr. Percy Clark, Jr., Superintendent of the Pasadena Unified School District. PUSD is using an open enrollment strategy based upon ATN to socioeconomically integrate Pasadena Schools; a similar strategy is currently underway in Boston — a major urban school district. — smf

• Reviewer—Midwest Book Review: In All Together
Now: Creating Middle-Class Schools Through Public
School Choice, Richard Kahlenberg (senior fellow at The Century Foundation), advocates giving every child in American the opportunity to attend a public school in which the majority of students come from middle class households. He persuasively argues that the only way to make good on the American assumption that public schools will provide equal educational opportunity is by teaching disadvantaged and advantaged children together within the same facilities, with the same faculties, the same curriculums, and the same educational resources.

The only way to achieve this socioeconomic integration is to establish a critical mass of middle-class students within all schools. The recommendations offered in All Together
Now outline a blueprint for creating middle class schools and draw upon the experiences of current experiments with economic integration in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Connecticut, and elsewhere. Based on these case examples are practical ways to bring about integrated schools for the future, and guidance for successfully overcoming political, logistical, and legal obstacles to an economic desegregation. All Together Now is informative, challenging, and occasionally inspiring
reading which is particularly recommended to education reform activists, policy makers, school administrators, faculty members, and concerned parents.

Get ALL TOGETHER NOW 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. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
• To SUBSCRIBE e-mail: - or -TO ADD YOUR OR ANOTHER'S NAME TO THE 4LAKids SUBCRIPTION LIST E-MAIL with "SUBSCRIBE" AS THE SUBJECT. Thank you.  Â• THE 4LAKids ARCHIVE - This and past Issues are available with interactive feedback at

 Update Profile  |  Unsubscribe  |  Confirm  |  Forward