Sunday, October 30, 2011

Students ought mot Be a means of profit.

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 30•Oct•2011 Halloween Eve
In This Issue:
PENSION REFORM’S IMPACT ON TEACHERS: Brown would raise new teachers' retirement age to 67
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
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LA Times: October 25, 2011: "For almost a week, Nate Grant has sat cross-legged on a wall at the Occupy Wall Street encampment, holding a cardboard sign that bears his scrawled grievance: 'Students Ought Not Be a Means of Profit.'"

The article [] is about the nation's almost $1 trillion student loan debt. But the scribbled sentiment is just as true of the privatization and corporatization of public education. AKA School Reform®.

Following is an essay; A PRIMER ON CORPORATE SCHOOL REFORM on exactly what's going on. I recommend it and the longer form fifty-on minute speech by Stan Karp from which it was culled. If the essay and the speech are both too long for your attention span or valuable time, please take away these two quotes, tweets from the front line of the counter-revolution:

● “Fighting Broad and Gates is like whack-a-mole. Their network is stronger than ours at this point, but our own efforts are building and resonating.”
●"And in the current education reform debates, saying poverty isn't an excuse has become an excuse for ignoring poverty."

Karp describes the efforts in New Jersey to fight off the menace.

THE BATTLE IS BEING WAGED NOW IN COLORADO as you read this. See: BIG MONEY, BAD MEDIA, SECRET AGENDAS: Welcome to America's Wildest School Board Race |

A 4LAKids correspondent from SaveOurSchools Colorado writes:

"As many of you know, there is quite a heated commotion regarding the school board candidates in Denver. The Mayor is even thinking about taking mayoral control over our school board if he does not like the outcome of the election.

"Please take the time to research the different candidates in your district and to find those who say they will support our 4 guiding principles.

● Equity in public education funding.
● Stop the privatization of public schools.
● End testing used for high stakes purposes, such as teacher, student, and school evaluations.
● Strengthen curriculum by including teacher and community voices: Education reform designed by parents, teachers, and communities and not corporate interests.

THE NEXT BIG BATTLE MAY BE IN SAN DIEGO, where the school district is poised on the precipice of insolvency, state take-over and all that that entails.

With all of California's challenges and a few of their own ["Citing the district’s 'substantially narrowed financial flexibility', MOODY'S DOWNGRADES SD UNIFIED'S CREDIT RATING from Aa1 to Aa2 |]. SDUSD has been increasing class sizes and laying-off teachers. Furloughs, reduced school year, eliminating programs. That hasn't been enough – but the cuts have created excess capacity (20:1 with 60 kids uses 3 classes; 30:1 with 60 uses 2, leaving one vacant; no arts requires zero classrooms) Now they are considering consolidating schools and closing some to save more money.

Some think they may be able to sell the surplus real estate to generate money.

This is as false as economy gets

1. The real estate/ building development market is not in a recession, it's in a depression.
2. Closing a school costs money – and reopening after it's closed for a couple of years really costs big money,
3. A school standing vacant in a community depresses property values – creating bad feelings, perpetuating the economic downturn and lowering the tax base …in turn lowering the school's revenues.
4. California Prop 39 says that a vacant "surplus" school must be offered first to a charter school. Creating a vacancy will draw in charter operators (as well it should. An empty school is an abomination to the Lord and any school is better than no school – I'm sure it says that in the Bible somewhere.)
5. A charter will draw students from District schools (especially the ones moved away from their neighborhood school), drawing away even more revenues. And the slippery slope to insolvency becomes a high speed on-ramp.

And, quoting from 4LAKids favorite list of enough-bullet-points-for-a-machine-gun:
#1. Schools in your district are suddenly closed.
#2. Even top-performing schools, alternative schools, schools for the gifted, are inexplicably and suddenly targeted for closure or mergers.

►UPDATE: It looks like the SDUSD Board is about to reconsider - see: REPRIEVE IN WORKS FOR S.D. UNIFIED SCHOOLS |

THE MANHATTAN INSTITUTE – publisher of City Journal – a noted Reform® Supporter* – is up in arms because the Occupy LA folks and the Occupy LAUSD folks are liberals and progressives and …OMG! – Democrats who know each other AND share common values beyond a love for sleeping al fresco. If God wanted us to live in tents why did He build the W Hotel? What else is a conspiracy but this?

Now I admit that Occupy LAUSD is an unholy owned subsidiary of Red-Shirts-on-Tuesday UTLA …but I don't go so far as to equate the colors of their shirts with soviet communism. And of course, the closeness between the civic minded folks behind Don't Hold Us Back® and Dr. D's Los Angeles Fund for Public Education and their billionaire friends and charter school associates is not collusion but a confluence of coincidence+collegiality.

City Journal proves whatever their point is (ADD is its own reward) by quoting "Los Angeles Education blogger Anthony Krinsky" - (Who you say? His blog has 29 followers!) who claims that "despite three consecutive years of layoffs, we (perhaps he has a mouse in his pocket?) have more teachers per student than we had 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, and 20 years ago.” If you want to take this math up with Krinsky, you can find his email address at I'm not going there; I have enough crazy relatives to make new crazy friends.

Public pensions? They aren't even a problem and they're being fixed. See: PENSION REFORM’S IMPACT ON TEACHERS

Diane Ravitch in NCLB: END IT, DON'T MEND IT points out that some things are so bad they can't and shouldn't be fixed. The NY Times, in THE WRONG FIX FOR NCLB calls for a total overhaul.

And UCLA IDEA, in the news that doesn't fit: SCIENCE & TECHNLOGY, THE NEWEST FRILLS tells why. Sure test scores are improving - but it’s only English language scores and math scores. Those scores can determine schools’ reputations and sometimes their survival, not to mention educators’ jobs and salaries. Gains are at the expense of subjects not tested. First to go were courses related to students’ health and well-being, such as driver’s ed, cooking, aerobics, etc. Next, the arts hit the chopping block: choral and instrumental music, art appreciation, drawing, etc. Then civics and social studies. And now, science and technology are endangered.

THE LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD HAS RECONFIRMED THE REIMPLEMENTATION OF THE EARLY START CALENDAR. Mark it on your calendar in pencil - this may change again when the real budget numbers become more clear.

IF WE IGNORE IT MAYBE PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE WILL GO AWAY? The public is apparently staying away from the PSC v 3.0 community meetings in droves – and – unreported in the media - ten schools were taken off the list. |

CALIFORNIA EMPLOYS FEWER SCHOOL LIBRARIANS THAN ANY OTHER STATE according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Here, there is one school librarian for every 5,965 students; the national average is one librarian to 865 students. | LIBRARIES CAN'T RUN THEMSELVES

● First we had the Community College School Bond Funding Fiasco, with the LACCD refusing to cooperate with the State Auditor on the Van de Kamps satellite campus investigation – prompting the auditors' accusation of wrongdoing – evidenced in the court case following.
● The issue of brutality in the jails produced indignant denial from the Sheriff.
● Now it turns out that the Board of Supervisors refused to cooperate with a state audit of the county's foster care system and Child Protective Services. LAT: "Auditors had sought to include data from Los Angeles County, but the county Board of Supervisors rebuffed subpoenas for child death information and hired outside lawyers to fight the inquiry, arguing that many of the records were subject to attorney-client privilege." |

Children were at risk – wards of the county - but the county supes protected their petty fiefdoms. Like the Sheriff the BOS are now promising to cooperate.

"How many deaths?" the song asks, "...will it takes 'till he knows…"

IN CLOSING: The Alliance of College Ready Public (Charter) Schools– when they applied to lease part the satellite community college campus at the former Van de Kamps bakery in Northeast Los Angeles testified before the Community College District Board about how resilient and agreeable they are. Charter schools often move from location-to-location, their chief operating officer said; incubating in one spot – growing in another - before finding a final home at a third.

Now a judge has ruled that Alliances' lease at Van de Kamps violates LACCD's Environmental Impact Report for the site. (To be clear: the alleged wrongdoing is the college district's, not the school's.) see: Court Rules LA Community College District Violated Environmental Laws in Turning Van de Kamps Campus over to Charter School and the Mayor's Workforce Programs |

● Irony Alert: The school in question is ALLIANCE ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY HS; yet its occupancy violates the California Environment Quality Act (CEQA).

And now Alliance's CEO - in a filing with the court [] - claims they will have to close shop and toss the kids out onto the street – or to the Los Angeles Unified School District -- because they couldn't possibly move.

And, if you look at that filing closely, on page 1, Line 20, you will see that the lead Real Party of Interest is ALLIANCE FOR COLLEGE READY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, a private school….

And so it is. Or maybe isn't.

¡Onward/Adelante! – smf

* Like an Athletic Supporter ...only with deep pockets!

By Stan Karp - from Valerie Strauss' Answer Sheet/The Washington Post |

Note: This is an edited version of a commentary given by Stan Karp , a teacher of English and journalism in Paterson, N.J., for 30 years. Karp spoke on Oct. 1 at the fourth annual Northwest Teachers for Justice conference in Seattle. He is now the director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey’s Education Law Center and an editor of the 25-year-old Rethinking Schools magazine.

“CORPORATE EDUCATION REFORM” refers to a specific set of policy proposals currently driving education policy at the state and federal level. These proposals include:

• increased test-based evaluation of students, teachers, and schools of education
• elimination or weakening of tenure and seniority rights
• an end to pay for experience or advanced degrees
• closing schools deemed low performing and their replacement by publicly funded, but privately run charters
• replacing governance by local school boards with various forms of mayoral and state takeover or private management
• vouchers and tax credit subsidies for private school tuition
• increases in class size, sometimes tied to the firing of 5-10% of the teaching staff
• implementation of Common Core standards and something called “college and career readiness” as a standard for high school graduation:

These proposals are being promoted by reams of foundation reports, well-funded think tanks, a proliferation of astroturf political groups, and canned legislation from the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC).

Together these strategies use the testing regime that is the main engine of corporate reform to extend the narrow standardization of curricula and scripted classroom practice that we’ve seen under No Child Left Behind, and to drill down even further into the fabric of schooling to transform the teaching profession and create a less experienced, less secure, less stable and less expensive professional staff. Where NCLB used test scores to impose sanctions on schools and sometimes students (e.g., grade retention, diploma denial), test-based sanctions are increasingly targeted at teachers.

A larger corporate reform goal, in addition to changing the way schools and classrooms function, is reflected in the attacks on collective bargaining and teacher unions and in the permanent crisis of school funding across the country. These policies undermine public education and facilitate its replacement by a market-based system that would do for schooling what the market has done for health care, housing, and employment: produce fabulous profits and opportunities for a few and unequal outcomes and access for the many....

Standardized tests have been disguising class and race privilege as merit for decades. They’ve become the credit default swaps of the education world. Few people understand how either really works. Both encourage a focus on short-term gains over long-term goals. And both drive bad behavior on the part of those in charge. Yet these deeply flawed tests have become the primary policy instruments used to shrink public space, impose sanctions on teachers and close or punish schools. And if the corporate reformers have their way, their schemes to evaluate teachers and the schools of education they came from on the basis of yet another new generation of standardized tests, it will make the testing plague unleashed by NCLB pale by comparison.

Let’s look for a minute at what corporate reformers have actually achieved when it comes to addressing the real problems of public education:

First, they over-reached and chose the wrong target. They didn’t go after funding inequity, poverty, reform faddism, consultant profiteering, massive teacher turnover, politicized bureaucratic management, or the overuse and misuse of testing.

Instead, they went after collective bargaining, teacher tenure, and seniority. And they went after the universal public and democratic character of public schools.

Look again at the proposals the corporate reformers have made prominent features of school reform efforts in every state: rapid expansion of charters, closing low performing schools, more testing, elimination of tenure and seniority for teachers, and test-based teacher evaluation.

• If every one of these policies were fully implemented in every state tomorrow, it would do absolutely nothing to close academic achievement gaps, increase high school graduation rates, or expand access to college.

• There is no evidence tying any of these proposals to better outcomes for large numbers of kids over time. The greatest gains in reducing gaps in achievement and opportunity have been made during periods when concentrated poverty has been dispersed through efforts at integration, or during economic growth for the black middle class and other communities, or where significant new investments in school funding have occurred.

Or take the issue of poverty. Most teachers agree that poverty is no excuse for lousy schooling; much of our work is about proving that the potential of our students and communities can be fulfilled when their needs are met and the reality of their lives is reflected in our schools and classrooms. But in the current reform debates, saying poverty isn’t an excuse has become an excuse for ignoring poverty.

Corporate reform plans being put forward do nothing to reduce the concentrations of 70/80/90% poverty that remain the central problem in urban education. Instead, educational inequality has become the entry point for disruptive reform that increases instability throughout the system and creates new forms of collateral damage in our most vulnerable communities.

The “disruptive reform” that corporate reformers claim is necessary to shake up the status quo is increasing pressure on 5,000 schools serving the poorest communities at a time of unprecedented economic crisis and budget cutting. The latest waiver bailout for NCLB announced recently by Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan would actually ratchet up that pressure. While it rolls back NCLB’s absurd adequate yearly progress system just as it was about to self-destruct, the new guidelines require states that apply for waivers to identify up to 15% of their schools with the lowest scores for unproven “turnaround” interventions, “charterization,” or closing.

Teachers and schools, who in many cases are day to day the strongest advocates and most stable support system struggling youth have, are instead being scapegoated for a society that is failing our children. At the same time, corporate reformers are giving parents triggers to blow up the schools they have, but little say and no guarantees about what will replace them.

The only thing corporate ed reform policies have done successfully is bring the anti-labor politics of class warfare to public schools. By overreaching, demonizing teachers and unions, and sharply polarizing the education debate, corporate reform has undermined serious efforts to improve schools. It’s narrowed the common ground and eroded the broad public support a universal system of public education needs to survive.

For example, there is actually a lot of common ground on the need to improve teacher support and evaluation. There’s widespread agreement among educators, parents, and administrators on the following suggestions for improvement:

• better preparation and evaluation before new teachers get tenure (or leave the profession, as 50% do within 5 years)

• reasonable, timely procedures for resolving tenure hearings when they are initiated

• a credible intervention process to remediate and if necessary remove ineffective teachers, tenured and non-tenured

Good models for each of these ideas exist, many with strong teacher union support, but overreaching by corporate reformers has detached the issue of teacher quality from the conditions that produce it.

Their experiments are staffing our most challenging schools with novices or Teach for America temps on their way to other careers. Corporate reform plans are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into data systems and tests designed to replace collaborative professional culture and experienced instructional leadership with a kind of psychometric astrology. These data-driven formulas lack both statistical credibility and a basic understanding of the human motivations and relationships that make good schooling possible. Instead of “elevating the profession,” corporate reform is downsizing and micromanaging it.

Right now, my home state of New Jersey is getting ready to implement a so-called “growth model” developed in Colorado, where they are now giving first graders multiple choice questions about Picasso paintings and using the results to decide the compensation level and job security of teachers.

This is not “accountability.”

A VIDEO and the FULL SPEECH can be found here.

PENSION REFORM’S IMPACT ON TEACHERS: Brown would raise new teachers' retirement age to 67
By John Fensterwald - Educated Guess |

Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to rein in pension costs, future teachers would work years longer before they could retire with smaller pensions. Current teachers and administrators would soon pay about 1 percent more out of their paychecks toward their retirement. And both current and future educators would be unable to retire, then turn around and return to the classroom full time.

Brown’s pension reforms would uniformly apply to all public employees, state and local, municipal and school. They would significantly decrease benefits, especially for new workers, and lower the risk for governments, by raising the retirement age from as early as 55 to 67 for all new non-safety employees, and by replacing a significant portion of a defined benefit plan with a defined contribution plan similar to a 401(k).

“This is a decisive step forward,” Brown said at a press conference. “The plan will make the pension system more sustainable and fair to taxpayers and the employee.”

Brown’s plan would reduce the state’s pension costs by billions of dollars over the next 30 years. What it would not do, because it applies primarily to new workers, is solve the current huge unfunded liability facing most pension plans. That includes CalSTRS, the nation’s largest pension fund for educators, which is currently only 71 percent funded and could run out of money in 30 years unless the state pays in hundreds of millions of dollars more per year. Nothing in the plan would address the unfunded liability issue, and Brown indicated he doesn’t intend to do so next year.

Here’s how Brown’s 12-point plan would appear specifically to affect to CalSTRS members. The governor has presented only an outline; details aren’t clear on a lot of important aspects, such as terms of early retirement. Brown also indicated he favors a cap on defined benefits, affecting higher-paid administrators and superintendents, though he didn’t specify what the level would be.

A shift to splitting the contributions of annual normal pension costs between educators and the state/school districts. Current teachers pay 8 percent of their pay toward retirement; districts pay 8.25 percent, and the state 2.017 percent. That adds up to 18.25 percent. (The state pays another 2.5 percent into a cost-of-living fund.) But the key word is normal costs, says Ed Derman, CalSTRS Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Plan Design. That means ­the annual contributions needed to meet actuaries’ assumptions of pension payouts and revenues not funded by investment returns. That, he says, is currently 17.7 percent. A split of that would be 8.85 percent, so CalSTRS members can expect to pay about 1 percentage point more of their pay, phased in. (Update: School employees who pay into CalPERS– non-classified workers like custodians and secretaries – would be affected more, Sheila Vickers, Vice President of School Services of California, reminds me. They current pay 7 percent of their pay to retirement, while the district contributes 13 percent. Under the 50-50 split, which would be phased in, districts would save money, while employees would pay more.)

However, if the CalSTRS board lowers its expected rate of return on investments, now 7.75 percent, as critics have called for, the contribution rate would increase. Again, this doesn’t take into account the additional payments needed to meet a $56 billion unfunded liability. Based on court decisions, that would be entirely the state’s burden and could raise the state’s contribution by 14 percentage points to 32.25 percent of payroll – a whopping extra burden on taxpayers.

A new hybrid plan for new teachers that introduces a defined contribution component. Because CalSTRS members do not pay into or receive Social Security, the defined benefit plan would cover two-thirds of the pension benefit and the defined contribution would cover a third. The target pension that teachers/administrators would receive would be 75 percent of their salaries after 35 years of work (with a cap for some higher-paying jobs). That would be less than currently received under CalSTRS. Teachers who retire at age 64 with 35 years in now can retire with 84 percent of final pay, with an additional 2.4 percent for every year beyond that.

A higher retirement age for new teachers. Saying, “We have to align retirement ages with actual working years and life expectancy,” Brown’s plan would raise the retirement age to 67, the current age for full benefits under Social Security. Currently, teachers who retire at age 60 after working 35 years receive 70 percent of full salary (2 percent times 35 years). Under Brown’s plan, they could not draw full retirement for another seven years, saving the system $364,000 for a teacher who made $70,000 a year.

Anti-spiking protections for new employees. To avoid perks thrown in during the final year to boost pensions, pensions would be based on the average of an employee’s final three years. Bonuses, unused vacation, and sick pay would no longer count toward compensation.

No more double dipping. Raising the retirement age will discourage a revolving door of having public employees, including teachers and superintendents, retiring one day and returning the next in a new full-time job. Brown would restrict retirees on public pensions to working 960 hours or 120 days per year for a public employer – about two-thirds of a school year.

Bans on retroactive pension increases and the purchase of additional retirement service credit for time not actually worked., known as “airtime.” Districts had offered this as a way of encouraging early retirement.


Brown wants to put the uniform changes on the November 2012 ballot as a constitutional amendment. That would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature – a formidable hurdle, given expected union opposition to the biggest changes, like raising the retirement age, and to circumventing negotiations via the ballot.

“We simply cannot stand for imposing additional retirement rollbacks on millions of workers without bargaining,” Dave Low, representing a coalition of public employee unions, said. The California Teachers Association, still examining the plan, didn’t issue a statement Thursday.

But Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, one of three senators chosen to serve on a new conference committee to deal with pension reforms, called Brown’s plan “substantive and significant” and credited him with making it comprehensive.

Simitian worked for two years, without success, to get an anti-spiking bill passed, and that should have been the easy piece. Now, he said, “with more moving parts, it will be more difficult to develop consensus.” The two-thirds requirement to get it out of the Legislature will be difficult but doable, he said.

Brown will have to thread the needle to win over Democrats who will side with labor and Republicans who will charge he didn’t go far enough with his reforms. Reacting to the proposed hybrid plan, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told the Sacramento Bee, “I believe in defined benefit, because I don’t think that retirement should be based on the ups and downs of what occurs on Wall Street.” (Never mind that when Wall Street tanks, and public pension plans don’t make 7.75 percent returns, taxpayers are left holding the bag.)

But Brown cautioned that voters want pension reform, and implied that a failure to put it on the ballot will hurt chances to pass higher taxes. “Legislators would be well advised to take (pensions) seriously, get it all enacted and get it on the ballot when there are things they will be particularly interested in,” he said.

by Diane Ravitch in Education Week |

October 25, 2011 9:45 AM | Have you been following the evolving story of the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind? I have, and it is disheartening. Instead of ditching this disastrous law, senators are trying to apply patches.

Most people now recognize that NCLB is a train wreck. Its mandates have imposed on American public education an unhealthy obsession with standardized testing.

● It has incentivized cheating, as we have seen in the well-publicized cheating scandals in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.
● It has encouraged states to game the system, as we saw in New York state, where the state tests were made easier and more predictable so as to bolster the number of children who reached "proficiency."
● It has narrowed the curriculum; many districts and schools have reduced or eliminated time for the arts, physical education, and other non-tested subjects.
● It has caused states to squander billions of dollars on testing and test preparation, while teachers are laid off and essential services slashed. Now we will squander millions more on test security to detect cheating.

Because of NCLB, more than 80 percent of our nation's public schools will be labeled "failures" this year. By 2014, on the NCLB timetable of destruction, close to 100 percent of public schools will have "failed" in their efforts to reach the unreachable goal of 100 percent proficiency in reading and math. Has there ever been a national legislative body anywhere else in the world that has passed legislation that labeled almost every one of its schools a failure? I don't think so.

Despite the manifest failure of NCLB, the Obama administration proposes not to scrap it, but to offer waivers if states agree to accept the mandates selected by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The secretary has a great fondness for teacher evaluation, having decided (in concert with the Gates Foundation) that the key to better education is to tie teachers' jobs and tenure to their students' test scores. This, of course, will raise the stakes attached to testing. Mr. Duncan has already used the billions in Race to the Top to bribe states to impose his unproven policies on their schools.

Happily, the latest version of the NCLB reauthorization does not include the teacher evaluation provisions that Mr. Duncan wants. That's good, but not good enough, because many states are already well down that path, not only the 11 that "won" the Race to the Top, but others that wanted to make themselves eligible. Tennessee was one of the "winners." NPR did a story about Tennessee's teacher evaluation program, which explained why the program is so thoroughly disliked by that state's teachers; see this article, as well.

When, if ever, will policymakers realize that they should find ways to support teachers, not to demoralize them? I just don't see how it is impossible to "improve" schools without the active engagement of the people who do the daily work of schooling. There is just so much top-down beating-up that can go on before teachers and principals rise up in protest, especially when so many at the top are not educators.

Lawmakers in D.C. and in the state capitals are not competent to decide how to reform schools and how to evaluate teachers. In what other profession would this kind of interference be tolerated?

The federal government does not know how to reform schools. Period. Congress doesn't, and the U.S. Department of Education doesn't.

The fundamental role of the federal government should be to advance equality of educational opportunity. That's a tall order. Congress should revive the commitments made in 1965, when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed: To use federal resources on behalf of the neediest students; to protect the civil rights of students; to conduct research about education; to report on the condition and progress of American education.

So long as Congress tries to breathe life into the moribund NCLB legislation, its members are wasting their time.


Op-Ed in the LA Times by Regina Powers |

October 26, 2011 | California paid for my master's degree in library and information science. While I am grateful to have had the grant and the opportunity to go back to school, I wish now that I had instead trained to be an electrician, a plumber or an auto mechanic. California does not value librarians.

Other states employ an average of one public librarian to 6,250 patrons. As of last year, 3,432 full-time librarians served 37,253,956 Californians. In other words, California librarians were each expected to serve 10,854 patrons. We also employ fewer school librarians than any other state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Here, there is one school librarian for every 5,965 students; the national average is one librarian to 865 students. (emphasis added)

These statistics do not reflect the library positions that have since been eliminated or the layoffs that have taken place because of the California budget crisis. In our schools, hundreds of librarians, along with thousands of teachers, received pink slips last year. The Los Angeles Public Library eliminated 328 full-time positions in 2010. Three years ago, the city of Anaheim employed about 80 full-time library staff members. Plans are underway to slash that number to 21.

Libraries are one of the few good things that governments eagerly take credit for. Sadly, taking credit for libraries is not the same as supporting them. Federal funding decreased from 0.6% in 1999 to 0.4% in 2008. Public library operating revenue from state sources shrank from 12.8% in 2001 to 8.7% in 2008, an all-time low.

Note that the Public Library Fund — a state program that libraries apply to for direct aid for basic services — has never received the full amount designated for it by the state budget. In the 2008-09 fiscal year, the Legislature appropriated a dismal 12% of its allotted funding. This year, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed eliminating state funding for public libraries entirely. Even though the final budget only cut state funding in half, a "trigger" amendment would cut all funding if state revenue projections fall short. Thus, the library buck has been kicked down to local governments.

Unfortunately, librarians fall under the dreaded category of "public employees." Their salaries account for the majority of a library's working budget. Librarians unions are not as powerful as those of police officers and firefighters, making librarians easier to lay off
Still, the idea of shutting down a library is unpalatable to most officials. So they lay off librarians to keep the buildings open, supporting the illusion that libraries can simply run themselves.

On school visits, I ask what students think a librarian does. The response is always the same. "Librarians check out books. They read a lot. They tell people to be quiet." These misconceptions are held by adults too. When I told a friend that I was embarking on my graduate degree, he asked, "You need a master's degree in the Dewey Decimal System?"

With that attitude, who cares whether California has any librarians left? Why not replace us with phone trees, self-service checkout machines and volunteers?

But librarians are more than book finders, shelf arrangers, computer technicians and shush-ers. In a society overwhelmed by massive amounts of data, they are the ultimate gatekeepers and organizers of high-quality information.

More important, librarians are staunch advocates for the local communities they serve. They find ways to build collections their patrons need and want, including materials in various languages and formats. They offer guidance to parents who want to raise successful students. They guard historically relevant materials. They motivate and inspire readers. They add depth to teachers' curricula. They quench the thirst of lifelong learners. They do this and more, free of charge to the public.

Over the last decade, California librarians have adapted to overwhelming changes in the systems and quantities of information they provide. They did so with demoralized staff, dwindling funding and fickle legislative support.

Can California afford to lose any more librarians? Per capita, national public library visits rose 19.7% from 1999 to 2008, according to the most recent Public Libraries Survey. . Circulation increased 34.5%, and children's program attendance increased 13.9%.

Who will run California libraries if not librarians? Will volunteers be able to keep up with upcoming technological changes; will they know how to make relevant information easily accessible to patrons who desire to be fully informed, literate citizens? Will less-educated staff know how to conduct high-quality programs; will they know how to provide appropriate reading materials and recommendations that will spark the interest of young minds?

As one resident wrote in a letter of protest to the mayor of Anaheim, "Libraries without librarians are like hospitals without doctors." California cannot afford to lose any more librarians without risking the quality of what is left of our libraries as well.

Regina Powers is a librarian in Orange County.


if you agree please sign the White House petition. We must Ensure school libraries are properly staffed, open, and available for children every day

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
THE WRONG FIX FOR NCLB: New York Times Editorial |

Science and Technology: THE NEWEST FRILLS: Themes in the News for the week of Oct. 24-28, 2011 By UCLA IDEA |

Pension reform’s impact on teachers; Brown would raise new teachers' retirement age to 67 |

TASK FORCE ON STUDENT SUCCESS: Moves toward rationing access to community colleges – Realistic or radical?:

Just in time for Halloween: THE “‘GOODIE BAG’” MEMO: From: Superintendent John Deasy Date: October 28,...

"In the current education reform debates, saying poverty isn't an excuse has become an excuse for ignoring poverty."

“Fighting Broad+Gates is like whack-a-mole. Their network is stronger but our efforts are building+resonating.”

A PRIMER ON CORPORATE SCHOOL REFORM [Teachers’ Edition]: Stan Karp’s Address to Northwest Teachers for Social Justice |.

SIGN THE WHITE HOUSE PETITION: Ensure school libraries are properly staffed, open, and available 4 children every day.



CALIFORNIA BUCKS TREND ON TEACHER EVALUATIONS: A report released by the National Council on Teacher Quality*

NOT YOUR MOTHER’s PTA – ADVOVACY GROUPPS RAISE MONEY, VOICES, HOPES: Walton Foundation’s billions meets smf’s 2¢:...


NCLB: END IT, DON'T MEND IT: By Diane Ravitch in Ed Week | October 25, 2011 9:45 AM |


SCHOOLS ROLLING OUT NEW FUNDRAISERS: FOOD TRUCK NIGHTS: Public schools, hit by budget cuts, drops in donations a...


WHY A SCHOOL DISTRICT REJECTED $2.5 MILLION FEDERAL GRANT + more: By Valerie Strauss, Washington Post/The An...

BIG MONEY, BAD MEDIA, SECRET AGENDAS: Welcome to America's Wildest School Board Race: ●●smf: If only because there no election in L.A.! ...

LAUSD ADOPTS PLAN TO START 2012 SCHOOL YEAR 3 WEEKS EARLIER: By Susan Abram Staff Writer, LA Daily News | http:/...


THEY’RE IN THIS TOGETHER: Teachers can't educate children alone, but they can help show parents the way. A posit...


EVERYONE CAN ENJOY HALLOWEEN ….even if your parents are a dietitian and a dentist!: by Mary Anne Burkman, MPH, R...

CORAL WAY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: In Miami, School Aims For 'Bi-Literate' Education: by Claudio Sanchez/ NPR Morning ...


RED RIBBON WEEK (Oct 22-30) Alcohol, Tobacco & Drug Awareness: sponsored by the National Family Partnership an...
24 Oct

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: • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-5555 • 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.
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