Thursday, January 17, 2008

Report on the Southern California Meeting of the State Board of Ed re: Corrective Action Plans under NCLB

California State Board of Education

Public Meeting Regarding Corrective Action Plans under
No Child Left Behind

Thursday, January 17, 2008, from 1 – 4 pm

Los Angeles County Education Center

Los Angeles County Office of Education
9300 Imperial Highway
Downey, CA 90242-2890

(562) 922-6111

The purpose of this meeting is to enable members of the State Board of Education to hear from school districts and their communities regarding the framework for corrective actions under No Child Left Behind and its potential impact on them. This is one of three meetings that State Board of Education members will hold in California regionally this week, and the general public may also attend. There will be additional opportunities for public input before the Board takes action on this matter.

State Board of Education Members Presiding

Ted Mitchell, President
Kenneth A. Noonan, Immediate Past President

also present, State School Board Interim Executive Director Gary Borden and members of the Governor's education staff


  • Welcome and Introductions
  • Discussion of Corrective Actions for Local Educational Agencies in Year 3 of Program Improvement under No Child Left Behind

I attended this meeting in my capacity as Education VP of Tenth District PTSA and a member of the LAUSD Superintendents High Priority Schools Task Force.

The meeting was well attended, with school boardmembers, superintendents, assistant superintendents, senior staff and a smattering of parents from the PI Year Three Districts in Southern California from as far away as Kern, Riverside and Diego Counties. LAUSD was represented by Senior Deputy Superintendent Donnalyn Jaque-Anton, Acting Chief Instructional Officer Robert Schiller, Julian Gorgoni from the legislative office, Zella Knight from the DAC and four other parents from the Parent Collaborative.

The meeting was not recorded and official minutes were not taken.

Though it was a public meeting no one identified themselves as being from the press

The meeting ran long - until 5 o'clock, many stayed to the bitter end.

President Mitchell and Boardmember Noonan set out some parameters for discussion and laid out some of the Board's Thinking in the introduction - describing the four levels of intervention the board anticipated - mandated by NCLB.

Mitchell stated that the board's hands were tied and had all had to play the cards as dealt. Nobody escapes, The state board's role was set in the law: Intervention is mandated under NCLB.

The board members promised all that each intervention for each of the 98 Districts (representing one third of California schoolchildren) would be specific to that district and its unique situation - there will be no one size fits all sanction! The word "sanction" itself was not be used they said — but of course that was the word used in the initial letters identifying the 98 districts - it was fairly universally used in the following discussion in testimony - if not by the boardmembers.


Imposition of a DEIT (or DEITplus) [District Evaluation and Intervention Team] from Sacramento.

  1. Creation of a DEIT in collaboration between the District, County Office and Sacramento.
  2. A rewriting and revision of the Districts LEA (Local Educational Agency) Plan in cahoots with an outside provider.
  3. Cooperative implementation of the existing LEA Plan in cahoots with an outside provider.

See The Governor's State of the State 2008/Education


  1. There will be one additional informal meeting like this one at the Superindent's Conference in Monterey next week - by statute this must be a public meeting.
  2. All districts are encouraged to submit written information.
  3. There will be a full meeting of the Board for discussion - either at the next scheduled board meeting or at a special meeting.
  4. Once the Board decides on corrective actions superintendents will be contacted by telephone and given a chance to respond.
  5. The Board will publish the intervention plans for a thirty day public discussion.
  6. The Board will meet and vote on implementation based on the comment and the implementation can begin.

The testimony that followed was insightful and informative - and pretty well stayed on a common theme.

  • Unique³. Every District is unique, in a unique situation and faces unique challenges.
  • Most school districts missed their goals by a small amount and only by a couple of criteria or sub groups. The most prevalent were:
    • English Language Learner scores
    • Special Ed/Children with Disabilities
      To a lesser extent
    • Participation rate, often by a subgroup.
    • Graduation rate
  • The incompatibility of AYP and API/Benchmarks v. Growth/Federal v. State/Standards v. Progress/Apples v. Oranges as models confuses and confounds almost everyone.
  • There are two ten-ton gorillas in the room that impede progress and loom over the entire process:
    • The State Budget Crisis and impending across-the-board funding cuts, this year and next.
    • NCLB's Unfunded Mandate imposes additional financial hardship. The State has $29 million put away for this implementation - that's $295,000 per PI Year 3 District.
      • There was advocacy for California joining the lawsuit in the US Sixth District (Pontiac v. Spellings) - and not just from me - which challenges the unfunded mandate of NCLB.
      • The State Board of Ed seems unwilling to go there.
  • Much was made of California's huge number of English language Learners …and the Catch 22 that the federal law actually punishes success by not counting ELL students who become proficient in the formula they use to measure "success"
  • The revolving door of superintendents and principals places many player on the low end of the learning curve.
  • There is a unrealistic challenge of 63 of the 98 identified PI Year 3 Districts coming up with ESEA Title One (Education for Disadvantaged Students) plans concurrently with the ESEA Title Three (Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students) plans — when the two are often the same challenge but require different specific solutions.


§ We are at the metaphorical meeting of Cinderella and Hippocrates, seeking to find the perfect solution that fits each individual district with the caveat: "First, do no harm"

§ Most of the districts desire help and support.

§ Whatever the solutions, we must look for reform through an instruction lens, not a compliance lens.

§ Interveners must be qualified, experienced and expert.

§ Corrective actions must be targeted thematically and specifically.

§ Collateral damage and unintended consequences must be anticipated.

§ The state itself must do better.

§ A data system to identify lessons learned and best practices is sorely needed.

§ Researchers must be engaged.

§ We are chasing a receding target as the funding vanishes.

§ The State Board is committed to providing flexibility in funding and time.

§ Reform begun and progress made must be recognized and complemented.

§ Preschool opportunities must be increased


It becomes obvious that the Corrective Actions/Sanctions will be driven by external entities; both County Offices of Education and private and public for-profit and non-profit providers ("State Approved DAIT Provider Organizations") - more of the "applying business models to public education" so popular with NCLB reformers. The guarantee is that someone will make money; the hope is that some schools and districts will improve.

The 'carrot and stick' NCLB reform has failed already, it was failed when it was Rod Paige's Texas Miracle of testing and data/smoke and mirrors. Houston is still recovering from Paige's superintendency. When the federal government failed to fund NCLB it was doomed no matter how well-meant the intent. Even with adequate funding NCLB's goals of 100% success are impossible to realize no matter how noble.

One district claimed to have made the list of 98 for violating a business school management model: "The Case for 20-70-10" which creates \performance categories of the top 20%, middle 70%, and bottom 10%, and then manages them "up or out" accordingly. Educators are neither assembly line factory workers nor drones in cubicles. Students are not widgets — they are the customer, not the product.

By definition The Case of 20 leaves 10% of all children behind! 'Decimate' is the word from the Latin for this.

dec·i·mate Listen to the pronunciation of decimate
transitive verb
Inflected Form(s):
dec·i·mat·ed; dec·i·mat·ing
Latin decimatus, past participle of decimare, from decimus tenth, from decem ten
1: to select by lot and kill every tenth man of
: to exact a tax of 10 percent from decimated Cavalier — John Dryden>
3 a
: to reduce drastically especially in number decimated the population>
: to cause great destruction or harm to decimated the city> decimated by recession>
- from Webster Online

It is doubtful that Congress will reauthorize NCLB as we know it. If Congress were to reauthorize it and fully fund it the president would veto the funding. The federal court in
Michigan has the funding piece in their sights.

That being said we need to do our up-and-walking level best for the kids. NCLB gave us disaggregated data; it gave us proof that the Achievement Gap exists - and defined how bad it is. I'm not fond of the speaker but agree with the sentiment: We cannot allow the soft bigotry of low expectations to succeed — the proper name for that success is failure.

Failure is not an option; success is the only standard.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! - smf

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