Sunday, April 03, 2011

A mnemonic mantra, in iambic pentameter.

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 3•April•2011
In This Issue:
American Teachers: A NOBLE PROFESSION
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:
Follow 4 LAKids on Twitter - or get instant updates via text message by texting "Follow 4LAKids" to 40404
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.
Asked in an interview by radio host/newspaper columnist Patt Morrison what it is that he and UTLA want, teachers union president-elect Warren Fletcher said it was this - in verse form:

Reduce class size.
Raise salaries
Fix the hole in the roof.
And get out of the way.

An English Teacher in UTLA leadership! ...with an easy to memorize wish list. Not a laundry list, non-negotiable demands or a boilerplate electoral mandate. No "...or we will strike!" Just reasonable things to want even in unreasonable times.

● We HAVE been increasing Class Sizes by leaps and bounds,.
● All the furlough days and salary-basis changes, school-year-reductions and RIFs have been Salary REDUCTIONS.
● Maintenance & Operations - which should do those repairs BEFORE they are holes in the roof* have been cut and cut and cut. Our schools are in sad shape.
● And we need to give the educators room; we really need to let the the teachers teach.

* (with apologies to Paul and John and the lads):

"I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in
and stops my mind from wandering
where it will go.
I'm filling the cracks that ran though the door
and kept my mind from wandering
where it will go "

Fletcher's explanation of Teacher Tenure, Pensions, Value-added Teacher Assessment and the challenges ahead are well thought out, reasonable and realistic. Warren Fletcher, the union president-elect has not yet met John Deasy, the superintendent-elect - but I truly hope it goes well - and that their minds are well met. An awful lot hinges on it.


A DECADE AGO students who will take the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) this year were entering kindergarten.
A DECADE AGO there was a huge and angry battle about the elementary reading textbook adoption. (At the time I was on a math textbook adoption committee and couldn't figure out WHAT they were on about!)
A DECADE AGO LAUSD went with (Imposed...? Mandated...?) Open Court: The Reading Program That Would Change How Reading Would Be Taught Forever.

Open Court is "scripted instruction" - with highly structured lessons, with specific time allotments for teaching specific skills, and often word-for-word scripts of what the teacher is to say. It was claimed to be a panacea for schools with new, inexperienced (ie: inadequately prepared) teachers and was supposed to be a way to standardize the quality of instruction. (Somehow, in the semantic double speak, "standardize" became a synonym for "improve".)

How better to align the instruction/curriculum/pedagogy to the test?

Scripted instruction was an integral part of the Direct Instruction approach to education (which includes standardized testing) - presented as a structured alternative to the constructionist approaches to teaching such as discovery learning/inquiry based instruction.

LAST WEEK LAUSD adopted a new reading program without a whimper - or even a chorus of "Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead".The media struggled to make a story of it - but the reality is that the publisher is no longer offering the late and unlamented Open Court Reading. (The option was offered to the District to bring back the Open Court program at an additional cost of $50 million we don't have - No thank you very much!)

Teaching reading is a big deal. Educationally and financially; textbook and testing companies are the ten-ton-gorilla in the education business. Per The Times: another publisher had a program in this go-round that the District was going to adopt - but when the publisher announced the deal prematurely LAUSD pulled the plug. What's with that?.

Open Court's real downside wasn't its scripted nature (If today's Day 85 of the instructional year you will be on Chapter 6, pp.121 every classroom every year) -- its weakness was in teaching reading to English Language Learners - this district's real challenge decade ago and today. 'California Treasures' - the newly adopted program - is claimed to be much stronger at this.

This won't happen: but if all of 2001's kindergartners ace the CAHSEE this year because of their superior reading skills learned from Open Court we won't be able to replicate that success in the future. OMG!

McGuffey's Readers, the epitome of reading instruction was in print and use in multiple editions from 1836 until the mid 1950's. Dick and Jane were in print and used n schools from the1930's through the 1960's. Open Court Reading - The Paradigm Shift of Instructional Reform - was one edition and out.

ALSO A DECADE AGO Charter schools were the sine qua non of education reform. The Magic Silver Bullet.

Evidence to the contrary has continued to accumulate and data continues to build. The National Education Association says Charter schools are publicly funded schools that have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools -- in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each charter school's charter. []

While this accountability is one of the key arguments in favor of charters, evidence gathered by the United States Department of Education suggests that charter schools are not, in practice, held to higher standards of accountability than traditional public schools. []

We are seeing that accountability seems to be being waived along the rules, regulations and statutes.

The utopian model of teacher and community driven school reform embraced by Al Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers in 1988 when he called for the reform of the public schools by establishing "charter schools" or "schools of choice".has been replaced by corporate model chain store franchises - driven by growth and market share.

Social entrepreneurship has met the big-bucks kind; with the same result as when big money flowed into micro-lending in the Indian subcontinent. We are seeing the marketizing and monetization of public education, driven by entrepreneurial innovation and cannibalized by venture capital. Education Reform has become the Government Deregulation of Public Education - and the hedge fund guys are playing with the money, the numbers, and the future of American schoolchildren.

Green Dot Public Schools, which closed a school last year in the 'hood because it was not fiscally (rather than educationally) viable has hit a wall on the Westside and is bowing out of a charter co-location at Westminster Ave. Elementary.. Meanwhile Green Dot and it's founder have parted ways in New York in a classic business-school story of the money guys pushing the innovators out.

A national study out last week shows that KIPP Academy - the original and largest charter franchise - has been fudging its numbers and pushing out special ed students and black males.

100% graduation. All our kids go to college. All women strong. All men good looking. Every child above average, If it seems too good to be true, it is. But you knew that.
And so it went. And so it goes.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

PS: BUT WAIT, ...THERE'S MORE! Today's Sunday Times contains three gems. The wonderful folks who brought us "Grading the Teachers" continue their self-congratulation in Singled-Out L.A. Unified Teacher Shares Skills With Colleagues (following) which does make good points beyond the Babbiting; The ICEF charters fiscal meltdown and corporate collapse continues into the mergers+acquisitions/corporate consolidations phase (ICEF Charter Schools to Begin Merger Talks with Alliance Charter Group - below) - and Steve Lopez reacts to touching the Prop 13 third rail (It’s Time to Tinker with ‘UNTOUCHABLE’ Prop. 13 - in news links).

American Teachers: A NOBLE PROFESSION

By Susan Straight - Op-Ed in the LA Times |

April 3, 2011 - At a time when teachers and their unions are under fire across the nation, my eldest daughter just had a much-anticipated interview with Teach for America. She will graduate from college in May and hopes to be a teacher in the fall.

She was worried that I'd be disappointed she didn't feel a desire for graduate school.

But I was thrilled. Since graduating from college in 1984, I've taught GED courses, English as a second language, composition at a city college and now writing and literature at a public university. I have loved every year, and I don't think there's a more important profession.

Think about it: We aren't legally mandated to spend as much time with any other kind of person as we are with teachers. An American who graduates from high school has been taught by more than 20 teachers and has spent more than 10,000 hours in their company. It's no wonder almost everyone has a story about a teacher who changed his or her life.

Still, with all the contempt and anger being hurled at teachers right now, it's alarming to be sending a daughter into the crossfire, especially when new teachers are the first to be threatened with pink slips.

The growing scorn for public school teachers is at every level of education. Teachers are blamed for bad test results, for disrespectful students, for failing schools. They are thought to be lazy, draining public coffers with their monthly salaries and pension benefits (although they actually contribute to their pensions like everyone else).

Last fall, a video posted by blogger Shannyn Moore showed Sarah Palin and her daughter Willow confronting a woman protesting during the filming of Palin's reality TV series on a fishing dock in Homer, Alaska. When Palin asks the woman about her profession, she replies that she is a teacher, and Palin and Willow, who is of high school age, exchange knowing looks. Palin turns back to the woman. "Oh — a teacher," she says, her voice oozing condescension.

This kind of conservative contempt for public school teachers began decades ago with white flight (remember the private schools that sprang up in churches and homes in the southern states during integration in the 1970s?), and it continues today. In Southern California, it can be seen in the flight of so many families to religious schools — not just the traditional Roman Catholic schools but numerous new church-affiliated facilities. I've been told by parents of students who attend private religious schools that public schools are beyond redemption, and they resent their tax dollars subsidizing poor-quality education.

Meanwhile, parents often consider their kids' teachers as mere service providers. Last fall I met a teacher at an exclusive private school on New York's Upper East Side who told me parents pressure her to ignore bad behavior, missed assignments and cheating, in the belief that nothing is more important than their children's success. One of my best friends, a second-grade teacher at the public elementary school I attended, told me about a student who consistently returns math work undone. "I don't do math," he said. "My mom says I don't have to." My friend explained: "The state says you have to do math." But the child was adamant: "My mom says I don't."

A teacher at my youngest daughter's public high school told me parents often call and email to protest assignments. My child just "isn't feeling Dickens," one said. "He needs to be reading something he can relate to."

At the very moment my daughter hopes to become a teacher, Detroit is talking about closing half its public schools. In Rhode Island, teachers are being laid off wholesale. California has issued thousands of pink slips.

All over the world, people sacrifice to send their children to school. Afghan girls are threatened yet still walk to school; Chinese children are sent to schools in faraway cities by parents desperate to give them better lives; Kenyan students study by kerosene lamp in one-room schools built by grateful parents.

Here, access to a free education is an essential part of the American dream. I was sent to kindergarten at 4 by my mother, a Swiss immigrant. She taught me to read when I was 3, worried that the school wouldn't admit me unless I was already literate. I went daily to a kind teacher who let me read advanced books in the corner. I remember her hair, her lips when her mouth moved, and her fingernails. Decades later, she remembers me, and says I told her stories.

I believe it. Because teachers are often therapists, friends, mentors, coaches, sometimes providers of food and school supplies or holders of secrets. And in that way, they are some of the most important people in children's lives.

And sometimes, despite all the disrespect that's out there, teachers are appreciated. Last week, I got an email from a Cambodian American student from San Bernardino who now teaches English in South Korea; she was writing to say thank you.

My students, many of them first-generation immigrants, have brought me gifts and invited me to their weddings and New Year celebrations. I have gotten calls of thanks from their parents. And sometimes they have called me not by my name, but by the most reverent word they could summon: Teacher.

I try to imagine my daughter in a classroom this fall, looking out at the faces of children who are thinking of numbers and letters and secrets. I remember the woman who taught me to form the alphabet, the man who taught me long division. I remember my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Wolf, playing Cat Stevens songs on the guitar. And I wonder about the children who may one day remember my daughter's teaching, and in what ways she may have changed their lives.

Susan Straight's new novel, "Take One Candle Light a Room," is about an orphaned young man whose life is changed by teachers.


By Jason Felch, Los Angeles Times |

April 3, 2011 - In February, fifth-grade teacher Miguel Aguilar stood in the front of a class, nervous and sweating.

The subject — reading and comprehension — was nothing new. But on this day, his students weren't 11-year-olds in sneakers and sweatshirts: They were 30 of his fellow teachers.

It was the first time anyone at Broadous Elementary School in Pacoima could remember a teacher there being singled out for his skill and called upon to share his secrets school-wide.

"A teacher coming forward … that hadn't happened before," said Janelle Sawelenko, another fifth-grade teacher.

Months before, Aguilar had been featured in a Times article as one of the most effective teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District at raising student scores on standardized tests. Many of his students, the article noted, had vaulted from the bottom 30% in the district to well above average.

More scores coming soon: The Times is preparing to release to the public a new round of value-added scores for Los Angeles elementary school teachers. Beginning Wednesday, all teachers who have a ranking in the updated database -- about 11,500 third- through fifth-grade teachers in all -- are invited to request a preview and comment on their scores at To ensure that comments are included when the scores are published, please respond by April 14.

The article contrasted Aguilar's performance with that of the teacher next door, John Smith, who ranked among the district's least effective teachers. Pupils in both classes faced similar challenges in the poor, predominantly Latino community.

When the article appeared — followed soon after by a database ranking about 6,000 Los Angeles elementary school teachers — it ignited debate nationwide. Educators, teachers unions and experts warned that publicly rating teachers would pit one against the other.

Seven months later, Broadous teachers and the principal say the opposite has occurred. They've noticed a new openness to talking about what works, an urgent desire to improve. "It's encouraged them to collaborate," said Eidy Hemmati, the school's intervention coordinator.

Indeed, Broadous teachers — including Smith — have repeatedly sought out Aguilar's help this school year, despite the potential for hard feelings.

The new experiment, however, may be short-lived.

After a particularly long day of teaching several weeks ago, Aguilar found a pink slip in his mailbox. He was one of about 5,000 district teachers notified that they might lose their jobs this summer, depending on the troubled budget.

Smith didn't get a pink slip. In California and most other states, seniority, not performance, is the sole consideration when layoffs come.

Smith has been with the district 15 years, Aguilar eight.

'A lot of jealousy'

In the initial weeks after the article came out, Aguilar said he "went through hell."

"There's a lot of jealousy and hate out there.... People said things like, 'There's this guy who thinks he's all good just because he's Latino and he's friends with the kids. How do you know he's not cheating?'"

Many educators, including many at Broadous, were skeptical of The Times' statistical approach, known as "value-added analysis." In essence, it estimates a teacher's effectiveness by measuring each student's performance on standardized tests compared to previous years. Because it measures students against their own track records, it largely controls for socioeconomic differences.

Districts across the country are adopting the approach, but opposition to value-added remains strong among many teachers and their unions, and some experts consider it too unreliable for high-stakes decisions. Proponents acknowledge that it is imperfect, but say that it is the most reliable tool available and that it should be used along with other measures.

Like most districts, L.A. Unified historically hasn't distinguished between its stars and its stragglers, often rating the vast majority of teachers "satisfactory." And the culture of the teachers union values solidarity — during a protest against The Times last year, one of the union's speakers shouted, "We are all John Smiths."

By singling out Aguilar, the Times article had put him under an uneasy spotlight.

"Little by little I felt like I had to prove I was respected not just because of my test scores," he said, "but because of what I'm teaching in my classroom."

On visits to his classroom, Principal Stannis Steinbeck quickly concluded that Aguilar was not simply "teaching to the test" — a concern among critics of the value-added approach. He had an uncanny ability to connect with his students while commanding their respect.

When she learned later that Aguilar had devised his own method for teaching reading and comprehension, she asked for a demonstration. Steinbeck was impressed: Aguilar forced students to slow down and think before answering questions. Without dumbing down lessons, he broke down key concepts in a way that his fifth-graders, among the grade's least fluent in English, could readily understand.

Steinbeck asked Aguilar if he'd be willing to lead a school-wide training session. Aguilar said her request "blew my mind."

The demonstration to a classroom full of teachers in February was well received. So he went grade by grade giving sample lessons as the teachers looked on. Within six weeks, third-grade proficiency in reading and comprehension rose from 20% to 30%, Steinbeck said.

"Miguel is part of creating the new culture at this school," Steinbeck said. "I think every principal should know that within their ranks there are teachers who can take the lead like this."

Today, all Broadous teachers in second through fifth grades use his approach for reading and comprehension, Steinbeck said. Instructors have also begun using the method in history, social studies and science.

"We're seeing the results in everything the kids are doing, including their essay writing," Steinbeck said.

Aguilar's fellow teachers expressed cautious enthusiasm. "His strategies are not the end all, they're not the light from heaven," said Sawelenko, the fellow fifth-grade teacher. "But it's a step forward, and it's a lot better than what we were doing."

Critical thinking

"It's time to begin workshop," Aguilar told his class on a recent Friday morning.

The week before, the class had read a short story. Now, during the period each day when teachers can choose a skill to reinforce, the students were going to tackle some comprehension questions they had composed.

"It's going to get us to think," he told the class, "to become better critical thinkers."

"Follow with your finger as we read aloud," he said. In unison, the class read, "Why was Robert afraid of catching the ball?"

At this point in many classrooms, students would work independently or in groups to answer the question. But Aguilar had his students take out crayons and colored pencils to dissect the question and circle the main point.

Most circled the words, "Why was Robert afraid."

Aguilar called, unsolicited, on different students, checking their comprehension before asking the others whether they agreed. He then asked the class what the question was asking for, a prediction or an inference.

Once the class had settled on inference, the students went back to the story to find evidence to support their answer.

After 30 minutes working through the questions, each student wrote down his or her answer. The process eventually becomes automatic for students and they cover the material more quickly, Aguilar said.

That night at home, Aguilar made a chart of which students got which type of questions wrong. The next week, he would put them in groups to focus on that particular comprehension skill.

It wasn't rocket science, he admitted. But it worked.

Working together

After his February demonstration, Aguilar said, Smith approached him. "He said he really found it helpful, and he was going to try to implement it in his room," Aguilar recalled.

Since then, the two have been working closely together, most recently to help Smith catch up in math, where his class had slipped several chapters behind, Aguilar said.

Steinbeck has worked with Smith too, team-teaching with him often this year. "He's grateful for the help," she said. "He says he's learning a lot this year and feels comfortable."

"I'm not saying he's perfect yet … but we've been working together more closely, and he truly understands what he needs to do."

Smith would not comment for this article. District officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Steinbeck and several teachers at the school said they feared the new spirit of collaboration would dissolve if Aguilar were laid off this summer.

"Honestly, if he leaves, I won't have anyone to collaborate with," Sawelenko said. "It's an absolute disservice to children and it's morally wrong."

By Stephen Sawchuk | EdWeek |

31 March 2011 - This year was not the first in which Monica Iñiguez, a 4th grade teacher at Noble Avenue Elementary, in Los Angeles, received a pink slip.

But it is the first year that her husband, a teacher in a nearby middle school, also received a pink slip, the first year they’ve been in escrow on a house, and the first year she has doubts about whether teachers will agree to furloughs to stave off cuts, as they have in prior years.

And she is concerned about the frustration of her colleagues at her school, located in the heavily Latino North Hills neighborhood: Nearly half the school’s 52 teachers have received pink slips.

The situation has made it hard to keep morale up in the 1,200-student school, where teachers attribute recent increases in student achievement to teamwork, long hours, and hard work.

“Last week, I had a moment where we had to have a grade-level meeting, and I really didn’t want to be there,” Ms. Iñiguez said. “I thought, why am I going to go through all this data analysis if I’m not going to be there in the fall?”

For the teachers who receive them, pink slips mark entry into a purgatory of sorts, in which they wait to see whether they are ultimately to lose their jobs—a decision sometimes made weeks or months later. The warnings of prospective layoffs are generally required by state law and sometimes by local collective bargaining agreements; they are intended to give teachers adequate notice that they may need to search for other employment.

But the stories like those of the teachers at Noble Avenue Elementary provide insight into some of the pink slips’ side effects on teaching and learning.
Finding Funding

“What has increasingly been the case is so many people get pink slips, no one knows who or how many will get laid off,” said Michael P. Griffith, an education funding analyst for the Denver-based Education Commission of the States. “Its usefulness to teachers has diminished.”

Far more reports of pink slips are on the horizon, as more-conservative state legislatures advance tighter budgets, and the federal economic-stimulus aid that has helped preserve school spending dries up.

In practice, the number of pink slips a district sends out is rarely identical to the number of teachers who will actually be laid off. Though primarily meant to warn teachers, pink slips have also been used as a policy tool by various education leaders to pressure action by districts, teachers’ unions, or voters to find additional sources of cash to save jobs, Mr. Griffith said.

Their effect appears to be particularly acute in states such as California, where state law requires districts to send pink slips in March—long before state and local education budgets are final. Districts must make pessimistic estimates or risk being out of compliance with the state code or bargaining agreements.

“The effect [the practice has] had is to force districts to be über-careful, but it does create some panic in the districts,” said Emily Cohen, the director of district policy for the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality, an advocacy group.

That is certainly the case in Providence, R.I., where the school district recently sent each of its 1,925 teachers a pink slip. The district, which made the decisions at the direction of Mayor Angel Tavares, cited budget flexibility as its reason. But the decision brought a swift response from the president of the Providence Teachers’ Union, Steve Smith.

“I think the mayor doesn’t realize how damaging it is to the relationship with teachers,” Mr. Smith said. The city recently won plaudits for the collaborative efforts on a new teacher-evaluation system and school turnarounds between Mr. Smith and Tom Brady, the schools superintendent, who tendered his resignation last week.

A spokesman for Mayor Tavares did not return a call seeking comment.

Mr. Smith said, however, that he felt the district and not the state law was primarily to blame. “Every other district in the state has figured this [law] out,” he said.

A $408 million deficit in the Los Angeles district, meanwhile, has led the district to make an ample estimate of the number of cuts it may need to make. It sent about 4,500 pink slips to teachers in March.

“The state budget timeline is not in coordination with the March 15 [pink-slip] deadline,” said Vivian K. Ekchian, the human-resources director for the 678,000-student district. “We have to send the notices out under our best understanding of the budget.”

An updated budget picture won’t be completed until May, when the Los Angeles district has a better handle on enrollment projections and teacher resignations and retirements, among other measures. In addition, school “site councils” there make decisions about how to spend some state and federal money, which can be used for teaching positions or other purposes. ("Amid Fiscal Crisis, L.A. Gives Site Councils Budget Reins," July 15, 2009.)

Finally, a much-publicized settlement in a state lawsuit shelters 45 Los Angeles schools from staff cuts, meaning that district officials have had to redirect those 502 pink slips to teachers in the district’s other 1,050 schools. ("L.A. Settles ACLU Suit on Layoffs," October 13, 2010.) The average school in Los Angeles had 15 percent of its staff impacted by the notices, and district officials sought to apply the additional layoffs to schools below that threshold.

Nevertheless, a handful of elementary schools, like Noble Avenue, have upwards of half their teaching staffs receiving pink slips.

Ms. Ekchian, who fields calls and emails from teachers, says she sympathizes with those who are frustrated by the waiting game.

“They’re terribly distraught by this process,” she said. “I am, too.”
‘Our Lives on Hold’

Budget experts anticipate that more teachers will receive the notices over the next few months, as more states reach their pink-slip deadlines.

It’s hard to tell just how many are likely to go out. States have not completed their budgeting for this year, and federal aid remains in flux. For the federal fiscal year, which began last Oct. 1, Congress has provided aid through a series of stopgap measures, but fierce wrangling over budget cuts has made Washington’s comparatively small share of education funding hard to count on.

Pink slips typically are reserved for nontenured teachers, who under reverse-seniority policies are usually the ones let go. Prospective cuts in Los Angeles are so numerous, though, that some of the teachers who received pink slips have been teaching since 2001 and have tenure.

Noble Avenue teachers say their situation is doubly frustrating: Though the elementary school serves many disadvantaged students and has made progress in recent years, it was not among the schools shielded under the court settlement.

In the past, district leaders have worked out furlough days with the teachers’ union—five in 2009-10 and seven this school year—allowing the district to rescind some pink slips, though it has had to lay off some 2,700 teachers since 2008-09.

The district is again in negotiations with United Teachers Los Angeles about concessions, with both furloughs and benefits potentially on the table. District and union leaders alike had hoped that state lawmakers would put to voters this summer a proposal to temporarily extend taxes, but California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, abandoned that plan.

Though Ms. Iñiguez knows that all the pink-slipped teachers in her school would lose their jobs only under a worst-case scenario, it’s of little comfort at the moment.

“This is ridiculous,” she said. “We’re putting our lives on hold.”

Either through state legislation or collective bargaining agreements, districts must meet specified deadlines in sending pink slips to teachers.

1 Nevada, Rhode Island
15 California, Oregon, Wisconsin
16 Alaska

10 Oklahoma
15 Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming
30 Iowa, Ohio

1 Arkansas, Kansas
1st Monday West Virginia
15 Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, New Jersey, North Carolina
25 Idaho

1 Montana
15 Massachusetts

1 Minnesota

60 days before end of school year
Illinois, Michigan, Utah

45 days before end of school year

30 days’ notice
New York

14 days before end of school year
New Mexico

Last day of school year
Alaska, Alabama

Decided Locally
Colorado, Florida

No state policy
Arizona, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania

SOURCE: National Council on Teacher Quality

by Howard Blume - LA Times/LA Now |

April 3, 2011 | The board of directors of ICEF Public Schools voted Saturday to move forward with negotiations that are expected to result in the takeover of ICEF by another charter school organization.

The vote came after a two-hour meeting during which ICEF parents and staff could ask questions about the pending merger with Alliance College-Ready Public Schools. About 500 parents were in attendance at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in South Los Angeles.

Parents expressed concerns about whether ICEF schools would lose aspects of an academic and cultural program that includes sports, art and music. There also were worries about how well the clientele of the two nonprofits would mesh. ICEF’s enrollment is largely African American; the overwhelming majority of Alliance students are Latino.

But ICEF board chairman Richard Riordan, the former Los Angeles mayor, said ICEF’s basic choice was to merge or close because of ICEF’s financial problems. The combined organization would be the largest charter school group in Southern California and possibly the state.

The ICEF and Alliance boards can now begin formal negotiations. Sources close to the process indicated that, under terms of the proposed merger, the Alliance board would have full control over the combined operations.

●●smf: The ICEF website was down this morning.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
SENSIBLE TALK ABOUT STUDENT TESTING FROM THE PRESIDENT: Themes in the News for the week of March 28-April 1, 201...

NO BREAKDOWN ON TEACHER LAYOFFS: Ignorance no excuse for disproportionate layoffs: By John Fensterwald - Educat... about 1 hour ago via twitterfeed

IT’S TIME TO TINKER WITH ‘UNTOUCHABLE’ PROP. 13 + smf 2¢: Steve Lopez | LA Times columnist |

Dan Walters: BUDGET BLOWUP REVEALS CALIFORNIA’S STRUCTURAL FAULTS: By Dan Walters | Sacramento Bee | http://b...

POTENTIAL LAYOFFS THREATEN 'LITTLE SCHOOL THAT COULD': Budget cuts and teacher layoffs would be a huge setback f...


TEACHER INCENTIVES AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT: Evidence from New York City Public Schools: “If anything, teacher in...

JOURNALISTS, MEDIA FAIL EDUCATION REFORM DEBATE: “Most educators don't write articles, and most journalists don'...


Report: WHAT MAKES KIPP WORK? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition and School Finance: by Gary Miron, J...

Letters: VALUE ADDED TEACHERS – Administrators, Shakespeare take the rap: Letters to the Editor of the LA Times,...

CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY COLLEGES TO SLASH ENROLLMENT, CLASSES: With state budget talks halted, the 112-campus syste...

Teachers’ Union Election Results: FLETCHER WINS UTLA PRESIDENCY IN UPSET: from utla : ...


Op-Ed in the LA Daily News By Jed Wallace, president and chief executive officer of the California Charter Schools Association | 3/30/2011 05:46:52 PM PDT - CHARTER schools are public schools of choice that play an important role in our public education system. In Los Angeles, charter school students account for about 10 percent of the student population, and the number

Bernstein High Faces Challenges and Meets Them Principal Angela Hewlett-Bloch shares her Hollywood school's successes and the difficulties her students and staff face from budget cuts. By Lindsey Baguio | Hollywood Patch |

CALIFORNIA BUDGET BREAKDOWN: Jerry Brown ends budget negotiations with GOP
Governor Brown Issues Statement Halting Budget Negotiations office of the governor 3-29-2011 SACRAMENTO - Governor Jerry Brown today issued the following statement on his decision to halt budget negotiations: "Yesterday, I stopped the discussions that I had been conducting with various members of the Republican party regarding our

The board drops Open Court, which many teachers said robbed them of independence. California Treasures 'is very supportive if you don't have the expertise and respectful of those who do,' says a review panel member. By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times |

OPEN COURT OUT, TREASURES IN: New elementary reading curriculum is expected to improve learning.
School board votes to replace Open Court program By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News |

Children questioned by police in school, though not in formal custody but without doubt in a coercive setting, should be given the Miranda warning. LA Times Editorial |

My Turn -Diana L. Chapman, CityWatch Vol 9 Issue 25 |

Alexander Russo | This Week in Education blog | March 28, 2011 | Posted At: 04:27 PM | Sam Dillon reported in Saturday’s New York Times [Charter School Champion Shifts Focus – follows] that Steve Barr's spinoff organization has now changed its name in order to clarify the legal and operational separation between Barr’s current work and Green Dot Public Schools, Barr’s

2011 ED SOURCE FORUM "The Future for Public Education in California" VIDEOS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE
from Ed Source If you missed the 2011 EdSource Forum, or if you attended and want to see any of the sessions again, you can now catch all the presentations and discussions online. With a focus on "The Future for Public Education in California," the Forum sessions included: California's Fiscal Crisis and its Impact on K-12 Education and Community Colleges

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 Brown: 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. THEY DO!.

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 represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten years. 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.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.