Wednesday, November 21, 2007


4LAKids: Thurs. 22 Nov 2007 Thankfully...
In This Issue:
SHOULD SCHOOLS BE BLOWN UP? LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer on English reclassification, payroll problems and failing schools.
EVENTS: Save the date + 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.
There was a political cartoon in Tuesday's Times that had a couple of Indians speaking to each other on a bluff overlooking Massachusetts Bay as the Mayflower sails in. The caption is unimportant …the irony of the message is the image itself.

Be careful of what you're thankful for!

THE COURT HAS RULED IN A SMALL CASE that has had my attention and that of my neighbors in Northeast LA. The interest of the community and the schoolchildren (and coincidentally the School District) prevailed over a developer and his politician-friends-in-high-places with another agenda. The high school the community wants, needs and deserves will be built at Taylor Yard! I recall a community meeting on the same project when a city planner from the Community Redevelopment Agency remarked that she had never before seen such a ironic juxtaposition of roles: A developer opposing a project and the community up in arms: "YES IN MY BACK YARD!"

For this blessing we are truly thankful.

WHEN ROY ROMER LEFT LAUSD he turned his focus to getting the candidates running for President to focus on Education - an effort that has to date produced not much. But Monday Barack Obama weighed in with an $18 billion plan and the Ed Quote o' th' Week and the campaign:

"We can spend billion after billion on education in this country. We can develop a program for every problem imaginable and we can fund those programs with every last dime we have. But there is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child's education from day one."

One hopes that this will not be the final word on the subject from him or the others - and for this blessing we are truly thankful.

THE FOOD FIGHT BETWEEN UTLA AND THE SUPERINTENDENT over the High Priority Schools Plan escalated to war per the Daily News. When last heard from UTLA President AJ Duffy promised Superintendent Brewer and the Hi Priority Schools Task Force to get along - but radio news reports he sequestered himself with the Board President and forced cancellation of the first true public debate of the plan at a meeting scheduled Tuesday - and will offer UTLA's own plan. Thank you very much.

AND THE TIMES PUBLISHED ONLINE (but didn't print) a lengthy interview with the Superintendent. This allows 4LAKids to circulate that interview in it’s entirety - and perhaps allows 4LAKids to take the rest of the week off. For this we can all be truly thankful!

Gobble 'till you wobble... and remember that tryptophan (the 'inactive ingredient' in turkey) is a drug.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf

Brewer's High Priority Schools Plan v.9.0/20Nov | Duffy's Response 15Nov


by Evelyn Larrubia, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

November 20, 2007 - The Los Angeles Unified School District won the first round Monday in a legal battle with developer Richard Meruelo over the fate of a former rail yard.

Superior Court Judge Soussan Bruguera ruled that the district had a right to take the 23-acre Glassell Park property from Meruelo through eminent domain. The decision frees the district to build a 2,300-student high school there without fear of losing the property later.

"Clearly we're pleased that she finally made this decision so we can move forward with building the school," said Michelle Meghrouni, associate general counsel for the district. "She made the right decision."

The new school is planned to relieve crowding at Franklin and John Marshall high schools -- both on three-track schedules -- and Eagle Rock High, home to 3,000 students. The community has been actively lobbying for the new campus.

Outside the courtroom, neighborhood activist Alisa Smith said the ruling brought "tears of joy."

But the district still has a long legal fight ahead as it turns to the question of money. With the question of ownership decided, the district and Meruelo will now tangle over what the lot is worth -- an issue that has separated them for years.

The district offered $29 million last year. Meruelo paid $30 million for the parcel in 2005 -- "a rising real estate market," his lawyer, Patrick A. Hennessey, said Monday.

Hennessey said the district never fairly evaluated the value of the land after Meruelo bought it. "I think they still are low-balling my client," he said.

Meruelo's purchase was controversial, in part because the district also was negotiating for the property and had made an offer, officials said.

Also controversial was the source of Meruelo's funds. He tapped a credit line with the public employees' retirement fund, CalPERS -- which includes nonclassroom L.A. Unified workers -- to buy the vacant lot north of downtown.

Meruelo, whose firm describes itself as the largest landowner in downtown Los Angeles, has said he didn't know about the district's interest in the lot when he made his offer.

He put forth ambitious development plans, which included housing, offices and stores.

As the school board considered whether to take the land from him forcibly, Meruelo offered to build the school as part of his plans, officials said, putting the school in a smaller, adjacent lot he did not yet own.

"There were no viable alternatives that would not impact, say, 150 residential homes in the community," said Tom Calhoun, central regional development manager for the district. "There just isn't open space of that magnitude" in the area.

Unable to reach an agreement on a price, the district filed the court documents necessary to take the 23-acre parcel by eminent domain, prompting Meruelo to sue.

In eminent domain cases, the agency taking the land is required to deposit with the court what it believes to be a fair price for the property. The district deposited just over $29 million.

Meruelo gave a creditor who held a note on the land the go-ahead to take the deposit, district officials said.

A state appellate court ruled in a similar case that once the deposit is taken, even by a creditor, the landowner gives up the right to fight the government's move to take the land.

Bruguera said Monday that reading that decision "tipped the scale" in the district's favor.

"That San Diego case is pretty clear," the judge said. "It's clear to me that that's what needs to happen here."

Meruelo's lawyer said his client may appeal the decision, but for now they will move on to valuation. A trial is set for May.

The Backstory


from MSNBC FirstRead
by Aswini Anburajan | NBC/National Journal

November 20, 2007 — Obama unveiled an ambitious $18 billion plan to expand public education from pre-school through 12th grade while at Central High School in Manchester, New Hampshire this morning.

Calling education "the currency of the Information Age," Obama stressed the need for expanding public programs to help American competitiveness with other nations. He said that a child in Boston now needs the training to compete with the kids getting an equal or better education in Bangalore or Beijing.

"In this kind of economy, countries who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow,” Obama said. “Already, China is graduating eight times as many engineers as we are. By 12th grade, our children score lower on math and science tests than most other kids in the world."

Obama criticized No Child Left Behind, saying that educating America's children shouldn't involve teaching them how to "fill in bubbles." He also used the unpopular education bill to take a dig at the records of both Clinton and Edwards.

"It's pretty popular to bash No Child Left Behind on the campaign trail,” Obama said, “but when it was being debated four years ago, my colleague Dick Durbin offered everyone a chance to vote so the law couldn't be enforced until it was fully funded. Senator Edwards and Senator Clinton passed on that chance, and I believe it was a serious mistake.”

Obama's education plan calls for: (1) full funding for educational programs from birth to 5 years old; (2) increasing the number of teachers through scholarships and incentive grants for taking challenging assignments; (3) prioritizing math and science education; and (4) focusing on parental responsibility in education.

The focus of Obama's education policy is on birth to 5, years Obama said were pivotal in children's development. The investment he added would be paid back to society 10-fold. His plan sets the goal for universal pre-school, but does not provide require parents to enroll their kids in it.

"And for every dollar we invest in early childhood education,” Obama said, “we get $10 back in reduced welfare rolls, lower healthcare costs and less crime.”

He cited his record in the Illinois Senate, where he said that he started the Early Learning Council, to point to how early education programs could be successfully implemented.

In order to address the current teacher shortage, Obama said that he would create a national teacher service corps, which would provide $25,000 scholarships to encourage undergraduates to become teachers. He also called for "professionalizing" teaching, creating a career ladder that would allow teachers to pass national assessment tests and reward teachers who perform well.

Aides to the senator, however, quickly disputed that this is “merit pay,” which they say simply ties compensation to how students perform on a standardized test. Obama has in the past called for performance-based pay – most notably while at the National Education Association’s annual conference.

The Obama plan, though, does provide a "differentiated compensation system," which would reward teachers for undergoing additional training, for demonstrated learning gains by students, and for showing expertise and leadership. It would also allow teachers to take a role in deciding how to design their compensation at the local level.

Policy aides also disagreed with the idea that this plan was a significant expansion of the role of federal government in public education, saying the investment was in line with the current role that federal government plays in enhancing and supporting states' roles in providing public education. Instead, they pointed to Obama's call for parental involvement in education as a sign of his commitment that education must rely on partnership between parents and public educators.

Though Obama called for a renewed investment in math and science education, his plan would actually pull money from the federal government's greatest investments and achievements in math and science. Obama would delay funding for the NASA Constellation program for five years, though he would maintain the $500 million in funding the program would receive for its manufacturing and technology base, in order to help fund his education policy. The campaign did not say how much money delaying the program would provide.

The plan would also be paid for through the auctioning off of surplus public land, closing the CEO pay deductibility loophole, reduce costs of standardized procurement and through the some of the money that would be saved by ending the war in Iraq.

This is the third significant domestic policy Obama has unveiled in the past two weeks. Earlier this month, under the umbrella of a middle-class agenda, Obama unveiled tax-savings plans, day care and child care credits and the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act. In Iowa yesterday, Obama touted his commitment to community colleges and called for grants to expand their reach.


by Philip Elliott – Associated Press

November 20, 2007 — MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Presidential contender Barack Obama on Tuesday called for a $18 billion education plan that he said would fix mistakes his chief Democratic rivals made when they approved President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" effort.

The Illinois Democrat criticized Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards for not fully funding No Child Left Behind. While outlining his own education proposal to prepare students for college and to train teachers to lead in classrooms, Obama said the two rivals haven't done enough to protect students.

"It's pretty popular to bash No Child Left Behind out on the campaign trail, but when it was being debated in Congress four years ago, my colleague Dick Durbin offered a chance to vote so that the law couldn't be enforced unless it was fully funded," Obama said. "A lot of senators, including Senator Edwards and Senator Clinton, passed on that chance. And I believe that was a serious mistake."

Obama's plan would encourage universal pre-kindergarten programs — but not require them — expand teacher mentoring programs and reward teachers with increased pay not tied to standardized test scores. Failing teachers would be moved from classrooms and replaced with ones who are competent, Obama said.

"In this election, at this defining moment, we can decide that this century will be another American century by making a historic commitment to education. We can make a commitment that's more than just the rhetoric of a campaign, one that's more than another empty promise made by a politician looking for your vote," the Illinois senator said.

Obama's plan would cost $18 billion. His campaign said he would pay for it by delaying NASA's Constellation Program, which is developing the vehicle and rockets to go to the moon and later to Mars, by reducing costs by buying in bulk, by auctioning surplus federal property and by cutting down erroneous payments identified by the Government Accountability Office.

Obama said families also have to be part of the solution.

"We can spend billion after billion on education in this country. We can develop a program for every problem imaginable and we can fund those programs with every last dime we have. But there is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child's education from day one," he said.

Obama said he would accredit college programs, remove poorly performing teachers from classrooms and increase time spent on math and science instruction. He said mentoring programs are key to keeping good teachers involved and improving struggling ones.

He said he also would establish 40,000 new scholarships for potential teachers, pay for continuing education programs and invest in new schools.

ED in '08 - Romer's Educational Initaitive + Blog

SHOULD SCHOOLS BE BLOWN UP? LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer on English reclassification, payroll problems and failing schools.
Superintendent Brewer's Q&A with the LATimes Editorial Board | from

November 21, 2007 - Admiral David Brewer, superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District, dropped by the editorial board the other day to discuss, among other things, the problems of English-language learners and his own on-again-off-again plan to create a mini-district for low-performing schools. Some highlights:


David Brewer: We have the largest English-language learner population in the nation, over 200-some-odd thousand students. If we were to carve them out as a separate district, they would be the sixth-largest district in the nation. That population right there is the most challenged population. And there's an irony with that population; 70% of them are native born. And so we said, OK, so what's driving this low achievement throughout the system? Well, the standard English learners, a percentage of whom are also African Americans, are also in this mix. So when we began to look at it we said, my God, if, if you look at one of the pieces, called Reclassification to Fluent English Proficiency, and we're reclassifying about 50% of that population K through 5. That means 50% of that population's showing up in middle school not prepared, frankly speaking, for middle school, because of language. And so we said, OK, then we have to go to a family-of-schools approach.

Now you've heard all the UTLA rumblings. If a separate district was the answer, let them run it, was my position. But when I went and presented to the task force our findings, UTLA came back and said — you know, they were clearly opposed to a separate district. When I look back at [former superintendent Ruben] Zacharias, people were opposed to his hundred schools, because of the labeling, of the stigmatism. And my counter to that has been quite clear. I think that in L.A. the general public, other than through the 1381 debate, you know, really does not know how well or how badly the schools are doing. I don't think they really know. I don't think they're really focused on it.

Jim Newton: You mean they don't know how the school where their children are going is performing or they don't know globally how the whole system is...

David Brewer: I think both, in some cases. If you asked the average parent, how well is your school doing, I wonder what they'd tell you. Now I haven't surveyed that. It really goes back to the whole, it counters the whole stigmatization argument. We have schools that have been in program-improvement status for nine years. Now I think most of those parents probably know that those schools are not doing well. Now program-improvement has its own politics, because you can have great students inside of those schools that are doing well, but the thing about NCLB is it shines a light on the schools that are in the shadows... Because we have such a large population of ELs and SELs, that's the reason I'm having this national summit in December. We have to focus like a laser on that in order to drive this school district to what I would consider world-class academic standards. [...]

Karin Klein: What kind of power will you have over the way pre-schools do things if you do manage to get more kids into pre-school? Because I know that LAUP's priority at this point is not to focus on English-language instruction and to let kids continue in their native language.

David Brewer: To the extent that I'm dealing the LAUPs and the private folks, then I have to, you know, work with them on that. To the extent that I have my own early education centers and I'm building more and more of those, then I'll have a lot of influence. You know, that's a partnering and articulation conversation that we're going to have to have. [...]

Karin Klein: What are the schools that successfully reclassify kids from English-language learner, what are they doing?

David Brewer: A lot of it goes back to professional development. A lot of it is just the way they do business. Many of them are using the same tool — open court — to do it. They're working harder and longer and have teachers working there who know how to get it done.


David Brewer: People keep asking what I'm really doing. What I'm really doing is putting in the systemic changes inside the, what I call inside of the school walls, in order to make this district work the way it's supposed to work.

Jim Newton: Give us an example of one of those. What's a change you're making inside a school wall that is making life better for children in that school?

David Brewer: Professional learning development and leadership is going to be really at the core of this. If you're going to have a world-class faculty, world-class organization, your people have to be well trained in leadership and management. That is not the case. That's why I created a position — I recognized that probably within three to four months of getting here. I called for that appointment; I finally got it in July. What you will see in many cases is that you put people into positions with absolutely no training with the exception of credentialing for teachers and leadership academy for principals. But everything else, no. There's nothing there. And even there we can do a much better job, because our position is that teachers need leadership and management training just like principals do. For several reasons, because they eventually become your principles, in many cases. They eventually become your administrators. For a system not to have that in place, to me, is ridiculous... When you benchmark against other districts we are woefully behind. [...]

Tim Cavanaugh: How much does the district spend on professional development right now?

David Brewer: Right now we don't know. Because right now everybody's doing their own thing... Estimates run somewhere in the neighborhood of $400... That's everything that's out there. That's people coming up to us and saying we want you to try this program. Or some classroom teacher saying we want to try this program. I mean, right now there is no coherence in the program. [...]

Joel Rubin: Do you have any idea how much you're going to have to spend on professional development in the system that you want to have?

David Brewer: Ah, no, not yet, I don't have that yet, Joel. I don't know.

Karin Klein: When you say everybody does their own thing, is that at the school-site level, the principle decides what the professional training will be?

David Brewer: Yes, in some cases that is indeed what happens.

Karin Klein: Does the school have a dedicated amount of money with which to make those decisions?

David Brewer: No. The way it works in some cases is that some school sites will go out and get grants; that's not general fund money. They'll go out and get grants...

Jim Newton: And it's the same thing with the district; they'll just go out and do it on their own?

David Brewer: Yeah. In some cases that's the case. In some cases it's more centrally controlled but in some cases it is not. And so, we're just now at the beginning stages of getting our arms around that.

Tim Cavanaugh: The $400 million figure is from district general funds though?

David Brewer: No, not all...

Tim Cavanaugh: That's including grants and so forth?

David Brewer: Grants and other funds, yes.


David Brewer: The failure was this: That first of all there was no contractor oversight. That there was no real person in charge of this thing, at least the person who was in charge of it was not technically smart enough to know how to work the system. There was no separate chief information/technology officer dedicated to this. That was the first thing. We were depending on people who frankly speaking did not know how to interpret the problems that the system had technically.

So what we had to do, we started making progress, and then the June fiasco happened, when a software glitch caused this major overpayment cycle. The system also has its own, in other words, when you go through a school-year pay cycle, there are certainly things that happen throughout the school year. You've got the start of school; you've got normal-day where you find out how many kids are there; you've got summer school, and you've got all of these things. So what should have happened was this payroll system should have been rolled out in parallel to the old pay system. And going through all of the things that you see us going into now, then you would have seen all the glitches and overpayments and stuff like that happen outside of the system, instead of inside the system. That did not happen.

And you did not have the expertise for contractor oversight to look at the contractor. In my previous job we had, I had $1.5 billion in contracts. But what I had was a separate organization that maintained contractor oversight and made sure the contractors were delivering what they were supposed to deliver. So we have EquaTerra doing that now. We hired EquaTerra in June, and so EquaTerra comes in, finds all these problems, and is now beginning to clean it up. So beginning in June to November we cleaned up one of the major problems, which was causing the overpay. It's a software glitch associated with something they call reannualization. And so we fixed that problem, but we are still not out of the woods because we've got to recoup money; we've got to do W-2s and we've got to simplify the pay system, and— and we just found out that SAP cannot account for about 500 people inside of the system who do not work to a standard calendar, even though we were told that we could. And now my contractor oversight says if that doesn't happen, they can't get paid.

Robert Greene: Is there still a contract with Deloitte for maintenance of the system?

David Brewer: Yes.

Robert Greene: So EquaTerra is on top of that?

David Brewer: Yes.


Tim Cavanaugh: Do you see a correlation between the schools that do well with reclassification and the parent involvement that we were discussing earlier?

David Brewer: Yes. There is a correlation there.

Tim Cavanaugh: Then when we talk about successful and unsuccessful schools, and concentrating on the unsuccessful schools, is there a missing element in school choice, in that underperforming schools are not allowed to fail? That maybe some schools should just be allowed to go down to the point that they go out of business and the people who still go to those schools, who are left at those schools, are required to go somewhere else, where hard work and achievement are considered the norm?

David Brewer: Uh...try that again.

Tim Cavanaugh: Should some schools be allowed to fail?

Jim Newton: And then send those kids to places that don't fail?

David Brewer: Yeah, that's what I thought you said. Ha ha! That... No, no. Our job, my job is to make sure they don't fail. Why? Because there's a neighborhood component to this. OK. But this is a very interesting phenomenon. That's why I hesitated on this. Because some people are already voting with their feet. The 20,000 drop in enrollment, a large part of that was economic migration and some of it is just folks moving out of the system. But of the 20,000 reduction in enrollment, 6,000 was because they went to charter.

David Hiller: I thought they closed bad, and I thought it was under No Child Left Behind.

David Brewer: They can.

David Hiller: And I thought they closed bad schools, my recollection was in Chicago.

David Brewer: They can.

David Hiller: I think they closed a bunch of them. And it's a big controversial thing because, you know, they're neighborhood-based. But, you know, what's worse? Just continuing to send kids to failing schools or declaring Hey, time's up on that school, time to blow it up and start again.

Tim Cavanaugh: Not in so many words maybe...

David Hiller: No, in so many words. Arnie Duncan got crucified in some places, and you know what? Within a year the parents and students were back in schools that were better, including — some of them were charter schools, and now you've got a lot of parents saying all right, now life is better.

David Brewer: Reconstitution is an option, David. And I'm not saying that's off the table with me if we don't get what we want. Reconstitution is an option. Now, reconstitution has been tried in this district before. So you know, again, that's the politics of L.A. And I think that's why...well, Joel, you probably have a better feel for this than I do.

Joel Rubin: Well whether he knows it or not, he just quoted you. When you and I talked about reconstitution you said, "Blow it up."

David Brewer: That's right. Reconstitution is an option. I'm not backing...

Jim Newton: It's one the district has never availed itself of.

David Brewer: Again, I go back to the past. When this was tried before. I think Cochran Middle School this was tried before. I've been told. So I say, what happened? Cochran's still a high-priority school. You can reconstitute, but one of the things about No Child Left Behind is that the collective bargaining agreement allows teachers to follow their students. And so No Child Left Behind will not trump a local collective bargaining agreement.... It's not that it trumps federal law, it's that federal law has to respect collective bargaining agreements.

reported by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez | from KPCC-FM

November 20, 2007 - Two and a half years ago, a series of racially charged brawls broke out at Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles. In their aftermath, the school district overhauled administration at the campus and poured resources into the school. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports on a new program at the campus intended to ease racial tensions and encourage college going.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: For one week, all of Jefferson's 650 ninth graders visited college campuses, deconstructed prejudice at L.A.'s Museum of Tolerance, and relied on each other in a survival course.

A few dozen students gathered in the high school library to share what they learned from all this. Ninth grader Giovani Weare filtered his impressions through a poem.

Giovani Weare: I am from a world of hatred, I am from a world of backstabbing, I am from a place where people live without a life. I am from a world where shooting is no surprise, I am from being a scrub, to a young man, to a high schooler. I am from overcoming my fear. I am from me and me only. I am gonna make the greatest achievement ever known.

[Sound of applause]

Guzman-Lopez: Fourteen-year-old Ricardo Hernandez said he realized that other lives might be possible for him.

Ricardo Hernandez: I learned so much about myself and other people. I learned that you don't have to be a gang banger, or a tagger, or any of those bad things to be accepted in our community and in our schools.

Guzman-Lopez: The mostly black and Latino neighborhood around Jefferson is in Congressman Xavier Becerra's district. Becerra told the students at this assembly about his working class roots, his work as a federal lawmaker, and the important role college played in moving him between the two. After that talk, Becerra said adults need to offer more time and attention to help young people succeed.

Congressman Xavier Becerra: To do something like this program is a very minor way of letting kids know: We think about you, we think you can succeed, and guess what? Someone sees that talent in you as well.

Guzman-Lopez: Jefferson's student brawls a couple of years ago led to a lot of civic hand-wringing about race relations. The fights also pulled the curtain back on a campus most L.A. Unified administrators had ignored for a long time.

Senior Samuel Guzman mentored ninth graders in this program. He said that's because he witnessed the meltdown at his school.

Samuel Guzman: I mean, at first it was just complete shock, you know, complete just pandemonium everywhere, you know? But after it sinks in, you know, you just realize how much responsibility you have to make it better, you know? You realize that nobody else is going to do it.

Guzman-Lopez: L.A. Unified officials felt they could make it better by re-assigning principal Juan Flecha from Eagle Rock High to Jefferson. Crime and poverty, Flecha said, still affect most of his students.

Juan Flecha: Youngsters in our community are not exposed to the greater Los Angeles community. And going from here to the Museum of Tolerance, and even up the street to the California African American Museum, has been an eye-opening experience for them, and in a lot of cases, one that has never been given to them.

Guzman-Lopez: Flecha said he'll have to apply that same approach to exposing every student to the human relations program. For now, he's hoping to expand it to include ninth and tenth graders.

by Gary Walker | The Argonaut (Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, Mar Vista, Westchester, Venice & Santa Monica)

Nov. 15, 2007 - Officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will begin to implement a plan early next year to charge youth groups a fee for the use of the district's playing fields and recreation facilities.

According to Tim Bower, director of Beyond the Bell, the branch of the school district charged with overseeing all district after-school programs, the policy has always been in place to assess fees to outside organizations that participate in activities on school district grounds.

"The state Education Code requires school districts, through the Civic Center Permit Act, to make their facilities available to the public," Bower said. "[Instituting the fee policy] is merely a recapture of these fees."

The district has established a three-tiered classification system for the various groups that participate in nonschool-related activities on school grounds. Some organizations will remain exempt from paying fees, while others will have to pay what district officials say are modest assessments.

Youth and nonprofit organizations that have youngsters from the school district as participants that use the gymnasium or playing fields at district schools will be required to pay a one-time $77.10 fee for a permit to use the facilities and a $5 fee for custodial supplies.

"The groups must be organized for the promotion of youth activities," said Bower.

The second tier of organizations will consist of groups that do not have students from the school district. These organizations will be assessed $25.50 an hour, along with the permit and custodial charges.

District officials contend that they are not alone in assessing fees when their facilities are used. The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and other school districts charge for outside organizations to use their facilities, Bower noted.

Advisory councils, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and PTA groups that use school classrooms or libraries for meetings are exempt.

Brent Whittlesey, area director for the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), says he has discussed the impact that the new charges for practicing and playing on school district fields will have on the organization.

"This will certainly make it more difficult to offer soccer programs at a reasonable rate," said the area director.

Children who play baseball with the North Venice Little League might be forced to cut down on practice time, said Kim Eyler, a board member of the baseball league.

"Having to pay these fees will be very costly for us," said Eyler, the league's treasurer.

Bower said that the district has provided after-school activities for youngsters since 1915, so the district has a commitment to after-school and recreational programs.

"We offer a variety of free after-school and weekend activities," said Bower. "And we will continue to do so."

School district officials say the fees will pay for the district employees who open the facilities on weekends, when a majority of youth and nonschool-related events occur.

Bower said that the request to charge organizations fees came from the office of school district superintendent David Brewer and did not go before the school board for approval. When asked why, he replied, "We are implementing what the board permits us to do."

Eyler said that last year the district told the North Venice Little League that it might charge the organization for the use of its athletic fields, but it ultimately did not.

"We have been granted permits for next February, so now we're just waiting to see what happens next," she said.

Both Whittlesey and Eyler agree that the requirement to pay the district fees probably translates into an extra financial burden for their organizations.

"One [AYSO] region will have to pay an additional $15,000 in order to be able to participate in youth soccer," Whittlesey lamented.

Children who reside in lower-income areas are the ones who stand to be most harmed, says Whittlesey.

"In Central Los Angeles, where we have at least 600 kids registered, they may have to raise registration fees" to offset the new costs, he said. "These kids are at risk of being priced out of a program [due to the district's new policy]."

Sharon Commins, a Mar Vista resident who is active in youth soccer, agreed.

"I think it's reasonable to charge a prorated fee for organizations that wish to use LAUSD facilities," she said. "But I'm not sure what kind of message it sends to kids and their families if these fees are not affordable for a lot of these kids."

The North Venice Little League uses the district's Mark Twain Elementary School for some of its practices. The number of youngsters who use these fields is significant, and league officials will have to factor this new dynamic in with the necessity of using the ball fields.

"We have 400 to 500 kids that play on six fields, five days a week," Eyler explained. The new costs associated with using district facilities "could be very significant for us," Eyler added. "We knew that there was a possibility [of LAUSD charging fees next year], and it will have a big impact on us."

Whittlesey finds it ironic that the youths who stand to feel the strain the most are the ones that are least likely to be able to afford the new fees.

"Particularly in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Culver City, kids pay little or nothing to use athletic facilities," he pointed out. "It's disappointing that the kids who live in Los Angeles will have to pay higher fees to use the school district's athletic facilities."



Monday, November 19, 2007, by Marissa Gluck from Curbed LA

It seems LA's public schools aren't the only ones buildings bright, shiny new facilities for the young 'uns. Sure, the $600 million building boom currently taking place within the hallowed halls of LA's private schools is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the billions (yes, billions) the LAUSD is now spending to build new schools. A couple of LAUSD schools will have some nifty features like space-age theaters, but will they have an aquatic center? Private schools looking to attract the offspring of rich Brentwood parents are building new aquatic centers, "that looks like a modern equivalent of the Greco-Roman baths of ancient Alexandria" (naked same-sex wrestling not included), new libraries with digital media studios and firepits, and science labs with all the newest equipment (for making your own crystal-meth). While private schools are working to remain competitive with new facilities, some detractors feel the money may be better spent financial aid and higher teacher salaries. Surprisingly, these schools are feeling the heat not just from each other, but also from LAUSD's investment in new schools: "private educators are looking over their shoulders at the government funds pouring into public school improvements and the potential competition from public charter schools, which are attracting curious families who previously might have selected private education."

A building boom at L.A.'s private schools [article in LA Times]

EVENTS: Save the date + Coming up next week...
SAVE THE DATE: City of Los Angeles • Department of Public Works presents the

Date: Saturday, December 8, 2007
Time: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
(Registration starts 7AM • Program start time: 9AM)
Location: Los Angeles Convention Center West Hall (Yorty Hall)
1201 South Figueroa Street, LA CA 90015
Admission is FREE for youth ages 12 to 21

The Citywide Youth Conference on Global Warming and Climate Change will
inform youth why this is a crisis and what they can do to take action. It will encourage
them to think green and provide them the tools they need to take action in schools,
communities, and careers.

Youth will participate in a panel presentation and discussion focused on the theme
of THINKING AND ACTING GREEN in schools, communities, and careers. Each
panel will be comprised of six presenters representing schools, communities, and careers.
Panelists include students who are presidents of environmental clubs at their schools,
youth who have built community gardens, and individuals who work in industries like
forestry. The panels will run approximately fifty to sixty minutes. Each presenter will get
five minutes to talk about their project or career. After hearing the presentations the
audience will get to participate in a twenty minutes Q&A session.

After the panel sessions the students will get the opportunity to go to our green
fair. We will have numerous booths and exhibits where the students can learn about
different green industries. They will also have a chance to sign up and volunteer for
environmental causes. The conference will not only offer information but opportunities
for environmental activism through community organizations, volunteering, service
learning, and career/education tracks.
For more information, contact Gabriela Ortiz at 213.473.9950 or visit

► A bus will be provided for schools or organizations that can fill a bus (52 ppl) within the city of Los Angeles. Make note that a adult chaperone has to be present for all buses.
Bus info:

Monday Nov 26, 2007
SOUTH REGION SPAN K-8 #1: Special Community Update Meeting
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Banning High School - Auditorium
1527 Lakme Ave.
Wilmington, CA 90744

Monday Nov 26, 2007
WHITE HOUSE PLACE PC: Pre-Demolition Meeting
6:00 p.m.
White House Place Primary Center
108 S. Bimini Place
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Tuesday Nov 27, 2007
CENTRAL REGION MIDDLE SCHOOL #7: Remedial Action Plan (RAP) Meeting
6:00 p.m.
20th Street Elementary School
1353 E. 20th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90011

Wednesday Nov 28, 2007
SOUTH REGION HIGH SCHOOL #6: Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
At this meeting we will present and discuss the site that will be recommended to the LAUSD Board of education for this new school project.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Washington Preparatory High School
10860 S. Denker Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90047

Thursday Nov 29, 2007
Ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m.
William R. Anton Elementary School (aka Central Region Elementary School #19)
831 N. Bonnie Brae Place
Los Angeles, CA 90063

Thursday Nov 29, 2007
SOUTH REGION HIGH SCHOOL #8: Presentation of Recommended Preferred Site
At this meeting we will present and discuss the site that will be recommended to the LAUSD Board of education for this new school project.
6:00 p.m.
Maywood Academy High School
6125 Pine Ave.
Maywood, CA 90270
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-893-6800


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6383 • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385

...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 immediate past 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, November 17, 2007

Draft • Edit • Revise / Revisit • Review • Reinvent

4LAKids: Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007
In This Issue:
BREWER'S REPORT CARD IS IN: Problems plagued LAUSD chief during his first year + EDITORIAL FOLLOW-UP
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
Ronald Ferguson is the Director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University. Dr. Ferguson says the teachers that get results are the ones who explain concepts in different ways if students don't understand right off the bat. They relate the material they're teaching to the students' world. They encourage questions. They expect a lot from their students – and they get it.

Ronald Ferguson: "Classroom conditions where students believe that they can be successful if they work hard, that there's a reason to learn the material, that it's going to be kind of enjoyable and not terribly boring; that their teacher likes them, but also pushes them and makes it uncomfortable when they don't work too hard. And that their peers don't tease too much or get in the way. In those types of classrooms, students behave better."

Ferguson says educators collect a lot of data on student performance, but very little on what students think of their teachers. He says devoting dollars to that could go a long way to cultivating more quality teachers. Ferguson says he'd also like to see more teachers teaching each other... and he says that can happen right now.

The missing piece in Superintendent Brewer's Draft (The Daily News has a problem with that word - translating it as "Final" in their coverage) Strategic Plan for the 37 High-Priority Schools is the student input piece - and the plan and the superintendent admit as much.

But as the plan moves into it's next draft - and as it moves from being a Strategic Plan to a Strategic Execution Plan 4LAKids hopes that student input on what constitutes good teachers and good teaching is not just listened to but incorporated. Not to judge bad teachers but to identify good teaching. Because THAT is the Customer Satisfaction Index!

(My friend David Tokofsky - prone to leaving no pun unturned - says the "Draft" refers to the fact that the reform is involuntary. Reform never is. Not to get all pop prophetic but Google the lyrics of Dylan's "The Times, They are a Changin'" ...every word is apropos. )

The plan, imperfect as are we all, is a pilot and a call to action for districtwide reform - by necessity a living document. Reform and commitment to it is constant and continuous. Whatever we do must be Drafted, Edited and Revised; Revisited, Reviewed and Reinvented. Otherwise it joins all the other plans - occupying bookshelves and collecting dust. With enough dust we can fill Trotsky's Dustbin of History.

If we are to meet minds there are no more important meetings to go to.

Revisiting Ferguson: The Harvard Professor - an engineer and econmist by training - walks the talk; "explaining concepts in different ways" besides the lecture and the learned dissertation to teach teachers. He uses rhyme and meter, pentameter and verse. His poetry may not be great poetry - …but it is excellent instruction.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf


The child who stands before you
Will some day be in your shoes
And a child will stand before her
Hearing things once said by you.

If your message is uplifting
And your smile is bright and true
She will pass them to her children
In the ways she learned from you.


Who can say how hard to push
The children to excel?
You ask, “How hard is hard enough?”
But don’t know how to tell.

Childhood years should overflow
With games and lots of fun.
But time is short and pressure high
For learning to get done.

The state’s new test is coming
And our principal is clear
That our students must be ready
There is a lot to fear.

If the scores don’t reach the threshold
Then the piper we must pay.
So I guess I’ll put the pressure
On my little ones today.

But no! That can’t be the answer!
Pressure crushes and distorts!
There has got to be another way --
One of a kinder sort.

I will take them on a journey
On a road that dips and winds.
When we tire we’ll continue --
Learning things of every kind.

I will help them deeply value
What that journey has to teach.
They’ll excel because I love them
And because of goals they’ll reach.

At the end of our endeavor
When they take the State’s new test
They will know most of the answers
And with smiles they’ll do their best.

Sources: KPCC interview with Ferguson, Harvard Kennedy School Achievement Gap website:

poems © Ronald F. Ferguson

by Linda Jacobson | EdWeek Online

November 14 -- Sacramento, Calif. - Education experts and advocates from across the political and ideological spectrum gathered here this week to trade views—and pose competing policy recommendations—on ways to close persistent achievement shortfalls among poor and minority children.

The two-day achievement gap “summit,” called by California’s elected state schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell, drew more than 4,000 teachers, administrators, school board members, parents, and others from most of the state’s 58 counties for a variety of sessions Tuesday and Wednesday. It was intended to showcase programs and districts that are improving performance among the various subgroups tracked under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
See Also
For more stories on this topic see No Child Left Behind.

Tuesday’s program featured a debate between two high-profile figures in the education field with opposing views on what both described as a persistent problem: Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, and Chester E. Finn, founder of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in Dayton, Ohio.

Mr. Rothstein asserted that social and economic reforms, such as fully funding subsidized housing programs and putting dental clinics in schools, could have a powerful effect on closing achievement gaps.

But Mr. Finn described such policies as “pie in the sky” and countered that there is plenty that the education system itself can do to make schools more effective at improving achievement among poor and minority children—collecting and tracking better data on children from preschool through college, for one.
Debating NCLB

Mr. Finn said that, more than ever, he favors school choice programs, such as charter schools and vouchers for private schools.

“Don’t keep kids trapped in ineffective schools,” he said. He highlighted as an example of a model alternative the Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP, charter schools in cities such as Houston.

Mr. Rothstein argued that such model schools are “not representative” of the communities they’re in and that their success should not be used to beat regular schools “over the head.”

Still, Mr. Finn countered, successful charter schools “are more replicable than is being replicated.”

The two took highly divergent views on NCLB and how—or whether—Congress should amend it in the pending reauthorization of the federal law.

“Abolish it,” Mr. Rothstein said forcefully. “The federal government has no role in micro-managing schools to this extent.”

NCLB, and the philosophy that schools are solely responsible for closing the achievement gaps, he said, sets schools up for failure and “demoralizes” hard-working teachers.

“We’ve told them that they have to get middle-class results out of disadvantaged children,” Mr. Rothstein said.

In his response, Mr. Finn said that not only should NCLB remain, but that there should be national standards and a national assessment tied to those standards.

“The states’ rights arguments never persuaded me that all states would do right by kids,” said Mr. Finn, inviting some chuckles from the audience about his Republican affiliation.
Deep Implementation

In another keynote session, Douglas B. Reeves, the founder of the Center for Performance Assessment in Englewood, Colo., challenged school leaders to implement reforms in a much deeper and more thorough way, even if they think they’ve already done it.

“Hot new strategies aren’t worth anything if they’re not being implemented,” he said.

Secondary schools, he said, also need to do a better job of rewarding and recognizing achievement among students, in order to keep young adolescents focused on academic goals. Displaying student work shouldn’t be limited to elementary schools, he said.

Finally, he warned educators against adopting another new program just because someone else has said that it helped their school.

“Programs don’t teach kids,” he said, “teachers teach kids.”


By Laurel Rosenhall - Sacramento Bee

Thursday, November 15, 2007 - English teacher Erik Olson spent two days this week at the Sacramento Convention Center, looking for ways to close the achievement gap in his Laguna Creek High School classroom.

Over and over, he said, he was told that the reason African American and Latino students don't do as well as white and Asian students is because of institutional racism.

"It's hard because as a teacher I try very hard to meet the needs of all my students," Olson said. "I don't know, as a white male, where my blind spots are. But I'm being told there are blind spots."

The Elk Grove educator was among roughly 4,000 people who attended state Superintendent Jack O'Connell's "Achievement Gap Summit" on Tuesday and Wednesday. The event cost more than $1 million and was paid for with a combination of public funds and private grants. It was among the largest conferences to come to Sacramento and drew educators, academics and consultants from every corner of the state.

Olson said the conference gave him a "macro" perspective on the problem California faces in its public schools: More than half the state's students are African American and Latino, but statistics show they are learning less, graduating less and going to college less than white and Asian students.

The conference also gave Olson some "micro-level" skills he believes will help him in his classroom – though he said he could use more. In one session, Olson said he learned the importance of teaching students the difference between academic language and conversational language. For example, a standardized test might ask a student about "observing a result."

"Whereas a kid would say, 'I saw this happen,' " Olson said.

So he plans to introduce more classroom discussions about understanding both academic and conversational ways of speaking.

Olson's colleague Alan Williams, a social studies teacher at Laguna Creek, said he learned strategies for reading with students. Instead of just reading along, it's important for the teacher to question students, he said, and ask them to look at the ideas presented from multiple perspectives.

Students at Laguna Creek are a diverse bunch. About a quarter each are African American and white, 20 percent are Latino and 30 percent are Asian/Pacific Islander.

The principal of another diverse school said she would take what she learned at the conference and try to make changes on her campus. Sheila Quintana, principal of Solano Middle School in Vallejo, where 35 percent of students are African American, 25 percent are Latino and 27 percent are Filipino, said a presentation on gangs stood out.

Quintana said she learned that wearing a cloth glove was a sign that a gang member planned to have a fight that day.

"There's all kind of things in gang paraphernalia that my kids are doing that I had no idea (were gang-related)," she said.

When Quintana gets back to school in Vallejo, she said, she wants to invite her local police department to view the presentation she saw at the conference and talk to her staff about the latest in gang trends.

Educators from rural parts of California were at the conference, too. Even though 82 percent of students at his school are white, Scott Cory said he learned plenty of useful information at the conference.

"Poverty is one of our biggest issues," said Cory, principal of Chester Junior-Senior High School in Plumas County.

The conference focused on racial achievement gaps, but Cory said he would try some of the strategies to close the economic achievement gap at his school.

Anita Royston, an education consultant who works with the North Sacramento and Del Paso Heights school districts, said she walked into the conference with a friend who remarked about how amazing it was that 4,000 people had gathered to address such a thorny issue.

"What will be wonderful," Royston told her companion, "is if there are 4,000 changes that happen after this."

BREWER'S REPORT CARD IS IN: Problems plagued LAUSD chief during his first year + EDITORIAL FOLLOW-UP
by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer | LA Daily News

November 11, 2007 - At the one-year mark as superintendent of Los Angeles Unified, David Brewer III has had a rocky initiation into city and union politics as well as the massive bureaucracy at the nation's second-largest school district.

He has grappled with glitches in a $95 million electronic payroll system that created a teachers union uproar as thousands of employees' pay was affected for more than nine months.

He was hit with pay raises for teachers and administrators, and new health care benefits for some workers that forced him to cut $300 million from his budget over three years.

While he announced early on that he would push to get rid of ineffective teachers and institute a merit-pay system, he has backed off that approach and now is focused on professional development.

And he was only able to roll out his own reform proposals after 11 months, including a plan to create a separate district of 44 of the lowest-performing schools and personalized learning environments at all of LAUSD's 92 middle schools.

But now, even some of those reform plans look to be in jeopardy amid fierce opposition from teachers union leadership that has said it will block his attempts to move forward with the proposals.

Education observers give Brewer credit for his charisma and personality, but they have doubts about his ability to stand at the district's helm - especially since he has not yet been able to assemble a senior management team.

"Clearly, he's got to go beyond the inspirational to the managerial, and that, so far, seems like it's been a rocky transition. It's not something he can put off much longer or he will have serious problems," said Raphael Sonenshein, a political science professor at California State University, Fullerton.

"Once the managerial issues are under control, then people will hear your reform ideas because they'll believe they'll get implemented. Time is not unlimited for this kind of job. You don't have a career to turn these things around - you have a relatively short time."

Still, Brewer is upbeat and touts successes including lobbying efforts in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., forging a partnership with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and trimming $95 million and 523 positions from the budget.

He promises to roll out his high-priority schools transformation district in the year ahead, along with expanded safety agreements and innovation division partnerships, including one with the mayor.

And he promises to roll out boys' academies, boarding schools and neighborhood parent literacy centers, and to bring Boys & Girls Club centers onto more campuses.

In a recent interview with the Daily News, Brewer talked about his tenure at the LAUSD and plans for the future. Here are excerpts:

Question: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment this year?

Answer: "Healing the wounds after (Assembly Bill) 1381 (the mayor's unsuccessful legislation that would have given him a significant role in the district). I wanted to find out what the morale of the organization was, so what I've done is built partnerships with the mayor, political leaders who have not historically had good relationships with the district like Laura Chick, Sen. (Gloria) Romero, worked with businesses and communities.

"But more importantly, I've identified who (is) our political constituency ... the parents, the teachers and the students. So I have created the office of civic and parent engagement, so I have institutionalized this soon-to-be-formal relationship with the community and parents."

Q: Some people believe the teachers union has derailed your agenda. Do you agree with that?

A: "No, I don't agree with that. ... As far as my working relationship with the unions, historically union and management have had relationships that are built around tension. However, I am beginning to move the unions towards one focus - and that is focus on the mission of student achievement."

Q: Do you think you would have gotten more done had you not had to deal with teacher raises and health-care benefits issues?

A: "No, I don't think that I would have gotten much more done. I will be very frank: The (payroll problems) clearly have taken away some of my focus, but as any leader understands, you are going to be confronted with something unexpected in any job."

Q: What steps have you taken to increase accountability, cut down bureaucracy and empower local district superintendents?

A: "We created our office of strategic planning and systemwide accountability. ... That office will help us develop the strategic plans that you will see presented to the board in November. That office also is building one of the best accountability systems that you will see in any school district. ... We will be visiting schools and working with schools in developing that accountability system.

"But we will also be working through our deputy for professional learning, development and leadership to train people on how to hold themselves accountable and to improve student achievement.

"We are basically creating a matrix organization inside of LAUSD. That simply means that we are going to network people across the organization as opposed to in silos."

Q: You had said you would meet quarterly with the 27 mayors. Is that happening?

A: "That's still happening. In fact, we're establishing a formal committee, LAUSD Cities Committee, wherein we will have formal relationships with the mayors and city officials."

Q: One thing you were particularly passionate about when you started - you talked about social ills, poverty, the number of foster-care kids. Where do those efforts stand?

A: "We have signed three formal safety collaboratives - one with LAPD, one with the Sheriff's Department and the other one is Gardena.

"From the intervention perspective, we are putting a Boys & Girls Club on Markham Middle School in South Central. ... So within the context of trying to stabilize - especially that middle school population, and eventually the high school population - we have initiatives.

"And we're also working with the YMCA. We're going to put a YMCA on University High School's campus. And we will be putting those kinds of resources on more campuses during my tenure."

Q: What have you done on instruction?

A: "We have finished the middle school reform plan, that's No. 1. Then the system of accountability is No. 2. No. 3 is that we have established teacher-collaborative learning teams at 80 schools. So that is really critical right there that we have put in a learning teams program.

"It all goes back to what I said, that the professional development of our teachers has been a serious deficit in LAUSD, and so in order to make sure that our teachers were better prepared, we signed a contract with Achievement Solutions to facilitate learning teams for our teachers."

Q: How much time will you need to show change?

A: "Two to three years."

Q: So basically at the end of your four-year contract?

A: "It's really based on what the research and data shows. It will take two to three years before you begin to see any major improvement in a school system. ... LAUSD is like a battleship: When you put the rudder over, you don't necessarily get any movement initially."

Q: How do you respond to criticism that you are working with board President Monica Garcia and Vice President Yolie Flores Aguilar - and, by extension, the mayor - and their agendas are overtaking yours?

A: "I don't agree with that. Every two weeks I meet with each board member. They come in here for a personal session with me. If you look back at my State of the Schools address, and you look at the eight resolutions that follow (proposed by Monica Garcia), link those eight resolutions to my address. You will find that my address set the tone for those eight resolutions.

"We call ourselves a board of eight, and, again, that is how I lead. I lead through collaboration and partnering."

Q: Some people also are saying (your) plans lack substance ... and are not thought-out.

A: "The people who are criticizing don't understand how change is implemented. There is an eight-step process to change. What they're seeing is basically the first two or three steps to change. ... The plans will be put together over the next year. ...

"The Partnership of Los Angeles Schools first has to go out, develop the partnerships with the two families of schools that they're going to choose to work with, and then over the next year they put together the plans for the 2008-09 school year. ... Strategic does not mean fully baked plans. That means you have an overarching strategy.

"Over the next year, we will develop at the tactical level the plans for each school. ... That will take at least between now and September. Those plans will be very, very specific, so to my critics, I think they'll have to agree with that once they see them."

Q: Do you think not having a solid team in place ... has detracted from what you are trying to do?

A: "I will clearly admit that it was frustrating that I could not find the right person at that time, but I've also learned over time that I could fill those gaps with very talented people and still get the job done."

Q: Are you surprised by all this criticism?

A: "No. Criticism comes with the job. ... Coming into this job as superintendent, I fully anticipated that I would be criticized. But I'm strong enough to know that I have to stay on course, and I have to follow that North Star that I have established in order to make sure that we achieve our goals."


November 13, 2007 - THIS month marks one year since retired Navy Admiral David Brewer III took over the troubled LAUSD. Brewer faces massive problems, from low classroom performance, an unwieldy bureaucracy and a union that obstructs efforts at real reform.

It's still too early to say whether Brewer can achieve a turnaround in the LAUSD's image and performance. One year is too soon to gauge the effectiveness of an administration, particularly one that's not completely in place. And especially one that was launched in the heat of a political war.

Brewer has so far survived a bad situation.

He was hired in the middle of a power struggle among the school board, the teachers union and the mayor's reform forces, while educational performance had sunk to new lows and parents were deserting LAUSD schools in the thousands for charter schools. There was little he could do other than lie low, gather intelligence and start developing a strategy.

That might be deft political maneuvering, but it doesn't make for a memorable beginning.

Worse still, in his first big public moment, he announced - then almost immediately abandoned - his first major public policy proposal, carving out a special district for the district's worst-performing schools, after it became clear it hadn't been thought through fully.

It wasn't a shining moment. But it doesn't necessarily bode badly for Brewer.

To be sure, Brewer has the energy and enthusiasm, and comes
at a time of great opportunity for reform. He is still convinced he can fix the LAUSD with simple good sense and by creating departments that have been given hopeful names such as the Office of Strategic Planning and Systemwide Accountability.

But even he admits the district is mired in "so many" systemic problems.

It's reasonable to wonder whether Brewer has what it takes to lead the LAUSD. Indeed, the question is whether any person has what it takes to govern the ungovernable district, which is why many have long advocated its breakup.

Still, Brewer has got his mind around a lot of the district's problems and deserves time to implement his reforms.

The clock is ticking on his administration and the public's patience for real change.


by Tina Marie Macias. LA Times Staff Writer

November 16, 2007 -- WASHINGTON -- Math scores continued to rise in the Los Angeles Unified School District, but reading is showing no improvement with fourth-graders ranking among the lowest among urban districts, according to a federal report released Thursday.

Every two years, 11 urban districts, including Los Angeles, test their fourth- and eighth-grade students in math and reading. The outcome of these tests, known as the Trial Urban District Assessment Results, are part of the National Assessment of Education Progress -- commonly called "the nation's report card."

School district officials and administrators caution that comparing results can be tricky: California tends to include more special education and limited English-speaking students. Houston and Austin schools exclude most of those students.

But the results provide a look into the achievement in the nation's urban schools.

And they echoed some of the concerns from the nationwide assessment, the results of which were released in September: While math scores rise, reading progress is mixed and the achievement gap between white and Asian students and their black and Latino counterparts remains wide.

"The fact that the gap is not narrowing is quite troubling," said Bruce Fuller, an education and public policy professor at UC Berkeley. "The dirty little secret is California has mounted multimillion-dollar efforts to narrow the achievement gap and we have done little to do so."

California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell held a summit on the issue this week in an attempt to bring together experts to help determine how best to attack the problem.

In most instances, white and Asian students at Los Angeles Unified School District schools are on par with their counterparts elsewhere. Those scores were often higher than the nation's average for all students.

L.A. Unified's black and Latino students, however, are not only 30 points or more below the nation's average scores, but also much lower than the average for their peers in the other cities, leaving L.A. Unified with a much wider achievement gap than the national average.

Of the 11 districts tested, only Charlotte, N.C., and Austin, Texas, are above the nation's average. But even in the below-average districts, "in some cases the gains are greater than the nation as a whole, which means that achievement gaps are closing," said Robin C. Hall, a NAEP board member.

That's not the case for L.A. students. Scores in LAUSD mainly stayed the same across the board. The exception was for eighth-grade math; those scores are improving more quickly in Los Angeles Unified than in the nation and in California.

L.A. Unified fourth-graders performed the worst of the 11 urban districts in reading, with 61% scoring below basic level.

Eighth-grade reading went up between 2002 and the latest results but had no significant change since 2005.

In math, things were better. Scores for fourth-grade math rose from 2003 to 2007, but showed no change from 2005. The school system still remains below the large-city average, with 40% testing below "basic" in fourth-grade math.

For eighth-graders, scores in math went up from 2003 to 2007 and dramatically improved from 2005 to 2007. The scores were still below the urban average, with 55% testing the below basic level for eighth-grade math.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
by Betty Pleasant, Contributing Editor , Wave Newspapers

After last week's LATimes piece on Parents Behaving Badly (DISCORD ROILS L.A. UNIFIED PARENT PANEL) 4LAKids takes some uncertain delight when the duly electeds in the next jurisdiction south fail to model correct behavior for the children or the parents to see. It doesn't take much peeling away of the layers to see the frustration across the board/across town at LAUSD's own trustee's meetings — where democracy and open discussion take a backseat to expedience and the time clock. -smf

November 15, 2007 - The Inglewood Unified School District Board of Education meeting last week — which began on the evening of Nov. 7 and ended on the morning of Nov. 8 — was one for the ages. It was a showdown between the forces of good and evil. It was a shootout pitting the school district’s men against its female leaders in an overflow arena of partisan community residents who marveled at the grisly spectacle playing out before their very eyes. It was a blood-letting which the women won handily.

School board members Carol Raines-Brown, Trina Williams and Alice Grigsby, together with Superintendent Pamela Short-Powell and general counsel Adrienne Konigar-Macklin, formed a defensive line so strong that the two heretofore “bullying” men — board President Arnold Butler and member Johnny Young — couldn’t make a move and were reduced to engaging in behavior that offended and alienated the spectators.

In a nutshell, this war of the sexes roiling the Inglewood Unified School District is about the onerous ongoing attempts of Butler and Young to discredit and remove the superintendent. Butler and Young want Short-Powell removed because she is unwilling to terminate five district employees, including Kevin Scroggins, chief of the school district’s police force, who carry out their job functions in total disregard to Butler and Young’s “orders” handed down to further their own agendas. Butler and Young are desperate for a third vote on the board so they can act against the superintendent, who has widespread community and political support. It was clear Nov. 7 that they ain’t gettin’ it.

Young is a bishop of a Protestant religious denomination. Residents got to observe Young in action at the school board meeting and I must say, this man is a piece of work. He was loud, bombastic, judgmental and self-righteous. He was full of sound and fury that signified something really significant: That black preachers need to stay in their churches where this type of attitude is acceptable, yea, even extolled by people who bestow saintly status on their leaders, who hold that their leaders can do no wrong and who slavishly believe every word they say is gospel (so to speak) — as long as they say it loud and with great fervor.

During his bellicose denunciation of me, Young made a big deal out of his being a Pentecostal bishop. I don’t know what that is. But I do know the school boardroom is not his church and the dais is not his pulpit. This Pentecostal bishop doesn’t seem to understand that once he gets elected by The People, takes an oath to serve The People and begins paying his bills with money from The People, he has entered my church, where I, The People, rule; where his every word and deed is subject to examination, criticism and exposure whether he likes it or not.

The problem with this preacher is that he thinks the school district is his bishopric. He believes he, alone, runs it. He stated Wednesday night and repeated in an e-mail he sent to a large number of people, the following: “It has always been my understanding that all employees within the district work at the will of this elected board, unless a provision of a collective bargaining agreement shall provide otherwise.” How did he come by that “understanding?”

Everybody who has ever served on or worked with an organization’s or agency’s governing board knows that the only person who works “at the will” of the board majority is the executive director, or superintendent, in this case. Board members do not have the power to go down into the ranks of the workforce and fire anybody. Nor do board members have the right to bypass all the layers of administration beneath the executive director and tell employees what to do.

And that’s the rub. The bishop thinks he has the right to confront, hassle and interfere with district employees doing their jobs and cause trouble resulting in pay losses for them if they don’t please him and, in a vindictive fit, demand that the superintendent fire them (because he can’t) and then harass the superintendent and the police chief and try to remove them because they ignore him. By his own admission, Young thinks it’s his job to intimidate district employees and their supervisors into doing whatever he wants.

Let me paint you a more complete picture of the bishop. First of all, he’s a liar. In a dramatic moment, legal counsel Konigar-Macklin virtually called him that to his face when he bellowed from the dais that a counseling organization supported by the women is under investigation by the state. Young was momentarily chastened, but pulled himself together and plunged straight ahead with another lie. He proclaimed and wrote in his e-mail that Chief Scroggins “has been placed on administrative desk duty pending further investigation.” Placed by whom? Investigated by what? Scroggins was in full uniform and carrying out his usual duties all over the place Nov. 7.

“This man is vicious and I’m sick of him lying about me and my staff,” Scroggins said after hearing Young describe his employment situation. “Look at me. Do I look like I’m on any desk duty?” Scroggins asked. “I am not being investigated, but I am going to see to it that he is. Young is mad at me because I support my men and am not intimidated by him. I am not afraid of him,” said the chief, whose official title is director of safety and security and emergency planning and whose job includes investigating the backgrounds of prospective district employees for criminal activity.

“Every investigation conducted by school police has been challenged by Butler and Young,” Scroggins said. “Those two men block and interfere with our investigations and accuse us of harassing people when we’re doing our background screening tasks.

“I had two security officers working at one of our schools because they were friends of Butler and Young who had been convicted of possession and sales of cocaine. I finally got rid of one of them and that really made Young mad, so he’s telling lies to get rid of me. But I’m not scared of him and I’m not going anywhere,” Scroggins said.

Former school board President Willie Crittendon reported that last year Young took it upon himself to engage the Orange County law firm of Breon and Schaeffer to evaluate the contract of Superintendent Short-Powell. The board voted against paying for the legal services Young obtained. In a self-righteous snit, Young told the board he would pay the law firm for the evaluation himself. The question is this: Did Young pay? Crittendon said the board ended its contract with the law firm in 2003 because their legal fees were extremely high, yet Butler is presenting a bill from Breon and Schaeffer to the board for payment. Is that the one Young was supposed to pay?

Butler is not quite as bombastic as Young, but he’s dogmatic and overbearing enough, when what he needs to do is shut all the way up and slink off into the sunset to his home in the Baldwin Hills of Los Angeles. Scroggins has the goods on Butler with respect to his not living in the city of Inglewood, as is legally required for school board members. “Young has colluded in this scam because during the past six months, he has had the school police officers delivering Butler’s confidential board mail to his [Young’s] home,” Scroggins said. “Besides, I’ve been parked outside Butler’s Baldwin Hills home.”

I need to correct an error I made in last week’s Soulvine. I misspoke (miss-wrote?) when I said Crittendon signed the checks to pay off the families who accused Butler of hitting and kicking their two daughters. Crittendon could not and did not sign those checks. Crittendon said those incidents occurred before he became a board member and he learned of them when he became board president.

“That’s child abuse,” Crittendon said, adding that he does not want anyone to think he had any part of covering it up. The “abuse” was done, the “cover-up” was done and the checks were signed before Crittendon was seated on the board — facts to which Scroggins attests. I have only one more thing to say about Butler: Move over, Basil Kimbrew.

Board member Williams wants to apologize for using the N-word in her spirited rebuke of Young during the board meeting. “I was quoting others in the community,” Williams said. “I personally find the N-word to be gross and despicable. But it was the only word used by others in the community to describe the behavior of board members. I would like to apologize if it offended anyone. But I really am concerned with the behavior of board members who seem to believe that personal attacks and harassment are the only courses to take.”

Based on what I saw that night, the N-word might be appropriate.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

▲Correction: DISCORD ROILS L.A. UNIFIED PARENT PANEL The article in the Nov. 10 LATimes/picked up in the Nov 11 4LAKids re: conflict among members of a Los Angeles Unified School District advisory council stated incorrectly that meetings had been canceled for two months. District officials, correcting information they provided earlier, said the meetings continued during mediation attempts to settle disagreements.


►WAITING LISTS LONG FOR EAGER WOULD-BE CHARTER STUDENTS: More than 6,000 hope to enroll in schools run by just one of several private groups, which one educator says is a ‘wake-up call.
by Gene C. Johnson Jr., Staff Writer, Los Angeles Wave Newspapers

November 15, 2007-- As of Oct. 29, there were more than 6,000 students on waiting lists to enroll at View Park Preparatory schools and other charter institutions under the Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF) umbrella.

But the heavy interest, insists ICEF founder Mike Piscal, is not a slap at the Los Angeles Unified School District and its well-documented troubles. Rather, it should be viewed as a wake-up call about the state of public education in Los Angeles, said the educator, who started the foundation 13 years ago.

According to the California Department of Education, View Park Preparatory High School, founded in 2003, is the state’s top-ranked public high school in terms of educating African-American students.

“We’re trying to create competition to force the public schools to reform,” Piscal said. “They’re just busy fighting over the rights of employees and administration and the kids are way down on the list.”

“We set a high bar here for our students. The LAUSD goal is just to graduate,” said Greg Hill, principal at Frederick Douglass High School. “Here, there is nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide — it’s a part of the small-number [classroom] learning experience.”

The learning environment is what prompted Reva Aikins to remove her 12-year-old son Devin from Baldwin Hills Elementary/Magnet School, and attempt to enroll him in View Park Prep — only to be thwarted by the waiting list. Instead, she took a “calculated risk” by enrolling him in ICEF’s Frederick Douglass Middle School, which opened with its companion high school last year. This year, the Lou Dantzler and Thurgood Marshall middle and high schools were opened.

“[Baldwin Hills] was an excellent school. He got a wonderful education there and I loved it. But it was a huge school population,” Aikins said. “Now he’s getting more attention in the classroom and he enjoyed it very much.”

“I found out about Frederick Douglass early enough to get on the initial list of kids,” Aikins said. “We were taking a risk because it was a new school. We were concerned it wouldn’t follow that same View Park pattern of high scoring, but sure enough it did.”

Piscal points to a study, conducted by the California Department of Education, on LAUSD’s former Local District G, which included Crenshaw, Dorsey, Washington Prep and Manual Arts high schools. The analysis showed that out of 3,902 freshmen in the class of 2002, about 60 percent dropped out. Of those who did graduate, about 55 percent did not attend college.

“We’ve created a public school where we expect our students to achieve above grade level, to be on track to graduate and go to the top colleges and universities in the nation. Why would we want anything less for our students?” said Karen Anderson, principal of the Frederick Douglass Middle School and a former lead teacher at View Park Prep. “We have a model that works, and I know how to get our kids ready for college.”


(CBS) LOS ANGELES Parents interested in enrolling their children in Los Angeles Unified School District magnet schools and obtaining bus transportation for next year can start applying Thursday, it was reported.

The district has more than 160 magnet schools and centers with specialties from math, science, technology, performing arts and music.

Magnet schools and the accompanying transportation program were a key component of the district's integration efforts, it was reported.

Information is available in the 2008-09 CHOICES brochure sent to all parents of LAUSD students.

The application period closes Jan. 11.

What the "L"

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
KPFK 90.7 fm | on the web @
"Politics or pedagogy?" | "No Child Left Behind"
Host: John Cromshow
9:00 a.m.
Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007
What do teachers and their unions say about the negative impact of NCLB?

Speak to:
David Sanchez, President,
California Teachers Association

• Tuesday November 20, 2007
SPECIAL MEETING OF THE SCHOOL BOARD COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE - High Priority Schools [Rescheduled from 11/15/07] - 1PM - Board Room - 333 S. Beaudry Ave.

• Tuesday Nov 20, 2007
CENTRAL REGION HIGH SCHOOL #17: Pre-Construction Meeting

6:00 p.m.

Wadsworth Elementary School - Auditorium
981 East 41st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90011
*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: • 213-241-6383 • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385

...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 immediate past 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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