Friday, May 23, 2008


smf for 4LAKids

Tamar Galatzan proudly proclaims herself the "only school board member with kids in the District"; a unique possessor of the parental perspective.  

Board member Galatzan has two items out in the media in a single news cycle; her Call For Positive Communications in her own blog "The Galatzan Gazette":


"COMMUNICATING THE POSITIVE, TOO": from the Galatzan Gazette - Issue 36, May 23, 2008

In the past several weeks, no other public agency in Los Angeles has received the amount of negative media coverage as has the School District. Between charges of negligence in handling sexual misconduct cases ; an ever changing policy on charters that leaves no one one happy; suggestions that some new schools are planned for environmentally unsafe areas; and a penchant to hand out expensive consulting contracts, the district has shown a particular skill for generating highly unflattering headlines. I would certainly agree with assignment editors that these are valid stories, well worth bringing to the attention of readers, viewers and listeners. But there is also a real danger that the spate of bad news will leave the potentially fatal impression that nothing is ever right with LAUSD. In meetings with state legislators on the budget, business leaders about participating in our schools, and parents deciding where to enroll their children, I have seen that the District's failure to communicate and highlight success stories works against all of our hard work. Without seeing either cloying or desperate, the district must work harder to communicate positive stories to the public. Everyday I learn about innovative programs, extraordinary teachers, creative administrators and staff, dedicated parents and remarkable students. Now more than ever, the community needs to hear about them as well. -Tamar

….and her slam on the District's discipline policy in the current Sherman Oaks Sun:


Undisciplined discipline policy

Sun Community Newspapers - LAUSD Talk



May 21, 2008 - Who among us was not disciplined at least once during our public school days? We may have been ordered to clean the bathrooms, received suspensions or expulsions, or, in the days before the outlawing of corporal punishment, given a whack or two on the bottom.

see: GUIDELINES ON SCHOOL SPANKINGS - 1979 for previous board of ed silliness on this subject

Although we were probably furious and upset at the time, we also recognized that discipline and punishment are as much a part of school life as tests and texts.

It may also have been the case that your school or school district had a consistent discipline policy. Students knew that if they broke a specific rule – no fighting, for example – that a specific punishment would follow. Without exception.

I wish I could say the same for the Los Angeles Unified School District. One of the unfortunate things I have learned since joining the Board is that, LAUSD does not have a consistent, fully implemented district-wide discipline policy. In almost a year on the School Board, I have seen summaries of dozens of proposed student expulsions. Many of these students have a past discipline history of 20, 30, or over 50 disciplinary actions.

These case histories prompted me to investigate further.  I discovered that The District’s “Discipline Foundation Policy: School-Wide Positive Behavior Support” policy was enacted through a board resolution in March 2007. By emphasizing prevention and intervention practices within the classroom, the District expects student discipline to drop significantly. School Leadership Councils at each school must create, a “plan for action” to form procedures and practices consistent with the policy and specific to individual school needs.

This new policy, intended to fortify a culture of discipline, has operated for over a year. Before we can even gauge its effectiveness, we must address the fact that the level of implementation is unclear.

A number of people from various departments played a role in its development. As a result, it takes many different people from many different divisions to explain its various parts. Furthermore, like other District programs, it is implemented vertically. Downtown bureaucrats train local District staff members who then train school staff on the policy’s implementation.

No evaluation has been conducted to determine how well schools have adopted the policy.  Ask any teacher and you will likely hear how critical consistent expectations are to student achievement, positive classroom culture, and healthy student behavior.

Since we do not know if our students are receiving the same District-wide message about behavioral expectations and consequences, what reason do we have to think this policy will improve student behavior? As I have come to recognize these past several months, the District’s discipline policy is not very disciplined.

As a member of the District's Discipline Policy Task Force I'm showing unusual reserve out of respect for the hard work put in by my fellow task force members in saying that while no policy is perfect, Ms. Galatzan hasn't done her homework on this one.

I fail to see exactly how the above will aid

  • in meetings with state legislators on the budget,
  • business leaders about participating in our schools,
  • and parents deciding where to enroll their children.

Sometimes this sort of mixed message sending is refreshingly ironic, other times it's just hypocritical. - smf

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