Saturday, December 20, 2008

The once and future supe.

4LAKids: Sunday, 21Dec08 ¡Happy Holidays!
In This Issue:
BUSH IMPACT ON SCHOOLS TO OUTLIVE TERM: NCLB Law Key Element of President’s Domestic Legacy
A CALIFORNIA BUDGET -- YES, AND NO: Democrats do an end run on Republicans; then the governor threatens a veto.
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.
ON TUESDAY THE OTHER SHOE DROPPED as the Board of Ed appointed Senior Deputy Superintendent Ramón Cortines to the not-yet-vacant superintendent's post.

"Marley was dead."

So Dickens opens 'A Christmas Carol' - and follows with a treatise on 'dead as a doornail' as aphorism - advancing 'dead as a coffin nail' as the better simile. I am here prompted to question the old saw of the falling shoes (perhaps the gang territory-marking-tennies in the 'phone wires? …And whose shoes? The mythic king with the twelve-inch-foot perchance?)

But I'm not going there. The other shoe has dropped and that is that.

There was an announcement that Cortines would stay in his lower floor office - avoiding the 24th floor at Beaudry - the power center of the puzzle palace - altogether. But by Friday it was conceded that he would occupy the superintendent's corner suite with its controversial (2001) private rest room and panoramic view of Belmont/Vista Hermosa/Roybal, Dodger Stadium, City Hall, and the "skate board ramp" at the High School for the Arts. Sometimes the cost of symbolic change exceeds the cost benefit analysis.

MEANWHILE THE STATE LEGISLATURE - both the gangs-who-can't-talk-straight in the blue and the red - and the Officer Krupkie/Kindergarten Cop himself misbehaved so egregiously as to give politicians bad names. At least the allegations of malfeasance in the Illinois statehouse are of Godfather-like criminality; from Sacramento the movie reference would have to be the sequel to the sequel of "Dumb and Dumberer". I'm sorry, it is principally (or un-principly) the Republicans holding this up …but couldn't someone from the Dems have wandered down to the Governator's office to see if he might go along with their too-clever-by-half plan?

I am having fun being glib …but there is a very cruel and very unpleasant reality: SACRAMENTO'S FAILURE TO COME UP WITH A BUDGET IS COSTING LAUSD $70,000.00 an hour. 24/7. That's the equivalent of a teacher, counselor or school nurse's annual salary EVERY HOUR. (83% of LAUSD's budget is salaries.) Board president Garcia spoke Friday about having to respond to kindergarten parents whose teacher has been laid off. The equivalent of that is happening in LAUSD 24 times a day. 168 teaching positions lost and pink slips potentially sent out this week while the politicos in Sacramento failed their first Poli-Sci quiz of the semester. And up and down the state, it's the same thing.

And, if you take a step back it isn't about the jobs; it's about the students. It is hard to explain to kids or parents that their teacher has been laid off. But how do you tell a student who went to school K-12 for thirteen years - who showed up and did the work and took the tests that this year their school is closing down early? Before finals. Before the AP test. Before they get their diploma.

ELSEWHERE IN SACRAMENTO the obscure Pooled Money Investment Board (the word 'obscure' got used by the media to such degree that it may now be part of the official title of the OPMIB) pulled the plug on all state funded public works projects. In case you've missed the irony, the incoming Obama Administration is championing public works projects as needed economic stimuli - while the Hoover - I mean - Schwarzenegger Administration in California is canceling them! [see LAUSD Statement, following]

THE INCOMING PRESIDENT-ELECT named a reform-minded urban school superintendent from a major American city to be Secretary of Education. I remind the hopeful who gauge whether glasses are half full or half empty that the last president-elect did the same thing.

THE COURTS RULED that Algebra for eighth graders is a good thing …but that mandating tests before designing and funding instruction isn't. And another court found that LAUSD's Magnet Program - arguably the strongest and most successful and popular-with-parents program in the district continues to be legal.

Good. Because magnet schools outperform charter schools, hands down. At this moment - when improving and growing the magnet program seems most appropriate Mr. Cortines initial reaction and assessment (below) is not exactly encouraging.

THIS IS THE SEASON OF HOPE. Of candles in the darkness. Of long nights growing shorter. Of angels and miracles and gifts large and small. Be of good cheer. And God bless us, every one.

¡Ever onward/Hasta adelante! - smf


"Sacramento is betraying the children of the Los
Angeles Unified School District by freezing state funds that have already been approved for projects ranging from construction of new schools to upgrades of the oldest campuses."



LA Daily News Wire Service

Tuesday, 16 Decemeber 2008 -- LOS ANGELES -- Ramon C. Cortines, a Los Angeles Unified School District senior deputy superintendent, was named Tuesday as the successor for outgoing superintendent David L. Brewer III.

Brewer will be leaving at the end of the month, after the LAUSD board voted last week to pay him about $500,000 to buy out the remaining two years of his contract.

The board's vote to hire Cortines was unanimous. He agreed to a three-year contract and will take over as superintendent Jan. 1.

Brewer's decision to hire Cortines in April to oversee LAUSD's day-to-day operations and instruction quickly drew criticism on grounds that it meant, in effect, paying for two superintendents.

Cortines, 76, served as LAUSD superintendent in 2000. He served as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's top education adviser and previously headed school districts in New York and San Francisco.

The LAUSD is the nation's second-largest school district, with about 700,000 students.

After weeks of debate among district leaders, the board voted 5-2 to buy out Brewer's contract, with Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte and board member Julie Korenstein dissenting.

Brewer, a retired black U.S. Navy vice admiral, previously called the effort to oust him "demoralizing and debilitating" and suggested he was the victim of racism.

Brewer had earlier vowed to stay on the job, but he said last week he wanted the board to buy him out.

Brewer's supporters have noted that test scores have bumped upward during his stay.

Other critics, including state schools superintendent Jack O'Connell, said that while the district was showing academic improvement, it wasn't happening fast enough.

Brewer was chosen as superintendent after an eight-month search to find a replacement for Roy Romer, former Colorado governor, who retired after six years at the helm of the LAUSD.

••smf: Do as I did, not as I say? “The schools chief grew up the city's Hyde Park neighborhood, where the Obamas have lived for several years. He went to the same private school the President-elect's daughters attended until recently.”

By Kathleen Kingsbury | Time Magazine Online

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008 -- A willingness to compromise. In the heated world of education politics, that was the clearest message coming from President-elect Barack Obama when he tapped Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to become the next Secretary of Education.

Duncan, 44, has overseen the nation's third largest school district and its more than 400,000 students for the past seven years. He's considered by most to be a quiet consensus builder. In Chicago, his knack for forging alliances can be seen in his strong relationship with the local teachers union despite his embrace of reforms the union is leery of, including school choice, pay-for-performance and a willingness to close down failing schools. "Duncan mirrors the President-elect's style of governing — get all sides around table, listen carefully, and experiment with meaningful reforms," says Bruce Fuller, a professor of education at UC-Berkeley. "While tough-headed, he's rarely antagonistic, nor a kick-butt, take-no-names kind of reformer."

One other big plus: Duncan will be sure to have the President-elect's ear. They are personal friends and often play basketball together, including most recently on Election Day. Like Obama, Duncan is Harvard-educated, and his Chicago roots run deep. The schools chief grew up the city's Hyde Park neighborhood, where the Obamas have lived for several years. He went to the same private school the President-elect's daughters attended until recently. After Harvard, where he was co-captain of the basketball team, Duncan spent a year playing the sport in Australia before returning to his hometown in 1992. Within short order, he was garnering national attention for starting an innovative — and successful — public school, Ariel Community Academy, and was tapped by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to run the city's schools in 2001.

On the campaign trail, Obama frequently applauded what Duncan has accomplished in Chicago, long considered to be one of the country's most challenging school districts. Under Duncan's watch, the city's schools for the last seven years have seen increases in some state test scores, though they continue to lag behind the Illinois average. But the graduation rate has risen by 6%, and 53 new schools have opened. Duncan has also spearheaded merit pay incentives for both teachers and students as well as suggested opening the country's first gay-friendly high school. In each of these endeavors, he has tried to get the backing of Chicago's often reticent teachers union. This effort has earned him praise from both of the nation's largest teachers unions.

If confirmed by the Senate, Duncan will have to hit the ground running. One of Congress's first acts of business in 2009 will likely be negotiating the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, the Bush Administration's landmark education legislation, which has managed to rankle both Republicans (for interfering with state initiatives) and Democrats (for placing so much emphasis on standardized testing). Duncan supports the law's overall mission of accountability and two years ago called on Congress to double the funding for it. "In an education landscape filled with strong and often sharply contrasting ideas, I believe that he will provide the leadership needed to bring diverse stakeholders together and break through the political gridlock," says California Representative George Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

In recent years, the U.S. education sector has roughly divided into two camps: unions that support more traditional views on teacher tenure and other issues, versus hard-line reformers such as district chiefs Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C., and Joel Klein in New York City, who stress accountability. This past summer, both sides circulated competing education manifestos laying out their views — and Duncan was the only big-city superintendent to sign each.

In straddling these camps, Duncan echoes Obama's own frustration with what the President-elect has called "tired educational debates." In his announcement of Duncan's nomination, Obama made clear he wants to move past such standoffs. "It's been Democrat versus Republican, vouchers versus the status quo, more money versus more reform," he said. "There's partisanship and there's bickering, but no understanding that both sides have good ideas and good intentions."

In a testament to Duncan's entrepreneurial spirit, Obama chose to introduce his new schools chief at the Dodge Renaissance Academy on Chicago's West Side. Duncan shuttered the failing school in 2002 and reopened it in 2005 as a laboratory for teachers seeking advanced degrees in education. The school has since been hailed as a model for teacher residency programs. Dodge is "helping us rethink the way we train teachers in this country, and the way we run schools," says Ted Mitchell, the president of the California Board of Education. "We're delighted that the President-elect has recognized that promise. It fits with his vision of positive change."

How much change are schools in for? Duncan, who is particularly attuned to the achievement gap between high- and low-income students, has hinted that he does not approve of the way Illinois schools receive the bulk of their funding from local tax revenue. "It's morally inexcusable that children who happen to be born in wealthier communities, white ones, get a better education than those who live in poor communities," Duncan told TIME last August. "Clearly, as a state, we've lacked the political courage to fundamentally challenge the status quo, not just tweak it at its edges." He added, "It doesn't need a tweak. It needs a fundamental change."

With reporting by Steven Gray/Chicago

BUSH IMPACT ON SCHOOLS TO OUTLIVE TERM: NCLB Law Key Element of President’s Domestic Legacy
By David J. Hoff | Education Week | Vol. 28, Issue 15, Pages 1,18-19

10 Dec 2008 - George W. Bush entered the White House determined to change federal education policy.

“Bipartisan education reform will be the cornerstone of my administration,” he wrote in the foreword to a 29-page document outlining his K-12 agenda, released five days after his 2001 inauguration.

By the end of that year, President Bush had forged a bipartisan consensus around the No Child Left Behind Act, which he signed into law on Jan. 8, 2002. For the first time, states receiving federal K-12 education funding would be required to hold districts and schools accountable for the achievement of students, regardless of their income levels, special education status, or ethnic, racial, or native-language backgrounds.

As Mr. Bush prepares to leave office Jan. 20, he is calling the NCLB law one of his most important domestic accomplishments.

“It focused the country’s attention on the fact that we had an achievement gap that—you know, white kids were reading better in the 4th grade than Latinos or African-American kids. And that’s unacceptable for America,” the president said in a Nov. 28 interview conducted by his sister Doro Bush Koch for an oral-history project.

“And the No Child Left Behind Act started holding people to account, and the achievement gap is narrowing,” Mr. Bush said, according to a transcript released by the White House.

While many educators disagree with Mr. Bush about the success of the law, most observers say that his administration has had a greater impact on local schools than any since President Lyndon B. Johnson won passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the original version of what is now the NCLB law.

President Bush “was the first one to set specific targets for the achievement of poor and minority kids in the basic subjects,” said Charles Barone, who helped draft the law as an aide to House Democrats. “People pay more attention to the education that poor and minority children are getting.”

Focus Too Narrow?

Yet the nearly 7-year-old law is unpopular, particularly among educators, who say that its accountability rules focus too narrowly on test scores, and that it doesn’t provide schools with enough money and other support needed to improve student achievement.

“Right now, the only accountability is for standardized-test scores,” said George Wood, the principal of Federal Hocking High School in Stewart, Ohio, and the executive director of the Forum for Education and Democracy. That coalition of researchers and educators is trying to eliminate use of standardized tests in accountability decisions.

The NCLB law’s accountability system is so focused on improving test scores in reading and mathematics, Mr. Wood said, that schools have responded by narrowing what they teach to what’s measured on those tests, which often are low-level skills in those subjects.

Despite the flaws in such tests, the test-score data have alerted the public that not all schools are successfully educating students, said Michael J. Petrilli, the vice president of national programs and policy for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington think tank dedicated to education policy.

“What No Child Left Behind has done is, it has created a sense of urgency at the local level,” said Mr. Petrilli, who served as a political appointee in the U.S. Department of Education from 2001 to 2005.

Because the law’s accountability system has identified struggling schools, it has encouraged local officials to add charter schools, attempt new ways of recruiting and rewarding teachers, and other efforts that they believe will improve achievement, Mr. Petrilli said.

But the law has overreached, he added, because it assumed that the federal government could be instrumental in turning around low-performing schools.
Domestic Priority

The most pressing issues of President Bush’s tenure have been the post-Sept. 11, 2001, fight against terrorism, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the financial-sector crisis and current economic recession. But one of his first priorities in 2001 was to improve schools.

Five days after taking office, he invited four leaders of the congressional education committees to the White House to discuss the topic and release an outline of his plan to reauthorize the ESEA and rename it the No Child Left Behind Act.

“It was remarkable that [early on] he was putting his attention on education,” said Christopher T. Cross, a educational consultant based in Danville, Calif., who was an assistant U.S. secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush. “That gave him leverage from that day on.”

The younger President Bush’s desire to address schools was no surprise. Throughout the 2000 campaign, he had emphasized his education plan, which was modeled after the testing-and-accountability measures crafted on his watch as governor of Texas in 1995.

In his proposal, Mr. Bush embraced the notion that the federal government should require states to set academic standards, create assessments to measure students’ knowledge and abilities, and hold schools accountable for improving student achievement based on those test scores.

Building on the previous version of the ESEA, passed in 1994 and signed by President Bill Clinton, the new Bush administration proposed to expand the amount of testing—in reading and mathematics—from three times in a student’s career to every year in grades 3-8 and once during high school.

Going further than the 1994 law, the administration wanted to require schools to report test scores broken down by students’ income levels, race, ethnicity, and factors such as their disability status and whether they were English-language learners.

The administration also proposed requiring states and districts to offer public school choice or free tutoring to students in schools that did not meet achievement goals.

President Bush and his appointees have often referred to what he calls the “soft bigotry of low expectations” in advocating the need for disaggregated data that show the academic shortcomings of disadvantaged students.

“Before ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’ became part of the political landscape, most citizens admitted [the achievement gap] was a problem, shrugged their shoulders, and walked away,” said Eugene W. Hickok, who served as deputy secretary of education during President Bush’s first term.

While all of the president’s proposals built on pieces of the 1994 version of the ESEA, congressional Republicans never embraced the standards-and-accountability provisions in the Clinton-era legislation.

“Nobody would have thought” that a conservative Republican would lead the expansion of federal influence over K-12 schools, Mr. Cross said.

But Mr. Bush’s experience as Texas governor had convinced him that the standards-and-accountability model should be replicated throughout the country, and that schools should be held accountable for improving the achievement of children from all backgrounds.

“Democrats were willing to go along [with the Bush proposals], and it was Bush’s job to bring along the Republicans,” said Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group that has tracked the law’s implementation, and a former longtime aide to House Democrats.

Democratic Partners

As President Bush said in the January 2001 blueprint for the NCLB law, he wanted his education bill to be a bipartisan effort.

Starting with the event on his fifth day in office, he met several times with the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate and House education committees.

Shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, the president invited congressional education leaders to the White House to reinvigorate negotiations on the NCLB bill.

The Democrats’ involvement added key components to the law, particularly around accountability.

“There was a feeling in the room—and it was bipartisan, no doubt about it—that we needed to be tougher,” said Sandy Kress, an Austin, Texas-based lawyer and lobbyist who worked as an unpaid White House adviser helping to get the NCLB law through Congress.

Rep. George Miller of California, the senior House Democrat on education issues in 2001 and now the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, was “as hawkish about this as anyone at the table,” Mr. Kress said. “Any sign of softness and he was on you.”

The final version of the NCLB law required schools to meet achievement targets in every designated subgroup of students. Under the law, a school fails to make adequate yearly progress—a central measure of performance—if any subgroup fails to reach the achievement goals set by its state.

Under President Bush’s original plan, test data for each subgroup would have been reported to the public, but only the results for low-income students would have been used for accountability purposes.

The legislation also added the goal that all students would be proficient in reading and math by the end of the 2013-14 school year—an element that wasn’t in the White House’s original plan.

The alliance with Democrats became strained, however, over the president’s proposals for funding the law. The dollar figures appropriated for the NCLB law’s Title I program for disadvantaged students grew quickly in the two fiscal years after President Bush signed the legislation.

On the law’s second anniversary, in January 2004, Rep. Miller, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, and eight other Democratic senators sent a letter to then-Secretary of Education Rod Paige saying the law had been underfunded by $7.5 billion in fiscal 2003.

“Underfunding by such a drastic amount undermines not only successful implementation, but the very spirit of the law,” the letter said.

Making It Work

It took the first year of President Bush’s administration to get the NCLB law through Congress. Implementing the law over the next seven years was more difficult.

From Mr. Bush’s signing of the measure in 2002 through the 2004 election, the administration strictly enforced the law’s rules, denying states’ requests to reduce the number of grades in which they had to assess students and turning down requests to ease the potential accountability sanctions.

The idea was to send a message to states that they wouldn’t be able to avoid the law’s goal that the achievement of all students would increase on a pace necessary so that all would be proficient by the end of the 2013-14 school year, Mr. Hickok said.

Part of the reason for the inflexibility, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said, was that states didn’t have the data or the technical expertise to pursue accountability programs that differed from the law’s method of comparing one year’s cohort of students against the previous year’s.

“We couldn’t do growth models and graduate-level accountability,” said Ms. Spellings, who was President Bush’s domestic-policy adviser during his first term and played an oversight role in the law’s early implementation.

Shortly after Ms. Spellings became education secretary in 2005, she launched a series of efforts intended to reduce states’ burdens under the law.

Those efforts included creating a pilot project to let some states make accountability decisions based on the year-to-year growth of student achievement—so-called “growth models”—and to create alternative assessments for a wider population of students with disabilities.

But Ms. Spellings refused to approve proposals that would have delayed the target for achieving 100 percent proficiency, and she stood fast on requirements for disaggregating achievement data.

With those requirements in place, educators continue to feel pressure to reach goals that most consider unattainable. That pressure has led to the widespread unpopularity of the law itself, even though polls suggest the public supports the premise that schools be held accountable.

“There could’ve been more done to make it clear to educators that the law was not out to get them,” said Mr. Petrilli of the Fordham Institute.

What’s Next?

The Bush legacy on education won’t be complete until Congress decides on the NCLB law’s future.

The backlash against the law may lead to major changes when Congress finally revisits it. Lawmakers were scheduled to reauthorize the law in 2007 but were unable to do so before the presidential-election campaign revved up.

Rep. Miller, the California congressman who is one of the law’s architects, said last year that its accountability and other rules are too rigid and don’t always fairly assess schools.

President-elect Barack Obama has endorsed the law’s goals and its use of testing. But he also has said he wants to improve the quality of testing and change the law’s focus to reward good schools rather than target low-performing ones.

The law could be in for major changes. The Democratic majorities in the incoming 111th Congress may back away from much of the NCLB law’s testing and accountability rules, mostly because they’re associated with an unpopular president, said Maris A. Vinovskis, a professor of history at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the author of a new book on the history of national education policy since the 1983 report A Nation at Risk.

“The story isn’t going to be written until the new Congress meets,” Mr. Vinovskis said.

Although the law certainly will change, members of Congress are unlikely to abandon the federal government’s role in school accountability, Mr. Vinovskis and others said.

“The rhetorical emphasis on accountability will remain,” said Mr. Hickok, who is now a senior policy director for Dutko Worldwide, a Washington-based lobbying firm. “They would have a difficult time walking away from accountability.”


President George W. Bush’s administration has been notable not only for one of the most significant shifts in federal oversight of education, under the No Child Left Behind Act, but also for new laws, programs, and developments in other areas affecting schools.


President Bush made the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act a top priority upon entering office. The resulting NCLB law, which he signed Jan. 8, 2002, expanded student testing and introduced new accountability rules for schools that receive federal aid. It requires schools to assess students in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 and once in high school. If schools fail to keep their students on pace toward proficiency in those subjects, they are identified as needing improvement and face a series of interventions, such as offering public school choice and free tutoring, and eventually being restructured. The law also added a requirement that all teachers be highly qualified according to federal and state rules.


The NCLB law also created the Reading First program, which provided some $1 billion a year to pay for curricular materials and professional development focused on the primary grades. Although popular among educators, the Department of Education’s inspector general issued a series of reports questioning whether department officials overstepped their authority in pushing states to use specific curricula and assessments under the program. The department’s research office also released a report saying that the funding had been successful in improving students’ decoding and other basic skills, but not their reading comprehension.


As part of his original plan for the NCLB law, President Bush had sought to allow students in low-performing public schools to use federal aid to attend private schools, as well as to transfer to higher-performing public schools. But facing staunch Democratic opposition, he agreed to drop the voucher element. The public-school-choice provision was enacted, but is widely viewed as ineffective, with very few parents transferring their children to other public schools.

In 2002, the Bush administration argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the constitutionality of including religious schools in publicly funded voucher programs. The court agreed, ruling that the inclusion of religious schools in such programs does not violate the First Amendment’s prohibition against a government establishment of religion. In 2004, the president signed into law the nation’s first federally funded voucher program, which targets students from low-income families in the District of Columbia. It was narrowly enacted in 2004 when Republicans held majorities in Congress, with most Democrats strongly opposed. It provides vouchers worth up to $7,500 per year, and they can be used at religious schools.


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was reauthorized during President Bush’s first term, with language that ties the special education law to NCLB on such issues as highly qualified teachers for students with disabilities, and the importance of including students with disabilities in assessments. The administration introduced some testing flexibility for states by allowing different state assessments to be used for students with significant cognitive impairments, and students who could meet modified grade-level standards.


The 2002 passage of the Education Sciences Reform Act gave the Bush administration a rare opportunity to abolish the Department of Education’s existing research operation and create a new research agency out of the ashes. The newly christened Institute of Education Sciences, under Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, spearheaded the department’s campaign to transform education into an evidence-based practice, much like medicine.

Under Mr. Whitehurst’s six-year tenure, the agency increased the number of randomized experiments the department finances, revamped the agency’s peer-review process, retooled the federal education research laboratory system, and created new grant programs to nurture research talent for the field. The office’s best-known accomplishment, though, may be the What Works Clearinghouse, a sometimes-controversial project set up to vet the evidence base that undergirds many of the programs, policies, and practices used in the nation’s schools.


First-term Secretary of Education Rod Paige in 2002 established a commission to study Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that bars sex discrimination in federally funded schools and colleges. Some civil rights and women’s advocacy groups feared the effort was a bid to soften enforcement of the law. After receiving a report full of mostly minor recommendations about athletic participation at the college level, the Education Department largely ignored them, issuing a document in 2003 clarifying previous Title IX guidance.

Meanwhile, citing research that educating boys and girls separately was proving effective in some circumstances, the department in 2006 issued regulations making it easier for public schools to experiment with single-sex education.


The Bush administration weighed in against the use of race in education in a series of landmark Supreme Court cases. In appeals involving race-conscious admissions policies in higher education, the administration struck a cautious tone, and the Education Department issued reports emphasizing ways in which schools and colleges could achieve racial diversity without relying on racial preferences. In those cases, from the University of Michigan, the justices affirmed the constitutionality of affirmative action but struck down some practices.

The administration was more assertive when the justices took up race-conscious student-assignment policies from the Seattle and Jefferson County, Ky., school districts in 2006. It urged the Supreme Court to strike down the plans, which the court did in a 2007 decision that sharply limited the ways K-12 schools could rely on race.

Higher Education
Secretary Margaret Spellings helped spur a dialogue over student financial assistance and college accountability by convening a task force to study higher education. The panel’s 2006 report called for a major new investment in federal student aid. And, more controversially, it encouraged colleges and universities to use value-added assessments to measure students’ skills at the beginning and end of their college careers. Colleges and universities should make the results of those tests public, the panel concluded.

—David J. Hoff, Alyson Klein, Erik W. Robelen, Christina A. Samuels, Debra Viadero, and Mark Walsh

A CALIFORNIA BUDGET -- YES, AND NO: Democrats do an end run on Republicans; then the governor threatens a veto.
Editorial from the Los Angeles Times

December 19, 2008 - The Legislature's Republicans had their nonstarter budget proposal; Thursday it was the Democrats' turn. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised to veto their budget not because it was just too clever and quasi-legal in circumventing the GOP and the state's two-thirds vote requirement to pass a budget, but because it didn't have, in his words, "exactly what we proposed" in an economic recovery package. Who's being obstructionist now, governor?

The Democratic road map to a majority-vote budget for California was, ahem, simple and (cough, cough) straightforward: Get rid of taxes on gasoline, raise sales and income taxes and add an oil extraction tax, but make sure all of those revenues combined don't exceed the amount lost from eliminating the fuel taxes. There's a legal opinion somewhere that says the Legislature can make revenue-neutral moves without the two-thirds threshold that otherwise would be needed to approve a budget.

Now replace the lost fuel taxes, this time calling them fees, which also can be adopted by a majority instead of a two-thirds vote. In fact, raise those fees to 13 cents a gallon more than the current level of gasoline taxes and enhance transportation programs.

Next, undo part of the "triple flip" -- don't ask -- by revoking the state's hold on a quarter-cent sales tax that Sacramento grabbed to pay off economic recovery bonds left over from the last fiscal meltdown, and in so doing allow counties to raise sales taxes by the same amount. Withhold income taxes from contractor payments. And slash deeply from schools, seniors and the disabled.

At least it was a budget, which is something the Legislature otherwise hasn't been able to come up with despite a fiscal emergency. It would have put some cash in state coffers, which in turn would have put people back to work on economy-stimulating projects, which California needs badly right now, even if it's not the full package Schwarzenegger wanted.

Whatever budget the Legislature finally passes will necessarily be some version of ugly, given the state's economic circumstances and the unacceptable delay caused by the two-thirds vote requirement, the Republicans' intransigence on taxes, and now Schwarzenegger's hard line on his own wish list. Democrats are hardly blameless, given their refusal to deal on workplace and contracting rules, but they at least came forward with a short-term emergency plan.

If the three-way failure that the governor and both parties delivered this week is a sort of Grand Guignol precursor to a pre-Christmas budget package, well, Californians can watch in horror and relief. So far, it's just horror.

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

•• JUDGE BLOCKS MANDATORY ALGEBRA TESTING FOR CALIFORNIA EIGHTH-GRADERS: Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang ruled that the state Board of Education may have overstepped its authority in adopting the plan.

•• PROP. 209 DOESN'T AFFECT MAGNET SCHOOLS, JUDICIAL PANEL RULES: Race-based admissions are not prohibited, judges say. An appeal seems unlikely.

By structuring them as fees, they would skirt GOP opponents and raise $9.3 billion. A court fight looms.

Former San Francisco Superintendent Ramon “Ray” Cortines was just named to head the huge Los Angeles school system, after LAUSD’s non-amicable separation with David Brewer.

• AFRICAN-AMERICAN LEADERS SEE SHADES OF RACISM IN BREWER’S OUSTER: Superintendent’s imminent departure raises new concerns about the future of his efforts to buoy Black students.
Two days after the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted 5-2 to buy out the remaining two years on Supt. David Brewer III’s contract, Black leaders gathered on the steps of Dorsey High School to address the racial implications of Brewer’s ouster and what they view as a crisis in the quality of education offered to the city’s African-American students.

“This case offers examples of the worst sorts of customer and consulting behavior.”
Implementation consulting firm, Deloitte, will pay the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) $8.25m and forgo $10m in unpaid invoices to settle a long-standing dispute over payroll problems arising during an SAP implementation. The agreement comes almost two years after severe payroll issues caused upheaval among teachers in the district.

A $16.8-million check from First 5 California would allow the children's health insurance program to keep enrollment open through June. GOP leaders suggest $15.6 billion in cuts to schools, healthcare

News conference transcript
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: You know, over the past few weeks Vice President-elect Biden and I have announced key members of our economic team, and they are working as we speak to craft a recovery program that will save and create millions of new jobs and grow our struggling economy.

But we know that in the long run the path to jobs and growth begins right here, in America's schools, in America's classrooms.

So today we're pleased to announce the leader of our education team, whose work will be critical to these efforts, our nominee for secretary of education, and my friend, Arne Duncan………..

Republican state lawmakers unveiled their answer Monday to the state's budget crisis - a $22 billion plan that would avoid raising taxes, cut deeply into education spending and dip into voter-approved funds intended to pay for mental health services and children's health care.

L.A.'s school district should take to heart one thought: It's about the kids.
Op -Ed Sandra Tsing Loh in the LA Times
In these last few minutes before the inevitable happens and Ramon C. Cortines is named David L. Brewer's successor as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, here is a modest proposal: How about a PTA mother for the job?

A former Los Angeles Unified School District teacher and charter school operator has been named to lead the California Charter Schools Association.
Jed Wallace will join the charter association as its new chief executive officer.

from the California charter schools newsletter & Education Week (12/10/2008)
• • A new report THE FORGOTTEN CHOICE: Rethinking Magnet Schools in a Changing Landscape about magnet schools from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA compares characteristics of magnet school students with those of public charter school students and laments that attention has been siphoned away from magnet schools" as charters have become “a central focus of school choice proponents.”

As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to announce his choice for education secretary, there is mystery not only about the person he will choose, but also about the approach to overhauling the nation’s schools that his selection will reflect.

• HOW RACE PLAYS INTO BREWER’S QUICK DEPARTURE “If America is a melting pot then somebody forgot to tell the inhabitants of Los Angeles.” — Film Critic ALISTAIR Harkness in his REVIEW of “Crash”

…and don’t forget the Budget News at

• A message from Assemblymember Tom Torlakson (D-Ant...
• IS CALIFORNIA UNGOVERNABLE? As the state faces fis...

The news that didn't fit from 21•Dec•08

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
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Phone: 213-241-5183
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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.
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Scott Folsom is a 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 has served a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools.
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