Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

4LAKids: Memorial Day - Monday, May 28, 2007
In This Issue:
LAUSD EXPECTS TO CHOP 500 JOBS: Brewer targets administration
EVENTS: Coming up next week: Jack & Denny Smith Library Celebration, Lummis Day, Feria del Libro, and more!
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.
Memorial Day is not about picnics, automobile races or the end of testing; it isn't just a congressional recess or long holiday weekend.

Memorial Day recognizes the sacrifices made by those who gave – in Lincoln's words: "the last full measure of devotion" …and when we the living must "highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain".

Lincoln again: "The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. "

War is as rooted in hubris, vanity and error as it its in the mud and gore of the battllefield– and whether defined as Clausewitz's "politics continued by other means", Tennyson's heroic "blunder", or by the ultimate failure of Lincoln's and our better angels — we must recognize the sad and tragic sacrifices and always guard against the vanity.

Here are two from our City of Angels, lost last week. They were here with us in our communities, at the mall, in the street …on our schools, in the classroom, on the playground. Now gone.

JOSEPH J. ANZACK JR., 20, of Torrance; private first class, Army.
Anzack was among three soldiers captured May 12 in an ambush that killed four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter near Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad. His body was found Wednesday floating in the Euphrates River, 12 miles south of where his unit had been attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. Anzack had been shot numerous times and appeared to have been dead for several days. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, N.Y.

DANIEL P. CAGLE, 22, of Carson; private first class, Army.
Cagle was one of two soldiers killed Wednesday when a bomb exploded near their unit while on foot patrol in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. He died of his injuries in Balad, north of the capital. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Stewart, Ga.

PFC Anzack will never be 21, PFC Cagel never 23.

No more. – smf

►ALSO RIP: The LA TIMES School Me! Column and Blog. We must've had all the education news+views we need in the past year! 's too bad (or stupid) …Bob Sipchen would've loved the Kleiner fiasco at Locke!

- Obits from the LA Times.

LAUSD EXPECTS TO CHOP 500 JOBS: Brewer targets administration
by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer LA Daily News

May 24, 2007 — Facing a $95 million shortfall in next year's budget, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent David Brewer III on Thursday unveiled a plan to eliminate 500 administrative positions mostly from the district's downtown headquarters, while also shifting more money and staffing to local districts.

The staff reduction is about 10 percent of the district's nonteaching work force and would be achieved through attrition and retirements, he said.

The $6.4 billion operating budget also calls for a $2.5 million cut in classroom services, mostly through staffing reductions that also would be achieved through attrition.

The fiscal plan is Brewer's first as superintendent and reflects reduced government funding, declining enrollment, the impact of a 7.5 percent pay and health benefits increase promised to teachers, and the costs of reducing class sizes.

"It's going to be somewhat painful. We have to balance the budget, we have no choice," Brewer said. "Because of the 7.5 percent total compensation package, we had to make some significant cuts ... and the bottom line is we're going to take this opportunity to restructure the district into a 21st century organization."

The cuts and shifts in funds are in line with Brewer's vow to dramatically restructure LAUSD and its culture after a scathing management audit said local districts are not sufficiently empowered to do their jobs.


The superintendent said that to balance the budget he cut each of LAUSD's eight local districts about 10 percent, mostly in staffing. Cuts in the district's central office totaled about $61.5 million or about 16 percent, he said.

But Brewer also said he shifted about $11 million in professional development funds and about 20 positions to the local districts to boost school-based management.

Brewer said he collaborated with the local districts to construct the budget.

But the move to empower the local districts is likely to draw the ire of the teachers' union and comes even as a district study released Friday found that while LAUSD is underfunded, it still could squeeze out an extra $160 million in savings.

A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said Friday he is skeptical that moving more resources to local districts would give school sites greater authority over the budget and curriculum.

Duffy said he plans to have a lengthy discussion with Brewer to explain the union's perspective that the local districts have stood in the way of reform.

"We've seen this preacher before and once it gets to the mini-districts, it doesn't get to the school sites - not just the money but the authority to make decisions," Duffy said. "Mini-district folks don't understand local control. It's part of the bureaucratic culture."

Brewer also allocated $5 million to his newly created "innovation division," which will create pilot programs and consider proposals for small clusters of schools to improve student achievement.

Amid Brewer's proposed cuts, a report commissioned last year by the district and UTLA said Thursday that the nation's second-largest school district is one of the most underfunded urban districts in the country.

The report said that about $2.5 billion that LAUSD receives from state and federal governments is "oppressively" restricted and that the district allocates a high percentage of its funds to instruction than other major school districts.

But the report also identified areas to which LAUSD could more effectively allocate resources and said provisions that are part of normal union contracts can become barriers to reform.


The report said the district and UTLA must get beyond district policies and union provisions to accomplish true reform.

"The district cannot transform its schools without the active support of UTLA and, in some cases, without a significant renegotiation of the UTLA contract that exchanges better working conditions for fewer restrictions around scheduling and staffing, and a longer school day that includes collaborative-planning time," wrote author Stephen Frank, director of the nonprofit Education Resource Strategies, which conducted the $200,000 study.

Frank criticized the union's demand for a two-student reduction in class sizes in grades 4 to 12 that will cost LAUSD $10 million over three years.

That money could have been leveraged more to reduce student loads for teachers by creating block schedules or spending it on small literacy groups for English-learners, Frank said.

"I don't know of any research to suggest that a class-size reduction of two is going to impact student learning," Frank said.

But Duffy disagreed that the class-size reduction negotiated in the recent three-year contract would be better used on other student programs.

"This is one of those no-brainers. It's more efficient to teach to 24 kids than to 34 kids," Duffy said.

Duffy said the union, however, is willing to partner with the district to bring innovative practices to school sites.

"But I'm not willing to give up teachers' traditional rights, which I think are critically important, like teachers participating in a deliberative process over bell schedules," Duffy said. "Until I see a formula that retains class-size reduction in a meaningful way and expands it to other grades, I'll fight like hell to keep K-3 class-size reduction."

The district's budget committee will consider the proposed budget in coming weeks. The district is required to submit a balanced budget to the county, with adoption by June 30.

▼ Read the report and the Daily News' bullets below. LAUSD is already (before the cuts) operating with $1100 per student LESS than the average urban US school district and spends a greater percentage of the money it gets in the classroom than all but one. LAUSD gets fewer resources for English Language Learners than other districts AND has a numerically and statistically greater challenge.

The report calls for greater investment; the solution calls for a 10% across the board cut. In ancient Rome if an army unit behaved poorly in battle one legionnaire in ten was executed as collective punishment – this arbitrary "10% cut" was called "decimation". I'm not arguing that LAUSD administration couldn't use a cut back – but when one tasks an underperforming supervisor to reduce staff to a certain extent – whether in the Budget Office or the Local District – he or she rarely starts by looking in the mirror.

Plus this budget will be created and approved by a lame duck Board of Ed – and implemented by their successors. —smf


• LAUSD gets about $9,300 per pupil in government funds compared with an average $10,400 for the 20 largest urban districts.
• English-learners receive significantly fewer resources than those in other urban districts.
• LAUSD invests 59 percent of total expenses in instruction, higher than all benchmark districts except Chicago.
• Funds are heavily restricted by state, federal, district and collective-bargaining rules, leading to programs that can undermine coherence in schools and foster inefficiencies.
• Nearly $160 million for everything from data-processing to program-management staff could be better used.
• LAUSD could organize schools better to provide students with more individual attention and time for learning.
• LAUSD invests significant resources in professional development but lacks a coherent strategy to address district priorities and match needs and performance.


• Implement a reading strategy for the 70 percent of secondary students who are several years behind grade level.
• Create career and leadership opportunities for teachers that allow them to stay in the classroom.
• Free up money from restrictive uses by redesigning the way it travels from the central office to the schools.
• Support English-learners with more teachers and small literacy groups.

Source: Education Resource Strategies report on LAUSD

Editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle

Sunday, May 27, 2007 — After decades of educational reforms in California, it is profoundly disappointing that on the most basic indicator of educational success -- the number of students who graduate from high school -- the state is failing miserably.

The state's official graduation rate shows that only 67 percent of students who start out in the ninth-grade end up graduating four years later. That's the lowest rate in a decade.

That one-third of our students don't make it to graduation would be an unacceptable figure in any country. For it to be happening in a highly industrialized, culturally sophisticated and relatively wealthy state such as California is nothing less than a disgrace.

State education officials quibble about these and other figures. They rightly point out that the measure is not a completely reliable one, because students who are no longer on the rolls at a particular school may have transferred to other districts.

But all the numbers that are available tell the same depressing story: Far too many of our students -- perhaps as many as 150,000 a year -- don't pick up their diploma in what should have been their senior year.

Reducing the dropout rate may be one of the most challenging public-policy issues facing the state. We're now learning, for example, that at least one reform -- the California High School Exit Exam -- may be contributing to the dropout problem. A UCLA study suggests that 50,000 fewer students graduated last year because they flunked the exit exam.

The state is taking some steps to deal with the problem. This year, it is spending $200 million to increase the number of counselors in the seventh through the 12th-grades. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to add $25 million for counselors to focus on career technical education. The state is also spending $80 million to upgrade the technical education in the schools. That number should go to $100 million in the coming year. It is hoped that these upgraded programs will attract more potential dropouts than traditional academic settings.

But more must be done.

Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, is determined to turn the dropout crisis into "a top-tier public education priority." As he pointed out, the state constitution makes education compulsory between the ages of 6 and 18. "The law either means something or it doesn't," Steinberg said during a recent editorial board meeting. "Right now, it doesn't."

Steinberg has introduced a package of bills designed to give schools more tools and incentives to keep students in school -- and to hold the schools accountable if they fail. His SB210 would require dropout rates in the eighth and ninth grades, 4-year graduation rates, and the schools ability to prepare students for success in college to be included in the "Academic Performance Index" that measures the performance of a school. His SB344 would require schools to identify students at risk of dropping out as early as the sixth-grade through the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, or CALPADS.

Another Steinberg bill, SB406, would require schools to place limits on how many hours students with poor grades will be allowed to work. The law, says Steinberg, now allows students to work as many as 48 hours. This legislation offers exceptions for students for whom working is an economic necessity.

Schools cannot affect all of the issues related to the dropout rate -- such as students who get caught up in the juvenile-justice system or are forced to leave for jobs to help support their families -- but the educational system has a critical role in identifying and engaging those who are on the edge of leaving school.

As Steinberg put it, California's dropout rate "elevates to a moral crisis," when one considers the bleak opportunities available to workers without a high-school diploma in the 21st century. The governor and legislators need to address the dropout crisis with the urgency it deserves.

From the LAUSD website

The Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES) has been ranked among this year's top 50 public high schools in the United States by Newsweek magazine in its May 28 issue. The 6th-12th grade magnet span school in Local District 3 was ranked 46th in the publication's annual edition that lists its top 100 public high schools. Another 31 LAUSD high schools earned place of honor rankings among the top 1,200 U.S. high schools. The scores on based on a formula using Advanced Placement testing and graduating seniors.

North Hollywood (#181 nationally)
Bravo Medical Magnet (278)
Foshay Learning Center (296)
Marshall (353)
Fremont (390)
Eagle Rock (416)
Downtown Business Magnet (421)
Cleveland (443)
Van Nuys (577)
Lincoln (701)
Wilson (737)
Venice (744)
University (749)
Granada Hills Charter (764)
Fairfax (806)
King Drew Medical Magnet (836)
Bell (837)
Carson (849
Monroe (857)
Franklin (901)
Elizabeth Learning Center (903)
Taft (907)
Chatsworth (914)
Hamilton (916)
Manual Arts (933)
Reseda (977)
Hollywood (1,050)
Narbonne (1,077)
Crenshaw (1,172)
Canoga Park (1,235)
Francis Polytechnic (1,246)

• CONGRATULATIONS TO LACES AND TO THE REST …inclusion in this list places these schools among the top 5% in the nation by this measurement - despite the hue and cry about LAUSD being a failure!

That being said he Newsweek criteria is famously suspect, dividing the number of AP (and IB) tests taken (NOT passed!) by the number of graduating seniors — and disallowing schools-within-in-schools (LACES is a high school within a middle-senior span …that is apparently allowed) and schools with a selective criteria favoring high performing learners.* The Newsweek poll also artificially tosses out extremely high performing schools where average SAT scores exceed 1300 [That's the list to be on!] …so this list is a best-of-the-rest rather than a best-of-the-best measurement. —smf

Note: If schools-within-schools were scored the School for Advanced Studies at Marshall HS (@ 8+ AP tests per graduate) would be ranked #6 nationally!

* How the Newsweek #1 school in the nation (Gifted & Talented High School in Dallas @ 14 AP tests per graduate) qualifies as not being selective challenges the meaning of either "non-selective" or "gifted and talented"!

NEWSWEEK: The Top of the Class - The complete list of the 1,200


from Staff Reports

May 26, 2007— Retired Principal Neal B. Kleiner, a losing candidate in this month's school board race, was asked to be interim principal at troubled Locke High School, but the offer was rescinded when he showed up for work, district officials confirmed.

Kleiner said regional Supt. Carol Truscott apologized and told him that her superiors had nixed the arrangement. Filling in instead will be retired Principal Travis Kiel.

Truscott did not return calls. Kleiner lost a hard-fought race to Richard Vladovic, who will represent the district that includes Locke.

►Daily Breeze: SCHOOL BOARD LOSER THINKS POLITICS COST HIM A JOB: Neal Kleiner sees the withdrawal of his job as principal of Locke High School as retaliation after his defeat by Richard Vladovic.

by Paul Clinton, Daily Breeze

Saturday, May 26, 2007 — Neal Kleiner's stint as principal of troubled Locke High School ended before it had a chance to begin this week.

The former administrator, beaten by Richard Vladovic in a May 15 run-off election for a seat on the Los Angeles school board, said campaign politics may have cost him the assignment.

Locke High in South Los Angeles will be represented by Vladovic on the board. And Kleiner, during his campaign, made no secret of his opposition to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's move to gain partial control over LAUSD.

Kleiner was set to take over the school for the final five weeks of the year.

"I ruffled somebody's feathers during the campaign," Kleiner said. "And this week was payback."

Vladovic, the school district and Mayor's Office dismissed Kleiner's assertion that they engineered his ouster.

A day after the election, Carol Truscott, the local superintendent overseeing Locke High, asked Kleiner to replace Principal Frank Wells, who was escorted off campus when he criticized the district for failing to implement dramatic reforms at the school.

After accepting Truscott's offer, Kleiner said he visited Locke High on Tuesday, one day before he was scheduled to start, to reacquaint himself with the campus.

Kleiner began his teaching career at Locke High, starting as a social studies teacher in 1968. He left in 1982.

When Kleiner arrived at the school on Tuesday, Truscott informed him his services were no longer needed. Truscott didn't return calls seeking comment.

District spokeswoman Susan Cox was quoted on a blog as saying the district decided to make "a last-minute change" in Kleiner's status. She didn't elaborate when contacted Friday.

"I was told it was a personnel decision," Cox said. "I don't know anything more."

Vladovic's chief of staff, David Kooper, said he was aware of the situation.

"It was strange to (place)someone who just ran for school board at one of the most volatile schools in the district," Kooper said. "We didn't have anything to do with the hiring or firing of him."

Vladovic, who served as Locke High's principal from 1984 to 1987, said he doesn't hold any ill will toward Kleiner and wouldn't have minded if he served as interim principal.

"I haven't taken office," Vladovic said. "I don't get into management issues."

Kleiner retired a year ago as principal of Muir Middle School. He said he would like to return to LAUSD as an administrator. But since he's collecting a pension as a retiree, he can only work part time.

►BOARD DENIES RENEWAL OF SCHOOL CHARTER: The school board cites New West's admissions process as problematic

by Howard Blume, LA Times Staff Writer

May 23, 2007 — One of the city's highest scoring middle schools was denied its charter renewal Tuesday from the Los Angeles school board, meaning that the school must seek a reprieve from the state to stay in business.

The Board of Education unanimously turned down the renewal petition from New West Charter School over concerns that the West L.A. campus' admissions process could improperly screen out low-achieving students.

New West acknowledges its more extensive admissions process, while insisting the school does nothing wrong. State law requires charters to accept all students seeking entrance regardless of their academic abilities, district officials said.

New West was among four charters whose fate landed Tuesday before the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Two other charter schools also are being recommended for denial and a fourth is in line for a conditional renewal even as a district investigation proceeds into its finances.

Charters are independent public schools freed from many education code restrictions in exchange for improving academic achievement. These schools must be approved and overseen by an education agency, usually the local school district. A school's charter must be renewed, typically every five years, or the charter must close.

New West has 300 students in grades six through eight. It scored an 806 on the state's Academic Performance Index, which ranks schools on a scale from 200 to 1,000 based on student test scores in math, English and other subjects. That puts the school in the state's top 30% overall and in the top 10% (the highest ranking possible) among schools with students from similar backgrounds. About 35% of its students are white, compared to 8.8% of L.A. Unified at large.

The school ran afoul of district officials on its admissions packet, which requires a confidential evaluation from a teacher and an administrator at the student's previous school. New West also requires report cards, standardized test scores and, for students performing below grade level, a statement and school documents describing remediation for the student.

In the view of the L.A. Unified charter school office, "the request for test scores" and other requirements "violate the intent of the [state's] Charter Schools Act, which requires that charter schools enroll any student who wishes to attend." The application materials, officials concluded, could act as "a disincentive for parents of low-performing students to apply," which creates "the potential for discrimination."

School co-founder Judith Bronowski said any family that completes the application has an equal chance to get in through the school's lottery. The lottery is held because demand exceeds classroom space.

The school will now seek renewal from the state Board of Education, which had authorized the school after L.A. Unified had initially turned it down.

Two other charter schools being considered Tuesday don't have the test scores of New West. Discovery Charter Preparatory School in Pacoima has seen its API score fall from three years ago. But executive director Matthew Macarah touted the school's accreditation by the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges.

Pacifica Community Charter School, which serves 160 in kindergarten through eighth grade, had similar explaining to do.

The L.A. school board is scheduled to make a final decision in June on both schools, as well as Ivy Academia Charter. The Woodland Hills school is in a dispute with the district over financial records. The school has denied wrongdoing.


by Charlotte Hildebrand, Contributing Writer, Los Angeles Jewish Journal
[Abridged – link to full version below]

May 25, 2007 — When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a news conference on Friday, May 18, to announce his decision to end a yearlong legal battle to take control of Los Angeles schools, Board of Education President Marlene Canter was standing by his side.

The show of unity -- Canter and Villaraigosa talking about shared goals and aspirations -- is a recent development.

Canter has been one of the mayor's most vociferous critics, leading the fight against Villaraigosa's attempt to wrest power from a school board he saw as ineffective. For Canter, that fight has been a major distraction from working with the mayor on educational reform.

The mayor's turnaround came, in part, because an appellate court declared Villaraigosa's attempted legislative takeover of the school board unconstitutional. Then, this month's school board elections gave the mayor a 4-3 majority of allies on the seven-member body, which further helped him decide not to take the case to the California Supreme Court.

While the new makeup of the school board provides Villaraigosa some measure of control over L.A. schools, he nevertheless will have nowhere near the authority he sought when he announced his takeover plans in his State of the City address in April 2006.

At that time, he outlined a plan, framed in bill AB 1381, that he would bring to the Legislature. The bill proposed a transfer of power away from the school board and into the hands of the schools superintendent and allowed a newly established Mayor's Community Partnership for School Excellence to oversee a cluster of the Los Angeles Unified School District's lowest performing schools.

Canter had always believed in relationship building, and so when she met with Villaraigosa a few months after he set his plan in motion, she reached out for another way to proceed.

"I never felt I needed legislation to build a partnership," she told the mayor.

However, she made no headway, and soon the board president was in a no-holds-barred stalemate with the mayor's office. Since AB 1381 was barreling forward despite zero communication with her, Canter had no choice but to take her fight to Sacramento.

For the next 15 weeks, Canter traveled to the state capitol, accompanied by her chief of staff, Samira Estilai, to share with legislators the LAUSD story. Few were aware that LAUSD had built 65 new schools, the first in 30 years, or that achievement test scores had risen steadily for the last six years. Still, the persistent problems of low-performing schools, a 75 percent graduation rate -- 50 percent according to the mayor -- and a widening achievement gap were addressed.

"Everyone agreed that changes in the school district had not come fast enough or good enough," Estilai said, "but Marlene wanted to make the point that change for the sake of change was not good either."

In spite of Canter's attempts, the Legislature passed the bill on Aug. 29, and in September, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law. In October, the school district filed suit.

While the mayor traveled in Asia during November, the board unanimously elected retired Vice Admiral David L. Brewer III to be the new superintendent, replacing Roy Romer. Canter had led the search committee and felt optimistic about the board's decision: Brewer had strong organizational and management skills, two things the district desperately needed.

But relations between Canter and the mayor deteriorated after Brewer was hired. Then in December, Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs struck down AB 1381, calling it unconstitutional.

In January, the mayor appealed.

Canter, 58, who has a crown of wavy brown hair and the determined expression of a fighter, wasn't always so assertive.

As a young, 20-something special education teacher, she was stymied by how to discipline her students, something her professors hadn't taught in college. She rose to prominence in educational circles after she co-wrote a best seller with her social worker husband, Lee Canter, titled, "Assertive Discipline," in 1976.

Its popularity led to their consulting business, Canter and Associates, which the couple ran for 25 years and which became the basis for a teacher training program that has influenced more than a million teachers on how to better manage their classrooms.

After a divorce and the sell-off of their company, Canter spent a year studying Talmud at Kehillat Israel, a Reconstructionist congregation, under Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben. Canter and another student, Adlai Wertman, met each morning in the rabbi's study and discussed how they could better the world.

Wertman remembers the day Canter came into the study and announced, "I'm going to run for the school board."

"I have no doubt that the study of Talmud was an important factor in her decision," said Wertman, who now runs Chrysalis, a nonprofit homeless service. "Marlene's Judaism has a lot to do with tikkun olam."

Canter's campaign for District 4 -- an area that runs from the Valley to the Westside and all the way to the Pacific -- reached out to parents who sought a role in their children's education. Her friends and supporters believe Canter ran for the school board, in part, because as a young mother, she did not have the know-how or skills to get involved in her own children's education. Both her children attended private schools.

Canter was overwhelmingly elected to the school board in 2001.

One of her first acts as board member was to travel around the city by bus, visiting the most overcrowded schools. Romer had just begun the $19.2 billion new construction project, with 150 new schools planned by 2012. By the time Canter was re-elected to another four-year term in 2005 and became board president, more than one-third of those schools had been built, relieving overcrowding and returning 98 elementary schools back to the traditional calendar year.

During the past six years, Canter has worked with parent leaders and individuals to recruit families back into their neighborhood elementary and middle schools.
"This is the biggest opportunity parents have ever had to really create neighborhood schools," Canter said. "We haven't been able to do that in a very long time. By 2012, we plan to have a neighborhood school in every neighborhood of Los Angeles."

Canter's critics have accused her of micromanaging the board to the detriment of the students. While she focused on laundry lists, critics said, developing policy to improve academic achievement went missing.

An audit of the school district by Evergreen Solutions of Florida seconded that view. "The governing body and individual board members are heavily involved in management operations and issues and not focused on policy."

According to Canter, many of those problems have already been resolved.

But for Canter to silence her critics, she will have to act quickly to implement reform policy that the district needs in order to move forward. And the mayor's reversal on AB 1381 may give her the chance to do that.

Last week's mayoral news conference, where Canter stood just to Villaraigosa's right, came following a slow détente between the two leaders.

The night before this year's March primary elections, Canter received a phone call at home from Villaraigosa. They had not spoken in seven months, while the mayor-backed bill, AB 1381, was in the courts waiting an appeal. Now four school board candidates favored by the mayor were running in the next day's election. He was calling to extend an olive branch.

"No matter what the outcome of this election," Villaraigosa told Canter, "I want to start working together."

"I'm delighted," Canter responded. "This is what I've been wanting for two years."

The mayor also pledged to help her and Brewer on two important bills: one in Sacramento that would affect the district's funding for the new school construction program, the other in Washington, D.C., concerning special education and coordinated testing standards in the No Child Left Behind program.

Soon after the elections -- in which the mayor's school board candidates won one, lost one and tied two -- Villaraigosa met with Canter and Brewer together for the first time. He reiterated that he wanted to work together.

Later that month, Canter and Brewer joined the mayor as part of a delegation traveling to Washington to meet with senators about No Child Left Behind. It was the first time that Canter, Brewer and Villaraigosa had been seen working together as a team. Their public appearance had enormous significance to Canter.

"It was a milestone," she said. "By meeting with us together, the mayor established a new tone and tenure for partnership. I felt encouraged."

On April 17, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision, ruling for a second time that AB 1381 was unconstitutional. Canter was relieved, while the mayor spoke of a possible appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The following week, Villaraigosa, Canter and their staffs met in what those in attendance agree was a friendly meeting.

"Everyone was here in the best interest of the kids," said Marshall Tuck, 33, the former president of Green Dot Charter Schools and now head of the Mayor's Community Partnership for Excellence in the Schools. "They may have had their disagreements about AB 1381, but the mayor and the board president are both passionate about education."

In the May 15 runoff elections, the mayor gained two more seats on the school board with Tamar Galatzan and Richard Vladovic, both part of the mayor's reform platform. With Yolie Flores Aguilar, who was elected in March, and Monica Garcia, elected last year, Villaraigosa now has a 4-3 majority on the school board.

A few days after the election, the mayor announced his decision to drop his legal battles against Los Angeles Unified.

Canter is optimistic and enthusiastic about working with the mayor and his allies.

"I expect the same of everyone I work with, as long as we work together as a team," she said. "We have a huge job in front of us. The most critical issue is improving our schools."

The critical question is what will a partnership between the mayor and the school district look like now?

Canter would like to see the mayor use his full jurisdiction, to go beyond the three clusters of low-performing schools. Brewer has talked to Villaraigosa about establishing empowerment zones: literacy centers in housing projects, gang intervention in neighborhoods and parent and community involvement.

Ironically, these are the fundamentals of AB 1381 that the mayor has always believed in.

On the issue of parent involvement, the mayor and the board president can both agree.
"Every school has to have a great principal, and every classroom has to have a great teacher," Canter said. "But then you have to have a vibrant parent culture. When you have those three pieces all serving the students, then you have a great school. I can go to any of our new schools and say the same thing:

'Parents, you have to get involved.'"

Full unedited story

EVENTS: Coming up next week: Jack & Denny Smith Library Celebration, Lummis Day, Feria del Libro, and more!
►THE GRAND OPENING OF THE JACK AND DENNY LIBRARY AND COMMUNITY CENTER AT MOUNT WASHINGTON SCHOOL WILL BE HELD ON SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 2007 FROM NOON TO 9:30 P.M., AND IS FREE TO ALL, INCLUDING ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, FOOD AND DRINKS! The opening of this Community Center as Center of the Community represents not only the final completion of this nearly 80-year old school by adding a library, computer lab and multi-purpose room. It also represents a new venue for the community arts, performances and associations at the Mt. Washington Elementary when school is not in session. All performances and participation from the community for this event has been donated.


Entertainment will include children's performances, sing-a-longs, story telling, theater, dancing, mimes, professional musicians who are local residents, comedians from the Ice House Comedy Store in Pasadena and performances by two world renowned groups that will highlight the program.

The building was named The Jack and Denny Smith Library and Community Center, as a tribute to Jack Smith, whose legacy is writing about the Mt. Washington area. His books, such as How to Win a Pullet Surprise - The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Our Language, 1982; Alive in LaLa Land, 1989; Eternally Yours, 1996 and many others - along with his column in the Los Angeles Times - immortalized the Mt. Washington neighborhood as a mythical/mystical sanctuary for character-driven colorfully off-beat life in LA!

The June 2nd Community Showcase will include many local talents and their organizations. The broad community of Mt. Washington, including Highland, Cypress, and Glassell Parks will able to use the community center for their meetings, presentations and performances. All future events are to be scheduled and coordinated by the steering committee of the Friends of Mt. Washington made up of representatives of 11 organizations in the surrounding community.

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission and Local 47 will donate the world-renowned AROHI ENSEMBLE MUSICAL CONCERT. AROHI plays creative world music through original compositions and improvisations, and is inspired by the deep classical and folk traditions of India, the Middle East, Macedonia, Spain and Brazil.

The world-renowned SHAOLIN MONKS MARTIAL ARTS TROUPE from the Henan Province of China has performed at the Kodak Theater eight times, all which have sold out. Their 30 members create images through their exacting movements that astound their audiences. This special presentation is arranged and funded by the Henan Province Chinese government and will be their only LA engagement on their tour.


Come Celebrate the Spirit and Diverse Culture of L.A.'s Northeast Neighborhoods with Food, Music, Art, Poetry and Dance !

The rainbow of Northeast L.A.'s traditional and popular culture will be represented in music, dance, poetry, puppetry, art, food and native American ceremony at the second annual Lummis Day: The Festival of Northeast Los Angeles, from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm on Sunday, June 3, at Lummis Home, (200 East Ave. 43) and Sycamore Grove Park (4900 N.Figueroa Street).

Admission to all Lummis Day events -- at Lummis Home and Sycamore Grove Park -- is free. Take the Metro Gold Line to Southwest Museum Station for Lummis Day

CHARLES FLETCHER LUMMIS 'Apostle of the Southwest,' 1859-1928
• Founder of the Southwest Museum • Los Angeles First Librarian • Renaissance Man

"Charles Lummis was one of those amazing characters who used to inhabit the interface between today and yesterday."

In 1884, Lummis walked from Ohio to California in a pair of knickerbockers and street shoes to take a job as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He gained a national following with weekly letters about his escapades along the way. A New England Yankee by birth, he gained a deep appreciation for both the natural beauty and cultural diversity of the Southwest, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Lummis, almost always attired in his trademark well-worn, dark green, Spanish-style corduroy suit, soiled sombrero and red Navajo sash, went on to become one of the most famous and colorful personalities of his day as a book author, magazine editor, archaeologist, preserver of Spanish missions, advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt and a crusader for civil rights for American Indians, Hispanics and other minority groups.

“LUMMIS DAY” is presented by Occidental College and sponsored by the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council, the Greater Cypress Park Neighborhood Council, the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council, and the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, making it the first time that a single non-municipal event has been jointly sponsored by six neighborhood councils. http://www/


More than 30,000 children and their families will have an opportunity to meet internationally renowned authors, listen to storytellers, buy books, visit with special Disney and Nick Jr. animation characters, and enjoy food and live entertainment at the 5th Annual Feria del Libro. The day-long book festival for young readers and budding writers interested in quality, culturally diverse, children’s books, will take place in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 200 N. Spring Street, City Hall.

Among this year’s featured authors are: NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER RIGOBERTA MENCHU TUM, who, in addition to presenting her children’s books, addresses the importance of literacy for a democracy; and award-winning author and poet LUIS RODRIGUEZ, whose book: Always Running – which denotes the trials of growing up among gangs in Los Angeles – has been described as “beautifully written and politically astute” by Entertainment Weekly.

The Feria del Libro is a community event that promotes literacy in the home and academic achievement in school, while making quality culturally relevant books available to children of all ages and their families. The literacy campaign is presented through a partnership between Families In Schools (a non-profit organization that promotes literacy), the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the Boyle Heights Learning Collaborative (BHLC), Alliance for a Better Community (ABC), and other community and corporate partners including Washington Mutual Bank, Time Warner, Disney, La Opinion and Telemundo 52.

“Feria del Libro brings students, families and schools together to celebrate reading and learning as a community,” said LAUSD Superintendent David L. Brewer III. “The Book Fair and its ongoing literacy-building activities foster and support academic achievement in our schools.”

In addition to countless book-buying opportunities, more than 550 student winners of the Million Word Challenge – a program that encourages students to read millions of words beyond the bell during the academic year – will be recognized throughout the day.

“The book fair is a wonderful community-wide event where families of children of all ages can have the joyful experience of browsing, purchasing and reading books,” said Maria Casillas, executive director of Families In Schools and co-founder of Feria del Libro. added Casillas.

For information about the Feria del Libro: A Family Book Fair, log onto:

• Wednesday May 30, 2007
Please join us to celebrate the groundbreaking of the athletic field improvement project at Narbonne High School!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Narbonne High School
24300 S Western Ave
Harbor City, CA 90710

• Thursday May 31, 2007
Please join us to celebrate the groundbreaking!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Ramona Opportunity High School
231 S. Alma Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90063

• Thursday May 31, 2007
CENTRAL REGION SPAN SCHOOL #1: Community Update Meeting
Join us for a very important community meeting regarding key developments about this project.
6:00 p.m.
King Middle School
4201 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

*Dates and times subject to change.

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-893-6800


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.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

O wotta week it wuz!

4LAKids: Sunday, May 20, 2007
In This Issue:
Wednesday: MAYOR'S SCHOOL BOARD ALLIES PLAN THEIR REIGN - Newly elected Richard Vladovic and Tamar Galatzan help relay Villaraigosa's vision.
Friday: MAYOR JETTISONS SCHOOL TAKEOVER: Court case moot with new board
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.
• MONDAY…who can remember Monday? The Governor's May Budget Revision came out …sharing billing with the AALA newsletter article on charter schools: "When compared to regular public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, an analysis of the 2006 Base Performance Index (BPI) demonstrates that regular public schools of comparable size are outperforming charter schools in the District."

• TUESDAY Superintendent Brewer published his Times Op-Ed (below) defending his actions, answering his critics and promising progress to come. Stay tuned.
Also Tuesday The New Yorker published its profile on Mayor Villaraigosa (also below).
And Tuesday was the election; 6.13% percent of the eligible electorate in 29% of the school district decided the future of the district – in an election the mayor of Los Angeles portrayed as a battle between a status quo of failure and the future of the city – or at least his mayoralty. A 68.5% majority is on the cusp of a landslide but in a 6% turnout that mandate is more of a whimper. One feels a perverse inclination to do the math – the votes in the Valley cost the mayor and his supporters about $92.75 each.

• WEDNESDAY the triumphant board-elect held a media event and promised to work together on the mayor's agenda – a little get together that would be illegal under the Brown Act/Open Meetings Law had they actually been in office.

• THURSDAY the Charter School community filed suit against the school district; asking in essence for the courts to rule that charter demands for space in local schools take precedent over the needs of regular students and regular programs at district schools.

• And FRIDAY the mayor dropped his suit against the school district – giving up on AB 1381 – but claiming AB 1381 still lays out a "framework" for reform. Never mind that every single provision of AB 1381 has been adjudged unconstitutional by two different courts. And those of us who are not so quick to forget remember that "Framework" was the title for version 2 of the mayor's takeover plan.

Of course there is great necessity for getting along and for ratcheting down the rhetoric — the mayor's candidates did win the election whether widely or narrowly. Where we agree we must agree to agree -- and where we disagree we must agree to work towards agreement. We should've been doing this all along.

Progress is a journey that never ends and denial is the longest river. We must go forward and leave bygones behind; we have little choice. But David Tokofsky is right too: "The public should not forget the one and-a-half years of human energy and public funds lost on AB 1381; AB 1381 caused many opportunities to partner and change our schools in Los Angeles to be lost."

Balance. – smf

"The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are truly a wise man."

What if they had an election and hardly anyone came? The results.

▼GOVERNOR'S SPENDING PLAN SHOWS DEFICIT: Budget fully funds education under Prop 98 formula, new school funding for security & career technical education ...with strings attached

by Edward Sifuentes — Staff Writer, North County Times | San Diego & Riverside Counties

May 19, 2007 – North County – In his revised state budget released Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger no longer claims his plan would erase the state's ongoing spending deficit.

The $145.9 billion proposal is slightly larger than the $143.4 billion plan he unveiled in January. It would increase spending in education and curb funding for some social services. But unlike his January budget, which he said was balanced, the plan would leave a $1.4 billion deficit, Schwarzenegger said.

That is down from double-digit deficits when he took office in 2003, he said.

"We did it by growing our economy and exercising spending restraint," the governor said during a news conference. "We have been very careful and very responsible."

The governor's proposed budget, known as the May revise, kicks off a yearly sprint to the June 15 deadline for the Legislature to approve the budget. Schwarzenegger is supposed to sign the budget bill into law by June 30, a deadline that has often been missed by the Legislature.

Overall, the governor's plan would increase general fund spending by about 1.6 percent, from $102.1 billion to $103.8 billion. That's slightly higher than the $103.1 billion in spending Schwarzenegger proposed in January.

A balance of nearly $4 billion carried over from the current fiscal year allows the additional spending. Schwarzenegger's revised spending plan contains no tax hikes.

Critics, including some Democrats who hold the majority in the Legislature, said the governor is paying back the state's debt at the expense of poor families and disabled people.

The governor's budget would set aside more than $2 billion in reserves and pay down debt early. He plans to do so by selling the state agency that administers federally backed student loans, reshuffling gas tax revenue and tobacco settlement money and slowing down social service spending.

Under the new plan, the state's welfare system would receive an increase that's $500 million less than expected, and would forego some cost-of-living increases next year.

"This budget is mean-spirited," Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles said in a prepared statement. "I am saddened and disappointed that the governor has returned to an agenda that reminds me of the 2005 special election, with a budget that punishes middle-income and low-income families."

The proposed budget would suspend cost of living increases for CalWorks, the state's welfare-to-work program, a move that would save the state $140 million, according to the Western Center on Law and Poverty, an advocacy group for the poor.

In January, the governor's office had predicted that revenue from higher local property taxes would offset mandated increases in public school spending.

That calculation appears to have been off, with the governor's office now estimating nearly $900 million in additional education expenses in the coming year. Under a complex funding formula, higher-than-expected state tax revenue in April also increased the amount owed to schools.

Brett McFadden, a budget analyst for the Association of California School Administrators in Sacramento, said the proposed budget would fully fund elementary and secondary education under the spending formula. It would give schools new funding for security and career technical education, but the extra money would come with strings attached, he said.

"It's not the best budget proposal for K-12 education," he said. "But it's not the worst."

In county government and transportation, local officials said the budget was largely status quo.

County of San Diego officials said the governor's May revise did not contain any worrisome changes.

"No show stoppers," the county's chief financial officer, Don Steuer, said Monday after county officers reviewed the plan.

Funding for transportation, business and housing would jump more than 20 percent over the current year's spending levels, largely as a result of the infrastructure bond measures California voters approved in November.

Specifically, Schwarzenegger is proposing to permanently shift responsibility for paying for school buses from the state's general fund account for education to the public transportation fund. The shift would entail moving $827 million out of the transit account next year. The governor also is proposing to pull money out to retire former transportation bonds and fund shuttle services for the disabled.

Brad Weaver, spokesman for Riverside Transit Agency, said the shifts shouldn't affect bus service in Southwest Riverside County because the agency does not rely on that fund.

"But any talk of funding cuts to public transportation is unsettling," Weaver said. "Public transportation has to be a priority."

Schwarzenegger proposes to spend only $1.2 million on the proposed 700-mile statewide high-speed rail project that has languished for more than a decade now. But California Department of Transportation Director Will Kempton said that does not mean the governor wants to kill the project.

Kempton said the governor wants to put off the project until after the $19.9 billion transportation bond program is well on the way to delivery.

Schwarzenegger is proposing to spend $11.5 billion of $19.9 billion approved for transportation over the next three years, including $4 billion in the budget year, Kempton said.

The accelerated plan for spending bond money is good news for freeway projects along Interstates 15 and 5 in North San Diego County, and Interstate 215 in Southwest Riverside County, transportation officials said.

And the public transit portion could help keep the Sprinter light rail line between Oceanside and Escondido on track by covering potential cost overruns, said Gary Gallegos, executive director for the San Diego Association of Governments, a regional transportation agency.

The bad news is the revised budget, like the governor's first draft in January, proposes pulling more than $1 billion out of a state fund that pays for bus and train operations, Gallegos said.

"He was literally giving transit money in one pocket and taking money away from another pocket," Gallegos said.

The budget is available for viewing at



from the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Newsletter for the week of May 14, 2007

Charter schools have become the latest fad in public education. They follow a long line of reform efforts from Shared Decision Making to School-Based Management. Each reform movement has had its share of success due to believers who chose a shared philosophy. However, reform movements have also died because the reform effort could not be replicated throughout the educational system because of many factors such as funding, institutional belief systems, logistics, and motivated leadership.

Ralph E. Shaffer and Walter P. Coombs, professors emeriti at Cal Poly Pomona, wrote the following in a Los Angeles Times editorial on April 19, 2007:

"Can charter schools in Los Angeles do a better job than conventional ones? A good deal of anecdotal evidence inflates charter schools' accomplishments. But test scores raise doubts.

"The 2006 Academic Performance Index (API) incorporates standardized test results into a score between 200 and 1,000. The statewide average for grades 2-11 is 721. LAUSD conventional schools, with 95% of the district's students, scored 700. LAUSD charters, with only 5%, did only slightly better at 708. That's an insignificant difference considering that charters have a selected clientele, siphoning off kids with the most engaged parents.

"Charter mania won't end soon. Too many advocates benefit from the system. Leftists see charters as a way to promote their agenda. Right-wingers use them to advance 19th century educational theories.

"But in our zeal to try something new, we've created a competing educational system that is largely unregulated and potentially disastrous. Turning over our schools to self-proclaimed reformers and for-profit business is a sure-fire way to end California's proud history of free, universal public education."

AALA would add to the comments above that charter schools also have the power to waive restrictions that plague regular public schools. These restrictions increase the so-called bureaucracy of the districts through legislative action.

Despite the unfair advantages of charter schools, when compared to regular public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, an analysis of the 2006 Base Performance Index (BPI) demonstrates that regular public schools of comparable size are outperforming charter schools in the District. There are 201 elementary schools listed in the API Index that have enrollments of 400 or fewer students who participated in the API testing. The average API index for the 201 schools is 781. What does this prove? Basically, smaller enrollment is better in terms of student achievement across all geographic locations and socioeconomic groups in LAUSD, and smaller District schools similar in enrollment to charter schools are performing at levels higher than charters.

AALA supports quality public schools, be they traditional district schools, schools of choice or charter schools. However, we do object to unfair comparisons. Many of our schools have impacted enrollment including the need for year-round schedules. As the construction of new schools continues, the scores attained in the smaller schools referenced above will be more easily attained by the scaled-down schools. Secondary schools are at a particular disadvantage when it comes to downsizing due to the overcrowded nature of most campuses. No other school district in California or the nation, for that matter, has high schools with 5,000 students and middle schools with 3,000 students.

At every school in LAUSD, large or small, we have principals, assistant principals, teachers, and other employees who are dedicated to raising the achievement level of all students despite overcrowding and other limitations. Yes, we should praise the smaller schools for their achievement, but let us not forget the thousands of students in larger schools who are also receiving an education that prepares them for postsecondary careers. And, yes, charter schools serve a role, especially in regard to serving as pilot studies in the use of waivers to change State bureaucratic restrictions. However, when some charter school leaders try to compare their schools with traditional schools for political purposes, we should point to the 201 schools in the District and change myth into reality. Let's put the resources where they are needed, in public schools, to enrich the programs that serve the vast majority of our children.

▼IT ISN'T ALL BAD AT L.A. UNIFIED: Supt. David L. Brewer says fixes for the embattled school district are coming soon.

by David L. Brewer III – Op-Ed in the LA Times. Brewer is superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

May 15, 2007 — THOSE READING about the Los Angeles Unified School District over the last few weeks may be excused for believing that not a single thing is going right and that nothing is happening to fix what's wrong.

A report came out pointing to a "rampant" lack of accountability throughout the organization. Inefficient implementation of a new payroll system resulted in some employees being paid incorrectly or sometimes not at all. Teachers at a struggling high school voted to convert to a charter school. Dropout rates continue to hover at unacceptable levels.

My purpose here is not to defend against any of those challenges or criticisms. I'll reserve the right to take on those issues later. Rather, I'd like to shift the debate to a more productive discussion of the key ingredients for true systemic reform: evaluation, execution and teamwork.

I commissioned the highly critical report conducted by Evergreen Solutions because I wanted an independent evaluation of the district to determine what was broken, why and what to fix first. It was not intended to be balanced; it was intended to be critical. It achieved its purpose — providing a roadmap for the path forward.

So why hasn't L.A. Unified (or any major urban school district in the country, for that matter) transformed all of its schools into high-achieving academic institutions? The reasons are many. However, the chorus of local and national criticism is focused on the wrong thing — people performance rather than systems and processes.

I have watched smart, hardworking L.A. Unified employees labor heroically to educate our children with only a modicum of success. W. Edward Demings, a leader in the field of organizational management, was right: 80% of the dysfunction in organizations is a result of the failure of systems, not people.

For example, too many functions that should be interrelated are instead isolated from one another, which results in fragmented and inconsistent outcomes. Thus, without transformational systemic changes, 100% turnover of the people would yield the same results.

We are retaining Evergreen and hiring some outside experts to assist us in resolving the most onerous systemic problems, and in June, we will present our proposed solutions. We also are creating a division to spur innovation from within the system and to create models for every school in the district. We are developing a comprehensive, rigorous and coherent curriculum aligned to California standards. We are making a systemic change to provide continuous learning and development opportunities for all of our staff — from teachers to support personnel — to improve performance. We are establishing an Office of Parent and Community Engagement to empower parents and to foster synergistic partnerships with civic, faith and community-based organizations.

Urban school districts are shot full of holes from silver bullets. The pressure to "do something now" is immense, often leading to underdeveloped programs that do not work, resulting in cascading pressure to "do something else." I will not be caught in this vicious, failing cycle. The reforms I put in place will transform the system because the old way of trying to fix our ailing schools will take longer than any of our lifetimes.

Today, an election is being held for two school board seats. Conventional wisdom says that this election is a referendum on the district, the outcome of which will determine the balance of power on the school board and, thus, the future of L.A. Unified.

However, as I approach my six-month anniversary with the district, I know that the work I face tomorrow will be the same regardless of the election outcome. We must move from criticism to collaboration, blame to burden-sharing and acrimony to accountability. No matter who is on the board or even, for that matter, who sits in the superintendent's chair, our children need parents, district employees, communities, the media, unions and civic and political leaders to put adult agendas aside and work together to improve student achievement.

So to the querulous critics, you have two choices: Join the team or get out of the way.


EXCERPT FROM THE MAY 21, 2007 NEW YORKER PROFILE: "FAULT LINES: Can Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Keep Control of L.A.’S Battling Factions?

by Connie Bruck [link to full article below]

Villaraigosa’s self-image retains vestiges of his tough youth—an audacious risk-taker, cool and unflinching, who punishes his enemies and meets the biggest challenge. In Los Angeles, education was that challenge. Proposition 13, the 1978 initiative that imposed radical tax limits in California and engendered many other anti-government initiatives, has brought about a severe erosion in public services, particularly education. In the nineteen-sixties, California was among the top ten states in annual per-pupil spending; today, it is thirtieth. In the Los Angeles school district, more than sixty per cent of the students are Latino, and forty-one per cent of elementary students speak limited English. Many are children of undocumented immigrants; some live in garages, sheds, and attics, and move to a different neighborhood, and a different school, every few months. According to one study cited by the mayor’s office, more than half never graduate from high school.

Mayoral control is in effect in New York City, Boston, and Chicago, among other places, and has been seen as a management remedy for failing schools, on the ground that it is easier to hold a mayor accountable than a largely anonymous school board. Although results in these cities have been mixed, high-profile mayors like Michael Bloomberg, who ended thirty-two years of school decentralization in New York, and Richard Daley, who took over the Chicago school system in 1995, have been praised for their efforts. But Villaraigosa faced significant obstacles that they did not. Both the Los Angeles City Charter and the state constitution stipulate that the schools be controlled by an elected school board. And the very contours of the Los Angeles Unified School District are daunting; the district serves twenty-six municipalities, in addition to the city of Los Angeles. “The district has over six hundred thousand kids, over eleven hundred school sites, seven billion dollars in a general school fund and nineteen billion in a construction fund,” a friend of Villaraigosa’s said. “It’s too much for the mayor to control.”

Some of Villaraigosa’s political advisers agreed, telling him that it was an unwise political gamble, since he was unlikely to achieve results, and certainly not before his anticipated run for governor in 2010. Not even the vehement opposition of [California Teacher's Association political strategist] John Hein, who, Villaraigosa told me, has “one of the great strategic political minds in California,” could dissuade him.

When, during the mayoral campaign in early 2005, Villaraigosa proposed that the mayor should run the schools, Hein called him and said, “ ‘You know how C.T.A. feels about mayoral control. Why would you want to go against your friends?’ ” Both Hein and Villaraigosa knew that the California Teachers Association was critical to Villaraigosa’s future. Ordinarily, the union stays out of mayoral races, but Villaraigosa told me that the teachers’ unions contributed heavily to his 2001 race and his 2005 race. (“A million!”) Hein explained, “Antonio has always been considered one of us.” (Villaraigosa believed that the C.T.A. was investing in him as a future governor, who might free the state from the restraints of Proposition 13.) Villaraigosa was evidently afraid of angering Hein, but unwilling to relinquish the idea. Hein says, “Antonio promised me he didn’t really mean what he had said. Then he gave a speech—in which he said the opposite of what he’d told me.” Hein says that he called Villaraigosa and told him to lose his phone number. They did not speak for several months.

The rupture worried Villaraigosa, and he began to vacillate. But, just as he had underestimated Hein’s power, he failed to anticipate the pressure from supporters on the other side of the schools debate. In July, 2005, shortly after his inauguration, the L.A. Times editorial page—which had endorsed him for mayor—began to complain: “The new mayor of Los Angeles boldly proposed taking over the local schools, and then skittered away from the idea. . . . Enough waiting. Enough seeing.” Eli Broad, a Villaraigosa supporter, is deeply interested in education reform, and he promoted a bill in the legislature providing for mayoral control. Broad and Bill Gates, through their respective foundations, recently committed close to sixty million dollars to create a campaign, “ED in ’08,” to make the national education crisis a priority in the Presidential race. And Broad, who has been generous to Los Angeles in large, important ways—saving the Disney Concert Hall project, donating sixty million dollars to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—is accustomed to deference. Although Villaraigosa agreed with the mayoral-control bill’s objective, he didn’t think much of its chances and refused to lend his prestige to it. That angered Broad. Villaraigosa told me, “Broad is such an armchair quarterback! I said to him, ‘Look, I’d never tell you how to make money. But I know the legislature.’ ” Villaraigosa also felt that Broad had instigated the pressure from the Times.

In early October, approaching the end of his first hundred days in office, Villaraigosa attended a meeting with the Times editorial board, whose members criticized him for his inaction on the schools, according to a Villaraigosa aide. An adviser said, “My impression is that, when the rich and powerful and the L.A. Times are pounding on you in a synchronized way, most elected officials yield. Early on, Antonio put a rope around his neck with his comments about a mayor taking over. The more he got in, he saw the impracticality. But he thought, How can I look like I’m not deviating from what I said? When push comes to shove, I’m committed.”

Villaraigosa decided not to confront the legal obstacles head on. He might have tried to amend the City Charter with a referendum, for example, but polling had shown that mayoral control of the schools was not popular. Instead, he decided to go the legislative route in Sacramento, which he still considered his domain, and where Fabian Núñez, an ally, was Speaker. He announced the broad outlines of his plan in his State of the City address, in April, 2006, and Núñez and Schwarzenegger enthusiastically endorsed the idea. But the California Teachers Association made its strong opposition plain. By June, when it was time for the bill to be introduced, it seemed to Villaraigosa that the C.T.A. had cowed much of the legislature. “They had that place locked down,” he said recently, with evident admiration for the union’s display of raw power. “I couldn’t get a resolution that said, ‘His name is Antonio Villaraigosa.’ I mean, they had it locked down!”

Villaraigosa was chastened, and since it wasn’t in the C.T.A.’s long-term interests to see Villaraigosa politically harmed, Hein came to his rescue. He helped Villaraigosa make a deal with the local teachers’ union, which was incorporated into the legislation. Mayoral control was replaced by a mayoral partnership with the superintendent, the school board, and a council of mayors (the representatives of the twenty-six municipalities that, along with the city of Los Angeles, make up the school district). Teachers would have more to say about the curriculum—something they had long sought—and the mayor would assume control of a cluster of three underperforming high schools and their feeder schools.

A Times editorial attacked the compromise, saying that Villaraigosa had “caved,” and Eli Broad wrote him a letter saying that he would not support the bill. Villaraigosa remained obstreperous with Broad. As he recalled, “We kind of got into it, and I told Eli, ‘You know, you’re used to directing mayors. You don’t direct me!’ I said, ‘How many billionaires are there in this town? Six, seven, eight? There’s one mayor. I’m going to tell you right now—this is all I can get, and this is going to be a war!’ ” (Broad says that he had no recollection of this conversation.)

Representatives of the school district were overwhelmed by the power of the Mayor, the Speaker, and the C.T.A. Many legislators agreed that the bill was a badly flawed and probably unconstitutional amalgam, but they were loath to vote against it. African-American political leaders were particularly critical. It had been shaped without their help, and some saw it as a further instance of Latinos’ taking control. In addition, “it was not good public policy, and not very well thought out,” according to Mark Ridley-Thomas, a state senator who has known Villaraigosa for more than twenty years, and was one of the few African-American politicians to support him in his 2001 mayoral campaign. Villaraigosa lobbied Ridley-Thomas aggressively, but he abstained. Villaraigosa also met with Maxine Waters, but she was angry about not having been consulted earlier. “You should run something through your allies,” a friend of Villaraigosa’s told me. “It’s a big problem with him. He thinks people will think it’s right because he has done it.”

The battle for votes seemed to bring out Villaraigosa’s rougher edges. He can appear almost menacing when he wants to—holding someone’s hand too long, drawing too close. At a reception in Sacramento one night, according to someone who was there, he greeted a man allied with the school district—and then, leaning in toward him, grasped his tie and slowly tightened its knot. (Villaraigosa’s office has denied that this happened.)

In the end, the bill passed by a tiny margin, and a large photograph of an exuberant Villaraigosa appeared on the front page of the Times. But, after all his deal-making, the result was the antithesis of what he had originally sought. Control of the schools was spread among dozens of officials. Lines of authority were obscured. The superintendent now essentially had multiple bosses—the board, the mayor, and the council of mayors. Villaraigosa had spoken emphatically about the need for accountability. But, if that was the measure, the system was far worse than before. And a few months later, in December, a Superior Court judge ruled that the legislation violated numerous provisions of the state constitution and the Los Angeles City Charter. Rather than seek a settlement with the school district, Villaraigosa proclaimed, “I don’t quit!” He focussed on the school-board elections in March, convinced that if he won a majority the school board would give him the cluster—three schools and their feeder schools—that the court had denied him. He poured large sums of money into the elections, but they were indecisive, and runoff elections will be held on May 15th. Even if both his candidates win, he will have only a 4–3 majority. And that underestimates the likely independence of at least a couple of the new members. “Folks around town are saying, ‘Once Antonio gets his people on the board—’ Well, that is nineteenth-century boss thinking, and that just doesn’t exist anymore,” A. J. Duffy, the president of the local teachers’ union, said.

At this point, Villaraigosa seems eager for compromise, and an agreement is evidently being discussed in which he could be given just a single school, perhaps followed by a second one, a year later, if he is deemed to be doing well with the first. It is a modest proposition. This, or some other form of mayoral partnership in the schools, almost certainly could have been negotiated from the start had Villaraigosa chosen to do what he does best—use charm and conciliation to bring everyone to the table. “He could have gone to the district and said ‘Look, it’s your district, but I want to help you make it work,’ ” a friend of his told me. “But he was too caught up in this idea of mayoral control, in being part of this list of mayors, like Mike Bloomberg and Richard Daley, who are so successful—without any real consideration of the legal strictures and the politics.”

FULL ARTICLE — Profiles: FAULT LINES: Can Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa keep control of L.A.’s battling factions? by Connie Bruck|The New Yorker|5/21/07

Wednesday: MAYOR'S SCHOOL BOARD ALLIES PLAN THEIR REIGN - Newly elected Richard Vladovic and Tamar Galatzan help relay Villaraigosa's vision.
by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer | Daily News/Daily Breeze

Displaying their unity and flexing their political muscle, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's four allies on the LAUSD board appeared together Wednesday as they promised a bold new era of leadership, innovation and collaboration for the school district.

Their visit to the troubled Ninth Street Elementary School in downtown Los Angeles served as a victory lap for Richard Vladovic and Tamar Galatzan, who were elected Tuesday to represent the Harbor Area and the San Fernando Valley, respectively.

It also symbolized their budding partnership with board members Yolie Flores Aguilar, who was elected to the board in March, and Monica Garcia. Both share the mayor's vision of reforming and improving the 707,000-student district.

"What the four of us have in common is a vision for reform and a sense of urgency," said Galatzan, a career city prosecutor and the mother of two young children.

"The goal and the measure of our success has to do with educating kids, and everything we do comes down to whether it helps our students and our schools.

"The problems can't be solved by the district alone. The only way we're going to be able to move forward and tackle some pretty difficult challenges is to seek out partners, and that includes the mayor."

When the new members take office in July, they said, their priorities will include increasing accountability, reducing bureaucracy and granting local schools more authority over budget and curriculum. They also want to provide more support to charter schools.

"The leadership of the board is about meeting all the needs and being bold and aggressive in a coordinated effort," Garcia said. "We want to have behaviors, attitudes and actions that are about serving children and families so that we get to better graduation rates."

The board also is widely expected to give Villaraigosa oversight of a cluster of low-performing schools - something he'd hoped for under a state law he drafted that was later invalidated by the courts.

With control of the board hanging in the balance, Villaraigosa poured resources into the campaigns. Still, there was low interest among the electorate, with just 6 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

In the District 7 race, Vladovic got 54percent of the vote to challenger Neal Kleiner's 46 percent.

The mayor's four-member board majority supports his vision for promoting charter schools as a way to spur student achievement and raise the graduation rate.

That puts them at odds with the current board and with the teachers union, which have been slow to embrace the independent campuses.

Frustrated with the board, officials with the charter movement have said they will file suit against the district, claiming it has violated Proposition 39, which requires charter and public schools to be treated equally.

Garcia said the board should negotiate with charter leaders about sharing facilities in a district that's experiencing declining enrollment in some areas and overcrowding in others.

"I think there's a deep desire to better organize ourselves with the charter community. … We've shown we can work together," she said.

And in what may foreshadow friction with UTLA, the new board members said they want to negotiate longer-term contracts with teachers.

Villaraigosa was out of town Wednesday and could not be reached. However, his education adviser, Marshall Tuck, said the mayor is prepared to work openly and collaboratively with the district.

"What the mayor can do is help bring talent, resources, innovative ideas and efforts to engage families and communities in schools."

• The separate lawsuits filed by two education companies accuse the district of violating state law mandating that it make facilities available.

By Howard Blume, LA Times Staff Writer

May 18, 2007 — Two of the city's more successful charter-school companies sued the Los Angeles Unified School District on Thursday, alleging that the school district has failed to make space available for their students as required by law.

Two separate suits, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Green Dot Public Schools and PUC Schools, assert that the school district violates state law that stipulates "reasonably equivalent" facilities for charter schools.

L.A. Unified insists its policies are legal and that it offers space where it can in an overcrowded system.

Charter schools are independent public schools that are freed from many regulations and in turn are expected to improve student achievement. State law requires L.A. Unified to approve any sound charter school proposals, but they don't come with ready-made campuses. Already, 103 charters operate here, more than in any other school district.

L.A. Unified has provided furniture, fixtures, portable classrooms and temporary quarters benefiting more than 11,000 charter school students. An additional 2,300 are in new district buildings. And 15 schools that converted to charter status have kept their campuses. But thousands of the more than 42,000 charter students are still wanting.

PUC, which opened the first of its seven schools in 1999, has never had a district home, said co-founder Jacqueline Elliot. One location is a rented former private school where students cross a busy boulevard between classes. Another is a dirt lot with portable buildings slapped on top.

Once she was offered Highlander Road Elementary, a West San Fernando Valley school closed because of declining enrollment, Elliot said. That was miles from most students' homes, "but I said yes. I was so excited. It was a real school at last," she said.

That offer was rescinded, she said.

Officials have calculated that refurbishing Highlander would cost millions, which they judge an inefficient use of limited funds. Highlander became an issue in the school board race, when challenger Tamar Galatzan, who won her election this week, called for the school to be made available to a charter.

"I'm very hopeful that when the new board comes in we'll be able to reach a settlement quickly, if not before they come in," said Caprice Young, president of the California Charter Schools Assn., which also is a party to the lawsuits.

She said legal action made a difference elsewhere, including San Diego Unified, which now collaborates more closely with charter schools. "Districts and charter schools need to share the pain," Young said.

But school district general counsel Kevin Reed said that charter schools are asking to be better than equals. Giving them their desired contiguous space at a single location would force neighborhood children in regular schools onto buses and year-round schedules.

Despite a booming construction program, 141 overcrowded regular schools will still operate year-round next year; 7,000 students will be bused out of their neighborhoods.

"We're disappointed that they filed," Reed said. "We're all facility-starved in L.A."

Green Dot and the school system are also at loggerheads on another front. Last week, a majority of tenured teachers at Locke High signed a petition seeking the school's conversion to 10 small Green Dot charter schools.


Friday: MAYOR JETTISONS SCHOOL TAKEOVER: Court case moot with new board
by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Friday that he will not appeal a judge's ruling that his LAUSD-takeover plan is unconstitutional but will work instead to take advantage of the "unprecedented opportunities" offered by new district leadership.

[smf 2¢ – That would two rulings and four judges]

His announcement came during a morning news conference at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, where he and his former Los Angeles Unified School District adversaries shared hugs, kisses and laughter - an event that stood in sharp contrast to the acrimony that's marked the past 18 months.

With the election Tuesday of his two reform candidates to the school board, Villaraigosa said he believes he can work through the system rather than through the courts to solve myriad problems in the district.

"This has been a tough and contentious year," he said.

"We've had debates. We've had arguments. We've been to the Legislature. We've been to the courts. We've been to the ballot box. We've enjoyed victories, and we've shared defeats.

"Today we're here to declare together that the time for debate is over. With this superintendent and this board in place, I am confident that we can forge the partnership envisioned by the Romero Act."


The Romero Act - or Assembly Bill 1381 - was authored by Villaraigosa and the teachers union and would have given him partial control of the district.

It was passed by lawmakers and signed by the governor but declared unconstitutional after the LAUSD filed a challenge in court.

An LAUSD official estimated Friday that the district spent more than $1 million battling the Romero Act.

Villaraigosa formed a private political committee to promote his effort and spent more than $1.1 million in contributions to help get the bill passed last year. He also spent at least $11,000 in taxpayer money, much of it in travel for his staff.

While it was ultimately unsuccessful, Villaraigosa said Friday, AB 1381 created a framework for working with the board and Superintendent David Brewer III to develop an immediate action plan.

Their efforts will center on setting higher standards for students; creating small and safe schools; reducing bureaucracy; reinvigorating the curriculum; involving families and communities; redirecting more money to classrooms; and creating partnerships with businesses and community groups.

The mayor is likely to be given oversight of a cluster of low-performing schools, where he can launch a pilot project to improve student achievement.*

Reforming Los Angeles' public schools became a key priority early in Villaraigosa's administration, when he blasted the LAUSD for lagging student test scores and a dropout rate he pegged as high as 50 percent.

"I will not accept the status quo, and neither should you," Villaraigosa told the United Chambers of Commerce luncheon Nov. 17, 2005, prompting school board member Julie Korenstein, who was in the audience, to storm out of the meeting room.

But Korenstein stood front and center with the mayor Friday, saying she and other board members were looking forward to working with Villaraigosa.

"I think it's going to be a new day. ... I believe we can partner with the mayor," she said, patting Villaraigosa on the hand.

"It's time to lay down the sword and it's time to work together."

School board President Marlene Canter said she considers herself aligned with the mayor's four allies on the board - current member Monica Garcia, along with Yolie Flores Aguilar, Tamar Galatzan and Richard Vladovic, who will take office July 1.

"It's a new beginning. How great it is that we can take now our collective energies and passion and commitment and values and desire and every skill that we have and put them all forward together for the kids," Canter said.

A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, also was present for the event along with City Council members Wendy Greuel, Jose Huizar and Richard Alarcón.

Duffy, who worked with the mayor in drafting AB 1381, said the teachers union wants to be part of the team.

"UTLA and its 48,000 members are committed to partnerships with the mayor, with the district, with parent community groups and with the business groups around the city ... and we will move ahead together," Duffy said.


The only discordant note Friday was sounded by David Tokofsky, who is being replaced on the board by Galatzan.

He did not attend the news conference but issued a statement saying the city's proper role in education is providing public safety, building affordable housing and developing adequate recreational facilities.

He also blasted the mayor for the lengthy and costly fight over AB 1381.

"The public should not forget the 1 1/2 years of human energy and public funds lost on AB 1381," he said. "AB 1381 caused many opportunities to partner and change our schools in Los Angeles to be lost."

Staff Writers Harrison Sheppard and Rick Orlov contributed to this report.


* CALIFORNIA STATE CONSTITUTION: Article 9 • § 6 • 3: "No school or college or any other part of the Public School System shall be, directly or indirectly, transferred from the Public School System or placed under the jurisdiction of any authority other than one included within the Public School System." Exactly what part of "no" or "directly or indirectly" does the mayor, The Daily News or the board-elect fail to understand?

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Monday May 21, 2007
SOUTH REGION HIGH SCHOOL #13:CEQA Scoping & Presentation of Design Development Drawings
6:00 p.m.
Charles Drew Middle School
8511 Compton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90001

Wednesday May 23, 2007
GROUNDBREAKING: Athletic Facilities Upgrade
Please join us to celebrate the groundbreaking of athletic facilities upgrades at Banning High School!
Ceremony will begin at 1:00 p.m.
Banning High School
1527 Lakme Ave.
Wilmington, CA 90744

Wednesday May 23, 2007
Construction Update Meeting
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Le Conte Middle School
1316 N. Bronson Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-893-6800


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.