from UCLA IDEA CA News Roundup
Does grading bias apply to education reports?
By Bob Williams/Teacher Magazine(subscription required)
In my efforts to increase student interest in understanding probability, I often do a magic trick where I repeatedly shuffle a deck of cards and have three different students pick a card. Using the counting principle, students see that if we went through this process more than 132,000 times, theoretically I would guess the selected card of all three students only once. Of course, since I know how to trick my students into selecting the three cards I want them to select, I get the answers I want every time. Last month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Center for American Progress published a damning report on education titled Leaders and Laggards that I believe uses similar sleight of hand. The report is presented as a fair, research-based, and data-supported assessment to determine how states are doing in innovation of education. (more...)
Preparation and support faulty for many California teachers
By Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC
Many teachers in public high schools aren’t getting the preparation and support they need to carry out school district-mandated reforms, according to a study commissioned by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. Cliques aside, it used to be that two kinds of students predominated at high schools: the college-bound, and everyone else. "Now, with the economies changing, everybody needs to be prepared for post-secondary education," said Patrick Shields, of the nonprofit Center for Education Policy, the group that conducted the research. "That doesn’t mean everybody has to go to UC Berkeley." But Shields says many should attend community colleges to learn technical and analytical skills. That’ll improve their lifetime earnings and the state’s prospects for strengthening its workforce. (more...)
Debt service to crowd out education spending – and everything else
Over the years, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell has developed a sixth sense for steering clear of political potholes. So it was puzzling to hear him call for $9.9 billion worth of bonds for school construction one day after state Treasurer Bill Lockyer warned that California is already bonded up to its eyeballs — at its peril. “There is an obvious need to improve school facilities throughout California, and we cannot afford to wait to meet this need,” O’Connell said in a press release after testifying at a Senate hearing on school facilities. But wait we probably will. According to Lockyer’s lastest report on debt, by 2013, a record $10 billion in interest and principal on state debt will eat up a whopping 11 percent of estimated $91 billion in state revenue. Most of the money will pay off general obligation bonds, but more than $2 billion will cover short-term borrowing that bailed the state out of this year’s financial crisis. (more...)
Who's watching charter schools
Letter by Jed Wallace/Los Angeles Times
In its Dec. 9 editorial, "Learning about ethics," The Times calls for state charter school laws to be "changed accordingly" in relation to publicly disclosing the expenditures of taxpayers' money. Readers may come away with the impression that charter operators are subject to little accountability compared to traditional public school districts. The truth is that charter schools are public schools, and as with any other public entity, they are already required to make information available to the public. There are mechanisms, laws and regulations on public disclosure already in place to which charter schools must adhere in terms of public reporting and transparency. In other words, charters are held to standards much like those that apply to traditional public schools and districts. (more...)
smf: Wallace is a charter schools spokesman. The legal requirements he refers to exist but are widely ignored and rarely enforced. Oversight is overlooked.
Pasadena Unified considers closing libraries, cancelling summer school and laying off 82 teachers
By Caroline An/Pasadena Star News
Pasadena Unified students could face a future with no school libraries, no summer school and at least 82 less teachers, according to a preliminary budget plan approved by the school board late Tuesday. The Pasadena Unified School District faces an $18.8 million shortfall in the 2010-11 school year, and $1.2 million in cuts the next year, according to district figures. The district's budget is about $200 million. Eliminating summer school would save PUSD about $460,000 and closing libraries would save about $1.4 million, officials said. Teacher layoffs would save $3.5 million. Office staff reductions would save $2.175 million. Other smaller cuts also were proposed. The proposed reductions would cover the entire deficit for the next two years, but state budget problems could force deeper cuts. (more...)
Broad Foundation training percolates deeply into L.A.'s school leadership
Blog by Howard Blume/LA Now Los Angeles Times
School improvement efforts funded by local billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad are reaching ever deeper into the Los Angeles Unified School District. A notable example is the presence of Matt Hill, who is managing the district’s highest-profile reform initiative, through which 30 campuses could be taken over by groups inside or outside the school system. As reported in today’s paper, Hill’s position, except for benefits, is funded by the Broad Foundation. Other L.A. Unified senior managers also went through Broad-funded training. Parker Hudnut is the recently hired executive director of the district’s innovation and charter division. Yumi Takahashi is the budget director. The district pays for these positions, which were filled through the normal hiring process. (more...)
Fremont High protesters oppose “reconstitution”
By Leilani Albano/Intersections L.A.
The superintendent of L.A.'s schools wants to close down Fremont High School in South L.A. and reopen it with new administrators and teachers. The LAUSD’s move to shut down the school comes after reports the school had scored way below the state average on standardized tests in recent years. Leilani Albano of Annenberg Radio News has a report on the students' rally. (more...)