Monday, May 07, 2007

When all is one and one is all/To be a rock and not to roll.

4LAKids: Sunday, May 6, 2007 (actually Monday!)
In This Issue:
MONTESSORI SCHOOLS LOOK TO FUTURE: Proponents hope to capitalize on growing frustration with traditional methods.
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.
Please excuse the tardy delivery of this 4LAKids; this past one has been a big, glorious and grand week!

ON MONDAY we had the ribbon cutting and dedication of the Jack and Denny Smith Library and Community Center at Mount Washington School.

• That Jack and Denny have an elementary school children’s library as their memorial is as apropos as Mulholland’s fountain! Literacy, Children and Community are what they were about! Jack wrote of Mount Washington in many of his over 6000 columns over 37 years; to be honest he invented Mount Washington in his storytelling. We are simply following outlines of columns Jack didn’t have a chance to write (or is writing remotely) in our day to-day lives in our slightly elevated corner of LA; not like Thoreau’s everyman, lived in quiet desperation – but daily adventures lived large on the anthill we can a mountain!
• The new building is a shining example of what community, school district, city, state and federal government can and should do when we set out mind to it; not a mere win-win, but a win to the nth power! Our mayor (himself from our hill!) should take note!
• A link to my remarks at that happy event is provided below.

THE REST OF THE WEEK well into Sunday was taken up by preparation-for-followed-by-the-actual 108th Annual California State PTA Convention in Sacramento.

Be assured: PTA is alive and well in California, 3000+ attendees were stood up by Governor Schwarzenegger, passed a number of resolutions committing PTA to fighting on for Improved School Funding In California, for the federal Government to live up to their promise to fund Special Education under IDEA, a new focus on Comprehensive and Environmentally Conscious Waste Reduction in Schools, Improved Air Quality in Schools and probably most important to us in LA: Recommitting PTA in California to Separation of Municipal Government From School District Governance– a piece of the California Constitution put there by PTA sixty-one years ago!(A "Featured Link" to that resolution is in the column to the left)

The Convention also featured extraordinary art created by amazingly talented young people K-12 from across California (including LAUSD) – in Photography, Graphic Art, Dance, Film+Video, Music Composition and Literature. The arts are alive and well in California Schools! …plus the usual PTA trainings in leadership, parent education, and advocacy. As the California State Teacher of the Year Alan Sitomer (himself a role model for kids, parents and teachers) said: "There isn’t enough money, there never is enough money, there never will be enough money. But it isn’t about the amount of the money, it’s about the quality of the people”.

Sometimes, he reminded us: “You parents are a pain in the butt …but keep it up — you rock!”

MEANWHILE, BACK IN LA: The Times and the Daily News took up the Evergreen Report and began beating it like it was new news. The report is two-weeks-ago’s news and is itself a Readers Digest version of previous studies, mostly unacted upon under the Romer and Cortines Superintendencies. To attack Superintendent Brewer for failures of his predecessors identified in a report he commissioned seems disingenuous at best.

Admittedly “ingenuous” isn’t in the media lexicon. And Brewer has had two weeks! —smf

smf remarks at Jack and Denny Smith Library and Community Center at Mount Washington School

►THE DISTRICT FLUNKS: The latest study shows once again that L.A. Unified School District doesn't even read its own homework assignments.

LA Times Editorial

May 4, 2007 - READ THE LATEST REPORT on the Los Angeles Unified School District and weep. Then marvel that anyone manages to accomplish actual education in an organization so profoundly broken.

The review, commissioned by district Supt. David L. Brewer (and available at, lays out a woeful scenario of policies never adopted, or adopted but never carried out, or carried out incompletely and confusingly. Progress is stymied by bureaucratic inertia, lackadaisical attitudes and, far too often, because people don't know what they're supposed to do.

A school board election May 15 could begin to transform the district's governance, if the two reform-minded candidates backed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa win. Or it could consign the schools to a few more years of same-old same-old.

The report, by Evergreen Solutions, makes the status quo unacceptable. Not that its findings are exceptionally new. The district has been studying itself for years, with similar results. But what the latest analysis details is how little progress district leaders have made on the recommended reforms. And few among the district staff worry about it because they're seldom held liable for their actions. The lack of consequences is such a far-reaching problem that the study mentions accountability 120 times in a 115-page report.

It all starts at the top. There, the school board neglects its two key functions: setting policies and holding top administrators responsible for carrying them out. A district report in July said that the "role of the school board needs to be clearly focused." It was the most important job the board faced — defining its own job. Yet the Evergreen study noted that "no action has been taken to implement this recommendation." Instead, the board has frittered away its time naming schools, lauding its own accomplishments and micromanaging textbook selections.

One consequence is that there is no instructional plan to see students smoothly from their first days of school through graduation, to make sure that what they're learning in elementary schools is what's needed in middle school and so forth. And though former Supt. Roy Romer ordered up a comprehensive guide last year, with a deadline of Feb. 23, 2007, staff who knew Romer was a short-timer simply waited him out.

And why shouldn't they? In a perfect organizational Catch-22, the district's own Accountability Office has no authority to enforce deadlines.

There's a chance for this to change if both Tamar Galatzan and Richard Vladovic win seats this month. Anything less will stick the schools with a board majority that fails time and again to fulfill its proper role — and in fact continually illustrates it doesn't understand what that role is in the first place.


by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

Los Angeles Unified's bloated bureaucracy, long decried by the mayor and teachers' union, has now become a key issue for the district's new superintendent and a hot-button topic in the school board race.

Superintendent David Brewer III has vowed to cut inefficiencies at the Los Angeles Unified School District after a scathing audit found the nation's second-largest district is disorganized, lacks financial controls and suffers from a "pervasive" lack of accountability.

With just a week before the election, school board candidates Jon Lauritzen and Tamar Galatzan have waded into the debate on how to pare the massive bureaucracy.

By all accounts, any changes face challenges - including navigating a range of competing and powerful interests.

"It's possible to move the huge aircraft carrier, but it's tough to change course," said Bob Stern, director of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles.

"And it takes a long time with a concerted effort to work with the superintendent, the board and the union."

Nobody denies that the ratio of administrators to teachers is higher now than it was six years ago at the 708,000-student district.

The Bureau of State Audits found nonschool positions grew 12 percent from 1999 to 2005, with most added to the division overseeing a $19.2 billion building program.

Salaries and benefits for support-services employees increased 44 percent in the same period, even as salaries and benefits for school-services workers rose just 26 percent.

But LAUSD General Counsel Kevin Reed said many nonschool positions are paid for with capital funds that cannot be used to pay for teachers. And he said increased costs reflect growth in facilities, information technology, school police, inspector general and other departments.


Still, efforts to change the situation are complicated. Four years ago, when LAUSD was divided into local districts, Lauritzen fought to reduce their number from 11 to four. But after lengthy negotiations he was able to cut only three districts.

"The board member has to try to accomplish the possible, and the leader in that is the superintendent," said Lauritzen Chief of Staff Ed Burke.

"Although the goal is to cut the bureaucracy, implementing it becomes very difficult because you have to convince other board members and the superintendent to put it in effect."

Lauritzen believes schools should be given more autonomy to reduce the need for districtwide staff, Burke said.

"The emphasis should be on the schools to make sure they have the resources, and not create more people downtown to help the schools," he said.

Galatzan says schools should have more control of their own funds and said she would ask City Controller Laura Chick to oversee an audit of all contracts, the downtown administration and all nonschool staff.

To ensure Valley schools are getting their fair share, Galatzan advocates performance contracts for local district superintendents and senior staff downtown. She also said many management functions can be consolidated.

"Tamar is part of a reform slate, and it means you're going to go in fighting the bureaucracy from Day One," said Galatzan campaign manager Mike Trujillo. "You now have a board going in seven different directions."


Deputy Mayor Ray Cortines, education adviser to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said the recently released audit is an important step in identifying how to streamline the district.

The audit said superintendents of the eight local districts within the LAUSD had not been given the authority, responsibility and resources to accomplish their goals.

It also noted a lack of benchmarks to measure program effectiveness and no consequences for noncompliance with administrative directives.

Cortines said he believes the district can cut at least 10 percent of its central staff and redirect the savings to schools.

Cortines also said the mayor would like to encourage the superintendent to eliminate nonessential positions that don't serve the classrooms and schools and don't provide local services.

"I think the superintendent has taken the first right step, and now we have to see what he does with it," Cortines said. "He is going to have to make some tough decisions. If local district office personnel don't have the authority and the responsibility, eliminate them and save millions."

Brewer said he will seek to empower local district superintendents and move people out of the central office.

Positions will be cut, but details won't be available until the second phase of the audit is completed. That phase, which will cost more than $1 million, is expected to be completed early this fall and focus on instruction, operation and finance.

If the audit finds programs aren't working, Brewer said he'll eliminate them.

"I don't believe in setting arbitrary targets. It could be less (than 10 percent); it could be more," Brewer said of possible cuts. "What drives that decision is analysis.

"We will find out how much we can save, and when you look at the overall budget, and not only in central, we may be able to find savings throughout the system."


Brewer is expected to unveil some immediate changes in June when he releases a five-year strategic plan. He also already has announced plans to appoint a transformation team - including a chief academic officer and chief professional learning officer - to restructure business operations and develop a comprehensive instructional plan.

But Stern, with the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, said Brewer has a difficult road ahead.

"It's always tough changing the bureaucracy. I wish him luck but it's a tough, tough battle to do it," he said. "People hate change, but change is important."

That change could come if Galatzan and mayoral-backed candidate Ed Vladovic prevail in the May 15 election, giving Villaraigosa majority support on the school board.

Philanthropist billionaire Eli Broad, who has contributed more than $25,000 to the campaigns, including Galatzan's, said reform can come with board members who support the mayor's agenda.

"I think it'll be helpful to get four members on the school board that are prepared to work with the mayor on education reform," he said.

But the real question will be how a reform slate will translate into consistent, strong action to break up the bureaucracy, said Michael Kirst, a professor of education and business administration at Stanford University.

"Assuming the (audit) is true, some kind of drastic overhaul of the bureaucracy is desirable," Kirst said.

► ROMER TAPPED TO LEAD LEARNING INITIATIVE: Philanthropists will dedicate millions to make education a top issue in the presidential campaign.

By Joel Rubin, LA Times Staff Writer

April 26, 2007 — Disillusioned with the pace of reform in America's public schools, two of the country's leading education philanthropists have tapped ex-Los Angeles schools chief and former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer to head a campaign aimed at forcing education into the forefront of the 2008 presidential campaign.

The charitable foundations controlled by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad have committed up to $60 million to the nonpartisan initiative, which organizers say will be run with the tactics and aggressiveness of the presidential campaigns they will hound in the run-up to next year's elections.

"We've been involved in education reform for seven, eight, nine years," Broad said of the two foundations, which together have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on education reform. "We feel good about what we've accomplished, but it's been very incremental. We think it's time to rouse the American public. They need a wake-up call."

Romer, 78, who ended a six-year tenure as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District late last year, will head the Strong American Schools campaign. His success in getting new schools built and raising test scores in Los Angeles, along with his three terms as governor of Colorado and stint as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, made the straight-talking elder statesman an obvious choice, Broad said.

Navigating the politics, public scrutiny and bureaucracy that come with running the nation's second-largest school system "prepares you for a lot of things," Romer quipped. "Including a tour in Vietnam."

As a charitable effort, the Strong American Schools' "Ed in '08" campaign cannot legally endorse candidates or specific legislation — including the controversial federal No Child Left Behind Act that emphasizes standardized testing and sets tough performance benchmarks for schools.

Instead, the group plans to use television, radio and print ads in battleground states, an Internet-driven campaign aimed at drumming up volunteers, and influence within both major political parties to pressure candidates to focus on three education issues. They are: Uniform academic standards for all states; better recruitment of qualified teachers into high-need areas; and longer school days and years to increase instructional time for students.

"We cannot have the way we teach fourth-grade math change 50 times in 50 states," Romer said, adding that the group supports the idea of increased pay for teachers who get results in low-performing schools or who can help fill the shortfall in science and math positions.

Romer launched the campaign at a press conference in South Carolina on Wednesday, a day before the first Democratic Party debate there. A similar rollout is expected next month when the first Republican debate is held in Simi Valley.

Bill Carrick, a Democratic political consultant who has worked on national campaigns, said the financial backing of the effort was unprecedented and could have a "profound effect" on the presidential race.

Candidates "are going to have to respond to this," Carrick said, pointing out that $60 million is more than even front-running candidates will probably spend on communication efforts. "If you go over the heads of candidates and talk directly to voters about education, it will have an impact."

Unveiling the campaign so early in the race, Carrick said, is wise. "They want to get into the fabric of the debate as soon as they can," he said.

Underscoring the group's bipartisan nature are two Republican political operatives. Marc Lampkin, President George W. Bush's deputy campaign manager in 2000, is the group's executive director, and Ken Mehlman, who ran Bush's reelection campaign in 2004, is a board member.

Romer, Broad and Allan C. Golston, head of the Gates Foundation's U.S. endeavors, pointed to high dropout rates, declining test scores and other signs that American students are falling behind those from other countries in calling for education to have a place alongside the war in Iraq, terrorism and other major campaign issues.

"We do not want the pablum from candidates of 'It's a big priority and we need better schools,' " Broad said. "We want to nail them down on specific issues."


by Gerald Bracey in The Huffington Post

May 7, 2007 — Last week, Eli Broad (he pronounces it "Brode") and Bill Gates announced that they would spend $60 million to make education an issue in the presidential campaign. This compares to $22.4 million the Swift Boaters spent in 2004 and to the $7.8 million AARP shelled out. "I have reached the conclusion as has the Gates Foundation, which has done good things also, that all we're doing is incremental," said Broad.

"If we really want to get the job done, we have got to wake up the American people that we have got a real problem and we need real reform." Broad did not specify what the "job" was or the "real problem" was, but Gates in the past has lambasted public schools for not scoring as high as their counterparts in Europe and Asia and predicted dire things for the economy if the schools don't shape up. (He probably didn't read the essay I sent him, "Yo, Bill Gates, If You're So Rich, How Come You Ain't Smart?", substantial parts of which appeared as "Education's Groundhog Day" in the February 2, 2005 issue of Education Week).

When you are dealing with 50 million students pre-K-12 and five million teachers, what can you do besides something "incremental?" Incrementalism shouldn't be shunned, especially in education where the really important outcomes aren't known until well after school ends. Efforts to reduce the poverty level of the elderly have produced incremental change, but over a long period of time, the impact has been enormous. We used to have more poor old people than poor children, but old-age poverty is now about one third of what it is in children under age six. Of course, the CDF is not AARP. [Childrens Defense Fund/American Association of Retired People]

While $60 million looks like a lot in terms of getting the discussion going, in the world of education, it's chump change. My district's [Houston Independent School District] budget is over $2 billion, more than the $1.8 billion that Gates has doled out to education so far. Houston spends $170 million a year on maintenance and operations alone.

To date, the agenda has all of the excitement of drying paint: longer school year, longer school day, stronger and more uniform standards, merit pay for high-quality teaching. The longer school day is iffy. It appears to be a factor in the success of the Knowledge Is Power Program schools, but there are lots of other things happening in KIPP schools and the degree of their success is still a matter of substantial controversy except for those on the right. On the other hand, kids in Edison schools spend about 50% more time in school than do students in regular public schools and the Edison schools have nothing to show for it.

Of course, no two people agree on what constitutes high quality teaching so a few details will need to be worked out there. (Last week at North Carolina State, I debated William Sanders, the most prominent advocate of value-added evaluations of teachers, and I will have a post about that shortly). And if merit pay is such a great idea, how come no one does it? I recently tried to find countries that used some pay-for-performance program for teacher compensation. The closest I came was Chile, but even there the awards have to go to the schools, not individual teachers, because Chile only tests kids in three grades. There are some new merit pay programs in Denver and Houston and we'll have to watch those closely, but most merit pay schemes in this country have had short, unhappy lives.

[Note California’s brief experiment under AB1 (Villaraigosa) – first bill in the hopper in 2000, first budget item cut in 2001; it’s safe to assume that unfunded bonuses have proved unsuccessful! -smf)

And speaking of testing: the initial Broad-Gates statement didn't, but if you are talking about higher and more uniform standards, and if you are talking about merit pay, you are also talking about some kind of assessment system to see how close schools are coming to meeting those standards and which teachers get more moolah. For the moment, I just repeat the words of Bob Sternberg, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University: "The increasingly massive and far-reaching use of standardized testing is one of the most effective, if unintentional ways we have created for suppressing creativity."

To me, Broad-Gates is just the latest installment of corporate America attempting to control education: "The business man has, of course, not said to himself, 'I will have the public school train office boys and clerks for me so that I may have them on the cheap,' but he has thought, and sometimes said, 'Teach the children to write legibly, to figure accurately and quickly, to acquire habits of punctuality and order, to be prompt to obey and not question why'" - Jane Addams, 1897

• PARADIGMS OF PARADOXICAL PRAGMATISM: In the previous article Eli Broad is supporting candidates intent on undoing Roy Romer’s reforms (...or lack thereof) in LAUSD – and yet he’s selected Romer as the point person for his national education reform initiative? —smf

MONTESSORI SCHOOLS LOOK TO FUTURE: Proponents hope to capitalize on growing frustration with traditional methods.
by Carla Rivera, Times Staff Writer

April 30, 2007 — In Philomena Thomas' class at Meher Montessori School in Monterey Park, children sprawl on the floor putting together wooden puzzle maps, or help one another with art, or sit reading. For a roomful of children under age 6, the noise level is remarkably muted.

In the Montessori approach — unlike the regimented setting in most schools — a classroom of free-roaming children, unfettered by the teacher's intervention, is the perfect learning environment.

But that philosophy has been both a draw and a challenge for Montessori education, which is marking the centennial of its founding by looking back on its achievements while moving to more sharply focus its future.

Leaders in the method want to tap into parents' disenchantment with traditional public schools to establish Montessori as the dominant alternative.

To that end, Montessori educators, traditionally a fairly laid-back lot, are marshaling more sophisticated marketing tools and attempting to better distinguish authentic, accredited Montessori schools from those that misuse the name.

More than 5,000 schools in the United States, most of them private, use Montessori methods, characterized by multi-age classrooms, self-paced study, specially designed materials and the absence of most tests and letter grades. Montessori schools have opened at a rapid pace in California in recent years and now number nearly 800, officials said.

The methods are being used in a growing number of public schools, currently more than 300 in districts from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. But only about 20% of so-called Montessori schools have been accredited by the Assn. Montessori Internationale or the American Montessori Society. The AMI — based in Amsterdam — strictly promotes the methods of its founder, Italian physician Maria Montessori, while the AMS has adopted a less rigid approach.

Montessori educators acknowledge that much of the public has at best a vague understanding of their method. Misconceptions — for example, that the schools are glorified day-care programs or just for the wealthy — persist in part because Montessori never copyrighted her name or method. Many so-called Montessori schools don't employ the methods or undergo the training that adherents consider vital.

Although some schools exploit the Montessori name, others simply don't want to go through the expense or trouble of accreditation, said AMI-USA Executive Director Virginia McHugh. Her group plans to reach out to those schools to try to coax them to apply for full accreditation.

"We want to be really proactive," said McHugh, noting that there is only one AMI-accredited school in Los Angeles County. "I can probably find many schools in Los Angeles that purport to be Montessori, and we want to call them and ask them if they are aware of our school recognition program. Accreditation is like a Good Housekeeping symbol."

Other Montessori leaders are mounting an effort to finally trademark Montessori methods under the rubric of Montessori Centers of Excellence.

To achieve that, schools would have to meet several criteria, including teacher certification. Trademark status is expected by the end of May, said Michael Jacobson, chairman of the Montessori Initiative, a national campaign to increase understanding of Montessori education.

"At least parents will know what to expect because there will be consistent standards," Jacobson said. "We can't do anything about the common use of the word Montessori, but we can avoid the misuse of the word."

The American Montessori Society saw a 7% increase in member schools last year and heightened interest from school administrators and parents, perhaps denoting a backlash against the tightly controlled, test-centered precepts of the federal No Child Left Behind law, some officials said.

A study published recently in the journal Science found that Montessori-educated children have better social and academic skills than children schooled in more traditional settings. Comparing mostly urban minority children in Milwaukee who won a lottery to attend a Montessori school with a control group sent to non-Montessori schools, the study concluded that at the end of elementary school, the Montessori children "wrote more creative essays with more complex sentence structures, selected more positive responses to social dilemmas and reported feeling more of a sense of community at their school."

Montessori alumni are a diverse set, including Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google, Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez and rapper and clothing executive Sean "Diddy" Combs.

Maria Montessori, the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome's medical program, developed her theories while working with special-needs children and then opened her first Casa Dei Bambini or Children's House in 1907 in a Rome slum.

Using light-filled classrooms with low shelves and imaginative materials mostly made of wood, she believed that children should learn from the environment and from one another, with individualized guidance from the teacher.

In 1915, Montessori set up a glass-walled classroom at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, where spectators observed 21 children who attended for four months. The exhibit won two gold medals, and the movement took off in the United States, championed by Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, among others.

The traditions have been passed down at the Meher school, where at a table, a boy cuts a green apple that he will share with the class, in the process mastering physical and math skills. One girl helps another write her name on a drawing. There is also an emphasis on outdoor activities: The 9- to 12-year-olds at Meher, for instance, do recycling projects, visit nature centers and raise money for such groups as the Wildlife WayStation.

The children work on activities until they master them, said school Director Adela Munoz, in a process that happens over time and through observance, rather than a test or paper that tells you the child is ready to move to the next level.

Evita Chavez, 14, became more confident during her years at Meher, where she began at age 3, said her mother, Elodia Chavez.

"They teach the children to challenge themselves, to have inquisitive minds. Her teachers now tell me they appreciate the way she can think outside the box," said Chavez, who also sent her son, now 10, to the school.

With an annual tuition of $7,250, Meher, which also has a school in Altadena, is the only AMI-accredited school in Los Angeles County, and all of its head teachers have AMI diplomas — earned after a year of training — in addition to undergraduate degrees.
The expense associated with accreditation and training, as well as up to $25,000 to equip a classroom with specially made materials, can be a problem for public schools seeking to join the movement.

The Minneapolis public school district has three magnet elementary Montessori schools with about 1,340 students, but cost-cutting and apprehension among some educators has made it difficult to follow key principals, said Bernadeia Johnson, the chief academic officer for the district.

The Antelope Valley Desert Montessori school, a K-8 charter campus in Lancaster, opened in August as one of the newest publicly funded Montessori schools in California, but it is feeling intense growing pains, said one of its founders, Jill Barrett. The full Montessori method is being implemented only in kindergarten and first grade so far. It has been difficult to find trained teachers, and only one aide has Montessori credentials. The school is a member of the Assn. Montessori Internationale but is not accredited.

Because it is publicly funded, the school has fewer resources to buy authorized materials and must work within the state-adopted curriculum and use standardized tests.

"We know we're building on Montessori and that this is a very early stage," said the school's program coordinator, Dennis Corley, whose granddaughter attends.

The program has attracted 180 students. Families have been drawn to classes that average about 18 students with such activities as creative writing, golf, martial arts, swimming, choir and dance, plus regular field trips.

Infiniti Dirden, a 14-year-old eighth-grader, said there is a noticeable difference from the charter school she attended last year.

"We get more attention than last year, and that's neat," she said. "The teachers are more patient…. My classmates are more respectful…. We're also helping the littler kids and bringing them along with what we're learning."

An Elementary Science Lead Teacher who shall remain nameless (for fear of flogging with the Open Court wet noodle) writes 4LAKids:

Please for the sake of our children, please look into the District's budget plan for budgeting subject areas for the 2007-2008 school year. Nothing should be cut from science and social studies and the personnel support to these areas.

Our children deserve a QUALITY education in all areas of the curriculum.

Science and social studies in our elementary schools are being neglected when it comes to achieving State standards in these two areas. Don't be fooled, Open Court does not, does not, provide curriculum that meet the state's standards.

Teachers at various school sites across the District are being forced to concentrate on Language Arts and Math only. Our children are missing out on concepts in science and social studies that are essential to their understanding before reaching middle school, in addition 4th and 5th grade students are tested in science which affects our API and AYP each year. If the lower grades K-3 are not teaching science effectively, then it is impossible for the 4th and 5th grade students to achieve at optimal levels.


▲Ronni Ephraim, LAUSD’s Chief Instructional Officer for Elementary Education writes:

Please let the teacher know that we are adopting full science materials K-5 for all elementary schools and have requested money in our budget for K-2 social science materials.

▲4LAKids chimes in:

Thank you Teacher X and Dr. Ephraim …the right folks in the right places!


• Instructional materials and instruction – and the time to do it are different things.
• Requested money is just that.
• If kids aren't prepared, they won’t be prepared.
• Well Rounded is not an obesity issue.

Those little gems of wisdom need to be put on T-shirts for sale in the lobby at LAUSD Beaudry (I want 20%!) but also need to be burned into the retinas of the Governor, Superintendent & the School Board …and the hides of bean counters in the budget offices in Sacramento and downtown. The Governator's May Revise will be upon us soon, cuts are coming, it will not be pretty …though this-week’s-version of the dreaded conventional wisdom has it that the state's fiscal picture is rosier than thought a few weeks back.

We must stand fast for the Prop 98 guarantee – and, I’m sorry and it’s not this easy, but the better, wiser and more productive investment is in K-12 education than the prison guards’ pension plan. Or the bullet train. And when cuts are made to the local school district budget look in the mirror and read the T-shirt!

In the end the capital is not the money, it’s the people.
The clients are the kids.
The product is the future. —smf


May 3, 2007 (CBS) LOS ANGELES — Nearly 90 Los Angeles Unified schools could receive new state funds meant to reduce class sizes and hire more teachers and counselors, the school district announced Thursday.

The state Department of Education held a lottery last month to pick which schools could receive the money, which would be allocated through the Quality Educational Investment Act.

The proposed LAUSD funding list includes 29 elementary and 59 secondary schools. The list will be presented to the DOE for their regular meeting next Thursday.

Another part of the funds would benefit secondary school science, social studies, math and English language arts programs, according to the LAUSD.

"When allocated, these funds will help advance our district's plan for improving academic performance," LAUSD Superintendent David L. Brewer III said.


—from Green Building News

April 23 — SACRAMENTO, Calif. — State officials expect $100 million in high-performance incentive grants for sustainable schools will be available to districts starting this spring, as part of the recently approved Proposition 1D, which will allocate $10.4 billion in bonds to educational facilities.

Districts will be able to apply for state funding if they are planning a new school, or a renovation project at an existing facility that incorporates sustainable features, such as daylighting, low-flush toilets, or alternative transportation. The incentive program marks the first time that state funding will be available for sustainable design projects that focus on areas other than energy efficiency.

Schools will receive funding from the state allocation board, which will rank each project with a point system. Using criteria provided by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, an organization that offers consulting services and certification for sustainable schools in California, the state will review each project to determine how many points it should receive.

The CHPS criteria are broken down into six categories, including sustainable sites, water, energy, materials, indoor environmental quality and district resolutions. Projects are awarded points for incorporating features from any of the categories.

Examples include selecting a centrally located site for a school; limiting the use of HVAC systems by incorporating natural ventilation; encouraging alternative transportation methods such as bicycling or carpooling; managing storm water during and after construction to minimize erosion; using thermal displacement ventilation to achieve good indoor air quality; providing storage and collection for recyclable materials; and displaying the school's environmental attributes to educate teachers and students about sustainability.

New schools must receive a minimum of 32 points. New buildings, or renovation projects, must receive at least 25 points to become eligible for funding. If a project exceeds the minimum requirement, they will receive extra funds for each additional point — between 2 percent and 9 percent of their base grant from the state board. Districts can achieve a maximum of 85 points.

The CHPS point system is similar to the used for the LEED certification process. However, the CHPS system differs from LEED in that it is specifically tailored for sustainable school design, whereas LEED offers certification for new commercial construction and renovation projects, commercial interiors, homes, neighborhood development and multiple building projects. The USGBC is developing a program for K-12 schools and is awaiting voter approval.

CHPS officials encourage school planners to think about a number of variables, including local conditions, district priorities and climate, when it comes to deciding which points to pursue.

“You have to choose different points and combinations of points that will work best for your district, whether you're an elementary school, a middle school, a high school, or a combination school,” says Kristen Heinen, assistant director of CHPS. “What is your financial capacity? What is your local climate like? What are your school district's priorities?”

In order to receive funding, a district must have plans and points verified by the state architect, a process which can take up to 30 days.

Schools have two options for the verification process. The first option is to fill out and submit a scorecard, which lists potential points and the necessary requirements. The school district must include plans or a letter with their application, explaining how they fulfilled each requirement.

The second option is to submit applications to a third party consultant for review before applying with the state architect. CHPS plans to offer a verification program to assist school districts — particularly those that are applying for the first time — in compiling information, figuring out what points mean and how to use them. CHPS will screen all of the documents and provide a pre-review before the application is submitted. Costs for pre-review will depend on square footage and how many points a district is pursuing.

If a project is approved by the state architect, the school district can expect to split the upfront costs of design and materials with the state.

The Office of Administrative Law is reviewing the proposed funding and regulations, which are scheduled to be approved by the end April.

▲OK, I know LAUSD has been building a lot of schools with a sort of mustard hue – and plum seems a popular accent color, but all our new schools are also ‘green’ – built to the California High Performing Schools (CHPS) standards – which are superior (for schools) to the national LEED standards – which apply to all construction. California auto pollution standards are better too – we rock – in an environmentally friendly sustainably designed way! And LAUSD is leading that way. - smf

California High Performing Schools (CHPS) website.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Monday May 07, 2007
CLAHS#9 and CLAHS#11: Joint Construction Update Meeting
Central Los Angeles High School #9 (450 Grand) and Central Los Angeles High School #11 (Vista Hermosa)
6:00 p.m.
Miguel Contreras Learning Center
322 S. Lucas Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90017

• Wednesday May 09, 2007
South Region High School #2: Pre-Demolition Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Edison Middle School
6500 Hooper Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90001

• Thursday May 10, 2007
South Region High School #12: Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA) Hearing
Please join us at this public hearing to discuss the findings of the Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA). The PEA determines if an environmental clean up action is necessary to ensure the health and safety of our children. We will be collecting your comments and questions regarding the PEA for this project.
6:00 p.m.
South Park Elementary School
8510 Towne Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90003

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.
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