Sunday, March 27, 2011

Take charter schools. Please.

4LAKids: Sunday 27•March•2011
In This Issue:
THE TEACHER AS PUBLIC ENEMY #1, A RESPONSE: New Approaches to Art Education in these most Uncivil Times
Reed Middle School: AWARD WINNING MUSIC PROGRAM ON CHOPPING BLOCK - More than 800 students will lose music instruction
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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A friend in the charter school movement took me to task on Monday for the rhetoric in last week's 4LAKids - she found it hurtful. My intent is not the pain - there is pain enough in this world. I want to do like the late Jack LaLanne: I want you to get out and move!

I chose LaLanne because he was real. I really wanted to choose Howard Beale, Paddy Chayefsky's fictional 'Network' anchorman. "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" YouTube: Fiction is something that never happened - not something that isn't true. 'Network' is a story about a deranged newsman whose paranoid on-camera ramblings drives the network's ratings over the top. This was dark comedy in 1976.

My critical friend is an excellent educational leader - aware of the politics but trying nobly to fly above them. I am a political animal who sees everything through that lens. When Mayor Tony first tried to take over LAUSD in 2006 we opponents donned T-shirts that read "Parents not Politics". I wore mine ...but I didn't believe it for a moment!

Larry DiCarlo writes in the Shanker Institute blog this week: "Given the overt politicization of the charter school discussion, the public desperately needs a move away from the pro/anti-charter framework, towards a more useful conversation about how and why particular schools do or don’t work." I'm forced to agree - as long as we agree that we take our look at all schools - and as long as we aren't witch-hunting for what went wrong rather than what works and what's replicable.. There are nine million children in California, nine million challenges for education, nine million reasons why we must succeed.


With the craziness in Wisconsin and the marchers in LA and Cesar Chavez Birthday next Thursday and Last Friday's centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (the very day Mayor Villaraigosa announced his "breakthrough" labor contract negotiations) it's time to look at organized labor and collective bargaining both in terms of the past and in the clear light of this moment - but always focused that point beyond the limb of the horizon. Because that's where these kids we are raising and educating will live their lives. And they need to be looking beyond their horizons. Like the Romans we are building a highway that crosses the ages. The mayor and city unions agreement - if ratified by the rank-and-file and the city council - and if bought-into by other city unions - and relicated in places like LAUSD -are a step in the right direction. But all rely upon good faith, good work in Sacramento and by the electorate - and on economic recovery continuing and accelerating.

That said - Public Education is no more about Teachers' Unions than it is about Charter Schools or boogieman Bad Teachers or the height of the flagpole. Right now public education is tragically defined by its lack of funding and a lack of commitment to it by the folks - benighted or otherwise - who hold the purse strings. You will read in this issue about how we need more or less charter schools, magnet schools, teachers, union members, legislation and parent involvement; a focus on teaching, learning, curriculum, instruction, breakfast, taxes, spending cuts and choice.

Maybe we need to put one of those giant Post-It notes that meeting facilitators use up on the wall, look around the room and stare long and hard into that blank empty page. Even before we brainstorm we need to call the meeting to decide what to brainstorm about.

This is Blue Sky:

We are in the room with a lot of other caring, passionate, bright folks.
What is the mission?
What is the objective?
What do we want to accomplish?

(This is like Afghanistan/Iraq/Libya. ...these are good questions to ask in any meeting)

Is the mission to educate these children?
Or is the mission to reform public education?
Because, gentle readers, those two missions may be mutually exclusive. And right now there isn't enough money, time, or of-us-standing to do both.

Do we want to improve test scores and accumulate data?
Or do we want young people who are prepared and ready for 2012 ...and beyond?

Looking around the room, armed with our care and passion and collective brilliance - and our blank page and our marker - and admitting to the facts that:
1. we are destitute in a bad economy and
2. that our recorder is not a master engraver from the Bureau of Printing and Engraving
....what do we do?


"No Child Left Behind" is a battlefield metaphor. There will be casualties - but we go back in and bring them out.

The mission is not reinvent public education or create new paradigms of this-that-or-the-other-thing; that may be the process, but it isn't the mission.

We need to accept that the way we used to do it may not work any more (if it ever did) - but at the same time we need to keep the parts of it that do.

We need to write that down.

There were parts of No Child Left Behind that worked, there were parts that didn't. It's a good way of looking at ourselves and what we were and are doing - but NCLB is about measurement and punishing and rewarding outcomes - and as such is similar to to phrenology []. Ask any tailor or carpenter, measuring is important - but it isn't tailoring or carpentry.

NCLB became another federal regulatory program that didn't have enough funding to finance what it regulates; Race to the Top - essentially the mirror image/kinder-gentler/evil twin of NCLB encourages cash-starved districts to compete with other cash-starved districts for not-enough-money. It's "Fight Club" - or the marathon dance contests of "They Shoot Horses...".

Much was made of the parent involvement component in NCLB - we saw very little of it in LAUSD. Much was made of "Choice" -- again there was little choice beyond the magnet schools and limited open enrollment in LA - and the rush to charterization.The Belmont Zone of Choice remains unique (and unrelated to NCLB). LA's Public School Choice is a well meant effort within the NCLB framework - but in the end became a give-away of new schools to outside operators - with the public having no role in the choice at all ...beyond being horrified/outraged.

I was a part of a web call-in Friday evening. with Dr. Yang Zhao - a leading anti-current-reform dissident/blogger/scholar/troublemaker - and there was much kvelling+kvetching on the sidebar and in the Q&A about current directions in Ed Reform - I was right at home. One on the participants put out the cry:"Where are the Public Intellectuals on these false reforms?"- which engendered a lot of agreement from the choir being preached to.

And got me thinking: Where are the Public Intellectuals? Are they hiding, surrendering their ground to the Public Philanthropist/Billionaire Change Agents? Where is Noam Chomsky when we need him?

I Googled Chomsky and K-12 and got the YouTube video (from '89!) that skewers NCLB a decade before-the-fact. The goal of education, Chomsky argues, is to produce free human beings whose values are not accumulation and domination, but rather free association on terms of equality. Thinking doesn’t get less-scripted, high-stakes-tested, measured-and-categorized, manufactured ...or more critical than that.

And across the page on the same website I found Elizabeth Delacruz' "The Teacher as Public Enemy #1, A Response".

The public intellect is out there.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

THE TEACHER AS PUBLIC ENEMY #1, A RESPONSE: New Approaches to Art Education in these most Uncivil Times
by Elizabeth M. Delacruz, Ph. D. |

(Acceptance speech given on the occasion of receiving the United States Society for Education through Art (USSEA) 2011 National Ziegfeld Award, March 20, 2011)

Thank you for this incredible award, and to my good friend Alice Arnold, thank you for nominating me. I also want to thank Laura Chapman, who has long been an inspiration to me. I begin with a heartfelt prayer for the people of Japan.

I want to use my time today to comment on recent events in public education in the US, and to offer my insights about how we might respond as a community of art educators.

Public education today is mired in controversy… fraught with well-orchestrated attacks on teachers at every level, from Head Start to higher education. As pointed out by leading educational theorists Henry Giroux and Diane Ravitch, under the guise of fiscal responsibility, powerful interests in this country have been able to convince large sectors of the public that educators (pre-k through higher education) and young people are now the enemy within, a drain on resources, expendable, untrustworthy and undeserving of public support. These attacks that have little to do with genuine accountability, educational excellence, or fiscal responsibility, and everything to do with furthering the personal fortunes and political agendas of the already obscenely rich and powerful. Media scholar and cultural critic Naomi Klein and many others observe, these are also attacks on women, who do the bulk of teaching and care giving in this country, and on our children, our most precious “commodity”. As third wave feminist scholar and cofounder of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership Naomi Wolf observes, all of this is taking place through the artifice and hype of what she identifies as fake patriotism, fake democracy, and fake crisis.

Harry Boyte, civil rights activist and Director of the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, observes that US schools in towns across America were once vibrant places for community gatherings, town hall meetings, adult education, and social events for all sorts of people. Today, far too many of our schools are dilapidated, locked down, inhospitable, and in neighborhoods serving poor and minority communities, outright dangerous. I am reminded of the investigative reporting and poignant case studies written by journalist Jonathon Kozol in his book Savage Inequalities. Kozol provides a biting critique and historical analysis of the inherent injustice of municipal, state, and federal tax and funding policies that gave rise to the shocking conditions of education and community life in the poorest and most racially segregated neighborhoods of East St. Louis, Washington DC, Chicago, New York City, and elsewhere. Today, 20 years later, these injustices persist throughout the nation.

The orchestrated erosion of support for our public school sector in the past decade, in particular, is without shame. And the more recent Obama/Duncan administration's misguided initiatives, including “Race to the Top”, championing of mandate-free publicly funded charter schools, and this administration’s unchallenged reliance on an outrageously expensive standardized testing system are equally troubling. As Laura Chapman noted to me in a recent email, we are witnessing a triumph of econometric thinking over all other frames for addressing today’s complex issues. These programs measure and reward or punish teachers and schools in what Laura referred to as a “value-added system”, and what Diane Ravitch finds to be a pernicious and punitive system that places all bets on student standardized math and reading test scores to the detriment of other forms of learning that should be taking place in schools–science, social studies, history, literature, and the arts. Moreover, as Ravitch and others point out, despite empirical evidence to the contrary that for-profit corporations and publicly funded charter schools can do a better job of educating our failing students, this thinking persists. Public school administrators, people who really should know better, are either silent, or buying-in wholesale. I note the lone dissenting voice of Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who wrote the in the Washington Post in October 2010 the following:

The truth is our public schools have been asked not only to educate children but also to solve many of the ills that the larger society either cannot or will not fix. I am speaking of issues directly related to poverty -- like hunger, violence, homelessness, and unchecked childhood diseases. In spite of these challenges, there are thousands of dedicated and committed educators who are working hard to make access to a quality education for all children who attend public schools a reality.

What our K-12 colleagues may not know, but we in this room are fully aware of, the higher education sector is also under attack, with concerted and successful efforts to privatize higher education; abolish the tenure system; deny educators their rights to academic freedom, due process, health care, and retirement benefits; to transfer the teaching of our courses to armies of underpaid part-time adjuncts; and to convert the public higher education enterprise in the US into a market-driven cash-commodity limited-liability venture. Despite my own privileged position in the academy, I must admit, I too often find this environment brutal and demoralizing.

At the same time, I would add to this depressing observation my belief that art educators in post-secondary institutions now need to champion, support, mentor, and collaborate with local k-12 teachers in and around our communities, as –together–we refine our own tools, strategies, and resources for developing reasoned and persuasive political speech, and for tapping into influential power structures at the local and state levels. This is a very grass roots endeavor, fraught with difficulties and setbacks. But we are not without our own resources and devices. We have our vote, our voice, our intellectual skills, our compassion, and each other in our collective endeavors to inform and shape the public debate over education. Moreover, our professional associations, publications, conferences, and social media give us greater opportunities to engage these issues. We are, in fact, what social learning theorist and business consultant Etienne Wegner identifies as a “community of practice”. We are a multifaceted, many-layered, amply talented community of practice dedicated to common aims and engaged in learning from one another in furtherance of these common aims. And we have a new generation of scholars and artists and educators to mentor and groom for the rough road ahead.

With this in mind, I suggest four frameworks that might facilitate this work.

#1. We need to reassert how we envision ourselves as teachers. Many of us have set forth a notion of the "publicly engaged artist/scholar/teacher". After teacher educator Marilyn Cochran-Smith at Boston College, I see teachers as local "public intellectuals" in their own communities (although positioning the teacher as a "public intellectual" is hardly a catchy phrase in the current anti-intellectual fervor that appears to have taken hold in the this country.) Teachers have many of the same skills and dispositions that public intellectuals in civic life have, and they play a vital role in the life of a community. Both teachers and public intellectuals pursue cross-disciplinary understandings. Teachers and public intellectuals have the ability to communicate well to general audiences, and they encourage their audiences to ask difficult questions – questions such as “Why?” “Why not?” and “What if?” And they consider both ethical and pragmatic implications of actions and inactions – local, regional, and global, understanding that it’s not an us/them scenario, rather, we’re all in this together. Intellectual rigor, inquiry, imagination, and civic engagement permeate everything teachers do.

This is no simple task. Teachers’ plates are already full, and they/we are untrained in the sophisticated ways and frenzied pace of the media-muddled world of US public discourse today. This is compounded by the fact that in US public life, we don’t have conversations, we have shout-outs and slap downs, carefully vetted (as pointed out to me by Laura Chapman) through well-endowed political think tanks and focus groups for just the right effect on just the right faction of an increasingly fractured public. As social historian Jean Bethke Elshtain from the University of Chicago warns, “Without an engaged public, there can be no true public conversations, and no true public intellectuals”. We so desperately need an intellectually and morally engaged public.

#2. We need to borrow from a framework already well regarded in the world of corporate capitalism, the language of entrepreneurship. Borrowing from a recent paper I wrote, an entrepreneurial disposition refers both to a conceptual outlook and a cluster of behaviors that include the following: ability to understand particular needs in particular contexts, to discern meaningful patterns, to think big, to innovate, to envision something new and useful, and the ability to conceptualize, design, and carry forward concrete plans of action with specific intended outcomes. Entrepreneurs are good at creative problem solving, social networking, and resource development. Impediments are challenges to overcome, and fear of failure does not truncate entrepreneurial thinking. Most importantly, entrepreneurs create something of value to others.

These are also dispositions identified by Daniel Pink and Richard Florida as attributes of the creative class, or cultural creatives, who Florida argues will be the driving force of economic development in the 21st century. These are the skills and dispositions we hope to foster in our students. If ever we needed to educate both our students and the wider public about how essential it is to be innovative, creative, critically informed, and ethically engaged citizens, it’s now. An entrepreneurial disposition will also include thinking outside of the box in our efforts to shape public perception about the value of publicly supporting those teachers and schools in pursuit of such aims.

#3. I call this framework “DIY meets the Cloud”, or, pardon the mixed metaphor “pie in the sky”. New social media is a game-changer in the enterprise of education. Despite adherence in this country to a social Darwinian myth of rugged individualism, and despite the seductive belief that one can do-it-yourself, the fact is we just can’t to this alone. Peer-to-peer teaching and learning, creative and cultural production, design thinking, and problem solving are now immensely more powerful through collaboration in online social networks. Henry Jenkins, former Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and now USC media and communications scholar, describes something quite remarkable that is happening online, something he believes to be a distinct yet still emerging form of human intellectual and social evolution. Jenkins sees rich and powerful online behaviors and the knowledge it produces as a form of distributed cognition. I rather like that concept. It is not just about working together across geographic, cultural, and disciplinary enclaves. Rather, it’s both the individual and the collective. It’s about synergy, and the power of we.

#4. Fourth, and most importantly, I want to advocate for a notion of the commons and the pursuit of global civil society. In olden days, the commons was the meadow, the park, and the public square. These were our shared places that were decidedly public, accessible to all, and, importantly, requiring careful stewardship. Today, our commons, or common public assets, include green spaces in our municipalities, the air we breath, protected wilderness habitats, outer space, the Internet, architectural and artistic monuments, the global knowledge commons, and public education. Our very survival now depends on this stewardship. It requires the joint efforts of civil society, which has been broadly defined as that realm of public and private individuals and entities working for the common public good. “Business as usual” clearly cannot continue. We need to come together across ideological, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries to craft new solutions for old problems. In the aftermath of what is now referred to as the Great Recession (our current global economic meltdown), and in these most uncivil times where the mean-spirited but well-vetted sound bite, gotcha journalism, spectacle politics, and public rancor rule the day, this is no easy task. But we have in our midst some public intellectuals that suggest some ways re-envision our future. In addition to those I have mentioned in this throughout this speech (Naomi Klein, Naomi Wolf, Diane Ravitch, Laura Chapman, and others) I site as another example, Stewart Brand, one of the founders of the Whole Earth Catalogue. Brand tells us that the environmental movement needs to move forward in concert with business and industry interests. Environmentalists and for profit-corporations working together? Is he serious? Communications scholar Howard Rheingold observes that the tools for cultural production are in the hands of 14 year olds who know more about emerging technologies than their teachers. Rheingold’s point is not just that kids are tech savvy, rather it’s that because of this fact, teachers now have a new and more important role to play–teaching ethical behavior and cultural citizenship. We need to excite students about the notion of being a globally connected and ethically charged citizen, as a means of facilitating our creative, educational, and civic goals as a society and as world citizens.

My argument here is that grooming our own public intellectuals, utilizing entrepreneurial thinking, networking, and promoting civil society is now part of our business as art educators –in the creation of what former Executive Director of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and senior lecturer at the LBJ School of Public Affairs Gary Chapman called the “good life” for all citizens of the world. We start with the children in our classrooms, and work our way up to their parents, to fellow teachers and community and business leaders, and to those public servants who make, administer, and judge the laws by which we organize ourselves as a society

I end this commentary where I began. Education is a public venture of utmost concern. In USSEA, in the NAEA, and beyond, we need both address the present situation and to shape our collective future as a society. We need to strategize about how to pursue these aims with our best minds, young and old. These are troubling times, powerful beliefs, and it’s now time to roll up our sleeves and get a little messy.

In closing, thank you again for this award, an award I am quite sure that I am most undeserving of receiving. I promise you that in return for your trust and kindness, I plan to leverage this distinction to the utmost of my ability on behalf of our mutual aims as art educators, public intellectuals, and change agents for a better society through art.


Elizabeth Delacruz is associate professor of art education, Editor of Visual Arts Research, and former Chair of art education at UIUC. She received her B.F.A. and M.A. in Art Education from the UIUC, an Ed. S. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida, and a Ph. D. in Art Education from Florida State University. Her research focuses on the interface of visual arts education with contemporary art practices, social theory, multicultural education and community, and new media/technology.

by Chris Liebig in A Blog About School: a parent’s thoughts about school, in Iowa City and beyond |

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - I always feel a certain irony when I hear proposals for “school choice.”

Many of the people advocating for school choice, after all, are the same people who brought us the No Child Left Behind Act, which was designed to coerce school districts into adopting policies that they otherwise would not choose to adopt. Not exactly a choice-friendly concept.

Under No Child Left Behind, my local public schools -- and all public schools in America, in fact -- now must pursue the policy of raising standardized test scores at all costs. School officials who don’t raise standardized test scores can end up losing their jobs. But if they turn out kids with no intellectual curiosity, kids who see reading as a chore, kids who perform just to please the teacher and get by, kids who’ve never learned how to use good judgment, ask a good question, or make a good decision, kids who see adults as adversaries, kids who take no pleasure in learning -- nothing bad will happen to them.

When I complain about the effects of that policy -- for example, about the fact that my kids’ lunch periods have been cut back to fifteen minutes or less, in the name of maximizing instructional time -- I can count on local school officials to sympathize with me, and then to patiently explain that they are just responding to No Child Left Behind’s pressure to raise test scores. If I’m concerned about what’s happening in my kids’ elementary school, I should write to President Obama. Not exactly empowering.

Yet many so-called school choice advocates are fine with all that. In fact, their “choice” proposals require you to choose a school that operates on No Child Left Behind’s premises. They remind me of Henry Ford’s policy about the Model T: You can choose any color you want, as long as it’s black.

Take charter schools. The government gives charter schools an exemption from many of the laws and regulations governing other public schools -- but only in exchange for a commitment to be accountable for student performance, as measured by the same standardized testing criteria that other public schools must meet. For a parent who objects to the whole idea of letting standardized test scores drive educational policy, charter schools offer no choice at all. “We want to give you lots of choices,” charter school advocates seem to say, “as long as it doesn’t interfere with our imposition of a uniform concept of education [] on the entire country.”

Here’s the school choice experiment I’d like to see tried. Let our school district require every parent to make an initial choice between two options. If the parents want to put their kids in a classroom governed by policies dictated by the federal government, they could choose the Federal Option. If the parents would prefer classrooms that are governed by policies chosen by the local community, they could choose the Local Option.

For the kids in the Federal Option, school would look a lot like it does now. No Child Left Behind would be in full force, and the district and its school personnel would have to meet NCLB’s standardized testing benchmarks or face the statutory penalties. In these classrooms, the district would do whatever it takes to raise math and reading test scores, regardless of the other values that might have to be sacrificed. Subjects with no direct bearing on standardized test results, such as art and music, would be cut back as necessary. Recess and lunch would be minimized. Untestable qualities such as curiosity, skepticism, creativity, and initiative would not be pursued. Whether the kids actually enjoy learning would be a secondary concern, at best. To keep the kids from squirming during their lengthy test prep sessions -- er, I mean, lessons -- the teachers would instruct them on the importance of unquestioning compliance with rules, and would single out the quiet and obedient students for special praise and rewards.

Down the hall, though, would be the Local Option classrooms. What would they be like? That would be entirely up to the people of our district. Maybe they would decide that there is more to being well-educated than what is measured by standardized tests. Maybe they’d give the teachers more autonomy over what and how to teach. Maybe they’d put more emphasis on developing the kids’ intrinsic motivation and pleasure in learning, and less emphasis on external rewards. Maybe they’d challenge the kids to think critically about the world around them. Maybe they’d recognize that kids need downtime, physical activity, and a decent lunch to learn well and to develop social skills. Maybe they’d treat the kids more like kids and less like employees []. Maybe they’d take a few lessons from Finland []. Or maybe they’d do none of those things, and come up with their own ideas. Who knows what our community might choose. It’s been so long since anyone asked.

I suppose there could be some awkward moments, when the kids in the Federal Option classrooms, with their ongoing math and reading drills and their nightly worksheets and their behavior charts and their abbreviated recesses and quiet fifteen-minute lunches, saw their friends down the hall having what would likely be a more meaningful -- not to mention enjoyable -- educational experience. Since the Federal Option classrooms would, by definition, be less likely to reflect the parents’ preferences, it might be hard for parents to choose those classrooms for their kids. But as things stand now, we all choose them every day. We’re just not constantly reminded that there could be another way.

Right now, of course, this experiment is impossible. My district could set up Local Option classrooms, but it couldn’t use tax money to pay for them. Why? Because the people who brought us charter schools don’t really believe that communities should be allowed to run their own schools.

What do these people have against choice?
- Chris Liebig is a parent of three and teaches at the University of Iowa College of Law.



March 26, 2011 | 6:40 pm | Incoming Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy told the school board Saturday that he wants the district to withhold part of his annual $330,000 salary because of a projected budget shortfall.

In an email, Deasy said he has been meeting with employees to explain potential budget scenarios. Last month, the board approved sending preliminary layoff notices to almost 7,000 teachers.

“All of our work and plans for restoration are in serious peril,” Deasy wrote. “This is remarkably painful and emotional. As such, given our current circumstances, at this time I respectfully will not accept the salary offered in your contract.”

Deasy will not forgo his entire salary and will instead take a pay cut to the $275,000 he earned when serving as deputy superintendent. The $55,000 cut represents a nearly 17% reduction.

“I will instruct payroll to hold the difference between my current salary as deputy superintendent and that of the superintendent,” he wrote.

It does not appear that the board would have to approve the reduction.

A.J. Duffy, president of the teachers union, said: “Bravo John, you did the right thing.”

smf's 2CENTS:: per the LA Times: [Dec. 16, 2008 |] Supt. Cortines salary is $250,000 a year — unchanged from his previous salary as the district's No. 2 man and $50,000 less than his predecessor. According to the Washington Post [July 7, 2007|] Deasy’s salary when he was superintendent of Prince George County (MD) Public Schools was $273,000. Deasy left PGCPS in 2008.



By Connie Llanos Staff Writer - LA Daily News |

3/26/2011 05:45:17 PM PDT/Updated: 03/26/2011 07:32:46 PM PDT - Leading by example in tough times, Los Angeles Unified Deputy Superintendent-elect John Deasy said Saturday he wants to forgo the $55,000 raise he would get when he takes over as superintendent next month.

In a letter the school board members Saturday, Deasy said he wants to continue earning his $275,000 salary when he takes over from Superintendent Ramon Cortines on April 15.

Cortines makes $250,000 a year.

"Given our fiscal situation, I simply cannot at this time take the salary offered," Deasy wrote to the school board.

Deasy signed a $330,000-a-year contract in December to lead the nation's second-largest school district. He said he would accept that larger salary once financial conditions improve at the district. Deasy's contract does not include a buyout clause, but it does include full benefits and retirement packages.

LAUSD faces a $408 million deficit in the 2011-12 school year and could have to lay off up to 5,200 teachers to close the gap.

Some labor unions had criticized Deasy for taking a salary so much higher than Cortines, especially in these challenging times for school districts.

On Saturday, union leaders were happy with Deasy's announcement.

"Bravo John," said United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy. "You did the right thing."

In his letter to the school board, Deasy also mentioned his desire to negotiate with labor for financial solutions that could help save jobs. He also said he would like unions to negotiate on limiting the use of seniority as the sole criteria for laying off teachers in tight budget conditions.

"It will be my hope that our unions, but especially UTLA, will promptly negotiate terms of an agreement that will both save the jobs of their membership and put in place an evaluation system that is robust, fair and offers us and the membership ways to make decisions about hiring, placement, promotion, and (when necessary) layoffs that are NOT quality blind," Deasy wrote.

"The last-in-first-out, way of doing business is a terrible, arcane situation... I hope we can all work together quickly to serve both the membership and the youth."

Reed Middle School: AWARD WINNING MUSIC PROGRAM ON CHOPPING BLOCK - More than 800 students will lose music instruction

Mar 25, 2011 1:50 PM PDT/ Updated Sat. Mar 26, 2011 10:59 AM PDT | The ongoing budget crisis gutting public schools across Los Angeles is threatening to demolish an award-winning music program that serves more than 800 middle school students.

Just days after the music program at Walter Reed Middle School was honored with a Los Angeles Music Center Bravo Award for excellence, the two teachers in charge of the school's musical instrument courses received pink slips from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

If they are laid off, one voice teacher will be all that remains of the school's music department.

"Being cut or being given a pink slip pretty much says to you, we aren't appreciated," said Jessica Johnson, one of the recipients of the music award. "No one could believe that two-thirds of our department was going to get cut."

Johnson, who teaches beginning winds, beginning strings, 7th grade band and 8th grade wind ensemble, said the music department at her school is well-acquainted with tight budgets. Students share instruments, and class size can easily run 60 students or more.

"We really feel like we have something special," Johnson said. "We deserve to be really looked at and evaluated based on our merits and our amazing tradition that we have here."

Stephen McDonough, the chair of the school's music department, also received a pink slip. He questioned the proportion of music teachers who received pink slips, formally known as Reduction in Force notices.

"It really seems to me that they are going after music," McDonough said. "I think it's because they don't really know what music does for students."

Debra Vantongeren, whose 7th-grade son learned cello and vibes with McDonough, said the music program at Walter Reed bridges cultural gaps, bringing students together through their shared musical experiences.

"In Mr. McDonough's jazz band class, he has kids that speak all different home languages and are from are all different areas of Los Angeles," Vantongeren said. "But when they leave his class they speak jazz, and they don't care where they came from."

District-wide, 7,000 RIFS went out. Of those, 167 went to music teachers. While that number may seem small compared to the total, it represents nearly half of all music teachers in LAUSD. At an estimated 58 middle and high schools, the entire music staff received pink slips.

"We suspect that music is being disproportionately affected," said Robin Lithgow, administrative coordinator of the district's arts education branch. "We're trying to get that information ourselves."

The best hope for a reprieve is getting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax extension on the ballot, which would provide the district with a much-needed cash infusion, Lithgow said.

A protest led by United Teachers Los Angeles is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Los Angeles Convention Center and culminates with a rally in Pershing Square at 12:30.


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WILL WESTCHESTER HIGH’S MAGNET PLAN STICK?: By Melissa Pamer, Staff Writer, Daily Breeze | ...


LAUSD REPORTS DETAIL POTENTIAL IMPACT OF LAYOFF NOTICES: By Connie Llanos + Melissa Pamer Staff Writers | Daily ...

AMONG CHARTER SCHOOLS, INCONSISTENCY BEGETS OPPORTUNITY: By Matthew Di Carlo | The Shanker blog, the voice of Al...

CÉSAR CHÁVEZ REMINDS US: Themes in the News for the week of March 21-24, 2011by UCLA IDEA |


SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL: “We pretend that no one’s a racist anymore, but it’s easier to talk about pornography in p...

I AM AN EDUCATOR, HEAR ME ROAR! An Interview with John Kuhn + Video + ‘Letter from Alamo’: by Anthony Cody in Ed...


SPEND FRIDAY EVENING WITH YONG ZHAO: email from| Gentle Readers, Join Like-minde...


WILL THE JUNE ELECTION HAPPEN? K-14 Ed funding next year depends on lawmakers' decisions re: Gov. Brown's tax e...

NUTRITION IS ELEMENTARY IN NO KID HUNGRY CAMPAIGN: An LAUSD kickoff event advocates the use of funding that's al...

WARREN CHRISTOPHER, HHS class of ‘42: letter to the editor of the LA Times | Re Warren Chr...

ARTS+MUSIC ED UPDATE: From California Alliance for Arts Education ArtsEdmail | March 23, 2011 HELP SPREAD THE W...

GETTY MUSEUM K-5 ART & LANGUAGE ARTS PROGRAM: from California Alliance for Arts Education ArtsEd Mail: 23 March ...

NOT-SO-PUBLIC EDUCATION: A Colorado school voucher program seems likely to benefit mostly middle-class students ...

YOUR $260. COULD SAVE THE STATE! (+ JERRY BROWN’S YouTube): Approving Gov. Brown's proposal to extend sales, veh...

Report - DIVIDED WE FAIL: Segregation and Inequality in the Southland's Schools: ‘educator’ comments in the Time...




March 20-26: NATIONAL TSUNAMI AWARENESS + PREPAREDNESS WEEK - FREE tsunami education materials and activity idea...

GRIEF BEYOND MEASURE: Parents in Japan comb through school that's now a graveyard + smf’s 2¢: By John M. Glionna...

Demolishing Dropout Factories: BUILDING A GRAD NATION: 2010—2011 Annual Update + News + California Data: from th...

AN AGE OF HYPOCRISY: When a policy fails again and again (like merit pay) and you push it through anyway, that's...


TOP US EDUCATION CHIEF TOUTS REFORM IN L.A. VISIT: By The Associated Press | San Diego Union Tribune | http://bi...

"Free Fall: Educational Opportunities in 2011.": REPORT SHOWS CALIFORNIA BUDGET CUTS HIT POOR SCHOOLS HARDER + E...


LAUSD Board Seat #5 Run-off off to a premature and acrimonious start: LAUSD RUN-OFF CANDIDATE KAYSER CALLS ON SA...

RECESSION, BUDGET CRISIS HITTING CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS HARD: 30% of the state's 6 million K-12 students are attendi...

HELP WANTED: SCHOOL BREAKFAST CHAMPIONS NEEDED IN YOUR AREA: Perspective By: Ellen Braff-Guajardo, California S...

LET KIDS RULE THE SCHOOL: By Op-Ed Contributor SUSAN ENGEL, New York Times | March 14, 20...

Letters to the Editor of the Daily News: VALLEY SCHOOLS SHOULD GO CHARTER + SUPPORTING L.A. SCHOOL SYSTEM: 21 Ma...


EVENTS: Coming up next week...
*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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