Saturday, March 01, 2008

The news that didn't fit from March 2nd!

Loosely cobbled together from mostly the UCLA/IDEA Just Schools California Weekly News Roundup, Click headlines below to access full stories.


By Martha Irvine/San Francisco Chronicle

Her neighborhood, with its police cameras and abandoned buildings, isn't known for inspiring hope. Yet, 18-year-old Ariel Williams feels empowered. She's lobbied her state lawmakers to increase education funding. She and other students traveled to Iowa in December to campaign for presidential candidates. And now she can't wait to vote in November's election. They are the sort of results that happen when civics education is creative and engaging, according to a new study."


Battle begins to limit losses
By Laurel Rosenhall/Sacramento Bee

Laying off teachers, school bus drivers, librarians and counselors. Adding more kids to every classroom. Charging students fees to play sports. Getting rid of music. In e-mails and newsletters, during board meetings and rallies, school districts across California are telling parents that they have to do these things – and more – because of budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Today they'll say it again during a news conference at Valley High School, where leaders from Sacramento's biggest school districts will join the state superintendent to blast Schwarzenegger's proposal to slash $4 billion from next year's K-12 education budget.


State students deserve more aggressive efforts at improvement.
Editorial/Fresno Bee

We suppose the latest education announcement by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell is better than completely ignoring the problems in California's public schools. But not much. Schwarzenegger and O'Connell on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to help schools avoid federal sanctions for not achieving academic improvement goals. The state should have taken action to help these 96 school districts long before they were considered the worst of the worst.

LAUSD'S COFFEECAKE A RECIPE FOR FAILURE …or Daily News uses typo in recipe to justify District break-up

Los Angeles Daily News, CA - Feb 29, 2008
IT'S starting to seem that the Los Angeles Unified School District cannot do even one thing right. Even the district's one shot at getting some positive attention - after months of justified public bashing over the payroll scandal that wasted millions ...


By Bess Keller/Ed Week

A leading model for professionalizing teaching and changing the way teachers are paid shows mixed capacity for raising student test scores, concludes the first independent examination of the Teacher Advancement Program. While elementary schools in the program do better than comparison schools, TAP middle and high schools lag behind their non-TAP counterparts in test-score gains, the study says. The research, presented this week at a conference on teacher pay organized by the National Center on Performance Incentives, based at Vanderbilt University, looked at annual gains in mathematics test scores over four years for about 1,200 schools in two states.

Los Angeles Times, CA -
Feb 27, 2008
The tests were then shown to several other students before midterm exams last month, said Harvard-Westlake President Thomas Hudnut. ...

smf: What fun to wring one's hands and bemoan the downfall of the rich and privileged - but his story contains one of the great pieces of pseudo-scientific research jumped-to-conclusions of all time: "According to a national survey of high school students by the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute of Ethics, young people display deeply entrenched habits of dishonesty."

Here's a little song we can all join in with ...from Bye Bye Birdie

'Why can't they be like we were,
- perfect in every way?
Oh whatsthematter with kids today?
- wackado, wackado, wackado'.


Opinion by Wendy D. Puriefoy/USA Today
Wendy D. Puriefoy is CEO of the Public Education Network, a Washington-based association working to advance public school reform in low-income communities

Listen to the fevered rhetoric of the presidential candidates and you get the impression that the country is in a state of crisis. They have talked pointedly about the war in Iraq, the ailing economy and the need for health care reform. Taxes, immigration and the war on terror? All accounted for. Yet one issue that's key to our nation's security, prosperity and future has barely been discussed in the more than 30 hours of debates: education. Nearly 50 million of our nation's children attend public schools, yet the men and woman who aspire to lead us have spent less time debating how these children are being educated than it takes to get a haircut or facial.


Two in mayor's program are being lent by another district.
By Howard Blume/
Los Angeles Times

The mayor's office acknowledged Thursday that two top hires it introduced this week are technically on loan from the San Diego Unified School District. One of the employees is Angela Bass, who was presented at a Monday news conference as the superintendent of instruction for the two academically struggling high schools and four middle schools that will fall under the stewardship of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The mayor's team expects Bass and Staci Monreal to stay long-term in Los Angeles, said Marshall Tuck, executive director of Villaraigosa's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. The loan arrangement allows both to continue earning credits in the California State Teachers' Retirement System.


Editorial/Riverside Press-Enterprise (Monday)

California's best strategy for reducing the number of students who drop out of high school: compile better data about pupil performance. Until the state has a system in place to track individual students' achievement, recommendations for stemming the flow of dropouts depend on educated guesses and approximations. So the governor and Legislature should not let a budget crisis delay a new data system that will track individual students' performance from year to year. The governor proposes to spend $10.9 million on the system next fiscal year, which is a worthwhile investment even given the state's budget deficit.


Blog by John Fensterwald/San Jose Mercury News (Monday)

The Legislature never should have signed off on the $3 billion out-of-court settlement two years ago between Gov. Schwarzenegger and the California Teachers Assn. over education funding that the governor had promised but withheld. But legislators shouldn’t cut it now; they should reject the recommendations of Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill. In the budget alternative that she presented last week, Hill suggested suspending next year’s allocation of $450 million of the Quality Education Investment Act, the seven-year, $3 billion agreement to funnel more money to low-performing schools.


Blog by John Fensterwald/San Jose Mercury News (Tuesday)

Thanks, EdTrust-West, for making it pain-free to find out how every school is doing — and other vital stats parents and teachers need to know. Raising the Roof is a terrific new data-mining tool that EdTrust-West introduced yesterday at the start of its conference in San Francisco on student achievement. It takes the state Department of Education’s kludgy data base, DataQuest, and makes it simple, even fun, to use. The state’s education data system is woefully weak; this year, by creating a state data commission and funding the next phase of a data bank, the Legislature may do something about it. Meanwhile, the Education Trust-West is making the most of what’s available.


Consolidating grants saves money and more
Editorial/San Diego Union-Tribune (Tuesday)

In a state Capitol full of grandstanders, lazybones and union puppets, Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill's pragmatism and professionalism stand out. This was once again on display with a key element of her proposal on how to tackle the state's massive budget crisis. Hill argues one simple reform could allow education spending to be frozen through the next fiscal year – wiping out at least $2.8 billion in projected funding increases – without any downside. That reform: consolidating 43 “categorical” K-12 spending programs mandated by state rules into four basic grant programs. We think this approach not only wouldn't have any downside; it would probably improve schools.


Editorial/Monterey County Herald (Wednesday)

Poor people and schools. Those four simple words are meant to nudge anyone who can help. There is a special need this year for Californians of all stripes to go to the defense of poor people and schools as the not-so-Golden State prepares for the messiest budget battle of recent memory. Many others will be hurt as well, but most are headed into this fight better protected than poor people and schools. Budget cutting usually starts with the poor, for reasons that include lack of an effective lobby. And while it might seem, based on the purported strength of the California Teachers Association, that the schools are well organized and able to fight for themselves, the results of many past budget cycles contradict that thinking.


Blog by Mitchell Landsberg/Los Angeles Times (Wednesday)

An organization started last year by the James Irvine Foundation to promote career and technical education -- the newfangled term for what used to be called vocational ed -- issued a report today with policy recommendations for California schools. But the president of ConnectEd, Gary Hoachlander, says that of the 10 recommendations, only four are probably realistic this year, considering the severe funding cuts that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing for education. You can find all 10 recommendations here.

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