Tuesday, July 31, 2012


By Adolfo Guzman-Lopez Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC http://bit.ly/w0MlFb

Inglewood Unified School District

Grant Slater/KPCC

27 July 2012  ::   Inglewood's school board voted this Wednesday to ask the state for a bailout loan that would result in a state takeover of the 1,500-student district.

  • Previous KPCC reports have said “The 12, 000-student Inglewood Unified School District”
  • The official 2011-12 enrollment was 15, 212 – K-12

The Inglewood Unified School District has moved one step closer to fiscal insolvency. Its school board voted this Wednesday to ask the state for a bailout loan that would result in a state takeover of the 1,500-student district.

“We’re scheduled to run out of money in December of 2012," said Alena Giardina, a member of the school board who says the district's $9 million in the red. "So the problem would be if we don’t start the process now, we will have already allowed the time to lapse, so this is actually a precautionary measure."

Giardina says the district will do what it can to avoid insolvency — including laying off dozens of employees to close the deficit.

Christopher Graber, with the union that represents district custodians, clerks and cafeteria workers, says the board’s been a poor fiscal manager.

"We’ve seen so many foolish decisions that this board makes in the sense of rewarding people at the top," Graber said. "[I] don’t think [they think] of people at the bottom."

L.A. County education officials are looking through Inglewood Unified’s books and will recommend a bailout loan amount to the state Legislature in the next few months.


Vanessa Romo



By Vanessa Romo, KPCC 89.3 FM Education Reporter | http://bit.ly/QWPsui


David McNew/Getty Images A school bus drives by on Oct. 8, 2008 in Los Angeles.

Download Audio [4 min 49 sec]

Jul 30, 2012  ::  With the first day of school only a few weeks away, the head of the largest school police force in the country is reassessing the Los Angeles Unified School District’s school ticketing policies for the new academic year.

On a recent summer afternoon, L.A. School Police Chief Steven Zipperman poured over neat stacks of Excel spreadsheets arrayed across his desk.

The chief is under pressure to ease up on ticketing thousands of students, especially after budget cuts closed L.A. County’s informal juvenile traffic courts last month. That’s why, over summer break, he’s collaborating with school officials and local student rights advocacy groups to shrink the number of citations issued to students and reduce overall court referrals.

Students can get citations for activities including jaywalking, skipping school, vandalism, or carrying cigarettes. The most popular violation: fighting.

In the last three years, L.A. Unified police issued nearly 34,000 tickets to students between 10 and 18 years old. More than 40 percent of those tickets went to kids who were 14 or younger.

Zipperman said the statistics can sound startling, but considering there are about 670,000 students enrolled in the district, they’re fairly low.

“It comes down to about 1.2 percent of the total student body,” he said. “I would say that’s not a high number at all.”

On average, LAUSD's school police issue about 30 tickets a day. In contrast, New York City’s school cops average six tickets a day. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing that department for alleged excessive force.

In the new academic year, school officials are considering eliminating citations for truancy, tobacco possession and fighting. The idea is to send these kids to see a counselor, not a judge.

That is bound to have a more profound effect on students, according to Deborah Duardo, director of pupil services for LA Unified.

“When kids were ticketed at school and sent to court, basically they were missing more school, their parents had to miss work and it created a pathway for them to get into the juvenile court system,” she said.

Beginning in the new school year, pupil services and attendance counselors spread out over 13 locations across the school district will handle all truancy cases.

Zipperman said the goal is that before long, these counselors will also take on the kids who get in trouble for tobacco possession or fisticuffs in school.

But Duardo said that’s only in the “talk” phase. Over the next three months, counselors will start with truant students. “We want to see what that caseload is like, and to see if this model is going to be successful before we take on these minor infractions,” he continued.

Until then, Zipperman said L.A. Unified will handle violations through school counselors or disciplinary deans.

The Federal Education Department’s Civil Rights Division has monitored L.A. Unified for some time. It became involved because of complaints that the district suspends and expels black students at disproportionately high rates.

Last year, the division started to collect data from school districts across the country to determine how many students they refer to law enforcement. L.A. Unified didn’t submit any of these records.

Still, Russlynn Ali, the federal Education Department’s top civil rights official says her team has found some disturbing trends.

Ali said across multiple grades and in multiple schools African American students are far more likely to be punished “harder and more frequently for the very same offense than their white counterpart.”

That’s the case in L.A. Unified. Its citations are concentrated in more than a dozen schools where most students are African American or Latino, and where school police tend to maintain a heavier presence.

In his office, the Chief Zipperman bristles at the idea that his officers discriminate against minority students.

“Our goal, when it comes to any incident that occurs on campus is that an administrator feels they can handle, allow them to handle.” He thinks for a moment, then adds, “Can we do better? Yes. We can always improve and find better ways of handling some of these issues.”

He knows that as school districts try to figure out the role of police officers on campus, many observers are watching what L.A. Unified will do. But, the school police chief adds, good solutions can come from anywhere – he’s open to suggestions.


by email from Preschool California

Catherin Atkin, President

by Catherine Atkin, President, Preschool California

Tuesday, July 31, 2012  ::  This summer, legislators made important decisions for early learning in the budget.

Gov. Brown signed off on the state budget, which includes $140 million in cuts to child development.

These were deep and harmful cuts, and program operators across California are making difficult decisions about how to implement these reductions. However, children’s advocates and policymakers should know that their hard work and dedication in the past months to minimize the $517 million in cuts originally proposed in January have made a great difference for California’s young children.

The state budget shifts $165 million of state preschool funds back into Prop 98, cuts part-day preschool by $30 million and institutes parent fees on part-day preschool to raise $20 million. It also redirects $80 million of funds from First 5 California and cuts non-98 child care and development programs by 8.7% across the board. Additionally, it rejects both the restructuring of child care and development and the elimination of transitional kindergarten.

As we head into the fall, there is great fiscal uncertainty. Without additional revenue, programs serving California’s children and families, including child development programs, may be subject to additional cuts. It's been a difficult budget year, and now it's time to rest up before we get ready for more advocacy on behalf of California's children!


Transitional kindergarten saved, new website on TK launches.

With the Kindergarten Readiness Act intact under the state budget, and schools set to receive full funding, districts around the state continue to roll out TK. Preschool California is supporting TK teachers and administrators by launching the revamped and expanded TKCalifornia.org website with a wealth of practical information, resources and sample teaching strategies, which were created and reviewed by education experts across the state.

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Federal early ed services could face substantial across-the-board cut.

Early learning programs across the nation could see major funding decreases in January if Congress fails to avoid a potential automatic across-the-board cut with a spending plan that reduces the $1.2 trillion national deficit. In California alone: almost 12,000 fewer children would have access to Head Start; about 5,000 fewer children would receive child care subsidies; and about 296,000 fewer students would be served under Title I grants, amongst other cuts. Read Sen. Tom Harkin’s report, Under Threat, for more specific national and state-by-state data.

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AB 1853 headed to the Senate floor.

AB 1853 (Bonilla), a transitional kindergarten teacher training bill, is headed to the Senate floor. The “TK recognition of study” offered by AB 1853 would ensure that our teachers are prepared to instruct TK, resulting in successful child outcomes in kindergarten and beyond. Recently, California Teachers Association (CTA), Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), California School Boards Association (CSBA) and Bay Area Council joined the growing list of supporters. Click here for more AB 1853 information.

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The CA Comprehensive Early Learning Plan (CCELP) is under way.

The California Department of Education has contracted with the San Mateo County Office of Education to develop a CCELP for progress in key areas of early childhood education. The CCELP will assess California’s services to children and families, establish a vision for the state’s early learning system for the next five to 10 years and outline an implementation plan to meet the CCELP goals. For more on the background, purpose and implementation click here.

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New bill (S. 3436) would improve quality of infant and toddler care.

Recently, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and cosponsors Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced S. 3436, which recognizes that high-quality childcare can reduce the risk of low-income children falling behind and offer them crucial benefits. Under the bill, states would collect funding to form a strategic plan to improve the quality of early care using approaches such as creating networks of specialists for hands-on training and including infant and toddler needs in quality improvement systems. You can read more sample approaches and urge your Senators to support S. 3436 at ZEROTOTHREE.org.

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KIDS COUNT 2012 report ranks CA as 41st in nation in child well-being


The Annie E. Casey Foundation, partnering with Children Now in California, released its annual Kids Count report last week, which reveals the overall well-being of California’s children to be 41st out of 50 states. This year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation focused more on education and economic indicators, causing California to drop from last year’s 16th place. While this year’s low ranking is disconcerting, California did show improvements in 10 out of the 16 categories considered for child well-being, and scored well in child health. Find more details from EdSource Today and read the report here.

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Read more What's New

From the Field

A successful Early Learning Advocacy Day 2012.

Last month, California Association for the Education of Young Children, the California Child Development Administrators Association and Professional Assocation for Childhood Education co-sponsored this year’s Early Learning Advocacy Day for parents and children’s advocates to share their support for California’s youngest children.  Advocates from across the state met with legislators, spoke with other early learning supporters and celebrated early childhood education.

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Children's Defense Fund national conference gathers leaders in eudcation, research and policy.

Last week, the Children’s Defense Fund held its national conference in Ohio, convening 3,000 educators, researchers, policymakers, child advocates and faith leaders to discuss practices that create real change for the benefit of our children. In a video address to the conference, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke underscored the importance of high-quality early learning in creating opportunities for children to become successful learners and members of a productive workforce in the future.

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LAUSD holds rally opposing cuts to early education.

Last month, Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Bennett Kayser, parents, teachers and children’s advocates, including team members from Preschool California, gathered in Eagle Rock to protest cuts to vital early education programs. “Research shows that the first years are the most critical in closing achievement gaps, identifying and minimizing difficulties, and preparing for a lifetime of learning,” Kayser said. Highlighting the need for early learning funding, our own State Field Director Ernesto SaldaƱa noted, "The child that starts behind, stays behind. Our state can no longer afford to stay behind." Read a related article here.

In Memory of Wendy

Last month, the early education world lost a dear friend and a great leader in Wendy Wayne, who passed away at the age of 64. With her involvement in numerous children’s organizations up and down the state, Wendy has touched the lives of many children and colleagues in the field. Her passion for children and early education has inspired our own team in striving for high-quality early learning. We will remember her work, her commitment to children and her spirit.

In the Media...

EdSource Today: State Board tells districts Transitional Kindergarten is a must.

Huffington Post: Critical Investment Advice from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke

Ventura County Star: Early Education programs are key to local economy's success, experts say.

Education Week: Study: Michigan Pre-K Program Helps Promote On-Time Graduation

KQED: After $200 Million in Cuts, California's New Budget in Place.

Education Week: Transitional Kindergarten Survives Budget Battle in Calif.

Bakersfield Voice: Transitional Kindergarten

Monday, July 30, 2012

Twitterpated: L.A. Unified Completes First Ever Social Media Survey - NEW MEDIA COULD IMPROVE CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS AT LAUSD

John Deasy@DrDeasyLAUSD

Our Social Media Survey shows us new media will help engage and inform: http://ht.ly/cC80Q

Los Angeles Unified School District news | http://bit.ly/Oh7kPW

LOS ANGELES (July 24, 2012) - Information relayed through social media channels binds parents, staff and students faster during a crisis than other forms of communication, according to results of the first-ever social media survey released today by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

this is the FULL SIZE survey report as released by the district>>

The poll of more than 4,800 online users at the District’s website found that 36% believe school safety alerts can be issued most effectively through social media. Those polled also said they preferred that the District use Facebook, Twitter and other new media to communicate with students, plan events and conduct community outreach.

“The purpose of social media outreach is to give our constituents the transparency and interaction they’ve requested,” said Stephanie Abrams, the District’s Director of Social Media, the first to hold such a role nationwide. “The results of the survey demonstrate that they see social media as a vehicle for this purpose.”

^ The chart from another source. T.H.E. Journal

The District’s first-ever social media survey, conducted over the last three months of the school year, also showed the audience craves a wide range of District information online. For instance, 60% of those polled said they agree or strongly agree that they wanted to learn online about District events. Other popular requests cited in the poll were emergency services or school information, and District news.

But many still prefer updates through an older form of communication: email. Almost 70% prefer searching their inbox compared to 24% for Facebook, the highest-ranked social media channel in the survey. That’s not surprising, given the District only began coordinating its social media program in March, said Thomas Waldman, Director, Office of Communications & Media Relations.

What’s more, he said, nearly 60% of those surveyed were between 31 and 50 years old, an age group that represents a higher share of email than those who are younger. Still, Waldman expects in coming months a stronger desire for adopting new media as online users acquaint themselves with the District’s social media program.

Abrams echoed the sentiment. “Though social media is now complementing and in many ways displacing older media as a preferred means of communication around the world, school districts are just beginning to recognize its value,” Abrams said. “The survey will better enable this district to set priorities and target outreach with social media and our constituents in the future.”

In addition, Twitter followers have mushroomed; the District now has a Pinterest page; and a new blog, using contributions from all District departments and board members, will be launched in the coming weeks.

"We set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, YouTube channel, and a Pinterest page to help disseminate information to students, parents, community and staff," Abrams said.  "The popularity of the District's social media is growing quickly, and we expect these sites to continue to gain momentum throughout the school year."

Contact: Tom Waldman (213) 237-6766





The spin, the spin: Do not drive or operate heavy equipment if you are feeling dizzy.

Just because the superintendent was once a science teacher doesn’t mean surveys done on his behalf are scientific.

Any effort to improve communications in LAUSD is to be encouraged. However….

  • LAUSD released a news release about the survey, but not the survey itself.
  • The publicly released graphic showing the results was 208 X 158 pixels, the size of the 2¢ above.
  • The conclusion was that social media “could” improve communications; not “is improving” or even “will improve” communications.
    • Dr Deasy’s tweeted conclusion says “will” – but I’m sorry,  he’s a twitterer with paid assistance tweeting to the twitterpated.*
  • The person with the most to gain from a positive outcome is the one identifying the outcome as positive.
  • “…of more than 4,800 online users at the District’s website, 36% believe school safety alerts can be issued most effectively through social media.” Do the math: What did the other 64% (an overwhelming majority) believe?
  • “…nearly 60% of those surveyed were between 31 and 50 years old  , an age group that represents a higher share of email than those who are younger.  That is the demographic of parents – though the percentage of LAUSD parents who are connected to email – let alone social media - is not discussed.
    • How many LAUSD parents even have a connection to the internet when their children are in school – when crisis communications might occur?
    • …let alone when they are not – when general communications might occur.


*If “twitterpated ( a word spoken by the Owl in Disney’s Bambi) is a trademark of the Disney Company I am so apologetic!


By Jennie Rose in MindShift / KQED | http://bit.ly/MWbHm4



July 27, 2012 | 8:00 AM   ::  In his new book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, author Paul Tough makes the case that persistence and grit are the biggest indicators of student success. Being resilient against failure, he says, is the fundamental quality we should be teaching kids, and he gives examples of where that’s being done.

Dominic Randolph, the headmaster at the elite Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, New York, who believes students don’t know how to fail, is one of the sources in Tough’s book who has set out on a road to change an “impoverished view” of learning. Rather than producing students adept at “gaming” the system, “we have got to change the educational system to think about different outcomes and different capacities,” he says.

clip_image003Another primary source in the book is David Levin, co-founder of the charter KIPP Academy, who developed a student character report card to cultivate this resilience and self control in his students. With Levin’s KIPP Academy as a case study, Tough tracks persistence among low-income kids who aim to go to college, taking special note of those who have the skill in

“What I think is important on the road to success is learning to deal with failure, to manage adversity. That’s a skill that parents can certainly help their children develop—but so can teachers and coaches and mentors and neighbors and lots of other people.”

engaging with people who are different from them, or what educators refer to as “code switching.” Tough’s research indicates that students who possess this “code switching” ability, as well as self control, optimism, and curiosity, also show an ability to recover from setbacks.

At KIPP Academy, kids wear school spirit sweatshirts with pro self-control slogans like “Don’t Eat the Marshmallow!”– a nod to Walter Mischel’s renowned cognitive psychology study on self control. But it’s hard to teach kids how to be grateful, how to demonstrate self control, so KIPP teachers use character language to show kids how to slow them down, to understand the mistakes they’re making.

Tough, who wrote Whatever It Takes in 2008, about Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone, said in an interview that these intangible qualities — self-control, perseverance, and grit — are far more important than letter grades in accounting for student success.

“Until recently, most economists and psychologists believed that the most important factor in a child’s success was the IQ. This notion is behind our national obsession with test scores. From preschool-admission tests to the SAT and the ACT—even when we tell ourselves as individuals that these tests don’t matter, as a culture we put great faith in them. All because we believe, on some level, that they measure what matters,” he said. “But the scientists whose work I followed for How Children Succeed have identified a very different set of skills that they believe are crucial to success. They include qualities like persistence, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. Economists call these non-cognitive skills. Psychologists call them personality traits. Neuroscientists sometimes use the term executive functions. The rest of us often sum them up with the word character.”

Critics have argued that what Tough is really talking about are life skills that can’t be taught. But a report released recently by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science in Washington suggests that recognizing the intangible qualities is an important part of education. The report, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century describes “important set of key skills that increase deeper learning, college and career readiness, student-centered learning, and higher order thinking. These labels include both cognitive and non-cognitive skills- such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, effective communication, motivation, persistence, and learning to learn.”

It’s that idea — whether kids can learn to learn — that concerns both parents and teachers.

“What I think is important on the road to success is learning to deal with failure, to manage adversity,” Tough said. “That’s a skill that parents can certainly help their children develop—but so can teachers and coaches and mentors and neighbors and lots of other people.”

2cents smf: Any study that uses KIPP as an example of how to “manage” children is beyond suspect, it goes all the way to suspicious …and requires admission to the conspiracy of “Usual Suspects”.

KIPP uses shame as a weapon/disciplinary tool. Kids who don’t do their homework, misbehave or otherwise fail-to-comply with the program are forced to wear their uniform shirts inside out, are denied a seat at the desk and relegated to the floor – and the other students are not permitted to speak to them.*

This is nothing more-nor-less than the kinder/gentler paddle hanging behind the principal’s desk. It doesn’t leave bruises where anyone can see them.

* OK, This was how it was at the KIPP School I visited a few years back. Things may have changed – or that school may have been a bad example. However the school was was selected by KIPP as an exemplary school, they were proud of it - so my natural paranoid suspicion is that it was better than most!


4LAKids reader Katy H. writes: I’m a parent of a 7th grader and I will tell you that character is far more important to me and my fellow parents than my child’s score on a standardized test. I’m sure this is a useful book, with a great topic, and am grateful for the work others are doing, but these ideas are not exactly new.

I’m also a teacher and I have a large circle of teaching colleagues who all teach in traditional public schools. We have always put a priority on ‘character’ and so-called 21st Century skills (even in the 20th Century!) and have long known they can and should be cultivated in all subject areas.

We also know they are achieved in a dramatic way through consistent practice in the Arts, which are, unfortunately, nearly always treated as an ‘extra’ or as ‘enrichment.’ Showing up for rehearsal with the work of your part learned, or your stage-managing script prepared, and communicating, collaborating, imagining, experimenting with different acting, set choices toward the greater good of putting on a show, requires ‘grit’ practice in an exponential way. The same applies to all arts disciplines. In addition to specific discipline skills being taught, the character skills that are developed, with the guidance and support of teachers, are transferable to all areas of learning. The student who is drilled to fill in the correct bubble to get the correct result will be the employee who gets a job and expects a paycheck. The student who is practiced in the Arts will be the employee – or entrepreneur - who offers new ideas, leads teams, works because they love it – who may even have a good sense of humor. Rather than a diversion, the Arts act as an accelerator to both content and the development of persistence and ‘grit’ in students.

We teachers now face extreme pressure to spend our time on the acquisition of better test results. When I hear, ‘We don’t have time for arts,’ I gently push back and say, ‘oh but remember, our goal is whole, persistent, contributing citizens! Arts accelerate learning, not detract from it.’ We do what all good entrepreneurs, artists, and scientists do: we challenge assumptions and find better ways to achieve the goal of graduating students who are not only knowledgeable, but also hardworking, curious, compassionate, persistent and creative problem-solvers.

More Arts!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


From guest blogger Nirvi Shah | State EdWatch - Education Week http://bit.ly/MIy3Wd



July 25, 2012 9:59 AM  ::  In Ms. Morris' health education class in Greenville, Miss., a lesson on sexually transmitted diseases is almost comic.

And Ms. Morris seems to know it.

She can't say the words condom or contraceptive to explain how the spread of an STD, including HIV/AIDS, might be prevented, much less to prevent pregnancy.

In the new film "deepsouth", Ms. Morris soldiers on, using cups of candy, and sharing them among students, to demonstrate the spread of an STD.

The documentary, which premiered Tuesday night in Washington, coinciding with the 2012 International AIDS conference, spent only a moment on the role of sex education in the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS. The film is more about the social issues related to the illness, the rates of which are high in the rural South, although much of the U.S. fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS has been overseas.

But education's role is critical in the prevention of their spread, film director Lisa Biagiotti said.

"Education at least should be one of the first drivers of change," she said in an interview. "If you can't even talk about what's going on, you're setting yourself up for failure."

New statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week, in connection with the AIDS conference, directly link the need for "renewed educational efforts" and other interventions to reduce the number of young people with HIV.

The data show that as of 2009, while people age 15-29 make up 21 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 39 percent of all new HIV infections. And while about half of all teens report they are sexually active, only 60 percent of those having sex use condoms, although that is up from 20 years ago, the CDC said.

"The results suggest that progress in reducing some HIV-related risk behaviors among high school students overall and in certain populations stalled in the past decade," the agency said.

In Mississippi, for the first time, districts will be required to teach sex education in the 2012-13 school year. In a state that regularly reports the highest rate of teen pregnancies in the country, school districts will have a choice of teaching how to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STDs through abstinence-only material or with an "abstinence-plus" approach. The latter includes information about contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases, but specifically bans instruction and demonstrations involving condoms.

Earlier this year, a coalition of groups unveiled new national sexuality education standards, noting with their release that research shows abstinence-based sex education is ineffective in preventing young people from having sex. A 2007 congressionally mandated study found no statistically significant beneficial effect on the sexual behavior of young people participating in abstinence-based programs.

Tennessee, meanwhile, just adopted a new law that bans teaching students about "gateway sexual activity."

Under the new law, writes the International Business Times, Tennessee's curriculum must "exclusively and emphatically promote sexual risk avoidance through abstinence, regardless of a student's current or prior sexual experience." Teachers or organizations that teach students about "gateway sexual activity," which is only vaguely defined in the law, could be fined $500.

Utah, meanwhile rejected an abstinence-only sex education law, while Wisconsin adopted one.

The approach to sex education in the South, and many other parts of the country, is wrong, said Kathie Hiers, the chief executive officer of AIDS Alabama, who was featured in "deepsouth."

At one point in the film, she said she had so many friends dying of AIDS that she threw her address book away and started over.

"When you look at the STD rate and the teen pregnancy rate, it is shameful," Hiers said after the premiere. "We've got to keep working on this."

Photo: Phangisile Mtshali walks among the panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at The National Mall in Washington earlier this week. The quilt display, a memorial to those who have died from AIDS, is being displayed in its entirety for the first time since 1996. (Kelly Guenther/AP)


By Sarah D. Sparks - Inside School Research - Education Week http://bit.ly/P0q7NW

July 25, 2012 5:36 AM  ::  Children's health and education are showing positive signs even in the midst of a dismal economic environment, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual ranking of child well-being, released this morning.

The 23rd-annual Kids Count Data Book represents an overhaul of the Baltimore-based group's historically health-dominated 10 benchmarks. This year the indicators have been expanded to "holistically measure" child well-being, incorporating 16 measures of health, education, economic well-being, and family and community support, according to Laura Speer, an associate director for advocacy reform and data at the foundation. The data from different indicators are not necessarily comparable, however, as they span different comparison years based on the most recent state and federal information available.

Researchers found education and health are on the upswing across all benchmarks, though gaps still exist between children of different racial groups, and Northeast and Midwestern states score well above states in the Deep South and Southwest.

Children with health insurance increased 2 percentage points to 92 percent, from 2008 to 2010, while child deaths dropped 16 percent between 2005 and 2009, from 32 to 27 deaths per 100,000 children. The number of babies born below healthy birth weight held steady.

Moreover, "Even in this time of economic decline, education got better," Speer said. Five percent more children—or 47 percent—attended preschool, and the percentage of 4th and 8th graders reading proficiently and the number graduating high school on time also rose.

"If I had to make one big bet, I'd ensure every child is reading proficiently by 3rd grade," said Patrick T. McCarthy, the foundation's president and CEO. "We know this is a pivot point, that up until 3rd grade children spend a lot of time learning to read, and after 3rd grade they basically are reading to learn, relying on their reading skills to do well. If a child is not reading well by the end of 3rd grade it becomes increasingly difficult for them to catch up to their peers."

He said that while there isn't a silver bullet to improve literacy, research does point to reading achievement gaps caused by differences in school readiness, general attendance, and summer learning loss. "You put those three things together and they are all things we can do something about."

Of little surprise, children's economic picture was bleaker. The study found 22 percent of children under age 18 living in poverty, up from the 19 percent in poverty in 2005, representing 2.4 million more children in families with $22,000 or less a year for a family of four. Likewise, 41 percent of children lived in homes with a high housing cost, up 4 percent since 2005. And since the economy plummeted in 2008, 27 percent more children—now one in three—has no parent with full-time, year-round employment.

Moreover, "Poor kids and kids of color continue to fall behind their more affluent and advantaged classmates," McCarthy said. "In 2010, American Indian and black children, both at 49 percent, were nearly twice as likely as white children to have no parent with secure employment. This is a very bad sign for those who care about opportunity for those children."

Casey researchers found several signs of improvement for families overall. Teen births continued to tick down, from 40 out of every thousand children born in 2005 to 39 births per thousand in 2009. And only 15 percent of children in 2010 lived in homes with a parent who has less than a high school diploma, 6 percent fewer than in 2005. Yet poor children increasingly live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.

"Where a child grows up can make a huge difference" McCarthy said. "A low income child growing up in a flourishing community is more likely to thrive and succeed. That same child in poverty who lives in a community with a high concentration of poverty where most of the neighbors are also poor is far more likely to get off-track in school become involved gangs and fail to gain successful employment. So, investments that focus on improving neighborhoods can help provide a foundation for children's future."

Speer agreed in a briefing with reporters on Monday: "This is especially troubling because growing up in poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy child development and it can really affect everything from their cognitive development and their ability to learn to their social and emotional development and their overall health."

The study comes on the heels of similar new child well-being data released last week by the the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics; it also found that fewer children are the victims of violent crimes.


To find more information related to the 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book, or to create your own customized maps, graphs or charts, visit the Data Book home page.


By Kimberly Beltran SI&A Cabinet Report http://bit.ly/OiPZZd

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 :: Analysis of a project designed to promote college entry for high school students least likely to go showed that career-focused dual enrollment programs can provide positive outcomes for these often unprepared and underachieving pupils.

The three-year Concurrent Courses initiative, launched in 2008 and funded by the James Irvine Foundation, partnered high schools with colleges to create dual enrollment programs – high school students take college courses and earn college credit – and make them available to low-income youth who struggle academically or who are from minority college populations.

A just-released study of the initiative, conducted by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, found that among the 3,000 students enrolled in the program, participants were, on average, more likely to graduate from high school, transition to a four-year college (rather than a two-year college), accumulate more college credits and persist in postsecondary education. They were also less likely to take basic skills courses in college.

“These are important findings because many people have long thought of these programs as avenues only for high-achieving students to get a head start on college,” said Hilary McLean, deputy director at the Linked Learning Alliance, which was founded by a grant from the Irvine Foundation. “But this initiative provides evidence that any student can benefit from the experience of a dual enrollment program. It shows that this type of program really can be a game changer for students who are struggling academically or from populations historically underrepresented in higher education.”

In recent years, educators and policymakers have become increasingly interested in the potential of programs like dual enrollment to improve educational outcomes for a broader range of students. At the same time, there is growing evidence that giving the programs a career focus adds relevance and interest and can re-engage students who may not see themselves as being on a path to college and career.

Under the initiative, eight partnerships were awarded a share of $4.75 million to expand CTE-oriented dual enrollment participation to low-income and underrepresented students while combining rigorous, college-level academics and career/technical subject matter. Other conditions of the program were to create strong collaborative relationships between college and secondary partners, and collect data on students’ secondary and postsecondary outcomes.

Courses offered broached a variety of career fields, including healthcare, multi-media, teaching and renewable energy.

Researchers looked at the performance of students in the dual enrollment courses as well as the program’s influence on the students’ grade point average, graduation rates, college choices and college performance.

While there was no significant difference in the grade point averages of students in the program and their district peers, graduation rates were higher for dual enrollees than their peers, the analysis found.

Following members of the cohorts who graduated from high school in 2009 and 2010, statistics showed that while the dual enrollees enter college at rates similar to students outside the program, they enroll at four-year colleges at a rate two percentage points above their district peers.

Students taking part in the dual enrollment courses also persisted in their postsecondary studies at a higher rate, and they accumulated more college credits than the comparison group – and the advantages in credit accrual grew as the students progressed through college.

Among several benefits of the Concurrent Courses initiative, the report notes, were the establishment of new college-high school partnerships and the expansion of existing ones – as well as a better understanding between educators at both levels of what was needed to help the students succeed.

Qualified high school teachers teaching college introductory courses could see how unprepared their students were for the material, stated the report, and college faculty teaching visiting high school students shared their observations with their high school counterparts.

“This led to school-wide and cross-sector conversations about how to improve students’ skills and facilitate a better transition from high school to college,” researchers wrote.

Broadening the Benefits of Dual Enrollment


By Tom Chorneau / SI&A Cabinet Report | http://bit.ly/O9t0kG

Wednesday, July 25, 2012  ::  Set aside nearly a year ago, legislation to overhaul the state’s teacher evaluation system appears set to resurface after new discussions between legislative leaders and the Brown administration.

AB 5, by Assemblyman Filipe Fuentes, D-Los Angeles, remains a viable bill even though it has sat dormant in the Senate Appropriations Committee since last August.

The bill was the product of much compromise between reform advocates, teacher organizations and key lawmakers – including Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, who merged his own evaluation proposal into the Fuentes legislation.

As proposed last summer, the bill would have, for the first time, called on school districts to use student outcomes as part of the performance analysis. But the measure was put on hold at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown, who indicated he was not supportive and wanted lawmakers to take more time to consider options.

Although the administration never publicly articulated what it wanted out of the bill, the measure was opposed by the California Teachers Association, which presents a significant political issue for any piece of legislation.

CTA remains opposed, according to its website, at least to last year’s version.

So far, there are no formal amendments to AB 5 that have been publicly aired. But capital sources indicated late last week that conversations have been ongoing between Fuentes’ office, Brown’s representatives and the speaker’s staff.

Rick Simpson, Speaker Perez’s top adviser on education issues, said in an e-mail this week that he is optimistic about moving the bill ahead.

“We think there is a high degree of consensus around the policy in AB 5 and we’re exploring options to deal with the bill’s fiscal issues,” he said.

And the cost issues are significant. The state’s existing evaluation system, known as the Stull Act, costs about $20 million annually to carry out. Some say the new model – with added administrative, training and related expenses – could double or even triple the costs.

Supporters tried to limit costs by linking its implementation with the first fiscal year in which one of the state’s key debts to schools has been reduced to zero: that is, the deficit factor – ongoing debt owed public schools as the result of the Legislature suspending cost-of-living increases that otherwise would be paid as part of revenue limit funding – now estimated at more than $8 billion.

But even with that caveat, the costs would be an issue. The bill calls for multiple observations of teachers by evaluators who have received ‘appropriate training’ and who have demonstrated competence in ‘teaching evaluation’ – both requirements expected to remain in the bill’s language and that will also cost money.

The interest in a better teacher accountability system has been growing for years but increased sharply when the Obama administration made it a component of the federal Race to the Top grant competition as well as other programs.

As a result of commitments made under federal funding or prompting from community demands as well as courts – a number of districts are engaged with their local teachers unions over new evaluation systems that include student performance as an indicator.

Most prominent is Los Angeles Unified, which was found by a superior court judge to have violated the Stull Act’s requirements that evaluations of teachers and principals include measures of how well students learn what the state expects them to know. But the judge left it largely to the district and the union to define what those measures would be – thus, it is assumed that the evaluation will become fodder for the negotiation table.


AB 5 (Fuentes)
Teachers: best practices teacher evaluation.

(legislative analysis)

Existing law states the intent of the Legislature that governing boards of school districts establish a uniform system of evaluation and assessment of the performance of all certificated personnel within each school district of the state. Existing law requires the governing board of each school district to establish standards of expected pupil achievement at each grade level in each area of study and to evaluate and assess certificated employee performance on a continuing basis as it reasonably relates to the progress of pupils toward the established standards and, if applicable, the state adopted academic content standards as measured by state adopted criterion referenced assessments, the instructional techniques and strategies used by the employee, the employee’s adherence to curricular objectives, and the establishment and maintenance of a suitable learning environment, within the scope of the employee’s responsibilities.

This bill would provide that the provisions described above would become inoperative on July 1 of the first fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the deficit factor, as specified, is reduced to zero. The bill would state findings and declarations of the Legislature regarding the nature of effective teachers and of the teaching profession. Commencing on July 1 of the first fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the deficit factor, as specified, is reduced to zero, the bill would require the governing board of each school district to adopt and implement a locally negotiated best practices teacher evaluation system, described as one in which each teacher is evaluated on a continuing basis on the degree to which he or she accomplishes specific objectives and multiple observations of instructional and other professional practices are conducted by trained evaluators. The bill would also require the governing board of each school district to establish and define job responsibilities for certificated, noninstructional employees and evaluate and assess their performance in relation to those responsibilities. The bill would provide that these provisions do not apply to certificated personnel who are employed on an hourly basis in adult education classes.

By requiring school districts to perform additional duties, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.

Bill Text

Latest version: 06/22/11 - Amended Senate


Joanna Lin | California Watch | http://bit.ly/Nv6bIw

  Joanna Lin/California Watch Guadalupe Chavez, who will be in second grade this fall, eats a free summer lunch with friends at Cambridge Elementary School in Concord.

July 25, 2012 |At lunchtime at Cambridge Elementary School, you'd never know that the last day of school was more than a month ago. For one month this summer, Monday through Friday, more than 300 kids packed the Concord school's cafeteria for free lunches.

Most of the kids gobbling up cheese pizza, chicken nuggets and carrots are participating in summer learning programs at the campus. But, as indicated by a big red banner hanging on the school's fence, anyone 18 years old and younger was invited to the free meals.

"If I see somebody out there, I'll go drag them in – 'Go eat! Go in!' " said Colleen Ivie, the school's cafeteria manager.

Still, Ivie said, the school would not have fed nearly as many kids without summer school.

Across California, the loss of summer learning opportunities has lowered participation in federally funded summer meal programs, according to a recent report by California Food Policy Advocates. Summer school provides a central location where students congregate; without it, kids are scattered and more difficult to reach.Participation in July 2011 – an average of nearly 387,000 children per day – was 6 percent lower than it was a year earlier and nearly 30 percent lower than it was in July 2008, the report found. Yet the number of low-income children served by the National School Lunch Program during the academic year has grown in recent years.

"This summer nutrition gap is harming kids," said Tia Shimada, a nutrition policy advocate with California Food Policy Advocates. "Along with that lack of opportunity for learning and enrichment during the summertime, there's also a lack of access to meals."

Last July, summer meals reached just 16 percent of California children who ate free or reduced-price lunches during the school year, which means more than 2 million students missed out on the meals, the report found.

Shimada said schools, which are the most common sponsor of summer meal programs, should promote the opportunity before the academic year ends and make sure families know where to go. The state Department of Education lists summer meal sites in every county that are open to all children.

Focus groups recently convened by Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit working to end child hunger, also said meal locations should be within walking distance of homes or transportation and be safe, supervised environments, like schools.

The Mount Diablo Unified School District hosted 14 summer meal sites at its schools, including Cambridge Elementary. Most ended their programs Friday, but two – Rio Vista Elementary and Shore Acres Elementary, both in Bay Point – will continue through Aug. 10.

Before the programs began, the district placed advertisements in its local newspaper, the Contra Costa Times; posted flyers at local farmers markets, churches and other community locations; and mailed information to every household in the area, said Tim Watson-Williams, a supervisor in the district's food and nutrition department.

Although daily participation has been strong, ranging from 75 to 325 kids per site, Watson-Williams said he'd like to see more people eating the free meals. The district, which is able to cover the cost of operating the programs with federal reimbursement, could easily serve twice as many people, he said.

"It's a valuable community service," Watson-Williams said. "So many of our kids, lunch and breakfast at school is the core of the meals that they're getting. These are kids that without school may not get a proper meal at all."


Retired L.A. Superintendent Accused of Sexual Assault

Courthouse News Service

By MATT REYNOLDS  | Courthouse News Service http://bit.ly/QjqMBl

Tuesday, July 24, 2012Last Update: 8:46 AM PT  ::  LOS ANGELES (CN) - A former employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District claims retired superintendent Ramon Cortines sexually assaulted him on a weekend visit to Cortines' ranch, and the incident was never investigated due to the district's "culture of sexual abuse, stealth and secrecy."

     In his lawsuit in Superior Court, Scot Graham claims Cortines "had targeted other LAUSD employees for refusing to submit to his sexual advances, and had a reputation of being persistent and abusing his authority."

     Graham says that "just days" after Cortines, 80, recruited him to be the district's director of real estate, Cortines propositioned him and tried to grab his penis. Years later, the former superintendent allegedly invited Graham to his ranch, where he entered Graham's room naked and masturbated in front of him.

     Graham is suing Cortines for alleged sexual battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

     Two months ago, the school district announced that it had agreed to pay Graham $200,000 plus $300,000 in benefits to settle his sexual harassment claims. But Graham claims the district violated the terms of the settlement by failing to protect his anonymity. The district publicly identified Graham in a news release, according to Graham's attorneys.

     Cortines has maintained that the encounters with Graham were consensual. He retired as superintendent last year.

     According to the 13-page lawsuit, Graham began working for the district in 2000 "through the direct efforts and at the personal request of Cortines," who suggested the job would give Graham a "sense of purpose."

     "It was only later that Cortines' intentions - masked under the guise of providing Graham a more meaningful career opportunity - were revealed," the lawsuit states.

     Graham says Cortines "violated a myriad of LAUSD policies to hire him," including bypassing the interview process and allowing Graham to skirt the prerequisites for working there.

     Days after he started the job, Graham claims, Cortines invited him to dinner at a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. After dinner, the two men allegedly returned to LAUSD headquarters, where Cortines "attempted to grab Scot's penis and proposed that the two men go to the superintendent's office to have sex."

     When Graham refused, Cortines said "'it was the least [Graham] could do' in exchange for the job that Cortines lured him into," the lawsuit states.

     Graham says Cortines suggested they go to another building to have sex, and that it was "'harmless' for them to have a 'little fun.'"

     Graham says he rebuffed Cortines' advances, but thereafter worked "in fear of a man at the helm of a $6.5 billion government entity" who had the power to fire him at any time.         

     Cortines left LAUSD in June 2000 but returned as superintendent in 2009, bringing an "abrupt halt to Scot's period of relative normalcy at LAUSD," according to the lawsuit.

     In July 2010, Cortines allegedly invited Graham to his Sierra Mountains Ranch during a mandatory administrative furlough.

     Graham says he "reluctantly accepted" Cortines' offer to drive him to the ranch and left his car at Cortines' house. During a walk at the ranch, Cortines "made several inappropriate verbal and physical sexual advances towards Graham, attempting to grab and grope him," the lawsuit states.

     "Cortines attempted to grab Scot's hand and make contact with Scot's body, including his torso, groin area and penis," the complaint says. "Graham turned Cortines down at every such attempt."

     Graham says Cortines then tried to kiss him on the mouth.

     "When Graham refused to be kissed, Cortines stated that he would 'visit' Scot's bedroom later that evening," the lawsuit states.

     "Upon entering his separate bedroom to sleep, Scot noticed that his door did not have a

     lock on it, and that Cortines could enter at any time. Plaintiff attempted to call his husband, but noticed that his mobile phone was not getting reception and that the only land line was in the communal area of the ranch, which Cortines would guard vigilantly. Scot was unable to sleep and grew fearful for his safety," the lawsuit says.

     "Shortly thereafter, Graham observed the door to his bedroom open. Cortines entered plaintiff's room and was completely nude, with his penis erect. Graham noticed that Cortines' penis had a sideways curve while erect. Cortines then entered Scot's bed, and proceeded to masturbate beside him. Frozen from fear and shock, plaintiff laid idle as Cortines masturbated and appeared to ejaculate on himself and near plaintiff. Cortines then grabbed plaintiff's penis over his pajamas and stated 'you're not getting hard.' Plaintiff was speechless, and Cortines exited the room."

     Graham says he was "forced to spend another evening trapped at the ranch" because he did not have his car. He claims Cortines entered his room the following night, got into his bed "completely nude and masturbated beside him."

     He says he reported the incidents to his supervisors and to the district's general counsel, David Holmquist, but no action was taken.

     Holmquist, a nonparty, told him to "'forget' about the incident with Cortines," Graham says.

     "What is the point of ruining a man's career ... what are you going to accomplish by complaining?" Holmquist allegedly asked.

     About a month after reporting the incident, Cortines called Graham at home and made sexually suggestive remarks while "speaking in an amorous tone," according to the lawsuit.

     Graham says he again complained to his supervisor, but nothing was done. As a result, Graham claims he was "lulled into thinking that his complaints were unworthy of mention and that protecting Cortines' name and reputation was more important than investigating Cortines' unlawful conduct."

     "It appeared that Cortines had an inner circle of individuals whom he had appointed to positions of authority in order to insulate himself from the consequences of his sexual exploits," Graham claims.

     "Plaintiff, a victim of LAUSD's culture of sexual abuse, stealth and secrecy, still fears the wrath of a man who, despite his retirement, still yields significant influence within the LAUSD," the lawsuit says.     

     Graham seeks unspecified general and punitive damages, and is represented by Arnold Peter of Beverly Hills, Calif.


LAUSD employee files lawsuit against former Superintendent Ramon Cortines

City News Service from the LA Daily News http://bit.ly/LOkvpO

Updated:   07/24/2012 04:16:03 PM PDT  ::  LOS ANGELES - A 12-year employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District filed a lawsuit today against former Superintendent Ramon Cortines, accusing him of making repeated unwanted sexual advances, including shortly after the worker was hired in 2000 and again two years ago at Cortines' ranch in Kern County.

The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed two months after the district announced that the Board of Education had agreed to pay Scot Graham $200,000 and provide him with lifetime health benefits to settle his sexual harassment claims.

That settlement apparently began to unravel shortly after the announcement, with Graham's attorneys saying he had never agreed to be publicly identified, which the district did in a news release.

Cortines could not be reached for comment, but told reporters in May that his interactions with Graham were all consensual. Through a spokeswoman, he declined comment on Tuesday.

The lawsuit does not name the LAUSD, although a spokesman said Graham has submitted a claim against the district. If the claim is denied, Graham can then file suit in court.

The district did not immediately respond to a request for a copy of the claim.

According to the lawsuit, Cortines propositioned Graham shortly after he was hired in March 2000. The lawsuit contends that Cortines "violated a myriad of LAUSD policies to hire" Graham, noting that he was not required to submit to any of the "prerequisites of securing employment at the LAUSD."

Graham rebuffed Cortines' advances, and Cortines left the district in June 2000, according to the lawsuit. Cortines returned to the district in 2009, and the next year, Cortines invited Graham to his ranch in Kern County, the lawsuit states.

Since Cortines had just announced employee furloughs and other budget cuts, Graham feared that his job could be in jeopardy, so he accepted Cortines' invitation even though Graham's husband was unable to attend, according to the suit. Graham contends in the lawsuit that Cortines made repeated advances toward him during the trip, all of which were rebuffed.

According to the lawsuit, Graham reported Cortines' actions to his supervisor and later to the district's general counsel, but no action was taken and the worker was advised to just "forget about the incident with Cortines."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified general and punitive damages.

Cortines retired from the district in April 2011.


Teachers' attorney says evals can include test scores this year

LAUSD and its teachers union agree on a timeline to start factoring student achievement into employee evaluations — if they can agree on how to do it.

By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/Nv1zlS

Test scores

United Teachers Los Angeles has argued in the past that test scores are too unreliable for use in such high-stakes decisions as firing, tenure and merit pay. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times / July 24, 2012)


July 24, 2012, 9:58 p.m.  ::  In a potentially groundbreaking decision, Los Angeles teachers and administrators agreed with the school district for the first time to use student test scores as part of performance reviews beginning this school year.

But an attorney for United Teachers Los Angeles later said the commitment he made during a court hearing Tuesday was contingent on whether the union and L.A. Unified School District could successfully negotiate an agreement on exactly how such scores would be used in the teacher evaluations.

That drew criticism from an attorney who sought the pledge in a case he brought on behalf of Los Angeles parents, who successfully sued the district for violating a 41-year-old state law that requires evaluations to include measures of student achievement, such as test scores.

"This is exactly what we were concerned about — that [UTLA] would say one thing in court and change their position thereafter," said Scott Witlin, an attorney for the group of unidentified parents.

In the case, which could transform teacher evaluations in California, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant ruled last month that L.A. Unified had violated the law, known as the Stull Act. The plaintiffs' attorneys had argued that the absence of a rigorous evaluation system that effectively identifies weak teachers for improvement or, if necessary, dismissal, deprives students of their constitutional right to educational equality.

In their agreement Tuesday, attorneys for the district and the unions representing teachers and administrators set Sept. 4 as the date to return to court with a progress report. They also agreed on a final deadline of Dec. 4 to show proof they had started using student achievement measures in performance reviews.

The teachers union's commitment to launch the new measures this year came after Witlin told the judge he believed all sides were dragging their feet on negotiating a new evaluation system.

UTLA attorney Jesus Quinonez sharply disagreed with Witlin, saying all parties were "very serious" about an agreement.

"Are you able to commit that what the district decides will be implemented for the purposes of teacher evaluations this school year?" Chalfant asked Quinonez.

"That's correct," Quinonez responded.

Under L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy, about 700 teachers and principals at about 100 schools are participating in a voluntary evaluation program that uses a measure based on student test scores known as "academic growth over time." The district plans to train all principals and teachers in the program this year but has not decided when to begin using it for all employees. Deasy has said he believes the district has the right to create a new performance review system without negotiations.

The teachers union has opposed the voluntary program, saying that evaluations must be decided at the bargaining table and that test scores are too unreliable for use in such high-stakes decisions as firing, tenure and merit pay. Earlier this year UTLA proposed an evaluation system that would use test scores to identify areas of student need but not to judge teachers' performance.

In his ruling last month, Chalfant did not specify what measures of student achievement should be used or how they should be included in performance reviews.

Bill Lucia, president of EdVoice, the Sacramento group that brought the lawsuit on behalf of the parents, said he was pleased by the day's progress in setting deadlines.

"Ultimately, the kids are going to benefit," he said. "They are going to have better assurances that they'll have effective teachers and school site leaders."


LAUSD must include student test scores in teacher evals by Dec. 4

By Tami Abdollah | Pass / Fail  | 89.3 KPCC http://bit.ly/OmWCr

Lawyers confer on teacher eval Doe vs. Deasy stull act

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

Lawyers for L.A. Unified, United Teachers Los Angeles, Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, and parents filing suit, were sent into the hallway to come up with a timeline for when the district must be in compliance with state law and include student test scores in teacher evaluations.

L.A. Unified must comply with a judge's ruling to include student test scores in teacher evaluations by Dec. 4, a bevy of attorneys representing the district, its unions, and parents agreed in court today.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant made his ruling in Doe vs. Deasy last month and asked the attorneys to agree on a compliance timeline. After multiple meetings and disagreements, Chalfant sent the attorneys into the hallway this afternoon to come to an agreement, or face him imposing one unilaterally.

L.A. Unified attorney Barry Green said the district and its unions agreed on a staggered timeline that included a check-in on progress Sept. 4 and a final "drop dead date where everything has to be in place" by Dec. 4.

"We can't just wave our wand and just implement, because we have the unions" to negotiate with, Green said in court today. "We have a gun to us that says we must do that."

Green said the district built into the proposed timeline the fact that parties may reach an impasse and would then need to go through a mediation and fact-finding process under the state's Public Employment Relations Board. "If it were up to us, it would be in place already," Green told Chalfant.

The suit was filed in November by the Sacramento-based nonprofit EdVoice on behalf of seven unnamed parents. The core of the brief centers on the 41-year-old “Stull Act,” which requires school districts to “evaluate and assess certificated employee performance as it reasonably relates to the progress of pupils” on district standards of expected achievement in each subject area at each grade level. The act was broadened in 1999 to require evaluation based on student progress on state standardized tests.

In his ruling, Chalfant left the details of how the district must comply with the "pupil progress requirement" primarily to its discretion. He said details such as the system of measurement, how that plays into a teacher's evaluation and how much it is weighted, may all require collective bargaining.

"You've got to do it, you have to consider pupil progress both based on CSTs [state standardized tests] and whatever assessments you want to rely on for district standards in evaluating teachers," Chalfant said last month. "Now how you go about doing that is a matter of your discretion, how you want to collectively bargain that is a matter to you and your unions."

Parties were generally pleased with the timeline agreed on in court today.

"The keys are that there's going to be time for the bargaining process to run its course in a reasonable and not unecessarily impractical or imposed way...and time for the parties to have meaningful good-faith negotiations," said United Teachers Los Angeles attorney Jesus Quinonez.

Quinonez said in court that the union believed it "very possible and very doable, ultimately" to have the new evaluation system in time for teacher evaluations at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

"The agreement is everybody will make their 'best efforts' to do what is necessary to abide by the judge's decision," said Judith Perez, president of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles. "I'm happy about aspects of the decision, I'm glad the judge upheld collective bargaining."

Witlin called the outcome a "major victory": "We got committments from UTLA that whatever is agreed to is going to be implemented this school year."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has closely watched the legal proceedings, publicly praising the judge's ruling last month. As speaker in the state Assembly, Villaraigosa sponsored the amendment that expanded the law to require evaluation based on student progress on state standardized tests. He also filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the suit.

"Anything that keeps the parties' feet to the fire is a victory," said Brian S. Currey, counsel to the mayor, who watched the proceedings in court today.

It is unclear how exactly the new system would be incorporated into the 2012-13 teacher evaluations as most of the discussions regarding the process occur at the start of the school year. L.A. Unified starts early, on Aug. 14, this year.

The proceedings also brought former state Sen. Gloria Romero to court. She helped co-found the Democrats for Education Reform. She was "very discouraged" by the conversation in court and the fact that attorneys had to be sent out into the hall to reach an agreement.

"Oh my God, it's going to take another 30 years to bring them into compliance with the law," Romero said. "It's all about delay...In the last six weeks, they've negotiated three days. That really tells the story. There is no sense of urgency."

Witlin said in court he was frustrated by the slow pace of negotiations and that the district and its unions have only sat down three or four times since the judge's June 12 ruling. But he said he "hoped they will actually come through" as agreed.

EdVoice president Bill Lucia said he was pleased with the decision and that ultimately it meant kids will be "more likely to have effective teachers and school leaders" because of it.


Legal wrangling stalls LAUSD use of student test scores in teacher evals

By Tami Abdollah | Pass / Fail  89.3 KPCC http://bit.ly/MWDhfy

Jordon Cooper/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Los Angeles Superior Court

More than a month after a judge ruled that L.A. Unified must include student test scores in teacher evaluations, legal wrangling over even a general timeline continues to stall efforts to bring the district in compliance with state law.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant made his ruling in Doe vs. Deasy last month and asked the district, its unions, and the attorney representing parents who brought the suit, to agree on a compliance timeline. Attorneys were to return to court with that timeline today; instead, in multiple court filings over the last six weeks, they continue to disagree over the broadest of details.

"That's 43 days ago, six weeks, where the district is not complying by the law," said Scott Witlin, the attorney who represented parents suing the district in the case. "There doesn't seem to be the requisite urgency to get the district into compliance with the law...Every year this doesn't get done it's another 50,000 kids who've never had their teachers properly evaluated."

After a 40-minute hearing in court this afternoon, the bevy of attorneys were told to go into the hallway and come up with an agreement; otherwise, Chalfant would make a decision unilaterally.

"If you don’t want to run the risk of me mis-recollecting how I ruled, then you should go reach an agreement now," Chalfant said.

The suit was filed in November by the Sacramento-based nonprofit EdVoice on behalf of seven unnamed parents. The core of the brief centers on the 41-year-old “Stull Act,” which requires school districts to “evaluate and assess certificated employee performance as it reasonably relates to the progress of pupils” on district standards of expected achievement in each subject area at each grade level. The act was broadened in 1999 to require evaluation based on student progress on state standardized tests.

In his ruling, Chalfant left the details of how the district must comply with the "pupil progress requirement" primarily to its discretion. He said details such as the system of measurement, how that plays into a teacher's evaluation and how much it is weighted, may all require collective bargaining.

"You've got to do it, you have to consider pupil progress both based on CSTs [state standardized tests] and whatever assessments you want to rely on for district standards in evaluating teachers," Chalfant said. "Now how you go about doing that is a matter of your discretion, how you want to collectively bargain that is a matter to you and your unions."

L.A. Unified attorney Barry Green said the district and its unions agreed on a staggered timeline that included a check-in on progress in September and a final "drop dead date where everything has to be in place" in December.

"We can't just wave our wand and just implement, because we have the unions" to negotiate with, Green said in court today. "We have a gun to us that says we must do that."

Green said the district built into the proposed timeline the fact that parties may reach an impasse and would then need to go through a mediation and fact-finding process under the state's Public Employment Relations Board.

Witlin said he was frustrated by the slow pace of negotiations and that the district and its unions have only sat down three or four times since the judge's June 12 ruling.

"What we've been told is there are lots of impediment to bargaining over this issue, people have vacations, there are travel plans, there are union conventions, well all that is well and good, but when you're not complying with the law you should be doing everything you can to get in compliance with the law," Witlin said.

Witlin said it looked less and less likely that the district would be abiding by the law this school year. He said the district and its unions should be meeting daily to work this out.

Judith Perez, president of the administrator's union, said with the early start of the school year in mid-August, it would be "impossible" to abide by the judge's ruling, which requires adequate training for teachers and administrators as well an understanding of the data and a system for how it should be used.

"We're talking two weeks, I would say that it is impossible to implement a fully-blown changed evaluation system in two weeks," Perez said. She said the union has been in negotiations with the district and has met thrice since the ruling and has four more meetings scheduled.

"We have every intention of reaching an agreement," Perez said.

United Teachers Los Angeles attorney Jesus Quinonez said in court today the union has met with the district four times to discuss implementation and has another seven meetings scheduled.

"There are a bunch of other elements of evaluation that have be addressed here and are being addressed in a very serious way," Quinonez said. He said the union intended to have a system in place in time for evaluations at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

"We could have filed an appeal the day after the judgment was issued and stay all of this. That is not the intent of UTLA. I can speak for UTLA...I can tell you this schedule we agreed to is going to go forward..That is very possible and very doable, ultimately."


National Education Access Network | http://bit.ly/ODy77L

July 25, 2012  ::  California has yet to pay even half of the $800 million in Emergency Funds that it promised schools in a lawsuit settlement eight years ago, leaving tens of thousands of students to continue to attend schools in decrepit buildings with severe maintenance problems. In 2000, the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations filed a class-action suit, Williams v. State, on behalf of students attending substandard schools that allegedly had unhealthy facilities, a shortage of qualified teachers, missing libraries, a lack of instructional materials, and overcrowded schools.

Plaintiffs argued that sending students to schools in “slum conditions,” with inadequate and unsafe facilities, amounted to a deprivation of basic educational opportunities. After his predecessor spent four years and nearly $20 million in legal fees fighting the lawsuit, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed in 2004 to settle the case by establishing an Emergency Repair Program, instituting a complaint process for inadequate instructional materials, teacher vacancies, and emergency facilities problems, and taking other steps to improve conditions in the state’s lowest-performing schools.

In the first years following the settlement, few districts applied for the funds because they functioned as reimbursements, meaning districts needed to pay for projects up front first. But after a 2007 amendment to state law turned the fund into a grant, hundreds of districts applied for the program and the allocation board eventually stopped accepting applications in 2010.

Despite the high demand for repairs and the agreement to allocate at least $100 million every year starting in 2005, the fund has dwindled, and after paying out $338 million, the legislature amended state law to avoid the annual payments for the past four years. Officials have also deferred spending on maintenance to address other school needs, such as teacher lay-offs or increased class sizes. Brooks Allen, the ACLU attorney overseeing the settlement’s implementation, explained that it is difficult to convince people to pay attention to the problem of poor building conditions, noting it “really is very hard to capture the attention” of the public.

The state’s failure to live up to the promises of Williams has left more than 700 schools still waiting for funds to fix broken toilets, infestation, battered walls, and clogged sewer lines. The director of maintenance and operations for Moreno Valley Unified School District, a district owed $26 million for repairs, expressed his frustration at the state’s lack of commitment to the settlement agreement: “I think the title says enough, doesn’t it? Emergency Repair Program. Should it take four years to fund an emergency?”

There are currently two new adequacy cases pending in CaliforniaRobles-Wong, et al. v. State of California and Campaign for Quality Education v. State of California – that seek to ensure sufficient funding for all educational needs. The Alameda County Superior Court has dismissed both complaints, but the cases have recently been combined and the plaintiffs have filed an appeal to the dismissal ruling.