Mayor Villaraigosa, heckled, harassed and challenged by LAUSD parents opposed to the LAUSD takeover crafted in a
"You better control your parents," the Mayor said, "or I'll have them kicked out."
This page is a compendium of items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, damnable prevarications, rants and amusing anecdotes - about LAUSD and/or public education that didn't - or haven't yet - made it into the "real" 4LAKids blog and weekly e-newsletter at http://www.4LAKids.blogspot.com . 4LAKidsNews will be updated at arbitrary random intervals.
Mayor Villaraigosa, heckled, harassed and challenged by LAUSD parents opposed to the LAUSD takeover crafted in a
"You better control your parents," the Mayor said, "or I'll have them kicked out."
The following is the text of the letter that California School Boards Association sent to the members of the Senate Education Committee on
Dear Senator Scott:
The California School Boards Association (CSBA), which represents nearly 1,000 school districts and county boards of education statewide, is strongly opposed to AB 1381 (Nunez), as amended on June 21. This bill would shift authority for much of the governance of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) from the elected school board to the mayor of
IT WOULD REDUCE—NOT INCREASE—ACCOUNTABILITY. Under AB 1381, LAUSD would be governed by a four-headed Hydra consisting of the elected governing board, a superintendent whose appointment would be subject to approval by the mayor, the mayor himself, and a Council of Mayors. Authority for the approval of budgets, fiscal management, collective bargaining, personnel decisions, facilities, and other matters would be split among the four heads. In addition, a fifth entity, “The
All of this would result in a complex spider’s web of administrative and managerial confusion in which accountability would be blurred at best and nonexistent at worst.
It’s no wonder the LA Times concluded that “this deal spreads responsibility so thin that it’s hard to know who has it.” Under AB 1381, the district would become a virtual Petri dish for passing the buck.
IT DISENFRANCHISES FAMILIES AND VOTERS. By stripping authority away from the elected school board, voters will have their voices weakened. The 20 percent of LAUSD families that live outside of the City of
IT EXPANDS THE SCOPE OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. AB 1381 provides that, with respect to the clusters of schools overseen by the Community Partnership, “teachers and parents are full partners in the decisions that affect the schools.” Elsewhere (Section 35931 [a]), the bill provides that “employee organizations” shall share oversight as part of the Community Partnership. Taken together, these provide an even greater expansion of the scope of collective bargaining than was contained in AB 2160 (Goldberg) several years ago.
IT IS POOR EDUCATIONAL POLICY. School site decision making is a popular mantra, but its viability in the real world is not without limits. The striking success that LAUSD has realized over the past several years is due in large part to standardizing a district-wide curriculum and providing instructional materials and professional development around that curriculum. The students in LAUSD are highly transient. In many schools, more than half of the students in attendance at the beginning of the year are in a different school at the end of the year. Therefore, it is vitally important for student success that there be some consistency between the curriculum, instruction, and materials between schools so that when students (and sometimes teachers) move from school to school there is continuity in their educational experience.
AB 1381 would disrupt this continuity by allowing teachers at each school site to select that school’s instructional materials, curriculum, and methods of instruction. We know that this disruption has a negative effect on the achievement of students who experience it.
For these reasons, CSBA strongly opposes AB 1381 (Nunez) and respectfully urges your “NO” vote on this measure. If you have any questions about our position, please feel free to call me at 325-4020.
Richard W. Pratt
Assistant Executive Director
EDITORIAL from the
Since he took office last July, Villaraigosa has promised to take control of (actually, he prefers the phrase "bring oversight to") the schools, and in many ways he has staked his mayoralty on it. His passion for the issue is clear, and he says the deal he struck Wednesday with unions and state lawmakers is the best he could have hoped for. If that's the case, he would have been better off leaving
Under the proposed bill, details of which are not yet public, the school board would be in charge of student achievement — or at least parts of it — while the mayor would control about three dozen poorly performing schools. Both would have a role in hiring the superintendent. Schools would be in charge of their curriculums. Instead of creating a clean line of accountability — the chief advantage of having a mayor run the schools — this deal divides responsibility so confusingly that even the main players would have trouble figuring out who's in charge of what.
The school board would be a "broad policymaking body," the mayor says, "not a management body." Yet decisions about curriculum would be made at the local school level. The superintendent, meanwhile, would be charged with carrying out the policy set by the board — but he or she could be fired by the mayor. The superintendent would have power to sign contracts — except the biggest contract, with the teachers union, which would be negotiated by the board.
Most schools would be under the authority of the elected board, but a few dozen would be essentially run by the mayor. The mayor says that if these schools improve, the Legislature may be more willing to give a future mayor more direct control. Maybe so. But the rest of the plan would so damage the district that this experiment hardly seems worth it.
"Fragmentation is failing our kids," the mayor explained in his State of the City address in April. "Voters need to be able to hire and fire one person accountable to parents, teachers and taxpayers. A leader who is ultimately responsible for systemwide performance." Under this plan, fragmentation is increased, accountability diminished. Who's in charge of the schools? Any answer that requires more than one subject and one verb is no answer at all.
Consider a school whose students are failing at math. Who could responsible parents see to address the problem? The teachers picked the curriculum, but they can't be voted out of office. The school didn't decide its budget; the superintendent did that. But both the board and the mayor have a say in it. The board can't hire and fire the superintendent on its own; the mayor can say the board selects the superintendent. And because the board loses power in this deal, it has little interest in seeing it succeed.
The mayor has never been shy about wading into controversies, so he would almost certainly offer those concerned parents a hearing (actually, he could do so now). But how much he would be able to do is an open question. And the larger problem, as the mayor himself is fond of pointing out, is that this quest to improve L.A. Unified's schools is not about the mayor. It's about providing accountability — and accountability shouldn't depend on who happens to be sitting behind the mayor's desk.
"We're going to be responsible," the mayor said Wednesday. Unfortunately, this deal spreads responsibility so thin that it's hard to know who has it.
Note: 4LAKids normally goes out late Saturday, but events are transpiring fast and furious – and I've begun to organize my thinking. Perhaps I and all the rest of us are overreacting to what we don't know – but we are so used to being treated this way by LAUSD it has become a modus operandi.
We have seen neither a plan nor legislation from the Mayor and his homies in
P.O.W.E.R.S.: Pre-write, Organize, Write, Edit, Revise and Share. Sometimes one can't wait to share! – smf
THE MAYOR'S/LEGISLATOR'S/TEACHER'S UNION DEAL is unquestionably a step in the right direction …for all the wrong reasons.
GOOD NEWS: The mayor has set down the gun he has been toting in his self-declared "war" with the school district and is at least talking to people.
BAD NEWS: He's talking to the wrong people at the wrong time in the wrong venue.
A back room deal that creates a blueprint for paradise is no less a back room deal.
This is a pure political compromise to salvage a doomed-to-failure agenda — struck with state legislators and union leaders in
After a year of rhetoric, bombast and a "leaked" 42 page draft plan that even the mayor wouldn't endorse we are left with a "done deal" …and legislation that will be hastily written in the 36 hours before the legislative deadline.
This isn't "No Agenda Left Behind"; maybe Antonio's plan – or lack thereof – should be mercifully allowed to fail.
Yesterday (Wednesday) night Mayor Villaraigosa was scheduled to meet with the mayors of six other cities in LAUSD for a long scheduled public discussion of his plan – and their plan - with parents, students and community members. The other mayors were there. Parents, students and community members were there. The Mayor of Los Angeles didn't show up.
The California Constitution says: "No school or college or any other part of the Public School System shall be, directly or indirectly, transferred from the Public School System or placed under the jurisdiction of any authority other than one included within the Public School System." It continues: "No public money shall ever be appropriated for the support (of) any school not under the exclusive control of the officers of the public schools."
What part of "No" is it that the mayor, the legislature and union leadership don't understand? - smf
NYC REFUSES TO LIFT SCHOOL CELL PHONE BAN
wnbc.com | Associated Press
That's what parents, students and lawmakers who want a school cell phone ban lifted asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration at a city council hearing Wednesday, but the city is refusing to budge.
One parent said the city's policy wouldn't affect her family's actions.
"My children will continue to carry cell phones," said Carmen Colon. "No one is going to tell me otherwise. I have no choice."
[You go Carmen! Say Dat! - smf]
Three high school students were among those who argued against the ban.
Sophomore Seth Pearce noted wryly during his testimony: "All three of us have cell phones right now in City Hall, and it seems to me the city is running just fine."
Pearce said he takes his cell phone to school every day, despite the ban.
"I need it because we live in a society where there are a lot of emergencies and a lot of situations where students need to be in contact," he said.
The prohibition on cell phones in the nation's biggest school system has been in place for years, but students have mostly carried the phones without consequence.
When the city began random security checks in late April as part of a weapons crackdown, authorities began finding -- and confiscating -- hundreds of cell phones, prompting a fierce battle over the ban.
They have written letters, staged rallies and repeatedly called the mayor's weekly radio show to demand that he reconsider.
No chance, says the mayor.
Bloomberg, the former chief executive of a financial information company, has a certain obsession with technology and communications -- he and his aides are never without their BlackBerries -- but he has a similar fixation on efficiency and order.
He says cell phones are disruptive in schools, where students can use them to cheat on exams, take inappropriate photos and waste time chatting and text messaging instead of learning.
The City Council took up the dispute even though it is not clear whether it has much say on the matter. While the school system of 1.1 million students is under the mayor's management, it is regulated by the state.
Still, council members have introduced legislation that would guarantee parents the right to provide their children with cell phones to carry to and from school, and prohibit anyone from interfering with that right.
The council appears to have enough votes to override a likely mayoral veto, but the bill's supporters acknowledged that the point of the Wednesday hearing was not necessarily to push the law, but rather to nudge a compromise.
While some lawmakers cried that the mayor had "drawn a line in the sand" and warned they were prepared to "stage a battle" and go to court, others said they are hopeful that all sides could work it out.
"I would like to change this policy with the mayor, not over the mayor," Councilman Lewis Fidler said.
But the Bloomberg administration shows no room for compromise. Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott described the policy as "non-negotiable."
DOE SAYS IT PLANS TO UPHOLD CELL PHONE BAN IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
From NY1 News
Two City Council committees held a hearing Wednesday on the Department of Education's cell phone ban in schools.
Under current city policy, students are not allowed to carry cell phones in school.
The Bloomberg administration says it will not support any legislation making it easier for students to bring cell phones to school, but it says it will clarify a rule that lets students with medical conditions carry cell phones.
Bloomberg officials say the ban is necessary, but some members of the City Council say the policy puts students at risk.
"I think our parents and I think our city wants to make sure that while we're in school our kids are focused on learning. That's really what's important. And I think the policy is the right policy," said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
"Cell phones distract teachers and students and disrupt learning. Despite this some parents want their children to have cell phones. I understand why a parent might want his or her child to have a phone, but that does not out weigh the problem associated with cell phone use or possession on school grounds," said Terence Tolbert of the DOE.
"Society's changed a lot, there's a lot fewer parents at home who are in a position to directly be there with their kids. It's night and day from even 10 years ago," said Brooklyn City Councilman Bill de Blasio. "I totally respect why you don't want to disrupt education, but safety comes first by so great a margin."
The city's ban has been in effect since 1988, but was not strictly enforced until recently. In April, school safety officers began random scanning of students with portable metal detectors. The goal was to find weapons, but cell phones were also confiscated.
NY1’s Michael Scotto filed this report:
LA GUARDIA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT SETH PEARCE SAYS HIS CELL PHONE IS ESSENTIAL.
“We live in a society where there are a lot of emergencies and a lot of situations where students need to be in a contact with their parents,” Pearce said Wednesday.
But the Bloomberg administration says children need to find another way to stay in touch with their parents. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is standing firm on a controversial rule that prohibits students from bringing cell phones into city schools.
His deputies testified at a City Council hearing Wednesday.
“We're very focused as far as the policy that is in place and not moving away from that policy,” said Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott.
That policy, established in 1988, made headlines in April when unannounced sweeps began, resulting in the confiscation of more than 3,000 cell phones to date.
The City Council has introduced legislation that would allow students to carry cell phones to and from school and place a moratorium on the seizure of the phones.
Administration officials say they are working on clarifying a rule that allows students with medical problems to carry phones. But that's as far as they'll go. They say a more lenient rule won't work, claiming cell phones will always be a problem.
“If they are in there, they will be used and they will disrupt teaching learning,” said the DOE’s Terence Tolbert. “We've seen in it movie theaters, we’ve seen it in planes, we’ve seen it everywhere.”
“If we can't stay in touch with our children, I don't know what is more disempowering and threatening and troubling to parents than loosing touch with our kids,” said City Councilman Bill de Blasio.
With both sides standing firm, this debate is likely to go on for some time. And some council members even hinted that it could end up in court.
►LA MAYOR'S SCHOOL PLAN IN DANGER OF COLLAPSE IN
- by Michael R. Blood, Associated Press Political Writer/from the San Francisco Chronicle
The future of the takeover proposal is so shaky that Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a close friend of the mayor, warned him in a phone call Thursday that it could fall apart unless Villaraigosa makes a lobbying trip to
"It's not dead but it's in trouble," Nunez said in an interview. The mayor "is not a threat to the teachers. ... He simply wants to close the achievement gap."
Villaraigosa's office confirmed the call and said a trip to the Capitol was being scheduled for Monday. He will meet with legislators, unions and business leaders with a stake in the outcome, his office said.
The mayor "has known all along that reforming the public schools would be an uphill battle," said a spokeswoman, Janelle Erickson. "He wants to force a debate that makes it impossible for people to say no to reform."
Villaraigosa has anchored his mayoralty to his proposed takeover of the 730,000-student system — the second-largest in the nation — which includes
In April, Villaraigosa called on the Legislature to largely strip power from the troubled district and shift much of it to his office, a proposal that is loosely modeled on mayoral takeovers in
If approved by lawmakers, it would negate the possibility of sending the issue to voters, where the outcome would be far from assured.
The mayor's blueprint would wrest control from an elected school board, establishing a council of mayors to oversee the schools.
Critics call the mayor's proposal a power grab, and it has strained his relationships with district officials and the teachers union. Villaraigosa has said he expects his proposal to result in a political war over school control.
"It's not a surprise it's in trouble — it's not a good idea," said Barbara Kerr, head of the 335,000-member California Teachers Association. "There are many things we can do for our students, but mayoral control is not one of them.
"If you take control of the schools farther away from the community and the parents, that will make it more difficult all the way around," Kerr said. "We see it as another entanglement — it's like another sideshow — instead of concentrating on the classroom and the teachers and the things that they need."
The perilous status of the school plan made clear that the mayor had been outflanked by the teachers, long a powerful force in
LAUSD board President Marlene Canter said she had been in
"I've been talking about the fact LAUSD is on the move, and when the trajectory is going up you don't risk anything on behalf of kids," Canter said.
►MAYOR TOLD FIGHT NEEDED TO SAVE HIS LAUSD PLAN
by Harrison Sheppard,
Even though final legislation has not yet been introduced to lawmakers, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, D-
While Villaraigosa, a former Assembly speaker, has visited
"He's the best salesman we've got on this," Nuñez said. "The other side is working this pretty hard. I want the mayor to be successful and I want our schools to be successful."
Nuñez said he supports the bill but has not been able to spend much time lobbying for it because he has been occupied with budget negotiations and the primary election earlier this month. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also supports the mayor's plan, saying he would sign the bill if sent to him.
Villaraigosa's staff quickly put together a trip Monday, when the mayor is expected to meet with Nuñez and other key lawmakers. But Villaraigosa said he wasn't surprised the effort has been difficult.
"We've always said this was going to be an uphill battle," Villaraigosa said in a telephone interview. "There are strong forces defending the status quo. And I strongly believe the status quo is just not good enough."
Villaraigosa's proposal, contained in legislation authored by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-
The council would be comprised of all the mayors in the district, with the most power granted to
The mayors would hire the district superintendent, who would be granted increased powers to oversee the LAUSD's day-to-day operations. The school board would continue to exist, but in a diminished capacity.
Romero submitted a draft of her legislation to the state Legislative Counsel's Office, but it has yet to come back to the Legislature in its official language. So lawmakers who form opinions now are doing so based on what they are being told by the two sides before they have a chance to read the details for themselves.
Some key members of the Education Committee said they have not yet heard from the mayor.
Assemblyman Mark Wyland, R-Vista, vice chairman of the Assembly Education Committee, said he has not made up his mind yet, but has had "substantial contact" with opponents of the effort. He said he has not heard from the mayor.
The California Teachers Association, which opposes the bill, is considered one of the most influential political groups in the state, as a big contributor of money and personnel to many Democratic campaigns. United Teachers Los Angeles is affiliated with the CTA.
CTA President Barbara Kerr said even though it is a
"We've been saying for almost a year now that mayoral control is not the way to go," Kerr said. "The mayor has his heart in the right place and he needs to work with the teachers. He needs to work together to make some real change. Mayoral control is not the real change."
Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-
Goldberg opposes the bill because she believes it is premature, and said the mayor should work more on fully detailing his plan and explaining it to the public.
And she said the issue should be decided locally, not by legislators from all over the state.
"I'm not that anxious to have someone from
School board President Marlene Canter said she has been traveling to
The argument she has made to lawmakers is that the district is already improving without a reorganization, as test scores and other measures of achievement rise.
"I've been up there really on behalf of making sure that the legislators were fully briefed on how come I and others keep saying LAUSD is a district on the move," Canter said. "And to substantiate the progress we have made in the last six years with a reform superintendent, Roy Romer, not only in the area of construction but in the area of instruction."
►TENSION BUILDS BETWEEN L.A. MAYOR, ANGELIDES: Villaraigosa declines to endorse the candidate, who's refused to back takeover of school district.
By Michael Finnegan, LA Times Staff Writer
The rift between two of
Minutes after Villaraigosa's tepid remarks on his candidacy, Angelides refused to take a stand on Villaraigosa's plan to take over the
The dual snubs were part of a broad conflict between the two Democrats.
Villaraigosa is torn between party loyalty and the potential rewards offered by his new alliance with the Republican governor. He plans to campaign with Schwarzenegger for bond measures on the November ballot that could offer Los Angeles billions of dollars for schools, housing and traffic relief. And the governor would decide where much of that bounty went.
There is also a matter of personal ambition: Villaraigosa is widely seen as a top Democratic candidate for governor in 2010 — provided that Angelides loses.
For Angelides, support from Villaraigosa, a major political star, is crucial, especially in
With that backdrop, the mayor was less than enthusiastic when asked outside Starbucks whether he supported his party's nominee for governor.
"I'm a Democrat, as you all know, but I've not made any endorsements at this time," Villaraigosa told a media cluster as Angelides waited nearby for the camera crews and reporters to turn his way.
With his school plan in jeopardy, thanks largely to the clout of the teachers union in the Legislature, Villaraigosa plans to lobby for the proposal Monday in
"At some point, I would campaign for him, should I endorse him," Villaraigosa said. "Right now, I've got to focus on this issue."
As he walked to his SUV, Villaraigosa said he had asked Angelides to back his school proposal — to no avail. "I think right now he's probably focused on his campaign, just like I'm focused on mine," the mayor said.
Angelides described his refusal to take a position on the schools issue as a matter of principle. "That's a decision for the local community to make," he said, echoing remarks he made during his primary campaign.
Angelides also brushed off speculation that Villaraigosa's potential interest in a 2010 race for governor might lead him to prefer a Schwarzenegger win.
"Oh, nooo — no, no," Angelides said. "Antonio Villaraigosa and I have shared values. We know that this governor's cut schools, turned his back on kids who need healthcare, and that together, we can do much better for
If Angelides wins the November election, he will be the party's presumed favorite for a second term, most likely forcing Villaraigosa and other Democrats with an eye on the job to wait until 2014 to run.
The intra-party split comes as Angelides is trying to rally every major California Democrat behind his candidacy. Apart from Villaraigosa, he has been successful. His rival in the primary, state Controller Steve Westly, endorsed Angelides the morning after the election last week — and called the treasurer "brilliant."
On Monday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, another potential candidate for governor, threw his support behind Angelides and campaigned with him at a
Newsom's unabashed support only underscored the unusual nature of Villaraigosa's reticence. Nearly all of
This week, the candidate hired a campaign media consultant, Bill Carrick, who produced television ads against Villaraigosa for former Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn in 2001 and 2005. Angelides did not support Villaraigosa in those campaigns, but party leaders who know both men played down talk of any political grudge as the source of the current chill.
"I don't believe he would hold that against Angelides," Los Angeles County Democratic Chairman Eric Bauman said of the mayor.
For Schwarzenegger, the clash among Democrats is good news, particularly given the mayor's iconic status among many Latinos, a crucial constituency in the race. The governor has endorsed the schools plan.
"Gov. Schwarzenegger applauds Mayor Villaraigosa's courage in fighting for the children of
State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-
Angelides said he and Villaraigosa would be "getting together in the next few days" to talk things over.
"Look," Angelides said, "we're going to have a very united Democratic Party. The mayor's a friend of mine."
REMAINS, ARTIFACTS ON GRAND + CONSTRUCTION DELAYS WILL FORCE 4 NEW L.A. SCHOOLS TO OPEN LATE
►REMAINS, ARTIFACTS ON GRAND: Old cemetery's remnants lie under high school site
by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News
At the site of the $208 million performing arts high school at
"Our historical research is so fruitful - the ample burial records, the historical maps," said Strauss, who's worked as an archaeologist for 10 years.
"Usually you get a lot of dead ends, but the history of the site is really coming together. It's the best feeling when you get a lot of information. It's like a mystery, like something out of `CSI.'
"Things are coming together and we're painting a picture of what life was like on the hill from the mid-1800s to now."
Once the highest point in
Probably due to its panoramic view of the city, people began using it as a place to bury their dead after the fort was vacated. In the 1860s, the booming city opened the hillside as its first cemetery.
The school district took over the land in 1887 and eventually used it to house the first building constructed as a high school - a structure converted to a junior high in the 1930s. In the mid-1900s, the
When it came time to begin work on the performing arts high school, officials who examined historical records believed the cemetery had been relocated. But in December 2004 - a year after workers began excavating the site for the performing arts campus - historic artifacts were discovered.
Archaeologists have since found empty caskets, partial remains and the intact skeletons of those buried on the site more than 150 years earlier.
"We always knew there was the possibility we would encounter historical artifacts, but the records we had indicated the cemetery had been relocated," said Julia Hawkinson, project manager for
"The majority of our research is directed at who these people are and whether there are any descendants," Strauss said. "But it's very difficult to do. There are no headstones, but we hope to find jewelry, lockets, a decorative piece on the casket.
"We have nothing to go on."
The only hope is for archaeologists to use burial records, historical maps and identifiable markings on the caskets. Researchers are even tracking down old casket catalogs to help determine when they might have been purchased, Strauss said.
As bulldozers worked in the background Thursday, about 10 archaeologists used trowels and brushes to unearth the latest - and so far largest - cluster of grave sites.
One swept the dirt from a hexagonal-shape casket, revealing its wood as well as the bones of the feet of its occupant at the narrow end and a single vertebra toward the top.
When the remains were found, Strauss said, officials notified the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office and brought in a representative of the California Native American Heritage Commission to confirm that the site was not an American Indian burial ground.
They also got permits from the city to disinter the bodies. They're currently in a secured facility, but will eventually be transferred to
Strauss has been working with the project and construction managers to keep construction of
"It hasn't affected anything. We're sequencing around the hot spots and sensitive areas and we've kept the main concentration of work away from it," said Todd Whitehouse, general superintendent of the construction firm PCL Construction.
"I've worked on other sites where there's been an archaeologist, but they never found anything. It's very interesting to see it."
Already three years delayed, the 1,700-student high school has been beset with ballooning costs, which skyrocketed to four times their original estimate, making it one of the district's most expensive high schools.
Hailed as the answer to overcrowded schools in the area, the architecturally unique 238,000-square-foot school is designed with four small learning communities - for music, dance, performing arts and visual arts - along with a theater, free-standing library and a tower.
District officials were unable to produce a figure on the costs of excavation, analysis and removal of remains. That cost is part of the environmental costs anticipated in every project, said district spokeswoman Shannon Johnson-Haber.
LAUSD board member David Tokofsky was dismayed that he and other top officials had not been notified about the discoveries on the site, but said it appears that the LAUSD is being thoughtful and careful about preserving
"It would have been nice to know what was occurring by telling the school board and the public," Tokofsky said. "I think it will add to the special mystique that this arts school on
"There may be music in the auditorium, as well as voices in the corridors."
►CONSTRUCTION DELAYS WILL FORCE 4 NEW L.A. SCHOOLS TO OPEN LATE
by Joel Rubin, Times Staff Writer
For the roughly 3,200 students scheduled to attend the informally named Panorama, Arleta and North Hollywood high schools — all in the San Fernando Valley — classes will begin Oct. 3 instead of early September.
To make up for the lost time, those schools will run on compressed schedules with shorter vacations. The two-week winter break will be cut to one week, and a five-day spring break will be shortened to two days, said Dan Isaacs, the district's chief operating officer.
At the fourth campus, Belmont Elementary in Koreatown, doors will open in mid-August instead of July 5, and plans to operate on a year-round, multitrack schedule have been scrapped for the first year.
Much of the construction is completed, but contractors have struggled to find enough skilled labor to keep pace on such work as electrical wiring, flooring and windows, said Jim Cowell, a facilities executive for the district.
"It's tough to go right from construction to kids without an adequate amount of time," Cowell said.
He added that such delays are not unprecedented. Last year, four schools opened late as well.
The new schools are part of an ambitious, $19-billion construction and repair project that aims to build about 150 schools and rehabilitate hundreds of others in the district, one of the nation's largest, most crowded school systems.
RE: NYC to LA: Don't Let Villaraigosa Run LAUSD – probably nothing speaks more eloquently about the situation than the letter referred to in Mack Reed's original posting to LAVoice.org – smf
from Mack Reed at LAVoice.Org
Actually, no, it's a very bad idea.
So say activists in
They're circulating a petition among Chicago and NYC parents urging parents not to support Villaraigosa's takeover plan:
The letter contends that mayor-controlled school systems lack accountability.
"The mayors of our cities and their appointees now feel empowered to ignore the priorities of parents, teachers and other stakeholders in the system, and have imposed radical changes from above without reference to research, experience or conditions on the ground," states the letter. "This has resulted in more chaos, violence and worsening opportunities for many of our students."
Leonie Haimson, a
Haimson, who runs the group Class Size Matters, said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent refusal to ease a ban on student cell phones, despite widespread insistence among parents, exemplified a need for more checks and balances.
"We just wanted to warn
Solutions? There may be no one solution.
Charters and magnets have been popping up all over
But instead of helping cure the system, they just wind up siphoning off the students whose parents are engaged and/or wealthy enough in time, money and interest to bolster the still-small public budgets in the charters and magnets.
Green Dot Public Schools has opened five new charter high schools in
But it's doubtful Green Dot can remake the entire school system and even if it could, do we want a private corporation running our public schools?
Seriously - I haven't seen a compelling argument yet for Villaraigosa taking over - or a more comprehensive solution. Somebody help me out here.
Reason #1 Why Antonio Wants to Be Mayor
comment by Unregistered on
The District is in the middle of a $19 BILLION dollar rebuilding program. It's largest public building program since the TVA during depression.
That is a WHOLE lotta patronage to toss around to campaign donors.
Comment from smf/4LAKids: Posted on LAVoice.org:
I have been in communication with Leonie Haimson about her campaign – I certainly support it and her voice and passion and the good work Class Size Matters in doing in
The parents in NYC and Chicago have seen first hand the impact of mayoral takeover of their school systems, as have the parents and students in
The modus operadi of all these takeovers has been identical: Mayors have bypassed the local electorate and legislated themselves into control through their state legislatures.
And – to help the programs succeed in NYC,
Mayor Villaraigosa's campaign knows that no such a thing is possible in
Thursday evening the mayor promised to raise $200 million from the private sector if he gains control. $200 million is 2% of the LAUSD annual budget – one week's operating cost!
· Could LAUSD spend its money more wisely? Could it be more accountable to parents? Yes it can and it must. I think the Board of Education is on notice that it must do so.
· Could LAUSD improve student performance? Yes it can and it has been; its performance increase outpaces all urban school districts in
· Could the Mayor of a city running a budget deficit help the District do better? Could the Controller who's overseen the City getting into the budget mess it finds itself in be helpful? You tell me – who's going to help whom to what?
· Is the status quo acceptable? No; no one has ever said it was.
Take a look at how well the Mayor is doing spending LAUSD's money at the Ramona High School Project:
· First the MTA (which the Mayor is chairman of) promised to pay all costs to replace the school in the path of the Gold Line Extension. MTA reneged on that deal (costs are escalating!) – that deal that met MTA's legal and fiduciary obligation under the law.
· Now the MTA Board has reneged on a second deal that would share costs because they want a better deal – they want LAUSD to absorb any future cost escalation.
· LAUSD does not need to replace the school. But MTA needs it out of the way. If you've ever built and remodeled anything you know that costs escalate. (MTA has been building stuff …they should know!) The escalation has taken place during MTA's intransigence. But the school district is left holding the bag because the poor MTA is over budget.
And there's the lawsuit between LAUSD and the Department of Water and Power over an alleged (and well documented) $900 million+ in overbilling. That's close enough to a billion to call a billion. The DWP is part of the City; on Thursday the mayor bragged that he's in charge of the DWP. Mayor Villaraigosa, friend of education, could take a role in settling the suit. Or he could take over LAUSD. Then the lawyers can argue that one city agency can't sue another.
Remember what the shadowy man in the parking garage said: "Follow the money."
- Scott Folsom edits the weekly newsletter and blog 4LAKids. http://4LAKids.blogspot.com
Comment by Robert CJ Parry on
"Unregistered" blogs a good game and unsubstantively smears opponents of the mayor with a broad brush, but the sad fact is I don't know of anyone who trusts this mayor as far as they can throw a TV camera.
Mayor Tony comes across like a self-absorbed glory hound. Moreover, he admits to not being "a details" guy, but the problem with LAUD is not a matter of generalities, it is a gordian knot of details. It requires a details guy, like, say, Roy Romer, who has created miracles to achieve modest progress. It does not require a walking politcal commercial.
|BY NAUSH BOGHOSSIAN, Staff Writer, LA Daily News|
|June 2, 2006 - As the state announced Thursday that 14 percent of Los Angeles Unified School District's Class of 2006 had failed the mandatory exit exam and will not graduate this month, Superintendent Roy Romer unveiled a $36 million program to overhaul some of the district's lowest-performing high schools. |
While Romer's plan has been in the works since September, its release coincides with district efforts to fend off a takeover by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has blasted LAUSD for its high dropout rate and spotty test scores. It would include hiring teachers and counselors and renovating facilities at 17 Los Angeles high schools, none of them in the San Fernando Valley.
"There's a myth out there that we're not doing anything, (a myth) that the mayor sometimes contributes to. We're doing a good deal and we're going to do a good deal more, and that's showing in our scores," Romer said in an interview. "It's a program to jump-start the reform of these schools. ... We have to improve the academic performance of these schools. We want them to graduate and to complete the A-G (mandatory college preparatory) curriculum."
The high school program would be funded with state grants and revenue from taxpayer-approved bonds, Romer said. It still must be approved by the LAUSD board.
Romer rejected suggestions that the announcement of the program is the latest salvo in his battle against Villaraigosa for control of the district.
"This is not in response to any current activity on anybody's part," he said.
But a spokeswoman for the mayor credited Villaraigosa with spurring Romer to act.
"This is a positive sign from the school district and a clear reflection of Mayor Villaraigosa's leadership role in the school reform debate," aide Janelle Erickson said.
The reform proposal was announced the day the state released the results of the final exit exam for the 2005-06 school year, revealing that 86 percent of the seniors in LAUSD and more than 90 percent statewide passed both portions of the test.
A total of 25,779 LAUSD seniors have passed the test, a 4 percent increase from February, officials said. That leaves 2,564 who still must pass the exam, which tests math skills up to Algebra I and English concepts through the 10th grade.
To receive a high school diploma, those students will have to attend summer school and pass the exam when it's next administered in July, officials said.
Also, 664 disabled students are eligible to receive their diplomas based on an exemption, technically raising the district's pass rate to 88 percent.
Nearly two-thirds of those who still failed are Latino. Blacks, students from poor families and English-learners still lag behind their white counterparts, state Schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell said at a news conference at John Burroughs High School in Burbank. "There is an achievement gap in California. We know that; we admit that," O'Connell said. "I welcome the focus, the sunshine and the dialogue that we need to have on the achievement gap."
The updated figures include results from March. More students took the exit exam again in May, but those results won't be available until July - after public schools hold their graduation ceremonies this spring.
LAUSD students who completed other requirements for graduation but failed to pass the exit exam will be allowed to participate in commencement, but will receive a certificate of completion rather than a diploma, officials said. In announcing his plan, Romer said the improvements are designed to help high school students get the skills they need to earn their diplomas.
"Every one of these kids we are able to get to will be better-equipped to pass the exit exam and to reduce the dropout rate," he said.
The plan would allocate $16 million to hire more teachers and counselors to decrease class size and improve the quality of instruction. Some $10 million in bond revenue would be spent to upgrade science labs, improve libraries and make other renovations, and another $10 million would be spent to replace aging furniture and make other capital improvements. The amount allocated to each school would be based on enrollment and the level of need, Romer said.
The idea is to get a head start on reform efforts Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed to launch during the 2007-08 school year as part of the state's effort to repay $2.9 billion borrowed from California's public schools to help solve the budget crisis. "It's important to see this as accelerating by one year the owed money by the state," school board member David Tokofsky said. "This is akin to sending Band-Aids to Baghdad.."
The new program is designed to help Banning, Belmont, Bell, Crenshaw, Dorsey, Fremont, Garfield, Huntington Park, Jefferson, Jordan, Locke, Los Angeles, Manual Arts, Roosevelt, Santee, Washington Prep and Wilson High schools. Dorsey High Principal George Bartleson said the money will make a big difference at his school.
"I'm concerned right now about funding for staff, and this will provide money for additional counselors, lowering class size and improving facilities," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.