Thursday, March 31, 2011

POTENTIAL LAYOFFS THREATEN 'LITTLE SCHOOL THAT COULD': Budget cuts and teacher layoffs would be a huge setback for beloved Hesby Oaks School in Encino.

By Lauren Rosenblum | Encino Patch |

Preuss works her way around the classroom to assist her students. Credit: Lauren Rosenblum

31 March 2011 | 1:30pm - Hesby Oaks School in Encino, which reopened as a kindergarten through eighth-grade school five years ago, faces the potential loss of nearly half its teaching staff next year as a result of the state’s budget crisis and its impact on the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Eight of the 18 teachers at Hesby Oaks received Reduction in Force notices from LAUSD officials this month, which means they could lose their jobs at the end of the school year.

“It’s like they’re starting in the classroom instead of starting at the top,” said Heather Thompson, who has a first-grade daughter at Hesby Oaks. “It’s very frustrating that the first thing they say they’re going to do to fix any budget crisis is fire teachers.”

Los Angeles Unified spent more than $24.3 million to remodel and reopen Hesby Oaks after it was closed for two decades. It’s become a neighborhood school where brothers and sisters walk their younger siblings to campus each day, and parents volunteer as crosswalk attendants during the morning and afternoon rush. The surrounding real estate has become very desirable as the school’s test scores have improved each year.

“This school is the little school that could," said first-grade teacher Jennifer Preuss, who received an RIF notice. "We have built a community here with parents, teachers and community partners. LAUSD is notorious for first taking from the hands of a child. We are their food for their brain, and you don’t take away their food for their brain.”

The Hesby Oaks teachers with RIF notices are:

Preuss; Kati Davis, second grade; Parisa Collier, third grade; Danny Pattison, fourth grade; Curtis Wynkoop, fifth grade; Jude Eaton, sixth grade; Chelsie Pearson, middle school English language arts; and Lesleigh Alchanati, librarian.

Hesby Oaks is one of many LAUSD schools struggling to adapt to severe budget cuts the district is making to deal with a projected $408 million deficit.

“LAUSD is shooting themselves in the foot,” said parent Alana Rubens, whose children are in first and fifth grade at Hesby.

Rubens fears the budget cuts will peel off some of the best principals and teachers, along with vocal parents who’d otherwise fight for system-wide improvement.

“So what’s going to happen again is you’re going to have middle-class flight from public schools, and they’re going to go back to private schools," Rubens said. "Some schools are going to get closed down again.”

Shari Ure, who has a first grader and a middle school student at Hesby Oaks, added: “The school board is supposed to be there to protect these kids, but they are there to protect their own political placements…There’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room and nobody wants to talk about it.”

LAUSD board member Steve Zimmer, whose district includes Hesby Oaks, voted against the proposed budget.

“I talk a lot about the need to organize and export what works, and Hesby is certainly an example of a school that works,” Zimmer told Encino Patch.

“One of the reasons I voted against the budget is that I knew it would destroy a school like Hesby," he said. "This budget is an immoral act against children and it violates their basic rights to public education whether it’s at Hesby Oaks [in Encino] or Hillcrest in South L.A. The cuts are draconian and they're criminal.”

LAUSD has issued more than 5,000 RIF notices based on seniority, although it is not expected that every employee who received one will lose his or her job.

If Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget plan is not approved, layoffs are inevitable and at least five elementary school classes at Hesby Oaks will be split to combine two grade levels into one classroom.

“A lot of parents are concerned about classroom size, the ratio of teachers to students, and the lack of the ability of teachers to be able to handle such large classrooms,” said Hesby Oaks parent Allison Goodman. “You can’t expect one teacher to teach 25 to 30 kids without help and be effective when there’s all different abilities.”

The parents and teachers also argue that layoffs based on seniority rather than performance and experience further exacerbate the harm of these budget cuts.

“For my situation, specifically, it hurts,” Preuss said. “I am a veteran teacher. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and have more experience in multiple grade levels and learning abilities than most teachers have after 10 years because of my years in special ed.”

From 2002 to 2004 Preuss taught severely disabled students at Garden Grove Elementary School in Reseda while pursuing her regular education credential. She worked with students who had cerebral palsy, diabetes, blindness, seizures, brain tumors, mental retardation and even inverted genitalia.

Even though she was a paid, contracted teacher with the district, LAUSD gives her credit only for her years as an employee with Hesby Oaks, saying her start date was in 2006.

“As if none of those years counted with those children, whose lives I believe I changed. I taught mentally retarded children how to read!” Preuss said. “But LAUSD doesn’t acknowledge it, and so I have to go—as I did last year—and be completely humiliated to sit in a hearing with an administrative judge and basically beg for them to give me credit for my time with the district.”

Hesby’s teacher-librarian, Lesleigh Alchanati, has also received an RIF notice. She has both a teaching credential and a library services credential.

LAUSD's proposed budget only guarantees high schools a full-time librarian while dozens of middle and elementary schools could be forced to close library doors or scale back services.

Cutting access to the 8,000 books and 12 computers in the library at Hesby Oaks is a big concern for parents and educators. Hesby Oaks does not have funds to build a separate computer lab, so integrating technology into the elementary and middle school curriculum means the library’s dozen computers are on demand throughout the school day.

“I don’t know what our school is going to do,” said Alchanati, who has been teaching for 21 years. “According to [the education] code, you cannot have a volunteer replacing a credentialed teacher and you cannot have a library aide replacing a teacher-librarian.”

If Alchanati loses her job, Hesby Oaks will have to choose between spending its budget on library staff or other needs such as nurses, custodians or administrators.

Principal David Hirsch declined an interview with Encino Patch.

“He’s got the parents and the teachers all going, ‘fix it, fix it, fix it!’ when he’s not given the tools to fix it, fix, fix it,” said Thompson, who sits on the school’s site committee, which is made up of the principal, teachers, parents and staff that oversee how the budget is spent.

“I think his original budget is like $60,000 to maintain the school for a year, she said. “And to be honest, that’s not enough. I think he’s doing the best he can with what he’s got.”

Because Hesby Oaks does not serve a low-income community, the school does not qualify for Title One funds. As a result, it seeks financial support from parents for necessities such as teacher aides, art and music programs, science enrichment and a physical education teacher. The active Hesby Involved Parents fundraising group is on track to raise $100,000 to fund those programs this year.

In addition to fundraising, parents and teachers at Hesby Oaks are now volunteering to clean the classrooms because the district only subsidizes one custodian to clean the entire school.

“There’s never been a greater equalizer than this crisis. This is affecting every school everywhere,” Zimmer said.

“We’re being held hostage by a small group of Republicans, [who are] not from the city of Los Angeles, who won’t even give tax payers the right to vote on whether they wish to tax themselves. You would think that we were living in a different country. That’s how bad it is.”

Comments (1)


3:04pm on Thursday, March 31, 2011

LAUSD has not guaranteed a Teacher Librarian in any of the elementary, middle or high schools. This current year the district defunded the Teacher Librarian position at the middle schools and for the 2011-2012 year, they are proposing to defund the Teacher Librarian position at all the High Schools as well. The district went back to 1988 when issuing RIF notices for the Teacher Librarian.

Well staffed school libraries are proven to raise test scores, are a proven method of intervention, and supplement the arts that have been already cut from the budget. How can a school function without the information hub of the school open and appropriately staffed?

Hesby Oaks does not receive enough money in their budget to fund the teacher librarian position even if they wanted to. What happened to equal access for all?


After serving over six months as interim superintendent, Patricia Jaffe was recently appointed to the job.

By Anne Louise Bannon, Culver City Patch |

29 March 2011 | 11:42am  - While Patricia Jaffe has been doing the job of schools superintendent as the interim superintendent for the Culver City Unified School District since last July, she was officially given the title only recently.

<< Patricia Jaffe at March 22 School Board Meeting | Credit Anne Louise Bannon

She spoke with Patch about her history with the district and the challenges she faces in the current budget environment.

Jaffe started with the Culver City school district in 1970, when she was still in school at the University of Southern California.

"I student taught at the junior high and the high school and they had an opening, so I took it," she said.

She's seen a lot of changes since then, including Culver City Junior High becoming Culver City Middle School.

"When I first started, we had eight elementary schools. Then we went down to five elementary schools," she said.

In a time of severe budget pressures and greater demands, one would think that the job of schools superintendent would not be the plum job, but Jaffe said she was okay with it.

"I wanted to do it because I think that Culver City... needs a leader who knows the community," she said. "So even though we're going to be going through some difficult times, I want to be sure that we can stay on the path that we've been on, which is excellence for our students."

But she's facing some difficult challenges and trying to plan around a lot of uncertainty. District staff still doesn't know how much money the district will get from the state for next year, partly because of the possible tax extensions and partly because they don't know how many students they'll have. Districts are paid by the student and up to 25 percent of CCUSD students actually live in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Jaffe said that there's an ongoing discussion with the LAUSD about whether all of those students can continue in CCUSD.

Then there was the recent round of lay-off notices sent to 19 teachers, which has union representatives angry. At a recent school board meeting, board member Karlo Silbiger questioned Jaffe's salary.

"I think everyone's feeling the challenge right now and the uncertainty," Jaffe said.

But she remains optimistic that everyone will be able to work together in spite of their differences.

"If we could all come together and talk through this,we can come up with a plan that's going to work," she said. "Because we have open communication [between teachers and administration], we will be able to survive this. It may not be pretty, but we will be able to survive. We're all here for one thing and that's to educate the students. And if we keep our focus there, we can get beyond the issues that are facing the school board and the unions also."

See More on Patch



“If anything, teacher incentives may decrease student achievement, especially in larger schools.”

by Roland G. Fryer from the National Bureau for Economic Research/Harvard University

NBER Working Paper No. 16850

March 2011

ABSTRACT: Financial incentives for teachers to increase student performance is an increasingly popular education policy around the world. This paper describes a school-based randomized trial in over two-hundred New York City public schools designed to better understand the impact of teacher incentives on student achievement. I find no evidence that teacher incentives increase student performance, attendance, or graduation, nor do I find any evidence that the incentives change student or teacher behavior. If anything, teacher incentives may decrease student achievement, especially in larger schools. The paper concludes with a speculative discussion of theories that may explain these stark results.



“Most educators don't write articles, and most journalists don't know anything about education, except how to report uncritically baseless and tired criticisms and assumptions.”

By Paul Thomas | |

March 27, 2011 at 08:41:01 - Malcolm Gladwell has garnered a significant amount of fame and respect as a writer of nonfiction, as a journalist and public intellectual.

Gladwell's 2009 advice in Time , then, to aspiring journalists stands as both provocative and illustrative of the problem at the heart of media coverage of education and the education reform debate:

<<Malcolm Gladwell

"The issue is not writing. It's what you write about. One of my favorite columnists is Jonathan Weil, who writes for Bloomberg. He broke the Enron story, and he broke it because he's one of the very few mainstream journalists in America who really knows how to read a balance sheet. That means Jonathan Weil will always have a job, and will always be read, and will always have something interesting to say. He's unique. Most accountants don't write articles, and most journalists don't know anything about accounting. Aspiring journalists should stop going to journalism programs and go to some other kind of grad school. If I was studying today, I would go get a master's in statistics, and maybe do a bunch of accounting courses and then write from that perspective. I think that's the way to survive. The role of the generalist is diminishing. Journalism has to get smarter."

The media has changed dramatically, both in types of access to information and in the breadth of that access, in the past couple decades--including the rise of blogs allowing virtually anyone to publish as a journalist. The irony in this media evolution is that while even Gladwell seems to confront the professional preparation of journalists narrowly and while the new media has opened the door to journalism to any writer regardless of direct training experience in journalism, the education profession is experiencing a convoluted media-driven assault on its professionalism.

To add insult to injury, the so-called "liberal" media reports, perpetuates, and makes credible daily a neo-liberal, corporatist attack on the similarly labeled "liberal" public school system.

The media sits at the center of the current education reform debate, playing a powerful role that deserves no better than an "F" for the failure of the vast majority of that media to do as Gladwell implores: To rephrase, most educators don't write articles, and most journalists don't know anything about education, except how to report uncritically baseless and tired criticisms and assumptions.

The high-profile examples are easy to cite: Waiting for Superman, Bill Gates interviewed in Newsweek (and virtually everywhere else), Michelle Rhee and Geoffrey Canada on The Colbert Report (and virtually everywhere else), and episodes and segments of Oprah and Real Time with Bill Maher .

While high-profile media coverage and distortions of the education debate are powerful, the incessant drip of flawed media coverage occurring at all levels is equally corrosive.

For example, in December 2009, The Greenville News (Greenville, SC) published an Op-Ed by Dr. Jameson Taylor, "Educating Entrepreneurs Will Create Prosperity," claiming that public schools are failing based on NAEP scores. Then, Taylor proclaims:

"A new report by the South Carolina Policy Council shows that school choice programs in the counties of Clarendon, Hampton, Lee, Marlboro and Williamsburg could create 123 small businesses and 379 additional jobs. In fact, a statewide school choice initiative could create thousands of new jobs. These jobs are not teaching or administrative positions created by more state spending, but jobs created by the students themselves."

For the average reader, an Op-Ed by Dr. Taylor, identified as director of research at the South Carolina Policy Council, and a report from SCPC authored by economist Sven Larson present an authoritative message that matches two cultural narratives that are robust but lacking in evidence--simplistic claims of public education failure and the power of the free market.

I was immediately skeptical about the Op-Ed and the report since I was then working on a book on parental school choice ; the claims about schools and the conclusions of the study failed to match what I was examining in my research.

Several months later, the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) released a review of Larson's study and concluded: "As a result of its uncritical acceptance of an earlier flawed study and in its introduction of additional untenable assumptions, the report offers findings that are unlikely to be valid and is of little use in informing policymakers and the public about the effects of vouchers."

The NEPC also awarded Larson's study the "Magic Potion" Award in their 2010 Bunkum Awards.

When I submitted a rebuttal Op-Ed to The Greenville News, what happened?

The editor said that I had already been afforded my say on school choice in previous pieces and that the Jameson piece provided balance to the debate--not a single bit of interest in the accuracy or credibility of the balance, though.

In the past decade, we have, in fact ample evidence that think-tanks have assumed many of the surface features of credible research--experts with credentials, slick publications, citations--without following through on the essential element of high-quality evidence--peer review. Molnar in 2001 noted " [n] ews reports of education research frequently do not appear to take account of whether such research is peer reviewed."

By 2009, Holly Yettick released a study of how educational research is portrayed in the mainstream media , focusing on educational reporting in three major publications--New York Times , Washington Post , and Education Week. Yettick discovered that university and government-funded research received the most media coverage, but that proportionately, think-tank reports were overrepresented by the media.

University research occurred 14 to 16 times more often than think-tank reports, but the media covered university research only twice as often: "As a result, any given think tank report was substantially more likely to be cited than any given study produced by a university."

Yettick proposes three recommendations for combating this phenomenon among education journalists reporting on research. First, in order to improve the quality of evidence stakeholders receive through the media, reporters should begin to seek out peer-reviewed research through all entities conducting research.

While not without flaws, peer-review remains the gold standard of evaluating research, as reflected in the medical and pharmaceutical fields. Before any research can be deemed credible, we must know the who's and how's of the research process. Peer-review provides oversight for bias and corruption in the research process, but it also adds nuance to the discourse.

Next, reporters dealing with educational research should implement peer-review strategies on think-tank reports themselves; if no peer-review is available, or if the reporter is unable to find an expert to help evaluate the report, Yettick explains, "the article might include the sentence, "Other experts in the field have not yet had an opportunity to assess this study, which has not gone through peer review, a process that serves as an important quality control for research in education.'"

Finally, all media reports of educational research should provide an active link to the research itself, facilitating stakeholders drawing their own informed conclusions about the quality of the research.

Yettick also provides in the study useful appendices that should guide us all as we contemplate the value of any research or report we come across. One appendix details dozens of think-tanks and the ideology of each. The media covered think-tank reports during the time of the study ranging, out of 99 think-tanks , from 11% liberal, 52% centrist, and 34% conservative.

When the media reports in the same way on a think-tank study that is not peer-reviewed as the media reports on a peer-reviewed university study, the implication is that the evidence is equal--when it is highly likely that the evidence is not of equal rigor. Advocacy reports, whether from the left, center, or right, are just that, advocacy.

Recently, Jay Matthews, who has earned a reputation as a journalist with credibility about education, weighed in again about vouchers, "Vouchers Work, But So What ?"

The piece focuses on an updated report from the Foundation for Educational Choice, as Matthews characterizes:

"Greg Forster, a talented and often engagingly contrarian senior fellow at the Foundation for Educational Choice, has expanded a previous study to show that nearly all the research on vouchers, including some using the gold standard of random assignment, has good news for those who believe in giving parents funds that can be used to put their children in private schools. Students given that chance do better in private schools than similar students do in public schools, the research shows. Public schools who are threatened by the loss of students to private schools because of voucher programs improve more than schools that do not have to worry about that competition, the research also shows."

Matthew's position as a journalist focusing on education and the surface credibility of the think-tank report combine to mask, once again, what lies behind the report--the earlier incarnation of "Win-Win" was promoted with the same positive claims about choice, but later unmasked in a review:

"This new report purports to gather all available empirical evidence on the question of the competitive effects of vouchers, finding a strong consensus that vouchers help public schools. But the report, based on a review of 17 studies, selectively reads the evidence in some of those studies, the majority of which were produced by voucher advocacy organizations. Moreover, the report can't decide whether or not to acknowledge the impact of factors other than vouchers on public schools. It attempts to show that public school gains were caused by the presence of vouchers alone, but then argues that the lack of overall gains for districts with vouchers should be ignored because too many other factors are at play. In truth, existing research provides little reliable information about the competitive effects of vouchers, and this report does little to help answer the question."

At the very least, the updated "Win-Win" should be placed in the context of the earlier flaws in the 2009 version; but we should also expect to withhold endorsing this version until the work is reviewed.

Yettick opens her analysis with this argument about the importance of media coverage of educational research: "Because the research featured in these outlets influences policymakers, practitioners and parents, it is important to know who produces the educational research mentioned in the news media."

Combined with Gladwell's advice, Yettick's recommendations are a start, but I am certain that education reform will continue to fail if the media continues to fail the public discourse about our society, our schools, and our need for that reform.


An Associate Professor of Education at Furman University since 2002, Dr. P. L. Thomas taught high school English for 18 years at Woodruff High along with teaching as an adjunct at a number of Upstate colleges. He holds an undergraduate degree in Secondary Education (1983) along with an M. Ed. in Secondary Education (1985) and Ed. D. in Curriculum and Instruction (1998), all from the University of South Carolina. Dr. Thomas has focused throughout his career on writing and the teaching of writing. He has published fiction, poetry, and numerous scholarly works since the early 1980s. Currently, he works closely with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) as a column editor for English Journal, Challenging Text, and the SC Council of Teachers of English (SCCTE) as co-editor of South Carolina English Teacher. His major publications include a critique of American education, Numbers Games (2004, Peter Lang); a text on the teaching of writing, Teaching Writing Primer (2005, Peter Lang); and books in a series edited by Thomas, Confronting the Text, Confronting the World--his most recent volume being Reading, Learning, Teaching Ralph Ellison (2008, Peter Lang). He has also co-authored a work with Joe Kincheloe (McGill University), Reading, Writing, and Thinking: The Postformal Basics (2006, Sense Publishers), and Renita Schmidt, 21st Century Literacy: If We Are Scripted Are We Literate? (Springer, 2009). His next books include Parental Choice? (2010, Information Age Publishing) and the first volume in a new series he edits, Challenging Genres: Comics and Graphic Novels (Sense Publishers). His scholarship and teaching deal primarily with critical literacy and social justice. See his work at:


By SAM DILLON | New York Times |

March 31, 2011  - Most charter schoolsreceive less government money for each student, on average, than traditional public schools.

Times Topic: Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP)

But the KIPP network, one of the fastest-growing and most academically successful charter groups, has received more taxpayer dollars per student than regular public schools, according to a new study, which also noted that KIPP receives substantial amounts of private philanthropic money.

KIPP officials disputed the report by Western Michigan University researchers, saying it significantly overstates the amount per student that the network receives from both public and private sources.

The Knowledge Is Power Program, a network of 99 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, has attracted more academic research than many other charter groups because of its success in raising the academic achievement of poor students, especially African-American youths.

The Department of Education last year awarded KIPP a $50 million grant to finance its growth.

In the study, “What Makes KIPP Work? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition and School Finance,” Gary Miron and two other Western Michigan researchers note that KIPP’s academic achievements have been well-documented in previous research.

Instead, they said their goal was to examine the network’s methods and model to see whether they could be replicated widely. Among other findings, the study concludes that KIPP schools enjoy significant financial advantages over traditional public schools.

By analyzing Department of Education databases for the 2007-8 school year, the researchers calculated that the KIPP network received $12,731 in taxpayer money per student, compared with $11,960 at the average traditional public school and $9,579, on average, at charter schools nationwide.

In addition, KIPP generated $5,760 per student from private donors, the study said, based on a review of KIPP’s nonprofit filings with the Internal Revenue Service.

The study does not offer an explanation for why KIPP schools would get more government financing than regular public schools.

“We can’t explain it, but that’s what the data shows,” Dr. Miron said.

Mike Wright, a senior finance official at KIPP, said the study had produced an inflated estimate of the network’s government revenues, partly because charters get most of their financing from states, which differ significantly in how much money they give charter schools for each student.

Because the study used a sample of KIPP schools that did not include any schools in California, which provides only meager financing to charters, it had produced an exaggerated picture of average government financing for the schools nationwide, Mr. Wright said.

He estimated average government financing nationwide at between $9,000 and $10,000 per KIPP student.

The study significantly inflated private revenues, Mr. Wright said, because KIPP itself had miscategorized some government money as private revenues in its reporting to the I.R.S.

In addition, the Michigan researchers mixed private donations earmarked for school construction with donations for operating expenses, thereby further inflating the study’s estimate of per-pupil operating revenues derived from philanthropy, Mr. Wright said.

He estimated KIPP’s private revenues in the 2007-8 year at about $2,500 per student, compared with the $5,760 cited in the study.

KIPP schools operate on a no-excuses model that pushes students to improve their achievement and to take responsibility.

Parents must sign a pledge that they will check students’ homework and make sure they get to school on time, among other commitments. The schools run on an extended school day during the week, and students must attend Saturday classes every other week.

Steve Mancini, a spokesman, said it cost the KIPP network, on average, $1,200 to $1,600 per student to provide the extended weekday hours, Saturday classes and other extra learning time.

The new study generated some instant debate.

Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, called the study’s financial analysis “eye-opening.”

“As wealthy donors have invested in KIPP, they have helped to demonstrate how a well-endowed, inspirationally run charter school can lift poor children,” Mr. Fuller said. “The question raised by this study is whether the model could be replicated if wealthy donors were to walk away.”

Grover Whitehurst, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who is a former research director at the Department of Education, also said the study’s financial analysis made a “significant contribution.”

But other parts of the report, especially its findings on student attrition, Dr. Whitehurst said, “use questionable data sources and analytic techniques to push a position that is antagonistic to KIPP.”

The Western Michigan study concluded that KIPP schools have substantially higher student attrition rates than the school districts from which they draw students.

But Dr. Whitehurst said it based that finding on a flawed methodology. Another study of attrition carried out last year by Mathematica Policy Research, he said, used far more sophisticated research techniques to conclude that, on average, KIPP schools did not have significantly higher or lower numbers of students leaving before completion than nearby public schools.

Additional coverage: WHAT MAKES KIPP WORK? - A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition, and School Finance

Google News

from google news |


 High attrition and public funding fuel KIPP results, national study finds

Baltimore Sun (blog) - ‎

High levels of attrition, selectivity and government funding have positioned Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) schools as academic leaders, according to a national report published Thursday, which found that the charter network's lauded outcomes in ...

'Waiting for Superman' KIPP Schools Leave Kids Out, Study Finds

Bloomberg - John Hechinger -

Taxpayer-funded KIPP schools, praised in the film “Waiting for Superman,” succeed in sending poor graduates to college because the lowest-performing students drop out or don't enroll at all, ...

Study: KIPP charter schools have extra edge

Washington Post - Nick Anderson -

The Knowledge Is Power Program, a charter school network known for lifting the achievements of poor children through high standards and long hours of work, benefits from significant private funding and ...

Study Says Charter Network Has Financial Advantages Over Public Schools

New York Times - Sam Dillon - ‎

Most charter schools receive less government money for each student, on average, than traditional public schools. But the KIPP network, one of the fastest-growing and most academically successful charter groups, has received more taxpayer ...

New study questions model charter schools' successes

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (blog) - Amy Hetzner -

KIPP charter schools receive more money than traditional schools and have a high number of African-American male students leave before reaching high school, according to a new study by Western Michigan University ...

All 6 related articles »

United States

Study Finds High Dropout Rates for Black Males in KIPP Schools

Education Week News - Charles Borst - ‎

Gary Miron is the author of a study that takes a critical look at KIPP schools across the nation. "KIPP is doing a great job of educating students who persist, but not all who come," says the professor of evaluation, measurement and research at Western ...

All 6 related articles from United States »

Report: WHAT MAKES KIPP WORK? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition and School Finance

by Gary Miron, Jessica L. Urschel, and Nicholas Saxton, College of Education and Human Development, Western Michigan University


To date, most research on KIPP has focused on outcomes (I.e., student achievement).

This study does not question the body of evidence on student achievement gains made in KIPP schools. Instead of looking at outcomes, this study examines two critical inputs: students and funding. Understanding more about these inputs allows for a better understanding of how KIPP works and whether the model can or should be replicated.

This study’s research questions examine KIPP’s student characteristics and compare them with those of the local school districts. The study, which is national in scope, also compares student attrition at KIPP schools with local school districts, and finds that high levels of attrition are pervasive across the KIPP network—a finding congruent with findings presented in earlier research.

A second topic addressed in this study is an analysis of KIPP revenues and patterns of expenditures. Using the most recent federal dataset on school finance (2007-08), we compared KIPP schools’ revenues and expenditures relative to local districts and to national means for charter schools and traditional public schools. Beyond the federal dataset, we systematically reviewed IRS Form 990 tax filings from KIPP schools so that we could calculate the amount of private revenues KIPP has received, most of which comes from philanthropic groups.


Student Characteristics: A Cross-Sectional Look at KIPP Schools Relative to Local Districts

• During 2008-09, KIPP enrolled a significantly higher proportion of African American students (55%) than did the respective local school districts (32%). However, KIPP schools served a substantially lower proportion of Hispanic students (39%) compared with local districts (50%). KIPP also enrolled substantially fewer white students (2%) compared with local districts (11%).

• KIPP schools enrolled a higher percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch (77%) than did the local school districts (71%).

• KIPP schools enrolled a lower percentage of students with disabilities (5.9%) than did their local school districts (12.1%).

• KIPP enrolled a lower percentage of students classified as English Language Learners (11.5%) than did their local school districts (19.2%).

Distribution of Students Across Grades in 2008

• Although a few of the KIPP schools now serve students at the primary and upper secondary levels, the overwhelming majority of KIPP’s enrollment is still at the middle school level.

• KIPP schools have experienced a sharp increase in enrollment and in the number of schools, with enrollment tripling between 2005-06 and 2008-09.

Student Attrition

• KIPP schools have substantially higher levels of attrition than do their local school districts.

Our analysis revealed that on, average, approximately 15% of the students disappear from the KIPP grade cohorts each year.

• Between grades 6 and 8, the size of the KIPP grade cohorts drop by 30%. The actual attrition rate is likely to be higher since some of the KIPP schools do fill in some of the vacated places after grade 6.

• When these figures are further broken out by race and gender, we can see that a full 40% of the African American male students leave KIPP schools between grades 6 and 8. Overall a higher proportion of African American students than other ethnic groups leave the KIPP schools, and girls are much more likely remain in the KIPP schools across all ethnic groups.

• Attrition rates for students qualifying for students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch are approximately equal for KIPP schools and their host districts.



Using the federal dataset on school finance (2007-08), we were able to obtain detailed revenue from 25 KIPP schools and their local districts.

• During the 2007-08 school year, KIPP received more per pupil in combined revenue ($12,731 per student) than any other comparison group: the national average for all schools ($11,937), the national charter average ($9,579), or the average for KIPP schools’ local school districts ($11,960).

• KIPP received more in per-pupil revenue from federal sources ($1,779) than did any other comparison group: the national average ($922), the national charter district average ($949), or KIPP schools’ host districts ($1,332).

• None of the 12 KIPP districts reported any private revenues in the NCES finance survey; however, a separate analysis of these districts’ 990 tax forms for 2007-08 revealed large sums of private contributions. Per-pupil contributions for the 11 KIPP districts that we could include in this analysis equaled an average of $5,760, much more than the $1,000 to $1,500 additional per-pupil revenue KIPP estimates is necessary for their program. Two KIPP districts or groups received more than $10,000 per pupil in private revenues.

• Combining public and private sources of revenue, KIPP received, on average, $18,491 per pupil in 2007-08. This is $6,500 more per pupil than what the local school districts received in revenues.


• As a whole, KIPP districts spend more per pupil in total current expenditures ($10,558) than do other charter school districts ($8,492), slightly more than their host districts ($10,101) and more than the national average for all schools ($10,121).

• KIPP spends more on instruction ($5,662) than the average for charter schools ($4,617) but less than the national average ($6,196) or KIPP host districts ($5,972).

• KIPP’s per-pupil spending on student support services ($460) is comparable to that of charter schools nationally ($464), but much less than the national average ($1,003) and even less than KIPP’s host districts ($1,179).

• KIPP’s per-pupil spending on administration ($972) is more than the national average ($746) or KIPP host districts ($687), but lower than the average for charter schools ($1,336).

• KIPP spends more on operations per pupil in dollars and as a percentage of total current expenditures than any other comparison group. KIPP’s additional spending in this area is focused in transportation, food services, and other support services.

• When spending on salaries is examined on a district-by-district basis, 11 of 12 KIPP districts spend less per pupil on salaries. The same pattern emerges when examining employee benefits. Eleven of the 12 KIPP districts spend less on employee benefits than do their host districts. KIPP also spends less per pupil on special education teachers’ salaries than does any other comparison group. The finding likely reflects the fact that KIPP enrolls fewer students with disabilities, particularly students with moderate or severe disabilities.

• As noted above, KIPP receives an estimated $6,500 more per pupil in revenues from public or privates sources of revenues. Our evidence on expenditures, show that KIPP reports spending $457 more per pupil than local school districts. From publicly available sources of information, however, we cannot determine whether or how KIPP spends its private sources of revenues.

How and Why KIPP is Successful at Improving Student Performance

Selective entry of students. The findings in our report show that students with disabilities and students classified as English language learners are greatly underrepresented. The relative absence of students with disabilities and English language learners results in more homogenous classrooms. Secondly, in both traditional public schools and KIPP schools, the additional costs for these students—especially students with moderate or severe disabilities—is typically not fully funded, and therefore some of the costs for regular education is devoted to students requiring additional remediation. Because traditional public schools have a higher proportion of students with disabilities, and a higher concentration of students with severe and moderate disabilities, the burden of having to subsidize their education falls more heavily on them.

High rate of student attrition with nonreplacement. The departure of low-performing students helps KIPP improve its aggregate results. Unlike local school districts, KIPP is not replacing the students who are leaving. When a student returns to a traditional public school after the autumn head count, KIPP retains most or all of the money (the amount depends on the particular state) allocated for educating that student during that school year. Traditional public schools do not typically benefit in the same way when they experience attrition, since vacancies are typically filled by other mobile students, even in mid-year. The discussion of findings at the end of this paper describe how “peer effects” play to KIPPs advantage, especially given its practice of filling few of the large number of vacancies from students who leave.

High levels of funding that KIPP schools receive from both public and private sources. The additional resources KIPP receives are further compounded by the cost advantages it enjoys based on the students it serves compared with traditional public schools. Such advantages may be offset in part by the additional resources KIPP requires for its program’s longer school day and longer school year. KIPP estimates that the additional costs for its expanded hours of instruction amount to between $1,000 and $1500.

KIPP’s practices that result in selective entry and exit result in homogeneous groups of students that mutually benefit from peers who are engaged, have supportive families, and are willing and able to work hard in school.

What Makes KIPP Work? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition and School Finance

Letters: VALUE ADDED TEACHERS – Administrators, Shakespeare take the rap

Letters to the Editor of the LA Times, 3/30 |

Re "LAUSD tackles a tough formula," March 28

I find it curious that John Deasy, the L.A. Unified School District's incoming superintendant, believes "value-added" analysis of teacher effectiveness is preferable to having administrators visit classrooms and observe teachers.

Is there no time for such evaluations? Do the administrators lack the knowledge to be able to sort out good teachers from weak ones?

If this is the case, then our schools are academically leaderless. Who mentors teachers and helps them grow? Who is there to understand teachers' needs and provide resources and support?

It should be the responsibility of school site administrators to be the academic leaders at their schools. If they are unable to do that, value-added analysis of teachers is meaningless.

Mark Elinson

Los Angeles

The value-added method mathematically quantifies what is essentially a subjective activity. It's like trying to objectively rate a good piece of literature. On a scale of 10, William Shakespeare may have been rated a 5.5 because his English is difficult to read and the wording is archaic.

Administrative officials will always wind up embarrassing themselves with highly complicated, heavily tweaked formulas that try to quantify the unquantifiable.

Kevin Powell

Long Beach


With state budget talks halted, the 112-campus system faces an $800-million cut in funding for the coming school year. The system may have to enroll 400,000 fewer students. Chancellor Jack Scott calls the situation a tragedy for students.


Students at Valley College take part in a "die-in" Wednesday to protest the effect of state budget cuts on education. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times / March 30, 2011)

By Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times |

March 31, 2011 - Facing a state funding cut of up to 10%, California's community colleges will enroll 400,000 fewer students next fall and slash thousands of classes to contend with budget shortfalls that threaten to reshape their mission, officials said Wednesday.

The dire prognosis was in response to the breakdown in budget talks in Sacramento and the likelihood that the state's 112 community colleges will be asked to absorb an $800-million funding reduction for the coming school year — double the amount suggested in Gov. Jerry Brown's current budget proposal.

As it now stands, the budget plan would raise community college student fees from $26 to $36 per unit. The fees may go even higher if a budget compromise is not reached.

During a telephone news briefing, California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said the funding cuts, under either scenario, would be a tragedy for students and a deep blow to the state's economy.

"Students seeking to transfer to Cal State and the University of California will be denied access, those students unable to get into Cal State and UC and who desperately need to get into a community college will be denied, as well as those who are out of work and are coming to us for retraining," Scott said. "We will do the best we can, but we will not be serving the needs of students or meeting our education goals."

Under the best-case scenario, Long Beach City College will cut 222 course sections this fall, turn away 1,000 full-time students who can't get classes and lose more than 30 staff positions, President Eloy Oakley said. He and several other community college leaders joined Scott for the telephone briefing.

"Given the scenario now before us, we will reduce our enrollment back to 1999-2000 levels, which is a significant defunding, particularly at a time when demand at Long Beach City College has never been greater," Oakley said.

About 18,000 students will be unable to enroll this fall at four Sacramento-area colleges in the Los Rios Community College District — and more would be turned away if the larger funding reduction is imposed, Chancellor Brice W. Harris said.

"This is a statewide crisis, and increasingly we're going to see our bright young folks leaving the state to get an education," Harris said.

The three-college San Diego Community College District is planning to shed more than 1,000 classes and turn away 20,000 students, Chancellor Constance Carroll said. More classes and about 27,000 students would be turned away under the larger reduction.

"In San Diego, with a 10% unemployment rate, we have new jobs that require a college education, there are shortages in nursing and other careers and an unprecedented demand for students," Carroll said. "The bottom line is students will not have the opportunities they need."

Summer sessions, whose schedules must be completed soon, are likely to be decimated, even if there is a last-minute budget breakthrough, the officials said.

John Hooper, a computer science major at Los Angeles Valley College, said the unavailability of summer classes means it will take him an extra two years to complete the requirements he needs to transfer to UCLA.

He was among scores of students at several Los Angeles-area community colleges who held a "die-in" Wednesday to protest the effect of state budget cuts on their education.

The students lay in rows on the pavement and held tombstones made of black poster board with inscriptions such as "Here Lies California Education." Hooper said he has tried for three semesters without success to get into one chemistry class that he needs. His plight is shared by thousands of other students.

"You're lucky to get any class, let alone the classes you want," Hooper, 28, said after the event. "Many students feel disempowered about what to do, but we're telling them to vote, to call their legislators. Education is a way out of everything…and should never be cut."


from utla :

UTLA Officer & Board of Director Elections 2011

Election Information (Second Round): Results are in

Ballots were counted at UTLA headquarters Tuesday, March 29, 2011. The results are below:

Warren Fletcher 4,711 (52.59%)
Julie Washington 4,247 (47.41%)

M.J. (Mary Jan) Roberts 3,385 (54.68%)
Ana Valencia 2,805 (45.32%)

Betty Forrester 1,212 (51.51%)
Linda Guthrie 1,141 (48.49%)

Juan Ramirez 4,214 (51.20%)
Ingrid Gunnell 4017 (48.80%)

Arlene Inouye 4,767 (56.08%)
Scott Johnson 3,734 (43.92%)

David Lyell 4,326 (51.45%)
David Rapkin 4,082 (48.55%)

Jose Lara 486 (56.51%)
Phyllis Williams 374 (43.49%)

NOTE: Gregg Solkovits was elected Secondary Vice President during the first round of voting.

The results are pending challenges and must be certified by the UTLA Board to be official. The new officers and Board of Directors members take office July 1, 2011, and will serve until June 30, 2014.


Fletcher wins presidency of L.A. teachers union

By Connie Llanos Staff Writer | Daily Breeze/Daily News |

03/30/2011 07:21:57 PM PDT - A veteran educator scored an upset win to become president of the Los Angeles teachers union, running on a platform of saving jobs and retaining benefits for its 40,000 members.

With just 25 percent of eligible members casting ballots in this week's runoff, United Teachers Los Angeles elected Warren Fletcher to take over as president on July 1. He defeated Julie Washington, a UTLA vice president who had led the field of eight candidates in the union's primary election in February.

< Warren Fletcher

Fletcher's promise to focus on retaining teacher pay, benefits, jobs and pensions puts him at odds with leaders of cash-strapped public agencies, who are demanding sacrifice from their employees.

But in his first interview as president-elect, Fletcher insisted Wednesday he is not "anti-reform."

"I am not saying we should focus on the union's core functions to the exclusion of other things ... but those core functions need to be our priority," Fletcher said. "Teachers need to feel like their union has their back. ... From there we can build the political capital to work on other issues."

Many characterized Fletcher's defeat of Washington as a referendum representing a rejection of UTLA's current leadership.

"We have been operating from a position of weakness for too long," Fletcher wrote on his campaign website. "UTLA can be strong again, but only if the teachers at every school know that there is a real union standing behind them." But current UTLA President A.J. Duffy, who is being termed out, disputed those claims. Instead, he said the vote reflected the district's "calamitous economic situation," which has put some 5,000 teaching jobs at risk.

"I did make some very meaningful changes, and gave my members some very good stuff, until the economic meltdown occurred and made life difficult for everyone," Duffy said.

Fletcher will take the helm of UTLA just a few months after John Deasy, currently the No. 2 administrator in Los Angeles Unified, takes over as superintendent. Together, the two will have to hammer out a resolution to the ongoing budget crisis facing the district.

"We have numerous challenges in front of us," Deasy said. "It's our absolute hope that we'll get to work on resolving some of our problems and creating solutions as quickly as possible."

In addition to financial concessions the district likely will seek from UTLA, overhauling teacher evaluations and eliminating the use of seniority-based layoffs are also viewed as priorities by Deasy and the school board.

Those familiar with Fletcher said they believe he'll be a conscientious leader.

"We endorsed him because we like his thoughtfulness and his willingness to promote civil dialogue," said Mike Stryer, a founder of NewTLA - a progressive caucus within UTLA that is pushing for union and school reform.

Fletcher teaches high school at City of Angels School, an independent and online study program that operates from multiple sites.


Warren Fletcher defeats heavily favored Julie Washington to become president of United Teachers Los Angeles

A coalition of unhappy L.A. Unified workers helps put Warren Fletcher at the head of the union. He plans to focus on bread-and-butter issues.

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times |

March 31, 2011 - For years, Warren Fletcher was regarded by his peers as one of the brightest people in the room, but not someone who someday would head one of the nation's powerful teacher unions, United Teachers Los Angeles.

That assessment had to be revised as of Tuesday night.

Fletcher emerged with nearly 53% of the vote in a runoff against heavily favored union Vice President Julie Washington, a charismatic figure who has long played a central role on the committee that oversees employee health benefits and in contract negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Washington had the implicit support of top union leaders, but also became linked with hard times, including layoffs and salary cuts, as well as union political setbacks under outgoing President A.J. Duffy.

"Julie was tied closely to Duffy," said Fletcher supporter Dave Peters, who represents substitute teachers in the union.

Interviews with Fletcher as well as union leaders and other teachers suggest that Fletcher pulled together a coalition of the unhappy, including displaced school nurses, substitute teachers and reading and math coaches. He collected votes from union members who want more collaboration with the school system and from those who want to go on strike against it.

"I don't think it's productive to have UTLA boiled down to a silly level of dichotomies," Fletcher, 51, said in an interview. "I can give you dozens of other pairings of folks who want things in conflict with each other," he said. "That is the nature of any large multi-constituency organization."

Fletcher, who ran for president twice before, has repeatedly emphasized his focus on bread-and-butter issues, because, he said, that is his core job. He added that he also serves as a steward for students.

"If when I say I'm going to focus on pay and benefits, you think that means UTLA would be opposed to education reform? That's a nonsensical statement. The fact that I like pizza doesn't mean I'm opposed to spaghetti," he said.

Fletcher's views suggest no sharp departure from current union thinking. He wants more charter schools unionized, for example, and he favors a better teacher evaluation process, but isn't impressed with models that rely on the standardized test scores of students.

"Many teachers see evaluation as a weapon used against them. Instead, it should be a tool," he said, to help teachers improve their craft.

Fletcher was born in Hollywood and went from grade school through college in the same ZIP Code, graduating from Wilson High and then from Cal State L.A. in 1982. Then he earned his teaching credential at Cal State Long Beach.

He worked as a substitute for 17 years, giving him the flexibility to raise his son as a single father. During tight school budget times in the early 1990s, he moonlighted doing telephone customer service. About that time, he also won $11,000 in 22 minutes on "Jeopardy."

Fletcher has learned to tone down his wit, said Mike Dreebin, who co-chaired the union election process and said he thinks highly of both candidates.

"When Warren ran for president before, he actually turned some people off when they heard him," Dreebin said. "Warren sometimes has a sharp sense of humor that I really appreciate," but it rubs some people the wrong way, Dreebin said.

Fletcher currently works as an English teacher at City of Angels alternative school.

Virtually from the start, Fletcher was active in the union, sometimes becoming a thorn to those in power. He helped lead a successful referendum to overturn the leadership's endorsement of a bill that gave Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa considerable control over L.A. Unified. The courts later overturned the legislation.

Underdog Warren Fletcher Wins UTLA Election In a Squeaker

By Gene Maddaus, LA Weekly blog |

Wed., Mar. 30 2011 @ 11:29AM - It's a new day at United Teachers Los Angeles, as underdog candidate Warren Fletcher narrowly won the union presidency.

Fletcher eked out a 53-47 victory over the favorite, Julie Washington, in results announced last night. He'll take over from A.J. Duffy -- who was termed out -- on July 1.

Warren Fletcher>>

Washington was seen as Duffy's preferred successor, so Fletcher's upset win appears to be a rebuke of his leadership.

Fletcher trailed Washington 45-37 in the first round of voting.

He ran on a change platform, vowing to restore the union to its former clout. UTLA has lost influence in recent years, and struggled in the last election to field credible contenders for the LAUSD board against Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's well-funded slate.

Fletcher had the endorsement of NewTLA, a group of dissident teachers who were dissatisfied with the style of UTLA's leadership. Mike Stryer, a teacher at Fairfax High and one of the founding members of NewTLA, said that UTLA leadership has been "demonizing outside forces or not allowing productive dissent within the union."

"Under Warren's leadership that's likely to change, and we look forward to that," Stryer said.



BY GARY WALKER | The Argonaut |

March 31, 2011 – Venice - Parents and teachers who opposed a colocation plan with charter organization Green Dot Public Schools are rejoicing following the announcement that the charter would not be coming to Westminster Avenue Elementary School in Venice.

Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Steve Zimmer's office confirmed to The Argonaut March 25 that the charter organization would be looking for space elsewhere on the Westside, but not at Westminster.

The charter organization had sought to establish a sixth grade class for Animo Westside Charter School at the Westminster campus beginning this fall, but ran into a spirited opposition of community members, faculty and parents.

The Venice Neighborhood Council passed a resolution March 15 asking the charter not to adversely harm the progress of the neighborhood school following a community forum days earlier where parents and educators from around the Westside came to express their thoughts on the growing controversy surrounding colocation.

Colocation is a situation where a charter school shares the same school site as a neighborhood school. Charters, which are publicly funded, independently run schools, have been making inroads in recent years on the Westside, and Green Dot has been up front regarding its desire to bring a charter middle school to the Venice/Mar Vista area.

Legally, community schools are required to provide certain amenities to charter groups who request space on LAUSD campuses. Proposition 39, an education initiative that was approved by the electorate in 2000, mandates that charter operators have the right to colocate with traditional schools and can ask to use classrooms that are underutilized or vacant.

What constitutes underutilized rooms has been the biggest sticking point in the colocation debate. Many of the rooms that the school district has identified are parent centers and intervention rooms, and parents and faculty take issue with the notion that these classrooms are considered not being used to their fullest potential.

As at other schools where charters are seeking space, that was one of the reasons cited for opposing Green Dot's arrival at the elementary school property.

Melissa Lauer, a kindergarten teacher at Westminster, said sixth-graders sharing restrooms with her pupils is one situation that she believes could lead to other potential problems.

“I'm worried about how this could work with teenagers cohabiting space with elementary school children,” she said at the Venice meeting. “Westminster has painted a clear picture of how (colocation) will affect our school.”

Westminster officials were given virtually no notice that LAUSD had offered Green Dot eight classrooms at the school and quickly rallied by holding a community meeting Feb. 4.

Peter Thottam, the chair of the Venice Neighborhood Council's education committee, sees this as an opportunity for both the charter organization and the school district to develop better relations as far as working together on potential colocations in the future.

“Based on the community feedback and what I heard at the community forum that we hosted, I think this allows both sides to lay the foundation for future charters,” said Thottam.

Thottam, who organized the education forum, blames LAUSD for notifying the elementary school just days before Green Dot was scheduled to conduct a walk-through of the classrooms that it requested.

“I think that LAUSD did a terrible job when communicating this possible colcation to the Westminster community,” the education chair asserted. “It was clear to me that (Westminster's) resources were being compromised on short notice.”

Douglas Weston, Green Dot's director of communications and campaigns, said his organization had not been notified that the Westminster site would not be available to them.

“We are not at liberty to speak on this. We respect the process,” said Weston.

Despite multiple confirmations from Zimmer's office, LAUSD was also reticent to discuss Green Dot's colocation situation.

“At this time, we are not commenting on what may/may not be included in the April 1 final notifications. Once they are sent, then they will state specifically what the status is,” LAUSD Director of Charter Schools Jos� Cole-Gut’errez wrote in an e-mail response.

Like Thottam, Weston said LAUSD could have done a better job at communicating with his organization as well as with Westminster regarding the colocation.

“We would have rather had a smoother entry into the process,” he said. “This one was a little bumpy.”

Green Dot pays a fee to LAUSD for colocation, and Weston said that in future endeavors, making the payment directly to the neighborhood school might make a possible cohabitation go much smoother.

“We've done that at our Animo Venice High School with Broadway Elementary (in Venice),” he noted. “We've suggested (to LAUSD) doing that again, so that way the school would see an immediate benefit.”

Another area where district representatives have also been reluctant to delve into and explain is what criteria are used to determine when a classroom is underused. In a response to Argonaut inquiries, LAUSD replied that there could be legal consequences to divulging any information pertaining to Prop. 39.

“Insofar as the district is presently engaged in litigation regarding its compliance with Proposition 39, it is inappropriate for the district to provide a legal opinion at this time,” LAUSD officials said in a statement. “However, please be advised that Proposition 39 was approved by California's voters in 2000, and amended Education Code section 47614.”

Parents and school administrators at other school sites are mystified how rooms that function as student intervention and parent centers are almost always on the list for charter schools to use. And after hearing that Green Dot will not be establishing a charter middle school colocation at Westminster, one Mar Vista school principal is hoping that he and his faculty will be able to avoid having a charter operator on their campus.

Grand View Boulevard Elementary School Principal Alfredo Ortiz says his school has become a beacon of hope for neighborhood children in recent years and bringing another school on campus now could impede the progress that they have made.

“While I am not against charter schools, I feel that if someone else comes onto our campus, we won't be able to continue to accomplish what we are doing,” Ortiz said.

Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF) Public Schools has applied for space at Ortiz's school, and LAUSD has offered the organization intervention rooms and parent centers.

Academic Performance Index test scores at the elementary school have risen dramatically over the last two years and the level of parental involvement has gratified Ortiz and his staff, who see a direct link with having the intervention and parent centers and the school's academic progression.

“We are very happy about that and it motivates our staff to work harder with our community, such as doing more outreach,” the principal said.

Weston feels that charters have been given a bad rap by some members in certain communities as well as from certain sectors of LAUSD, and that might have played a factor in the pushback against Green Dot's plan to come to Westminster.

“The opponents of charters have managed to frame the debate as a public vs. private debate,” he said. “We are 90 percent publicly funded by the state and our only goal has always been to serve the middle school families of Venice.”

At the Feb. 4 meeting when the colocation proposal was first publicly announced, Zimmer said that while many parents and teachers thought the Green Dot colocation was a foregone conclusion, he counseled them not to give up hope.

“I always think it's a good thing when parents tell their story,” Zimmer said. “It's always important to have your choice validated as a parent.”

Weston remained upbeat that his charter organization would find a place in Venice for the next academic year. “We are confident that we will be opening a charter middle school in Venice,” said the Green Dot executive. “We owe it to the parents who have petitioned and lobbied to have a school there.”

Sources at LAUSD told the Argonaut that Green Dot could be offered space at Cowan Elementary School in Westchester.

The school board will make its final offer to charters for colocation Friday, April 1. Those sites include four Mar Vista schools and one Del Rey location.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Op-Ed in the LA Daily News By Jed Wallace, president and chief executive officer of the California Charter Schools Association |

3/30/2011 05:46:52 PM PDT - CHARTER schools are public schools of choice that play an important role in our public education system. In Los Angeles, charter school students account for about 10 percent of the student population, and the number continues to grow because of parent and community demand for better options in the education and preparation of our children.

Yet so many of our charter schools face a yearly struggle in securing facilities for their growing student body, because charters are not automatically given facilities.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, out of a total of 184 charter schools, 84 submitted applications this year under Proposition 39, an initiative approved by voters more than 10 years ago. The law states that every district is legally required to provide "reasonably equivalent" facilities to charter school students.

Many school districts, including LAUSD, have not always fully complied with Proposition 39. This year, however, the charter community has seen LAUSD make a concerted effort to meet the growing demand for space for charter school students. Specifically, out of the 84 applications submitted, the district has made preliminary offers to 76 charters. Most of these offers are in co-locations with traditional district schools, meaning both a traditional district-run school and a charter are housed on the same campus.

Recent issues have arisen across this city where a handful of campuses with pending co-location offers have become battlegrounds, sparking intense and emotional disputes in communities that should otherwise be united with one common goal: to educate and meet the needs of public school children in every community. These disputes have unfortunately led to actions such as distribution of false information, threat of potential lawsuits and marginalization of charter school students and teachers.

It is important to remember that LAUSD - not the charter schools - chose to use co-locations. While Prop. 39 requires districts to share their facilities fairly, nothing in the law or regulations requires co-locations.

Charters, which must otherwise spend on facilities precious dollars that could go into the classroom, have few options but to find ways to co-exist with other programs.

Many schools have risen to the occasion by exemplifying the concept of "good neighbors."

At Animo Venice Charter High School, for example, some of the charter high school students have been trained in literacy coaching, and use those skills with the English Language Learner elementary-age students of their host school, Broadway Elementary. Principals of both schools attribute their good relationship to open communication, responsiveness, flexibility, and proactive attempts to do what's best for both sets of students.

The Citizens of the World charter school shares a campus with Le Conte Middle School. Executive Director Amy Dresser-Held calls her host school fantastic, open, and non-territorial. This is what we should all aspire to when considering the important issue of school facilities.

In LAUSD, there are various options within the public education system: traditional, partnership, pilot, magnet, or charter schools. All these entities are part of a greater educational community working to solve the many challenges that face the children of Los Angeles.

Co-locations are a compromise from the district to provide charter school students with classrooms to which they are entitled, and we urge LAUSD to follow through with these particular co-location offers - rather than cave to the harmful threats, as well as ask the host schools to work together with charters.


2cents smf: Wallace says: “While Prop. 39 requires districts to share their facilities fairly, nothing in the law or regulations requires co-locations.”   

Up until now Mr, Wallace and the CCSA have insisted that LAUSD has not made enough co-location offers and has demanded more as an entitlement – and threatened legal action if their ultmata are not met.

Now “nothing in the law or regulations….?”   This is news to me and would seem to be a very good place for an attorney to begin a deposition.

Which is it Mr. Wallace?

Wallace catalogs instances where co-locations work – but there are many more instances where co-los have been unpopular, controversial and/or threaten to be so.  Wallace seems to  be suggesting there is another way besides co-los for districts to 'share their facilities fairly’ -- without actually proposing what he is suggesting as an automatic gift of facilities. As he has written this op-ed for the Daily News one must assume he is specifically addressing the proposed controversial co-lo with Ivy Academia at Taft High School.

But the logical challenge is this – a lesson learned in kindergarten: Prop 39 requires school districts to share facilities. But sharing, like tangoing, takes two.


Bernstein High Faces Challenges and Meets Them

Principal Angela Hewlett-Bloch shares her Hollywood school's successes and the difficulties her students and staff face from budget cuts.

By Lindsey Baguio | Hollywood Patch |

March 30, 2011 - Every day thousands of drivers on Sunset Boulevard pass by the Helen Bernstein Complex in Hollywood, but most of them probably don't know much about the 3-year-old campus.

<<Helen Bernstein High School Principal Angela Hewlett-Bloch Credit Lindsey Baguio

Like students at many schools these days, the 1,400 at Bernstein's three schools are coping with nebulous budget cuts.

At Bernstein High, Principal Angela Hewlett-Bloch has overseen the improvements around campus and helped her staff adjust to the district budget cuts this year.

Hewlett-Bloch, who stepped into the post in July, spoke to Hollywood Patch about the recent changes and achievements.

Hollywood Patch: Which accomplishments are you most proud of at Bernstein High this school year?

Angela Hewlett-Bloch: First about our staff, we have an excellent group of teachers willing to take up the challenge at a very difficult time. They come to the table ready to work. We had to do schedule changes midyear. Some of the teachers picked up additional courses to help balance our programs and make sure we were able to reduce class size appropriately and they did it. I’m ever thankful to them. It’s tough when the teachers only have one free period in an eight period schedule, it gets very stressful. I have to say they are holding up really well.

We have great students, I think our students have risen to the challenge. We are asking them to do some different things around campus: help us with the cleanup effort, travel different routes around campus—as teenagers do, they always have another way they prefer to do things—but they are going along with the program. When I go into classrooms I see students who are engaged, which speaks a lot to what the teachers are doing and also speaks to the nature of the student attitude. I think we’ve made some great improvements and we’re also looking at improving the look of the campus.

Patch: What are some of the improvements taking place?

Hewlett-Bloch: There are a few items still to be completed from the original construction that my local district superintendent Dr. Vigil and the central office have been very supportive in helping me get done. We have a marquee for the school that’s going up. We have a scoreboard that's going up on the oustide. They have helped me in making sure we get some safety fencing along the open stairwells. They helped us get extra support to clean up certain areas of the campus and get things repaired in an efficient manner so that we can maintain this really lovely state-of-the-art site we have here. It’s just really beautiful.

We’re very visible. We’re right on the corner of Sunset, right by Channel 5. They can look down from the tower!

Patch: How is Bernstein affected by the budget cuts?

Hewlett-Bloch: At this point we’re doing budget planning. We know that we have quite a bit less than we did last year. The school received money from the stimulus fund. Well, that ends this year and for us that amounts to close to a $1 million. The primary expense with that money was to purchase additional teachers to lower class size. We get other categorical funds so now we have to look to these funds to figure out how we can utilize those to do the same thing, which means there are other resources you lose.

The district is not paying for a librarian this year. We have to figure out how to pay for a librarian or close this amazing library with 20 computers. How do we keep that open if we don’t have a librarian?

A college counselor, we have to figure out how to pay for that. The district doesn’t provide that, that was an expense the school paid for on its own. Now with less money we have to find a way to pay for that.

And a lot of people are getting cut. I don’t know where we are as far as furloughs are concerned.

Some of our staff has received notices—I’ve received mine. Not that I would be laid off, but depending on what kind of bumping there is as it comes down from folks who are in positions higher than me who have return rights as a principal, I could get bumped back to my last position where I have tenure as an assistant principal.

It’s a scary and uncomfortable time for everybody because we don’t know where all of us are going to land. The teachers are hanging tough and they know that a third of them are going to be gone, possibly, as a result of the RIF (Reduction in Force) notices. So we’re figuring out how to make it work.

Patch: What do you think the community should know about Bernstein?

Hewlett-Bloch: They should know the complex offers three options for schools, but almost four little schools are here with the different small learning communities.

We have the arts, music and entertainment program; the business technology labor relations program; we have the STEM academy—for science, technology,  engineering and medicine; and we have APEX—the Academic Performance Excellence program. And with that, because when  you think about a small school, you don’t think about having the resources of a comprehensive high school. They have four choices in essence and all the benefits of a comprehensive high school. We have a full range of sports activities. We have a beautiful swimming pool, a beautiful soccer field. If students have some idea or no idea about what they want to do as a career, they can come and dabble. They can at least have an opportunity to get a taste of it. We’re looking forward to the installation of our broadcast studio. That’s going to be exciting.



Hollywood High a Great Place to Work, Principal Says

Two years in, Jaime Morales explains what has contributed to the campus' recent standardized test score improvements and the "work in progress" of its parental involvement.

By Andrew Kersey | Hollywood Patch |


Hollywood High boasts an impressive list of more than 500 notable alumni—including celebrities and luminaries from Cher and Brandy to Norman Chandler and the late Warren Christopher.

Today it has a diverse student body of about 1,750 students. Since taking over in September 2008, Principal Jaime Morales has watched his school's Academic Performance Index (API) score jump an eye-catching 117 points.

The cornerstone of California's Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999, the index measures the academic growth of schools—by grade and subject—using assorted criteria. Patch asked Morales what was behind these gains and what are the school's biggest challenges  moving forward.

Hollywood Patch: What makes your school unique, setting it apart from others in town?

Jaime Morales: We have an incredible faculty. We analyze data all of the time and try to address the academic and social/emotional needs of the students. We encourage a school climate of respect to all regardless of our diversity. We have an incredible system of intervention for those students that need the extra support or the extra push to succeed.

Patch: How would you describe your philosophical approach to education?

Morales: All students can learn—if they are provided the right environment to do so. That's what we strive for at Hollywood.

Patch: Describe the level of parental involvement at your school.

Morales: It is a work in progress. Even though we would like to see more parents involved at the school, on the other hand the majority of the parents are happy with the level of education that their children are getting here. And that is why they attend parent conferences, but not much more after that.

Patch: What is behind your school's impressive 117-point rise in its API score in the last couple of years? Describe any programs or initiatives that may have had bearing on the improvements.

Morales: Besides the above-cited great teachers and staff and a dynamic intervention program, we also have a QEIA (Quality Education Investment Act) Grant. This grant provides $1,000 per student to lower class size into the lower 20s; allows us to buy extra counselors (300:1) and out-of-classroom support personnel to follow up on student attendance issues; monitoring of students in danger of failing, etc. There are many reasons why we have made progress, but these are the main ones.

Patch: What has been your proudest achievement or fondest memory since becoming principal of Hollywood High? What about your biggest disappointment?

Morales: There are so many that I can quote. Nevertheless, as a school, it was our last year API growth of 89 points, the second highest growth in the state for a high school. Also, my first high school graduation as a principal.

I can't really cite any major disappointments; there have been some low moments like the death of one of our students last year. Overall, I love being at Hollywood. This is a great place to work.

Patch: What will be the biggest challenge for you and the school going forward?

Morales: To keep the upward trend. To have a plan when our grant runs out and confront the possibility of losing many teachers and staff.


Valley View's New Principal Outlines Big Future for Little School

Susan Kim replaces Harold Klein after parent/teacher group handpicks her.

By Mike Szymanski | Hollywood Patch |

Susan Kim is the new principal at Valley View Elementary School. Credit Mike Szymanski Susan Kim's first day as the new principal at Valley View Elementary School.Credit Mike Szymanski Miss Kim's first day at school, starting Pledge of Allegiance.Credit Valley View PTA

Susan Kim is going to have a test in three months. That’s how much time she’s giving herself to know the name of every student at Valley View Elementary School — about 262 names.

“I’m learning them pretty quickly, I have trouble with a few of them, but eventually I will know every one of the students by name,” she said, sitting in her new office after the first week taking over as principal of one of the smallest schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Valley View is located in the Cahuenga Pass and serves Studio City and the Hollywood Hills.

Kim took over when the district decided not to renew the contract of previous principal Harold Klein. A committee of parents and teachers handpicked Kim, who previously taught third grade at the school. The new principal is aware of the active group of parents at the school, and the questions they have about her taking over.

Her age, according to some PTA members, is one of their biggest questions. She looks so young.

She laughed, “I know, I sometimes still get carded. I’m 36.”

She is stepping into the big shoes of Klein, an 83-year-old principal who has worked in the district longer than she had been alive (54 years). Some of the teachers she has worked with at the school as a peer, but they seem to welcome her with open arms.

“It’s truly the best thing that could happen to the school,” said library aide Carole Cain. “We all hated to see Mr. Klein go, but Susan Kim is going to be a strong dynamic leader, and everyone is pretty excited about her coming in as principal.”

Kim was born in Korea, and became naturalized as a U.S. citizen when her parents moved to the country when she was three months old. She speaks Korean and is unmarried and has no children. She served as an assistant principal at Magnolia Elementary School and Melrose Elementary School.

"It still seems like a dream to me that I'm back at this school and in this capacity," Kim said. "Everyone has made me feel  very comfortable my first few days."

She not only has a strong emphasis on special-needs children and their education, but also with children who are designated gifted.  For that reason, she is considering looking into the application process that could make Valley View an arts and/or technology magnet school.

“We have an outstanding computer lab thanks to the PTA funding new computers, and we have a strong arts community,” said Kim, who is aware that the close proximity to the studios makes Valley View a place where child actors attend while going through the TV audition season. “Unfortunately, we may lose the funding for all of our arts programs in the near future and we will have to find a way to keep it up. Being a magnet school could help us with that.”

Kim’s No. 1 priority for the school is safety, and she is already closing off the playground area which she said she feels is too close to the car drop-off area and isn’t properly supervised. “We need to figure out something better with that set-up, but until then, I don’t want to see children darting in and out of traffic,” she said.

“I am also concerned that all students get the best education,” she said. "I have an open door policy for any teacher, parent and, of course, student, and want to keep it that way."

Meanwhile, she’s brushing up for her big test to learn the names of all the children.