Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandy Hook

Onward! 4LAKids
4LAKids: Sunday 16•Dec•2012
In This Issue:
 •  The Board Meeting of Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012: DEASY UNDONE?
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
 •  OUR CHILDREN, OUR FUTURE: What will California schoolchildren, your school district and YOUR School get when the initiative passes?
 •  Follow 4 LAKids on Twitter - or get instant updates via text message by texting
 •  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.
There is no putting anything into perspective in public education after Friday. Last week there was Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and nothing else. Buried later in this issue are links to other things …but they are meaningless.

The media went all superlative Friday morning – in the absence of facts the airtime must be filled with something. It was breathlessly “Maybe the Deadliest Mass School Shooting in American History”.

What have we become that “Mass School Shootings” have become a category of news? …let alone that we rank them in deadliness?

Four dead college students at Kent State was the beginning of the end of the Viet Nam War.
“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.” *

How horrific do we let it get before we take action? Friday the White House Press Secretary said: “This is not the time to discuss gun control”.

Thankfully the President didn’t follow that lead:
“The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

“So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost. Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.

“As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics”

Both the President’s and Press Secretary Carney’s remarks were made in the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House – Brady being Carney’s predecessor, gunned down in the Reagan Administration.

Jake Carney’s heart was in the right place, but the President’s words are at the right time.

If not now… when?

26 shot dead in Newtown, CT, 20 of them first-graders six and seven years old.
"What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?" *


During their day children are safest when they are at school. That said, they could always be safer. Sandy Hook had a brand new security system.

Saturday morning I was speaking on the phone to the father of the legislation that mandates annually-reviewed comprehensive School Safety Plans in all California schools (California Education Code Section 32282 – which LAUSD claimed on Friday keeps our kids safe/safer/safest.

School Safety Plans are supposed to specifically address school safety, earthquake and disaster preparedness, school discipline policy, bullying, child abuse reporting – even school uniforms.

• I invite all 4LAKids readers to visit their school’s Safety Plan: “An updated file of all safety-related plans and materials shall be readily available for inspection by the public.”
• And I suggest that you come prepared to discuss the meaning of: ”…shall be evaluated at least once a year”.

My colleagues in the media have categorized Sandy Hook the “Second Worst Mass School Shooting in American History” (after Virginia Tech where 32 died) … but even that should get a asterisk in the record book of American school horror.

from Wikipedia | “The BATH SCHOOL DISASTER is the name given to three bombings in Bath Township, Michigan, on May 18, 1927, which killed 38 elementary school children, two teachers, four other adults and the bomber himself; at least 58 people were injured. Most of the victims were children in the second to sixth grades (7–11 years of age) attending the Bath Consolidated School. Their deaths constitute the deadliest mass murder in a school in U.S. history and the third-deadliest non-military massacre in U.S. history, behind 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing.

“The bomber was school board treasurer Andrew Kehoe, 55, who died in a car bomb he set off after he drove up to the school as the crowd gathered to rescue survivors from the burning school.”

Bath Boardmember Kehoe was not alone.

From the Pasadena Star News | :: “Deadly school or workplace violence is nothing new. In 1940 it came to South Pasadena, when newspaper headlines screamed "Maniac Teacher Shoots 7, Kills 4.

“Just five weeks before graduation, South Pasadena Junior High School Principal Verlin H. Spencer, 38 - fearing he was going to be fired - shot and killed the school's superintendent, the high school principal and the school district business manager, then drove to the junior high where he shot and killed two teachers and left another paralyzed for life before trying to kill himself.”
“Should have been done long ago.” *

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

* “Ohio”, words and music by Neil Young

UPDATE: Last week I wrote that I had qualified for the ballot and would be a candidate for Board of Education. I was notified this week that – upon further review - I had not qualified. It’s a long story for another time – but I thank everyone who supported my candidacy. -smf


By William Glaberson | New York Times |

December 14, 2012 :: On Friday, as Newtown, Conn., joined the list of places like Littleton, Colo., and Jonesboro, Ark., where schools became the scenes of stunning violence, the questions were familiar: Why does it happen? What can be done to stop it?

The questions have emerged after all of the mass killings in recent decades — at a Virginia college campus, a Colorado movie theater, a Wisconsin temple — but they took on an added sting when the victims included children.

The fact that the Newtown massacre, with 26 killed at the school, along with the gunman, was the second deadliest school shooting in the country’s history — after the 32 people killed at Virginia Tech in 2007 — once again made this process of examination urgent national business as details emerged from Sandy Hook Elementary School.

This painful corner of modern American history does offer some answers: Many of the mass killers had histories of mental illness, with warning signs missed by the people who knew them and their sometimes clear signs of psychological deterioration left unaddressed by the country’s mental health system.

The shootings almost always renew the debate about access to guns, and spur examination of security practices and missed warning signals in what were damaged lives.

Research on mass school killings shows that they are exceedingly rare. Amanda B. Nickerson, director of a center that studies school violence and abuse prevention at the University at Buffalo, said studies made clear that American schools were quite safe and that children were more likely to be killed outside of school.

But, she said, events like the Sandy Hook killings trigger fundamental fears. “When something like this happens,” she said, “everybody says it’s an epidemic, and that’s just not true.”

Dylan Klebold, 17, and Eric Harris, 18, may have earned singular infamy with the killing of 12 other students and a teacher from Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colo., in 1999, but there have been others who breached the safety of American schoolhouses over the decades.

In 1927, a school board official in Bath, Mich., killed 44 people, including students and teachers, when he blew up the town’s school.

Even before Columbine in the late 1990s, school shootings seemed to be a national scourge, with killings in places like Jonesboro, Ark., and Springfield, Ore. In 2006, a 32-year-old man shot 11 girls at an Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pa., killing 5 of them.

Often in a haze of illness, the schoolhouse gunmen are usually aware of the taboo they are breaking by targeting children, said Dewey G. Cornell, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia and director of the Virginia Youth Violence Project. “They know it’s a tremendous statement that shocks people,” Dr. Cornell said, “and that is a reflection of their tremendous pain and their drive to communicate that pain.”

After 14-year-old Michael Carneal opened fire on a prayer group at Heath High School in West Paducah, Ky., in 1997, it came out that he had made no secret of his plans. “He told me, once or twice, that he thought it would be cool to walk — or run — down the halls shooting people,” a friend from the school band testified later. Five Heath students were wounded; three were killed.

But some experts on school violence said Friday that it was not so much the character of the relatively rare schoolhouse gunman as it was the public perception of the shootings that transformed them into national and even international events. Dunblane, Scotland, is remembered for the day in 1996 when a 43-year-old man stormed a gym class of 5- and 6-year-olds, killing 16 children and a teacher.

Over the years there have been some indications of what warning signs to look for. The New York Times published an analysis in 2000 of what was known about 102 people who had committed 100 rampage killings at schools, job sites and public places like malls.

Most had left a road map of red flags, plotting their attacks and accumulating weapons. In the 100 rampage killings reviewed, 54 of the killers had talked explicitly of when and where they would act, and against whom. In 34 of the cases, worried friends or family members had desperately sought help in advance, only to be rebuffed by the police, school officials or mental health workers.

After the deaths in Sandy Hook on Friday, there was new talk of the need to be vigilant. But there has also been talk of the sober reality that it is hard to turn the ordinary places of life into fortresses.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, who is the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and has worked on school violence issues, said there were steps that could be taken to try to limit school violence, like limiting entry, developing an explicit disaster plan that includes strategies to lock down schools and pursuing close ties with the local police.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “random acts of severe violence like this are not possible to entirely prevent.”



Email to smf Fri, Dec 14, 2012 3:16 pm
The White House
December 14, 2012

This afternoon, President Obama made a statement from the Briefing Room on the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

This afternoon, I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller. I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation, and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.

We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would -- as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.

The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost. Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.

As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.

This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them, and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans. And I will do everything in my power as President to help.

Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need -- to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours.

May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.

The President also issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the tragedy, ordering U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on December 18.



To smf from Randi Weingarten
Fri, Dec 14, 2012 2:56 pm

Dear Scott,

The entire AFT community is shaken to its core by this massacre of young children and the educators and school employees who care for and nurture them. Twenty children and six adults were shot and killed today in one of the worst school shootings in history. We grieve for them all, and our prayers are with the Sandy Hook Elementary School community and all of Newtown, as well as the AFT nurses caring for victims at Danbury Hospital, following this heinous act. I just got off the phone with Newtown Federation of Teachers President Tom Kuroski, and pledged to do everything we can to provide support and comfort to the students, teachers, administrators, their families and everyone in this community grappling with this trauma.

Our thanks go out to all of the first responders for their efforts to ensure the safety of all the students and staff. In this horrible moment, there were also extraordinary acts of courage by school staff to lock down the school and protect children.

We'll never be able to prevent every senseless act of violence, but our children, educators and school employees go to school believing it is a safe sanctuary. We've been through this too many times. Everything we can do, we must do, including a renewed focus on gun control and preventing gun violence.
/s/Randi Weingarten
President, American Federation of Teachers



e-mail to smf from California State PTA :: 12/14/2012


California State PTA offers its condolences and deepest sympathy to the families and school community for the tragic loss today in Newtown, Connecticut. Our hearts go out to all for this terrible loss. At this time of tragedy, children throughout our country may be struggling with their thoughts and feelings about the stories and images and they may turn to adults for help and guidance. PTA has many resources available to assist students, families, schools and PTAs in coping with school violence. Additional resources regarding media exposure and traumatic events may be found online.


Children deserve a safe environment in which to learn. Unfortunately, the threat of violence has grown in a number of schools across the country. The violence takes many forms and the victims include more than just students. Improving education for our children must take the prevention of violence into account. PTA offers these resources for you to assist in preventing violence in schools and helping improve the quality of education your children receive.


● Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting
The American Psychological Association offers tips for parents about talking to their children about school shootings. |

● Discussing Hate and Violence With Your Children
Tips for talking about hate, violence and other sensitive issues with your children. |

● Checklist to Help Prevent Violence in Schools
10 things you can do to prevent violence in your school community. |

Chapter 6:
Media Exposure and Traumatic Events:
How Much Media Coverage is Too Much?

From NYU Child Study Center • |

Media coverage of natural disasters and other traumatic events is often exhaustive. Parents need to ask themselves how they want to regulate their children’s consumption of this coverage, whether it is via television, the internet, radio or other media.

Media coverage can provide children and parents with valuable information. It can keep people informed and connected.Yet, exposure to repeated media coverage of traumatic events and natural disasters can result in trauma-related effects for some children. Children with a history of traumatic stress could be re-traumatized as a result of repeated exposure to media coverage. It is critical that parents and school professionals be aware of the possibility of re-traumatizing children and be prepared to act on the stress and trauma-related effects that may follow exposure to media coverage about disasters or terrorism.


It is not always possible to judge if or when children are scared or worried about news they hear. Children may be reluctant to talk about their fears or may not be aware of how long they are being affected by the news. Parents can look for clues as to how their child is reacting. Please refer to Chapter 1 for more information on common reactions to traumatic events.

Children’s age influences their reactions to stories they hear and images they see about violent acts or traumatic events in the media.Younger children may be most upset by the sights and sounds they see and hear regarding terrorism or natural disasters. It is important to consider children’s maturity level when making decisions about how much information to share about acts of war and terrorism.

Preschool-age children:
• Can be easily overwhelmed by news about war, terrorism or natural disasters n May confuse reality and facts with their fantasies n Do not have the ability to keep events in perspective

• May be unable to block out troubling thoughts • May personalize the news they hear, relating it to events or issues in their lives
• Are concerned about separation from parents
• May ask questions about children in the news who are alone or lost a parent
• Focus on good and bad behavior, and may bring up topics related to their own good and bad behaviors

Elementary school-age children:
• Understand the difference between fantasy and reality, however, they may have trouble keeping them separate at certain times, particularly times of heightened stress and fear
• May equate a scene from a scary movie with news footage and think that the news events are worse than they really are
• May not realize that the same incident is rebroadcast and may think that more people are involved than is the case
• May have difficulty recognizing that the conflict or natural disaster is not close to home; the graphic and immediate nature of the news makes it seem as if the events and threats are nearby • May personalize the news they hear, relating it to events or issues in their lives
• Are usually concerned about separation from parents
• Are concerned about fairness and punishment

Middle and high school-age adolescents:
• May be able to recognize the proximity of a threat of war
• May be interested and intrigued by the politics of a situation and feel a need to take a stand or action
• May show a desire to be involved in political or charitable activities related to violent acts or stressful events
• Consider larger issues related to ethics, politics and even their own involvement in a potential response through the armed forces (teenagers, like adults, become reflective about life and re-examine priorities and interests)In addition to age and maturity, children’s individual personality style and temperament play a significant role in their responses to terrorism, war and natural disasters.

Some children are more naturally prone to be fearful and the news of a dangerous situation may heighten their feelings of anxiety. Additionally, children who know someone directly exposed to or affected by the traumatic event may be especially affected. At the other extreme, however, some children become immune to, or ignore, the suffering they see in the news.They can become numb and overloaded due to the repetitive nature of the reports or the events that they directly experienced.


War play is not necessarily an indication of a problem for children exposed to violent acts. It is normal for children to play games related to war and this may increase in response to current events as they actively work with the information, imitate, act out or problemsolve different scenarios. Parents and professionals should be on the lookout for:
• Regressive behaviors (children engage in behaviors expected of a younger child)
• Overly aggressive behaviors
• Overly withdrawn behaviors
• Nightmares or night terrors
• An obsession with violence
• Extreme solutions based on what children have seen in the movies or experienced while playing video games
• Emotional detachment (e.g., numbness, apathy) related to the tragedies
Please refer to Chapter 2 for additional specific information related to children at risk related to traumatic events, including acts of terror and natural disasters.


Listen Parents and professionals are encouraged to listen to children’s feelings and thoughts about the events portrayed in the media. It is important to determine children’s understanding of the events and their perceptions of what happened and what will happen in the future.

Be an active participant It is best for parents and school professionals to watch or listen to media coverage with their children. Adults should talk about what a child is seeing or hearing in the news.

Clarify misconceptions Children may not fully understand the information provided by the media.

Often, the news is provided briefly and swiftly, and news presenters dramatize in order to make for fascinating news coverage. It is important that parents and school professionals clarify the information that is being presented
through the media in clear facts.This is especially important for younger children, who may not realize that what they are repeatedly seeing is one event being replayed.

Put the news into perspective It is the role of adults to put the traumatic events presented via media coverage in perspective for children. Children often need to be reminded that although there is continuous media coverage on the traumatic event, such events do not happen all the time.

Be positive It may also be helpful for adults to point out the positives that are occurring in the face of traumatic events. For instance, highlighting the work of rescue workers, volunteers and others can point to the strength of the community and steps taken towards creating a safe environment for children and adults

NYU Child Study Center •
Invite questions It is critical that children be encouraged to ask questions about information they obtain through the media. Children may misunderstand what they hear in the media. Erroneous assumptions may be very anxiety-provoking for children. By asking questions and talking with children, parents and school professionals can correct misinformed assumptions and reduce the anxiety and fear in children. If adults do not address many of these questions and concerns, children may cobble together information from other sources, including each other. Parents and school professionals should be the primary sources that provide children with accurate information in an appropriate manner. (See Chapters 7 and 8 on information on how to answer questions.)

Limit media coverage Although children should be provided with basic facts and their questions should be answered, it is important that adults monitor children’s exposure to the media. Adults are encouraged to limit media coverage during and after the event, and monitor children’s exposure to news and special presentations regarding others’ experiences during and after the traumatic event.When adults believe that children have been exposed to too much media coverage, they need to reorient children to other pursuits. Shut off the television, internet or radio and focus on other activities that children enjoy.


The Board Meeting of Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012: DEASY UNDONE?
smf: It began with Board Vice-president Tamar Galatzan inexplicably in the chair even though President Garcia was present. Eventually Ms. Garcia took the chair back after moments characterized below as “controversial”, “a shouting match” and “name calling” – with the words “raucous” and “angry” sprinkled throughout .

When last seen Garcia was angrily bouncing a green rubber ball on the dais – as the superintendent:

had his wings clipped on the issue of Grants and Funding Accountability – which by his own admission amounts to over $1.5 billion in outside-the-budget funding a year;
got his way on a Parent Involvement Policy created behind closed doors with little parent input beyond the ones his staff hand-picked (and a blatant attempt to silence objection at the board meeting) …using the old “you’ve got to support this or we’ll miss the deadline” strategy, and
the return from-the-dead of of the superintendent’s Tablets-for-All Initiative was welcomed like zombies everywhere


by Hillel Aron in LA School Report |

December 11, 2012 :: A controversial proposal written by Richard Vladovic to give the school board the authority to approve most grants over $1 million was approved 4-3 by the board today, following tense discussion and over the strenuous objections of Superintendent John Deasy.

Board member Vladovic argued that it is the school board’s job to set policy, and that some grants can change policy. ”Every grantor has an agenda,” said Vladovic. “They superimpose an ideology on us.”

Superintendent Deasy, who was visibly unhappy with the proposal, said it would jeopardize many of the grants LAUSD applies for, a number of which are “fast turnaround” grants. ”There’s no question we will miss out on many of them.”
•FIERCE DEBATE OVER GRANT APPLICATION VETO: In this video clip, [] LAUSD Board Members Tamar Galatzan and Steve Zimmer debate the risks the grant application veto could pose to school funding opportunities during the Tuesday, December 11 meeting:Posted on LA School Report December 12, 2012 by Samantha Oltman

The key vote swing vote cast by Steve Zimmer, who offered an amendment to raise the threshold to $1 million (from $750,000), and for the motion to only apply to “new, non-formula grants.” This was meant to exclude grants like Title I federal grants, which are given out to districts based on demographics, and was accepted by Vladovic and the proposal’s co-sponsors, Marguerite LaMotte and Bennett Kayser.

As usual, the board was deeply divided. The subtext for the discussion was a feeling, among certain board members and observers, that Deasy has too much control over the school board.

“Who is running the board?” shouted LaMotte. “Because it certainly isn’t the seven of us!” She also said that she and Deasy’s staff had an “inability to work together as a team.” ”I don’t even know who your senior staff is!” she told the Superintendent, who muttered something unintelligible off-mic. It was the first major vote in a long time on which the Superintendent found himself on the losing end.

Members of the board seemed just as unhappy. When Zimmer said that he didn’t want the district to lose any money but still thought the proposal could work, Board member Tamar Galatzan replied, “It’s incredibly arrogant for you to say it won’t affect a grant proposal when the superintendent said it will.”

“We don’t have a dedicated grant staff,” added Galatzan. She argued that the people who write the grants have many other responsibilities, and don’t “have luxury of coming back to the board for guidance.”

Vladovic said that most school boards in the county have approval authority over large grants. ”We aren’t going to lose grants,” he said, adding: “We may initially lose something that probably wasn’t good for us anyway.”

When Zimmer said, “I want superintendent and his team to come back with guidelines,” Deasy couldn’t help interjecting, “Not my guidelines– your guidelines.”

Deasy will now have to design the specific way to implement the board’s policy – that is, guidelines for which grants have to be voted on by the board


Earlier in the meeting, deputy Superintendent Jamie Aquino gave a presentation on expanding digital learning in the classroom, which contained a set of long-term goals including getting laptops, tablet computers and 3D printers into classrooms.

But things turned testy when Vladovic (clearly with a bee in his bonnet) wanted to know where the money would come from.

“I’m concerned with coming up with more than half a billion dollars,” he said. “I believe we need to restore the salaries of employees before we take on any of this.

“Are you saying we should raise salaries before we buy computers?” asked Board President Monica Garcia.

Vladovic then started yelling at Garcia: “I think salaries should be a priority!”

Galatzan asked Aquino for a proposal on how to fund the classroom devices. Presumably, the district would use bond money. Last month, the district bond committee rejected a proposal to use bond money to buy tablet computers for classrooms, although their vote was non-binding (See: Deasy’s Tablet Plan Blocked).


At another point during the lengthy meeting, dozens of angry parents showed up to speak out against a proposal to revise LAUSD’s Title I parent involvement policy. In their comments, the parents mostly spoke out against Maria Casillas, the head of School, Parent and Community Services, calling her a “bully” and accusing her of getting various parents thrown out of community meetings. The room became quite raucous, with parents standing up and shouting.

“These folks just to cause a disruption, to protest,” LAUSD associate general counsel Greg McNair to LA School Report.

Standing in the back of the room was Maria Casillas herself.

“I’m afraid of these guys,” she said. “They scratched my car up.”

Marguerite LaMotte shared the parents’ anger, and asked her colleagues to postpone the vote. The motion to postpone failed, 3-4, with Vladovic and Kayser joining LaMotte. The three of them abstained from voting for the motion itself, which then passed, 4-0.


In far less divisive news, the school board unanimously passed a resolution “to improve the District’s food and nutrition policy.” (See the LAUSD press release here.)

The board also unanimously passed a non-binding resolution to improve the dismissal process in California, which would have to be done by the State Legislature, aimed in particular at teachers who are found guilty of harming a child. (See the LAUSD press release here.) Senator Alex Padilla has a pending bill in Sacramento that would do just that


By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer - LA Daily News (also Huffington Post

12/11/2012 06:53:56 PM PST :: With the groundwork laid for a new digital-learning plan, a request for a strategy to buy computer tablets for all students erupted Tuesday into a shouting match between two Los Angeles Unified board members over setting budget priorities for the district.

The altercation erupted amid a presentation on the district's vision of buying tablets for all 600,000 students - a plan that South Bay board member Richard Vladovic estimated would cost at least a half-billion dollars. He expressed concern about locating that much money and said he wanted to first reimburse employees for furlough days and salary cuts they've taken over the years.

"Are you saying we should raise salaries before we buy computers?" board President Monica Garcia asked, prompting Vladovic to shout, "I think salaries should be a priority!"

"We've taken so much away from employees," Vladovic said. "We need to restore what they're owed."

When Garcia responded that restoring salary cuts would amount to a raise, Vladovic said he wanted to ensure that district employees are working for a living wage.

"I don't want to put one (issue) against the other," Vladovic said. "I want to see the total package. I would say, `Let's bring everything at once so we, as a board, can decide priorities."

In the end, the board directed Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino to report in January on suggestions for funding the expansion of digital education, including infrastructure, equipment and employee training, and answers on how they could be used by students.

That issue arose on Monday, when students at Valley Academy of Arts & Sciences in Granada Hills were told they'd no longer be allowed to take home the iPads they've been given as part of a pilot project.

The district's legal staff had raised concerns about equipment purchased with bond money, as the iPads were, being taken off campus. That opinion apparently never made it through channels to administrators at the school.

Ronald Chandler, who heads the district's Information Technology Division, said he was trying to figure out where the communications breakdown occurred. He was also trying to determine how to reimburse parents who had paid $35 for an insurance policy covering the loss or damage of iPads removed from campus.

Consultant Tom Rubin, who works with the district on technology issues, said LAUSD attorneys are continuing to study the "devilishly complicated" regulations governing bond revenue and how they might apply to the evolving technology arena.

"There's an opinion from the California attorney general that bond money can be used for library books, and those can certainly be taken home," he said. "Bond money has also been used to buy school buses, and those leave campus. So, we believe there is precedent there."



CBS Los Angeles

December 12, 2012 8:57 AM :: LOS ANGELES ( — Officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District Wednesday said a proposal to use bond money to purchase iPad tablet computers for every one of its 600,000 students was critical to students’ academic future.

The proposal is part of a digital learning strategy being implemented by the district as it works to determine how to spend more than $17 million in bond money.

LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia was among the board members present at a meeting Tuesday night that erupted into a shouting match over whether that money should instead be spent on reimbursing employees for salary cuts and furlough days levied by the district in recent years.

Garcia told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that officials remain focused on preparing students for the 21st-century workplace.

“L.A. Unified has to move towards closing the digital divide, putting an instrument in every student’s hands, because that is what the world is dictating,” Garcia said.

The district’s Bond Oversight Committee voted in November against a plan from Superintendent John Deasy that would provide electronic devices for LAUSD students at 14 secondary schools.

But the prospect of funding technological upgrades for students without paying teachers and staff for previous furlough days has drawn criticism of the proposal – a perspective that Garcia said she completely understands.

“Teachers and every employee have made great sacrifices, and when LAUSD gets more money from the state, should they be compensated? Absolutely,” she said.

The Board of Education moved in November to rescind 10 furlough days and restore its full 180-day academic year after the passage of Proposition 30.

Board members ordered Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino to devise a strategy on how to fund the expansion of digital education and report back in January.


By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, - LA Daily News

12/12/2012 09:34:53 AM PST | 12/12/2012 07:33:35 PM PST :: A long-simmering controversy about which parents can have a voice at Los Angeles Unified's Title I schools erupted Tuesday, with boisterous critics accusing a district administrator of bullying and discriminatory tactics.

The agenda item seemed fairly routine - updating a 2006 policy that encourages parents to participate in the decision-making process for how to spend $306 million in federal Title I grants at low-income schools.

But the issue provided an official forum for many parents who have been complaining for months about the school-site councils during the board's public comment period.

They lined up outside LAUSD headquarters and packed the board room, angrily demanding to be heard after the limited number of speakers' cards suddenly disappeared at the start of the meeting.

Daisy Ortiz took the microphone to lambaste Maria Casillas, the former head of the nonprofit Families in Schools, who was recruited to head the district's School, Parent and Community Services branch. Ortiz repeated comments she's made at several previous meetings that Casillas had her and other dissenting parents illegally ejected from meetings and prevented them from participating in the decision-making process.

"I ask you not to approve the policy due to the bad procedures that took place," Ortiz said in Spanish. "Maria Casillas is not letting parents participate in how to spend the money."

Given the vitriol expressed by critics, several board members asked for the vote to be postponed so mediation sessions could take place.

They were told, however, that the plan had to be approved on Tuesday because federal officials will be visiting the district in February and needed to have the policy in hand.

A motion to delay the vote failed, and the policy was approved by a four-member majority. Board member Steve Zimmer, who voted for the policy change, asked that Superintendent John Deasy bring together the feuding parties in an effort to resolve their differences.

"As this moves forward, with the conflicts expressed today, I want to be sure that the concerns expressed are mediated and that all voices can be heard," Zimmer said. "I want to acknowledge the voices who haven't been heard."

The Streaming Video of the Full Board Meeting is available here. You must have QuickTime installed on your computer to view it [free download]

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EVENTS: Coming up next week...

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
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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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