Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Weekly Update for the Week of June 17, 2013 | http://bit.ly/16wcuC6
FINAL AGREEMENT REACHED BETWEEN LEGISLATORS AND GOVERNOR BROWN REGARDING SCHOOL FINANCE
14 June :: Last week, we shared with AALA members the remarks that Dr. Judith Perez, AALA President, made to the Board of Education regarding Governor Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula and the proposed LAUSD Budget. We provided a link to a summary of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) as it was originally proposed. The Governor’s plan has been receiving opposition from many of the more affluent areas of the state, as they faced a potential loss of revenue if it was passed. On Monday, June 10, 2013, the Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee, made up of members of the State Senate and Assembly, approved a compromise version of the LCFF, just four days before the constitutional deadline to pass the state budget. Only a one-page summary has been released to the public and no final budget language has been presented; however, it portends to be good news for LAUSD which has a key Board of Education meeting on June 18 to address the District’s 2013-14 budget. We expect the Board to use these additional funds to address the staffing issues raised by Dr. Perez last week.
While this compromise does not have all of the provisions of the original plan, it does provide sweeping changes to how education money is distributed and constitutes a huge victory for Governor Brown in his effort to change school funding. The key tenets of the original proposal remain: (1) steering substantial dollars to low-income students and English learners and (2) giving more authority over spending decisions to local districts. Many of the more affluent school districts in the state faced the possibility of losing funding under the initial LCFF proposal; however, the compromise does contain language that ensures that almost all districts will get the state funding they received in 2007-08 (before the budget crisis) and those that do not, will receive an “economic recovery payment” to make sure that they do not lose funds. Districts with large numbers of high-needs students will receive more money. The Governor had planned a seven-year period to phase in the formula; the compromise increases it to eight.
ACSA took a cautionary position on the compromise saying that there are still many unanswered questions regarding changes to adult education, class size reduction and accountability. The budget does contain items for which ACSA advocated such as Common Core funding, an increase in the state’s base grant for students, restoration of past reductions and local accountability. While there are many details to flush out, below are the key provisions:
- Increases the target Base Rate Grant by $537 above the May Revision.
- Provides additional funding to restore districts to at least their 2007-08 funding levels. The compromise provides additional funding to ensure that virtually all districts get back to their 2007-08 state funding levels, adjusted for inflation. 2007-08 was the highest funding level for schools.
- Changes the Supplemental Grant so that districts would receive an additional 20 percent of the Base Grant for low-income and English-learner students. More than 70 percent of LAUSD students meet this criterion.
- Increases the Concentration Grant eligibility requirement to 55 percent of the district’s students being low income or English learners. Each low-income and English-learner student above the 55 percent threshold would be eligible for the Concentration Grant which will be at 50 percent of the Base Grant.
- Includes a hold-harmless provision so no district would lose money and the vast majority will do better.
As a result of the LCFF, there are two motions before the Board of Education for consideration.
- One asks the Superintendent to develop several strategies to return the District to the classified and certificated staffing levels of 2007-08. It also asks for a plan to increase early and adult education enrollment as well as restoration of a full summer intervention and enrichment program.
- AALA supports this resolution.
- The second motion calls for greater budget transparency and for the inclusion of parents, the public, bargaining units and student body presidents in the process.
- AALA does not support this resolution at this time because it neglects to recognize that all schools need increased administrative and classified support.
We will keep you apprised of this landmark legislation and its impact on LAUSD’s budgetary process.
●●smf/4LAKids: It is unfortunate that AALA doesn’t support the Budget Transparency Resolution. I am sympathetic to the need for more classified and administrative support at the school sites …but wouldn’t increased transparency make that need more obvious?
THE CALIFORNIA PARENT TRIGGER LAW NEEDS A SECOND LOOK
14 June :: Previous issues of Update have included articles about the parent trigger law, its backers and how it is being used in California. AALA has consistently taken the position that empowering parents is a good thing, but this particular law needs to be changed. The Los Angeles Times called it a sloppily written law that the Legislature needs to clean up. Board of Education Member, Bennett Kayser, said that the process “really stinks” and called on the District to move to get the law changed. Recently Parent Revolution, under the auspices of the parent trigger law, obtained enough signatures at Weigand Avenue Elementary School to demand that the principal be changed. After the Board voted 5-2 to support this action, 21 of the 22 teachers on staff applied for a transfer. While we could write pages about the fine work of the principal, her commitment, dedication and professionalism and how devastating the experience has been, we would like to focus on the most prescient issueamending this law so that it provides for the effective engagement of parents, enabling them to join with teachers, administrators and students to design and implement a high-quality improvement strategy, not merely getting parents to sign a petition based on questionable facts and creating chaos at schools.
Noted educational policy analyst, professor at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, Dr. Diane Ravitch, says this about the parent trigger law: The “parent trigger” by definition is a hostile act. It creates division and conflict. It sets parents against parents. It sets parents against teachers. It sets parents against administrators. It is a “trigger” and triggers kill… The legislature should scrap this pernicious law. To begin with, public schools don’t belong to the parents of children now enrolled. They belong to the public, whose taxes built them and maintain them. Only duly elected and appointed officials should be empowered to privatize public property or to fire the school’s leader. The law as presently written is vigilante justice, which is seldom just. It allows Parent Revolution to sign parents up through deceitful tactics and force changes that cripple school communities.
Supporters of parent trigger laws argue that they empower parents, giving them the ability to force dramatic changes to improve low-performing schools. Critics argue that the laws don’t give real, sustained power to parents; that the interventions authorized through parent trigger have no track record of actually improving schools; and that the laws are being used to privatize public schools. A policy brief from the Center for Education Organizing at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University cites that no research supports the parent trigger law’s efforts to empower parents or improve student outcomes. Parent trigger legislation gives parents the “power” to force intervention but is silent on a continuing role for them. A publication from the National Education Policy Center in Colorado concluded that three key elements of an effective school turnaround are missing from the current trigger laws: (1) The effort arises from deliberation and organization within the affected community, not through external advocacy groups; (2) It must impose interventions that are evidence based and likely to improve student outcomes; and (3) It focus more on opportunities to learn, rather than governance changes. Research on the “five essential supports” needed for successful school reform does not recommend changes in governance, but rather strategies that strengthen school leadership, improve the quality of instruction, support teachers, focus on student-centered learning and engage families and community.
Parent Revolution has been leading efforts in California to pull the trigger at targeted schools. It was successful in applying the law at a school in Adelanto, California, and also at our own 24th Street Elementary School; however, Weigand is the first school in which the principal has been ousted because she was supposedly “inaccessible and rude.” Frequently, it can be difficult to ascertain where Parent Revolution’s support ends and parent power begins. The organization rents an apartment in the targeted community to serve as headquarters, supplies parents with paid professional organizers and the day-to-day necessities of running a campaign—coffee, photocopies and a professional communications staff. Every LAUSD school leader and staff member must now wonder if they will be next in line to be targeted by Parent Revolution. As Parent Revolution turns its eye on other schools in the District and begins efforts to pull the trigger, educators must force our legislators to make changes to this misguided law. While the subject is being debated, schools and students are at risk for “turnaround” efforts that have no substantive support in education research and no current success stories to relate.