Saturday, August 12, 2006

Inoculating against the poison pill

4LAKids: Sunday, August 13, 2006
In This Issue:
LOS ANGELES COUNCIL OKS MAYOR'S IDEA FOR SCHOOLS: Panel members vote 15 to 0 to back Villaraigosa's plan to get some control over the district.
NEW HARVARD STUDIES ON MAYORAL LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION: "Mayoral Control Has Not Lived Up To Optimistic Projections"
WRONG SCHOOL BILL, RIGHT IDEA: Let's get real mayoral control of LAUSD
WHERE NAY IS RARELY HEARD: Is the Boston School Committee working for you?
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

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4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.

There are some that say that Friday's unanimous City Council vote to support the Mayor's plan to take over LAUSD was a quid pro quo for his support of their Proposition R on the November Ballot to add a third term to the Council's two term limit.

Prop R (described elsewhere as "the heinous measure that will ask voters to reward the incompetence and arrogance of the current LA City Council by extending their term limits") was also not fully vetted through public discussion or the normal processes for a City Charter change – but at least they're putting it on the ballot!

I'm not an admirer of conspiracy theories – and when I do I like a little more of the John LeCarré and a little less of the tommy gun in the violin case.

But here's my thinking: The council wanted to be sure there would be no liability for the city in the Mayor's governance of LAUSD. And the Mayor's legal team got them what they wanted – it's there in the amendments: Should something go wrong, through misfortune or malfeasance – should the Council of Mayors or Hizzoner himself make a mistake or misbehave (at this point in time none of the potential Council of Mayors are under indictment, on trial or awaiting sentencing – though this has not always been the case) the School District is left with the bill.

The legislative term of art for this is the City and the Council of Mayors have been "inoculated" against claims.

From anything. Whatsoever. Council of Mayors goes to Cancun with the textbook money? LAUSD is holding the bag!

Except in federal court. No matter how far afield of the state constitution they wander the legislature can't protect the city there.

So here's what the City Council needs to worry about now:

• Liability under the federal Voting Rights Act, compromised by AB 1381.

• Federal liability in ongoing and continuing LAUSD non-compliance with No Child Left Behind.

• Federal liability in ongoing and continuing LAUSD non-compliance with Title One.

• Liability in ongoing and continuing LAUSD pension and benefits underfunding.

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo – no fan of the Council's shenanigans on Prop R – never weighed in on AB 1381 as amended – quite wisely saying that he could have no opinion on a bill that constantly changes.

Plus this way he doesn't get any on him.

And I guess the City Council wasn't listening when an assistant city attorney told them "such a case might well end up before the U.S. Supreme Court because of its novelty and public importance." But then Rocky himself warned 'em that Prop R would draw a court challenge. Of course there's also an inoculation against the City having to pay litigation costs in any lawsuits. Unless they lose.


GOING BACKWARDS: FRIDAY I went to testify at the City Council about local and state PTA's – and most parents' – objection to AB 1381. I said that 60,000 card carrying PTA members in LAUSD officially oppose it. The one million members statewide oppose it. And good grief, even more non-PTA parents oppose it.

And after I spoke Bill Rosendahl, a city councilman from the Westside said he was going to support AB 1381 because – and I quote "parents in his district are forming PTAs and taking back their schools." Somehow parent involvement proves the need for mayoral control?

And Chief Parks, councilman from the Central City said he realized that that the council needed to do things like study mayoral control in Boston and New York – but he voted for AB 1381 too. First you do your homework, and then you take the test.

Other councilpeople said good things. Padilla. LaBonge. Garcetti. Perry. Reyes. Councilwoman Hahn introduced her son – he'd signed up to be a math teacher in LAUSD that very day. Good - we need math teachers.

And then the City Council drank the Kool Aid.

THURSDAY I was at a great event in Nickerson Gardens. Office Depot was giving away back to school backpacks and school supplies to disadvantaged kids. This is a great public partnership – Office Depot and Kids in Need, PTA and about a dozen other agencies and the City of LA. The Mayor was there doing what mayors are supposed to do in supporting kids and education. There is actually a photograph of him and me with big silly smiles.

Children played in the sunshine and squirmed and fidgeted in folding chairs and were rewarded with backpacks. There are crayons to bring their dreams to life. Pencils to write the story that will be our story. Erasers to make good the mistakes we will make.

AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT the State Department brought a dozen educators from Asia on a US tour to my PTA office and medical/dental/vision clinic to learn how we do things here. Chinese, Vietnamese, Pilipino, Cambodian, Thai, Singaporean, Malaysian and Indonesian educators who were here in LA to find out how we educate our kids and engage parents in the process.

Think about that a second. They are studying us. Their test scores are higher. Their graduation and dropout rates are better.

But they don't educate all their kids. They don't engage parents. And generally their kids all speak the same language. But they are here because they want to teach all their kids. Like us. OK, like us only better. And that's what we are trying to do too!

There is a book about the global economy that says The World is Flat – that markets and clients and manufacturers and consumers are all on the same playing field together. We are all in it together.

And in Asia they want to teach all their kids just like we want to teach ours. And that's a good thing. - smf

LOS ANGELES COUNCIL OKS MAYOR'S IDEA FOR SCHOOLS: Panel members vote 15 to 0 to back Villaraigosa's plan to get some control over the district.

By Steve Hymon, Times Staff Writer

August 12, 2006 —Voting on a matter in which it has no real say but a decided political stake, the Los Angeles City Council on Friday unanimously endorsed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan to gain some control over the city's public schools.

Though it was a symbolic victory, Villaraigosa treated it as a significant milestone after months of lobbying the council to support a bill in the Legislature that would give him a measure of power over the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The 15-0 vote allows Villaraigosa to go to Sacramento next week with the full support of the council and most of the city's largest business and labor organizations — and thereby demonstrate the breadth of his support to lawmakers who might have not strong feelings on the matter.

Hearings on the bill will begin Monday in the state Senate's Appropriations Committee. The measure must clear the Legislature before its Aug. 31 recess or Villaraigosa will have to begin the process again.

Getting the bill through Sacramento has already been an uphill battle for the mayor — and would have been even more difficult had he failed to sell even his own City Council on the plan.

At a Friday afternoon news conference shortly after the council action, Villaraigosa said it had been "a long time" since he had worked so hard for a vote.

"But I also know that the vote that is going to make or break this legislation is going to happen in Sacramento," he said.

The political calculation for the council was simple: Either back a popular mayor who has made improving the schools his legacy project or support a school district that many of them have squabbled with, particularly over the siting of new facilities.

The bill "is not perfect but nothing we do is perfect, and if we wait for the perfect solution we'll lose another couple of generations of children," Councilman Bernard C. Parks said toward the end of the council's nearly 3 1/2 -hour discussion.

School board President Marlene Canter addressed the council before the vote.

"I don't have any notes; I don't have any speech. I'm going to talk to you from my heart," said Canter, who praised the mayor for having a passion for the issues of schools.

But, she said, ultimately the bill would only increase the district bureaucracy and give no clear line of authority to the school board, superintendent or the mayor. And she hinted that politics, not policy, was driving the matter.

"I know this is a difficult political conversation; I know it is in Sacramento as well," Canter said. "There isn't one legislator I've spoken with that says it isn't flawed."

The vote Friday was never really in doubt after two council panels voted unanimously Wednesday to support the bill. Even council members who have consistently voiced doubts about the plan came around to it.

"I think it is a symbolic step that we're taking today to give more impetus to the mayor's effort," said Councilman Jan Perry, choosing her words carefully.

"I think it's a plan with very lofty goals and there's a long road ahead, and with goodwill we may be able to get there."

Other council members who had expressed doubts in the past were Alex Padilla and Janice Hahn.

Padilla will probably win election to the state Senate in November but would not begin his term until January. In particular, he has pushed the council to scrutinize the bill in recent weeks, realizing that Villaraigosa had to listen because he couldn't risk the council's taking a stand against the legislation.

Padilla and several other council members aired concerns Friday. Among other things, they said that the bill as it stands might violate the state Constitution, that it could make the city liable if someone sued the school district and that it would forbid school board members from hiring their own employees.

"With all the room for improvements in the bill, I'm still willing to give it a chance," Padilla said after the vote.

Councilman Jose Huizar said the vote to support the bill should not have been surprising, given the politics and substantive issues involved.

"If there is not a role for the City Council in the bill, practically speaking the council will be more involved in education by default, because if it passes, the mayor will also be involved," said Huizar, a supporter of the mayor and a former Los Angeles Unified board president.

He added: "I decided to go for the bill for two reasons. First, the new structure will be much better; it's a disastrous system now and has been for decades. Two, next time I vote for mayor, I will consider his accountability for the performance of the LAUSD."

►smf notes: "If there is not a role for the City Council in the bill, practically speaking the council will be more involved in education by default, because if it passes, the mayor will also be involved." This from a man on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University? If someone can discern the logic in that convoluted thinking I'm ready.

NEW HARVARD STUDIES ON MAYORAL LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION: "Mayoral Control Has Not Lived Up To Optimistic Projections"

"While we recognize the potential for increased mayoral involvement in public schooling, we have some concerns about it, especially in its most dramatic iteration — mayoral takeovers of school districts.

"Mayoral takeovers in major U.S. cities have been occurring since 1991, when Boston jettisoned its elected school board in favor of a new board appointed exclusively by the mayor. Other cities followed: Chicago in 1995, Cleveland in 1998, Detroit in 1999, and New York City in 2002.

"With fifteen years of history to draw on, some conclusions now can be made about whether this takeover movement has fully lived up to the optimistic predictions of its proponents — predictions that are now being echoed in Los Angeles.


— The Editors of the HARVARD EDUCATIONAL REVIEW – based on five studies
Mayoral Takeovers in Education: A Recipe for Progress or Peril?
published in the Summer 2006 issue

(The full article – and other articles are available by paid subscription.) Check your library.

Michael D. Usdan

Michael D. Usdan notes that while mayoral involvement in education is often advanced as a way to make school systems less political by diminishing the sometimes fractious politics of school boards, mayors themselves may be tempted to politicize the schools in self-serving ways.

Michael W. Kirst and Fritz Edelstein

In “The Maturing Mayoral Role in Education,” Michael W. Kirst and Fritz Edelstein describe how mayoral involvement in public education was transformed from an emblem of municipal corruption at the turn of the twentieth century to the hallmark of a new view of the mayoralty in the 1990s that focuses on municipal agency efficiency and problem-solving. Looking at mayoral engagement in education today, the authors delineate a basic typology of different levels of mayoral involvement in education, arguing that mayors must accurately assess their local context and their own capacity if they are to succeed in making a positive impact in education.

Kenneth K. Wong
Kenneth K. Wong builds on this basic framework in “The Political Dynamics of Mayoral Engagement in Public Education.” Wong examines the political and economic factors of cities that have compelled mayors to get more involved in education and discusses the specific ways mayors have spent their political capital in exercising such leadership. Wong argues that mayors have unique skill sets that can be brought to bear in the service of school systems, such as the ability to mobilize public support for education, strengthen school accountability, increase the managerial capacity of school districts, and manage intergovernmental relations.

Paul T. Hill

In “Getting Hold of District Finances: A Make-or Break Issue for Mayoral Involvement in Education,” Paul T. Hill calls attention to a little-studied but critical aspect of school system reform: the nontransparent and sometimes illogical ways school districts allocate funds and personnel, especially teachers. Drawing on a series of studies produced by his Center for Reinventing Public Education, Hill asserts that mayors who seek to reform their schools need to untangle the tendrils of school district accounting practices, and he warns that mayors who attempt large-scale school reform without first attempting to understand their district’s financial and personnel practices do so at their peril.

Warren Simmons, Ellen Foley, and Marla Ucelli

Finally, Warren Simmons, Ellen Foley, and Marla Ucelli explore mayors’ capacity to foster school-level improvement in “Using Mayoral Involvement in District Reform to Support Instructional Change.” These authors contend that so far, mayoral efforts to reform public education have fostered shorttermchanges to school districts but have largely failed to spur more meaningful changes at the school and classroom levels. They offer several strategies mayors can use to deepen their impact on teaching and learning, such as creating portfolios of schools and replicating attributes of successful school districts in their own reform efforts.

▲4LAKids will make these articles available when and if they become available.

MAYORAL LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION: Current Trends and Future Directions (excerpt)

WRONG SCHOOL BILL, RIGHT IDEA: Let's get real mayoral control of LAUSD
Opinion by William G. Ouchi, from the Los Angeles Times

August 8, 2006 - The legislature is expected to vote soon on AB 1381, the bill that is meant to grant accountability for and control over the Los Angeles Unified School District to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. This proposal will have very harmful effects on the education of the children of Los Angeles. The effect of this bill has not been explained clearly, nor has there been consideration of any alternative bills to achieve the same goals. Before it's too late, let's do both.

The idea behind the bill is that mayoral accountability for L.A. Unified will produce better management and better student performance. The superintendent is now under the control of an elected school board whose members are largely unknown to the public. Because these board members are anonymous, the argument goes, they cannot be held accountable by the public. Many voters can identify City Council members or county supervisors because their responsibilities are broad and touch many aspects of voters' lives. With single-purpose boards, though, it's different. Can you name members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, the Franchise Tax Board or the LAUSD board? If you don't know who they are, how are you holding them accountable? Without clear accountability, no one will make hard decisions, and the children will be the losers. This is a strong criticism of the system, and it points out real flaws.

Mayoral accountability is proposed as the remedy because everyone knows who the mayor is, and the public can hold the mayor accountable for school performance. That's what is happening in New York City, Chicago and Boston, where voters know to blame Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayor Richard Daley or Mayor Thomas Menino if the schools fail. The mayor has no easy outs, no excuses and no one else to blame in those cities. Although it has not been established that mayoral accountability always works to improve the schools, the argument is a reasonable one.

Does AB 1381 provide for clear mayoral accountability? Not really. The problem is that L.A. Unified serves the children not only of the city of Los Angeles but also those of 26 other cities and some unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. Under the bill, the LAUSD and its superintendent will be governed by the existing school board plus a new committee made up of the mayors of the district's 27 cities and the five members of the Board of Supervisors.

If things go badly, will the public be able to turn its wrath on the mayor of L.A. or on any other mayor? Not likely, because we'll have a difficult time finding our mayor in that crowd of 32 committee members and seven school board members.

What about mayoral control over the district in this legislation? Proponents claim that Villaraigosa would control the LAUSD because each mayor would have votes in proportion to the number of students he or she represents. Because Villaraigosa would have about 80% of the students, so the argument goes, he'd control 80% of the votes.

If the committee of mayors decides policy by a majority vote, or even a super-majority two-thirds vote, the mayor of Los Angeles will always win and the other 26 mayors and the five county supervisors might as well stay at home. Except that no court of law is likely to permit this to happen because the citizens who are represented by those other mayors and the supervisors would be disenfranchised where the LAUSD is concerned. If this bill passes, it will probably be mired in legal challenges for years, leaving the district without any clear-cut governance at all.

If our Legislature is serious about wanting to create mayoral accountability and control, here's a suggestion. Pass a bill that does two things: Give the mayor of Los Angeles total authority over L.A. Unified and permit any of the other 26 municipalities and the unincorporated areas that are entirely or partly in the district to pull out of it with a majority vote of their electorates.

Voters should not be passive about AB 1381. Mayoral accountability might be the right thing for L.A. Unified, and Villaraigosa might be the right mayor to wield this power, but this bill would neither give him that power nor enable the public to hold him accountable for the performance of our schools.

What it would do is leave us with even less accountability and more ambiguous control over the schools than we have today.

WILLIAM G. OUCHI, a professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, is the author of "Making Schools Work."

▲smf opines: Read Bill Ouchi's seminal book "Making Schools Work" – about empowering principals and decentralizing school districts; it is some of the best thinking about radical school reform.

I agree with Ouchi's conclusion (AB 1381 is bad) but on neither of his two bits of thinking here:
• The mayor has too many other issues on his plate to give enough focus to LAUSD.
• And I'm not alone in thinking that breakup of LAUSD would balkanize public education in LA and guarantee the socio-economic polarization between have-and-have-not/achieving-and-under-achieving communities and their good and bad schools.

The Impact of Organization on the Performance of Nine School Systems: Lessons for California by William G. Ouchi, Bruce S. Cooper, and Lydia G. Segal

WHERE NAY IS RARELY HEARD: Is the Boston School Committee working for you?


By Tracy Jan, Boston Globe Staff Writer

October 9, 2005 ― On a sleepy summer evening, Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant asked the School Committee to approve a change in the way the district's lottery system assigns children to schools.

The board had been briefed on the plan before. Payzant spoke for 12 minutes, interrupted only when Committeewoman Marchelle Raynor raised a question.

''Other questions?" asked chairwoman Elizabeth Reilinger.

There were none.

The committee approved the change, 5 to 0.

It was the third unanimous vote that evening. And, according to records, it was the 96th straight unanimous vote the School Committee had taken since March 2004, when one member voted ''nay" on the school budget.

Boston replaced its elected School Committee in 1992 with a board appointed by the mayor, saying it would end the tumult and fractiousness that had characterized the school board. But if the old committee was almost a comic sideshow, the appointed one appears to operate at times with the singlemindedness of the old Soviet Politburo.

''It's all a rubber stamp. They're just rubber stamps," said Peggy Wiesenberg, a Boston Latin School parent and member of the Citywide Parents Council, after a July meeting.

And while the appointed board has certainly brought about efficiency, it has also created one of the least visible parts of city government, critics contend. Many parents do not know the members on the committee. Only two parents regularly attend the board meetings, and one is the mother of a student representative to the board.

Of seven board members, two have listed home phone numbers. Members did not have public e-mail addresses until June.

''I don't know that anybody knows who they are," said Tess Pope, head of the parent council at the James W. Hennigan Elementary School. ''You know what it's like to me? It's like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain."

For years, the school board has also resisted televising its meetings on local cable.

Councilor John Tobin, chairman of the council's education committee, has tried to persuade the School Committee to allow the broadcast, which is done in about 60 percent of the state's school systems, according to the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

''I don't understand what the reluctance is. It's customer service," Tobin said. ''Clearly people are looking for more transparency and more accessibility in their public officials, whether they're elected or appointed."

Tobin said jokingly that the meetings are so predictable, down to who attends and where they sit, he could ''walk in with a blindfold and tap people in their chairs."

In an interview with the Globe, Reilinger defended how the appointed board operates, and said there is no attempt to shut out the public.

She said she is considering televising the meetings, which she describes as a little cut and dried sometimes.

Votes are often unanimous, she said, because the committee sometimes takes three to six weeks to consider Payzant's recommendations and listen to community input.

''The School Committee is not a rubber stamp, but we're also not there to entertain people," Reilinger said.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino also defended the board's performance, saying the panel sets broad education policy for students systemwide, rather than catering to special interests or the wishes of individual constituents, as the elected board did. He and others say the smoothness of the board's working relationship with Payzant has created unusual stability for the system, and will help attract top talent when the committee hires a new superintendent next year.

Board members, who are appointed for four-year terms and receive $7,500 stipends, also set curriculum requirements, and oversee programs such as special education, technical-vocational education, and bilingual education.

Before 1992, the elected board micromanaged the day-to-day operations of schools, frequently ran the school system into debt, and drove superintendents out of the system, observers say. Members engaged in petty arguments, hurling insults at one another. The members also arrived late and left early, getting up from their chairs mid-meeting to chat with other members, according to minutes from the 1980s. And in at least one case, a committee member threatened to punch the superintendent.

''When you're talking about public education, it can't be 'The Gong Show,' " Menino said.

There is little nostalgia for those days. Councilor at Large Maura Hennigan, who is also running for mayor, has suggested a return to an elected school board, but so far the issue has not caught fire.

Still, there is some frustration with the way the appointed board does its work.

During the two-hour meetings, Payzant dominates, sometimes talking for 30 minutes at a time. Two committee members -- Angel Amy Moreno, a university professor, and Alfreda J. Harris, the longest-serving on the board -- rarely speak. Sometimes it is Jewel Cash Jr., the student representative and a junior at Boston Latin Academy, who asks the toughest questions.

Other members politely ask questions but rarely disagree. They may delay a vote and request the school system staff provide more information on a topic, but almost always follow Payzant's recommendations, whether it's breaking up high schools into smaller schools, adding more kindergarten classes or closing down schools.

In 2004, there was one ''nay" vote out of 70 ''action" votes. (That excludes procedural votes, such as voting to adjourn a meeting.) All 51 action votes so far in 2005 have been unanimous.

''Too often they just get reports from staff, which, not surprisingly, can be self-serving," said John Mudd, senior project director at Massachusetts Advocates for Children, who attends each meeting. ''There needs to be opportunities for more openness for the public to express their opinion and for the School Committee members to ask questions and debate among themselves. Things often feel as though either decisions have already been made before they come to the meeting or an extraordinary deference to the proposals of the superintendent."

Members of the public are given three minutes to speak on topics during designated periods at each meeting. That limit is a sore point for Wiesenberg, the Boston Latin parent, who is often shut down for exceeding her time.

''You get three minutes and then you're gaveled down," Wiesenberg said. ''So where are people going? To their city councilors. Because the School Committee has not asked hard questions, you have the education committee of the City Council as the bulwark of democracy. That's ironic."

Helen Dajer, who was appointed this year, said she would support more open debate on the board.

''When things get presented at the meeting it's almost as though it's 'Here it is for your information,' " Dajer said. ''It doesn't seem to be the right forum for a real active discussion. . . .The good thing is people don't talk to each other behind anybody's back. But the bad thing is no one talks to each other about anything."


Editorial from LA Daily News

August 6, 2006 — MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA is taking his pitch for school reform to the people all across Los Angeles, painting a disturbing picture of a bloated bureaucracy in dire straits and failing an entire generation of Angelenos.

He talks about the second-largest government agency of its kind that should be among the most respected in the world but somehow can't seem to even accomplish its most basic responsibilities with its multibillion-dollar budget.

He decries the disconnect between the agency's officials and constituents, describing a bureaucracy that has become so remote from the people it serves that it can't hope to turn around without outside intervention. Which is, of course, where he comes in a take-charge mayor who will get things fixed, hold people accountable and empower ordinary folks to play important roles.

But wait a minute: Is Villaraigosa talking about the Los Angeles Unified School District or the city he heads?

Villaraigosa's assessment of the LAUSD and its current state of abject failure is right on target. But what he doesn't see or perhaps doesn't want to acknowledge is that the same things are true of City Hall.

If the LAUSD's problems can be defined by its 50 percent or so dropout rate and low achievement, the city's can be calculated in the flight out of town of the middle class and the good-paying jobs that supported them.

So if a take-charge mayor holding people accountable is good enough for the schools, it should be good enough for the city.

The school district is run by a group of extremely well-paid people who seem to be primarily interested in preserving the bureaucracy and squashing diversity and creativity.

The city, by comparison, is run by a group of extremely well-paid people who also seem to be engaged in keeping their place in the power structure and not rocking the boat.

The LAUSD board of education members are virtually anointed by public-employee unions or the mayor or one of the various political power brokers in the city. Their meetings are designed to squelch public comment, not encourage it.

The Los Angeles City Council is put into place by more or less the same interests, paid handsomely and granted much bigger staffs. And hard as it may be to believe, the council has decided to refuse to listen to the public at all.

Mayor Villaraigosa is right. The bureaucracy is broken both in the schools and at City Hall.

And while he needs new state legislation to fix the schools, the new city charter gives him all the tools he needs to put the bureaucracy and the City Council in their places. So he can start fixing the city.

▲A week ago Thursday DN Editor Ron Kaye was the moderator at AV's Takeover Town Hall/Love Fest at Valley College. Three days later this? Ouch!


By Ledyard King, USA Today (Gannett News Service)

August 5, 2006 — WASHINGTON — More than four of five students eligible for extra tutoring under the No Child Left Behind Law are not getting the required help, though school districts are starting to do a better job of offering those services, a new government report has found.

The Bush administration has criticized states for not being more aggressive in providing what are called "supplemental educational services," even threatening to withhold money. The law calls for school districts to offer such help to students at high-poverty schools who have not made adequate academic progress for three consecutive years.

The report issued by the Government Accountability Office on Friday indicated that only 19% of eligible students nationwide received extra tutoring in the 2004-05 school year, up from 12% the year before.

About one in five school districts, most of them rural, didn't offer students any services even though they were required to do so, according to the GAO, Congress' watchdog arm.

The GAO report found that most districts have improved their efforts to contact parents and make them aware of the services, and that many offer help on or near campus. But students often don't take advantage of the help because families aren't notified in time, the report found.

The report also said school districts impose "burdensome" requirements on tutoring providers that limit marketing to students and use of school facilities. Transportation to off-campus tutors might also be an issue for low-income students, particularly in rural areas, said Anna Weselak, National PTA president.

But "the bigger issue is there are services available for children who aren't receiving them," she said.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has often talked about the tutoring help as a crucial tool to boost perennially low-performing schools. Last month, the department expanded a pilot program that gives select school districts the ability to offer the free tutoring after just two years of poor test scores.


by Janine Kahn | LATimes | SchoolMe!

Aug 12, 2006 — Just a few weeks ago, Los Angeles school district board members saw UTLA's charmingly cocky president A.J. Duffy as an ally in opposition to the mayor's power grab. Now at least some must be befuddled as to why he seems so eager to carry State Senator Gloria Romero's water, most recently by hitting the district with a blustering letter demanding information about how it has been financing its anti-takeover siege.

The Aug. 3 missive to lame duck superintendent Roy Romer accuses LAUSD of "requiring teachers to disseminate information stating the district's position on the takeover bill," and supposedly compromising their "individual rights" in the process. Duffy hits Romer with a slew of questions, demanding to know:

• How much the district is paying lobbyists like Darry Sragow
• How much of the public's funds have gone into meetings and travel expenses in connection with consultants and lobbyists hired to fight the mayor's bill.
• How much the LAUSD has spent on efforts to urge parents, teachers and the public at large to advocate a legislative vote against the bill. (Duffy is particularly eager to know how the district paid for the yellow "LAUSD Parent" and "People, Not Politics" shirts folks were wearing to anti-takeover gatherings and other public meetings.)
• Which staff members, if any, have been assigned to work on the anti-takeover campaign, and what it cost the district to cover their hours.
• How much was spent on school busses used to transport LAUSD members to the July 27 public meeting.
• How much it cost to develop, print and distribute anti-takeover flyers and "Parent Alert" letters.

These are all good questions. Teachers who oppose the deal their president cut with the mayor may also want to ask how much money the union has spent for Duffy's trips to Sacramento and why this letter, as grandiloquent as it is redundant (the mayor's team was already browbeating the district for the information) was necessary.

4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Sunday, August 13, 2006
12 noon - 7:00 pm
Leimert Park Village
Special Event Parking Lot at the corner of 43rd Street and Degnan
Free admission and parking.
1319 E 41ST ST
Phone: 213.633.7493
Phone: 213.633.7616


What can YOU do?
►CONTACT YOUR ASSEMBLYPERSON AND STATE SENATOR [link below to find them]. Tell them what you think about their wasting their time, effort and the taxpayer's money on the mayor's attempt at takeover or makeover – an effort that is patently unconstitutional and will never survive a court challenge. Their time, the mayor's time, the board of education's time – all of our time, thinking and hard work - is better spent working together rather than at odds to continue and support the very real efforts at reform already begun. Their time is better spent helping LAUSD find a new superintendent, guaranteeing an improved funding stream for all California schools and helping kids in the classroom, on the playground; during, before and after school.




• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6383

...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think!
Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• 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.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is also the elected Youth & Education boardmember on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
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