Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving leftovers.

4LAKids: Monday, Nov. 27, 2006
In This Issue:
L.A. SCHOOLS FALL SHORT OF SPECIAL ED TARGETS: LAUSD has not met 13 of 18 federal goals that stem from a consent decree.
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
smf4LAKids: The political campaign - Scott Folsom for School Board!
4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
Sometimes it's hard to separate the ridiculous from the sublime in the wonderful world of public education as practiced-in and observed-from LAUSD. Sometimes it's not necessary.

SUBMITTED FOR YOUR APPROVAL: • Superintendent Brewer's grand tour continues. • Special Ed continues to challenge. • New York City continues in curiosity. • NCLB gets curiouser and curiouser. • Charter Schools chart their course without the Admiral, School Board or the Mayor …or science labs, playing fields or basic facilities. • And call the Acronym Police: YTD isn't just 'Year to Date' anymore! Can a telethon be far behind? —smf

• The new LAUSD superintendent shows that his understanding of the city's problems and complexities still has a long way to go.

by Gregory Rodriguez – LA Times Op-Ed (Current) Columnist

November 26, 2006 — NEVER MIND his lack of educational experience, the most important — and disturbing — thing you may ever learn about L.A.'s new school superintendent is that Singapore is his favorite city.

Last Saturday, I spent a few hours with retired Vice Adm. David L. Brewer, and I came away thinking that this impressive man's strengths may be the very qualities that may undermine him in his new job.

Brewer was hungry when I picked him up in front of school district headquarters at 11:30 a.m., so I drove him over to Philippe's on Alameda and Ord. Earlier that day, he had been shaking hands and trading photo ops with the mayor at Antonio Villaraigosa's "Day of Service" in Watts, and now he needed to refuel. We found a table near the back where I could ask him questions while he ate his turkey sandwich and beet salad.

As you'd expect from a former naval officer, Brewer is a healthy man who prides himself on his discipline. "That's Brewer family tradition," he said as he spoke of his father, a vocational school teacher, and his grandfather, a postman and Tuskegee Institute graduate (class of 1912) who never arrived late or missed a day of work in his life.

Brewer's most appealing quality is his old-fashioned combination of toughness and folksiness. He speaks in metaphors and catchy analogies, such as, "I'll be on that like a hobo on a hot dog," and his keen knowledge of African American history adds to his air of rootedness and self-assurance.

But whatever the admiral knows is less impressive than his knack for learning. After a long career in the Navy in which he changed posts every few years, he's not afraid of what he doesn't know and is confident of his ability to quickly grasp the inner workings of organizations. He is an avid student of management who seems to weave axioms from business bestsellers into every conversation. L.A. Unified for him is just another case study, a problem to be solved with direly needed military logistical genius and managerial expertise. "We have to look for successful models that we can use here," he said.

Given his background, it's not surprising that Brewer speaks of the problems of L.A.'s schools largely in organizational terms. He talks as though all he has to do is get the politicians and community leaders on the same page and re-engage the middle class with L.A. Unified. "My job is to set the tone for the district and get everyone to help the schools," he says. He speaks about this city as if it were a cohesive, top-down organization with a clear chain of command — teachers and parents can sort out who's a captain and who's a colonel — linking him to his hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers, from that troubled second-grader at McKinley Avenue Elementary School in South Los Angeles to the newly arrived freshman at Grant High School in the San Fernando Valley.

I told him that he's got another thing coming if he thinks Los Angeles is as neatly organized as the Navy. "Welcome to chaos," I said.

By the time we hopped back into the car, I thought I was beginning to understand the man. He's a pragmatist, though he distinguishes himself from politicians on the grounds that he "stands on principle." He fancies himself a hands-on administrator but nonetheless strikes me as more than a little disengaged. Time will tell.

When I set up the interview, I had agreed to give Brewer my patented three- to four-hour tour of the city. I had hoped to give him a sense of the historical, ethnic, economic and jurisdictional layers that make L.A. so wonderfully incomprehensible.

I drove him through Elysian Park and up and down the steep streets of Echo Park. We cruised Pico-Union and, as we passed through Koreatown, bonded over our favorite hotel in Seoul. I tried to keep him engaged with a mixture of history and demographics, but by the time we reached Hancock Park I knew I had lost him.

Maybe he was drained from the sight of all those kids wearing orange Day of Service T-shirts with "Antonio Villaraigosa" printed on them. (Who wouldn't be?) Maybe the epic Ohio State-Michigan showdown beckoned. Or maybe if you view the city as merely another organizational chart, the distinctive idiosyncrasies of its neighborhoods aren't worth delving into. Already, he makes little to no distinction between the varied educational obstacles facing immigrant, black, and even homeless students. Whatever the case, though we were only a half an hour into the tour, I suggested that we call it a day. He quickly agreed.

Desperately trying to salvage my interview, on the way back to the school district I did pepper Brewer with a barrage of silly last-minute questions. Favorite food? Fish. Religion? Presbyterian, though he was raised African Methodist Episcopalian. How many times does he work out a week? Five to six. I pointed out Tommy's Burgers as we passed Rampart. The favorite place he's ever been to? Singapore. Why? Because it's so clean and orderly. He's going to love L.A.

L.A. SCHOOLS FALL SHORT OF SPECIAL ED TARGETS: LAUSD has not met 13 of 18 federal goals that stem from a consent decree.

• Trouble areas include graduation rates and test scores. District says it's made progress.

by Paul Clinton, Daily Breeze

Friday, November 24, 2006 — An independent monitor reports that the Los Angeles Unified School District has achieved only about a fourth of the agreed-upon improvements in special education laid out in a landmark settlement more than a decade ago.

The district has failed to meet 13 of the 18 line items set out in a consent decree between LAUSD and the attorneys for Chanda Smith, the learning-disabled lead plaintiff in the 1993 settlement requiring LAUSD to provide better service to its special education students.

The Office of the Independent Monitor released the final piece of a report on the district's progress Wednesday. Monitor Frederick Weintraub reviews the district's progress annually.

LAUSD has been under federal court oversight since 1996 for "systematic noncompliance of special education law," according to the monitor's Web site.

Although the district fell short in many areas, officials pointed to progress they say has been made since the consent decree's signing.

"We're certainly doing better at providing education for special education students in terms of academics and having them meet standards," said Donnalyn Anton, executive officer of education services. "I'm proud of what the district is doing. We've changed the culture so there's a lot of shared accountability."

In the latest report, Weintraub states the district has not made enough progress to improve graduation rates, test scores and completion of high school. The district also is failing to provide timely translations of student access plans in Spanish and other languages, Weintraub states.

The report credited the district for making progress in increasing participation of special education students in standardized testing.

For 2006, 94.4 percent of special education students participated in standardized testing. The decree set a target of 95 percent.

Only about 20 percent of the students tested met proficiency benchmarks of basic or above in mathematics and English-language arts.

For the 2005-06 year, a little more than 42 percent of special education students graduated. The decree set more than 46 percent as the target.

The first two reports this year were released in July and August.


by Norman Scott from EdNotes Online (an education blog in NYC not unlike 4LAKids)

• There are lessons to be learned here from others' experience – if not learned we are doomed to repeat them ourselves here in our own special ways. – smf

• Here is a powerful description of what happens when school policy becomes monolithic. Norm is talking about New York City, but what he describes will resonate with hundreds of thousands of teachers. Teaching has become a career in which the usurpation of any vestige of autonomy can make a grown man who knows how to teach cry. The parallels with Soviet domination of Eastern Europe are striking. – Susan Ohanian

Oct 27 — When all decisions flow without checks and balances from one source — be it a national leader, the head of a school system, the principal of a school, a union leader, an abusive member of a household — any form of dictatorship — the system inevitably fails. Decisions hatched in the mind of a super powerful person served by sycophants are not subject to the kind of vetting (like someone saying "are you out of your mind?") and lead to the "emperor without clothes" effect. Some kind of democratic process, often messy, is necessary to prevent the train from running loose down the tracks. If you deal with the daily doings at the NYC Department of Education [DOE] and with its counterpart the United Federation of Teachers, these words should ring true.

There's nothing like a trip to Prague and Budapest, a decade and a half out of the yoke of 40 years of Soviet domination, to get one to thinking about similarities to the BloomKlein [NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who took over NYC schools + Joel Klein, his appointed chancellor/superintendent] invasion of the NYC school system. "Are you crazy?" said my wife as we strolled around these incredibly beautiful cities. "If you make this comparison people will think you are nuts." She's probably right, but here goes anyway.

The Czech Republic and Hungary were both part of the Soviet Empire that controlled Eastern Europe with an iron fist. Puppet governments were installed but the people saw themselves as invaded by an alien force and feelings of nationalism engendered an anti-Soviet mentality. When the yoke was lifted in 1989, a sense of freedom these nations had never known burst forth. Revolutions in Budapest (1956) and Prague (1968), both revolts suppressed by an invasion of hordes of Russian tanks - bullet holes still show on the walls some buildings - had turned these cities into the epicenter of resistance to Soviet control.

Hungary is about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Revolution, which lasted from Oct. 23 to Nov. 4, 1956. Being there two weeks before this celebration had an impact.

While on the trip I read The Incredible Lightness of Being,Czech writer Milan Kundera's story of a Czech doctor during the "Prague spring"of 1968 when freedom blossomed and the aftermath of the suppression by the Soviets that August.

Kundera writes, "Anyone who thinks that the Communist regimes of Central Europe are exclusively the work of criminals is overlooking a basic truth: the criminal regimes were made not by criminals but by enthusiasts convinced they had discovered the only road to paradise."

Tomas, a brilliant surgeon, is demoted to window washer after the Soviet repression because of a letter to the editor he wrote to a literary magazine during the Prague spring. In the letter, Tomas criticized the apparatchiks (blindly loyal bureaucrats) who had condemned Czech citizens charged with a variety of fabricated crimes and then later claimed they didn't know and were just following orders. Kundera claims it is irrelevant whether they knew or not. "The main issue is whether a man is innocent because he didn't know. Is a fool on the throne relieved of all responsibility merely because he is a fool? Isn't his "I didn't know! I was a believer!" at the very root of irreparable guilt?

Let me digress to a story of a NYC teacher who contacted me shortly before I left. Jason (a pseudonym), who has been teaching a number of years, was ordered by his administrators to teach in a certain restricted style in which he was not only uncomfortable, but truly felt was not in the best interests of the education of his students. He refused. The result was a vicious attack by school administrators, coordinated by a new principal who had recently graduated from the Leadership Academy — often compared by teachers serving under the yoke of these graduates as a KGB training ground. He was threatened with a U rating, received visits from regional supervisors, threats of termination, manipulation of personnel that had him at the point of being excessed out of the school, and other techniques taught in the dungeons of the Leadership Academy. Assistant principals who had been supportive and knew him for years turned on him on a dime — the classic response of apparatchiks, the same way Tomas' boss behaved in the novel.

The struggle reached the point where Jason was pretty much out the door. Realizing he had to think of his wife and kids, he capitulated. He told them he would teach as they wanted him too. (Need I say the union was useless throughout?)

The day Jason gave in, he sat in his car and cried, the first time he had done so as an adult. He just saved his job — you might think they were tears of joy. They were not. Jason cried for having been forced to give up his integrity; for being forced to do what years of experience told him in his marrow was wrong for his students; for being forced to choose between family and principle; for basically losing his profession.

The people who hounded him were smug and satisfied in their "victory" and they now parade Jason around as a model teacher. But they are really parading their conquest as an example to all the others. Jason laughs with irony, knowing full well a crime has been perpetrated against both he and the students he teaches. This battle took a lot out of him and has dissipated some of his passion for teaching. Whether you were in Eastern Europe from the late 40's through the late 80's or in the current DOE, passion outside the narrow box of orthodoxy is degraded, not valued.

Did putting Jason through the ringer benefit his students? Apparatchiks who are "True Believers" — Leadership Academy grads and Kundera's "Fools" - will shout, in unison, "Yes, Children First." The mentality and behavior of the "True Believers" at the DOE and in totalitarian states are similar and their tactics are scarily familiar.

The Assistant Principals who knew what a good teacher Jason was before and know it is all a crock will claim they were just following orders. Kundera would say they are all fools.

I can't tell you how many similar stories I am hearing, with many people saying, "Now, it's just a job." Or worse, ending up in the Gulag of the DOE — the rubber room.

One day someone will write: "First they came for the senior teachers near retirement; then they came for the non-tenured; then they came for the people who could not produce the results they wanted; then they came for those who could not turn straw into gold; when they came for me, there was no one left."

Maybe when the iron curtain at the DOE is lifted post BloomKlein and the fear of speaking out against these "state" crimes is over there will be a day of retribution. Meanwhile, the School Scope columns must suffice.

Mr. Klein, tear down that wall!

Klein has built his version of the Berlin Wall between managers and educators. Many of the apparatchiks at the DOE, especially at the Region level who carried out policies they knew were bad for teachers and children — if they were really educators — are now singing a different tune as BloomKlein are reorganizing once again as a way to cover their mismanagement. Region level jobs are threatened as the Empowerment Zone expands and the regions shrink. What has been going on is the replacement of educators with corporate types in the anti-educator modus operendi of the corporate takeover of school systems throughout the country. People trained to be educators are not to be trusted.

Thus, Klein's emphasis on corporate, entrepreneurial types as principals without educational experience. Or taking former educators and brainwashing them at the Leadership Academy before unleashing them (without their muzzles) into the schools.

Enormous sums are spent on doing professional development for all kinds of expensive programs that funnel more enormous sums into the pockets of private companies. What teachers learn in school or what they have learned from experience is denigrated. Yet, a qualified teacher under NCLB is measured by the courses and degrees they complete in education. "Qualifications" are not required of the people being chosen to run school systems, Klein being exhibit number one.

Note this quote by Mike Bloomberg in an article in the Washington Post when he tried to answer criticisms for the lack of parental input under his administration. "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."

Hmmm. Mayor Mike. You sort of skipped the professional educator step when you chose a lawyer to run the NYC school system. If you should ever have to have an operation, I hope you choose a plumber to do the job.

Educators — and by this I mean people who actually taught for a few years — see BloomKlein's corporate invasion of the school system as a hostile takeover. Sort of like tanks rolling into Prague and Budapest.

'Proficiency for All' By Richard Rothstein, Rebecca Jacobsen, and Tamara Wilder — paper prepared for the Symposium, "Examining America's Commitment to Closing Achievement Gaps: NCLB and Its Alternatives," sponsored by the Campaign for Educational Equity, Teachers College, Columbia University, November 13-14, 2006


"Political, not scientific, considerations continue to explain NAGB's stubborn refusal to abandon achievement level cut scores which have no scientific or scholarly credibility."

"What NCLB has done is the equivalent of demanding not only that 'C' students become 'A' students nationwide, but that 'D' and 'F' students also become 'A' students. As noted above, this confuses two distinct goals – that of raising the performance of typical students, and that of raising the minimum level of performance we expect of all, or almost all students. Both are reasonable instructional goals. But given the nature of human variability, no single standard can possibly describe both of these accomplishments. If we define proficiency-for-all as the minimum standard, it cannot possibly be challenging for most students. If we define proficiency-for-all as a challenging standard (as does NCLB), the inevitable patterns of individual variability dictate that significant numbers of students will still fail, even if they all improve. This will be true no matter what date is substituted for NCLB's 2014."

"Under NCLB, children with I.Q.s as low as 65 must achieve a standard of proficiency in math which is higher than that achieved by 60 percent of students in Taiwan, the highest scoring country in the world (in math), and a standard of proficiency in reading which is higher than that achieved by 65 percent of students in Sweden, the highest scoring country in the world (in reading)."

"The conceptual basis of NCLB is deeply flawed; no goal can simultaneously be challenging to and achievable by all students across the entire achievement distribution. A standard can either be a minimal standard which presents no challenge to typical and advanced students, or it can be a challenging standard which is unachievable by most below-average students. No standard can serve both purposes – this is why we call 'proficiency for all' an oxymoron - but this is what NCLB requires."

"There is no date by which all (or even nearly all) students in any subgroup, even middle-class white students, can achieve proficiency. Proficiency for all is an oxymoron, as the term 'proficiency' is commonly understood and properly used."

'Proficiency for All' (pdf)


by Naush Boghossian Staff Writer, Pasadena Star-News/Daily News

Nov. 23 —WOODLAND HILLS — Los Angeles Unified's highest- performing independent charter school is housed in a converted warehouse, with space for classrooms but no science labs.

Most students at Ivy Academia make do with a game of handball on the rough asphalt outside rather than spending recess on a real playground.

With limited facilities of their own, a waiting list of hundreds of students and parents clamoring for a high school, Ivy officials would like to lease one of five vacant LAUSD campuses in the area.

"These are sites with soccer fields and basketball courts, yet they're sitting there collecting dust," said Tatyana Berkovich, who founded Ivy Academia in 2003. "It's sad because our kids are running around on converted parking lots, yet there are schools that are completely unoccupied and collecting dust."

Ivy Academia's plea for facilities is one being voiced by many of the charter schools cropping up in the nation's second-largest school district. And it's one to which the district has responded clearly: We just don't have the space to give.

"What they're facing is reality. If the district had facilities available for charter schools in all areas, under district policy it would provide facilities to charter schools in all areas," said Gregory McNair, the district's chief administrator for charter schools.

"The reality is that facilities aren't available in all areas to provide to charter schools."

McNair said the district is not being obstructionist, noting that it has helped 103 charters find space. The demand for the independent campuses is simply growing so quickly, he said, it's outstripping available space.

The district averages 25 to 30 applications annually for charter space, and has offered classroom space at a half-dozen public schools. But campus sites that the district does have available are not sites where charters want to locate, McNair said.

The three-year-old Synergy Charter Academy in South Los Angeles has been trying to lease an LAUSD facility, but until then has a joint-use agreement with St. Patrick Church.

Every Friday afternoon, the academy's kindergarten to fifth-grade teachers roll up the carpets, lock up students' belongings and rearrange the desks. They come in early every Monday to set everything back up again.

While the district offered the academy use of a couple of classrooms at Mark Twain Middle School in West Los Angeles, academy officials rejected the plan, said Synergy co-founder Meg Palisoc.

"There's no way our little kindergarten babies would be able to get on a bus every morning and go all the way to the Westside on a campus with a middle school," Palisoc said. "It just was not an ideal situation."

McNair said Ivy officials rejected the district's offer of four classrooms at Columbus Middle School in Canoga Park.

He said the five nearby schools that have been closed for years due to declining enrollment - Collins Street, Oso Avenue, Platt Ranch, Highlander Street and Enadia Way - would cost millions of dollars to prepare for students.

"I have not heard from the larger charter community that they would support using large amounts of the charter bond dollars to benefit individual schools," McNair said.

Currently there's $84 million in the charter bond pot and the district is trying to leverage those funds with private money for more construction.

The LAUSD also is looking at a program in which the district would purchase sites that it would then lease to charter schools to build facilities. The district has received 28 applications for that program.

Another compromise would be using charter money to build small learning communities on new district campuses, McNair said.

But charter leaders say the current situation has been exacerbated by a district that has missed opportunities to benefit both existing charter schools and traditional public schools.

After eight years of trying to get district help, the nine- year-old Watts Learning Center this year purchased the church where it had leased space since 2000.

With 242 students in four mobile classroom units, seven permanent classrooms and a small playground, officials will spend about $10 million to turn the church into a school.

"From day one our biggest challenge has been to find a home," said Watts' CEO Gene Fisher. "We followed all the rules and submitted all the applications for the property and they sent a letter that if we can't find anything, they'd be happy to take their students back."

But what has really irritated charter officials is that the LAUSD ultimately decided to build a school blocks away from the Watts Learning Center - without asking Watts whether it wanted part of the new building.

"It seems that they would have said here's a school with a principal and teachers in place, books already there, and they would invite us to take that over and then it would be another opportunity to say we could have a great school, But, frankly, they did not do that," Fisher said.

Facilities and access to facilities is the single biggest barrier to the growth of charter schools, said Caprice Young, head of the California Charter Schools Association.

Young said she's hopeful new LAUSD Superintendent David L. Brewer III will help break the logjam.

"They're not complying with the law to provide facilities for charter school students and we are hopeful the new superintendent will understand his responsibility under the law," she said.

Young said recent conversations with district officials indicate the LAUSD is willing to take the problem seriously.

But she notes it's a policy issue that could be rectified quickly by the school board.

"This is something the school board can solve tomorrow by providing facilities or allowing us to use bond money to build facilities at a lower cost," she said.

L.A. school board President Marlene Canter said the district is adhering to its policy to give charters space, but has limited supply.

"The issue is we have to be able to look to the future in terms of charters in how we better integrate what charters offer to the schools and how we can continue forward in our long-term building program," Canter said.

from a staff writer, The Onion

Oct 27, 2006 — REDLANDS, CA — Nicholas and Beverly Serna's daughter Caitlin was only four years old, but they already knew there was a problem.

Day after day, upon arriving home from preschool, Caitlin would retreat into a bizarre fantasy world. Sometimes, she would pretend to be people and things she was not. Other times, without warning, she would burst into nonsensical song. Some days she would run directionless through the backyard of the Sernas' comfortable Redlands home, laughing and shrieking as she chased imaginary objects.

When months of sessions with a local psychologist failed to yield an answer, Nicholas and Beverly took Caitlin to a prominent Los Angeles pediatric neurologist for more exhaustive testing. Finally, on Sept. 11, the Sernas received the heartbreaking news: Caitlin was among a growing legion of U.S. children suffering from Youthful Tendency Disorder.

"As horrible as the diagnosis was, it was a relief to finally know," said Beverly. "At least we knew we weren't bad parents. We simply had a child who was born with a medical disorder."

Youthful Tendency Disorder (YTD), a poorly understood neurological condition that afflicts an estimated 20 million U.S. children, is characterized by a variety of senseless, unproductive physical and mental exercises, often lasting hours at a time. In the thrall of YTD, sufferers run, jump, climb, twirl, shout, dance, do cartwheels, and enter unreal, unexplainable states of "make-believe."

"The Youthful child has a kind of love/hate relationship with reality," said Johns Hopkins University YTD expert Dr. Avi Gwertzman. "Unfit to join the adult world, they struggle to learn its mores and rules in a process that can take the entirety of their childhood. In the meantime, their emotional and perceptive problems cause them to act out in unpredictable and extremely juvenile ways. It's as though they can only take so much reality; they have to 'check out,' to go Youthful for a while."

On a beautiful autumn day in Asheville, NC, six-year-old Cameron Boudreaux is swinging on a park swingset–-a monotonous, back-and-forth action that apparently gives him solace. Spotting his mother on a nearby bench, Cameron rushes eagerly to her and asks, "Guess what?" His mother responds with a friendly, "What?"

With unbridled glee, Cameron shouts, "Chicken butt!"--cryptic words understood only by him--before laughing and dashing off again, leaving his mother distraught over yet another baffling non-conversation.

"I must admit, it's been a struggle," Mary Boudreaux said. "What can I say to him when he says something like that, something that makes no sense? Or when he runs through the house yelling while I'm trying to balance the checkbook? You can't just say, 'Please, Cameron, don't have a disorder for just a few minutes so I can concentrate.'"

Cameron's psychological problems run even deeper. He can name every one of his beloved, imaginary Pokemon characters, but the plain realities of the actual world he inhabits are an enigma: Ask Cameron the name of the real-life city councilman sponsoring the referendum to renovate the park just across the street from his house–a park he plays in daily–and he draws a blank.

According to Dr. Dinesh Agarwal, director of child psychiatry at NYU Medical Center, such disconnectedness from reality is a coping mechanism for YTD sufferers. "The Youthful child is born into a world he or she does not fully understand," Agarwal said. "Their brain pathways are still forming, and they need to repetitively relearn how to assimilate into society. These disassociative play-fantasies apparently help them accomplish that."

Debra Cottle of Malden, MA, discusses her daughter's recently diagnosed YTD with pediatric neurologist Dr. Amy Yuan.

But such fantasies come at a price, producing in Youthful children a disinterest in the everyday responsibilities of life bordering on contempt.

"Jesse knows when it's his turn to take out the trash. We've gone over the house rules a dozen times," said Richard Torres, a Davenport, IA, father of three whose nine-year-old son Jesse was recently diagnosed with YTD. "And still he neglects the job time and again."

Slowly, methodically, through an elaborate system of rewards and punishments, Jesse has shown improvement. But the road ahead is long.

"We get a lot of platitudes from the so-called experts," Torres said. "We hear a lot of, 'Oh, he'll grow out of it, just give it time.' That's easy for them to say–their kid's not running around the neighborhood claiming to be Superman."

Help for families struggling with YTD may soon be on the way. At last month's annual AMA Convention, SmithKline-Beecham unveiled Juvenol, a promising YTD drug which, pending FDA approval, could reach the U.S. market as early as next spring. Already available in France and Sweden, Juvenol, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported, resulted in a 60 percent decrease in running and jumping among users.

But until such help arrives, the parents of YTD sufferers can do little more than try to get through each day.

"I love my child with all my heart," said Alexandra Torres, Jesse's mother. "But when he's in the throes of one of his skipping fits, it's hard not to feel a little envious of parents with normal, healthy children."


• Near-constant running, jumping, skipping
• Sudden episodes of shouting and singing
• Preferring playtime and flights of fancy to schoolwork
• Confusing self with animals and objects, including tigers, dinosaurs, and airplanes
• Conversations with "imaginary friends"
• Poor impulse-control with regard to sugared snacks

Be forewarned, be very forewarned: The Holidays usually trigger an epidemic of YTD!

OK – The Onion is satire. But don't tell the parents, teachers and administrators who are thankful that their friends at SmithKline Beecham have come up with Juvinol. Some are reaching for the prescription pads and soon the gentle suggestions will be in the backpacks. Better classroom management and increased test scores to boot – all through the wonders of chemistry. —smf

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.
• 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.
• 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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