Friday, October 31, 2008

At long last the election is upon us.

4LAKids: Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008 - The Election
In This Issue:
2 bumps in the night: The October Surprise — CANTER & KORENSTEIN WILL NOT SEEK REELECTION
GOV VOWS TO CUT FUNDS FOR SCHOOLS: California education leaders told to brace for big budget cuts
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:
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: an investment we can't afford to cut! - The Education Coalition Website
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.
At long last the election is upon us.

Soon we will get our televisions and all the commercials for overactive bladders and ED back. No more Propositions 1-12 and A-Z, no more hysterical entreaties about the danger of kindergarten lesbian marriages. After all, teaching about the American Revolution creates revolutionaries; instruction about Shakespeare creates self destructive Danish princelings. Whether we like it or not. No more T Boone Pickens and Diane Feinstein being right about some things and wrong about others. Soon it will be safe to answer the phone and not hear phone blasts about the horrors of being an unregulated caged chicken or an overregulated poultry producer.

It's all over but the voting. Unless you've already voted by mail – in which case the following is of little interest …but you missed The October Surprise!

• Because California is not a battleground state the presidential election apparently does not matter here. That decision will be made by voters in Pennsylvania and Virginia and New Mexico and Florida. All seriousness aside and with our tongue planted firmly in our cheek 4LAKids hopes voters there and here vote for Barack Obama.
• Because we have safe districts in California the assembly, state senate and congressional seats are …uh …safe.
• Because we have school board and municipal elections in off-year/mid-year elections (when the turnout is guaranteed to be low) there are no contested local elections of note.

So we have the propositions.

• I'm not a big fan of the initiative process; historically it's produced a lot of well meant but flawed legislation filled with IEDs of unintended consequences at best …and occasional outright intentional poison pills.
• I am also not a fan of state revenue bonds which borrow money from the general fund rather than creating new revenue streams. When you spend money with "no new taxes" someone pays; every bond dilutes the existing revenue stream, eventually the stream dries to a trickle.
• I am enough of a Keynesian to believe that we will need to spend our way out of this economic crisis, but I believe that the investment in public works needs to be in infrastructure renewal: schools, bridges, levees, courthouses, libraries, public buildings etc. I also believe we need to invest in Green/Sustainable/Renewable energy and energy sources – but as a part of a well-founded policy rather than hit-and-miss special-interest political agendae. Pop culture futurist Thomas Friedman ('The Earth is Flat' & 'Hot, Flat and Crowded') says that 'Green is the new red, white and blue'. We need to enlarge the spectrum.


1. A TRAIN TO NOWHERE. Not enough money for a not well thought through high speed train. And it takes money from the state budget that the state doesn't have. Never mind that it was shoehorned into the ballot after the deadline. NO.
2. If the problem of FARM ANIMAL CONFINEMENT exists the legislature should correct it. NO
3. CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL BOND. A correct use of state bond funds. YES.
4. PARENTAL NOTIFICATION OF ABORTION. A right wing special interest attack on a woman's right to choose - and the citizenry's right to say "enough already!" NO.
5. NONVIOLENT OFFENDERS REHABILITATION. I'm breaking my own rule on this – and in full disclosure I am on an advisory committee to the youth treatment portion of this proposed legislation. YES.
6. LAW ENFORCEMENT FUNDING, GANG PENALTIES. Puts 14 and 15 year old non-violent offenders into the adult correction system. Cage 'em like chickens. NO.
7. RENEWABLE ENERGY STANDARDS. Some good ideas masquerading as a program. NO.
8. SAME SEX MARRIAGE BAN. As ugly, nasty and expensive a campaign as ever has been run. Lincoln said you can't legislate morality, he said it back when the state didn't involve itself it matrimony. NO.
9. VICTIMS RIGHTS AND PAROLE. The legislation already exists; it just needs to be enforced. NO.
10. ALTERNATE FUEL BONDS. T. Boone Pickens is not a bad man, he has good ideas. But he is a special interest with special interests. NO.
11. REDISTRICTING. I complained earlier about safe seats. But this bill doesn't go far enough. Let's not put half-steps into the constitution, we need the whole octave of reform. NO.
12. VETERANS BOND ACT. Of all the states California offers the least support to our veterans – 50th out of 50; a sorrier record than even education funding! And because we have the largest population we have a lot of veterans. A correct use of state bond funds. YES.

THE LOCAL ISSUES (In ballot order, alphabetical order would make too much sense)

R. TRAFFIC RELIEF, RAIL EXTENSIONS. FOREIGN OIL. ½¢ SALES TAX INCREASE. Are rail extensions like hair extensions, will they make us look better? METRO/RTD/MTA is the most poorly run/inefficient/unaccountable transit agency in the nation, mismanaged as a political fiefdom by other government agencies and fiefdoms. Metro can't manage its finances and budget – don't give them more money. NO.

J. COMMUNITY COLLEGE BONDS. This one is heartbreaking, but shenanigans between the LA Community College District and the privately-run-at taxpayer-expense Autry Museum – channeling some of these college construction bonds into an unexplained and inexplicable giveaway to Autry's takeover and renovation/relocation of the Southwest Museum dooms this one. SADLY NO.

Q. LAUSD SCHOOL BONDS. Outside interests, Power Politics and the best school board money can buy meets the biggest and most successful public works project in the land. •The economy is in the dumps, the school district doesn't have the operating funds to run itself. •There is a documented $60 billion in need now and this bond invests $7 billion and promises not to ask for more for ten years. •The projects to be funded are not well defined. •There is $450 Million earmarked for charter schools and the charter community is NOT supporting the measure. If the measure passes the charters propose to build "their" schools outside the LAUSD Project Labor Agreement (see below) and outside of (but in tortured Orwellian rhetoric' 'in compliance with') California's Field Act which guarantees public (and private) school construction earthquake standards. LAUSD's legal counsel (inside and outside) has opined that this bond guarantees the Field Act – one suspects more sympathetic counsel will be sought further afield.
•The teachers union is NOT supporting the measure. •The mayor - proscribed constitutionally (and by the courts) from interfering in the governance of the school district - drove the size of this bond up at the last minute. He can claim to have written the largest state school bond in history at $9.2 billion that voters approved in November 1998, now he can have the largest local bond too – if the voters are willing.

And now we have the October Surprise with two independent and moderating school board members stepping aside (See Below). We need to trust the four mayoral loyalists, one independent and two players-to-be-named later to oversee the spending of seven additional billion dollars? What's wrong with this picture?

Much is made of the independent Bond Oversight Committee; but the BOC is advisory only – the Board of Ed controls the spending and does so frequently in closed session.

All of that said, 4LAKids supports this measure – but vote for it only if you as a voter and taxpayer are prepared to hold LAUSD, the Board of Ed and the rest of players accountable. The voters and taxpayers; parents, teachers and stakeholders – every one of us – must follow the money and insist that the investment in the future is made wisely, prudently and in the best interest of schoolchildren. CAUTIOUSLY AND ONWARDLY: YES.

A. GANG AND YOUTH VIOLENCE PREVENTION. PARCEL TAX. Well meant but premature. The city controller's audit and The Advancement Project report identifies millions of dollars in Community Development Department funds that could be reprogrammed to improve gang-prevention programs, those recommendations have not been implemented yet. The city needs to prove to taxpayers that the programs to be funded will work before asking for additional funding. REGRETTABLY NO.

B: LOW INCOME HOUSING PROGRAM REVISION - City leaders and developers say this measure means Los Angeles could continue to receive millions of dollars in affordable-housing money. Proposition B would erase restrictions in place to prohibit low-income housing projects that are larger than five units and taller than two stories. The specter of huge housing projects looms but the politicos say 'Trust us, it won't happen', There is a huge and proven need for low income housing. The city has a sad history here - but carefully and cautiously YES.

ON THE JUDGES: I've met exactly one of the candidates and me saying she's a nice person who gives good first impression and that I'm going to vote for her is non-transferable. Sorry Cynthia Loo.

There you have it.

MEANWHILE THE GOVERNATOR calls for a special lame duck legislative session to create an economic stimulus package -- and that apparently (to him) means slashing the month-old state budget and throwing the education-funding-baby out with the no-new-taxes bathwater. Hello suspending Prop 98.

AND THE LAME DUCKS IN BUSH ADMINISTRATION Department of Ed announced new No Child Left Behind policy revisions with their dying quack.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! -smf

Gentle reader: There is a hiccup in the formatting of the newsletter that has me very confused - bullets and punctuation that previously worked now generate strange code. As I am my own (worst) editor I am an even worse IT person.

(English majors who will claim that one cannot grammatically worsen "worst" need to grade someone else's paper, this one gets worser and worser!)

I apologize and will work to solve the problem before next week - when I will no doubt be trying to claim that code is a product enhancement. -smf

2 bumps in the night: The October Surprise — CANTER & KORENSTEIN WILL NOT SEEK REELECTION

From the LA Times Homeroom Blog by Howard Blume

10:52 PM, October 28, 2008 -- Here's some breaking political news out of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Two-term school board member Marlene Canter, 60, will not seek a third term, the Times learned Tuesday night.

Her decision, which she characterized as purely personal, leaves the contest for her Westside seat wide open.

Canter was best known for leading efforts to ban sodas and junk food, while also improving the nutrition, taste and accessibility of school breakfasts and lunches. As other accomplishments, she also points to an increased focus on academic accountability and improved test scores as well as the district's massive school construction program.

Canter, who owned a successful teacher-training business, financed her own initial bid for office and was never regarded as beholden to various political interests that have tried to control the seven-member school board.

●●smf's2¢: Blume misses Marlene's most important effort: As President of the Board of Education she led the fight against AB1381 and the mayor's attempt to take over LAUSD. She led that fight in the state legislature, she led the fight in the courts and she led the fight in the war of public opinion — and she never, never, never gave up.

• She was relentless in the legislature, where the mayor held and played all the cards masterfully; she lost be three votes.
• She was relentless in War of Public Opinion – she was everywhere - against a charismatic and popular mayor who was never able to muster the popular support he mistakenly believed he had.
• She was relentless in the courts, where the cause prevailed and the takeover attempt was proved unconstitutional and morally and legally wrong.

Marlene was not alone in these efforts, like a true leader she is pragmatic, a consensus builder and a shaper of opinion – she led from the middle alongside Superintendent Romer, a majority of the Board of Education, General Counsel Kevin Reed and a consortium of partners including the League of Women Voters, The California School Boards Association, AALA, PTA, other parents and Congressperson Maxine Waters.

When the fight was over she did her best to pick up the pieces and repair relationships with her opponents. The word 'relentless' appears three times previous, if Marlene relented here it was not from weakness but in strength.

Of all the recent boardmembers Marlene has the singular distinction of being a businessperson; she had made and balanced budgets and met payrolls in the private sector. She had made money in education and improved the training of teachers and learning of children in doing so – there is no shame and indeed great honor in that. She was also an educator and understood how the business model and the education mission could fit together to benefit the kids – not the system or the bottom line.

Marlene would argue that her legacy is about improving instruction and nutrition; the futures, the health and well being of LAUSD schoolchildren …and she would be right.

In rereading the above I can only add that the parts in the past tense remain true in the present and hopefully into the future. This is neither a eulogy nor an elegy - 4LAKids wishes Marlene the best in her future endeavors; this school district and its children are better for her service.

Good job!



By Jason Song and Howard Blume - from the Los Angeles Times

October 31, 2008 - Julie Korenstein, the longest-serving Los Angeles school board member ever and a key teachers union ally, announced Thursday that she would not seek reelection, suddenly leaving two pivotal open seats on the seven-member Board of Education.

Her announcement came one day after two-term board member Marlene Canter also announced that she would step down when her term expires next June.

"I'm flabbergasted," said Bill Ouchi, a professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management who has long been involved in school-reform efforts. "These are two people who have put in unbelievable numbers of hours and have exposed themselves to tremendous personal criticism and pressures because they really care about the children and the schools. It's a changing of the guard."

In recent years, the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District has become a battleground for control between forces promoting different visions of reform. The main players have been the teachers union, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and supporters of charter schools, which are independent of direct district control.

Korenstein, 65, who has represented portions of the San Fernando Valley for the last 22 years, is regarded as United Teachers Los Angeles' closest board ally. She was likely to be targeted by well-financed opponents, but said she felt no pressure to bow out.

"I've accomplished a lot with a great deal of energy and fortitude, but it's time now," she said, noting that she was a mother of three when she was first elected and is now a grandmother of four.

During her tenure, Korenstein focused early on environmental issues affecting schools, and she also pushed for phonics-based reading programs that have since become almost universally accepted.

But having seen many reform plans come and go, she grew skeptical of initiatives, including the charter school movement, and distrustful of sweeping change in general.

"In losing Julie, we are losing long-term institutional memory," said Yvonne Chan, founder of the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, a charter school in Korenstein's district. "But she's a worrywart. Everything has to be explained many times and it has to be perfect. So it delays reform efforts and pushes away risk-takers who are willing to let the horse out the door instead of beating the horse to death."

Korenstein was well-known for asking many questions, including some that restated previous ones.

"In the best sense of the word, she's a bulldog," said Michael O'Sullivan, president of Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, the administrators union. "She will not vote on something until she's had her questions answered."

The six-term board member frequently became a defender of the institution and a critic of funding levels she considered far too low. She also relied on a thin staff, donating the extra dollars instead to help local schools.

Korenstein began in 1968 as a parent volunteer before becoming a district teacher. She also founded a tutoring service for at-risk youth before being elected to the board in 1987. The boundaries of her Valley-based district have changed over time; they now include much of the north and east Valley.

That area has seen an infusion of Latino leadership in recent years, and a Latino candidate is almost certain to emerge among the front-runners.

Unlike Korenstein, Canter, 60, was never closely aligned with the unions or any power bloc. Canter nonetheless won her colleagues' support for two terms as board president because of a reputation for conciliation and fairness.

"Marlene led that board through some of its most difficult times, including Mayor Villaraigosa's effort to seize control," Ouchi said. "She was totally and completely devoted to maintaining the independence of LAUSD from mayoral control. She felt it was her duty. She lobbied probably every member of the Legislature. She was there mano-a-mano with decision-makers making her case."

L.A. Unified finally prevailed over the mayor in court, but the mayor then funded successful candidates for the board. Canter quickly forged common ground with the new members over supporting charter schools and charter-like freedoms for traditional schools.

Canter also was known for her efforts on school nutrition.

"It's because of Marlene that our kids are not eating junk food anymore," said Caprice Young, a former school board member who until recently headed the California Charter Schools Assn.

Canter worked especially closely with former Supt. Roy Romer and became associated with his school construction efforts and his standardized reading program for elementary schools. She also played an instrumental role in the hiring of current Supt. David L. Brewer, a retired Navy admiral with no formal experience in public education.

For some board critics, both incumbents represented gradualism at best.

"To me, Korenstein was a supporter of the status quo," said Mike Piscal, the chief executive of ICEF Public Schools, a local charter school organization. "Her belief in the system is staggering to me. It's not working. Why do you keep fighting to maintain it?"

Piscal termed Canter "a sometime champion of reform. Canter did not fight hard enough."

Korenstein also ran unsuccessfully for Los Angeles City Council and wouldn't rule out another try at elected office after her term expires.

"I've got another eight months on the board, and after that I'll see," she said.

●●smf's2¢: The brief bio above says Julie stared out as a parent volunteer. That explains a lot of things.

4LAKids will lay out at another time the importance twenty-two year tenure of Julie on the Board of Ed. Sweating the small stuff is part of the survival instinct. Sometimes in her board career Julie became bogged down in the administrivial. LAUSD is all about administrivia. In 22 years you come to recognize that the small stuff comes back to haunt you. Happy Halloween.

Perhaps the greatest loss will be to the institutional memory; it leaves LAUSD at the mercy of other not-so-public entrenched long-termers who claim intimate knowledge of the way it was and always has been.

• Who will call them on this?
• Who will say: "Wait a minute in your haste to end the meeting on time?"
• No one ever read a beefing book as well and made it look like she hadn't done so. Who will ask the simple question in public that the board already knows the answer to …but the public doesn't know to ask?
• Who will listen to the three minutes of public comment and take away three minutes of information?
• Who will work as hard, as tenaciously and exasperatingly as a warrior for children as Julie?

GOV VOWS TO CUT FUNDS FOR SCHOOLS: California education leaders told to brace for big budget cuts

By Evan Halper and Nancy Vogel | LA Times Staff Writers

October 29, 2008 -- Reporting from Sacramento -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told education leaders Tuesday that he would push for a tax hike and deep cuts to schools to help close the state's yawning budget gap, according to several participants in a meeting with him.

The news, delivered in a conference room outside the governor's office, came as a shock to the educators, who were told to prepare for immediate cuts in the range of $2 billion to $4 billion.

With the announcement of the Governor’s plan to reconvene the lege on November fifth and his intention to cut the education budget, the a State without a budget/a government without a clue 4LAKIDS BLOG ON THE STATE BUDGET MESS is back online after barely a month’s hiatus.

"There is just no way we would be able to cut that much," said Scott Plotkin, executive director of the California School Boards Assn., who was at the meeting. "For virtually every district I know of, this would be catastrophic."

Administration officials confirmed that the meeting took place but refused to discuss details.

"We never talk about the governor's private meetings," said Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear.

Several educators who were present said the governor stated clearly that he would renew his push for a sales tax hike in the special legislative session that is scheduled to begin next week. The governor unsuccessfully championed a temporary increase in sales taxes during the summer budget debate.

After the meeting, California Assn. of School Business Officials Vice President Renee Hendrick and Executive Director Brian Lewis sent an e-mail to members quoting the governor as saying, "I don't like raising taxes, but this is a moment when we have to."

Lewis elaborated in an interview: "He said we're in a very serious time and we're not looking at a swift upturn."

Analysts say early data indicate that the state budget -- passed only a month ago -- has fallen about $10 billion into the red. A deficit that size represents nearly 10% of all general fund spending. The governor and lawmakers say the rapid swelling of the deficit is related to the recent plunge of the stock market and the broader economic troubles gripping the nation.

The governor has announced that he will call sitting lawmakers -- whose terms end Nov. 30 -- back to Sacramento next week to deal with the shortfall.

Political strategists have said the governor stands a greater chance of pushing through new taxes with the lame-duck Legislature, which includes several members who are leaving office this year, than with the group to be elected Nov. 4.

School officials say that making billions of dollars of cuts in the middle of a school year would be devastating.

Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. David L. Brewer said that Schwarzenegger's proposal would cost the district as much as $440 million. He called cuts of that magnitude "impossible."

"They're going to have to go out and borrow money because we'd go bankrupt," Brewer said. "Fiscally, we can't do that without literally having to shut down schools."

By law, teachers cannot be fired unless they are told months in advance.

"You can't just hand out pink slips," Brewer said. Teachers "have protections, they have union agreements."

The looming cuts for L.A. Unified would follow $190 million pared last year.

The district also had to borrow $550 million last summer to get by while the Legislature and governor were deadlocked over a state budget.

On Monday, Brewer sent all L.A. Unified employees a letter warning them that "California's financial picture is getting worse every day" and "without substantial, systematic, responsible districtwide cuts and help from Sacramento, LAUSD will not be able to make payroll by the end of next school year."

Brewer said he had convened a blue-ribbon committee to find ways to generate more revenue for the district, including putting billboards on freeway-facing schools, which could generate $20,000 to $30,000 a month.

School officials statewide issued thousands of pink slips when the budget was being negotiated earlier in the year, bracing for multibillion-dollar cuts proposed by the governor.

But they were told by the governor and lawmakers that the state would provide enough money to avoid them.

"They told us not to do layoffs, because they would solve our problems," said Kevin Gordon, a lobbyist who represents hundreds of school districts. "Then they put together a budget with fake numbers. . . . I don't know how schools would keep their doors open with cuts of this magnitude."

Schwarzenegger told the officials that even if lawmakers approved a sales tax hike, deep cuts to schools may be unavoidable. The temporary one cent-on-the-dollar sales tax hike the governor had earlier proposed, which was blocked by legislative Republicans, would close only a fraction of the shortfall.

School officials say the governor is focused on the sales tax because it is one of the few available sources of new revenue that would create immediate cash. Other potential tax hikes, such as increased income taxes for the wealthy, would not boost state coffers for more than a year, when taxpayers begin to file under the new rates.

GOP legislative leaders predicted that their caucuses would continue to stand firm against a tax hike.

They suggested that school cuts could be averted by moving money out of other parts of the budget.

"The last thing Republicans want to do is take money out of classrooms," said Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines of Clovis.

"There are plenty of fast-growing programs that should be looked at first. . . . Raising taxes is not on the table. Raising taxes on hard-working Californians is the worst thing we could do in this bad economy when many people are losing their jobs, their homes and are struggling to make ends meet."


By Kathleen Kingsbury - Time Magazine

Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008 -- It's a staggering statistic: one in four American teenagers drops out of school before graduation, a rate that rises to one in three among black and Hispanic students. But there's no federal system keeping track of the more than 7,000 American teenagers who drop out of school each day.

That appears to be changing. On Oct. 28, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings issued new rules that will force states to adopt a common system to monitor dropouts. Critics of No Child Left Behind have long accused the federal legislation not only of leading more schools to teach to the test, but of letting — or perhaps even encouraging — struggling students to drop out before they can lower average test scores. But Spellings is trying to address this problem with new regulations that will set a uniform graduation rate so that a high school's annual progress will now be measured both by how students perform on standardized tests and by how many of them graduate within four years.

Schools that do not improve their graduation rates will face consequences, such as having to pay for tutoring or replace principals. "For too long, we've allowed this crisis to be hidden and obscured," Spellings said in her announcement, made nearly seven years after No Child Left Behind was signed into law. "Where graduation rates are low, we must take aggressive action."

When No Child Left Behind was originally debated by legislators in 2001, states were given a break on graduation rates to help ease the bill's passage. In the years since, Democrats have argued that because of a lack of funding, some states have no choice but to set the bar low, since it's the only way they can be considered successful.

The Bush Administration, however, has now been prompted to action by a series of studies that have shown the severity of the country's dropout crisis. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world where children are now less likely to receive a high school diploma than their parents were, according to an Oct. 23 report by the Education Trust, a children's advocacy group based in Washington. At the same time, two-thirds of new jobs in the U.S. require at minimum a college degree. That education gap could lead to devastating outcomes if a lack of skilled workers leads to more industries heading overseas and more Americans facing poverty and crime-ridden streets. "We are letting every other country surpass us in educating children," says Marguerite Kondracke, president and CEO of America's Promise Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to improving education. "It's a risk not only to our economy, but our national security as well."

Once enacted in 2012, the new rules should give officials a much more accurate picture of just how bad the dropout epidemic is. Although high schools are currently required to meet graduation targets each year, states have been setting the bar for improvement, a system that has led to a lot of variation across the country. The Education Trust report found that in half of states, even the tiniest bit of progress was deemed sufficient. In a few states, simply not doing worse than the previous year was good enough. "A 50% graduation rate holding steady should not be viewed as progress by anyone," says Daria Hall, assistant director for K-12 policy development at the Education Trust. "We obviously need more reliable and meaningful statistics."

That's what Spellings and the Department of Education now aim to provide. Up until now, there was little the federal government could do to force schools to set higher standards. In fact, in 2005, all 50 states agreed to enact a uniform graduation rate, but only 16 eventually did. Now officials will require states to spell out how they will implement key elements of the federal law, formal plans that the Department of Education must approve. And officials are hoping more scrutiny will push schools to do better when it comes to dropouts. Not only will data be more consistent, it will also be made public, allowing parents and educators for the first time to make side-by-side comparisons of different schools as well as districts. Results can also be broken down by race and income level. Without such information, "we cannot compare Duluth to Denver," says Bob Balfanz, an education researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

But the new rules will go one step further than that. Not only will they identify schools that need support to improve, but they will help highlight reforms that are actually working. Take, for example, efforts in Georgia, where a graduation coach is assigned to each high school to ensure students stay on track. The program is only a few years old, but the state's graduation rate appears to be rising. The new call for federal data will help other states determine whether a program like Georgia's would be a good use of their resources. Plus, more accurate information may ultimately make the dropout problem "seem more manageable," Kondracke says. "We can't move forward until we can measure where we are now."

Final Regulations for Title I | Summary download files PDF (132K)


from The Public Works Blog - Posted by Charles Bradshaw

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is extending its project labor agreement (PLA) for five more years until 2013. The LAUSD modernization project is considered by many as the largest public works project in nation. The project so far has a budget of $20.3 billion dollars. The LA Business Journal published the original story. [following]

Like most good PLAs, this one includes local hiring provisions. This one is literally paying off for the community. Fifty percent of the local workforce are to be district residents. According to LAUSD "12,400 local workers on LAUSD projects have earned a total of $136.6 million in wages since July 2004."

Other highlights of the construction program include:

* 72 schools completed
* Six new schools to open in September 2008
* More than 16,500 modernization projects completed
* One Billion in state funding garnered for new school construction and modernization by Facilities Legislation, Grants and Funding since 1998
* More than 50 joint use agreements in place, with another 90 in development
* In 2007, LAUSD inducted into the Green California Schools Hall of Fame

As stated in a previous blog entry LAUSD is attempting to bundle many of the projects into a $7 billon school bond that will be on the ballot this November


by Howard Fine - Los Angeles Business Journal Staff

9/24/2008 - The Los Angeles Unified School District, now in the midst of the nation’s largest public works program, extended its project labor agreement on Tuesday, favoring union contractors.

The district’s Board of Education voted to extend the project labor agreement – first negotiated 10 years ago – for another five years, through 2013. Under the agreement, which is one of the largest ever implemented, all contractors must hire at least a portion of their workforce from union-run hiring halls. In return, the building trades unions promise not to strike or otherwise hold up work if disputes with contractors arise.

Also as part of the project labor agreement, 50 percent of the construction workers hired must reside within the district.

The school district has already completed 74 out of the 132 planned new schools in its $20.3 billion construction and modernization program, as well as more than 17,000 smaller-scale upgrades to existing school facilities.

“Between now and 2012, we will be completing more than one school a month. This would not be possible without the partnership with the unions,” district facilities chief Guy Mehula said in a statement.

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


As part of its effort to support and share effective practices and ideas, The Wallace Foundation announced a $1.2 million grant to the Los Angeles County Arts Commission (LACAC) to advance the region's six-year-old coordinated arts education initiative, Arts for All, and a $600,000 planning grant to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to support development of a second 10-year plan for arts education to build on its first successful decade of expanding arts instruction throughout the district.


Local District 3 is the Crenshaw, Dorsey, Hamilton, LACES, Los Angeles, University, Venice and Westchester High School attendance areas including their middle and elementary feeders and Marlton, McBride and Widney Special Education Schools

GOVERNOR SUMMONS LAME DUCK LEGISLATURE BACK FOR SPECIAL BUDGET SESSION Schwarzenegger calls back legislators for emergency budget session

With the announcement of the Governor’s plan to reconvene the lege on November fifth and his intention to cut the education budget, the a State without a budget/a government without a clue 4LAKIDS BLOG ON THE STATE BUDGET MESS is back online after barely a month’s hiatus.

With California's revenue plummeting, the governor says lawmakers will reconvene next week. They will discuss solutions to the foreclosure crisis and an economic stimulus package.


Virginia Woolf 1882 - 1941

Words Fail Me
29 April 1937 BBC
Virginia Woolf gives a eulogy to words 7 min 29 (requires real player)

●●4LAKIDS READERS: An apology: This has nothing to do with public education in Los Angeles; it has everything to do with public education in Los Angeles.

The BBC in its archive has the only known recording of Woolf delivering this essay. There are English Teachers among the readership, and English Majors. There are English Students and to them this gift for All Hallows and Dia de los Muertes.

With apologies to Edward Albee: Be unafraid …be very unafraid. -smf


“But parents weren't a part of the discussion.”

October 27, 2008 -- A month into the new school year, 8-year-old Nathan Geddie and five of his classmates were removed from their third-grade classroom at Calvert Street Elementary School in Woodland Hills.

The students were told they were well-behaved and smart - and would be placed in a class with second-graders.

A letter to parents explained that the combination second- and third-grade class was for gifted students. However, parents later learned the class was created to ensure state funding that provides more than $1,000 per student in classes of 20 or fewer.


The Fair Political Practices Commission warned that many government agencies are “pushing the limits with public outreach programs clearly biased or slanted in their presentation of facts relating to a ballot measure”.

25.OCT.08 -- Some local governmental agencies are walking a fine line when it comes to using taxpayer dollars to send out political mailers, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.



$7-billion Measure Q would fund school construction and modernization

The largest school bond in state history is also the fifth in 11 years for L.A. Unified.

October 27, 2008 -- The case for $7-billion Measure Q, the largest local school bond in state history, goes something like this: Now that the school district has built dozens of new campuses, it needs and deserves more dollars to fix up the old ones.

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Position on Measure Q: Support

United Teachers Los Angeles
Position on Measure Q: Declined to take position

Associated Administrators of Los Angeles
Measure Q: No official position but supportive

California Charter Schools Assn.
Measure Q: Declined to take position

California School Employees Assn.
Measure Q: Declined to take position


DWP to refund $160 million in overcharges to other agencies

The municipal utility agrees to the settlement more than a year after a judge ruled that it had intentionally overcharged L.A. County, the L.A. Unified School District and other local governments.


Alan Greenspan has been discredited in a flood of mea-culpas; a desperate nation looks about for a new Oracle of Wall Street to make sense of the economy.

In a "pop quiz" interview with Suze Orman, the omnipresent blonde and tanned self styled “one-woman financial-advice powerhouse” - the October-November '08 Edutopia gives us this exchange as we grasp at straws for meaning in the ongoing fiscal and credit crisis.

Edutopia: Did you go to public school, or private school?

Orman: A public, inner-city school.

E: What was your favorite subject?

O: Math, absolutely -- math.

E: If you could change one thing about education in America, what would it be?

O: Easy: the cost and quality.

●●smf’s 2¢: We stopped reading here. Cost and Quality are two things. Math is first+foremost about counting things, we learned that from the Count on Sesame Street.

The news that didn’t fit from November 2nd

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

Monday Nov 3, 2008
Valley Region Enadia Way ES Reopening: Construction Update Meeting
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Canoga Park Elementary School
7438 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Canoga Park, CA 91303

Wednesday Nov 5, 2008
Valley Region High School #9: Construction Update Meeting
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Fulton College Preparatory - Auditorium
7477 Kester Ave.
Van Nuys, CA 91405

Thursday Nov 6, 2008
Valley Region Elementary School #6: Construction Update Meeting
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Rosa Parks Learning Center
8855 Noble Ave.
North Hills, CA 91343
*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 Tenth District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He is a Community Concerns Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools.
• 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.