|4LAKids: Sunday 10•May•2015 Happy Mothers; Day|
In This Issue:
It’s been more than twenty years since we’ve written a script together, but I came across a story last week that’s bigger than I can write alone – so I’m reaching out across the years. In the time since we last wrote we have both returned to school; me writing creative non-fiction about public education in LAUSD, you teaching Drama and Theater Arts in a Catholic high school in the Valley. The whoever-they-are named the theater for you; they named a cell in teacher jail after me.
This story really happened, it’s happening still. It’s ripped from the pages of the Los Angeles Times.
Actually, it was ripped-off from the pages of the LA Times: Two tales about two misadventures – Yesterday+Today that seem at first to be totally disconnected. But once you start to connect the dots – well – the dots connect into a tale of Lust and Greed and Central American politics-meets-LAUSD Realpolitik. And what’s more LAUSD real political than charter schools and school lunches?
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
THE FIRST STORY happened ten years ago, in the dreamtime before the budgetary apocalypse when Mayor Tony was mayor. [“NO DIPLOMACY IN THIS WORD WAR” - I’ve printed it out for you below.] It’s a tale of International intrigue about A Gold-Digging Bimbo and a Central American Diplomat – The Prince and the Showgirl with a Latin Accent and enough plot twists for a John LeCarre spy novel. And some honest Ian Fleming/James Bond sex in abundance. It’s also a cautionary morality tale when our wandering lothario brings what happened in Vegas home and gets reined-in, saved and redeemed by his patient and long suffering wife.
THE SECOND STORY is a tale of today, set in today: ‘L.A. UNIFIED WILL INVESTIGATE FOOD-SERVICE CONTRACTS AT PUC CHARTERS’. It starts as a tale of a mousy mistreated heroine getting even for prior outrage: An scam is worked to cheat the taxpayers and defraud the public purse by manipulating a contract – almost “everybody-does-it” innocently at first – but deeper and darker as the tale plays out and the dots connect. It is the Long Suffering Wife from the previous tale that is the protagonist/precipitator/perpetrator of this one – complicated by confusion over who knew what when? …who’s seducing whom? …and who’s in it for what?
The first story is a farce about international politics, played out in the gambling dens of Vegas, the bedrooms of L.A. and the reception rooms of Embassy Row. The second takes place in school cafeterias and lawyers offices and eventually in the voting booth – a dark background to a manipulated school board election. Think: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington acted out by the South Park cast. With a Latin accent.
Milo, I see the whole thing playing out as a chick-flick telenovela with a beginning, middle and end – or perhaps a tragicomedy played out in three acts.
IN THE FIRST ACT we meet the Bimbo with the Heart of Gold, seduced by what she mistakes as wealth+power – and who leads a shallow man wrong until she is undone by The Good Wife Who Stands By Her Man.
IN THE SECOND ACT the worm turns and The Good Wife falls to temptation and becomes The Temptress; everything she touches turns to evil and the tangled web of deception ensnares+undoes everyone – especially the audience who believed in her most.
I DON’T KNOW HOW THE THIRD ACT WORKS YET – and I can’t wait to find out – but it’s got to be The Return of the Bimbo – with true power revealed as a faceless conspiracy of the same manipulative folks who always were in power all along. And is the Would-be Schoolboard Member an unwitting accomplice? Is the plausible deniability implausible or even deniable? Is the question objective: “What did he know and when did he know it?” Or subjunctive: …”What should he have known and when should he have known it?”
There are two strong women’s roles, think Sofia Vergara or Penelope Cruz playing against someone like Eva Longoria or Salma Hayak. The male leads are a Pretty Boy as the shallow diplomat and A Faceless Nebbish as the fallen school board candidate – both seduced more by their own Y-chromosome fantasy of power than by real double X power of the women.
True power in the end is revealed to be same as it always is: The Status Quo Masquerading As Progress. I’m thinking of a corporate/industrial complex committee of James Earl Jones, Lawrence Fishburne, Samuel L. Jackson, etc., (e.g.: Every actor who ever played the Voice of God. It’s too bad John Huston, Orson Welles and John Houseman are no longer with us!)
In the end there is no change, only the packaging, marketing and selling of change and Change, Inc. - this is an existential saga where existence is a cell in a spreadsheet – an intersection in the Matrix. It’s another L.A. story: Forget it Jake – it’s only Chinatown.
So there you have it, Milo. Are you ready to return to the writers’ room?
(Milo and Ace are pseudonyms …but not to protect the innocent. We know too well who we are.)
97% OF THE 83% OF TEACHERS WHO VOTED VOTED TO RATIFY THE NEW UTLA CONTRACT. Self-interest is the prime motivating factor in politics: The large turnout of teacher-voters UTLA was able to turn out, both in terms of percentage of potential voters and in terms of percentage of support for the contract demonstrates the power of teachers to Get Out The Vote. In my biased opinion if they can match those numbers at the polls on May 19 – if they can get those teachers to vote again – that will make the margin of difference in what will be low-turnout election. And if those teachers can motivate others – including parents and community members - to support candidates who support them – Kayser, Schmerelson and Vladovic – there will be a victory.
To those candidate's opponents, Michelle Rhee looks like an attractive candidate for next LAUSD Superintendent!
The 19th is a Tuesday, UTLA members can wear their red t-shirts to the polls – they will be perfectly accessorized with that “I Voted!” sticker.
I LOVE IT THAT THE STATE AUDITOR FINDS IMPROVEMENT at the Magnolia Charter Schools ordered shut down and then allowed to continue operating earlier this year. “Finds improvement” is the operative phrase here. Some pundit once observed that you always find what you’re looking for in the last place you look for it.
The audit says the schools were insolvent. They probably were insolvent when LAUSD said they were insolvent; they may have been insolvent before Caprice Young - and I suspect, some added cash - were infused into the system.
Caprice+Ca$h similarly saved the failing ICEF schools, back in that day. Marx said that history repeats itself; first as tragedy, next as farce. Break out the slapsticks and clown noses.
Most interesting is the auditors’ finding that that the expenditure of $127,000 by the Magnolia Educational and Research Foundation to process immigration papers for foreign staff was lawful and reasonable. That means that the auditor believes that Magnolia/Gülen’s pattern of importing foreign teachers [http://bit.ly/1dU0W4c] is fiscally and administratively legal – but the question of whether it’s wise policy or politics - or ethical practice - is still outstanding.
The message here is that there's nothing wrong with charter schools that can’t be fixed by some more money and competent professional leadership. All together now: “Duh!”
Caprice Young ran ICEF and is now at Magnolia. Marlene Canter is running Green Dot. I seem to recall that both Caprice and Marlene were at odds with the respective founders of those two charter chains when they were on the school board. The concept of charter school independence and local control seems shattered when it takes a former school board president brought in as a dues ex machine to save the day and create “improvement”.
Additionally KPCC reports that the California state auditors found all four Magnolia Public Schools reviewed "grossly" underreported truancies | http://bit.ly/1zTB42s "Picky-Picky-Picky" you may say, but not reporting truancies = overreporting attendance ...which I believe = fraud.
I READ SOMETHING SOMEWHERE [http://lat.ms/1ANOhVu] that said the social impact of Hip-Hop Culture has eclipsed that of the British Invasion of the ‘60’s. As a boomer I have a hard time with that kind of blasphemy …but after attending the LAUSD Beyond the Bell/Spotlight on Success event at West LA College on Saturday (A fine time had by all and a tremendous success!) I’m doubting my doubt.
AND HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY EVERYONE! When I am not writing+editing these pages I’m an officer in an organization that was once The National Congress of Mothers …and given half-a-chance they would revert to that style! Needless to say those of us who never indulged in motherhood have benefitted greatly from our dealings with those who did.
"Let's all get up and dance to a song that was a hit before your mother was born / Though she was born a long, long time ago / Your mother should know." – Paul
Somewhere out there/in here, with other lyrics by Mick+Keith and Pink Floyd and Aerosmith – and sonnets by Seamus Heaney – lays the truth
When all the others were away at Mass
It’s all very complicated.
Thank you mothers everywhere!
¡Onward/Adelante! - smf
Act One: NO DIPLOMACY IN THIS WORD WAR
A CONSUL GENERAL AND A FORMER BEAUTY QUEEN ARE LOCKED IN AN UGLY PUBLIC DISPUTE. AT STAKE: HIS REPUTATION AND HER ABILITY TO REMAIN IN THE UNITED STATES.
Anna Gorman | Times Staff Writer |http://lat.ms/1ErZr2N
July 11, 2005 | LAS VEGAS :: Their "he says, she says" tale rivals any Latin American soap opera, with allegations of marital infidelity, diplomatic intrigue and ruthless revenge.
She says he is an unscrupulous diplomat who arranged to get her a fraudulent passport and visa when they were lovers, then had her arrested when their affair ended badly.
He says she's a manipulative beauty queen who made up the affair and other outrageous accusations as part of a scam to avoid getting kicked out of the country.
He is Fernando Castillo, 35, Guatemala's Los Angeles-based consul general, one of the country's top government officials in the Western United States.
She is Julia Arana, 29, a third-place finalist for the title of Miss Guatemala in 2000.
They are locked in an unusual public dispute, with his reputation and her ability to stay in the United States swaying in the balance.
"Fundamentally," said Judge Ronald L. Mullins, an Immigration Court judge in Las Vegas, "this is a lovers' quarrel. They had a dispute and the fallout from that dispute has been quite ugly."
Mullins now is weighing their stories as he decides whether to deport Arana, an illegal immigrant caught with an allegedly fraudulent U.S. passport. Arana has argued she is entitled to asylum, saying that Castillo's influence with the Guatemalan government would leave her vulnerable to retaliation in her homeland.
Mullins has tentatively ruled that she must leave the country.
The complex claims and counterclaims are laid out in a thick court file in Las Vegas Immigration Court, including emotional e-mails that detail the highs and lows of their relationship.
Their conflict is more than just a salacious tale. The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City is investigating possible fraud in how a U.S. diplomatic visa was issued to Arana. And U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is looking into whether its agents acted properly when they arrested her in March 2004 for alleged passport fraud and other violations. The agencies confirmed their inquiries but would not comment further.
On this much the two sides agree: They met in fall 2001. Over the next two years, they were photographed together around the country. They had a falling-out in spring 2003. In a fit of anger, she sent copies of a nude photo of him to the Guatemalan Consulate in Los Angeles. He sued to get a restraining order forbidding her to contact him, then dropped the case.
On just about everything else, they part ways.
'I WAS EXCITED'
Arana says she was immediately impressed with Castillo when she met him in September 2001 at a Las Vegas reception in his honor.
He was just 31, young to be named to such an esteemed position. He gave her his business card, she said, and mentioned a possible internship at the consulate. At the time, she was, she admits, an illegal immigrant, studying political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and working as a waitress.
Here is her account of how the relationship evolved, then came undone, according to an interview at her Las Vegas home, tapes of Immigration Court hearings and allegations in the court file:
She called Castillo about three weeks after they met. He asked if she had a boyfriend, explaining that he was divorced and that his ex-wife and twin daughters lived in New York. They began an "intimate" relationship, she testified in court.
As the months passed, Arana testified, she began attending official Guatemalan events with him throughout the country, in Santa Fe, Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C. Photos of them together in various locations, arm-in-arm, are part of the court file. One shows them lying together on a beach in Hawaii, where she had gone to compete in the Miss Hawaiian Tropics pageant in 2003.
She often visited him in his Los Angeles home, she testified, flying here on his dime. He charmed her with cards and flowers, she said; he phoned and e-mailed often.
"The truth is that we love each other," reads one e-mail in the court file -- translated from Spanish -- that he allegedly wrote to her. "And we are both a great catch for each other and I miss you and I want you here as soon as possible."
She met his friends. He met her family. "I was excited," she testified. "I was thinking I was going to marry him."
Then, in March 2003, immigration authorities arrested Arana. A former friend had reported Arana for allegedly using her identity years ago to make a false U.S. passport -- a contention Arana disputes.
She called Castillo, who found her a well-known immigration attorney.
The attorney, Enrique Arevalo, later withdrew from the case, citing an alleged misrepresentation by Castillo. In court documents, he said that though Castillo had initially described Arana as a "close friend" of the family, the attorney later discovered the pair "had a personal relationship that went sour."
Arana, facing possible deportation, was afraid to travel anywhere outside the U.S. But that, she testified, put a crimp in a plan of Castillo's to take her to Europe. Castillo came up with an elaborate scheme, Arana testified: He would make her a Guatemalan passport, then prepare a work contract naming her as his domestic helper. She would go back to Guatemala and, with the signed contract as evidence of her employment by Castillo, obtain a diplomatic visa from the U.S. Embassy, allowing her to come and go freely from the United States.
The documents would be under a false name, she said, to avoid raising the suspicions of U.S. authorities, who already had a record of her pending deportation case.
Arana was nervous, but, she said during the interview, "he made me feel confident."
In May 2003, she testified, Castillo made her a Guatemalan passport under the name of Maria del Carmen Sanchez Cruz -- using the fingerprint of a homeless man who was paid $100 for his trouble. She flew to Guatemala City, got the visa, then reentered the U.S. with no trouble.
Everything seemed to be going well. But the next month, Arana discovered that Castillo was still married and living with his wife and children in Los Angeles. They broke up.
"I came home devastated," she said in the interview.
Then, she admits, she got mad. She sent a lengthy letter to his wife, detailing their alleged affair, and sent the nude photo of him to the consulate, with this caption: "The Future President of Guatemala and His Political Power."
Castillo responded with threatening e-mails and phone calls, she testified. Arana told the court that Castillo demanded she return the Guatemalan passport. In one e-mail in the court file that she ascribed to him, he accused her of being a prostitute and threatened to have her deported.
"Understand that if you meddle with me I am not alone. I have an economic and political power behind me," he allegedly wrote. "I don't have any feeling for you, and if I have to give everything to see you behind bars, I am going to do it."
In February 2004, Castillo filed a lawsuit against her, saying that she was harassing him and threatening to make "false and scandalous allegations." He dropped the suit earlier this year.
In March 2004, six immigration agents with guns showed up at her house and arrested her a second time, she said in the interview. Official documents related to her arrest, part of the court record, cited the already pending charge that she had a fraudulent U.S. passport. But the documents added new allegations -- that she had subjected the consul general to "continued harassing/threatening mail, faxes and telephone calls" and that she had overstayed her diplomatic visa.
Though she had previously been released on her own recognizance, her bond was set at $50,000.
"I was in custody because they believed him," Arana said in the interview. "He was using the system to get even in a personal matter."
'WE TRIED TO HELP HER'
Fernando Castillo tells a decidedly different version of events.
In a recent interview at the consulate, he acknowledged becoming friends with Arana after meeting in Las Vegas. He thought of her as a young, bright Guatemalan trying to make something of herself in the U.S. Arana came to his home and his office, he said, but they never dated.
"We tried to help her, my wife and me," he said. "We opened the door to her, to my house."
After Castillo and Arana had known each other for a while, Castillo said, she asked for his help in trying to get a visa to stay in the United States. He referred her to an attorney.
Then, in spring 2003, Castillo and his wife, Jacqueline Duvivier, decided to hire a nanny for their daughters. Arana told them that she had a cousin in Guatemala who would be perfect for the job, Castillo said. So Castillo wrote a work contract and did the paperwork necessary so the cousin could get a diplomatic visa.
But the woman, Maria del Carmen Sanchez Cruz, never showed up. Castillo said he then realized that Arana had lied -- that she was the one who wanted the visa. So Castillo wrote a letter to Guatemalan government officials, dated Oct. 28, 2003, asking that the visa be canceled.
"That is when she got really mad," he said.
He said she called him several times threatening to ruin his reputation. She allegedly sent irate letters. One of those, in the court file, states in part: "YOU HAVE NO IDEA what I am capable of."
Castillo and his wife, who have been married for 15 years, filed for a restraining order in early 2004. More than a year later, they withdrew the suit, concluding that such legal action would not be appropriate for a foreign diplomat.
Duvivier said in an interview she never doubted her husband's fidelity, even when she saw the photographs. "Fernando takes snapshots with anyone and their mother," she said, calling Arana a "pathological liar."
Castillo's attorney said that if his client were having an affair, he certainly would not have brought her into his home. "Fernando is not stupid, you know," said the attorney, Mariano Castillo. "His wife will kill him."
Castillo said that Arana must have accessed his computer at his house, then fabricated the e-mails that he supposedly wrote to her. As for the nude photo, Castillo said that she must have stolen it from him.
Castillo said Arana's lies were retaliation for his refusal to be part of her illegal scheme. He said he spoke to a U.S. government attorney about the alleged threats she had sent, but didn't ask anyone to arrest her.
"It's just amazing how she can lie," he said.
Nevertheless, the case has embarrassed him and threatened to derail his political career. He traveled to Washington earlier this year to tell the Guatemalan ambassador about the allegations and to give his side of the story.
"There is nothing that I did wrong," he said. "There is nothing that could even look suspicious."
Ambassador Guillermo Castillo said that he doesn't believe the consul general did anything improper but that if he did, "No one is going to pull any strings to protect anybody."
WAITING FOR WORD
As U.S. authorities look into some of Arana's allegations, she waits in Las Vegas for word on whether she will be deported.
During Arana's immigration hearing, which took place earlier this year, Arana's attorney argued for asylum.
"If Fernando Castillo is able to manipulate the government of the U.S. so easily to have her arrested and put on a $50,000 bond, certainly he would have more power in his own country," the attorney, Joseph Sandoval, said in an interview.
Castillo received a subpoena, but did not have to testify because he declared diplomatic immunity.
At the end of the hearing, Judge Mullins, who is expected to issue his final ruling this summer, said it wasn't surprising that the U.S. government would want to do what was necessary to protect a foreign diplomat.
But Mullins said he did not believe Castillo was the "puppeteer pulling the strings and manipulating the immigration authorities here in the United States."
The judge also said he doubted that Arana would be harmed if she returned home to Guatemala. Just because she did not get to marry a diplomat, Mullins said, does not mean she should be allowed to stay in the U.S.
"Everyone has felt betrayed at some time," Mullins said. "This is part of the human condition."
Act Two: L.A. UNIFIED WILL INVESTIGATE FOOD-SERVICE CONTRACTS AT PUC CHARTERS
SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATE REF RODRIGUEZ HELPS OVERSEE CHARTER SCHOOL WITH QUESTIONED FOOD CONTRACTS
By Howard Blume | LA Times | http://lat.ms/1bvg3PT
May 4, 2015 :: L.A. Unified Supt. Ramon C. Cortines has asked for a district review of food service contracts at one of the region's largest charter school organizations.
The move came after The Times on Sunday published the findings of a state investigation into PUC Schools which showed an alleged conflict of interest in the awarding of millions of dollars in food contracts.
The state probe examined the dual roles of Jacqueline Duvivier Castillo, who is part owner of Better 4 You Meals and also was, until Saturday, PUC's director of business and development. Better 4 You Meals has provided food to the charter group for the last five years, documents provided by the state showed.
Investigators for the California Department of Education said the charter failed to demonstrate that the contract was "awarded properly despite the apparent conflict of interest."
In an email to The Times on Saturday, PUC said Duvivier Castillo would no longer be employed by the charter group.
Cortines said that he has asked the district's charter school division to look into the matter. Charters are typically authorized by a local school system but are managed independently and exempt from some rules that govern traditional public schools. They are publicly financed.
Most of PUC's schools are overseen by L.A. Unified.
The L.A. County district attorney's office indicated Monday that it expected another, separate probe to be conducted by L.A. Unified's inspector general. The D.A.'s office said it was premature to comment on whether laws could have been broken.
"We will review the report by LAUSD's inspector general when it's completed," said D.A. spokeswoman Jane Robison.
It remained unclear Monday evening if such a review would be conducted. Inspector General Ken Bramlett said no decision had been made on whether he would conduct a separate investigation into the matter.
PUC was co-founded by Ref Rodriguez, a candidate for the L.A. Board of Education who serves on the PUC board and as treasurer of the group.
Rodriguez has declined to answer questions about the matter. But he issued a brief statement Friday in support of terminating the food contract. He was listed as chief executive on tax forms during the period when Better 4 You first began providing meals for PUC.
The Rodriguez campaign in Monday clarified the role of Duvivier Castillo, who had been a consultant. According to campaign documents, Better 4 You contributed $2,200 and the campaign also paid Duvivier Castillo $1,700 for election work.
The consulting fee related to help with election-related events, including the kick-off, said campaign manager Michael Soneff. Duvivier Castillo was reimbursed $1,053 for supplies she'd provided for events, he said. Separately, another Better 4 You employee also donated $850 to help elect Rodriguez.
Charter tackles middle school challenges with young faculties and a no-nonsense attitude
The election is May 19.
The state Department of Education, which released emails and documents about its investigation to The Times under the California Public Records Act, found that Duvivier Castillo failed to properly report her financial interests in Better 4 You. In addition, her company was ineligible for some of the food contracts because it lacked a health permit; it relied on a subcontractor to prepare meals, the review found.
PUC Chief Executive Jacqueline Elliot notified the school district of the state probe on Sunday and emphasized that the education department did not require a change in food vendors until the contract expired at the end of the current school year.
In a statement Monday, she said the group "acted quickly and appropriately by ending our relationship with the employee in question and by broadening our conflict-of-interest policy.”
Rodriguez is vying to unseat one-term incumbent Bennett Kayser to represent an area that encompasses Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Eagle Rock as well as much of southeast L.A. County.
PUC serves about 4,800 students in 15 schools, including in the east San Fernando Valley and north of downtown
• A muck-raking Op-Ed (WHAT THE PUC IS GOING ON HERE? | http://bit.ly/1F6foQO) in LA Progressive addresses Ref Rodriguez's role in this and other alleged shenanigans
• L.A. Now: L.A. UNIFIED RELEASES AUDIT OF CHARTER SCHOOL WITH TIES TO CANDIDATE [http://lat.ms/1zOIgMW] “Typically an audit, when final, would be posted online. But in this case, the audit was going to be kept private (at the request of a single board member – allegedly Monica Garcia), ostensibly until board members could review it in closed session, which is scheduled for May 12. The board elections are May 19”.
L.A. UNIFIED TEACHERS RATIFY THREE-YEAR CONTRACT OVERWHEALMINGLY
By Howard Blume, LA Times | http://lat.ms/1IZsHUV
9 May 2015 :: An overwhelming majority of teachers union members voted to ratify a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the union announced Friday.
More than 97% of 25,407 educators who cast ballots favored the pact, which includes a 10% raise over two years.
Union members also ratified a separate benefits package that retains key current features of employee health plans.
"The collective bargaining agreement is good for educators and students," union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said in a statement.
The Board of Education must give formal approval to the deal, which is widely expected as soon as next week.
The raise is phased in: 4% is retroactive to July 1, 2014; 2% retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015. Pay goes up another 2% on July 1, and the final 2% on Jan. 1, 2016. Teachers have the right to negotiate for an additional raise in the third year of the contract.
Teachers had gone without a pay increase for eight years, although they continued to receive salary boosts based on years of experience and additional eligible education credits.
During the recent recession, teachers had agreed to temporary salary reductions. Still,thousands of educators and other employees were laid off.
The agreement includes funding to reduce the size of classes in key subjects or grade levels. Schools may also get more counselors, although the maximum ratio of students per secondary school counselor is still 500 to 1.
The two sides also agreed to develop a new teacher evaluation and support program by fall 2016. In the meantime, the district will streamline the current process.
Suit against teachers unions isn't about free speech but silencing members
United Teachers Los Angeles made one notable concession from an earlier position. It accepted three possible final ratings for teachers: exceeds standards, meets standards or below standard.
The union had wanted to keep the practice of using two possible ratings. Accepting the district's alternative could result in the district retaining control over millions of dollars in federal aid tied to evaluation standards.
Though he favors the agreement, Supt. Ramon C. Cortines has warned that its cost could contribute to future budget cuts and even layoffs.
Despite improved relations between the union and L.A. Unified, UTLA has said it will protest next week against the district's plans to cut or even eliminate programs that have lost state funding support.
In addition to teachers, the union represents health and human services staff, including nurses and school psychologists.
SAN FERNANDO VALLEY STUDENTS MORE AT RISK OF NOT GRADUATING THAN THOSE IN THE URBAN CORE, NEW LAUSD DATA SHOWS
By Annie Gilbertson | KPCC 89.3 | http://bit.ly/1FcOusy
May 08, 07:20 PM :: Forty-five percent of sophomores are not on track to graduate under Los Angeles Unified's new college preparation requirements, according to the latest figures from the district's office of data and accountability.
In some cases, students in suburban areas are further behind than their urban peers. For example, 48 percent of San Fernando Valley students are short of the courses needed for a diploma, more than those in Central and East Los Angeles.
L.A. Unified walked back its earlier prediction of a 75 percent failure rate, but the numbers are still grim.
The plunging graduation predictions come 10 years after LAUSD moved to require all students, starting with the Class of 2017, to make a C grade or better in courses needed to qualify for entry into the University of California and Cal State University systems.
Proponents of the policy sought to better prepare under-served students for college, but critics argue the tougher standards will cripple otherwise diploma-eligible students in their search for future employment.
LAUSD school board member Monica Ratliff said the additional graduation requirements should be rolled back.
"What about people who want to go into the military? What about people who want into the trades? What about people who want to go to college somewhere other than Cal State? I think it's a problem we are denying them that opportunity," Ratliff said.
The school board is scheduled Tuesday to take up the college preparation requirements. Among the options that have been suggested to avoid a disaster: allow a C average for the required courses or provide intensive help for struggling students.
Farthest behind are the students in so-called "continuation" and "option" schools – programs designed for students at risk of dropping out or struggling with such challenges as teen pregnancies or medical issues. If no one intervenes, more than 80 percent of these sophomores won't be receiving a diploma.
Julie Carson teaches adult students taking a second shot at a high school diploma by studying for the GED, the general education development test that provides students with a high school equivalency certificate. She sees the new requirements as another barrier for struggling students to climb.
"The whole idea was to have the opportunity to go to college. But in the meantime, they are denying students who are non-academic," Carson said.
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
LA Times Editorial: L.A. UNIFIED NEEDS TO DO ITS HOMEWORK ON A-G COLLEGE-PREP STANDARDS
It’s much easier for members of the L.A. Unified school board sitting on the dais to pass stringent and unrealistic new standards than it is for teachers on the ground to carry them out. Case in point: the district’s requirement that all students take the full schedule of college-prep courses — and earn a grade of C or better — if they want to graduate. It isn’t working. | http://lat.ms/1Qymi5f
AUTHORS OF CALIFORNIA'S VACCINE BILL DILUTE LEGISLATION TO EASE PASSAGE -- The authors of the incendiary legislation, Sens. Richard Pan and Ben Allen, plan to amend the bill in a way that essentially "grandfathers in" many public and private school students whose parents have claimed "personal belief exemptions" to vaccination requirements. | http://bayareane.ws/1PzgIgt
LAUSD INSPECTOR GENERAL'S PUC LAKEVIEW CHARTER ACADEMY AUDITLAUSD Inspector General's PUC Lakeview Charter Academy Audit | http://bit.ly/1RpPYmy
STATE AUDITOR FINDS IMPROVEMENT IN EMBATTLED CHARTER SCHOOL CHAIN +smf’s 2¢ | http://bit.ly/1H92nIu
L.A. UNIFIED TEACHERS RATIFY THREE-YEAR CONTRACT OVERWHELMINGLY +smf’s 2¢ | http://bit.ly/1DYsaLS
89.3 KPCC: LAUSD board weighs options as A-G college prep policy threatens graduations | http://bit.ly/1Io55Kx
L.A. Weekly : Los Angeles School District Builds Apartments for Teachers | http://bit.ly/1czPxX3
Wall Street Journal : Los Angeles Teachers Union Members Back New Contract | http://on.wsj.com/1KunF0Z
What Schools Must Learn From LA's iPad Debacle | WIRED| http://wrd.cm/1FbNvbX
MEDIA ADVISORY FROM CALIFORNIA STATE PTA: Campaign mailers in LAUSD board race are not connected to PTA | http://bit.ly/1FaMvF1
GROWTH OF CHARTER SCHOOLS EXACERBATES LAUSD ENROLLMENT DECLINES | http://bit.ly/1EVtZ07
A triumph of critical thinking? STATE BOARD AWARDS DISPUTED TEST CONTRACT TO ETS …NOT PEARSON – the low bidder! | http://bit.ly/1F7OYA2
SEGREGATION OF THE NATION’S CHILDREN STARTS WITH PRESCHOOL, NEW REPORT FINDS + smf’s 2¢ | http://bit.ly/1PoM7Cf
LAUSD Board Informative: BUDGET IMPACT OF ISSUES WITH ATTENDANCE AND UNDUPLICATED COUNTS | http://bit.ly/1FPrPBj
LAUSD Board Informative: DISTRICT’S CREDIT RATINGS AFFIRMED WITH CAUTIONARY COMMENTS http://bit.ly/1EgyYoA
Supt. Cortines suggests reconsidering A-thru-G graduation requirements | http://bit.ly/1JQ8jXE
A thru G: LAUSD COLLEGE PREP GRADUATION REQUIREMENT PUTS NEARLY 75% OF TENTH GRADERS’ DIPLOMAS AT RISK | http://bit.ly/1JQ8jXE
Núcleo Común meets Common Core: CHALLENGES+OPTIMISM IN LEARNING COMMON CORE IN SPANISH http://bit.ly/1DQS04p
L.A. HIGH SCHOOL VOTERS WHO ARE EAGER TO JOIN THE CAST | http://bit.ly/1dKU5u2
LAUSD COACHES WORK FOR LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE, BOARD OF ED PANEL HEARS | http://bit.ly/1E5szO5
Commentary: LA UNIFIED MUST RECOMMIT TO THE GOAL OF COLLEGE FOR ALL | http://bit.ly/1F4fiez
LAUSD SUPERINTENDENT WANTS MORE MONEY, FEWER RESTRICTIONS IN LETTER TO GOVERNOR + Letter | http://bit.ly/1KdRHpy
LAUSD BOARD COMMITTEES TO TAKE ON STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS, PRE-K CUTS …with help for SLRDP program two years off | http://bit.ly/1EdPXbm
Union bills would hobble charter schools with new regs / Charter school makes world's largest PB+J sandwich | http://bit.ly/1FNraAq
State board again to pursue waiver from No Child Left Behind | EdSource http://bit.ly/1E5qIc3
L.A. UNIFIED WILL INVESTIGATE FOOD-SERVICE CONTRACTS AT PUC CHARTERS | http://bit.ly/1JOoDIy
HERE COMES THE MONKEY! - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Standardized Testing | “Pearson is the educational equivalent of Time Warner Cable. Either you’ve never had any contact with them …or they’ve ruined your F&%*ING life” | http://bit.ly/1JmLRSE http://bit.ly/1JmLRSE
CHARTER CONTRACTED WITH EMPLOYEE’S FIRM: Ref Rodriguez's PUC Schools partnered with company owned by an employee | http://bit.ly/1R4ev08
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Tues. May 12, 2015 - 10:00 a.m. Closed Session Board Meeting
Tues. May 12, 2015 - 1:00 p.m. Regular Board Meeting
*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
• SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE:
• LAUSD FACILITIES COMMUNITY OUTREACH CALENDAR:
What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member:
Tamar.Galatzan@lausd.net • 213-241-6386
Monica.Garcia@lausd.net • 213-241-6180
Bennett.Kayser@lausd.net • 213-241-5555
George.McKenna@lausd.net • 213-241-6382
Monica.Ratliff@lausd.net • 213-241-6388
Richard.Vladovic@lausd.net • 213-241-6385
Steve.Zimmer@lausd.net • 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: http://bit.ly/dqFdq2 • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at email@example.com • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Brown: 213-897-0322 e-mail: http://www.govmail.ca.gov/
• 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!
Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and was
Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is
Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and has represented
PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for
over 12 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 "WHO" Gold Award and the
ACSA Regional Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award - honors
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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