Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hopefuly is not a plan.

4LAKids: Sunday, October 8, 2006
In This Issue:
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

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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 Effective School Reform: MAKING SCHOOLS WORK — Get the Book @!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
All through the week the Board of Ed and the Mayor played at schoolyard "Did not!"/"Did too!" / "My ball, my rules!" over the superintendent appointment. If one would run the schools one should model behavior, don'tchathink?

Thursday brought the news that the rank and file of UTLA has repudiated the union's complicity in the mayor's plan. ("L.A. Teachers Buck Union, Repudiate Mayoral Takeover")

• This was not a repudiation of union leadership; it was the repudiation of a decision.
• It is not a repudiation of the mayor.
• It does not sound the death knell for mayoral takeover of LAUSD or for AB 1381.
• It is also not, as UTLA leadership would have us believe: a moot point based on a campaign of disinformation. There simply hasn't been enough information about the mayor's plan developed for anyone to be disinformed about it!

Perhaps it's a campaign of under-information?

What the vote was was a victory of the democratic process, a victory of a small group of brave souls who dared ask questions and speak truth to power. It proves Margaret Mead's epigram that we dare not underestimate the power of a small dedicated group to effect change because they are the only ones who ever do.

Last Wednesday Ramon Cortines, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Education, Youth and Families spoke to the LAUSD Parent Collaborative — this was later in the day from Cortines' meeting with School Board President Marlene Canter in the lobby of the downtown Marriott reported in the LA Times' "LA Unified Rebuffs Mayor" (below).

Cortines was frank and forthright in his discussion with the representatives of various organized parent groups – mandated and voluntary – Title One, English Language Learners, Special Ed and Special Needs; District Advisory Councils and PTA.

In his brief opening statement and extensive Q&A he made a couple of things clear:

• Despite an earlier promise to the same group on August 2nd from mayors' spokesman Rafael Gonzales: "We will involve parents in the discussion and develop the specifics after the legislation passes." — there is no intent to develop a specific plan and the mayor and his team have no intention of collaborating with existing established districtwide parent groups.
• The mayors' yet-to-be-identified three clusters of schools will be testbeds – trying new things, thinking outside the box, retaining the best of current reform and pushing the envelope.
• 'Hopefully' best practices will transfer by osmosis between LAUSD schools and the mayor's schools.
• Likewise, while the mayor and Cortines are committed to serve those populations we should expect no specific defined plan on Special Ed and Special Needs, Gifted Ed, etc.
• The day-to-day governance of the mayor's schools – really the only portion of AB 1381 and mayoral takeover discussed Wednesday – would be in the hands of a local superintendent directly accountable to the mayor.
• The mayor expects to meet with the LAUSD general superintendent about once a month.
• Parents in the mayor's schools would have the option to transfer students out of the program – and presumably other parents could also "transfer in". But once identified - schools themselves could not "opt out" of the program or the clusters. Parents and administrators were not represented at the meeting; whether they could request transfers into-or-away-from the mayor's schools was not addressed.
• Cortines guaranteed that he would "B.S." no one; neither parents nor the mayor. He stated that many of the things the mayor said he would like to do in his campaign to take over LAUSD – things that were goals in the April draft plan (i.e.: reduce class size, lengthen the school year, etc.) are impossible given current circumstances — and he has told the mayor so.
• He made it clear that the mayor and the mayor's team would be dealing with parents at school sites — but do not intend to deal with parents groups organized at the district (and presumably state and national) level.
• Cortines bristled when questioned about the plan he championed and developed during his interim superintendency in 1999 to divide LAUSD into local districts; he was critical of Superintendent Romer and the Board of Ed in not following through on the plan they approved.
• He revealed that he had withdrawn his name from consideration for the LAUSD superintendency at the request of the mayor — and an inability to "serve two masters."
• And Cortines, a Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, while shutting the door on dealing with organized parent groups, did offer to outreach and cooperate with the smaller cities within LAUSD.

►Some thoughts: Most of LAUSD's failures and shortcomings are directly attributable to a lack of long range planning – or planning of any kind. And here we go again …with a stated intention of to making it up as we go along!
• The dramatic turnaround in LAUSD school construction over the past six years is due to developing and adhering to Strategic Execution Plans
1. You set goals and priorities.
2. You make a plan.
3. You secure buy in.
4. You implement the plan. There is no skipping #1-3!
• The turnaround in elementary education required goals be set, planning and development of strategy and a defined implementation plan.
• The ongoing roll out the A-G Graduation Requirement has required Goals > Planning > Execution.

Charter schools are educational test beds; they operate at the cutting edge of public education. But to get a charter they develop and present a plan — a plan the state and school district buy into in granting the charter …and parents buy into when they apply for admission.

For there to be buy-in and commitment and success there simply must be a plan.

Otherwise the metaphor becomes building the airplane in flight – or rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Both of those are vehicles we don't want Los Angeles' kids going anywhere in! —smf


By Howard Blume and Joel Rubin, LA Times Staff Writers

October 6, 2006 — Los Angeles teachers have formally voiced opposition to state legislation, supported by their union leaders, that grants substantial control of the school district to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the union announced Thursday.

About a quarter of Los Angeles teachers voted, by a margin of 56% to 44%, to repudiate the schools law signed by the governor last month. A prominent dissident said the vote raised important, ongoing questions, including whether the union leadership should switch sides — and join an anticipated lawsuit challenging the new law.

Union officials called the referendum a moot issue.

Thursday also was marked by continuing theatrics swirling around the selection of the city's next schools superintendent, as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and school board President Marlene Canter traded verbal barbs.

In disparaging school board members for the secretive selection process, Villaraigosa said at a news conference that he had never been asked to nominate candidates to replace outgoing schools Supt. Roy Romer.

Moments earlier, however, a senior aide from the Los Angeles Unified School District had handed out copies of a June 16 letter from the firm conducting the confidential search, in which the mayor is asked "for any suggestions you might have for this appointment."

A Villaraigosa spokeswoman offered clarification later.

"Names of candidates were not submitted because Mayor Villaraigosa is not trying to dictate or control the process, but instead be a partner," said Janelle Erickson.

The teachers vote, meanwhile, was unwelcome news for union leadership, which downplayed it.

"We're disappointed," said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers L.A. "But it has no effect on the legislation. And we're going to continue to be at the table with the school district, the mayor and the community. Clearly, we see that members are skeptical of the changes this legislation will bring to schools. I don't see it as a repudiation of leadership. I view it as a repudiation of Assembly Bill 1381," he said, referring to the law that becomes effective Jan. 1.

But dissidents see more to the vote.

"What's important now is that we have a new beginning and a chance to do this thing over," said Paul Huebner, a teacher at Rowan Elementary who wrote the referendum. "The membership went this way because we were very successful in informing membership that the lawsuit gives us a second bite at the apple."

Huebner suggested that UTLA should now side with the district in arguing that the new law is unconstitutional. "I prefer to think of it as the members' side, not the district's," Huebner said.

Also back on the table is whether and how teachers should participate in three groups of schools that the law places under Villaraigosa's direct control, said teacher Warren Fletcher.

The mayor's office — and the district superintendent — will choose three high schools and their feeder schools from a group of 19 eligible low-performing high schools.

Turnout for the teachers vote was low, but about the same as for the union's presidential election.

School board member Jon Lauritzen, who is closely aligned with the union but opposed the new law, said he expected the rank and file to come out against its leadership.

"They have to take this as a wake-up call and reexamine where they go from here," Lauritzen said, adding that the vote could weaken the union leaders' position as they try to salvage gains for teachers in the law.

In their own ballot arguments, union leaders said a repudiation could weaken their bargaining position in ongoing contract talks. The teachers contract expired June 30, although both sides have agreed on an extension of health benefits.

Duffy said that members' views had been distorted by characterization of the law as full "mayoral control," which, he said, the union had successfully negotiated out of the bill's final version.

Board President Canter suggested that teachers, in fact, understood exactly what was going on.

"It was a legislative deal that does not represent the people. The voters of Los Angeles were passed by and now it's clear the leadership of UTLA did not consult or represent their constituents."

Canter also had words for the mayor in her own news conference. She sternly dismissed the mayor's portrait of the board as disgruntled and unwilling to partner with the mayor.

"I have bent over backward … trying to find a way to common ground between what the Board of Education feels is its responsibility and what the mayor would like to do."

Villaraigosa, flanked by officials from other cities served by L.A. Unified, called in the media a day after the board on Wednesday formally rejected Villaraigosa's request to review the full list of more than 100 candidates for superintendent, interview finalists and give input on whom he wants hired.

"This is the biggest decision the school board will make. They shouldn't rush to make that decision behind closed doors," Villaraigosa said. "I believe we made a modest and reasonable proposal…. We simply asked the board to open up this process, to let the sun shine in."

Canter said that while "sitting in on interviews and offering in-put is one thing," she feared that Villaraigosa, if allowed to meet the finalists, would publicly criticize whom the board selects if he disagrees.

She left quickly to rejoin interviews the board was holding with two finalists. Board members hope to decide by the end of next week, according to some board members and staffers. The mayor departs Saturday for a 16-day trade mission to Asia.


Standoff looms as L.A. Unified trustees tell Villaraigosa it's inappropriate to seek his views until new law takes effect in January.

By Joel Rubin and Howard Blume, LA Times Staff Writers

October 5, 2006

The Los Angeles Board of Education has rejected Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's request to take part in choosing the city's next superintendent of schools.

"It is disappointing from my standpoint that there doesn't seem to be any opportunity on this issue for partnership," said Ramon C. Cortines, the mayor's top education advisor.

"The mayor and I understand that the board has the authority to select the superintendent." But, he added, it is proper for Villaraigosa to "have a role" in light of legislation signed into law last month that will give him substantial authority over Los Angeles schools. The law is scheduled to take effect in January.

Villaraigosa had asked to see the full list of superintendent candidates and to interview all finalists so that he can give his views to the school board.

The board's stance seemingly cements a standoff as the school district prepares to make its choice and the mayor prepares for a trade mission to Asia.

The board had previously offered to arrange for the mayor to meet the next schools chief before he or she is introduced to the public.

More than that, board President Marlene Canter said, would have been inappropriate. The school board, not the mayor, is currently charged with choosing a superintendent.

"He wants to interview all the candidates and do the same thing that the board does," she said. "This is our responsibility. This is what the law says the board should do and we will deliver."

If the selection had come after Jan. 1, the new law would have allowed Villaraigosa to reject the board's choice for superintendent. The board has vowed to challenge the law's constitutionality in court.

Canter held private conversations with the mayor's office last week, and conveyed the board's final decision to Cortines on Wednesday morning in the lobby of the downtown Marriott hotel. Also present was Ed Hamilton, the head of the firm that has conducted the confidential search.

The offer was unacceptable to the mayor, Cortines told Canter.

In the hotel lobby, Cortines and Canter also discussed possible compromises. At one point, Hamilton suggested that the mayor could interview finalists on the condition that he support the board's ultimate choice, Cortines said.

Cortines relayed these new suggestions to Villaraigosa, but the mayor rejected them as well.

Even the new law, if it survives the anticipated court challenge, will not give Villaraigosa the unilateral authority to fire a sitting superintendent without the board's consent. The result could be that the mayor, despite his new powers, would be stuck with whatever superintendent the board chooses.

The stalemate has the potential to place the next superintendent in an intractable situation, said Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, which has taken an active role in discussions about reforming Los Angeles schools.

Any candidate for the post, he said, would be wise to ask the school board for a meeting with the mayor.

"I would not want to risk my future because of a lack of due diligence," Toebben said.

Villaraigosa could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He is scheduled to hold a news conference this morning with mayors of other cities served by the Los Angeles Unified School District to discuss the superintendent search.

Current schools Supt. Roy Romer has announced that he intends to retire from the district as soon as a replacement is found.

Monica Garcia, the lone board member closely aligned with Villaraigosa, disparaged the position of her colleagues.

"This is by far the most critical decision we will make in charting our future. Our process would be strengthened by including the mayor's input," she said. "It is unfortunate that the board chose a different path."

Three of the five finalists on the short list submitted by a search committee were confirmed Tuesday by sources close to the selection process.

They are: Tom Vander Ark, executive director for education initiatives at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; former Occidental College President Ted Mitchell, who now heads a nonprofit firm that funds charter schools; and Carlos A. Garcia, the former head of the Clark County, Nev., school district.

The board has the prerogative to interview other candidates as well.

Villaraigosa could schedule interviews on his own but Canter said that would be improper.

"The candidates will not be taking calls during the interview search from anybody but Hamilton," Canter said. "A lot of the candidates have asked to keep the process confidential."

Canter declined to speculate on whether meeting with the mayor would harm an applicant's chances.

Board member David Tokofsky said the mayor was repeatedly invited to offer input and nominate candidates — which Villaraigosa never did, he said.

"Give us a name!" said an exasperated Tokofsky.


• The new superintendent must have broad appeal that can't be assessed just by the School Board.

By Ramon C. Cortines

Ramon C. Cortines is Los Angeles deputy mayor for education, youth and families. A former schools superintendent in Pasadena, San Jose and San Francisco, he also served as interim L.A. Unified superintendent; he has been chancellor of NY City Schools.

October 8, 2006 - Choosing the next L.A. Unified superintendent is the biggest decision the school board will make. It should be made with a keen eye on the future.

The next superintendent must be a leader and an agent of change — rapidly accelerating reform, reducing the dropout rate and increasing student performance, completing a historic school-construction program, and decreasing the district's central bureaucracy so that resources and decisions can be moved to school communities. He or she must have the financial acumen of a Fortune 500 chief executive, the mind of a scholar and the determination of a marathon runner.

Just as important, the next superintendent must have the support of parents, teachers and business and community leaders if the reforms already in place are to take root and those needed for continued educational improvement are to be implemented.

Although the school board clings to the outdated notion that selecting a superintendent is its job alone, the truth is that our public schools are central to our economy and quality of life, and to the future of our region. As former Mayor Richard Riordan aptly noted in 1997, "The new superintendent must also have the backing of our entire community, for we are all stakeholders in the education of our children."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has proposed, on behalf of the soon-to-be-formed council of mayors, that he be allowed to interview the finalists for the superintendent job and provide feedback to the school board. This is a modest and eminently reasonable proposal that the board would be well advised to accept. It's true that the landmark L.A. Unified reform measure signed into law last month, which gives the mayor substantial control over the district, does not go into effect until Jan. 1. But despite that, the mayor should be part of the current superintendent-selection process to lay the groundwork for a long-term community partnership to bring about change.

In addition, the board should consider the voice of the community — perhaps taking a page from the lively community forums in which I participated as a candidate for the job of superintendent of the San Jose Public School District or from those held by L.A. Unified in the late 1990s — so that parents and community members can meet the candidates in person and ask questions.

The notion, advanced by some school board members, that those applying to head the nation's second-largest school district have something to fear by appearing in public is nonsense. The board should know — and the community will know — that any candidate who shies away from meeting parents, teachers and civic and business leaders is not going to last long as superintendent. This is a very public job.

The next superintendent will be responsible not only to the board of education but also to Villaraigosa and the Council of Mayors. In addition, he or she must be accessible to communities from San Pedro to the northern reaches of the San Fernando Valley to the city's border to the east and the Pacific.

I believe that the school board is committed to finding a dynamic leader to head the district, but that's not the point. The selection process must be transparent to ensure that the next superintendent is not only qualified but also has the broadest public support.

►4LAKids echoes: "…. the board should consider the voice of the community — so that parents and community members can meet the candidates in person and ask questions."

But not "In addition": PRIMARILY…! -smf



Oct 4, 2006 (CBS) LOS ANGELES The short list to become the next Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent includes the top educator for the world's richest philanthropy, a former college president and a onetime Las Vegas schools chief, it was reported Wednesday.

Sources close to the selection process told the Los Angeles Times that the finalists include Tom Vander Ark, executive director for education initiatives at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; former Occidental College President Ted Mitchell, who now heads a nonprofit firm that funds charter schools; and Carlos A. Garcia, the former head of the Clark County, Nev., school district.

The names, confirmed to The Times by members of a search committee, were among five presented by the committee to the Board of Education in a private meeting Tuesday.

The board also reportedly is considering state Secretary of Education Alan Bersin, The Times reported. He was not among the finalists, but a search committee member told The Times that some board members had indicated interest in him.

The next Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent will replace Roy Romer as head of the nation's second-largest school district.


by Marian Burros, New York Times

October 7, 2006 – In an effort to fight the rise in childhood obesity, five of the country’s largest snack food producers said yesterday they would start providing more nutritious foods to schools, replacing sugary, fat-laden products in vending machines and cafeterias.

French fries, ice cream, candy, cupcakes and potato chips from the machines, lunch lines, school stores and even school fund-raising events could disappear under a voluntary agreement between the companies and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

The plan, which may take effect at the beginning of the next school year, is the first nationwide effort to set strict nutrition guidelines for school vending machines.

Because the guidelines are voluntary, critics say they will not be effective.

Both the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a frequent critic of the food industry, and the School Nutrition Association want government regulation instead.

“Our organization feels pretty strongly that we need some kind of nutrition guidance from the Department of Agriculture,” said Janey Thornton, president of the nutrition association.

Dr. Carlos Camargo, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health was more positive. “I think it’s helpful for groups that have traditionally denied any connection between snack foods and obesity or health to be acknowledging now that there are links, and that moves the agenda forward,” Dr. Camargo said. A bill introduced in the Senate this year would require the Agriculture Department to set standards for snack foods based on those that the Institute of Medicine is expected to issue by the end of the year.

The agreement will be more difficult to implement than those announced in May between the three largest soft drink companies and the alliance, which is a partnership of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, in which companies agreed to replace sugary soft drinks with more healthful beverages.

The soft drink companies account for 90 percent of soft drinks in schools, which are sold through the company distributors. But there are about 70 snack food companies that supply schools, and those products are sold through independent vendors who are not in the agreement.

That means yesterday’s initiative will require the companies to educate vendors on the need for more healthful snacks. At the news conference announcing the new initiative, former President Bill Clinton said: “The companies are going to work to convince distributors and even their competitors to follow suit. I think after today, their competitors are going to have a very difficult time explaining why they won’t.”

Several company officials agreed.

“The power of this alliance is to get others to join it,” said Charles Nicholas, a spokesman for Frito-Lay.

Under the guidelines, products could contain no more than 35 percent sugar by weight and have no more than 230 milligrams of sodium. No trans fats would be allowed. No product could get more than 35 percent of its calories from fat. The guidelines would also set calorie limits for each serving based on age: 150 calories for elementary school children, 180 calories for middle school children and 200 calories for high school students.

The five food manufacturers — Dannon, Kraft Foods, Mars, PepsiCo and the Campbell Soup Company — agreed to make specific changes in what they sell to schools. They are the following:

• Mars has created a new line of nutritious snacks.

• Frito-Lay, a unit of PepsiCo, is reformulating several products to meet the guidelines.

• Kraft is decreasing the sodium and calories in products it sells for school vending machines.

• Campbell is promoting soups that are lower in calories, fat and sodium, and offering additional products with less sodium.

• Dannon is reducing the sugar content of its Danimals drinkable yogurt by 25 percent.

Some states and school districts already have strict limits on food sold outside the government-regulated school lunch and breakfast programs. But the Center for Science in the Public Interest in a survey of states found that two-thirds of them had either extremely weak policies on snack foods or no policy at all.

Dr. Thomas Robinson, associate professor of pediatrics at the Stanford School of Medicine and director of the Center for Healthy Weight at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, takes the long view: “This problem is similar to what happened to tobacco over the last several decades; things happened incrementally,” Dr. Robinson said.

Mr. Clinton reminded his audience that problems of this magnitude aren’t solved in a day.

“We didn’t get in this fix overnight, and we won’t get out of it overnight,” he said.

More NYT on Cafeteria Food: NO MORE MYSTERY MEAT!


• From the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Newsletter of September 25, 2006

STAKEHOLDER, SHAREHOLDER, CRITICAL FRIEND — these are some terms that have been used to describe staff, parents, students and community members who have participated in supporting our schools. Each school in the Los Angeles Unified School District has, to varying degrees, involved "stakeholders" or "shareholders" or "critical friends" in decision-making activities. School-Based Management, LEARN, LAUSD/UTLA Article 27, and other governance structures through the years have stressed community-wide involvement in decision-making, culminating in the charter school movement. Collaborative decision-making is accomplished through the use of various site councils and committees including School Leadership Councils, School Site Councils, Compensatory Education Advisory Committees and such.

While shared governance is critically important for the ongoing success of a school, the backbone of parent involvement locally, statewide and nationally has been and continues to be the Parent Teacher Association commonly known as PTA. PTA parents support our teachers with classroom assistance, school-wide activities, school fundraising activities, and recognition of teachers and other school staff. In addition to their school support service, PTA parents also serve as legislative advocates for children, both in each state and in Washington, D.C. PTA units at all levels look objectively at student needs and do not get involved in the political deal-making that tends to occur with other lobbying groups. This was never more evident than in the current debate over AB 1381. PTA was concerned, and rightly so, with the lack of parent involvement in what was basically a local decision. PTA advocated for the need for a parent voice through the ballot box if the City Charter or State Constitution were to be amended to allow mayors to govern our schools.

AALA is proud to partner with 10th District PTA and 31st District PTA in support of students, parents and staff in the District. The leadership provided by Scott Folsom, 10th District President, and Linda Ross, 31st District President, has been outstanding. AALA encourages all principals from Early Childhood to Adult Division to start a PTA unit at their schools if one does not already exist. The leadership in both PTA Districts is more than willing to assist any school that is interested in starting a PTA chapter. This is also the time of year to renew PTA memberships. Whether a staff member or teacher is in a school with a PTA chapter or not, anyone interested in PTA can join by requesting a membership envelope from a PTA District office. AALA is proud to be an institutional member.

Parents are partners, and PTA represents parents……PLEASE SUPPORT PTA.

• smf adds: September was Membership month in PTA, but members, whether parents, teachers, students, principals, school staff, local district superintendents, general superintendents, school board members, community members or elected officials —and new units — are always welcome!

31st District in local districts 1&2
10th District in local districts 3-8


• First District includes the counties of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Plumas and Sierra, as well as portions of Nevada, Placer and Sacramento Counties.

Monday, October 2, 2006 — Thank you for contacting me regarding Assembly Bill 1381 and the Los Angeles Unified School District. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

Authored by Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-Los Feliz), AB 1381 would alter the governance structure of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) by establishing a “Council of Mayors” to hire the next district superintendent of the LAUSD, granting the district superintendent extraordinary authority to negotiate and execute district contracts, and granting the Mayor of Los Angeles control over three “clusters” of low-performing schools.

Despite claims of educational reform and operational flexibility, this bill does not provide the mayor or the district superintendent more authority to make decisions without putting those decisions on the bargaining table. Without express statutory authority to implement reforms, the mayor will be every bit as hamstrung as any other well-intentioned reformer.

There were numerous discussions regarding this issue earlier this year, and wide speculation about what the specifics of such a bill would look like. In June, Assemblyman Frommer “gutted and amended” language into AB 1381 at the request of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Following many revisions and amendments, the Legislature passed a scaled-down version before adjourning in August, and Governor Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law. While LAUSD has many glaring problems, I voted against this bill not only because it will not produce the necessary reforms, it does not require a vote of the people in the district to take effect. Furthermore, it is likely to be found unconstitutional.

State law establishes lines of authority and accountability with respect to school districts throughout California. Each school district is governed by a local school board, whose members are elected by the voters who live in that district. The board members have the authority to set policy, approve budgets and contracts, decide matters of litigation, and employ a superintendent to carry out the day-to-day management of the district. I am concerned that AB 1381 would dramatically change this governance structure by adding two additional layers of bureaucracy.

AB 1381 would create a “Council of Mayors,” comprised of the mayors and supervisors within the LAUSD. Each member’s vote is weighted proportionally based on their representation of LAUSD’s population (i.e., the Los Angeles Mayor accounts for some 80% percent of the weighted vote.) The Council would have the authority to review the budget and perhaps to revise it, and veto any appointment, contract term, renewal, or removal of the Superintendent. Any decision would only require a majority vote of the Council.

Additionally, the bill would create the “Los Angeles Mayor’s Community Partnership for School Excellence (Partnership).” It would require the Mayor to exercise oversight over three clusters of “the lowest performing schools,” each consisting of a high school ranked in deciles 1 or 2 on the Academic Performance Index and the high school’s feeder middle and elementary schools. Upon authorization and with input “from parents, community leaders, and teacher and employee unions,” the Mayor would select each cluster; the Superintendent would choose if no agreement is reached. The bill also states that “all authority” with respect to the schools in the clusters shall be transferred to the partnership, “which is directed by the Mayor.”

Moreover, other troubling provisions in this bill further diminish the Board’s authority, which in essence take the public out of the decision-making process. For example, with respect to selecting curriculum and instructional materials the bill requires the Superintendent and Board to ensure that teachers and certificated staff have an authentic and central role, and that a majority of the curriculum committee participants are classroom teachers. The public elects the Board to make these decisions, and this provision removes parents from these critical decisions.

Finally, there are significant questions regarding the constitutionality of this bill. Article IX, Section 6 of the California Constitution provides that, “No school or college or any part of the Public School System shall be, directly or indirectly, transferred from the Public School System or placed under the jurisdiction of any authority other than one included within the Public School System.” This bill appears to violate that provision. Local school groups have announced their intention to file a lawsuit immediately after this bill is signed into law. This will only add another layer of uncertainty over this entire experiment and waste millions of taxpayer dollars that would otherwise be spent in classrooms.

AB 1381 does nothing to accomplish the necessary reforms for LAUSD, and that is why I strongly opposed it. It complicates the District’s governance, removes parents’ involvement in the decision-making process, and obscures the lines of accountability and responsibility. Furthermore, it sets a dangerous precedent by allowing other mayors to enact a similar "restructuring" of their respective educational systems of governance.

Thank you again for contacting me on this matter. Should you have another concern relating to state government, please do not hesitate to contact me again.


Senator, First District

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Monday Oct 9, 2006
Please join us to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of your new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Wilshire Park Elementary School (Los Angeles New ES #1)
4063 Ingraham St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005

Monday Oct 9, 2006
6:00 p.m.
Muir Middle School
5929 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90044

Monday Oct 9, 2006
6:30 p.m.
Sunrise Elementary School – Gymnasium
2821 E. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Tuesday Oct 10, 2006
►Central Region Elementary School #14 Community Meeting
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Rosemont Avenue Elementary School – Auditorium
421 N. Rosemont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Tuesday Oct 10, 2006
At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:30 p.m.
Belmont New Elementary School #6
100 N. New Hampshire Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Tuesday Oct 10, 2006
6:00 p.m.
Harte Prep Middle School
9301 S. Hoover St.
Los Angeles, CA. 90044

Wednesday Oct 11, 2006
Please join us to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of your new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.
Banning New Elementary School #1
500 N. Island Ave.
Wilmington, CA 90744

Wednesday Oct 11, 2006
At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:00 p.m.
Ritter Elementary School
11108 Watts Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90059

Wednesday Oct 11, 2006
At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Harmony Elementary School
899 E. 42nd Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90011

Thursday Oct 12, 2006
At this meeting we will discuss the SCHOOL PROJECT DEFINITION that staff will recommend to the LAUSD Board of Education for review and approval.
6:00 p.m.
The CenterPointe Club
6200 Playa Vista Drive
Playa Vista, CA 90094

Thursday Oct 12, 2006
Please join us for a community meeting regarding the design of South Region Span K-8 #1.
At this meeting we will:
* Present schematic design drawings
* Receive community input on the design of the project
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Gulf Elementary School - Auditorium
828 W. "L" St.
Wilmington, CA 90744

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213.633.7493
Phone: 213.633.7616


What can YOU do?
• 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 ( 213/978-0600), 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. Make a difference. Be there for a child.
• Register.
• 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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