Monday, December 31, 2012


By Rob Kuznia, Staff Writer. Daily Breeze |

12/29/2012 02:34:31 PM PST  ::  The food services director at the Lawndale elementary school district was arrested earlier this month and is facing felony charges for allegedly accepting kickbacks from a restaurant that sold pizza to the district for school lunches, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Arturo Nuno, who pleaded not guilty, is accused of taking 50 cents for every pizza sold to the school district by the restaurant from Oct. 1, 2010, to July 31, 2012, said Jean Guccione, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office.

All told, Nuno is accused of accepting about $10,000 in cash, she said Friday.

News of the Dec. 19 arrest came as a shock to employees of the school district, which has won several awards and grants for health, wellness and nutrition since the 31-year-old Nuno took the post about five years ago.

Ellen Dougherty, superintendent of the Lawndale School District, said Nuno was placed on paid leave as soon as district officials learned he is being accused of engaging in "white collar criminal activity." She spoke highly of him on Friday.

"He's a stellar employee, and has been an amazing young man," Dougherty said. "He's a team player, he jumps in and helps when needed. We have a great team at our district and he's been an intricate part of it."

Nuno was released on $100,000 bail the day after his arrest. He is scheduled to appear in a Torrance courtroom for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 23.

Reached on his cellphone Friday, Nuno declined to comment.

According to the DA's Office, Nuno periodically stopped by the restaurant to pick up envelopes containing between $200 and $700 in cash. Guccione said the school district paid the establishment $6.50 per pizza, and that Nuno demanded 50 cents of that amount.

The DA's Office has charged him with four counts of felony bribery.

Guccione on Friday did not have information on the name of the pizzeria in question but said it closed down sometime after July 31. A complaint filed with the Superior Court of California says he accepted bribes from a man named Robert Bonilla. Sources close to the case say the restaurant was located near the intersection of 153rd Street and Hawthorne Boulevard in Lawndale.

Dougherty said Nuno has been highly instrumental in improving the district's nutrition standards. For instance, he spruced up school cafeterias to make them more appealing to the students, and headed up a 40-person wellness committee. One of many results: All seven elementary schools have recently begun selling fruit for a quarter as a snack for students. In the past, the schools sold chips or junk food during snack time.

In the summer of 2011, representatives from the Lawndale district met former President Bill Clinton as a result of winning an award from a program co-founded by the William J. Clinton Foundation. Called the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the program recognizes schools that revamp their meal service and physical activity programs to make the schools healthier.

Despite the accolades, Nuno's name came up in a minor controversy last school year. In April 2011, members of the classified union representing custodians, cafeteria works secretaries and others cried foul when the Lawndale school board approved a 17 percent pay hike for Nuno, bringing his salary to $94,531 from $80,651.

At the time, the employees complained they hadn't received a raise in four years. District officials countered that the boost was a "salary adjustment," not a raise, extended to Nuno because he was underpaid on the salary schedule. The adjustment brought his salary in line with that of other directors in the district.

Carl Williams, president of the classified union, said he was disheartened by the latest news.

"Everyone is innocent until proven guilty," he said. "We trust the district will handle the situation so it is in the best interest of the students and the district and the community as a whole. It's really one of those weird things where you just have to wait and see."


2cents smf The guy served pizzeria pizza at  elementary schools and was recognized for being “ highly instrumental in improving the district's nutrition standards?” 

Did he take deep-fried Ho-Hos off the menu?

Sunday, December 30, 2012


By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News |

Members of the All-District High School Honor Band of the Los Angeles Unified School District rehearse in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium on Dec. 28, 2012. During the final two weeks before the Rose Parade, the band spends more than 160 rehearsal hours on the rolling hills of the immense parking lots at Dodger Stadium perfecting its musical and marching skills. (Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)

12/28/2012 08:27:41 PM PST  ::  The sounds of the brass and drums soared over Chavez Ravine on Friday as the columns of student musicians, their sneaker-clad feet churning, marched up and down the rolling hills of the Dodger Stadium parking lots.

They were practicing the music and memorizing the choreography, but the 350-plus members of Los Angeles Unified's All-District High School Honor Band were also training for the 5 1/2-mile Tournament of Roses Parade route they'll tackle on New Year's Day.

"Marching is even harder than playing," said Khuyen Nguyen, an accomplished flute player from Cleveland High, who took up the 10-pound baritone just two months ago so she could participate in the brass- and percussion-only group.


Members of the All-District High School Honor Band of the Los Angeles Unified School District rehearse for their Rose Parade performance in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium on Dec, 28, 2012. (Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)

Now in its 41st year, the Honor Band draws musicians from high schools around the district. Horn players -- trumpet, trombone, baritone, mellophone and sousaphone -- are recommended by their music teachers, while auditions are held for drummers, the flag and shield teams, and the drum majors who lead the band.

The musicians rehearse every Saturday beginning in the fall, then every day of winter break -- forgoing vacations, hanging out with classmates or just sleeping in for the rigorous practice sessions.

They're booked this weekend, too, performing today at Disneyland and on Sunday at Bandfest, a showcase of Tournament of Roses musicians.

"We get to play with so many people and make so many new friends," said Keira Fernandez, a 17-year-old drummer at North Hollywood High School who marches with a 40-pound quad set braced against her 110-pound frame. "It's so worth it."

The kids' enthusiasm is matched -- if not exceeded -- by band director Tony White, who, 28 years ago, played cymbals with the group as a senior at Narbonne High.

"The band represents not only LAUSD, but all of Los Angeles," said White, now the performing arts coordinator for LAUSD's Beyond the Bell Branch.

"It gets youths involved, and gives them a sense of belonging, a positive experience ... For some of these kids, this will change their lives."

Verdugo High senior Dorian Lopez picked up a trumpet for the first time this year at the urging of his campus mentor, music teacher Victoria Lopez. She recommended him for the Honor Band despite his inexperience, and Dorian thrived under the discipline that White demands.

"It's been such a fun experience -- the energy, the music," said Lopez, who plans to enlist in the Marines and audition for the Corps' prestigious band.

Many of the band members are veterans, returning year after year for the connection they make with other young musicians and the chance to march in the nationally televised Rose Parade.

They'll have to arrive well before dawn for Tuesday's parade, which starts at 8 a.m., marching 58th in the 92-entry lineup of floats, equestrian groups and other marching bands.

"It's really, really cold, especially your toes and nose," said Jetzell Verduzco from Southeast High, returning for the second year as a member of the flag team that performs at the rear of the band.

"But it's a fun experience getting to bond with other students and go from being from different schools into performing as one group."

Wilson High senior Jerry Pulido also is back for his second year, this time as head drum major, leading the columns of musicians as they perform a rotation of six songs.

"Running the whole band - the respect you get as a drum major - is really, really incredible," said Pulido, wiping the sweat from his forehead during a break from Friday's rehearsal.

The Sousaphone section of the All-District High School Honor Band of the Los Angeles Unified School District rehearses at Dodger Stadium. on Dec. 28, 2012. The terrain simulates the rigors of the six-mile Rose Parade route. (Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)

Retired Lincoln High Principal Art Duardo, a longtime volunteer for the band, knows that training and adrenaline will take the musicians only so far. The drummers' arms will be aching, the horn players' lips will be burning and everyone's feet will be throbbing before they reach the end of the two-hour trek down Colorado Boulevard.

"At one point, there's nothing left," Duardo said. "All they'll have is heart."

On the web


By Nirvi Shah, Ed Week Rules for Engagement blog |

From guest blogger Bryan Toporek:

December 7, 2012   ::  Middle school students in prime physical shape outperform their overweight and obese peers both on tests and grades, according to new research from Michigan State University.

The study, published Thursday in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, claims to be the first study that links students' physical fitness to both objective (tests) and subjective (grades) forms of classroom evaluation. It examines how students' academic performance was affected by five aspects of physical fitness: body composition, cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, muscle strength, and muscular endurance.

"We looked at the full range of what's called health-related fitness," said lead researcher Dawn Coe in a statement. "Kids aren't really fit if they're doing well in just one of those categories."

Coe, who now serves as an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville, conducted the study while she was a doctoral student in Michigan State's kinesiology department. She and her colleagues examined data from 312 middle school students (from 6th through 8th grade) at a Michigan school, all of whom had their physical fitness assessed through a series of five FITNESSGRAM tests.

The tests use criterion-based standards to assess whether students fall into the so-called Healthy Fitness Zone (HFZ), instead of benchmarking student fitness based on percentiles. In other words, students are expected to be able to perform X number of push-ups (based on age) to fall into the HFZ for upper-body strength and endurance, or X number of curl-ups to be in the HFZ for middle- and lower-body strength and endurance, respectively. (The new Presidential Youth Fitness Program, which will replace the Presidential Physical Fitness Test starting in the 2013-14 school year, will also use FITNESSGRAM tests to measure students' physical fitness.)

Students in the study were grouped based on how many times they fell into the HFZ during the five FITNESSGRAM tests. After assessing the grades and test scores of each student, the researchers discovered that students who fell into the HFZ in all five tests scored higher on subject-matter tests and got better grades than those students who only met the HFZ in two, three, or four of the five FITNESSGRAM tests.

Cardiorespiratory fitness (tested by a 20-meter shuttle run) and muscular strength and endurance (tested by pull-ups and curl-ups) were the health-related fitness components most strongly associated with academic achievement, according to the study. However, the researchers found no significant correlation between a student's body-fat percentage or flexibility and academic achievement.

The researchers are quick to stress that it's too soon to draw a causal link between fitness and improved academic performance. Instead, they urge further research into what's responsible for the relationship between academic achievement and physical fitness.

This study may be more robust in terms of types of fitness being assessed, but it's not the first to suggest some connection between students' physical fitness and academic performance. A study published in January found "strong evidence" of a link between physical activity and academic success, while a study published in June suggested a connection between childhood obesity and math performance.

However, much like this new Michigan State study, early findings from research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (which were released back in July) urged caution before claiming a causal relationship between a child's weight and his or her academic performance. It, too, found heavier children to do "slightly worse in school," but when using "children's genetic markers to account for potentially other factors, [they] found no evidence that obesity causally affects exam results."


The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 
2012 December;52(6):654-60


Health-related fitness and academic achievement in middle school students

Coe D. P. 1, Pivarnik J. M. 2, 3, Womack C. J. 4, Reeves M. J. 3, Malina R. M. 5, 6

1 Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA;
2 Department of Kinesiology;
3 Department of Epidemiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA;
4 Department of Kinesiology, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, USA;
5 University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA;
6 Tarleton State University, Stephenville, TX, USA

AIM: The aim of the present study was to determine the association between health-related fitness (HRF) and academic achievement in middle school youth.
METHODS: Subjects were 312 middle school students. HRF was assessed using the FITNESSGRAM test battery. Students were grouped by the number of fitness tests in which they performed within the Healthy Fitness Zone, ranging from <1 test (lowest fitness) to all 5 tests (highest fitness). Academic achievement was assessed using grades (A - F) from four core classes, which were converted to interval data (A=5, F=1) and summed over the academic year and a standardized test (percentile). Maturity offset was calculated to control for the possible effect of maturity status on the association between HRF and academic achievement. Differences in academic achievement among HRF groups were determined using ANOVA.
RESULTS: Grades and standardized test percentiles were higher in HRF group 5 (P<0.01) compared to HRF groups <2, 3, and 4. Cardiorespiratory endurance and muscular strength and endurance were the HRF components most strongly associated with academic achievement.
CONCLUSION: HRF was related to academic achievement in youth. Students with the highest fitness level performed better on standardized tests and students with the lowest fitness level performed lower in class grades.

language: English



By Erik W. Robelen, Ed Week |

December 12, 2012  ::  A new analysis of federal data that provide a deeper and more systematic look into students’ ability to understand the meaning of words in context than was previously available from “the nation’s report card” finds stark achievement gaps in vocabulary across racial and ethnic groups, as well as income levels. The analysis aims to offer greater insights into reading comprehension.

The first-of-its-kind National Assessment of Educational Progress report suggests a consistent relationship between performance on vocabulary questions and the ability of students to comprehend a text, which experts say is consistent with prior research on the subject.

In 2011, 4th and 8th graders performing above the 75th percentile in reading comprehension on NAEP had the highest average vocabulary scores, the report says. Likewise, those 4th and 8th graders scoring at or below the 25th percentile had the lowest average vocabulary scores.

“Today’s special report puts an important spotlight on something that’s not discussed nearly enough on its own: vocabulary,” Brent Houston, the principal of Shawnee Middle School in Shawnee, Okla., and a member of the NAEP governing board, said in a statement last week. “We discuss concepts such as reading comprehension and reading on grade level, but we can’t have success in those areas if our students also do not learn to understand the meaning of words in a variety of contexts.”

What was especially troubling, Mr. Houston said, were the achievement gaps identified in the report.

“Perhaps what struck me most—and what hits closest to home—is observing the performance trends by family income,” he said.

As Mr. Houston pointed out, the data reveal large gaps in vocabulary achievement between students who are eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch and those who are not. In 4th grade, the gap was 31 points on a 0-500 scale. In 8th grade, the gap was 28 points.

The report does not provide achievement levels for students, such as “proficient” or “basic,” as is typical for NAEP reports. Data from the broader NAEP reading report for 2011 found just 34 percent of both 4th and 8th graders scoring at or above the proficient level.

“Schools nationwide really need to go beyond teaching word definitions” to improve reading performance, Mr. Houston said.

The new report offers a sampling of vocabulary words that tripped up many students. The word “permeated” was a trouble spot for a lot of 8th graders, with nearly half failing to correctly identify its meaning in a nostalgic passage about eating a “mint snowball” at a small-town drugstore. And “puzzled” was apparently puzzling for 49 percent of 4th graders, who misidentified its meaning in a passage from the story “Ducklings Come Home to Boston.”

‘The Early Stages’

A revised NAEP framework for reading, instituted in 2009, seeks to provide a more detailed and “systematic” measure of vocabulary. While previous reading assessments had included some vocabulary questions, the revised framework set new criteria for developing vocabulary questions and increased their number. The changes, a NAEP fact sheet says, allow the test to “reliably measure students’ vocabulary performance and report it separately.”

Vocabulary questions were multiple-choice and appeared in two different sections of the reading exam: comprehension and vocabulary.

Margaret McKeown, a senior scientist for learning research and development at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a statement that the new assessment is distinct from traditional vocabulary exams in three ways. First, it’s not based on a list of specific words. Second, the “target words” appear within the context of a passage, “rather than in isolation.” And third, the NAEP items emphasize an understanding of a word’s use within a given context, rather than the definition of the word on its own.

Related Blog

“This decision represents the major rationale for the assessment,” Ms. McKeown said, to measure “the kind of knowledge that students need to have about words in order to use the words to understand what they read.”

She added: “Although we are in the early stages of assessing vocabulary in NAEP, these initial results may give us some clues on patterns and how vocabulary fits into reading comprehension. ... Future NAEP reports in this area will provide invaluable data and trends on vocabulary in text that provide a better grasp of the nature of comprehending text and the role vocabulary knowledge plays in the quality of comprehension.”

Ms. McKeown served on a NAEP planning committee charged with developing recommendations for the current reading-assessment framework.

The report includes achievement data for 2009 and 2011 at grades 4 and 8. The average overall score did not shift by a statistically significant margin at either grade level. But there were changes in certain categories. For example, the lowest-achieving 8th graders, those at the 10th percentile, saw a gain of 2 points on the NAEP scale, which was statistically significant.

On the issue of achievement gaps by race and ethnicity, the analysis found that in 2011, black students trailed white students, on average, by 29 points in both the 4th and 8th grades. Changes from 2009 to 2011 were not deemed statistically significant.

Meanwhile, Hispanic 4th and 8th graders also trailed their white peers, by 28 points in 8th grade and 29 in 4th grade in 2011.

Girls outperformed boys by slight margins in grades 4 and 8 (2 points and 3 points, respectively) in 2011. The 1-point difference in 12th grade, from the 2009 assessment, was not statistically significant. In 2011, 12th graders were not tested.

‘Barren’ and ‘Eerie’

A chart featured in the report highlights some of the vocabulary words tested and how students fared in recognizing their meaning in context.

In grade 4, words like “barren,” “detected,” and “eerie” posed problems, with fewer than half of students correctly identifying their meaning. But “created,” “spread,” and “underestimate” were correctly understood by 75 percent or more.

The word “urbane” was difficult for both 8th and 12th graders, with fewer than half getting the correct answer. But “anecdotes” was correctly understood by three-quarters of 8th and 12th graders.

Several criteria were used to select words for inclusion in the vocabulary questions, according to the report. Those words were to be: characteristic of written language, as opposed to everyday speech; used across a variety of content areas, rather than being technical or specialized language; generally familiar concepts, feelings, or actions; and necessary for understanding part or all of a passage.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Adolfo Guzman-Lopez |  Pass / Fail : 89.3 KPCC  |

Download Audio | [2 min 41 sec]

December 29th, 2012, 12:58pm  ::  One of California’s top education officials said the federal No Child Left Behind law is no longer credible or legitimate because too many states have been given a waiver.

“They have already disowned the program in terms of the U.S. Department of Education by the secretary already declaring it null and defunct in effect in 33 states," said Michael Kirst, President of California’s State Board of Education. "I don’t see that it has any credibility or legitimacy left.”

His board sets policy for the most public school children of any state in the nation.

President George W. Bush signed the law in 2001, setting 2014 as the year that every student, including those whose first language isn’t English, will be proficient in English and math.

“It’s turned out to be illusory and not attainable by any state,” Krist said.

The Obama administration has been exempting states from the 100 percent proficiency goal and other key provisions — but only if they meet a list of reforms.

Krist said Federal officials told him California's waiver application is about to be denied, likely because California has not agreed to use student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations.

California’s teachers union opposed doing that.

Former Long Beach Unified superintendent Carl Cohn doesn’t think it’s necessary, either. He says students were doing fine even before No Child Left Behind and don’t need more rules from the federal government.

“Some of us are saying, you know what, in the real world of urban school districts for ten years we actually made gains in student performance without beating up on teachers and without tying evaluations to student test scores,” Cohn said.

Joanne Fawley, president of the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association, said No Child Left Behind has done more harm than good by focusing learning only on what’s going to be on the test.

“English teachers have been told in many schools not to teach novels or literature because they take too much time and are not tested,” she said.

Despite the waivers, it remains the law of the land, said USC education scholar Katharine Strunk. She credits the law with improving student achievement nationwide and slimming the achievement gap between students of different races.

“I don’t think it’s a failure of a policy, I think that there are parts of NCLB that no longer make sense or perhaps never made sense,” she said--specifically the 100 percent proficiency requirement.

By one estimate 80 percent of California schools will fail to meet that requirement in 2014. Observers say that may be the impetus for federal lawmakers to overhaul the education law.

KPFK - Politics or Pedagogy: Recap of Broadcasts about Charter Schools – Today @ 11AM

KPFK 90.7 FM  |

Politics or pedagogy?

with John Cromshow
Saturday, December 29, 2012
11:00 AM

     Smiley and West
     w/education issues commentary by John Cromshow     (following hosts" introduction)

TOPIC: 2012 Broadcasts About Charters


Scott Folsom
   Online Blog 4-LA Kids
Lisa Karahalios
   Los Angeles H.S. Teacher
Jackie Goldberg, Former President
   LAUSD School Board
Dr. Jaime Hernandez, Research Director
   Modified Consent Decree
Lois Tryk
   Echo Park Parent
Kurt Bier, Esq.
   Working Peoples Law Center


The councilman says he will ask the city airport agency and L.A. Unified to explore ways to keep the program running at Van Nuys Airport.

By Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times |

Jet engine repair

Students work on a jet engine at the aviation mechanics school at the North Valley Occupational Center-Aviation Center at Van Nuys Airport. (Ricardo DeAratanha, Los Angeles Times / December 11, 2012)


Mechanics school at Van Nuys Airport threatened by budget cuts Mechanics school at Van Nuys Airport threatened by budget cuts 


NOTE: The L.A. Times story carries the following online paid advertisement as for a private for-profit aviation maintenance school: Ads by Google

December 29, 2012  ::  Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti on Friday called for measures to keep a highly regarded aviation mechanics school at Van Nuys Airport from shutting down or being moved to smaller facilities elsewhere.

Garcetti said he will request at the Jan. 4 council meeting that Los Angeles World Airports, the operator of Van Nuys, and the Los Angeles Unified School District explore ways to ensure the continued operation of the vocational school, which has produced thousands of mechanics during its 40-year history. Because of tight budgets, the district might close or relocate the school.

"The aviation training program at Van Nuys Airport is a critical asset for Los Angeles," Garcetti said. "I am deeply concerned that it could close."

The North Valley Occupational Center-Aviation Center, which opened in 1971, is located off Hayvenhurst Avenue in a hangar filled with more than a dozen aircraft, including helicopters and an old U.S. Air Force jet trainer.

The two-year course at one of the busiest general aviation airports in the world prepares students for certification by the Federal Aviation Administration and potential employment with aircraft maintenance shops, commercial carriers and aerospace firms.

Center officials say, however, that budget problems could force the LAUSD to close the school next year or move it to smaller facilities at another vocational center unless Los Angeles World Airports can lower the rent, which has been about $12,000 a month.

There have been some tentative discussions so far, but nothing formal has been proposed.

David Bowerman, an instructor at the center, called Garcetti's effort to get substantive talks going "a good idea." He said the school now has about 100 students per semester and provides technical training to those who don't want to go to college.

The situation has attracted the attention of the Van Nuys Airport Assn. and major organizations such as the National Business Aviation Assn., the National Air Transportation Assn. and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn. All have urged LAUSD Supt. John Deasy to keep the school at the airport.

Garcetti, who cited an article about the aviation center's plight in The Times this week, said that saving the program would help address a growing shortage of entry-level mechanics in the aircraft industry and continue to offer Los Angeles area residents a career path if they are interested in aviation.

"In setting priorities during tough budget times, the school district must focus on education programs that lead directly to industries that are hiring now and in the future," Garcetti said. "A trained aviation workforce in Los Angeles is critical to the competitiveness of our airports, our aerospace industry, our trade sector and our overall economy."

Thursday, December 27, 2012


L.A. Unified may close or move the vocational facility. Loss of the program would be a blow to those seeking technical careers in the aviation industry.

By Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times |

Mechanics school

Students Ronald Quijada, Mayko Alonso and Chandana Koralalage, front to back, go through the starting and shutting down procedures on a TH-13T helicopter. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times / December 12, 2012)

December 27, 2012  ::  A popular vocational center at Van Nuys Airport that has trained thousands of aviation mechanics during its 40-year history faces closure or relocation next year if the Los Angeles Unified School District can no longer afford to keep the facility open.

Educators, students, national organizations and business owners at the airport say the loss of the program would be a blow to those seeking technical careers in the aviation industry, which is already suffering a shortage of qualified entry-level mechanics.

"Many businesses hire our graduates, from small engine shops to major aerospace firms," said Michael Phillips, a senior instructor at the school. "It would be devastating to our program if we had to close or move."

The North Valley Occupational Center-Aviation Center is housed off Hayvenhurst Avenue in a hangar with adjoining workshops and classrooms. The facility is filled with more than a dozen aircraft, including helicopters and a U.S. Air Force T-33 jet trainer from the 1950s.

Jet and piston engines are cut away, exposing their internal workings. Students work on small Cessna 150s and sit at tables filled with technical manuals and aircraft parts.

The setting is ideal. Van Nuys is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the world and home to hundreds of aircraft. Scores of aviation businesses surround the runways. There are engine shops, airframe shops, flight schools and fixed-base operators that offer an array of services including charter aircraft.

"It's an inspiration," said Matthew Dods, a 24-year-old student from Thousand Oaks who left a retail job to pursue an aviation career. "Closing the school just doesn't make sense when so many people are looking to hire fresh air-frame and power plant mechanics."

The center, which opened in 1971, offers a two-year program that prepares students for certification by the Federal Aviation Administration. About 100 students attend per semester and the total cost of tuition is $2,400, far cheaper than at private technical colleges.

Carlynn Huddleston, the school's principal, said the district's budget problems are continuing to threaten the program, which has already cut its staff and canceled evening classes.

The school might be relocated to another North Valley Occupational facility in Mission Hills, but there would be less space and students would have to share workshops with other trades.

"We would be squeezed into some rooms. There is no hangar," Huddleston said. "The program would become second rate."

If closed or relocated, the center would join other aviation programs that have been shut down or scaled back at school districts and community colleges across the region.

The situation has attracted the attention of the Van Nuys Airport Assn. and major organizations, such as the National Business Aviation Assn., the National Air Transportation Assn. and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn. All have urged LAUSD Supt. John Deasy to keep the school at the airport.

"This is a huge asset for the city," said Curt Castagna, president of the Van Nuys association. "A couple hundred students from the school have been hired at the airport. These are good-paying jobs, and they have provided economic value locally and to the industry."

Bill Dunn, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn.'s vice president of airport advocacy, reminded Deasy in a letter that the mechanics school has gained national recognition. Closing it, he wrote, would only aggravate a growing shortage of aviation mechanics.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the need for aircraft mechanics and service technicians will increase 11% annually at least until 2016. Industry analysts say the number of graduates will not keep pace with retirements and those leaving the trade, let alone the projected need.

Huddleston is looking into whether Los Angeles World Airports, the operator of Van Nuys Airport, would be willing to lower or virtually eliminate the school's rent, which, she says, is about $12,000 a month. She added that she is also working with the district to see if the lease can be extended for a year to buy some time.

Though the FAA requires airports to charge tenants a fair rent, agency policy allows reduced or nominal rents for nonprofit, accredited education programs that benefit aviation.

Diana Sanchez, a spokeswoman for Van Nuys Airport, said that Los Angeles World Airports has long supported the mechanics program but that the school district faces financial challenges beyond rental expenses.

Though there have been tentative discussions, she said, district officials have not formally approached the airport department about a new rental agreement. She added that Los Angeles World Airports is willing to work with the aviation center and the FAA if a proposal is made.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Teachers Unions Reject Arming Educators In Schools

Posted by Valerie Strauss Washington Post/Answer Sheet |

A school bus nears a memorial for victims of the Newtown school shootings. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)>>

December 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm  ::  The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s dominant teachers unions with a total of some 4.5 million members, have issued a joint statement on school safety in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings that left 20 children and six teachers dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The statement says  that recent calls for teachers and school administrators to be armed with guns is the wrong approach to school safety. The right approach is a boost in mental health services, bully prevention and reasonable gun control legislation. Here’s the text of the statement:

WASHINGTON — NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and AFT President Randi Weingarten react to proposals by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, and William Bennett to arm teachers as a way to prevent school violence.

“Our duty to every child is to provide safe and secure public schools. That is the vow we take as educators. It is both astounding and disturbing that following this tragedy, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, Bill Bennett, and other politicians and pundits have taken to the airwaves to call for arming our teachers. As the rest of the country debates how to keep guns out of schools, some are actually proposing bringing more guns in, turning our educators into objects of fear and increasing the danger in our schools.

“Guns have no place in our schools. Period. We must do everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools, and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property and ensure the safety of children and school employees.

“But this is not just about guns. Long-term and sustainable school safety also requires a commitment to preventive measures. We must continue to do more to prevent bullying in our schools. And we must dramatically expand our investment in mental health services. Proper diagnosis can and often starts in our schools, yet we continue to cut funding for school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists. States have cut at least $4.35 billion in public mental health spending from 2009 to 2012, according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. It is well past time to reverse this trend and ensure that these services are available and accessible to those who need our support.

“Greater access to mental health services, bullying prevention and meaningful action on gun control — this is where we need to focus our efforts, not on staggeringly misguided ideas about filling our schools with firearms. Lawmakers at every level of government should dismiss this dangerous idea and instead focus on measures that will create the safe and supportive learning environments our children deserve.”

In a related move, the American Federation of School Administrators, the only national education union for school administrators, has urged President Obama to create a national task force on school safety.

A letter sent to Obama says in part:

“The only tragedy greater than the one which has already occurred would be for the routine contentiousness at work in Washington to detract from the overarching need for strengthening school safety.”


CA educators reject NRA call for guns in schools

By Kathryn Baron| EdSource Today

December 22nd, 2012 ::  California educators and Democratic politicians are rebuking the National Rifle Association for suggesting that more guns in schools would keep students, teachers and staff safer. The NRA broke its silence about the massacre of children and teachers last week at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, holding a news conference Friday in Washington, D.C.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre in a quote heard around the country. He called on Congress to put armed police officers in every school in the country.

“In the wake of last week’s tragedy, it’s disheartening that anyone would think the answer is to have more guns in and around our schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in an email.

California Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg echoed the sentiment in a statement on his website saying, “The NRA’s suggestion that we militarize our schools is not the solution.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during an interview on the PBS program NewsHour.  Source:  NewsHour.  (click to enlarge).

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during an interview on the PBS program NewsHour. Source: NewsHour. >>

But many California schools already have resource officers and armed police officers stationed on campus. A survey of about 300 school districts by EdSource last July found that 52 percent of the state’s high schools, 16 percent of middle schools and 5 percent of elementary schools already have police or resource officers. In high schools 83 percent of those officers are armed. That drops to 75 percent in middle schools and 59 percent in elementary schools.

In the San Francisco Unified School District, which has police or resource officers in all its high schools and middle schools, they aren’t really there for violence prevention, said longtime school board member Jill Wynns.

“The real purpose of having the resource officers is to connect the police to the students and the school,” she explained. “We think it’s important for students to know the police in their neighborhood, and we think we need relationships with them for that to be effective.”

Wynns said the San Francisco Police Department pays for the officers posted in schools, but regardless of who foots the bill – the district, the police, the federal or state government – the price tag is high. The National Association of School Resource Officers estimates it would cost between $80,000 and $100,000 per officer. With about 8,300 schools, the conservative estimate for California is about $668 million a year. The organization is also in general agreement with the NRA about the benefits of armed officers in schools. “A well-trained, armed, school-based police officer is one of the best defenses against an active shooter in a school,” wrote executive director Mo Canady in comments on the group’s home page.

Decisions on how to spend the limited funds available for education shouldn’t be made by the NRA, said Wynns. “In my personal view, we should be concerned that someone outside of school districts would say, ‘Oh yes, we should make a major investment in armed guards in our schools,’ but not in making sure that we have enough money for instruction.”

Schools also are generally safe places for children; despite the unimaginable horror of mass murders like those at Sandy Hook and Columbine. In cities, the streets are the most dangerous place. “Gun violence has haunted me my entire life,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told PBS NewsHour reporter Gwen Ifill in an interview that aired Friday night. “I had a lot of mentors, good friends I grew up with, shot dead when I was growing up,” said Duncan, choking back tears.

More recently, when he was superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, Duncan said “we buried a child killed by gun violence every two weeks.” They weren’t shot in school, they were shot walking to school or, in one case, by a stray bullet fired by an automatic rifle that tore through a house one morning and killed a girl as she was getting ready for school.

When Ifill cited some elected officials, including governors, who said if teachers at Sandy Hook had been armed they might have been able to protect themselves and their students, Duncan disagreed. “We can’t fight evil with evil. We need less guns not more; we need schools gun free,” he said. America needs to have the conversation, said Duncan, adding, “I promise you, very very few teachers are asking for more guns in school.”


Deepa Fernandes | Pass / Fail :  89.3 KPCC

 Economics of Child Care - 3

Maya Sugarman/KPCC : Children's Center teacher Karina Diaz reads a book to preschoolers.

December 24th, 2012, 3:21pm  ::  With preschools around the Southland closed for the holidays, most little children are home running rings their parents. And no doubt those parents are appreciating the work their preschool teachers do every day.

William Yu, an Economist with the Anderson Forecast, said they do it all for among the lowest pay scale of any occupation.

"We should think about it: -should we pay $72,000 for prison guard and at the same time we only pay $32,000 on a preschool teacher?" he asked. "I think we should ask ourselves, 'is this a wise resource allocation?'”
And it’s not just poor pay that preschool teachers put up with.
"A lot of the preschool teachers don’t get the recognition," said Claudia Sarmiento of nonprofit group, LA Universal Preschools.
To make up for that, her group, known as LAUP decided six years ago to recognize preschool teachers for their critical work and created the Annual Preschool Teacher of the Year award. The nomination deadline has just been extended to January 6 -- so parents still have time to nominate a great preschool teacher.
"Let's recognize the great work that these preschool teachers are doing," she said. "It will inspire them to continue doing the great things for the children that they serve."
The award winner, who will be announced in April, will win $2,000.

LAUP hopes its annual award will bring attention to the range of important duties a preschool teacher does, from teaching literacy and numeracy, to potty training to early socialization skills. Given it’s the Holiday season, Sarmiento wants preschool teachers to feel the love.
"It's one time we get to celebrate the great work our preschool teachers are doing all throughout LA county," she said.

  • To nominate a great preschool teacher, visit LAUP’s website at


By Kelly Puente, Staff Writer, Long Beach Press Telegram/la dAILY nEWS

12/25/2012 09:29:12 PM PST  ::  LONG BEACH - The county's Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure is meant to clear polluted waters, but educators say the plan will drain millions of dollars from cash-strapped schools.

Under the plan, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is proposing

an annual fee for all property owners to help clean up polluted waterways and recharge groundwater supplies.

School districts across the county are opposing the plan, saying the fee could cost districts countywide about $14 million a year - resulting in the loss of up to 200 teachers. This would be a significant financial burden to schools already struggling under years of state funding cuts, district officials say.

The fees are based on the size of each property, how it's used, and the percentage of property covered in hard surfaces, which causes water runoff. The average single-family home would be charged about $54 annually, while 75 percent of commercial properties would be charged $420 or less. Typical "big box" stores or other large retailers would see a fee of about $11,000 per year.

L.A. County's Flood Control District says the fees are necessary to treat storm-water runoff and increase groundwater supplies that can be used for drinking water.

The county's two largest school districts - Los Angeles Unified and Long Beach Unified - would see significant costs. Los Angeles is slated to pay $4.8 million annually, while Long Beach would be charged $715,000.

Last week, mthe Long Beach Unified Board of Education voted unanimously to officially oppose the Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure.

Officials said the district, which has cut more than $330 million from its budget in the past five years and laid off more than 1,000 employees, can't afford to pay an additional $715,000 in fees.

In a letter to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors this year, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy and Long Beach Unified Superintendent Chris Steinhauser asked the board to reconsider the plan.

"We would welcome the opportunity to continue a dialogue with the county on finding alternative solutions that do not harm core educational programs serving the children of Los Angeles County," the letter says.

Kerjon Lee, a spokesman for L.A. County Public Works, said the county is working with schools to help mitigate the costs, but any exemptions for school districts would be unfair to other property owners.

"We're certainly sensitive to issues schools face in terms of budget, and we're actively working with schools to address their concerns," he said. "We're hopeful that our discussion with school boards will result in a positive outcome."

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the measure on Jan. 15 at 9:30a.m. in the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. Following the meeting, the board could decide to bring the issue to property owners, who will vote via mail-in ballot.


Some union members fear outside groups – funded by non-profits like the Gates Foundation - encouraged teachers to run for UTLA's decision-making body to influence policy.

By Howard Blume and Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times |

December 26, 2012, 4:56 a.m.  ::  The young staff at the Alexander Science Center has been hard hit by seniority-based layoffs, the main factor behind a turnover of at least 28 teachers in the last five years — this in a school with a faculty of about 28.

Teachers say that the students at the USC-adjacent campus have suffered from the lack of stability and that the faculty has felt frustrated and voiceless.

But now, three instructors from the Alexander science school are among the freshman class of delegates to the House of Representatives for United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers union in the L.A. Unified School District.

The House is the union's official decision-making body: It selects candidates to endorse in elections and has the final say on policy — taking precedence over the president and the board of directors.

The recent elections, concluded this month, were the most contested in years, by far.

Of 32 election districts, 22 featured contested bids for seats that typically could be had for the asking through a self-nomination process. In all, 396 candidates vied for 209 positions, with 100 won by teachers not in the current House.

The ideology of the new delegates is varied, and still evolving. They are concerned about job security, teacher turnover, performance evaluations and funding levels. But they are also worried about what some see as a combative but ineffectual and sometimes wrongheaded union and a demanding, ossified district bureaucracy.

The level of interest in the House elections surprised union leaders and veteran teachers alike — some of whom greeted the nouveau activism with concern. They note that outside groups encouraged teachers to run and worry that such groups will try to influence union policy.

Two outside groups are local arms of national organizations, Educators 4 Excellence and Teach Plus. A third group, Teachers for a New Unionism, is headed by Mike Stryer, a Fairfax High teacher on leave who lost a bid for the school board four years ago. His team reached teachers through home mailings, urging them to run.

All the groups are funded by major nonprofits, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has huge investments in education research and sometimes controversial policy positions. And all assert their desire for a union that better serves the interests of teachers as well as students.

Some in UTLA perceive an unholy alliance among these groups, their sponsoring foundations and L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, a former Gates official.

"Taking over our House of Reps is clearly their strategy to destroy us," wrote teacher Anne Zerrien-Lee in an email posted to an online teachers forum.

"We have enough enemies outside of UTLA that we shouldn't have to deal with school district and Gates puppets within," said regional union leader Scott Mandel in an interview.

Without question, the outside groups see things differently than the leadership of UTLA.

Notably, the union has wanted to limit, as much as possible, the effect of test scores on a teacher's performance evaluation. The outside groups or their funders have backed the use of standardized test scores — or formulas based on them — as one key measure of a teacher's effectiveness.

Secondly, the outside groups want layoffs based on teacher effectiveness rather than seniority; the unions defend the seniority system as the most equitable approach.

Still, Teach Plus wasn't trying to recruit candidates who passed a litmus test, said Executive Director John Lee.

"Our desire wasn't to have a Teach Plus caucus but to connect teachers with leadership opportunities," Lee said.

The new delegates emphasize their loyalty to their profession and to their mission.

"I love teaching," said 35-year-old Antoinette Pippin, a fourth-grade teacher at Alexander Science Center. "I love my students, but I'm seeing a lot of things right now that are bad for my students and bad for teachers."

"And the image a lot of us have of UTLA is of a bunch of people arguing, blowing hot air," she said.

Pippin would have qualms about relying on test scores only for teacher evaluations. She's also unpersuaded that the district has a more reliable method than seniority for laying off teachers, although she thinks her school has been unfairly damaged by seniority-based layoffs.

Frustrated by the turnover, she considered leaving teaching; instead she ran for the House and won. She was persuaded to try by a colleague involved with Teach Plus.

That group funds 28 teacher fellows, who spend 18 months delving into an educational issue. Teach Plus also created a working group of teachers to encourage colleagues to run for the House.

First-time House member Jairo De La Torre, 31, applied for a Teach Plus fellowship this year, but was not selected. He's been an active UTLA member for years, attending House meetings as an observer and serving as the union representative at Alexander.

He was laid off in July and quickly found a job in a college curriculum-development program. But he returned to Alexander when the school was able to rehire him after about six weeks.

"My heart was in the classroom," he said.

The third Alexander delegate, Jane Fung, 49, has never been to a House meeting. Her focus remained in the classroom and in being involved at her school.

"The turnover rate is huge and no one seems to care or do anything about that," said Fung, who tabulated the turnover figures. "I want to know why."

Newly elected member Megan Markevich, 26, teaches English at Burbank Middle School in Highland Park. A teacher for six years, Markevich was one of several less-experienced teachers spared from layoffs because of a court settlement that protected instructors at dozens of schools that serve low-income minority students.

The union successfully sued to invalidate the settlement. Markevich wants to better understand why the union opposed it.

Despite misgivings about outside intrusion, some union veterans said the newcomers have legitimate reasons to be involved. The first meeting of their two-year term is Jan. 30.

"If they're coming in because they want to get involved with the union, that's great, fantastic," Mandel said. "If they're coming in with a fixed agenda generated by outside forces then we have a problem."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE U.S. DEPT OF ED: CA schools will have to keep striving to meet unachievable goals and be punished for missing them


By Sharon Noguchi, San Jose Mercury News |

12/24/2012 05:46:01 PM PST  ::  Signaling that California again is marching to its own drum -- perhaps trailing the parade -- the federal government has denied the state's request for a waiver from a key U.S. education law, thus assuring that schools will have to keep striving to meet what's generally accepted as unachievable goals, then be punished for missing them.

Like other states, California had been hoping to win a reprieve from the restrictive provisions of the No Child Left Behind law. Among other terms, the law punishes schools and districts if not enough of their students reach proficiency in English and math.

With 33 states and the District of Columbia winning waivers from the law, and 10 more with waiver applications pending, that leaves California in the select company of states that must strive to meet escalating federal goals.

The sticking point for the Golden State was whether it was willing to evaluate teachers based in part on how well their students do on standardized tests.

California, pressed by politically strong teachers unions, has resisted.

"We felt our application was approvable," said state Board of Education President Mike Kirst, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University.

He said he had anticipated the rejection, which came via telephone Friday. Instead, he blamed Congress for failing to rewrite No Child Left Behind, a 10-year-old George W. Bush-era law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the primary federal legislation governing the education of poor children.

Efforts to revise the law have been mired in political bickering.

The law has required that a certain percentage of students test proficient in English and math. That percentage has increased annually; by 2014, every student -- including the learning-disabled, poor and English learners -- must reach proficiency.

If not, then schools must offer parents the option for their children to transfer to other schools within their district, and they also must set aside money for tutoring, transportation and teacher training.

Education officials don't dispute the goals of educating all students, nor even some of the ways to do that. But they do object to the law's punitive and prescriptive means, denoting schools known as "Program Improvement" and potentially mandating that a school's entire leadership and staff be fired.

No Child Left Behind requires test scores that show yearly improvement. "When you have everybody not meeting annual progress, it gets to be ludicrous and it gets to have no impact," Kirst said.

When asked whether the state should tie teacher evaluations to student test scores, he said, "I don't have a personal position on this."

On Friday, Kirst and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson wrote a joint letter to county and district school superintendents and charter school administrators. The letter in part railed against the "unrealistic goals, labeling and programmatic burdens put on districts and schools" by the federal law, and it also said that California will continue using its own system to measure academic success.

U.S. rejects California's request for a penalty exemption

The state sought a waiver from a mandate requiring nearly all students to be academically proficient by 2014 as part of the federal No Child Left Behind program.

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times |

December 24, 2012, 4:26 p.m.  ::  Federal officials have rejected California's request for exemption from rules that penalize low-performing schools and school districts, state officials recently announced.

The state's failure to win a "waiver" from the No Child Left Behind law was not entirely a surprise, but was still unwelcome news to officials.

"It is disappointing that our state's request — which enjoyed such strong support from parents, teachers, administrators and education advocates across California — has apparently been rejected," state Supt. of Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement Friday. "California made a good-faith effort to seek relief from requirements that even federal officials have acknowledged time and again are deeply flawed."

Under federal rules, more than 6,000 California schools have been labeled as failing. In many cases, these schools are improving, sometimes rapidly. Besides enduring a stigma of failure, they must also set aside as much as 20% of their federal funds to set up tutoring services with outside vendors and to transport students to "non-failing" schools if the families so choose. The outside tutoring has been inconsistent and frequently ineffective, according to some experts.

"At a time when resources for schools are so scarce, schools and districts should be able to focus their resources on delivering services they believe will actually improve student performance — a waiver would have provided that flexibility," said Paul Hefner, a spokesman for the California Department of Education.

The U.S. Department of Education said it would not comment until California has been officially notified of its waiver status, but a department spokesman did not contest the state's announcement.

The state has engaged in a series of high-profile tiffs with federal officials over school reform — and the waiver application was one of them.

Waivers were offered to spare states from a mandate requiring nearly all students to be academically proficient by 2014. But in exchange, states were expected to develop teacher and principal evaluations that rely substantially on student data, such as standardized test scores, among other requirements.

Teachers unions and other critics, including California Gov. Jerry Brown, have faulted the U.S. Department of Education for taking this position on evaluations.

While most states sought waivers, California may have been the only one to do so while choosing which federal directives to follow in its application, state officials said. To do otherwise, they said, would have cost California an estimated $2 billion in new expenses for unproven reforms.

The federal decision was defended by StudentsFirst, a Sacramento-based advocacy group.

"By submitting an inadequate application, California has precluded the ability of school districts and schools to be flexible and innovative with millions in federal funds," said spokeswoman Erin Shaw. "It's time to change the system that rejects accountability and continually risks classroom resources that rightfully belong to students."


Requirement Updates for Local Educational Agencies - Letters (CA Dept of Education)

California Department of Education (CDE) Seal California State Board of Education (SBE) Seal

State Superintendent of Public Instruction


1430 N Street Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

December 21, 2012

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:


The purpose of this letter is to provide an update on our progress to reduce the burdens of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on California school districts.

The California Department of Education (CDE) and the California State Board of Education (SBE) have become increasingly concerned about the unrealistic goals, labeling, and programmatic burdens put on districts and schools by the current authorization of the ESEA. The escalating proficiency targets and associated sanctions have become less and less useful for identifying which schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) need improvement or for intervening appropriately in these schools and LEAs.

The appropriate solution is for Congress to reauthorize the ESEA, replace its inflexible requirements with provisions that accommodate the differences in state policy approaches, and give districts adequate flexibility to improve student achievement. However, until that occurs, California is obligated to follow current laws and regulations to ensure continued access to Title I funding.

California Filed for an ESEA Waiver in June 2012

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) offered a waiver option in September 2011 that required states to meet additional obligations beyond the scope of ESEA. (See the ED ESEA Flexibility Web page at Following an extensive analysis of the current law and potential costs, benefits, and consequences of seeking such a waiver, we determined that California could not meet the waiver conditions within the required timeline or in the current California fiscal and policy environment.

Despite these concerns, SBE President Mike Kirst and I urged our staffs to continue to pursue options to provide California LEAs with relief from the unrealistic expectations of NCLB. In May 2012, the SBE authorized submission of a request to waive specific accountability provisions of the ESEA, pursuant to Section 9401(b)(1)(C). This waiver request, submitted to ED on June 15, 2012, seeks ESEA relief for LEAs under a timeline that we can commit to meeting, while still pursuing the principles upon which the ESEA waiver package is conditioned. (See the waiver request on the CDE Request for Waiver of Provisions Web page at At this time, there has been no formal response to California's ESEA waiver request. However, recent conversations with ED staff indicate ED is prepared to deny our request.

Creating a Meaningful System of School Accountability

California began implementing the Academic Performance Index (API) in 1999. It is a strong accountability model, and since its initial implementation, has remained a meaningful indicator of school improvement and accountability at both the school and community level. For these reasons, the API was used as the primary basis for assignment of technical assistance to LEAs entering Program Improvement Corrective Action in 2011 and 2012. Senate Bill 1458 (Steinberg), which takes effect in January 2013, requires the SBE to consider revisions to the API by the 2015–16 school year. The revised API will include indicators in addition to assessments results. As part of this work, the CDE and the SBE will be reexamining California's system of public school accountability, the goals for its public schools, and the most appropriate methods to measure progress towards those goals.

As you know, California adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and is on course to implement them on a timeline consistent with state law and the state budget. We are also a governing state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and anticipate a transition to the Smarter Balanced online assessments in spring of 2015. We are beginning to implement teacher and administrator initiatives, described in Greatness by Design, Supporting Outstanding Teaching to Sustain a Golden State. These recommendations are grounded in research about effective practices for teacher and administrator preparation, induction, professional development, supervision, and evaluation. This document is on the CDE Educator Excellence Task Force Web page at

Finally, California has begun the process of updating the tools used to guide schools in assessing their effectiveness. The Essential Program Components (EPCs) that were the basis for current accountability tools will be represented, but the elements will be expanded into a Quality Schooling Framework that describes a richer array of factors that both practitioners and the research community acknowledge contribute to school success. The Framework will provide a foundation for an expanded set of school improvement tools that will better accommodate local differences as California again affirms its commitment to high-quality schooling for each child.

Taken together, these initiatives will provide California the opportunity to redesign the system of school accountability to ensure that it is more meaningful and more inclusive than the current federal accountability system. While we await direction from ED on new requirements for federal accountability, California will continue to use the API as the key indicator in determining whether a school or LEA has made adequate academic progress.


State Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education

California State Board of Education


Sunday, December 23, 2012


Editorial by LA Daily News/LA Newspaper Group Opinion staff |

<< The National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre pauses as he makes a statement during a news conference in response to the Connecticut school shooting on Dec. 21, 2012 in Washington. The National Rifle Association broke its silence Friday on last week's shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 children and staff dead. (Evan Vucci/AP)

12/21/2012 02:15:31 PM PST  ::  It took a lot of nerve this morning for the head of the National Rifle Association to call for armed guards in every school across the United States just one week after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Militarizing our country's schools is an extreme overreaction and not the answer to countering the killing.

During NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre's press conference, he disrespected the victims, blamed everyone but the gun culture and completely ignored the fact that there needs to be a wider discussion on how to prevent gun violence altogether, along with a need to improve care for mentally ill people like gunman Adam Lanza.

With all the funding cuts to education, LaPierre's idea to post armed guards at every school is unattainable and ludicrous. On top of that, schools are already capable of hiring guards to protect students. Further, it's not at all clear whether an armed guard posted at Sandy Hook would have been able to stop Lanza, who entered the school with a military-style weapon and high-capacity clip.

An armed guard was on duty during the 1999 shooting at Colorado's Columbine High School, but 12 students and a teacher were still gunned down by a pair of young men who were clearly disturbed.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said in a defiant rant that took aim at the influence of violent video games, how the news media allegedly "demonizes" gun owners and complacency by the federal government. Sorry to burst LaPierre's bubble, but stopping guns with more guns doesn't make us safer.

Not once did LaPierre discuss the need to balance firearm policy with Second Amendment protections for the sake of improving public safety. President Barack Obama has taken the right first step by appointing Vice President Joe Biden to oversee renewed efforts to end gun violence. Obama's call for action must be followed up quickly - and intelligently - to effectively end the senseless killing.


the 2nd amendment

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

smf: Isn’t that what the NRA is calling for?  A mobilization of the militia and bivouacking them at every school in the nation?  That’s the same as Senator Boxer asked for earlier in the week – the National Guard is the militia!

With Boxer and LaPierre in perfect lockstep what possibly could go wrong?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

THE NRA & THE SCHOOL ARMS RACE: Why deescalate when you can escalate?

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

- NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre

“The only thing that stops a really bad idea is the combination of truth and education.”

- smf

A defiant NRA calls for armed guards in every school

By Matea Gold, Los Angeles Times |

Wayne LaPierre

National Rifle Assn. Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre speaks at a news conference at the Willard Hotel in Washington. (Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press / MCT / December 21, 2012)

December 21, 2012, 9:27 a.m. --  WASHINGTON -- In an angry and defiant news conference, National Rifle Assn. Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre on Friday forcefully rejected calls to clamp down on guns in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, arguing instead for a massive deployment of armed guards to every school.

LaPierre pledged that the NRA would spearhead such an endeavor, appointing former Arkansas Rep. Asa Hutchinson to lead an effort to develop a cutting-edge model school security plan and a program to train volunteers who would be dispatched to campuses around the country.

In the meantime, he called on Congress to immediately appropriate funding to pay for police officers in every school "to make sure that blanket safety is in place when our kids return to school in January."

The NRA chief noted that armed security guards are stationed in front of banks, airports, courthouses and sports stadiums, and that Secret Service agents and Capitol police with guns protect the president and members of Congress.

"Yet when it comes to our most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless," he said in a sharply worded speech before a phalanx of news cameras. "And the monsters and the predators of the world know it and exploit it. That must change now."

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun," he added, "is a good guy with a gun."

Friday’s news conference, held in the ballroom of a luxury Washington hotel a block from the White House, marked the first extensive comments by the influential pro-gun-rights organization since 20 young children and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School one week ago.

In the wake of the tragedy, President Obama called for an urgent new focus on preventing gun violence, appointing Vice President Joe Biden to oversee a task force on the topic. Calls have mounted for new laws tightening access to guns, and advocates of such measures have publicly urged the NRA to join them in a dialogue about new restrictions.

But it was clear from the initial moments of the news conference that the NRA’s tone would not be a conciliatory one.

LaPierre cast the issue in terms of security, warning darkly about evil forces who want to inflict harm on the innocent.

"The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters, people that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them," he said. "They walk among us every single day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn't planning his attack on a school he's already identified at this very moment? How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave while provoking others to try to make their mark?”

Two protesters interrupted his address at different times, holding up signs that read "NRA KILLING OUR KIDS" and "NRA HAS BLOOD ON ITS HANDS." Security guards pulled them out of the room as they shouted "Violence begins with the NRA!" and "Ban assault weapons now!"

Both times, LaPierre stood silently until they were gone, then resumed his speech without comment.

The NRA chief repeatedly lambasted the media, saying the implication in the press is that "guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools."

"But since when did the gun automatically become a bad word?" he asked. "A gun in the hands of a Secret Service agent protecting our president isn't a bad word. A gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States of America isn't a bad word. And when you hear your glass breaking at 3 a.m. and you call 911, you won't be able to pray hard enough for a gun in the hands of a good guy to get there fast enough to protect you."

"Is it so important to you that you’d rather continue to risk the alternative?" he chastised. "Is the press and the political class here in Washington, D.C., so consumed by fear and hatred of the NRA and American gun owners that you're willing to accept a world where real resistance to evil monsters is a lone, unarmed school principal left to surrender her life -- her life -- to shield those children in her care? No one -- no one -- regardless of personal political prejudice, has the right to impose that sacrifice."

Melanie Mason in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

NRA calls for armed police officer in every school

By Philip Elliott and Nedra Pickler, Associated Press Writers, from the LA Daily News |

Activist Medea Benjamin, of Code Pink, is led away by security as she protests during a statement by National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, left, during a news conference in response to the Connecticut school shooting on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 in Washington. The National Rifle Association broke its silence Friday on last week's shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 children and staff dead. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

12/21/2012 05:37:57 PM PST  --  WASHINGTON - Guns and police officers in all American schools are what's needed to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings," the National Rifle Association declared Friday, taking a no-retreat stance in the face of growing calls for gun control after the Connecticut shootings that claimed the lives of 26 children and school staff.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said Wayne LaPierre, the group's chief executive officer.

Some members of Congress who had long scoffed at gun-control proposals have begun to suggest some concessions could be made, and a fierce debate over legislation seems likely next month. President Barack Obama has demanded "real action, right now."

The nation's largest gun-rights lobby broke its weeklong silence on the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a defiant presentation. The event was billed as a news conference, but NRA leaders took no questions. Twice, they were interrupted by banner-waving protesters, who were removed by security.

Some had predicted that after the slaughter of a score of elementary-school children by a man using a semi-automatic rifle, the group might soften its stance, at least slightly. Instead, LaPierre delivered a 25-minute tirade against the notion that another gun law would stop killings in a culture where children are exposed daily to violence in video games, movies and music videos. He argued that guns are the solution, not the problem.

"Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else; as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work," LaPierre said. "And by that I mean armed security."

He said Congress should immediately appropriate funds to post an armed police officer in every school. Meanwhile, he said the NRA would develop a school emergency response program that would include volunteers from the group's 4.3 million members to help guard children.

His armed-officers idea was immediately lambasted by gun control advocates, and not even the NRA's point man on the effort seemed willing to go so far. Former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, whom LaPierre named national director of the program, said in an interview that decisions about armed guards in schools should be made by local districts.

"I think everyone recognizes that an armed presence in schools is sometimes appropriate," Hutchinson said. "That is one option. I would never want to have a mandatory requirement for every school district to have that."

He also noted that some states would have to change their laws to allow armed guards at schools.

Hutchinson said he'll offer a plan in January that will consider other measures such as biometric entry points, patrols and consideration of school layouts to protect security.

LaPierre argued that guards need to be in place quickly because "the next Adam Lanza," the suspected shooter in Newtown, Conn., is already planning an attack on another school.

"How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark?" LaPierre asked. "A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?"

While there is a federally maintained database of the mentally ill - people so declared by their states - a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that states can't be required to contribute information has left significant gaps. In any case, creation of a mandatory national database probably would have had little impact on the ability of suspected shooters in four mass shootings since 2011 to get and use powerful weapons. The other people accused either stole the weapons used in the attacks or had not been ruled by courts to be "mentally defective" before the shootings.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the NRA is blaming everyone but itself for a national gun crisis and is offering "a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe."

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called the NRA's response "both ludicrous and insulting" and pointed out that armed personnel at Columbine High School and Fort Hood could not stop mass shootings. The liberal group CREDO, which organized an anti-NRA protest on Capitol Hill, called LaPierre's speech "bizarre and quite frankly paranoid."

"This must be a wake-up call even to the NRA's own members that the NRA's Washington lobbyists need to stand down and let Congress pass sensible gun control laws now," CREDO political director Becky Bond said in a statement.

The NRA's proposal would be unworkable given the huge numbers of officers needed, said the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Craig Steckler.

He pointed to budget cuts and hiring freezes and noted that in his hometown of Fremont, Calif., it would take half the city's police force to post one officer at each of the city's 43 schools.

The Department of Education has counted 98,817 public schools in the United States and an additional 33,366 private schools.

There already are an estimated 10,000 school resource officers, most of them armed and employed by local police departments, in the nation's schools, according to Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Gun rights advocates on Capitol Hill had no immediate comment. They will have to walk a tough road between pressure from the powerful NRA, backed by an army of passionate supporters, and outrage over the Sandy Hook deaths that has already swayed some in Congress to adjust their public views.

A CNN/ORC poll taken this week found 52 percent of Americans favor major restrictions on guns or making all guns illegal. Forty-six percent of people questioned said government and society can take action to prevent future gun violence, up 13 percentage points from two years ago in the wake of the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six and wounded then Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Since the Connecticut slayings, President Obama has demanded action against U.S. gun violence and has called on the NRA to join the effort. Moving quickly after several congressional gun-rights supporters said they would consider new legislation to control firearms, the president said this week he wants proposals that he can take to Congress next month.

Obama has already asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and to pass legislation that would stop people from purchasing firearms from private sellers without background checks. Obama also has indicated he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity firearms magazines.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said former President Bill Clinton called her with an offer to help get an assault weapons ban reinstated. Clinton signed such a ban into law in 1994, but it expired after 10 years.

Feinstein said she's not opposed to having armed guards at schools, but she called the NRA proposal a distraction from what she said was the real problem: "easy access to these killing machines" that are far "more powerful and lethal" than the guns that were banned under the old law.

  • Associated Press writers Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Ark., and Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.

Teachers group reacts to NRA call for armed police at schools, no comment from LAUSD's Deasy

By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News |

12/21/2012 01:36:21 PM PST  ::  The head of a prominent teachers group today decried a call by the National Rifle Association to station armed police at school campuses as a way to avert future mass killings.

The proposal by the politically powerful NRA is "irresponsible and dangerous," said Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers.

"Schools must be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses," she said in a statement. "Anyone who would suggest otherwise doesn't understand that our public schools must first and foremost be places where teachers can safely educate and nurture our students."

During a news conference in Washington, D.C., NRA chief Wayne LaPierre blamed video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture.

His comments were the first by the nation's largest gun-rights lobby, with 4.3 million members, since the Dec. 14 slayings of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut,

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said.

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy refused to comment today on the NRA proposal.

Earlier in the week, however, Deasy said officials were studying the feasibility and cost of expanding the 300-member police force so an officer could be assigned to every elementary and middle school. Armed LAUSD officers are already stationed at all high schools in the nation's second-largest school district.

In the meantime, Los Angeles Police Department officers will add stops at elementary and middle schools to their daily patrols.

N.R.A. Envisions ‘a Good Guy With a Gun’ in Every School

Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times  | Wayne LaPierre, vice president of the National Rifle Association, took no questions at a news conference addressing the shootings in Newtown, Conn.


December 21, 2012  -- WASHINGTON — After a weeklong silence, the National Rifle Association announced Friday that it wants to arm security officers at every school in the country. It pointed the finger at violent video games, the news media and lax law enforcement — not guns — as culprits in the recent rash of mass shootings.

The N.R.A.’s plan for countering school shootings, coming a week after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was met with widespread derision from school administrators, law enforcement officials and politicians, with some critics calling it “delusional” and “paranoid.” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, said arming schools would not make them safer.

Even conservative politicians who had voiced support this week for arming more school officers did not rush to embrace the N.R.A.’s plan.

Their reluctance was an indication of just how toxic the gun debate has become after the Connecticut shootings, as gun control advocates push for tougher restrictions.

Nationwide, at least 23,000 schools — about one-third of all public schools — already had armed security on staff as of the most recent data, for the 2009-10 school year, and a number of states and districts that do not use them have begun discussing the idea in recent days.

Even so, the N. R. A’s focus on armed guards as its prime solution to school shootings — and the group’s offer to help develop and carry out such a program nationwide — rankled a number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“Anyone who thought the N.R.A. was going to come out today and make a common-sense statement about meaningful reform and safety was kidding themselves,” said Representative Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, who has called for new restrictions on assault rifles.

Mr. LaPierre struck a defiant tone on Friday, making clear that his group was not eager to reach a conciliation. With the N.R.A. not making any statements after last week’s shootings, both supporters and opponents of greater gun control had been looking to its announcement Friday as a sign of how the nation’s most influential gun lobby group would respond and whether it would pledge to work with President Obama and Congress in developing new gun control measures.

Mr. LaPierre offered no support for any of the proposals made in the last week, like banning assault rifles or limiting high-capacity ammunition, and N.R.A. leaders declined to answer questions. As reporters shouted out to Mr. LaPierre and David Keene, the group’s president, asking whether they planned to work with Mr. Obama, the men walked off stage without answering.

Mr. LaPierre seemed to anticipate the negative reaction in an address that was often angry and combative.

“Now I can imagine the headlines — the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow,” he told more than 150 journalists at a downtown hotel several blocks from the White House.

“More guns, you’ll claim, are the N.R.A.’s answer to everything,” he said. “Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools. But since when did the gun automatically become a bad word?”

Mr. LaPierre said his organization would finance and develop a program called the National Model School Shield Program, to work with schools to arm and train school guards, including retired police officers and volunteers. The gun rights group named Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas and administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency, to lead a task force to develop the program.

Mr. LaPierre also said that before Congress moved to pass any new gun restrictions, it should “act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation” by the time students return from winter break in January.

The idea of arming school security officers is not altogether new. Districts in cities including Albuquerque, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and St. Louis have armed officers in schools, either through relationships with local police departments or by training and recruiting their own staff members.

A federal program dating back to the Clinton administration also uses armed police officers in school districts to bolster security, and Mr. LaPierre himself talked about beefing up the number of armed officers on campuses after the deadly shootings in 2007 at Virginia Tech.

But what the N.R.A. proposed would expand the use of armed officers nationwide and make greater use of not just police officers, but armed volunteers — including retired police officers and reservists — to patrol school grounds. The organization offered no estimates of the cost.

Mr. LaPierre said that if armed security officers had been used at the Newtown school, “26 innocent lives might have been spared that day.”

The N.R.A. news conference was an unusual Washington event both in tone and substance, as Mr. LaPierre avoided the hedged, carefully calibrated language that political figures usually prefer, and instead let loose with a torrid attack on the N.R.A.’s accusers.

He blasted what he called “the political class here in Washington” for pursuing new gun control measures while failing, in his view, to adequately prosecute violations of existing gun laws, finance law enforcement programs or develop a national registry of mentally ill people who might prove to be “the next Adam Lanza,” the gunman in Newtown.

Mr. LaPierre also complained that the news media had unfairly “demonized gun owners.” And he called the makers of violent video games “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people,” as he showed a video of an online cartoon game called “Kindergarten Killer.”

While some superintendents and parents interviewed after the N.R.A.’s briefing said they might support an increased police presence on school campuses as part of a broader safety strategy, many educators, politicians, and crime experts described it as foolhardy and potentially dangerous. Law enforcement officials said putting armed officers in the nation’s 99,000 schools was unrealistic because of the enormous cost and manpower needed.

At a news conference Friday, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is leading an effort to reinstitute a ban on assault rifles, read from a police report on the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, which detailed an armed officer’s unsuccessful attempts to disarm one of the gunmen. “There were two armed law enforcement officers at that campus, and you see what happened — 15 dead,” Ms. Feinstein said.

Ernest Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, called the N.R.A.’s plan “unbelievable and cynical.”

He said placing armed guards within schools would “expose our children to far greater risk from gun violence than the very small risk they now face.”Officials in some districts that use armed security officers stressed that it was only part of a broader strategy aimed at reducing the risk of violence.

But Ben Kiser, superintendent of schools in Gloucester County, Va., where the district already has four police officers assigned to patrol schools, said it was just as important to provide mental health services to help struggling children and families.

“What I’m afraid of,” said Mr. Kiser, who is also president of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, “is that we’re often quick to find that one perceived panacea and that’s where we spend our focus.”

In Newtown, Conn., the N.R.A.’s call for arming school guards generated considerable debate among parents and residents on Friday — much of it negative. Suzy DeYoung, a parenting coach who has one child in the local school system, said she thought many parents in town and around the country would object to bringing more guns onto school campuses.

“I think people are smarter than that,” she said.

  • Reporting was contributed by John H. Cushman Jr. and Jeremy W. Peters in Washington, and Serge F. Kovaleski and Richard Pérez-Peña in New York.

Document: Text of the N.R.A. Speech