Sunday, November 14, 2010

The importance of education

Onward! smf SchoolBoard!
4LAKids: Sunday 14•Nov•2010
In This Issue:
LAUSD OPENS CENTERS TO HANDLE TRUANTS: Students are expected to be taken there by police rather than being given citations.
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?

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PUBLIC SCHOOLS: an investment we can't afford to cut! - The Education Coalition Website
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•• The following speech about the Importance of Education was written and delivered by Anthony Perez at the groundbreaking of South Region Elementary School #10 on Nov. 9th, 2010. Anthony is a fifth-grader in Ms. Elsa Jimenez' class at Menlo Avenue Elementary School.


My name is Anthony and the purpose of our visit is to inform you of the importance of education and it begins here at South Region Elementary School. As a pre –teen I know how important and memorable the first years of school are too everyone. I think every one here agrees with me. Our Elementary teachers leave a very long lasting impression.As a student the best way in helping your teacher is to be loyal and respectful not just too your teacher but to your peers as well.

Parents can always volunteer and stay informed or in touch with the teacher to see how they can help their child succeed academically or how to improve on there social skills if that’s the case. Parents need to emphasize and constantly remind there children to take there education seriously. As a community it is our responsibility to take control in our education system. It is very important that the parent knows the person teaching there child. Now a day’s good parents attend parent conferences to find out how their child is progressing academically. Personally I think that every parent should put there children in enrichment programs so there child could learn more and succeed. Some children think school is boring because in some cases they don’t understand the lesson or they are behind so much that it almost seems impossible to catch up. That’s why it is very important for the teacher and parents to have a good partnership to work together to benefit the student.

.Another reason why education is important is so children could succeed and have a better future .Education opens the door to better opportunities. Knowledge is power, and without knowledge you would not succeed in life and by succeeding meaning having a good quality life style. Education would provide all of these great opportunities such as having a decent home in a decent neighborhood where you do not fear the safety of your children.

Where gangs, violence and drug dealing is not an issue. My dream is to one day to own my two story house, have a reliable vehicle and have plenty of money to travel the world with my family. There is more too life than what we are surrounded by. Education will allow you to become independent. The more you know the better you do in life. When you are educated you can advise others, you can be a role model or a mentor and show others the path of success

Thank you for taking time of and listening -- it was an honor being here.


●● One can sit though a month of PTA meetings and delve though a year of 4LAKids and suffer a lifetime of school board meetings and not have the mission and vision and goals of public education stated as clearly and succinctly as Anthony has done above. Anthony is a second generation LAUSD student, his father was a student of Ms. LaMotte at Washington Prep. I believe it is safe to assume that his parents' education has paid off and the added value shows up in young Anthony ...and ultimately pays off for us all. That is the only way we can ascertain success -- and I defy any million-dollar data-driven/value-added/'systems thinking' study to prove otherwise.

Excellence and Success are neither impossible dreams nor improbable goals; they are waypoints on the road to the future. Our children will reach our future, and their children's children will reach theirs.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

Another way to look at the charter school discussion: Apples+Oranges: COMPARING ACTUAL CONSTRUCTION COSTS BETWEEN CHARTER SCHOOLS TRADITIONAL SCHOOLS

by smf for 4LAKids

IN LAUSD there were a number of ribbon cuttings of new schools across the district last week - think there were three - with the groundbreaking mentioned above thrown in for good measure.. And there will be three grand opening and a groundbreakings next week (see

Every single new school is important in the community it serves - and the most important thing in the world for the children attending them. Monday an elementary school opened in the Valley named for California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk - a giant for social justice. Saturday saw the grand opening for the Robert F. Kennedy Community of Schools - not a memorial but a celebration of RFK's ccommitment to public education - with the grand new library and media center named for social justice champion and Kennedy confidant Paul Shrade.

At the library dedication Superintendent Cortines spoke about how when he visits schools he always visits the library because it is the best place to take the educational pulse of the school. The most eloquent remarks came from Summer Kennedy, RFK's granddaughter who never got to meet her grandfather because of the events took place only a few feet from where she stood.and spoke:

The irony screams out to us, to be sampled and translated like Summer's metaphor - or ignored at children's peril. The grand school library - with its book collection and comfortable couches and high tech media center, set in the reimagained Embassy Ballroom - its murals of ttranscendent scenes from RFK's life: the 'Ripple of Hope"speech in Soweto, breaking the fast in Delano with Cesar Chavez -- juxtaposed against he fact that LAUSD is downsizing its elementary library system on December 1st.

A PROPERLY ANGRY SCHOOL LIBRARIAN WRITES 4LAKIDS: "You mention the plant managers getting ready to leave on Dec. 1st. But you say absolutely nothing about those connected to education more directly, the librarians and library aides. We also leave on Dec. 1st. Our contribution to the fundamental and basic foundations of education have once again gone unnoticed, unappreciated, and undiscovered.

"L.A.U.S.D. has graciously taken away all the full time librarians of 6-hrs (including health benefits) and given back 3-hr positions (sans benefits) to all schools ....but not before they told principals to budget in for a full time 6-hr position.

"How does this make any sense??? They were supposed to be saving money, the cutting back and the removal of full time positions was supposed to save the district MONEY!! But alas, it has given "gift" 3hr positions to those who have a full time librarian in place for their schools already.

"If a school doesn't accept the 3-hr person, the school is entitled to use THAT MONEY for something else. Why the waste????? What is going on???

"Why are they not using the funds to just break down and install full time librarians? No one is even asking for a raise here. We haven't received raises since 2000.

"We are happy to come to work every day and do what we love, teach kids to read and cherish books and get absorbed til the cows come home. But the district has pulled out all the corks and our ship is sinking. They have assigned some librarians to schools that are 2 hours away, to go serve a three hour assignment??? Fight that traffic! A school librarian has cancer and they are taking away her health insurance - my heart bleeds for her!!! Another librarian lives across the street from her school where her own children attend and she must now go 2 hours far away from her kids!!!"


I fought hard in my job on the Bond Oversight Committee to have school libraries identified as "core facilities" - absolutely required at all schools. I have said it before and I repeat it here: There is no more important classroom in the school than the library - and a library un-or-understaffed is a book room.

MARSHALL MCLUHAN SAID THERE'D BE DAYS LIKE THIS: This woouldn't be 4Kids if I didn't draw the readers attention to this week's wackiness in NYC where Schools Chancellor Klein is stepping down to join Fox News and a Hearst executive has been named by the Bloomberg News owner to be the new chancellor. Can I mention more media conglomerates with less education credentials or credibility in a single sentence? Except to add that incoming Chancellor Black (at least it's not Conrad Black!) was once the publisher of USA Today? And if we are going to use big business as the model for how public ed should be run - can you think of an industry less promising than newspaper-and-magazine publishing? ...and 'buggy whip manufacture' doesn't count!

In higher ed it's "publish or perish". Public K-12 may be looking at both.

by Jason Song – LA Times/LA Now |

November 9, 2010 | 6:53 pm - The Los Angeles Board of Education unanimously approved a contract Tuesday with a company that will analyze teachers' effectiveness in raising students' standardized test scores.

The agreement with the University of Wisconsin Value Added Research Center, which does similar work for New York City public schools, could cost about $1.5 million. The first phase of the three-year project should be about $125,000, and school district officials have discussed finding outside funding sources to pay for most of the costs.

Value-added analysis estimates a teacher's effectiveness by measuring a student's year-to-year progress on standardized tests. It has increasingly been adopted by school districts throughout the country and championed by policy makers who say it brings a measure of objectivity to largely subjective teacher evaluations.

Critics say it is an unfair and inaccurate way to evaluate teachers on its own and insist it should be used as only one measure on a performance review.

Los Angeles school board members voted in September to encourage the teachers and administrators unions to accept value-added analysis in evaluations. But the board stressed that it should only be part of an overall evaluation.

The district is currently negotiating with teachers union officials to include value-added scores in formal evaluations, a move the union has strongly resisted.

The University of Wisconsin group would calculate value-added scores for individual teachers. School district officials have said they plan to issue confidential scores to teachers this year.

Another group is calculating schools' value-added marks, which should be released shortly.

The Times published a series of stories earlier this year based on the paper's own value-added analysis, which was based on seven years' worth of student test scores obtained from the school district under the California Public Records Act.

LAUSD OPENS CENTERS TO HANDLE TRUANTS: Students are expected to be taken there by police rather than being given citations.
By Connie Llanos and Melissa Pamer, Staff Writers – LA Daily News |

12 Nov 2010 -- You could call it detention hall for ditchers or a time-out for truants.

Just don't call it fun.

In an effort to curb the number of students playing hooky, Los Angeles Unified recently opened Attendance Improvement Centers at eight of its campuses, including one at Sepulveda Middle School in North Hills.

Instead of giving citations to students they find roaming the streets during school hours, LAPD and LAUSD police will be taking the truants to the new centers. There, students will be given grade-appropriate assignments to work on until their parents pick them up.

"The idea is for this to serve as a deterrent and as intervention," said Dionne Ash, a pupil services coordinator for Los Angeles Unified.

"It's not made to be a happy place ... We want kids to come here and not be happy. That way they won't do it again."

The attendance centers were established in vacant classrooms late last month at schools throughout the district at an annual cost of $206,000 each to operate.

District officials expect the program to pay for itself in attendance-based state funding, which averages $32 daily per student.

According to the California Department of Education, more than 5 percent of LAUSD's 688,100 students were truant for three or more days during the 2008-09 school year. That means the district lost out about $3 million that year because of truancy.

Officials note the attendance centers will likely boost funding, but say that improving student achievement is their primary goal.

"The Attendance Improvement Centers are places where we intend to get students back on track by providing options to truancy and drop out," said Judy Elliott, the district's chief academic officer.

"The AIC is but one way to provide a multi-pronged approach to keeping students in schools and off the streets," she said. "Our goal is 100 percent graduation. To that end, we must create the options our students need."

The centers are modeled on a successful program developed about 15 years ago at Long Beach Unified, where Elliott was an administrator.

Some of the details of the program are still being worked out. For instance, the Los Angeles Police Department and county Sheriff's Department, whose officers are on the lookout for truants, have not yet signed documents agreeing to transport errant students to the centers.

"We are talking to police officers on the ground, though, and everyone seems to be on board," Ash said.

The fledging program also has been criticized by some community members, who said it was launched without a thorough review by parents and students.

"Fundamentally, there has been a lack of transparency in the way this process has unfolded," said Manuel Criollo, lead organizer for the nonprofit Community Rights Campaign, which wants to do away with citations and fines for student truants.

Criollo questioned what kinds of assignments truants will be given while waiting for their parents and whether other kinds of services would be more appropriate.

"If students are getting worksheets, then there is no engagement and no real teaching," Criollo said. "If there is no individualized attention, then you never get to the core of why this young person is late or ditching school."

Ash, however, urged parents and community members to learn more about the program before criticizing it.

"This was designed to be an alternative for students," Ash said. "This is a place where we can interact with them and their parents to understand what is causing the truancy and find a way to get them back in school."

●● smf's 2¢: OK: So the police pick up the truant kids and transport them to the centers (which they have not agreed to do nor have the legal authority to do) and the kids do grade-appropriate assignments until their parents pick them up.

And then their parents:

1. Take them home (….which doesn’t qualify for ADA reimbursement).
2. Take them to school.

What if the police just took the truants to directly to the school? It seems to me that’s how it was done back in the “olden days”.

What do the truant centers do with charter school and private school students?

If the parent does not or cannot pick up their child – or cannot be even be reached - does the student rot in in the truant center like Tom Hanks in “The Terminal”?

….And then there’s this: Besides for LAPD and County Sheriffs LAUSD exists in 24 other jurisdictions. And are malls and the streets of Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank, Inglewood, Torrance, the Beach Cities and Beverly Hills ‘sanctuary’?

Op-Ed By Doug Lasken in the Daily Breeze |

November 12, 2010 - Imagine you are a time traveler who leaves Earth sometime in the early post-World War II years and comes back to watch the recent midterm election. What might surprise you most about current politics?

For me, it would be that public school systems across the country are nearing bankruptcy, but the candidates did not talk about it.

And why should they? It's hard to find parents who think there's an urgent reason to save public education, now that charters, where every teacher is wonderful, are all the rave. Even middle-class and low-income parents, who have the most to gain from public education, seem to think its destruction is in order.

So the politicians have found that the best way to get votes is to ignore the collapse of school districts and focus instead on how terrible teachers can be. Getting rid of bad teachers is the new national rallying cry. Maybe getting rid of schools is seen as a way to get rid of bad teachers.

The last national cry of alarm about American public education was in 1983, the year I started teaching for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

That year, the Reagan administration's report "A Nation at Risk" highlighted the failings of American public education and made recommendations to repair it. The recommendations, notably, did not include rerouting children out of public school.

Many of the recommendations were implemented, including expensive ones like creating rigorous standards and assessments, and paying teachers "professionally competitive, market-sensitive and performance-based" salaries. The first two salary proposals were addressed, but there was no move toward basing pay on performance. Now we have that on the table, but we are accompanying it with the wholesale destruction of the system.

This is not an exaggeration. I retired in June 2009 with a decent, though not amazing, pension (70 percent of my salary) and good health coverage. The September after my retirement, dozens of my colleagues in the English department and across all departments were laid off, and class sizes rose from 20 students to 40.

Since then, the budget ax has fallen on plant managers, nurses, librarians and many more teachers. The experience at my school has been mirrored across LAUSD and throughout the country. There was a time when we might have deemed this a national emergency.

But what do we have, in terms of public concern, to compare with "A Nation at Risk"? We have a near-total acceptance, across the political spectrum, that our public schools need to be punished for their crimes, allowed to perish if necessary, while our children will be saved by charter schools. Teacher pensions and benefits are vilified as some sort of greedy power play, paying out a princely ransom to people who don't deserve it.

What gives? It's time to take a close look at the factors behind this remarkable change in public temper, and to assess its validity. Below I address two concerns: incompetent teachers and charter schools.

1. Incompetent Teachers. They do exist. I've worked with teachers who did not know their subject matter and could not control a class, who were, sometimes, awful people who should not be around children. (Most teachers, by the way, do not fit any part of this description.) These incompetent teachers, if they last two years, are protected by tenure, and rarely is one fired. Unions have turned a deaf ear to the problem and, in so doing, have brought the firestorm upon themselves.

So why am I not for a mass exodus to charters? Simple: The situation can be fixed. We don't need "Superman," whoever that's supposed to be. We need, first, union leadership with enough guts to admit the problem. Then we need strong leadership at a higher level. In California, this should be Gov.-elect Brown, who has more sway with the unions than any other top office holder in the state.

No one knows how to ensure a fair process for reviewing teacher tenure, but that's because no one, at least in California, has tried it, not because it's impossible.

2. Charter Schools: There are, without question, many excellent charter schools, and there are many children who are being saved by a charter school. The research shows, however, that there is nothing inherently good about charters. In other words, their legal and educational structure does not in itself promote sound education.

Charters do have more freedom than public schools to innovate, but this gives no guarantee for any particular child who enters a charter that his or her education will be superior to what is offered in the neighborhood public school.

Consider the numbers. There are about 700,000 children in LAUSD, for instance. There are charters springing up everywhere to accommodate the disaffected, but does anyone suppose that there will be enough excellent charters in Los Angeles for 700,000 thousand children? Let's be real. We need to maintain and improve public schools while we allow charters to thrive.

It is time to get tough with teachers unions, but let's do it like a rational society. I hate to end with a cliche but, as any English teacher will tell you, cliches are popular because they say something well: Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

* Doug Lasken is a retired Los Angeles Unified teacher, a freelancer and a consultant. Write him at

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
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NEW REVOCATION REGS FOR LOW-SCORING CHARTER SCHOOLS: About 2 percent could be hauled before State Board of Ed: B...

INCOMING NYC CHANCELLOR’S EDUCATION VIEWS A ‘QUESTION MARK’: By Christina A. Samuels in Ed Week - Vol. 30, Issu...

THE MIDDLE GRADES: GETTING ALL STUDENTS “HIGH SCHOOL READY”: from the EdSource Extra! Newsletter - Fall 2010 | h...

LAUSD’S NUMBERS KEEP ON DROPPING: Enrollment falls to lowest level in more than a decade. Fewer students means l...

LOS ANGELES SCHOOL BUSES GETTING GREENER: Written by Ryan Gray for School Transportation News |





FEES OR TUITION, IT’S TOO MUCH: Both the UC and Cal State systems want to increase fees or tuition. The increase...

CSU TO RAISE ‘FEES’… ER… ‘TUITION’ (Doesn’t Prop 26 require a two-thirds vote to raise ‘fees"’?: Cal State tru...

SCHOOL DISTRICT FINDS IRREGULARITIES IN $65M WORTH OF CONTRACTS + ●●smf's 2¢ + letter from the IG to the Board o...

Charter Schools: ASSESSING THE ICEF MODEL IN SOUTH LOS ANGELES: by LeTania Kirkland in Intersections: the South ...

CARTOON: Editorial cartoon by Ed Stein/United Media | Opinion LA/LA Times |

TEACHERS UNIONS’ CLOUT IN QUESTION: Some see them as obstacles to change, and even union sympathizers agree that...

SCHOOL LIBRARIANS’ BOOK TACKLES HARDSHIPS FACED BY GAY TEENS: Amid outcry over anti-gay bullying, new book highl... 5:12 PM

BORN TO FIDGET: Is it genes? Is it me? A mother's maze through ADHD: It's so tempting to think 'I'm off the hook...

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

●Monday Nov 15, 2010
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Gratts New Primary Center
474 S. Hartford
Los Angeles, CA 90017

●Wednesday Nov 17, 2010
Time: 10:00 a.m.
South Region Elementary School #11
929 W. 69th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90044

●Thursday Nov 18, 2010
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Julie Korenstein Elementary School
7650 N. Ben Ave.
North Hollywood, CA 91605

●Friday Nov 19, 2010
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Valley Region Elementary School #6
14859 W. Rayen St.
Panorama City, CA
*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-241.8700


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6383 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: • 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.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represents PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor he hopes to someday deserve. • 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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