Walton Foundation Press Release
undated – but posted July 31, 2013
- 94% of TFA teachers in Los Angeles teach in charter schools.
- In this instance "Los Angeles" refers to Los Angeles County.
This page is a compendium of items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, damnable prevarications, rants and amusing anecdotes - about LAUSD and/or public education that didn't - or haven't yet - made it into the "real" 4LAKids blog and weekly e-newsletter at http://www.4LAKids.blogspot.com . 4LAKidsNews will be updated at arbitrary random intervals.
undated – but posted July 31, 2013
Kim Bruno, former principal of N.Y.’s “Fame” High School accepts offer to come to High School #9 /LA VAPA/Cortines High School
July 30, 2013 :: The beleaguered Ramon C. Cortines School for the Visual and Performing Arts has a new principal. As Los Angeles Downtown News reports, the $232 million school will be helmed by Kim Bruno, the former principal of New York City’s LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts, which provided the inspiration for the musical Fame.
As the Downtown News’ Ryan Vaillancourt writes, this is “not the first time Bruno has been offered the job. She was originally courted in 2009, though after verbally committing, she cancelled plans to take the job, citing ‘professional reasons.’ She was targeted again in 2011, though she again declined the district’s offer.”
Bruno will be the Cortines School’s fifth principal since it opened in 2009. When he left two weeks ago*, the most recent principal, Norman Isaacs, told the LA Times, “No one has found a way to fund any of the programs that are ongoing… We have a $65-million theater and no money to run it.”
* smf: As reported here Isaacs resigned on June 11th - seven weeks ago. http://bit.ly/18YfXgr The LA Times just didn’t report it until two weeks ago!
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 2:42 pm | Updated: 3:00 pm, Tue Jul 30, 2013 :: DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Kim Bruno, the longtime leader of a high-profile arts high school in New York, has agreed to become the new principal of the Ramon C. Cortines School for Visual and Performing Arts in Downtown.
As the former principal of the lauded LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts in New York City, Bruno represents the kind of high-profile arts administrator that local officials have sought but failed to lure to the school since it opened in 2009.
The school has cycled through four principals in its first four years (not including an interim administrator who helmed the school for part of fall 2011).
This is also not the first time Bruno has been offered the job. She was originally courted in 2009, though after verbally committing, she cancelled plans to take the job, citing “professional reasons.” She was targeted again in 2011, though she again declined the district’s offer.
While it is uncertain what prompted Bruno finally to agree to take over the $232 million school, in a July 30 letter to LaGuardia High community members she likened the decision to a “new adventure.”
“It is with heavy heart that I am writing to you to announce that I will not be returning to LaGuardia in September,” Bruno wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Los Angeles Downtown News. “I have accepted a position with the Los Angeles school system and will be leaving NYC before the new school year begins. This was a very difficult decision for me to make considering the fact that LaGuardia has been my home for the last eleven years.”
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy is “thrilled” and “pleased” that Bruno will helm the school at 450 N. Grand Ave, said district spokesman Thomas Waldman in an email.
Bruno replaces Norman Isaacs, who resigned after leading the school for two years. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Isaacs said he resigned because the district was not providing the resources he considered necessary to run a premier arts education institution.
Bruno was not immediately available for comment.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 :: An overlooked but still key provision of Gov. Jerry Brown’s new funding formula for schools requires districts to maintain average class sizes at no more than 24 students – or risk losing some of their funding.
In a new report released Monday by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, (follows) researchers pointed out that the newly enacted Local Control Funding Formula provides a grade span differential generally intended to recognize the higher cost of services to older students.
But the LCFF also provides an adjustment that increases state support for kindergarten through grade three – additional money intended to cover the cost of limiting class sizes in those early years.
The adjustment increases the K-3 base rate by 10.4 percent (or initially $712 per average daily attendance)—for an adjusted initial K-3 base rate of $7,557, according to the LAO.
However, districts could lose all that additional funding if any particular school site exceeds the required class size, unless school officials have negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with their teachers’ union that sets class sizes at a different level, according to the analysis.
(The UTLA/LAUSD Contract does not – see REFERENCE SUMMARY OF CLASS SIZE STANDARDS 2012-2013/following)
If a district negotiates a different class size for those grades, the LAO said, it is not subject to this requirement and would continue to receive the adjustment.
The new funding system, pushed through by Gov. Brown after first proposing it last year, replaces a complex array of programs and formulas that the LAO – among others – has long criticized as inefficient and out of date.
Under the LCFF, more state funds will be directed to help schools serving educationally disadvantaged students – that is, children from low-income families, English learners and foster care youth.
But the state is also making an overall commitment to increase funding. The LAO noted that if the program were to be fully implemented in 2013-14, it would require the state to spend $18 billion more on K-12 services – assuming current levels of average daily attendance and subgroup enrollment.
Instead, the LCFF will roll out over eight years.
The amount of new funding districts receive will be based on the difference – or gap – between their prior year funding and their target amount or the amount of anticipated state funding by the end of the eight years. The LAO said that every district will see the same proportion of their gap closed but the dollar amount will be different based on the size of the gap.
This year, most districts will have 12 percent of their gap filled, according to the LAO. “For a district whose gap is $100 million, this corresponds to $12 million in additional funding,” the LAO said.
Because so much of a district’s funding will be tied to demographics, the LAO also noted the process for identifying educationally disadvantaged students.
For English learners, classification is based on a home language survey and results a student receives after taking the California English Language Development Test.
If a parent or guardian reports on the home language survey that a language other than English is the student’s initial language learned or the primary language used at home, the student is required to take the CELDT, the LAO noted. If the student is determined by the school district not to be English proficient based on CELDT results, then the student is classified as an English learner.
Each year thereafter, the student is retested and, depending on performance, he or she can be reclassified as Fluent English Proficient.
Low-income students are those who qualify for free and reduced price meals, which is determined through a variety of means. In most cases, eligibility is established through an application process sent home for parents to fill out. The income threshold is 185 percent of the federal poverty line or $43,568 for a family of four.
July 30th, 2013, 6:30am :: A new report by The Wallace Foundation argues students are increasingly finding valuable arts education exposure via technology they access outside of the classroom - and teachers should use that to their advantage.
The extensive, 104-page report pushes for educators and policy makers to take advantage of what she calls "arts learning opportunities," many of which are happening outside of normal school hours as kids spend several hours a day using tablets, computers and other devices.
Rather than look down her nose at the increasing amount of time students are spending on their electronics, the report's author, Indiana University professor Kylie Peppler, said those habits are "full of promise for engaging young people in artistic activity."
She said this is especially critical now, after years of cuts to arts budgets at public schools across the country.
"Kids listen to music all day on an iPod, but they aren't producing it," Peppler said in an interview with Education Week. "Why is this happening? Maybe it's because the artists our kids love are Disney and Pixar filmmakers, but in school they are still using clay in art class—if an art class is even offered."
Peppler's piece also reviews several studies of how young people use technology. A few interesting facts:
Do your students spend a lot of time using digital technology outside of the classroom? Does the technology in your classroom feel out of touch with what K-12 students are using in their own time?
7/27/2013 11:33:35 PM PDT Updated: 7/28/2013 9:19:03 AM :: As school districts statewide get their first revenue installment from Gov. Jerry Brown's new education funding model, Los Angeles Unified officials are debating the best way to boost the performance of disadvantaged students.
The debate looming in LAUSD is one taking place around California as educators await regulations from the state Board of Education on how to spend revenue from Brown's Local Control Funding Formula. The landmark reform gives districts more money to educate poor students, English learners and foster youth, along with control over how they can use it.
There are conflicting views, however, on whether that bonus money must be spent to serve only high-needs students or whether it can be used to benefit kids districtwide.
"You can have lots and lots of priorities, and the state has indicated what that money can be spent on, which are students in need," Superintendent John Deasy said. "We're looking forward to getting guidance from the state and determining the thresholds for investment."
Last week, a coalition of 20 education and civil rights groups sent a letter to the state's superintendents and charter school operators urging them to spend this year's allocation of LCFF money to improve services for disadvantaged students.
Los Angeles Unified, in fact, counted on lawmakers to approve LCFF when it was drafting its budget for 2013-14. It used that money and revenue from voter-approved Proposition 30 to reverse furloughs, avert layoffs and restore funding for summer school, adult education and similar programs.
Within the next few weeks, the state Department of Education is expected to issue some basic spending guidelines while districts wait for the state school board to finalize and release official regulations. Those rules are expected by Jan. 31, and will take effect in 2014-15.
Phased in over eight years, LCFF gives districts a base amount of about $6,800 per student, plus 20 percent more for every high-needs youngster. Los Angeles Unified and districts where the targeted students make up at least 55 percent of the enrollment get an additional 50 percent of the base grant.
The state hasn't yet provided a breakdown of the bonus money, but Los Angeles Unified CFO Megan Reilly estimated it equates to about $300 million for the first year. About 80 percent of the district's 600,000 students live in poverty and nearly 30 percent are learning English.
After Brown signed LCFF into law last month, a trio of Los Angeles Unified board members sponsored a resolution to use the money to reduce class size; hire more teachers, counselors librarians and support staff; and boost funding for preschool, adult education and an arts curriculum.
The board adopted that measure but postponed a rival resolution by member Tamar Galatzan mandating that every campus in the district receive enough money to "survive and thrive," but that the bonus revenue for high-needs kids "follow the child" to their school.
On Friday, Galatzan said she planned to bring her resolution back for consideration after the state releases its funding guidelines.
Deasy said his budget team is drafting various funding strategies to comply with the board directive, but he reiterated his own desire for how the bonus money should be spent.
"I want to locate resources as close to students as possible, to provide as much autonomy as possible for school sites to spend," he said. "Schools know their students better than anyone, and I will recommend guidelines to keep the money as close to the school as possible."
While the LCFF helped Los Angeles Unified avert financial calamity, Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill dismissed any notion that the revenue is a windfall for the district. He noted that the revenue will ease -- but not erase -- a multimillon-dollar budget deficit anticipated for next year.
"California still hasn't invested enough in education, and we're still near the bottom in per-pupil funding," he said. "It's how we're allocating the crumbs versus the pieces of pie.
"We're doing better in what we slice up, but we still don't have enough to give the student."
July 25, 2013 :: You may recall that Governor Brown attempted to move oversight of adult education programs from K-12 districts to community colleges in his initial budget proposal. That provision received much opposition and the final budget included a compromise that districts would keep their adult programs for two years while regional consortia were being developed to oversee them. However, older adult and parent education programs have been eliminated in the new budget. Senator Carole Liu (D-Glendale) has introduced legislation to enact the compromise, providing funding to K-12 districts only for adult school classes offering elementary and secondary basic academic skills, English as a second language or preparation for citizenship; short-term vocational programs with high employment potential; and programs for disabled adults. Community colleges could offer ESL and citizenship classes for free, but the campuses would have to charge fees for all other classes.
The changes are being proposed due to limited resources and in an effort to focus on the knowledge and skills needed for the workforce. Supporters of older adult classes object, noting that seniors may no longer be officially working but are still productive members of society. By 2030, almost one in five Californians will be over age 65 and programs which keep them mentally and physically fit will provide savings in medical and care costs. Advocates for parent education classes do not consider such courses frills, but critical for parents to learn how to help their children succeed in school. They argue that they need dedicated funding from the state because districts have limited funds to provide for parents.
SB 173 is scheduled to be heard again in August. Advocates for older adult and parent education programs are hoping the bill will be amended to include funding for their programs. If not, such programs will have to be locally funded if they are to continue to be offered.
July 26th, 2013, 6:00am :: As budgets worsened over the past several years, schools throughout California cut where they could, slashing arts budgets so deeply some students have been left with no arts education at all.
Arts educator Carl Schafer of Upland, has been on a campaign to increase that instruction for a year. And in his effort, he found a line in the California education code that shocked him: the state requires arts to be taught to California students.
He'd been advocating for arts education for decades without realizing the state has a law requiring things like dance, music and theater be taught in schools.
He recently wrote about his discovery for the website Zocalo Public Square.
While browsing through the state Education Code online, I learned (embarrassingly late in my career) that the law couldn’t be clearer. Since 1995, the teaching of the arts has been mandatory in California for grades one to 12.
Section 51210(e) mandates the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA), which includes music, dance, visual art, and theater, be included in the school curriculum for all students in grades one to six. Section 51220(g) mandates that the VAPA be offered to all students in grades seven through 12. Arts is a “course of study,” and Section 51050 states “The governing board of every school district shall enforce in its schools the courses of study”.
In short, if a school district is not teaching the arts right now, it is breaking the law.
The law has no teeth. Districts are empowered to police themselves.
"There are requirements for the visual and performing arts in California schools, however there is no enforcement authority to ensure that that happens," said Craig Cheslog, principal advisor to state superintendent of Public instruction Tom Torlakson.
Cheslog said he didn't even know about the law until they met with Schafer.
"I think it's a known problem by people who study it," he said. "I have to admit I didn't know that problem was there until we started doing our research and work to prepare for the meeting that we had with Carl last winter."
Schafer, who officially retired two years ago but still teaches part-time at Cal State Fullerton, said he's determined to continue pushing for the law to be enforced. He's planning to attend a public meeting in a few weeks at the Los Angeles County Office of Education to lobby for districts to abide by the law.
"It's been certainly an education in trying to find, how do you get to the right powers that can make these changes?" he said. "And I'm not done."
smf: Obscure? Any attorney will tell you: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Failure to teach the arts is a crime against the humanities – and I apologize for that cheap joke. California has this law in the Ed Code; it makes Boards of Education responsible for enforcing it – and exposes them to potential civil action for failure to implement arts education.
California has 146 pages of Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools from PreK to 12 – those standards aren’t there to fill dusty binders on shelves or take up bandwidth on the internet! There shouldn’t be a teacher who isn't aware of the California State Standards in his or her subject – the Arts Standards and the Phys Ed Standards and the Health Ed standards and all the rest are no less important than the ones on Math or English Language Arts.
The content standards are not a shopping list of things it would nice to have in the best of all possible worlds/budgets/high performing schools.They are not elective. They set high expectations – but they are minimum expectations.
Standards based instruction isn’t about teaching to the test, it is about teaching to – and mastering – the standards.
We are not teaching kids to be artists or musicians or dancers or dramatists – we are teaching them to be well educated/well informed/well rounded members of society.
Arts Ed is a way of engaging the student in interpreting truth. And arts education is not shrink-wrapping city buses in Shepherd Fairey bus ads – it is teaching students what they need to know about dance, drama, music and visual art.
7/27/2013 10:59:52 [Updated: 07/27/2013 03:48:13 ] :: It's difficult to believe now, but there was a time -- through the eras of flower children, bell bottoms and disco -- when the Golden State was widely seen as the gold standard on education spending.
Class sizes were low. Schools were well maintained. Textbooks and other instructional materials were new.
Back then, California ranked in the top 10 nationwide in per pupil education spending.
The abundance made an impression on Michael Kirst, now the president of the California State Board of Education, when he moved to California from Virginia in 1969.
"There was free summer school for every kid that wanted it," he said. "I'd never heard of such a thing."
A multitude of factors has caused California's relative standing in school spending to sink like a gold coin in a swimming pool.
THE HARD TRUTH about education funding
The state now ranks 35th in per pupil spending, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Factor in cost-of-living considerations and California's place in the pecking order among all 50 states and the District of Columbia is a dismal 49. That's ahead of only Nevada and Utah, according to a widely cited annual January report by Education Week. (Per-pupil spending figures from Education Week include state and local funds, but not federal money, or funds for capital improvements. Census figures include federal dollars but also exclude capital outlay.)
However, the needle is poised to begin moving in the other direction, thanks to two big game-changers. One is the November passage of Proposition 30, the temporary tax hike that will primarily benefit public education. The other, which was signed into law in late June, is the Local Control Funding Formula -- Gov. Jerry Brown's successful attempt to revolutionize the way school dollars are distributed.
The first wave of replenishment will hit the coffers of local school districts this fall, mostly in modest fashion. The infusion is expected to increase year by year for a time, but specific numbers are tough to come by.
The Governor's Office has projected that, by 2016-17, California will boost its per-pupil spending by $2,800 over the 2011-12 amount, bringing it to somewhere near the current national average in raw dollars. That would be quite a bump, but that projection is questioned in some education circles.
In any event, the approaching relief raises an intriguing question: to what extent -- if at all -- will more money lead to better academic performance? It's a question that the brightest minds in education have been debating for years.
"Some would argue there is very little correlation," said Maggie Weston, a research fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California. "Others would say we probably should be spending more money, but it's about wise investment. So, just spending more money in exactly the same way probably won't lead to better student outcome."
As it happens, California's level of its funding lines up pretty neatly with the performance of its students.
Much as it ranks 49th on cost-adjusted per-pupil spending, its nationwide standing in academic performance on math and English tests among fourth- and eighth-graders ranges from 46th to 49th, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress -- the most authoritative source of interstate comparison on academic performance.
Similarly, Vermont, which occupies the No. 1 spot nationwide on per-pupil spending by Education Week's measure, ranks an impressive 6th in fourth-grade mathematics.
But on the other hand, test scores in California have risen steadily over the past half-decade, even though that stretch of time marks one of the worst five-year periods for school finance in state history.
"If you take the negative angle, you could say 'so money doesn't matter,' " said Peter Birdsall, executive director of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. "Public school educators in California did a wonderful job. ... The problem is, people can only keep up that level of exertion for so long."
And then there is the puzzle of Texas.
Per pupil spending in the Lone Star State is in the neighborhood of California's, clocking in at 44th nationwide by the measure of Education Week. And yet, students in California are vastly outperformed by their peers in Texas -- the nation's second-largest state, whose demographics closely mirror those of California. (In both states, for instance, Latino students have recently become a majority population in the schools.)
Eighth-graders in Texas rank 10th nationally in mathematics; their counterparts in California are at the bottom of the heap, just above Mississippi and Alabama, at 49th.
In his book, "The Money Myth," Norton Grubb, professor emeritus at UC Berkeley, makes the case that money's ability to boost performance in schools is often overstated.
Grubb is quick to clarify this thesis.
"I would never say money doesn't make a difference; money does make a difference," he said.
It's just that some expenditures are more effective than others, Grubb said. Raising teacher salaries, for instance, correlates to better test scores, graduation rates and credits earned, he said. Investing in school counselors tends to reap similar results. Conversely, some spending has produced little in the way of measurable academic benefits. Falling into this category, according to Grubb, are the class-size reduction efforts of recent years and intervention programs for lagging students.
Grubb has even found a relationship between some forms of spending and worse performance. The biggie here, Grubb says, is traditional vocational arts classes such as automotive and shop class.
As for California's low national standing on school spending, it doesn't extend to teacher pay. At $68,500, the salary of the average teacher in California during the 2011-12 school year ranked fifth nationwide, according to the National Education Association.
Conversely, California schools have the fewest number of adults in contact with children. This includes not only teachers, but administrators, librarians and counselors.
"We are dead last," Kirst said. "That is really compelling. More interesting even than class size. We have less of everything -- even janitors."
The history of California's funding decline is complex, but a couple of momentous events are widely seen as change agents.
The first was a landmark lawsuit in the early 1970s -- Serrano v. Priest -- that sought to correct an inequity: school districts in wealthy areas had way more money than their counterparts in poor areas. The courts agreed with the plaintiff, John Serrano -- a parent of a student in the Los Angeles Unified School District -- that the funding formula violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Limits were placed on per-pupil expenditures.
The second was the 1978 passage of Proposition 13 -- an epic shake-up in government that provided tax relief to homeowners but shifted the burden of education funding from the local level to the state.
Why did this cause a drop-off? Experts aren't certain. One theory, put forth in a report by the Public Policy Institute of California, suggests that before the initiative, the property taxes paid by commercial interests subsidized schools to a greater degree.
Another theory -- expressed by Sacramento Bee journalist and author Peter Schrag -- attributes the backslide to white voters' increasing reluctance to support an education system that benefits a higher and higher percentage of nonwhite students.
In any case, by many accounts, Proposition 13 generally marks the point at which California's national standing on per pupil funding began to dip below the national average.
All the while, a massive wave of immigration has led to a demographic sea change leaving schools in a much needier position. (Latinos, who make up one of the most disadvantaged demographics in education, made up just 12 percent of the state's population in 1970, and now constitute 38 percent of all Californians.)
Approved in June by the state Legislature, Brown's Local Control Funding Formula popularly grants school districts much more local control in deciding how to spend their dollars. The controversial part is how it also dedicates significantly more money to the districts serving disadvantaged students.
Many school leaders in the suburbs fear the formula will give their districts short shrift.
Among them is George Mannon, superintendent of the Torrance Unified School District, who believes the numbers are based too much on intuition, and not enough on hard facts. He contends it would have been better to wait a year and use that time to carefully study how much more money is truly needed to educate disadvantaged students.
"We're making decisions without basing them on research," he said.
Legislatively, it has been surprisingly popular. The funding model was approved by not only a majority of Democrats in both the state Senate and Assembly, but of Republicans, who relish the return of local control.
"The current system was collapsing and had no defenders," said Kirst, a professor emeritus at Stanford who is widely considered the father of the state's brand-new formula.
(Brown's Local Control Funding Formula was based on "Getting Beyond the Facts," a 2008 report co-authored by Kirst, former California Secretary of Education Alan Bersin and now-state Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu.)
Grubb sees Proposition 30 and the Local Control Funding Formula as the one-two punch needed for progress: more money, and smarter use of it.
But he cautions that it could be a long time before improvements are measurable. "California has spent about 35 years making these problems," he said. "It's going to take another 35 to get us out of the problems."
In REMAKING JORDAN DOWNS - Jordan High's staff shakeup puts students on better track [http://lat.ms/18K2lWT] The LA Times returns to the NCLB/so-called-®eform theme that forced reconstitution makes a lasting meaningful difference as measured by student test scores. In this version of the story reconstitution won’t just save the high school – it will turn around an infamous housing project plagued by crime, poverty and neglect
The magic bullet, the weapon-of-choice and the the target are all wrong.
Jordan Downs has challenges far greater than can be solved by replacing the teaching staff at the high school. But the article gets one thing right: The project, the community, the challenges+opportunities and the school are are inseparably connected. As they are in every neighborhood.-smf
From: Alexander Russo
Sent: Friday, July 26, 2013 9:06 AM
Subject: Goodbye & good luck to LA School Report
Friends and colleagues:
As you may already know, my stint building and running LA School Report ended earlier this month, just short of the site's first anniversary.
In December 2011, longtime Democratic political activist Jamie Alter Lynton called me wanting help getting a new local education site started. She had the energy and resources to help get something up and running. I had the know-how to make it happen.
Lynton initially wanted the site to be advocacy-based, providing readers with enough information to get them to do something (sign a petition, call a politician, appear at an event, donate to a campaign); however I was able to convince her that an independent news site covering all sides fairly would be more effective in the long run (and was necessary to attract quality writers). When it came time to launch the site last summer, Lynton asked me to take the reins.
My job included assigning and editing stories, coordinating coverage, writing some of my own pieces, and generally making sure the site was consistently smart and timely. Reporters (including most notably Hillel Aron and Samantha Oltman) handled the reporting and writing duties and endured my stubborn views and hamfisted editing. Lynton provided invaluable financial support, helpful news tidbits, and strong opinions.
Over all, I'm extremely proud of the results. Despite its small, part-time staff, LA School Report established itself as a go-to site for daily education news and commentary in Los Angeles. The site broke news, explored issues with greater depth and regularity than the mainstream outlets were able to do, frequently (and I think evenly) challenged one or the other "side" of the education debate, and occasionally made some news, too.
There were numerous challenges, to be sure -- the most persistent of which was establishing, maintaining, and defending the site's editorial integrity. I spent a lot of time insisting on transparency and balance, running interference between Lynton and others, and urging readers and colleagues to judge the site based on its coverage. Good thing I had a long track record writing about education (and wasn't financially dependent on the paycheck).
Things started getting better after the March school board primaries, and as the 2012-2013 school year ended I came to think that finding a news editor to handle the day-to-day story assignments and editing would – along with a second regular reporter -- be a good way to bolster the news-gathering operation and create time and space for me to write commentary and do fundraising and outreach and other things to help the site grow and improve.
Lynton embraced the idea at first but then decided she didn't want me to have any editorial/management role over the site going forward. Despite repeated negotiations and attempts at compromise, we parted ways over whether this was wise or appropriate. Former New York Times and Bloomberg journalist Michael Janofsky has been editing the site for the past two weeks.
Disappointed as I am, I remain proud to have helped make LA School Report as much of a success as it has been and I wish the journalists who are involved with the site good luck. I'll still be writing about LAUSD in magazines and online -- and I'll be watching closely to see if it remains the feisty, independent site that it's been up to this point.
Thanks again for all your help and support.
Co-founder, founding editor, LA School Report
April 27, 2012 :: Let’s talk about talking pineapples.
Actually (spoiler alert!) I’m going to use the pineapple as a sneaky way to introduce the topic of privatization of public education. I was driven to this. Do you know how difficult it is to get anybody to read about “privatization of education?” It’s hell. A pineapple, on the other hand, is something everybody likes. It’s a symbol of hospitality. Its juice is said to remove warts. And you really cannot beat the talking-fruit angle.
This month, New York eighth graders took a standardized English test that included a story called “The Hare and the Pineapple,” in which you-know-what challenges a hare to a race. The forest animals suspect that since the pineapple can’t move, it must have some clever scheme to ensure victory, and they decide to root against the bunny. But when the race begins, the pineapple just sits there. The hare wins. Then the animals eat the pineapple. The end.
There were many complaints from the eighth graders, who had to answer questions like: “What would have happened if the animals had decided to cheer for the hare?” They were also supposed to decide whether the animals ate the pineapple because they were hungry, excited, annoyed or amused. (That part bothered me a lot. We’ve got a talking pineapple here, people. You don’t just go and devour it for having delusions of grandeur.)
Teachers, parents and education experts all chimed in. Nobody liked the talking pineapple questions. The Daily News, which broke the story, corralled “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings, who concluded that “the plot details are so oddly chosen that the story seems to have been written during a peyote trip.”
The state education commissioner, John King, announced that the questions would not count in the official test scores. There was no comment from the test author. That would be Pearson, the world’s largest for-profit education business, which has a $32 million five-year contract to produce New York standardized tests.
Now — finally — we have tumbled into my central point. We have turned school testing into a huge corporate profit center, led by Pearson, for whom $32 million is actually pretty small potatoes. Pearson has a five-year testing contract with Texas that’s costing the state taxpayers nearly half-a-billion dollars.
This is the part of education reform nobody told you about. You heard about accountability, and choice, and innovation. But when No Child Left Behind was passed 11 years ago, do you recall anybody mentioning that it would provide monster profits for the private business sector?
It’s not just the tests. No Child Left Behind has created a system of public-funded charter schools, a growing number of which are run by for-profit companies. Some of them are completely online, with kids getting their lessons at home via computer. The academic results can be abysmal, but on the plus side — definitely no classroom crowding issues.
Pearson is just one part of the picture, albeit a part about the size of Mount Rushmore. Its lobbyists include the guy who served as the top White House liaison with Congress on drafting the No Child law. It has its own nonprofit foundation that sends state education commissioners on free trips overseas to contemplate school reform.
An American child could go to a public school run by Pearson, studying from books produced by Pearson, while his or her progress is evaluated by Pearson standardized tests. The only public participant in the show would be the taxpayer.
If all else fails, the kid could always drop out and try to get a diploma via the good old G.E.D. The General Educational Development test program used to be operated by the nonprofit American Council on Education, but last year the Council and Pearson announced that they were going into a partnership to redevelop the G.E.D. — a nationally used near-monopoly — as a profit-making enterprise.
“We’re a capitalist system, but this is worrisome,” said New York Education Commissioner King.
The Obama administration has been trying to tackle the astronomical costs of 50 different sets of standardized tests by funding efforts by states to develop shared models — a process you will be stunned to hear is being denounced by conservatives like Gov. Rick Perry of Texas as “a federal takeover of public schools.”
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has also begun giving out waivers from the requirement that children in failing public schools be given after-school tutoring. Idea sounded great. Hardly helped the kids at all. But no for-profit tutoring company was left behind.
The pushback against privatization isn’t easy. We’re now in a world in which decisions about public education involve not just parents and children and teachers, but also big profits or losses for the private sector. Change the tests, or the textbooks, or the charters, or even the rules for teacher certification, and you change somebody’s bottom line.
It’s a tough world out there. Ask the talking pineapple.
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on April 28, 2012, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: A Very Pricey Pineapple.
July 24th, 2013, 6:00am :: For more than 70 years, a nonprofit organization — the American Council on Education — has administered the GED tests to high school dropouts who want to go on to college or just get a job that requires a high school diploma.
But in January, the General Educational Development test is going for-profit, part of a trend of privatization in education.
The group has partnered with Pearson — considered the largest for-profit education business in the world — to form the new GED Testing Service, a for-profit company to run the test.
The Council’s leadership said the partnership came because they wanted to revamp the test because they felt the GED wasn’t adequately preparing test takers for the job market.
“For this program to remain relevant — to really have an impact on economic development and, a bottom line, to really give adult learners a chance at earning a sustainable living wage — we had to not just measure high school equivalency," said CT Turner, a spokesperson for the GED Testing Service. "We also needed to give feedback, and we need to measure people’s readiness for these college and career training programs that the majority have to go on to after a GED.”
Accomplishing that required a lot of money and expertise they didn’t have. Turner said the council approached nonprofit testing companies, but none was interested.
There have always been for-profit companies involved in educating kids: textbook publishers, for instance. But experts said the trend is growing.
“We’ve heard about outsourcing in the manufacturing world. Well, there’s a lot of outsourcing going on within education institutions, too," said Guilbert Hentschke, a professor at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. "It’s not new. It’s part of bigger things going on.”
Hentschke said 30 percent of the world’s education industry is run by private organizations. They can provide an injection of capital and some services that nonprofits don’t have. He points to his own university, which uses a paid service called Blackboard to manage class materials online.
“We would be dead trying to do our own learning management system without using Blackboard. And Blackboard’s for profit,” Hentschke said.
In 2012, London-based Pearson — a enormous company that also owns the Financial Times, Prentice Hall and half of Penguin Random House — reported a nearly $1 billion profit from its education business in North America alone.
Hentschke said it’s hard to know how much profit the GED can add to that bottom line.
“I’m sure they would like to have it make money. How much it will make is not totally clear to me. The natural market is there,” Hentschke said.
But it’s not a captive market. Many states have objected to the new test because the price has gone up, and they don’t have a lot of time to prepare. The new test will be administered in January. Students who have been working on the old one are scrambling to take it before the switch.
New York, Montana and New Hampshire have dropped the GED and gone with new equivalency tests. Montana and New Hampshire went with one from a nonprofit company. New York hired CTB McGraw-Hill, a for-profit company.
About a dozen states are weighing whether to switch to other tests.
In California, the GED is the only option right now: It’s written into state law.
Diane Hernandez, the state GED administrator, said the state is working on a bill that would allow for other tests.
“At least currently, there is no plan to step away from the GED test," said Hernandez. "We still plan to administer the GED in California. We’re just adding an option.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 7, 2013
For More Information Contact:
Tom Dunn, Jonathan Burman, or Antonia Valentine
New York State Education Department (SED) Commissioner John B. King, Jr. announced today that SED intends to execute a contract with CTB/McGraw-Hill to develop a new New York State High School Equivalency Diploma assessment to replace the General Educational Development (GED) test. GEDTS, a new for-profit entity created by the American Council on Education and Pearson Incorporated, has announced plans that will double the cost of the exam in 2014. The Governor and Legislature must include an appropriation for the development of the new assessment in the State Budget. King said that, in the long run, CTB/McGraw-Hill’s new assessment will save the State money compared to the new pricing structure announced by Pearson.
"The members of the Board of Regents are concerned with two things: accessibility and rigor," New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said. "While the GED was run by a not-for-profit, the system worked fairly well. But a Pearson GED monopoly would put our students at the mercy of Pearson’s pricing. We can’t let price deny anyone the opportunity for success. That’s why, rather than pay Pearson twice the current cost or limit the number of students who can take the exam, the Regents approved a competitive process to develop a new assessment."
King noted that New York’s shift to the Common Core Standards (adopted by New York State along with 44 other states) requires a change in the pathway to a New York State High School Equivalency (HSE) Diploma.
"We need a more rigorous exam that reflects the change in the standards," King said. "A New York State equivalency test will help ensure access and rigor. And we’re going to look at other pathways to high school equivalency. The Regents’ goal is to ensure everyone has the opportunity to earn a high school diploma that reflects the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college and a career."
New York State law prohibits charging individuals to take HSE exams. The State budget traditionally includes an appropriation to cover the cost of administering the tests. The announcement by GEDTS that the new GED test, beginning in January 2014, will cost each candidate $120 effectively doubles the cost that New York State currently pays to administer the GED test. In response to the increased cost and changes in the administration and content of the GED test beginning in January 2014, the Board of Regents approved a competitive RFP to identify an appropriately rigorous assessment for a HSE Diploma at the most reasonable price.
CTB/McGraw-Hill’s new HSE assessment, Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), will be a secure, reliable and valid assessment that meets the directions and specifications in the RFP and will be operational by January 2, 2014. The TASC will be aligned to New York’s P-12 Common Core Standards as quickly as possible.
The TASC will be administered on CTB/McGraw-Hill’s Online Assessment System (OAS). CBT/McGraw-Hill will use a phased-in approach for TASC computer-based testing over three years. The cost per test over the three-year contract, including phased-in computer based testing, is $54 (not including reimbursement for test centers).
Final approval of the contract is subject to approval by the Office of the State Comptroller.
New York State Board of Regents
The State Education Department / The University of the State of New York / Albany, NY 12234
Office of Communications / (518) 474-1201
by larry Press in the CIS 471 blog http://bit.ly/169WfLF
Dr. Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University, Dominguez Hills, has worked in both industry and academia. He has been on the faculties of the University of Lund, Sweden and the University of Southern California, and worked for IBM and the System Development Corporation. His consulting firm has served over 40 organizations. http://bit.ly/11jUlqa
.Wednesday, June 26, 2013 :: The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will spend $30 million over the next two years on iPads for 30,000 students.
The measure passed unanimously in spite of opponents arguing that the money would be better spent on staff or to pilot both Windows and Apple systems and saying facility bond money should not be used for relatively short-lived teaching tools.
But, IMHO, they missed the key point -- the machines are Trojan Horses for textbook giant Pearson.
The LAUSD received 13 proposals and the top three called for different hardware -- Apple, Dell and HP -- but all three included an app to deliver the Pearson Common Core System of Courses along with other third-party educational apps.
This comes at a good time for Pearson. The Common Core curriculum is not yet established, but many states are committed to it, starting next year. The new tablets and the new commitment to the Common Core curriculum will arrive around the same time, and busy faculty (and those hired to train them) will adopt the Pearson material.
I've seen nothing about the financial arrangement between Pearson and LAUSD. I wonder what part, if any, of the $678 the schools are paying for the tablets will go to Pearson and what revenue, if any, Pearson will receive from adoption of their curriculum.
I do not mean to criticize Pearson's offerings -- I've not even seen them. (One must have a Pearson School account to see samples). This bundling of Pearson's material will give them a significant advantage, nipping competition in the bud.
Consider, for example, the Common Core math curriculum of the Khan Academy. Will a teacher or school be as likely to select that as the Pearson curriculum? I suspect not, and once they commit to one instruction/assessment platform, they will be locked in.
This situation reminds me of the introduction of the IBM PC in 1981. IBM's entering the PC market was a watershed event, legitimatizing the personal computer as a business and professional tool. IBM offered three operating systems, Microsoft PC-DOS, Digital Research CP/M and the UCSD P-System. Prior to the introduction of the PC, CP/M was the dominant operating system for business and professional applications, but it died almost over night because, although you could get it on an IBM PC, it cost more. Digital Research faded away and Microsoft became ... Microsoft.
After twenty years of serving up "pdf textbooks," we are starting to see innovation in Internet-based teaching material and systems -- will the new market be dominated by the same big-three textbook companies?
Like many education-related services corporations the work of the McGraw-Hill Companies and Pearson Education, expands far beyond education. The intersection of education, technology, and communications creates opportunities to provide a host of international educational services of which these companies look to take full advantage. The mission statements of these two companies provide a relevant perspective on the globalization of education. Historically a locally rooted endeavor, education is now being increasingly privatized, packaged, and marketed in unconventional ways.
A glance at Pearson’s website demonstrates the company’s international and educational breadth as they capitalize on growth in this sector. The London-based company states on its website:
Educating 100 million people worldwide, Pearson is a global leader in educational publishing, providing scientifically research-based print and digital programs to help student learn at their own pace, in their own way. . .and offers the most comprehensive range of educational programs, in all subjects, for every age and level of student, from preK-12 through higher education and on into professional life. Our unparalleled businesses and brands include Prentice Hall, Longman, Scott Foresman, Addison Wesley, Allyn & Bacon, Benjamin Cummings, PASeries, ELLis, Celebration Press, PEMSolutions, SuccessMaker, Waterford, and Family Education Network. Pearson’s other primary operations include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group (Pearson Education, 2009).
Likewise, the global nature of the McGraw-Hill Companies gives the company a substantial edge in providing educational services. As a multi-national corporation (MNC), McGraw-Hill fully grasps the type of worker required in modern global economy. Perhaps for this reason it is appropriate that such a corporation provides educational services. As it is with Pearson, so too is the international scope of McGraw-Hill easily recognized on the company website:
The McGraw-Hill Companies is driving the financial services, education, and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor’s, BusinessWeek, and McGraw-Hill Education. McGraw-Hill aligns with three enduring global needs:
These are the foundations necessary to foster economic growth and to allow individuals, markets, and societies to reach their full potential.
McGraw Hill’s three “enduring global needs” of capital, knowledge and transparency, echo the sentiments of economists, politicians, and academics as competition within global markets continues to rise. With increased competition at all levels of society as a result of globalization, education is recognized as one means of creating a competitive advantage.
The stated efforts of Pearson and McGraw-Hill demonstrate the nature and model in which modern education is expected to function in order to fulfill society’s new demands. We now need a global education system to create a 21st century workforce that will be competing within a global economy. In short, education must follow suit in the global evolutionary process.
The federal government's micromanagement of schools has rightly led to calls to tweak the program. But it's important that new legislation not toss out the gains.
July 21, 2013, 5:00 a.m. || After Congress dragged its heels for six years on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, House Republicans suddenly passed a jumbled bill Friday that could best be described as the No Accountability Act, eliminating virtually all the school improvement mandates that were in the original law. President Obama has rightly vowed to veto it in the unlikely scenario that it reaches his desk, but even as he does so, he should not ignore the more valid sentiments behind the vote. The nation is ripe for rebellion against the rigid law and the Obama administration's further efforts to micromanage how schools are run.
Passed in 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act used the leverage of federal education funding to push states into doing more for their disadvantaged, black and Latino students, whose academic achievement was appallingly low. Although public schools fall under state rather than federal purview, the rationale behind the interference was that because Congress provided some funding, it had an interest in making sure that the money was achieving its aims. That's fair enough.
Unfortunately, the punitive law ushered in a regimen of intensive testing and harsh sanctions against schools that failed to meet improvement markers that were extremely difficult to achieve, sometimes meaningless and often counterproductive. Later, the Obama administration added more layers of interference by pushing its own favored reforms — such as a common curriculum for all states and the inclusion of test scores as a substantial factor in teacher evaluations — in some cases in return for waivers on the No Child Left Behind requirements.
To its credit, the law raised awareness about just how little students in impoverished areas were learning and resulted in modest improvements for those students; at the same time, it overemphasized standardized testing and fostered an unhelpful "everything is the teacher's fault" credo.
Proponents of a smaller role for the federal government are partly right. It has been overstepping. Yet the House bill threatens to reverse the gains that were made and allow schools once again to pay too little heed to students with the greatest needs.
But the president should take note that even the more moderate legislation awaiting its turn in the Senate would do away with large segments of the No Child Left Behind law and his subsequent rules for states. It would allow states to fashion their own school improvement systems, as long as they pass federal muster, without overly punitive measures or interference in how teachers are evaluated or which curriculum is adopted. The federal government has the right to demand value for its education aid, but not to dictate the minutiae of school operations.
July 25th, 2013, 6:00am :: Students who attend a high school where study plans are based on preparing for a specific career are more likely to graduate and continue on to postsecondary schools than their public school counterparts are, according to a recent study by UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.
That's especially significant, because the schools that the were studied enrolled a higher than average percentage of students who are at risk of not graduating.
The teaching method is called Linked Learning. It teaches academics through career-based training. Participating schools focus on a career area such as healthcare, engineering or visual arts. Students take clusters of courses and participate in internships centered around the career.
And the schools employ teachers with professional experience working in those fields.
Proponents say students are more engaged if they can see how the things they're learning apply to the real world. The UCLA study gives evidence that Linked Learning is working. The center has released a guidebook on how to start one of these programs.
Nine California school districts, including L.A. Unified, Long Beach Unified and Pasadena Unified, offer some Linked Learning classes. Dozens of other schools are trying out the initiative.
The James Irvine Foundation projects that 13,000 California high school students will be enrolled in Linked Learning pathways this year. The foundation has spent more than $100 million to develop Linked Learning. On Tuesday, it released an interactive infographic showing the teaching method's spread across California.
You can find a map of Linked Learning schools and academies in California here.
06-19-2013 :: A new UCLA IDEA report examines how students who graduated from Linked Learning pathways are moving along in their postsecondary education attainment, employment and civic engagement.
Exploring the Educational, Labor Market, and Civic Trajectories of Young Adults who Attended Linked Learning Pathways: Survey and Interview Findings compared Linked Learning alumni with random sample of students who did not attend those pathways. Overall, the study found that, on average, students who attend Linked Learning high schools graduate at higher rates than students statewide. This is remarkable in itself, but even more so given that Linked Learning schools enroll greater numbers of students from groups at risk of not graduating.
Moreover, Linked Learning alumni are more likely to attend a postsecondary institution (2- or 4-year) versus not attend college at all compared to the random sample. However, we also found that attending a Linked Learning school does not increase the likelihood of employment for recent graduates or protect some of them from becoming disconnected altogether (i.e., neither in school nor working). Neither did attending a Linked Learning school increase the chances that recent graduates would become engaged in their communities.
Linked Learning is an approach to schooling that is gaining popularity as many high schools throughout the state seek to stem the tide of dropouts and a lack of college and career preparedness among graduates. Linked Learning brings together rigorous academics, a challenging theme- or career-based curriculum, and an opportunity to apply learning through real-world experiences. The participating sites were identified as part of IDEA's 2008 study.
^^Protesters line Balboa Boulevard in front of the office of LAUSD board member Tamar Galatzan, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. Parents and Teachers United for Action picketed to oppose the district's transitioning of special education students to regular education campuses. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)
<<Rhonda Berrios pickets in front of the office of LAUSD board member Tamar Galatzan in Lake Balboa, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)
7/24/2013 7:24:44 PM PDT [Updated: 7/24/2013 9:38:44 PM PDT] :: LAKE BALBOA - Waving signs and chanting "Our kids, our choice," scores of Los Angeles Unified parents and teachers protested the looming transfer of hundreds of disabled students from special-education centers to traditional schools, as the district complies with laws to integrate students who have physical and developmental challenges.
The protesters oppose the merger of four special-education centers with nearby traditional schools, a move that will affect about 300 disabled youngsters when school starts next month. Opponents of the plan say the district will be segregating rather than integrating their kids by putting them in unsafe situations and setting them up for teasing or bullying. They say they want it to be their choice, not the district's, to transfer their kids to a traditional campus.
"They are celebrated at special-education centers for their abilities, not their inabilities," said Rhonda Berrios of West Hills, whose 19-year-old son, Michael, is profoundly autistic. "They have dances, and basketball and baseball teams and cheerleading squads ... The district wants to throw them into a one-size-fits-all environment, and that would be a travesty if this happens."
Michael is now enrolled at Leichman Special Education Center in Reseda, which under the district's plan will begin shifting high school students to traditional campuses in 2014. Berrios and others demonstrated for about 90 minutes in the sweltering heat on behalf of their children and those who might lose what they see as the advantages of a protected environment.
Tom Williamson of North Hills said his son Blair, who has Down syndrome, learned self-confidence and life skills during the years he spent at Leichman. Blair, now a 34-year-old actor, has credits that include roles on "CSI" and "Scrubs."
"He learned to go from classroom to classroom, and to the cafeteria," Williamson said. "He was given freedom and independence that he wouldn't have had at a general education campus."
The 100-or-so demonstrators targeted the office of school board member Tamar Galatzan, saying four of the district's 14 special-ed centers are located in her west San Fernando Valley district. Her office is also next door to the shuttered West Valley Special Ed Center, a building that now houses Daniel Pearl High. Protesters complained that Galatzan did nothing to block the closure of West Valley, although that was never a board decision.
Galatzan was working at her full-time job as a city prosecutor on Wednesday and was not at her LAUSD office, a spokeswoman said. Questions were referred to Sharyn Howell, executive director of LAUSD's Special Education Division, which serves about 83,000 students.Howell noted that the district is bound by federal and state law, as well as a federal consent decree, to mainstream more special-education students and give handicapped youngsters more opportunities to interact with kids at traditional campuses.
"We're talking about physical education, arts types of programs, computer labs and library time," she said. "This is a chance to get the students with their siblings, cousins and neighborhood kids at a general-education site."
They will continue to have classroom lessons that are appropriate for their level of learning, along with the aides, nurses, therapists and other supports they've had in the past, she added.
Los Angeles Unified spends nearly $1.5 billion annually on special-education programs, which have shifted over the years from stand-alone centers to mainstream classrooms. Beginning last year, preschoolers who might previously have been enrolled in special-ed centers started their education at a traditional school. Several demonstrators say they believe district officials are trying to whittle down the enrollment so they can eventually close all of the centers -- a move that Howell has previously denied. The district currently operates 14 special-ed centers, which last year served 2,190 students.
Under the plan set to take effect in August, Miller Special Ed Center in Reseda will transfer about 100 students to Cleveland High but will continue to provide its career-training program for ages 18-22.
About two dozen youngsters from Lull Special Education Center in Encino will enroll in Reseda High, the first step in transforming the facility to one for elementary students only. Next year, middle schoolers will go to Madison.Fifty kids at McBride School in Venice will go to Grand View Elementary, and Banneker School, near downtown L.A., will send 60 youngsters to Avalon Gardens.The Frances Blend School will merge with Van Ness Elementary in the Larchmont area, affecting about 40 blind and visually impaired students.
This story has been updated to correct the district's plan for Leichman Special Education Center.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 :: A total of $26.7 billion is going out from the controller’s office by July 31, which represents the first regular installment for the fiscal year as well as about $2.1 billion for LCFF activities.
But with the money, districts are also being warned that adjustments in entitlements are likely. Officials at the California Department of Education said they didn’t have enough time to perform all the necessary recalculations needed to fully implement the system – so the money is going out based on last year’s allotments.
Elizabeth Dearstyne, an administrator at CDE’s fiscal division who helps oversee apportionments, said the process for updating LEA entitlements is not scheduled to be completed until the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year. Thus, administrators may find that after the final calibrations are made – state payments may go up or they may go down.
“We are basically just flowing money based on the prior year,” she explained. “We are just flowing cash based on last year’s P-2 funding (the Second Principal Apportionment made in June). The new LCFF formula – in terms of base grants, targets and economic recovery as well as the unduplicated pupil funding – those components won’t occur until we do the P-2 certification for 2013-14, which is required to be done by July 2.”
The landmark restructuring of state support for K-12 education gives local school boards vast new authority over spending decisions while also providing schools with additional grant money to support educational services to low-income students, English learners and foster youth.
While the new formula greatly simplified the state’s complex system for funding schools, both state and local officials face a challenging transition period.
Under the new formula, the Legislature has eliminated the existing system of revenue limit funding as well as almost all categorical programs. Instead, the state has pooled the myriad school programs and services to provide base grants that every district will receive based on average daily attendance with a differential for grade spans.
Districts with high numbers of educationally disadvantaged students also receive a ‘supplemental’ grant which provides 20 percent of the base amount. Also, the state is giving ‘concentration’ grants to districts where disadvantaged students compromise more than 55 percent of enrollment – funding that adds 50 percent of the base.
Documenting student enrollment and keeping those rolls current is perhaps the biggest of those challenges.
Still, the new funding formula also comes with new accountability mandates that include requirements that LEAs adopt spending plans in consultation with parent advisory groups. There is also an audit provision and demands that districts track for the first time small subgroups as part of the Academic Performance Index.
Regulations governing implementation of the LCFF’s accountability component are being developed by the California State Board of Education. Spending standards and policies, for instance, need to be adopted by Jan. 1, 2014.
It is not clear, however, whether district administrators will be retroactively bound by those regulations for spending the LCFF money provided in the preceding months.
At a hearing earlier this month on development of the regulations, members of the state board expressed some concerns about how districts would use the first allotment of LCFF money before the rules were in place. A spokeswoman for the CDE said Tuesday that issue remains unresolved and is still pending before the state board.
Distribution of funds for local educational agencies (LEAs) in support of the public school system. Includes elementary school, high school and unified school districts; charter schools; and county offices of education.
●●smf notes: the definition of “principal” here is the adjective “main”, not the noun “head teacher”. The money will go to school districts (ie: Beaudry) not school sites. Except, as usual, in the case of charter schools.