Sunday, November 05, 2006

Elections and The Gunpowder Plot

4LAKids: Sunday, Nov. 5, 2006 — Guy Fawkes Day
In This Issue:
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
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 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.
A HISTORY LESSON: In the early morning of Nov. 4th 1605 one Guy Fawkes as arrested for placing a great deal of gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament in London. Fawkes' intent was to blow up Parliament the next day, King James and all, in a bit of revolutionary religious extremism, setting off a civil war in hopeful expectation of returning a English Catholic Monarch to the British throne …James being a Scot, and a Presbyterian in Church of England clothing.

When questioned that evening by King James himself Fawkes said and that his intentions were "to blow the Scotsmen present back into Scotland" and refused to say his name or those of his co-conspirators. The king instructed "the gentler tortours (tortures) are to be first used unto him, and so by degrees proceeding to the worst, and so God speed your goode worke" …as torture was contrary to English common law. On November 7th Fawkes' spirit broke and he confessed his real name and that the plot was confined to five men.

The crown was not satisfied and the "satanic" Gunpowder Plot grew into a witch hunt as many Catholics, priests and sympathizers were run down, imprisoned, exiled, tortured or condemned though extra jurisdictional secret courts called Star Chambers. James – whose eponymous version of the Bible is described as "Most Dread Sovereign" alleged a widespread terror plot, consolidated power and ran the papists underground or out of Britain. Fawkes was – despite the niceties of English Common law – hanged, drawn and quartered – and his effigy is annually burned every Nov. 5th – the anniversary of the attack that never happened.

The Civil War was postponed for a generation. The Catholics having been eliminated the contest was between opposing flavors of holier-than-thou Protestants – and between the King and Parliament.

FOR EXTRA CREDIT: Draw the parallels between modern events, non-state sponsored religious terrorism and state sponsored overreaction, condoning of torture and extralegal consolidation of power.

THE TIMES REPORTS a great coming together in "Seeking An Equal Say In Schools' Future"; while parents in New York warn "Las Voces De Los Padres Cuentan"/"Parents' Voices Matter". In Chicago the LA Times parent explains it all for you in "School Plan Sparks L.A. Tiff"

Re: AB1381 — It looks like we're paying more and getting less.

But bad stuff can't happen here because we have elections! Right? The Oroville Mercury Register puts it in perspective "Off The Record", and 4LAKids endorses some winners, some losers and tilts at some windmills "For The Record".

Please - go vote on Tuesday; it's your chance to set things aright! —smf


by Carla Rivera, LA Times Staff Writer (with comments from the peanut gallery)

October 29, 2006 - After months of controversy, combative rhetoric and threatened litigation over Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan to assume substantial control of the Los Angeles Unified School District, a broad-based group of community leaders met Saturday to begin hammering out the details of specific reforms they want the mayor to include in his initiative.

• smf: Exactly who this "broad based coalition" was is not spelled out. Notably absent were parent representatives from groups such as PTA, the Parent Collaborative, Title One, English Language Learner or Special Education parent groups. Those groups – the officially recognized and/or legally mandated parent representatives within LAUSD were not even informed that this "broad based collation" was being coalesced.

LAT: By the end of the day one thing was clear: Parents, teachers and community organizations want an equal say in determining how the district will be remade.

• smf: We still do.

LAT: Villaraigosa acknowledged as much in his opening remarks to the group of 100 or so people, who represented church groups, businesses, human services agencies, city and county departments, law enforcement, city councils and numerous schools.

"This issue of 'mayor control' is a misnomer," he told the meeting — billed as an education retreat — at the Doheny campus of Mount St. Mary's College near downtown. "This is the perfect example of a partnership. I don't need to bring 200 people together if I was just going to do it alone."

• smf: Is it 100 or 200?

LAT: New legislation — Assembly Bill 1381 — gives Villaraigosa broad authority over the district. It also establishes a Council of Mayors from each city within the district's boundaries and each member of the county Board of Supervisors; that group can ratify or reject the school board's choice for superintendent. In addition, the law gives the superintendent expanded powers. It is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 but is being challenged in court by the school board.

The focus Saturday was on Villaraigosa's plan to directly oversee three clusters of low-performing schools, each containing a high school and the elementary and middle schools that feed into it. The mayor's office has already identified 19 potential clusters in South Los Angeles, on the Eastside, in the San Fernando Valley and in West/Central Los Angeles.

Participants were invited to indicate their top two choices in each region. The final choice will be selected by the mayor and incoming district Supt. David L. Brewer around the end of the year. Two would be established in July and the third in 2008.

The participants also discussed possible criteria to be used in the selection. Options included: greatest social/community need; lowest academic performance; degree of ethnic diversity; highest community acceptance; and receptivity to change. Other issues centered on the curriculum and techniques for instruction, greater family engagement, experimenting with small school models, realigning teacher and principal responsibilities, and integrating community and school social services. Participants said they were generally impressed with the quality of discussion and level of inclusion.

"I was very apprehensive about coming, because of what I've been reading about how the two camps can't make up their minds," said Marcos Hernandez, an assistant principal at L.A. Unified's San Gabriel Avenue Elementary School in South Gate and a member of the group One L.A., which advocates for school reform and parent involvement. "But what I saw here was a totally different picture. There's a sense of collaboration going on here that gave me a whole new outlook."

• smf: Assistant Principal Hernandez' apprehension is well placed – though his reference to "two camps" seems out of place; this "retreat" –- was a camp meeting of just one camp! The LA Daily News reported on July 5 [UTLA CASH RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT ENDORSEMENTS] that One LA – of which Hernandez is a member - received $20,000 from UTLA – the mayor's partner in AB 1381.

LAT: Shirley Ford, whose son attends a charter school in Inglewood, said she too was hopeful — but cautious as well.

• smf: Hopeful and cautious are wonderful; but two things:
One: Inglewood is not part of LAUSD, Inglewood has its own school District: Inglewood Unified.
Two: Charter schools – whether in LA, any of the other 27 cities within LAUSD, Inglewood, or on the far side of the moon are outside the mayor's plan …or lack thereof.
Charter parents are and forever will be unaffected by any of this.

LAT: "I'm somewhat encouraged, but I'll be watchful," she said. "I'll be nudging someone if I don't see [parents] involved all the way. What I'm most interested in is what schools will be chosen. When we choose the major clusters, let's make sure we create partnerships with all schools. Let's not leave anybody out."

Deputy Mayor Ramon C. Cortines, who is heading Villaraigosa's education initiative, said providing greater support to all schools is a major goal.

"It's not just about the mayor's clusters but about how we create partnerships across the district," he said. "And it's a bubbling process. I don't think when we open the first cluster next July, we're going to say, 'We're open, that's it.' It's an ongoing process, an evolution. It's democracy in action, not just democratic rhetoric."

• smf: Democracy is something that happens in two places, in the ballot box and the open: In the clear sunshine of the light of day.


►LAS VOCES DE LOS PADRES CUENTAN (see english translation below)
Opinión - El Diario/La Prensa
Delsa Rosso y Priscilla González

Nov. 2, 2006 ― NEW YORK ― El alcalde Michael Bloomberg ha hecho de la educación pública uno de sus temas centrales y ha puesto el sistema de 1.1 millones de estudiantes bajo el control de la alcaldía. Un resultado significativo de estas reformas ha sido la expulsión de padres de la toma de decisiones en la educación de sus niños.

En una reciente entrevista, el alcalde Bloomberg dijo, "los padres saben de sus hijos pero no son educadores profesionales. No hay razón de pensar que ellos deberían estar ni diseñando ni dirigiendo un sistema escolar. ¿Quieres que los padres tomen decisiones sobre asuntos médicos? No lo creo".

La actitud del alcalde no puede quedar sin respuesta.

Nosotros como padres somos los primeros educadores de nuestros niños. Ellos se benefician cuando nosotros participamos activamente en su aprendizaje. Esta participación depende mucho en que seamos respetados. Sin embargo, a los padres inmigrantes se les hace sentir que no tienen nada que contribuir a la educación de sus niños. Partiendo de nuestras experiencias y conocimientos culturales, somos una fuente importante de información para el desarrollo del currículo escolar, la planificación del presupuesto escolar, y el diseño de políticas o reformas escolares. El alcalde y los funcionarios del sistema educativo público sabrían esto si fueran educadores en lugar de especialistas de negocio.

Les advertimos a todos los que están estudiando nuestro sistema de educación pública en Nueva York como posible modelo a seguir que las tácticas del alcalde, semejantes a un apoderamiento empresarial, han significado que la voz de nadie cuenta, especialmente de los padres.

Pero nos estamos organizando para levantar nuestras voces. En el Centro de Familias Inmigrantes, padres y miembros de la comunidad se unieron y exitosamente desafiaron un proceso de admisión en el Distrito 3 que favorecía a las familias blancas y de clase media. Esta acción demuestra que sí se puede.

Las familias y niños minoritarios de bajo ingreso – quienes constan la mayoría del sistema de educación pública en Nueva York – sufrirán lo peor de los fallos de las reformas educativas del alcalde. Lucharemos como padres para hacernos escuchar con el fin de lograr un sistema educativo que funcione para todas las familias en nuestra ciudad.

Delsa Rosso, una madre de dos niñas en las escuelas públicas de Nueva York, y Priscilla González son miembras del Centro de Familias Inmigrantes.

• Para el contacto adicional de la información entrar en contacto con por favor a Donna Nevel en el Centro de Familias Inmigrantes :: 20 West 104th Street :: New York, NY 10025 :: phone: 212-531-3011 :: fax: 212-531-1391 :: email: ::

Op-Ed - El Diario Newspaper
by Delsa Rosso and Priscilla Gonzalez

Nov. 2, 2006 ― NEW YORK ― Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made public education one of his central issues, placing the 1.1 million-student public education system under mayoral control. A significant result of this reform has been that parents have been left out of the decision making process in their children's education.

In a recent interview, Mayor Bloomberg said, "Parents know about their kids, but they're not professional educators. There is no reason to think they should be designing a school system or running a school system. Do you want parents to make medical decisions? I don't think so."

The Mayor's attitude cannot go without response.

As parents, we are our children's first educators. They benefit from our active participation in their learning. This participation requires us being respected. However, immigrant parents are made to feel they have nothing to contribute to their children's education. Building from our experiences and cultural knowledge, we are an important source of information for school curricula development, school budget planning, and designing school policies and reforms. The mayor and Department of Education officials would know this if they were educators and not businesspeople.

We issue a warning to all those who are looking to our public education system in New York as a possible model that the mayor's tactics have, in fact, been like a corporate takeover, meaning that nobody's voice counts, especially not that of parents.

We are organizing, however, to make our voices heard. At the Center for Immigrant Families, parents and community members united and successfully challenged an admissions process in District 3 that favored white and upper class families. This victory shows that we can do it!

Low-income children and families of color -- who make up the majority of the public education system in New York -- will bear the brunt of the failures of the mayor's educational reforms. As parents, we will fight to make ourselves heard until we have an educational system that serves all families in our city.

Delsa Rosso, a mother of two in New York City public schools, and Priscilla González are members of the Center for Immigrant Families.

• For further information contact please contact Donna Nevel at the Center for Immigrant Families :: 20 West 104th Street :: New York, NY 10025 :: phone: 212-531-3011 :: fax: 212-531-1391 :: email: ::


by Michael Martinez, Chicago Tribune national correspondent | The Tribune is the parent of the Los Angeles Times

October 23, 2006 - LOS ANGELES - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa put his reputation on the line this spring at The Accelerated School in south-central Los Angeles, promising to take over and fix the city's troubled public schools

Working off a template inspired by Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago, Villaraigosa said his city's schools, which serve more than 720,000 students, needed reforms like those instituted by The Accelerated School co-founder Kevin Sved.

As it turns out, Los Angeles, so often a trendsetter, is struggling as a trend follower. Its efforts to follow Chicago's model have been troubled from the start.

Though Villaraigosa wanted ultimate authority over the nation's second-largest school system, a new California law last month gave him what his aides describe as "substantial authority" or "a hybrid" model in which the mayor must share power with the board and others.

Critics use another word. As one adversarial board official put it, Villaraigosa's initiative is a "mess."

The school board sued Oct. 10 to overturn Villaraigosa's control, saying it violates a 1946 amendment to the state constitution separating school systems from municipal control.

Days later, the board selected a new superintendent with no experience running schools - and without input from the mayor, who happened to be on a trade mission an ocean away, in Asia. Villaraigosa had asked for a say in the matter because on Jan. 1, his new authority begins, which will give him veto power over choice of a superintendent.

Apparently stuck with the new schools chief, Villaraigosa said he was "disappointed."

Despite the setbacks, mayoral aides insist the reforms can work in Los Angeles, though the mayor must exercise "a partnership" with the school board, the superintendent, and a newly created council of local mayors whose schools are part of the Los Angeles district.

While mayoral takeovers are viewed by some experts as a positive way to restore accountability if not boost achievement in big-city districts, Los Angeles' struggle arises partly from its sprawl. The council of mayors also overseeing reform measures includes representatives of 27 cities, including Los Angeles, and all five county supervisors.

"In Los Angeles, you don't have concentrated political power as you do in Chicago," said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a Washington-based advocacy organization for public education. "It's easier to cut a deal in Chicago than it is in Los Angeles. You have a strong mayor in Chicago, whereas in Los Angeles, you have power in flux."

Others say Villaraigosa could have secured more authority if he had offered more of a grand plan.

"I think he should have spent his first year in office selling a vision of what the system could be - small autonomous schools, organize parents, give a lot of money and better work conditions to teachers, high expectations for kids," said mayoral ally Steve Barr, CEO and founder of Green Dot charter schools, a network of 10 college prep schools.

The new law, which the Los Angeles teachers union endorsed, turns over three high schools and their feeder schools directly to the mayor for reform; those three clusters could amount to between 50,000 and 80,000 students, officials said.

Across the country, Jennings said, mayors are pushing to fix their woeful schools as the middle class is returning to the urban center and weighing whether public schools are good enough for their kids. Chicago's reform efforts were cited as a model by President Bill Clinton.

While Los Angeles' state test scores have been rising, only 31 percent of students are proficient or better in math and only 30 percent are at such levels in English. Those figures compare with statewide averages of 40 percent for math and 42 percent for English.

While the new law doesn't directly make Villaraigosa the sole, explicit person to credit or blame for reform, "in a practical sense, yes, the mayor has assumed the mantle of responsibility and the people will expect him to deliver," said Thomas Saenz, counsel to the mayor. "We have a lot of work to do, but we've got a good start."

Not so, responded Kevin Reed, general counsel for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The district, the principals union, the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, and the California School Boards Association are suing Villaraigosa, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the state board of education to stop the new law.

"What the mayor got in this bill is not the system in Chicago or Boston or Cleveland or New York. It's a truncated, bifurcated mess, particularly when it comes to lines of accountability," Reed said.

Some of Los Angeles' ongoing problems will sound familiar to Chicagoans who have seen almost two decades of reform, including the 1995 Illinois law giving Daley outright control.

"A culture of passive resistance" exists among faculty and central office officials who believe that "if you didn't like the reform agenda, all you had to do was lie low for two years and the agenda would change," Saenz said.

"There are some employees of the district who probably should have left the district a long time ago and will probably be driven out by this change," he added.

Mayoral ally Barr said that many employees in board headquarters hold patronage jobs and the central office suffers what Barr called a "bunker mentality" with attitudes such as "How dare someone say we need to change?"

But school board officials aren't convinced that data show more mayoral control equates to better achievement, board general counsel Reed said. What matters is "a strong, cooperative relationship" between the board and the superintendent, he said.

When asked about the board's relationship with the mayor, Reed hesitated and laughed: "Hmmm, how would I describe the relationship? Sensitive.

"I'm just trying to find a word that I wouldn't mind seeing in print," he said.


There are some big differences between the new California law giving the Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa greater authority over his public schools and the 1995 Illinois law that gave Mayor Richard Daley explicit, direct control of Chicago Public Schools.

SUPERINTENDENT: The Los Angeles mayor, a school board majority and the mayors of surrounding cities whose students attend L.A. public schools must reach a consensus on a new superintendent. The L.A. mayor has veto power. In Chicago, the mayor has complete control over the selection of the system's top executive.

SCHOOL CONTROL: Hands down, Daley and his schools team yield enormous power in holding every school accountable, with a range of sanctions at their disposal including closing schools. In Los Angeles, the mayor was given direct control over only three high schools and their feeder schools, which at most would affect only 80,000 of the system's 720,000 students, though some say 50,000 is the likely figure.

TEACHERS UNION: The Los Angeles mayor worked closely with his city's teachers union in crafting new legislation. In Chicago, the teachers union was essentially put on notice when the state law stripped it of the power to strike for the first 18 months of Daley's takeover starting in 1995.

►MAYOR'S CONTROL COMES AT A PRICE: $265,500 officially spent to push AB 1381; $422,000 to oppose it

by Naush Boghossian And Rick Orlov, Staff Writers, LA Daily News

Nov 1, 2006 - The special committee that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa formed to pursue state legislation giving him greater authority over Los Angeles public schools spent nearly $140,500 to lobby for the bill over the past three months, records released Tuesday show.

In a filing with the Secretary of State's Office, the Mayor's Committee for Government Excellence and Accountability spent $40,000 with the Sacramento-based firms of KP Public Affairs and $18,000 with Fernando Government Solutions.

The committee also spent about $82,300 on other payments to influence legislative or administrative action.

That amount is on top of $115,000 spent from Jan. 1 to June 30.

"Our lobbying effort demonstrated that you can win on the merits without billing the cost to the taxpayers and while being outspent to the tune of $100,000 by the Los Angeles Unified School District," said Nathan James, a spokesman for the Mayor's Office.
From July 1-Sept. 30, the LAUSD spent $172,500 to block the legislation, according to district spokeswoman Lucy Okumu.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, the district spent about $250,000 in taxpayer money to defeat the legislation, including consulting contracts with lobbyists and communications consultants.

In the July 1-Sept. 30 period, the LAUSD spent $35,000 for education consultant John Mockler; $10,000 for state Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco; $52,500 for the lobbying firm Rose & Kindel; and $60,000 for the law firm Sonnenschein Nath Rosenthal LLP, Okumu said. The district also spent $15,000 to transport parents to and from demonstrations against the bill.

The state Legislature approved and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law this year AB 1831, which reduces the power of the school board and gives the mayor broad authority over the district beginning in January.

The school district plans to challenge the measure in court, and the mayor's committee has $1.4 million on hand to fight for the measure.

United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy said Tuesday that he had been in a two-day meeting with officials from the American Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association, discussing ideas on how AB 1381 would be implemented, including the resources they would need from state and national affiliates to roll out the plan.

The discussion revolved around expanded school-based management model schools - a reform model they would like to have in place by February and expand to at least 12 schools by the beginning of the next school year.

The specific model they'd like to put on paper and replicate is the greater freedoms granted to the Woodland Hills Academy, formerly known as Parkman Middle School.

Teachers at the school threatened to file for charter status, but the district granted charter-like freedoms to keep it as a traditional public school.

Duffy said they're considering going to the Legislature to allow them to bring online more of these schools that have greater local control and are free from bureaucratic constraints.

"If AB 1381 gets killed in court, so be it. We're going to press ahead to move this model forward, because the model is sound," Duffy said. "Any innovation that will free schools, school communities and clusters of schools from the bureaucratic nonsense, that will allow for local school communities to develop programs that best meet the needs of the kids, that's what we want.

"We're refining the reform and working with our state and national affiliates to get the resources to push ahead on this."

Meanwhile, the school board unanimously ratified on Tuesday newly selected Superintendent David Brewer's III's contract, giving him a salary of $300,000 a year, a $45,000 annual expense account and a $3,000-a-month housing allowance.

▲NOTE: 4LAKids certainly supports greater implementation of School Based Management; putting into practice the current law would be a beginning. UTLA's continued advocacy for the mayor's plan seems out of place in light of the membership's repudiation of it.

Questions remain as to whether expenditures by the mayor's committee – created to promote a ballot proposition – are legal at all.

• The amounts reported do not include amounts spent by UTLA, CTA and other advocates on behalf of the mayor's plan – or the expenses of the California School Boards Association and other opponents of the legislation.
• It does not include the salaries of the mayor's and city staff invested in what they have called an "all-hands-on-deck" effort. Yes, they would have been paid otherwise – but perhaps for something more productive?
• It does not include the city services, permits and police presence and overtime at the mayor's town halls – 'forgiven' by the city council but paid from the city treasury.
• It does not account for the thousands of hours of unpaid volunteer time invested by parents and others in yellow and blue t-shirts – time that could have been spent volunteering at schools, in classrooms, on playgrounds and with their families. —smf



• Political reality is in play as Villaraigosa ponders which three L.A. high campuses to run from City Hall and showcase his education reform.

by Howard Blume and Duke Helfand, Times Staff Writers

November 5, 2006 - Monroe High School in the San Fernando Valley is hardly the lowest-performing campus in Los Angeles, but Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is thinking about choosing it as a centerpiece of his education reform effort.

Crenshaw High, in the historical heart of black South Los Angeles, also sits squarely in Villaraigosa's sights, even though it qualifies far more students for college than nearby schools.

And Roosevelt High, the mayor's alma mater and a symbol of his Eastside Latino roots, also rises to the top of the shortlist, although it is nearly indistinguishable statistically from neighboring schools.

These campuses are top contenders under a new law that allows Villaraigosa to take control of three high schools and the clusters of middle and elementary schools that feed them.

The mayor's office has identified 19 high schools that satisfy the law's conditions, including a requirement that the campuses are in different parts of the city and are among the lowest 20% of schools in California as measured by the state's ranking system.

But in making this choice, what else should matter: the extent of the gang problem? the experience of the teaching staff? the number of ninth-graders who go on to college?

The selection will be based on political realities as well as educational needs.

The schools on the likely shortlist are in communities rich with key blocs of voters, including African Americans in South L.A. and whites in the Valley. Both groups helped propel Villaraigosa to his victory last year over Mayor James K. Hahn. >more>

[article continues @ 4LAKids – Some of the news that doesn't fit]

by Kyra Gottesman. Oroville Mercury Register

10/28/2006 - In [a few] days the American public will have an opportunity to do something that thousands, perhaps millions, of people have literally given - are still giving - their lives for the privilege of doing - the privilege to VOTE!

I have no idea what the General Election Voter Information Guides are like in other states but in California, ours is 191 pages long and includes 56 candidates running for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, attorney general, insurance commissioner and board of equalization in four districts. Additionally, there are 13 different ballot measures (propositions) covering everything from transportation to education to disaster preparedness to right to privacy for teen women to alternative energy to cigarette taxes to political campaign financing. (Holy cow! Don't our lawmakers, make laws? Isn't that why we elected them? Anyway, I stray from my point. Well, kinda, sorta...)

It is overwhelming, especially if you are a thoughtful voter and not a knee-jerk reactionary voter. That is to say if you are someone who is intelligent and considerate enough about this privilege to think beyond the 'party line' and the propaganda that arrives daily in the mail, zooms past in 15-30 second sound bites on the TV or is posted in fortune cookie slogans on signs posted along the highways and by-ways.

In the past few weeks I have had several conversations with friends and acquaintances who have said they are confused and frustrated by the rhetoric and feel frustrated by the volume of material presented - often so badly written or spoken that it's at best worthless and at worth enormously misleading - that they really don't know where to turn for 'good' information. I really understand. I was feeling the same so I went on a quest.

My quest was a search for non-partisan (as much as that is humanly possible) presentations of the propositions and something more than snappy sound bites from candidates. Here's what I found: the following three websites, which do a pretty darn good job of presenting the information clearly:

California Secretary of State:

Smart Voter: (sponsored by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund.)

Easy Voter: (Sponsored through a collaboration of the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund, the California State Library and the California Secretary of State's Office with additional support from The James Irvine Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation.)

I also found 10-minute audio interviews with each of the major party's candidates plus 10-minute audio interviews with the spokespeople representing the 'yes' and 'no' for each proposition at These interviews were conducted by Gary Dietrich, a 'political analyst,' who is, it turns outs, a fairly balanced and reasonable interviewer. (To find these interviews just click on 'Decision 2006.')

After finding these sites and beginning my Election 2006 education, I felt it was more important to share these resources with my readers than it would be to share my opinions of the candidates and propositions with you.

While it does take us time, concentration and effort to be thoughtful voters, it is a small price to pay compared to the price of life this privilege has cost - is costing - others. I hope you take the time to make the time to make your ballot decisions thoughtfully. I hope you take the time to proudly step up, be heard and cast a thoughtful vote.
•Kyra Gottesman writes a weekly column for the Oroville Mercury-Register.

►FOR THE RECORD: Or how to vote for the easily (mis)led
a 4LAKids exclusive

If your TV isn't wall-to-wall with attack ads, if your mailbox isn't overflowing with campaign literature and slate mailers – if you haven’t gotten a phone call from Bill Clinton or Diane Feinstein you must be a full time pay cable viewer who's not registered to vote! As most people don't/won't vote I feel I owe the majority an apology for all that political hogwash – but it's the price they pay for letting those of us who do vote tax and govern 'em!

If you've already voted, good for you – you can hang up on Bill and Diane and need read no further. If you've made up your mind and could care no less what 4LAKids thinks better for us all; the garage probably needs cleaning.

Here are my thoughts – filtered through filters and viewed through whatever colored glasses I wear.


1A – NO. Potentially Funds Transportation over Education.
1B – YOUR CALL. (Transportation Bonds)
1C – YES. (Affordable Housing)
1D – YES! (Flawed but acceptable School Construction Bonds)
1E – YES. (Flood Control/A levy for the Levees!)
83 – NO. (Sex Offenders are bad, so is this legislation.)
84 – NO. (Yet another levy for the levees, Prop 1E is enough.)
85 – NO. (Minor's pregnancy) – We keep voting against this, they keep bringing it back. Our voters trump their paid signature gatherers.
86 – YES. (Cigarette Tax) ….though prohibition of revenues going to schools is worrisome.
87 – YOUR CALL. (Alt Energy) It's hard to vote against Bill and Al, but the best of intentions usually run afoul of the law of unintended consequences.
88 – NO. ($50 Parcel Tax) A Band Aid (on the wrong knee) where surgery is required.
89 – LEANING YES. (Campaign Finance) When you close loopholes others open, but….
90 – NO. (Eminent Domain) Scare tactics that pretend to solve problems that don't exist in California. If this passes school construction will halt while it is litigated. Building costs are currently escalating at 2% a month; do the math.
H – YES. (Local Affordable Housing Bonds)
I – There is no Prop I on my ballot. There's no K,L,M or N either.
J – YES. – (Fire Stations) A technical change that costs nothing and actually saves money!
R. NO! – This proposition has already been ruled illegal under the City Charter by the courts; it appears on the ballot pending appeal. It's not all that appealing and has an ugly political history. A NO VOTE will stop the waste of city funds and sends it back to the City Council where they can get it right next time.


On the statewide and national races I'm suggesting support for the Democrats. I am one, this should not be a surprise.

PHIL ANGELIDES opposed AB 1381 and this certainly cost him Mayor Villariagosa's support early on. Governor Schwarzenegger has been a "summer soldier and sunshine patriot" friend to public education – which is a kind way of avoiding the phrase "unmitigated disaster". When the going got tough and the money was scarce he spent it elsewhere – and despite his promise it took legal action to get him to magnanimously pay some of it back.

I am sickened by the musical chairs in Sacramento as the term-limited politicos spring from job to job. I excuse JERRY BROWN who left the game for Oakland for a while.

Locally I am being more pragmatic - a little more prone to ticket spitting. Here is my premise: If your Assemblyperson or State Senator voted FOR AB 1381 – the LA Mayor's School Takeover – VOTE THE RASCALS OUT! They voted against you, their constituent — and against the taxpayer/parents/citizen's constitutionally guaranteed right to vote to amend both the state constitution and the city charter.

• If they supported AB1381 enthusiastically – or even holding their nose - they are Culpable Rascals.
• If they supported AB1381 but didn't get something in return …or bought into the sorry mess – they are Naïve Rascals – but equally blameworthy.

This is admittedly a dangerous single-issue litmus test, apply it carefully. In my Assembly District (the 45th) I'm voting for a Republican I personally know to be no fan of W, Cheney and Rumsfeld who promises to put a bill repealing AB1381 in the hopper on day one of the new legislative session. At our house we have a VOTE DEMOCRAT sign in the window and a SAMANTHA ALLEN NEWMAN lawn sign; Sam's opponent is "me too" friend of Antonio, Nuñez, Romero & Co. I'm sure the neighbors figure we've left the Halloween decorations out too long! — smf

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

Monday Nov 6, 2006
Panorama High School (East Valley New HS #3): Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Please join us to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of your new community school!
Ceremony will begin at 11:00 a.m.
Panorama High School
8015 Van Nuys Blvd.
Panorama City, CA 91402

Monday Nov 6, 2006
Dorsey High School Addition: Project Definition Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Dorsey High School
3537 Farmdale Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

*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, 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 early on Tuesday, vote often!

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.
• 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.
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