Saturday, April 14, 2007

Diversity perversity.

4LAKids: Sunday, April 15, 2007—Income Tax Day!
In This Issue:
HIGH SCHOOL INSTRUCTION, COLLEGE NEEDS UNMATCHED: Teachers at different levels put a priority on different things, study says
THE NCLB FOLLIES: Bush Strongly Condemns Achievement Gap and Iraqi Terrorism + Trying to Leave No Child Left Behind + Study Says Test Scores Inflated
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
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.
This week (in news not contained here) the Board of Ed has reconsidered and Green Dot Public Schools will get to establish schools near Locke High School after all. School Board candidate Neal Kleiner reminds 4LAKids that Locke was built in response to the Watts Civil Disturbances of August ‘65. Another response to the Watts Riots was Beverly Hills High School’s Diversity Program. Both share a similar level of success – and reflect Los Angeles’ inability to confront our race problems.

In other news various studies prove/disprove various things, most pretty obvious. Schools in California need to do better, high school isn’t really preparing kids for college. And while President Bush says NCLB is doing great, the school district across the river begs to differ – and – ommygawd! – state officials may be tweaking the statistics! They may have learned that lesson from (whatever-happened-to) Rod Paige – G.W.Bush’s first Secretary of Education …a man lucky not to be doing time for his statistically anomalous ‘educational miracle’ in the Houston Independent School District – the spring from which NCLB sprung

Political correctness in Connecticut brings the banned high school play to off-broadway.

And also unreported: Kids went to school and learned things, They came home safe; most did their homework. Teachers taught, administrators administered, plant managers managed, nurses nursed and staff supported. Grand old schools that have seen better days see even better days ahead. Hard working people went to work and did good things even though the payroll situation remains chaotic – and other hard working folks are working at solving the chaos. Good things happened everyday last week. Just like they almost always do.

Education is Magical Thinking. —smf


Editorial in The Argus (Fremont, CA)

Apriil 11, 2007 - ALTHOUGH few who've watched the erosion of California public education were surprised by the bad news contained in the recent 22-study report "Getting down to the facts," it did provide insight into just how "deeply flawed" our public school system remains.

In spite of all the so-called reforms, school tests and budget increases instituted over the past few decades, California students remain low achievers compared with peers elsewhere in our nation. Eighth-graders, for instance, test second lowest in the nation in science, third lowest in English and seventh lowest in math. It's true across the board.

Funding per pupil is substandard compared to other states — and distributed inequitably. We have no reliable barometer of which reforms work and which don't. Schools in poor districts and students who need resources the most usually don't get them. The state funding system is so Byzantine that it's impossible to fathom.

But we spend 30 percent less per pupil than most states and 75 percent less than New York. Staffing is inadequate, classes are too large, we have no true measure of teacher competency, and administrators are so swamped by regulations that the bureaucracy dictates what goes on in schools.

Gaps between good and bad schools are huge in terms of funding, teacher quality and the education students receive. A centralized computer information system is needed.

It is a dysfunctional system controlled from above that benefits too few students and is of little help to a state seeking to maintain its reputation for economic, scientific, social and technological progress.

"We're in desperate shape. The system is broken in many ways," says Marshall Smith of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which helped fund the research headed by Stanford University.

Ted Mitchell, chair of Gov. Schwarzenegger's education committee that will try to translate the studies into public policy, said, "Only major fundamental change can fix it." The governor wants 2008 to be the year of educational reform.

The stickiest point is, of course, money. The state funding increase needed ranges between from

$17 billion to $32 billion. The former would be a 40 percent jump over 2003-04 education dollars and the latter a 75 percent jump.

Increasing taxes and/or reshuffling funds for other programs would have to occur to reach such financial goals. That's why the governor prefers to "focus on critical school reform before any discussion about more resources."

But state schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell calls "reform and revenue" the two new "Rs" and says they need to be addressed in tandem, not separately. That makes sense, but the need for reform shouldn't get lost in a scrum over money.

We can't simply throw money at the problem and hope it works. We've tried that and failed. All the red tape and the mountain of arcane rules and regulations dumped on schools have gotten in the way of — not facilitated — improving our children's education.

Which brings up another major point: There needs to be more local control and authority in terms of spending, curriculum and implementing educational improvements. Sacramento has too much say over what's done locally. Too much money comes with apron strings attached — more than 100 categorical programs imposed on local districts dictate how dollars are spent. Earmarked money can only be used in specified ways. The state makes sure requirements are met.

A concept used successfully in other states is to give districts more money for students with greater needs and the freedom to spend and implement programs as they see fit. If the studies are correct, state centralization of power and the loss of local control are major contributors to the decline of California education.

The question remains, assuming it happens, as school reform emerges over the next few years, do we have the political will to change our "deeply flawed" public education system?

Comprehensive reform is overdue. Continuing down the ill-conceived path we've been on is a prescription for further failure.

HIGH SCHOOL INSTRUCTION, COLLEGE NEEDS UNMATCHED: Teachers at different levels put a priority on different things, study says

by Shirley Dang and Matt Krupnick | Contra Costa Times

April 10, 2007 — What students learn in high school and what they need to know for college does not always match up, according to a national survey of high school and college instructors.

Teachers at all levels value organized, coherent writing from their students. But college professors more often rated punctuation as paramount, the study says, while high school teachers placed more importance on developing a topic and writing a great introductory paragraph.

In math, high school teachers labeled higher-level subjects such as calculus as a priority.

"What college teachers say is they want students with a firm grasp of the basics," said Cynthia Schmeiser, president and chief operating officer of the education division at ACT, a college entrance exam company.

The results released today might help explain why community colleges and universities send so many freshmen to remedial classes.

Nationwide, 28 percent of incoming freshmen enrolled in remedial college classes, according to a 2004 report by the National Center for Education Statistics.

In the Cal State University system, nearly half of the incoming freshmen this year scored below proficient in English on placement tests that determine what level of courses students should take. More than a third fell short of being college-ready in math.

"Yes indeed, we do a large amount of remedial and developmental amount of work -- more than we would like," said James Murphy, chairman of the English department at Cal State East Bay.

This year, less than half showed up at Cal State East Bay ready for college math while nearly 60 percent of incoming freshmen needed remedial English classes. Out of necessity, the school runs what are known as developmental writing classes to help get students up to speed.

"Not that we don't think it's important, but it would be nice if could be done somewhere else," Murphy said.

In the state community college system, the largest in the United States, more than 300,000 students ended up in remedial classes during the last school year, according to a March accountability report.

At Diablo Valley College, math and English professors deal with an annual flood of students unprepared for college work, said Bruce Koller, an economics professor and head of the college's Faculty Senate.

"That has led to the faculty questioning whether there is a disconnect between expectations in high school and college," he said.

High school and college instructors do agree in some respects. In comments written on their survey forms, both groups report frustration with having to teach punctuation and grammar to students unable to write complete sentences or match subjects and verbs.

However, college instructors ranked punctuating the end of a sentence correctly as the second most important thing in writing effectively. High school teachers ranked that skill as the 31st most important thing.

In math, high school teachers tend to cover a broad swatch of topics, partly due to state requirements, the study says. College professors said they valued a more in-depth knowledge of basics.

ACT has surveyed teachers every three or four years for nearly three decades. The results offer a rough snapshot, rather than a scientific explanation, of high school and college expectations. The gap has neither grown nor shrunk, Schmeiser said, largely because reform efforts in elementary, middle and high school rarely included college staff members.

"Post-secondary instructors haven't always been at the table," she said. "Now we're seeing a reversal of that."

Professor Alison Warriner of Cal State East Bay serves on a state task force to improve writing at the high school level. In 2005, state superintendent of public schools Jack O'Connell created a council to foster relationships among educators at the preschool, K-12 and college levels.

This P-16 Council includes members of the business community, two- and four-year colleges, teachers, school boards, students and parents.

The gap between high school and college has also caught the attention of politicians and business leaders worried about America's prominence in the global economy.

"We are facing a kind of global competition we haven't faced before. It's fierce," said Tom Kiley, spokesman for the House Committee on Education and Labor. He said Congress may tackle the issue of relevant high school instruction when it considers reauthorizing No Child Left Behind, the federal school accountability law.

"If we want to stay competitive, we have to make sure students are ready for jobs in the area or college," Kiley said.


The Cal State system uses placement tests to determine whether incoming students need remedial classes in math or English. Results for admitted freshmen in fall 2006:

Cal State University Systemwide

Percent of freshmen not proficient in math: 37.5
Percent of freshmen not proficient in English: 45.3

Source: Cal State University

Your points about compromise are expressed in these sentences and also the desire by Ms. Cantor to work with the mayor on issues "outside of AB1381.

Rattray said that while there are differences in the urgency and execution of plans by the mayor and the LAUSD, their goals are very similar. That's why the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce is urging the mayor, the school board, the superintendent and the teachers union to sign a compact and develop a shared agenda.

I very much feel the same way. I want meaningful school reform, and it is not important to me whether the ideas originate at a school site (my alma mater, James Monroe?), from Green Dot, the mayor, or Superintendent Brewer. Despite feeling that the mayor should have abided by the courts decision and not try to "buy the board", I do not oppose his desire to reduce the drop out rate and improve public education in Los Angeles.

It is ironic that the fight over Locke High School has now taken center stage. Locke was built in 1967 partly to improve conditions in the inner city following the Watts revolt in 1965. Locke started out that first year with grades ten and eleven, and the following year added grade twelve, and many new teachers, including a naive, idealistic twenty-two year old, Neal Kleiner. I was there for over thirteen years. There was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm on that staff and I sincerely believe we made a difference. However, times were different. The school was all black, so there was no racial tension. Gang violence was just starting out, and nothing like today. Voluntary busing for integration was also on a small scale so many of the best and brightest in the community stayed at Locke, especially because the band/music department attracted outstanding talent from the two feeder schools, Gompers and Harte.

Alas, our dream of making Locke a great school faded with weak leadership in the 70s; the result was a slow, downward spiral that has not been reversed. I am truly convinced that all of the positive reform ideas: small learning communities, more K-8 schools, ninth grade academies, etc. are only SECONDARY to strong, committed leadership at a school site AND a collaborative group of teachers and parents. If administration, parents, and teachers support and sincerely trust and work with each other, miracles will still happen. Where rancor, distrust, and ego dominate, any and all reforms will not suffice: the children will suffer.

If I win this election, I will model the behavior that I want to see on every campus: open, honest, collaborative leadership where ego is left at the doorstep. If I lose, I hope to return to LAUSD on a part time basis to work with administrators and staff in "difficult" schools, possibly at Locke. I still believe in public education and I refuse to give up my dream.

Thanks for listening...and caring,

Neal Kleiner

► BEVERLY HILLS ADDRESSES DIVERSITY ISSUE: Facing criticism, schools seek to attract more black and Latino students.

by Joel Rubin, LA Times Staff Writer

April 13, 2007 - Under pressure from civil rights groups, the head of Beverly Hills schools agreed Thursday to extend the application deadline for the district's diversity permit program in hopes of increasing the number of Latino and African American students who seek to enroll.

The decision to push forward the deadline to April 26 came at a morning meeting between Beverly Hills Unified School District Supt. Kari McVeigh, activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson and representatives from several groups including the NAACP and the Youth Advocacy Coalition.

For nearly 40 years, high-performing Beverly Hills High School has aimed to increase its relatively low number of minorities by selecting students from the Los Angeles Unified School District to enroll on so-called diversity permits.

But a Times story earlier this month found that the overwhelming majority of the 159 students currently enrolled on the permits — nearly seven out of 10 — are high-performing Asian students, most of whom attended two of the 12 Los Angeles middle schools that participate in the permit program.

After the story, Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, criticized Beverly Hills school officials for not more aggressively recruiting black and Latino students.

"The chronic underachievement of many black and Latino students in the LAUSD continues to have a damaging effect on poor communities," said Hutchinson, in a prepared statement. "The Beverly Hills diversity permit can help undo some of the educational damage."

The increase in Asian students stems from California's strict anti-affirmative action law, approved by voters in 1996. Concerned the permit program violated the law, Beverly Hills school officials since 2000 have not considered a student's race or ethnicity when deciding who receives the permits.

Over the coming weeks, Hutchinson said he and other leaders in the African American and Latino communities would spread word of the permit program and encourage students to apply. With more blacks and Latinos applying, the number of students admitted should increase as well, he said.

Until this year, selections had been based on, among other factors, test scores, grades and writing samples. Going forward, however, McVeigh said school officials will choose randomly from students who complete applications.

▲ This story has been simmering on the back burner long enough without 4LAKids investing its 2¢ worth! Beverly Hills High has this marvelous decadent cachet about it, all 90210 and “Clueless”. (BHH$ is actually in 90212 – a downscale neighborhood!) As Hollywood High studentS we always resented BHHS – we figured they did their driver training in Corvettes and Cobras – or maybe chauffeurs drove for one’s driving test? And a recent raid by BHHS to hire Hamilton High’s principal away certainly didn’t make them any Westside points!

First – why only the high school? Are the four Beverly Hills elementary schools (all are K-8) all that diverse?

Recently I had a conversation with a former LAUSD administrator about BHHS diversity outreach. Apparently BHHS counselors, filled with noblesse oblige, used to go to nearby Emerson Middle School and cherry-picked the best of the minority students and signed ’em up! You can guess how it went: the best and brightest minority kids …and the sports stars. These were Westwood kids – solidly middle class, high performing – they fit right in! This was all well and good until my administrator friend moved to a local high school and realized that LAUSD was losing minority talent, academic and athletic, to BHHS. There went the test scores and the basketball scores too! That ended and BHHS went over to its new diversity permit program – and started openly enrolling Asians in tastefully-torn Philips Exeter sweatshirts. Maybe we should send Beverly Hills our stylin’ young artists who tag buses the LA mayor and schools superintendent are riding in? Diversity permits/Perversity permits. It’s an honest mistake! - smf

• “CERTAIN REALITIES MUST BE CONSIDERED before making the decision to apply for a permit. Our experience with the permit program since 1969 tells us that in order for students to succeed, they should be performing well in academic subjects in their junior high or middle school.”

• REQUIREMENTS: Students must submit a completed application and a portfolio highlighting the following :
• Attendance
• Classroom Achievement
• Community Service
• Extra Curricular Activities
• Talent (i.e. fine arts, visual and performing arts)
• Citizenship
• School Service
• Writing Sample
• Student Government

Race or socio-economic background ARE never mentioned! The BHHS Diversity Program website.

THE NCLB FOLLIES: Bush Strongly Condemns Achievement Gap and Iraqi Terrorism + Trying to Leave No Child Left Behind + Study Says Test Scores Inflated


Source: White House Press Office

▼OK, You have to look pretty far and wide to find folks who think No Child Left Behind is any good or even working. Conservatives are unfond of it. Progressives (that’s what we liberals call ourselves this week!) don’t like it. Some folks call it “ENN-CEE-ELL-BEE”, others: “NICKELBY” – and still others call it much worse. But the President found a Roosevelt Roomful of folks who’d come to Washington and have a “universal belief” in NCLB. “Leaders of the civil rights movement, education leaders from around our country, business leaders…” trotted out for – if not the photo-op – at least the press release! Notice how the official White House Press release – printed in its entirely below - names them all. – smf.

WASHINGTON, April 12 The following is a transcript of remarks by President Bush after meeting on No Child Left Behind reauthorization:

Roosevelt Room: 10:53 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: I have just had what I consider to be not only a fascinating meeting, but an important meeting about the No Child Left Behind Act with leaders of the civil rights movement, education leaders from around our country, business leaders who are concerned about America's competitiveness.

There is a universal belief that the No Child Left Behind Act needs to be reauthorized, and I want to thank you all for working with us to get this piece of legislation reauthorized.

I believe the No Child Left Behind Act needs to be reauthorized because it's working. It's a piece of legislation which believes in setting high standards and using accountability to make sure that every single child gets a good education. I strongly support the notion that when we find a child falling behind that there ought to be extra federal help so that child can catch back up early, before it's too late.

I strongly condemn an achievement gap that exists in this country. It's a gap between Anglo students and Latino students, or white students and black students -- and it's not in our country's interest to allow an education system to continue to foster that difference in achievement. The No Child Left Behind Act is beginning to close that gap. It's the impetus necessary to cause the reforms, the curriculum changes necessary to make sure every child has a chance of realizing the great hopes of our country.

Reauthorizing No Child Left Behind Act is an important state, an important move; it's an important piece of legislation necessary to keep this country not only competitive, but also a country of great hope. And so I want to thank you all for joining us.

I also want to comment on today's bombing of the Iraqi parliament. First of all, I strongly condemn the action. It reminds us, though, that there is an enemy willing to bomb innocent people in a symbol of democracy. In other words, this assembly is a place where people have come to represent the 12 million people who voted. There is a type of person that would walk in that building and kill innocent life -- and that is the same type of person that is willing to come and kill innocent Americans. And it is in our interest to help this young democracy be in a position so it can sustain itself and govern itself and defend itself against these extremists and radicals.

Our hearts go out to those who suffered as a result of this bombing. My message to the Iraqi government is we stand with you as you take the steps necessary to not only reconcile politically, but also put a security force in place that is able to deal with these kinds of people.

Thank you all for coming.


Meanwhile, Across the Potomac…


From the National Public Radio Program “Marketplace”

BACKGROUND: The affluent Fairfax County, Va., school district has a big meeting in Washington tomorrow. It's a last-ditch effort to avoid millions of dollars in fines for not complying with the No Child Left Behind Act.

TEXT OF STORY (Date) - KAI RYSSDAL: Officials from Virginia's Fairfax County school district have a multimillion-dollar meeting in Washington tomorrow. It's a last-ditch effort to avoid fines over how the district tests its students.

Fairfax is one of the wealthiest and most widely-respected public school systems in the country. But it's run into trouble with the U.S. Department of Education over No Child Left Behind, which says you have to test virtually everybody. Even kids still learning to speak or read English. Marketplace's Steve Henn reports.

STEVE HENN: The Fairfax County Public School system has a $2.2 billion budget and 164,000 students.

SRAVYA GUDUR: My name is Sravya. I was born in India.

Sravya Gudur came to the U.S. about seven years ago, and is one of more than 20,000 students in Fairfax who do not speak English at home.

KARYN NILES: I wanna see your reading from yesterday on your desk . . .

Karyn Niles is Sravya's eighth grade social studies teacher.

NILES: I mean, I'm teaching them to read as quickly as I can.

Still, Fairfax County has recently decided not to give some of its slowest English-language learners a state language arts test that's mandated by No Child Left Behind. The federal law requires every state to test almost every student in grade-level reading and math. These results count toward each school system's report card.

JACK DALE: So we talk quite at length with my leadership team about what we should do.

Jack Dale is Fairfax County's school superintendent. He says some states offer exams in children's native languages. Virginia has chosen not to.

So that leaves the district with a tough choice: comply with the federal law and get slammed for poor performance, or not test and risk possible federal fines.

Indeed, federal officials say Fairfax's decision could cost its schools up to $17 million next year alone.

DALE: And we believe that what we should do is probably not test the kids then. They can't read English. They don't have the basic literacy levels that are necessary. So you won't have a valid test. So why bother putting a test in front of them?

Dale insists he's not trying to avoid testing students who won't do well. He says testing English-language learners on grade-level English simply doesn't make sense.

That attitude alarms Peter Zamora, an attorney at the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

PETER ZAMORA: Any student population that's not included risks being left out of the discussion around education reform.

Zamora believes that, for years, public schools across the country haven't paid enough attention to foreign-language students — and he says the consequences are devastating.

ZAMORA: The dropout rate is around 70 percent for English-language learners.

No Child Left Behind scores are broken down and analyzed by race, class and language ability. Zamora sees that as the genius of the law.

ZAMORA: So Fairfax, like many school districts and states even, you know, would have a good average score. But once you look at individual student populations, you see very different outcomes based upon race and class and language ability.

If any one group of kids fails to meet state standards, the school districts are held accountable.

Zamora believes these high-stakes tests, like No Child Left Behind, force school systems across the country to do better. He's worried if schools simply stop testing these kids, they'll also end up ignoring them.

ZAMORA: By 2025 experts expect fully one quarter, 25 percent, of our student population to be made up of English-language learners. So at that point, we're really ignoring a huge proportion of our student population.

Zamora says that's not only bad for students learning English. Over time, it could have a dreadful effect on the American economy.


►Act III: Study Says Pupil test scores inflated:

by Sharon Noguchi | San Jose Mercury News

April 10, 2007 — First came grade inflation, a trend in which teachers reward most students with A's and B's.

Now researchers have documented "test-score inflation."

In the latest phenomenon, many states are declaring that more of their students are proficient than national tests indicate. Researchers attribute the difference to the nationwide pressure to improve student achievement.

Furthermore, the disparity between the state and national measures is growing, according to a study led by two University of California-Berkeley professors and due to be released today.

Compared with other states, California shows a small gap. Still, in 2002, the state reported that 36 percent of fourth-graders were proficient in reading, while a test administered nationwide found only 21 percent were proficient. In math, the difference was 37 percent vs. 21 percent.

Last year, both gaps in fourth-grade proficiency widened, with the state claiming 49 percent in language arts and 54 percent in math, and national tests indicating only 22 percent in reading and 27 percent in math.

But the difference in scores doesn't necessarily indicate "test inflation," state educators say.

"It makes sense that California kids would do better on California tests than on a national test," said Bill Padia, state deputy superintendent of schools.

In addition, he pointed out that the national test, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, takes only sample groups of students in the fourth, eighth and 12th grades. Compared with the schoolwide efforts of gearing up for annual state Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests, "there's no motivation to do well" on the national tests, he said.

The researchers' comparison of 15 states shows a wide variation in how states define proficiency, said Professor Bruce Fuller of the UC-Berkeley School of Education.

As poorly as the figures reflect on California, the state actually measures up better than 13 other states studied. That's because California sets its threshold for proficiency fairly high compared with other states, while "a state like Texas sets the bar almost on the ground," Fuller said.

The study found that in 2006, Texas claimed 82 percent of its fourth-graders were proficient in reading, while the national test found only 29 percent were proficient.

The most rigorous standard studied was set by Massachusetts, whose definition is higher than that set on the national tests.

That doesn't necessarily mean that California should raise its bar, Fuller said. "We're not arguing that NAEP should be considered a sacred test," Fuller said. But, he said, the survey illustrates that it is confusing to have varying standards to indicate that student achievement is improving or declining.

He cited several reasons for the discrepancy between state and federal reports.

One is that California schools are teaching exactly what the state dictates students must know - but may not stray beyond that. At the upper levels, students are less able to apply what they've learned.

The federal test, on the other hand, doesn't necessarily parallel California's - or any state's - curriculum.

"Teaching to the test allows students to absorb bits of knowledge, but the underlying comprehension may not be keeping pace," Fuller said.

Congress is mulling over bills that would change the varying testing regimens. One by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., would require states to raise their bars to the level of federal standards; another by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., would set up national standards and testing.

The study points out that the national test indicates that standardized testing, begun by states and joined after Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, hasn't produced the hike in achievement that is sometimes claimed. Fourth-grade and eighth-grade reading scores have leveled off, while 12th-grade scores have declined.

The researchers suggest the federal government back away from rules that punish schools with low-performing students, avoid micromanaging what schools should achieve, allocate funds to needy schools and find ways to motivate and support teachers.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources


by Alison Leigh Cowan | New York Times

April 12, 2007 - Students at a Connecticut high school whose principal canceled a play they were preparing on the Iraq war are now planning to perform the work in June in New York, at the Public Theater, a venerable Off Broadway institution, and at the Culture Project, which is known for staging politically provocative work. A third show at a Connecticut theater is also being discussed.

“We are so honored and thrilled, there’s no words to describe how excited we are,” Bonnie Dickinson, the teacher whose advanced theater class at Wilton High School put the play together, said yesterday.

After barring the scheduled performance of the play, a series of monologues mainly from soldiers titled “Voices in Conflict,” school officials have cleared the way for an off-campus production. In a letter Tuesday, Thomas B. Mooney, a lawyer for Wilton’s board of education, wrote that the district and its superintendent, Gary Richards “have no objection to students privately producing and presenting the play on their own.”

While defending the school’s initial decision to halt production pending “concerns about balance, content and copyright,” Mr. Mooney wrote that “school officials have no interest in interfering with the private activities of students.” The letter goes on to say that the teacher of the advanced theater class that initiated the project, Ms. Dickinson, could also participate in an independent production “as long as she makes clear that she is acting as an individual and that the play is not sponsored in any way by the Wilton Public Schools.”

In canceling the play last month, the school principal, Timothy H. Canty, cited concerns about political balance, sourcing, and the possibility of hurting Wilton residents “who had lost loved ones or who had individuals serving.”

But administrators have said in recent days that they might yet allow the play to be performed on school grounds in some modified form, but probably not this spring, when about half the 15 cast members are scheduled to graduate.

The Public Theater, which is tentatively scheduled to stage the show June 15, and the Culture Project, where it is slotted for the prior weekend, were among scores of off-campus venues, including church basements and college auditoriums, that offered the students a platform after the play’s cancellation.

“We started in the school, but we don’t have to finish in the school,” Devon Fontaine, 16, a cast member, said yesterday. “Wherever we do the play, I think we will all be happy and grateful that that venue has allowed us to do so.”

The students were also awarded a “Courage in Theater” award last month for their “non-performance” from Music Theater International, a New York agency that licenses many high school productions. And last week, theater greats including Edward Albee, Christopher Durang, John Weidman, Marsha Norman, Doug Wright, John Guare and John Patrick Shanley, under the auspices of the Dramatists Guild of America, joined the National Coalition Against Censorship in calling for the school district to allow the play to go on.

Martin Garbus, a First Amendment lawyer who has been working pro bono with Ms. Dickinson and several parents of cast members said yesterday that schools are allowed to regulate speech that has the potential to disrupt learning. But canceling the initial production only increased the likelihood that its eventual performance on school grounds might stir up trouble, he said. “Had the school not done any of this stuff, it would have just gone through uneventfully,” Mr. Garbus said.

Ms. Dickinson said the script was a work in progress, and that students would now be rushing to polish it and rehearse amid other spring concerns, like the prom.

“We’re looking forward to finishing writing the play or putting it together, as it were, and coming up with some kind of ending that feels right with the kids and then rehearsing it,” said Ms. Dickinson, adding that the show may be performed on-book, with the cast reading from scripts, to relieve anxiety about memorizing lines before their Off Broadway debut.



Scholarship for Academically Talented 7th Graders-Applications Due MAY 7th, 2007

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is offering students the opportunity to apply for their Young Scholars Program. As the manager of community outreach for the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University, I want to make sure as many teachers, groups, organizations, individuals, and parents as possible become aware of this opportunity.

The Foundation provides exceptional students with individualized educational guidance and educational services, which could include tutors, summer programs, on-line classes, computers, and tuition throughout high school.

The Young Scholars Program is highly competitive and attracts outstanding applicants from across the United States. The specific criteria for consideration are: Current 7th grade students Strong academic record, awards/honors, teacher recommendation Financial need Motivation, Leadership An appreciation for the arts, music, literature, or similar fields Application materials are available NOW on the Foundation's website at along with more information about the Foundation itself.

Candidates must submit their completed application to the address on the application, with all materials specified in the program guidelines, by the receipt deadline of May 7, 2007.

If you or someone from your organization needs more information or have questions about the Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Program, please don't hesitate to contact me at 1-847-491-7127. We would like as many qualified individuals to take part in this rare opportunity as possible.

Tammie Stewart Manager Community Outreach Center for Talent Development Northwestern University
617 Dartmouth Place
Evanston, IL 60208



Peace Over Violence is proud to present the 9th Annual Denim Day in LA 2007, a campaign to raise awareness and educate the public about rape and sexual assault. It takes place on Wednesday April 25, 2007.

In 1998 an Italian Supreme Court decision overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore jeans. People all over the world were outraged. Wearing jeans became an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.

Last year on Denim Day an unprecedented 250,000 people signed up to wear jeans in support of raising awareness about the need to end sexual violence. This year we aim to at least double that amount.

This day in the schools, offices and streets of Los Angeles County we unite against rape of girls, women, boys and men. We stand in support of survivors. We break the silence to end sexual violence
On Denim Day in LA wear your jeans as a visible sign of protest against the myths that still surround sexual assault!


When you participate in Denim Day in LA on April 25, 2007 you:

• Make it possible for more survivors of sexual assault to reach out and find help.
• Promote prevention through education so that sexual violence doesn’t occur in the first place.
• Encourage men and boys to understand that strength is not for hurting, and the critical role they play in preventing violence against women.
• Encourage institutional and societal change.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
►Tuesday Apr 17, 2007
SOUTH REGION SPAN K-8 #1: CEQA Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) Meeting
LAUSD has completed a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this new school project. This report evaluates the potential impacts the project may have on the surrounding area. The purpose of this meeting is to present the Draft EIR to the community, and receive comments and questions regarding the results of the Draft EIR. Your input is very valuable.
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. - Fries Avenue Elementary School
1301 Fries Ave.
Wilmington, CA 90744

►Wednesday Apr 18, 2007
6:00 p.m. - Salvin School - Auditorium
1925 Budlong Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

►Thursday Apr 19, 2007
LAUSD has completed a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this new school project. This report evaluates the potential impacts the project may have on the surrounding area. The purpose of this meeting is to present the Draft EIR to the community, and receive comments and questions regarding the results of the Draft EIR. Your input is very valuable.
6:00 p.m. - Rosemont Avenue Elementary School Auditorium
421 N. Rosemont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

►Thursday Apr 19, 2007
SOUTH REGION HIGH SCHOOL #14: Project Update Meeting
6:00 p.m.- San Pedro High School - Auditorium
1001 W 15th Street
San Pedro, CA 90731

►Thursday Apr 19, 2007
6:00 p.m.- Sara Coughlin Elementary School
Multi-Purpose Room
11035 Borden Avenue
Pacoima, CA 91331

*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! • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• 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.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.