Sunday, April 26, 2009

MOUNT WASHINGTON PTA BUDGET TOWN HALL WITH LAUSD — with School Boardmember Yolie Flores Aguliar and Chief Financial Officer Megan Riley.

WEDNESDAY APRIL 29  at 7PM: MOUNT WASHINGTON PTA BUDGET TOWN HALL WITH LAUSD — with School Boardmember Yolie Flores Aguliar and Chief Financial Officer Megan Riley.

Mount Washington Elementary School
3981 San Rafael Ave, Los Angeles, CA‎

map/directions to Mt. Washington School

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If you know another way, take it. If you have never been to MWES follow these directions or you will get lost!

The news that didn’t fit from April 26th

Friday, April 24, 2009 5:27 PM
Early last Monday morning Dr. Kent Ashcraft, husband of Tenth District PTSA President-elect Ilene Ashcraft - father to Jessica, Matthew, Andrew, Tiffany, Jonathan and Nathaniel Ashcraft - had an accident while climbing with his son Andrew and two friends on the east ice chute of Thor Peak in the Eastern Sierra. Kent was a well known "peak bagger" - a subset of hiking attuned specifically to

Thursday, April 23, 2009 9:20 AM

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 11:06 PM
By Delaine Eastin – OpEd in the San Francisco Chronicle  Wednesday, April 22, 2009 -- The first several generations of Californians were led by visionaries committed to the education of our children. They built the finest public college and university system the world has ever seen, as well as investing generously in K-12 education. California grew rich because the return on our education

Thursday, April 23, 2009 9:22 AM
By George B. Sanchez, Staff Writer | LA Newspaper Group/ Daily News  23 April 2009 -- Embarking on a monumental task that some say is doomed to fail, Los Angeles Unified school officials are taking aim at state laws that make it virtually impossible to fire teachers.   Facing unprecedented layoffs, including 3,500 teachers with less than two year's experience, district officials and their allies

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 10:19 PM
THE STUDY: Effects of the California High School Exit Exam on Student Persistence, Achievement, and Graduation          Sean F. Reardon, Allison Atteberry, Nicole Arshan - Stanford University, Michal Kurlaender           - University of California, Davis            April 21st, 2009          The Institute for Research on Education

Monday, April 20, 2009 8:59 AM
By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer| los Angeles newspaper Group/daily news  April 20, 2009 - NORTH HOLLYWOOD - Four years ago Nancy Oda opened Maurice Sendak Elementary, taking the name of the famed children's author who penned "Where the Wild Things Are,"  a tale of a rebellious boy with a monstrous imagination.   Oda, Sendak's principal, saw the moniker as symbolic of the creative learning

LA Times: YES ON 1A, 1C, 1D, 1E AND 1F. The good in state propositions outweighs the bad. The Times recommends a yes vote, but not on 1B.


Endorsements 2009: From the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

April 26, 2009 -- Most of the measures on the May 19 special election ballot would help California begin to climb out of its current budget mess while laying a foundation for later, more thoughtful and more far-reaching reform. The Times recommends a yes vote on Propositions 1A, 1C, 1D, 1E and 1F.

Each has negative aspects, and we cannot be as cheerful as the campaign ads that began running last week ("Short-term revenue, long-term stability"). But except for 1B, as explained below, the good outweighs the bad. More details about each of the measures will follow on this page over the coming week, but here's our thinking on the overall package.

Proposition 1A is the heart of this special election and comes in three key parts: It would create a new, larger "rainy day" reserve that would lock up some state revenue in good years so that there would be enough to help the state weather bad years, like this one, without having to once again jack up taxes or slash programs that Californians don't want to slash; it would impose a soft spending cap to block lawmakers from launching expensive, ongoing programs with one-time revenue windfalls; and it would extend by up to two years the temporary tax increases that lawmakers adopted in February as part of their long-delayed budget deal.

Holding more money in reserve makes sense. The Legislature has demonstrated its inability to steward revenue that exceeds expectations; lawmakers spend it on new programs that can't be sustained, or they distribute tax cuts among special interests and find that those cuts too are unsustainable in future years. A larger reserve, with restrictions on when money could be released to pay for new programs, would help protect California from the kind of budgeting disaster that hit last year and will linger at least into next year.

The reserve fund is closely linked to the spending cap, and that gives us pause, because The Times has long objected to hands-free budgeting -- decision-making that removes human thinking from the fiscal planning process. But after several decades' worth of ballot measures that impose formulas to grab cash for education and other favored programs, California finds itself so far down the robo-budgeting road that it may need a bit more automation just to regain its bearings.

Extending the recent sales, vehicle license and income tax increases for a year past their current 2011-2012 sunset date provides revenue crucial to moving the state forward. The benefits outweigh the pain.

Proposition 1B is a different story. Unlike 1A, 1C, 1D and 1E, it brings nothing to the table -- no spending reform, no revenue. Most of the propositions are part of a solution, however imperfect. 1B is part of the problem.

It's ostensibly intended to restore $9.3 billion in funding that public schools and community colleges would get in better economic times under Proposition 98 (the granddaddy of ballot-box budgeting measures, passed in 1988 as an attempt to ensure adequate school funding). But in doing so, it could ratchet up the autopilot spending that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he's trying to stop. We support better funding for schools, but not by imposing more inflexible formulas.

1B isn't needed for the rest of the package to work as intended. It's there to persuade the California Teachers Assn. not to campaign against the package. That's not a good enough reason to pass it.

Proposition 1C would revamp the state lottery, allowing it to be "modernized" through new games, prizes and marketing, while raising $5 billion upfront by allowing investors to buy the rights to future lottery profits. Schools would lose their existing claim on one-third of lottery revenues but would come out ahead, with a new guarantee of $1.1 billion from the general fund.

If borrowing for today against future revenues sounds like a desperate move, well, it is. It's gambling on gambling. But the investors take most of the risk. Also, unlike 1B, 1C brings in money and does so without additional tax increases. Without the $5 billion it brings, California would have to make up the difference by again raising taxes or by making deeper, and ultimately more expensive, cuts. 1C is a decent bet.

Proposition 1D asks voters to modify a ballot measure they adopted in 1998 that imposes a tobacco tax, including 50 cents on every pack of cigarettes, to fund the successful "First 5" preschool and child services programs. It's on the ballot because, to be blunt, the tobacco tax fund has some money, the general fund needs it, and Sacramento deal-makers found it useful to go after it.

The tax has protected children's programsfrom the revenue roller coaster, and it delivers good results. But without 1D, the state would have to cut other programs that children and their families rely on -- foster care, in-home care, health and hospitalization. That means First 5 children and their families may actually be better off with 1D than without it, even though the people who administer the programs may not. First 5 programs would regain complete control of the tobacco tax funds in five years. It's not an ideal solution, but it's a useful and pragmatic one.

Proposition 1E is different only in that the fund from which it diverts money is the Proposition 63 "millionaire's tax," used for mental health programs. It's a shame to see money taken from successful programs. But it's temporary -- in this case, only two years -- and it's needed.

Proposition 1F may embody the most frustrating twist of this special election. In polling, Californians say they like this proposition the best, but we suspect that's because of their mistaken belief that the measure would deprive lawmakers of their pay when the budget is late or out of balance. It wouldn't. It would merely block their pay raises when a deficit is predicted. This measure is, well, OK. It won't help much. But it won't hurt much either.

If 1A, 1C, 1D, 1E and 1F pass, California will still face difficult times. But if they fail, our options will be fewer and more difficult.


This meeting is open to the public to address questions and concerns regarding charter  co-locations.  Please feel free to forward and invite other school stakeholders.

There will be a panel of District and charter principals sharing their experiences co-locating under Proposition 39.

Parking is available at the Visconti Lot across from Beaudry.  Validations will be provided.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jackie Goldberg's unsolicited ballot recommendations for the May 19, 2009 Election

by former LAUSD school board member, city councilperson and state assembly education chair Jackie Goldberg – there are no former teachers!

April 24, 2009

This was a tough one.  I could go either way on most of the ballot measures.  But, I took a stand on them and included good web sites to go to, to find other opinions.

Good luck, but vote on May 19, 2009.

Warmest regards,


General Statewide Election—May 19, 2009

Yes, my friend, here it is April, 2009, and almost no one in the state knows about the “secret election” set in motion by the disastrous budget mess in Sacramento.

In order to get the handful of Republican votes in the Assembly and Senate combined to keep California out of default and bankruptcy, the Democratic leadership agreed to put five ballot measures on a Special Election which will be held on May 19, 2009.

I think everyone involved in this mess knows that almost no one will vote on May 19th. The polls show only one measure, 1F, with a broad base of support. In fact early polls show that the other five measures would easily all go down to defeat. But with millions of dollars from Governor Schwarzenegger and his friends, as well as $5+ million from the California Teachers’ Association and the National Education Association, passage of these propositions is more likely than was first thought to be the case.

The dilemma is this: Vote “No” on all or some of these, and in two years, the state is set for another disaster. Most of the provisions of Proposition 1A begin two years from now, so next year’s current $8 billion shortfall will largely be unaffected by that vote. To be sure, NONE of these are budget reform. They are simply methods of trying to slow the endless cuts to health, human services, and education in the short term. Even when revenues are high, an amount equal to 12.5% of the total budget will need to be set aside first, if Prop 1A passes, before any restorations of services can be made. And then, the only restorations that can be made must be under the spending cap, which will be up to an amount equal to inflation and population growth over the previous ten years. Finally, Prop. 1A gives the Governor the absolute right to cut up to 7% of any department or program budget during the budget year, when there is a potential ending deficit in the General Fund. And, a Governor does this without a vote of the Legislature. This Constitutional amendment is a disaster for the state. But what are we to do in the short term? In 2010-11, the state will probably be short $8+ billion, and with a 2/3 vote still needed for both passing a budget and raising taxes, it won’t be a pretty picture, to say the least.


The reality is that the Republican minority held the state budget “hostage,” and “won” a deal that is “win” if the Propositions pass, and a “win” if the Propositions are defeated. Republican legislators in Sacramento and the Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have worked for years to put us in this terrible situation. With vetoes, 2/3 vote to pass the budget, and 2/3 vote to pass tax reforms, including long-needed tax increases on the state’s wealthiest businesses and individuals, they have shown their mutual willingness to strangle the state, and to cut services to all but state fire protection, law enforcement and state prisons.

The continuous goal is to make California into Texas whose motto is “no taxes, no services.”

Prop 1B does NOT go into effect without the passage of Prop 1A. This is an attempt to guarantee CTA will support the proposition package, and they have done so and have put in $5 million for the campaign to pass them. This, while knowing, that in the long run, Prop 1A is not good for education. But they must fear that there will be NO long run.

We are in a dire situation now. It is indeed true that if Props 1A-1E do NOT pass, the 2009-10 budget will have to be renegotiated. And the Democrats in the legislature and the Governor will go back to fighting about which draconian cuts to make to health, education, and services for the elderly, blind and disabled, not to mention the 11.2+% of the workers in California who are currently receiving unemployment benefits. The do-nothing-but-say-“no”

Republican legislators, once again, pledge not to help, and to try to once again prevent any new taxes from going into effect or remaining in effect.

You must decide which gamble is best to take: (1) Vote “NO” on all but Prop 1B and 1C and force the Democrats in the legislature to try again to pass the tax reforms that only require a simple majority vote as they did last November; or, (2) Vote “Yes” on Props 1A-1E as a stop gap against further holes in the current 2009-10 budget, knowing that the long range destruction of funding for health, education and human services is also contained in these measures.

On the one hand, I certainly prefer the “NO” vote option, and it is probably how I will end up voting, except for Prop 1B and 1C. But the leadership of Speaker Karen Bass, and Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is urging a “Yes” vote to “save” the current budget. The two major teachers’ unions are split on all but Prop 1B, and the non-partisan League of Women Voters believes that starting over and looking for genuine budget reform is better than voting for Props 1A, 1C, 1D, 1E.

Below is a brief explanation of what each measure will do:


According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, Proposition 1A “…amends the Constitution to change the state’s budgeting practices. Based on other components of the 2009-10 budget package, passage of this measure would also give the Governor more authority to cut spending unilaterally and would extend recent tax increases by up to two years.”


1. Changes the Governor’s Authority to Reduce Spending—Once a budget is passed and signed, the Governor needs Legislative approval to reduce spending during a current budget year.

Proposition 1A would change that, and permit the Governor unilaterally to reduce many types of spending for general state operations by up to 7%.

The Governor would have the authority unilaterally to reduce cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for any programs in the budget (healthcare, education, disability funds, CalWorks, etc.). It would not apply to most state employees’ salaries.

2. Revenues set aside for “rainy days:--currently the amount set aside is the HIGHER of $8 billion or 5% of the total General Fund Budget. Under Prop 1A, the goal would be 12.5 % in the reserve, and that would be a goal of $12 billion now and would increase with time.

3. Measure 1A makes it harder to withdraw money from reserves and restricts what the money could be used for once it is withdrawn.

4. Prop, 1A extends Tax Increases-- the Sales Tax increase for one year, through 2011-12; and the Vehicle License Tax and the Income Tax surcharge for two years through the 2012 tax year.

ANALYSIS—Although Proposition 1A was passed as part of the package to balance the 2009-10 budget, “it would not significantly affect this year’s budget. Most of its provisions go into effect starting with the 2010-11 budget year, or later.” (LAO analysis)

According the California League of Women Voters (a non-partisan group): “Prop 1A is touted by its proponents as the way to bring stability to the state budget process. However, it would actually make it more difficult for future governors and legislatures to enact budgets that meet California’s needs and address state priorities.” They went on to say, “the League would support real budget reform, but we regretfully conclude that this measure would only make thinks worse. Most of its provisions would not take effect for two years; we should spend that time working on real budget reform.”

In addition to the League of Women Voter’s opposition to Prop 1A, the California Federation of Teachers also chose to oppose Prop 1A at its March 2009 convention. According to CFT’s Press Release announcing the teacher unions opposition to the measure, “Proposition 1A would create a maze of rules controlling California budgeting that would severely restrict the state from enacting budgets that adequately address the realities that California will be facing in coming years, especially the ability to address the needs of California's aging population.”

Proposition 1A, if approved, would also trigger the ability of the Governor to unilaterally reduce individual program budgets without approval of the legislature. Says CFT President Martin Hittelman, "This ‘power grab’ by the governor is not in keeping with the concept of balanced power among legislative, administrative, and judicial branches of government embedded in the United States Constitution."

On the other hand, the largest teacher union in California, the California Teachers’ Association (CTA) supports Prop 1A. They argue that one cannot have Prop 1B without passing Prop 1A. And, “…if Props 1A-1F fail, we are back to where we started, with no state budget and a $23 billion deficit, which could lead to more teacher layoffs and more cuts to vitals services like education, health care and public safety.”

For more information on this measure, and a full analysis of all five ballot measures see the sites: , , , , and . The first site is the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a state non-partisan office in Sacramento that everyone trusts as a reliable source of information. The second two are sites run by the League of Women Voters, also a non-partisan group. The site after that is for the California Budget Project, a group that continuously analyzes the California State budget. The CFT site takes you to the California Federation of Teachers, which opposes all but Prop 1B. And the final site takes you to the California Teachers’ Association, which supports all of the Propositions.

Proposition 1B—Education Finance

This proposition would only go into effect if Proposition 1A passes. It creates a $9.3 Billion “Supplemental Education” Obligation to pay back to K-14 (which includes Community Colleges) funds owed to those schools under current education finance law. Payments would be made annually beginning 2011-12 and about $200 million each year would be set aside for largely suburban districts under so-called “equalization.”

Analysis—Currently funding for K-14 education has taken a $12 billion loss due to cuts made under the amount guaranteed by Proposition 98, the chief funding law for non-university public education. It is not clear what is currently required as to payback to the schools and community colleges, and lawsuits could result depending on how Prop 98 language is interpreted.

Prop. 1A says the amount owed is $9.3 billion and in 5-6 years, the State would repay that amount in sums of about $1.5 billion per year.

Most school districts, both statewide teachers’ unions, etc, support Prop 1B. But it only goes into effect if Prop 1A passes. In any case, the legislature has the power to restore funding to education in a more straightforward way that is NOT tied to Prop 1A. In the short term, 2009-10, and 2010-11 the measure could postpone repayment of money owed to the State’s schools, and delay the repayments. This could be a savings to the budget of several billions of dollars each year. However, it could turn out that districts and community colleges could get more than they would under some interpretations of current law.

There is no formal opposition to Prop 1B. For more information, see the same sites listed at the end of Prop 1A above.

Proposition 1C—Lottery –Based Borrowing

This measure allows the state to borrow $5 billion in bonds against future Lottery revenues. The lottery would no longer be a source of revenue for education. The General Fund would be required to make up for the loss to education of lottery funds.

The Legislative Analysts Office believes that in the long run, lottery profits then going to the General Fund probably would not cover the higher payments due to education required by Proposition 1C.

Both the League of Women Voters and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) oppose Prop 1C. CTA supports the measure because they believe that the state will be able to sell $5 billion in bonds, “immediately,” and that would help with the current year’s deficit. Also other labor organizations, including SEIU support Prop. 1C because, unlike Prop. 1A, it might actually bring in $5 billion in loan money to the General Fund for the upcoming 2009-20 budget year.

Proposition 1D—Diverting Children’s Services Funding

This measure temporarily redirects a significant portion of Proposition 10 tobacco tax funds to achieve budgetary savings and make permanent changes to state and local commission operations.

1. Immediately redirects about $608 million in the current year, and $268 million each year for the years 2010-11 through 2013-14 to the General Fund, instead of about $268 million each year going to local commissions for state supported health and human services programs for children up to age five. The cuts would reduce access to health programs, and pre-school and other school readiness programs for children up to age 5, throughout the state.

2. The Legislature would decide how to use the money (up to $608 million in 2009-10, and $268 million annually from 2010-11 through 2013-14.

3. The measure also changes how county funding levels are set up, unrelated to population needs.

The League of Women Voters opposes Prop 1D saying the measure creates “…the illusions that more revenues are available, …[when] in reality Prop 1D raids these funds in the short term in order to pay for some services, while taking funding away from other services” such as those that go to very young children. This measure is opposed by CFT, and supported by CTA.

Proposition 1E—Diverting Mental Health Funds

This measure, like 1D raids existing programs to create temporary “savings.” The take here is from Prop 63 funds set aside as the Mental Health Services Act (2004) for screening, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in children and adults. It would divert $227 million a year to the state General Fund, to be spent on Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT)—a federally mandated program that requires certain screening, diagnostic and treatment services to Medi-Cal recipients under the age 21.

This, again, “robs Peter to pay Paul,” in that money for mental health for children and adults is raided, and creates “temporary” budget savings. But it will cut mental health services in order to pay for different mandated services. And this may even result in the loss of federal matching funds for mental health programs that the state currently receives.

Proposition 1 F is the only measure currently receiving widespread support. It says that the members of the Legislature and the Governor (an all statewide elected officials) would be denied any pay increase during budget years when the state is running a deficit in its budget.

This is a “feel-good” measure that says, “Yeh, punish those guys and gals that cannot get the job done.” It will, however, have no real impact since most years when there is a deficit there are no moves to increase the salaries of members of the Legislature or the Governor and other statewide elected officials.

It is a way to make people feel like these are real reforms, and “we” can punish “them” for not doing their jobs. It does NOTHING to produce any reform of the budget process, and is largely meaningless in any case.

What To Do:

My recommendations are as follows:

Proposition 1A -- NO

Proposition 1B -- YES

Proposition 1C -- YES

Proposition 1D -- NO

Proposition 1E -- NO

Proposition 1F -- NO

While 4LAKids doesn’t agree universally with Jackie we do agree totally with:  …but vote on May 19, 2009.   Democracy is not a spectator sport!

points of disagreement:
4LAKids would have you vote YES on 1A (we feel the gun at our head but we fear this is the best we’ll for a few years – and 1A without 1B is meaningless.) We’re unhappilly going to vote YES on 1E, because the author of Proposition 63 (which it steals from) is willing to go along with it – and 1F is meaningless …but Abel Maldonado is every Democrat’s Don Quixote of California Republican politics.

And 4LAKids likes Robert Nakahiro too - enough to vote for him 

…and or City Attorney I may just write in Abel!

Also, for L. A. City Attorney, I will vote for Jack Weiss, mostly because he is pro-labor.

And for Los Angeles Community College District: Angela Reddock for Seat #2, and Nancy Pearlman for Seat #5. (I do like Robert Nakahiro very much, but I think Nancy Pearlman has done a fine job on the Board, and so deserves another term).

If you have other Special Elections, vote for the Democrat, not the Republican in them.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Early last Monday morning Dr. Kent Ashcraft, husband of Tenth District PTSA President-elect Ilene Ashcraft - father to Jessica, Matthew, Andrew, Tiffany, Jonathan and Nathaniel Ashcraft - had an accident while climbing with his son Andrew and two friends on the east ice chute of Thor Peak in the Eastern Sierra. Kent was a well known "peak bagger" - a subset of hiking attuned specifically to reaching high peaks in a day and heading home. He fell from near the top of his climb and broke his neck, by the time help arrived he had passed away.

While this is a great tragedy Ilene reminds us that Kent died doing what he enjoyed most.

Ashcraft - Kent & Ilene

Ilene and Kent AsHcraft at the Diving Board, Half Dome Summit, Yosemite.

Mammoth CA. Times:


Wednesday, 22 April 2009 -- On Monday, April 20, at approximately 8:30 a.m., help was requested for a fall victim in an ice chute off the Mt. Whitney trail above Lone Pine Lake. Kent Ashcraft, 48, from Los Angeles, along with his 18-year-old son Andrew and two friends were climbing an ice chute leading to Thor’s Peak. The group had stopped near the top of the chute to take pictures when the ice Ashcraft was standing on broke loose causing him to fall. Ashcraft struck his head on protruding boulders causing major head injuries and proceeded to slide and tumble an estimated 300 feet down the chute. When Ashcraft’s son and friends reached his location, Ashcraft was not breathing and CPR was initiated.

Rescue personnel from the Lone Pine Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service Ashcraft - Thor Peak crew from Independence responded as Inyo County Search and Rescue responded from Bishop. When the first rescuers reached Ashcraft’s location, CPR had been discontinued. Ashcraft was deceased.

A CHP helicopter out of Victorville responded. Utilizing a winch, Ashcraft’s body was hoisted up to the helicopter and flown to the Lone Pine Airport.

Although Kent Ashcraft was from out of the area, he often frequented and climbed in the Sierra. He also visited and spoke at the Mormon Church in Lone Pine.

From an internet posting for climbers (Summitpost):

I wanted to pass on the news that Kent Ashcraft, a frequent contributor on both Summitpost and the Whitney Portal Store Message Board, died in fall on Thor Peak near Mt. Whitney on 4/20. Kent was an extremely active peak-bagger, and led his entire family on several occasions. Five years ago he led his entire family, including young children, on a successful climb of the Mountaineer's Route.

Kent climbed all over the east-side. He frequently pioneered new routes. I imagine many of you knew him

My condolences to his friends and family. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

From the Whitney Portal Message Board:

It is with extreme sadness that I pass this news along.

I have just learned that Kent Ashcraft, "Kashcraft" on our board, died on Thor Peak today as the result of a fall.

I remember his informative and always helpful posts on the board, and I most admire his taking his entire family safely to the top of Mt. Whitney via the Mountaineers Route when the youngest were 8 or 9!

It is so sad... his last post was less than 24 hours ago.

I have the deepest sympathy for his family and especially his wife, who supported him in all his hiking adventures.

The only consolation we have is that he died in one of his favorite locations, doing what he loved.

Dr Ashcraft and his brother Harold had Optometry practice on the Westside and I was looking forward to drawing him into the operation of our vision clinks as an advisor.


And all of this reminds us that it our families that bring us together in PTA and the greater school community - and it is they and not budgets and gift-wrap and school politics or testing  or API, AYP or fundraising that are always most important.

The funeral for Dr. Kent D. Ashcraft will be at:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Monday, April 27th at 10am

7515 South Sepulveda, Los Angeles CA 90045

Thank you Kent for being a part of our life.



Administrators challenge L.A. Unified layoff vote

Howard Blume |LA Now Blog/LA Times

11:20 AM | April 23, 2009

Alleging a conflict of interest, the union representing Los Angeles school administrators has demanded a reconsideration of last week's vote approving $596.1 million in budget cuts, The Times has learned. The union, in an April 21 letter from its attorneys, claims that Board of Education member Richard Vladovic improperly voted on the budget plan. Vladovic cast the tie-breaking April 14 vote that approved massive cost-cutting measures by a 4-3 margin.

As a result of the vote, about 3,500 less-experienced, non-tenured teachers could be laid off as well as about 2,000 other employees in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Many others could lose their current, higher-paying jobs in the nation's second-largest school system.

Vladovic voted after recusing himself from deliberating and voting on budget cuts at an earlier meeting because his son, a teacher, was among those facing a possible layoff. But at last week's meeting, Vladovic said he was able to consider the budget package because earlier in the meeting, the school board decided to rescind layoffs notices sent to all tenured teachers, including Vladovic's son. (Vladovic did not participate in the unanimous vote to rescind those layoffs notices.)

But Associated Administrators of Los Angeles contends that Vladovic still should have remained on the sidelines. When Vladovic entered the fray, it created the impression of a "quid pro quo," suggesting that Vladovic's son -- as well as 1,995 other teachers -- were spared at that moment partly to make sure Vladovic would be able to vote on the contentious budget plan. If the motions had been considered in a different order, that is, if the budget package had been considered before the rescinding of layoff notices, Vladovic would not have been able to cast the tie-breaking vote.

Vladovic actually missed the initial roll call. He later explained he was suffering the after-effects of recent food poisoning.

If not for the fact that his vote was needed to break the tie, one union leader later quipped, "Dick would have stayed in the bathroom."

The union declined to release a copy of its letter pending advice from its attorneys, but confirmed its contents this morning. The letter, addressed to L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, threatens legal action if the district does not cancel the earlier vote.

Separately, the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, consulted with its attorneys regarding possible legal objections but has opted not to take action. Both unions have denounced the budget package as well as Vladovic's role in its passage. Vladovic's district career includes many years as a teacher and administrator.

Vladovic has insisted throughout that he has simply followed the advice of L.A. Unified attorneys regarding any potential conflict of interest. Before casting his vote, he also asked attorneys whether they could offer legal support for setting aside more funds to prevent layoffs. When they could not, Vladovic cast the tiebreaker.

The employment status of Vladovic's son is complicated.

John Vladovic became a probationary elementary teacher in 2005 and earned his permanent status as an elementary teacher July 1, 2007, according to information provided by the school district. During that period, he taught at City of Angels, an alternative program with many non-traditional locations that serves mostly secondary students. (The younger Vladovic has credentials that allow him to teach both elementary and secondary students, said David Kooper, chief of staff to Richard Vladovic.) 

Currently, John Vladovic is taking part in an administrative training program, through which he is serving as an assistant principal at Wilmington Middle School. Richard Vladovic's budget vote in effect demoted many administrators with little seniority, but John Vladovic is classified as an out-of-classroom teacher rather than an administrator despite his current duties.

The elder Vladovic's vote is likely to result in his son returning to the classroom, putting on hold his potential career as a district administrator.

Contacted last week, district general counsel Roberta Fesler declined to state what specific advice board member Vladovic has received. But she added: "I'm confident that there are no legal problems with Dr. Vladovic's actions in abstaining and voting on the matters you reference."

-- Howard Blume

Administrators union asks LAUSD to reconsider cuts

From staff reports |LA Newspaper Group/Daily Breeze

Posted: 04/23/2009 06:55:10 PM PDT

In a letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District this week, an administrators union has asked that the Board of Education reconsider its vote to approve nearly $600 million in cuts.

Associated Administrators of Los Angeles is alleging a conflict of interest on the part of board member Richard Vladovic, who was the swing vote to pass the controversial cuts last week.

Vladovic, a former teacher and administrator who represents the Harbor Area, had recused himself from an earlier vote on sending layoff notices to nearly 2,000 elementary school teachers because his son was among those receiving pink slips.

After the board voted April 14 to rescind those layoff notices, Vladovic was then cleared by district counsel Roberta Fesler to vote the same day on the broader budgetary measures, according to David Kooper, Vladovic's chief of staff.

Along with United Teachers Los Angeles, AALA opposed the board vote, which approved layoff notices for more than 5,000 teachers and administrators. AALA President Michael O'Sullivan said the union believed Vladovic should have remained recused, but stressed there was no effort to embarrass him or his family.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


By Delaine Eastin – OpEd in the San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 -- The first several generations of Californians were led by visionaries committed to the education of our children. They built the finest public college and university system the world has ever seen, as well as investing generously in K-12 education. California grew rich because the return on our education investment was so extraordinary.

But the policymakers in Sacramento have long since lost their way. Look to the upcoming special election ballot for further evidence: Propositions 1D and 1E, which both harm children and reduce our state's already diminished commitment to the safety, health and development of our young people.

Passage of either Prop. 1D or 1E would represent a rare example of voters taking away programs and services they had previously deemed vital.

How so? A decade ago, in November 1998, the people of California used the initiative process to invest in children's health and preschool by passing Proposition 10. That measure increased taxes on tobacco products and directed most of the revenue to early childhood development, because the research clearly shows that what is provided in terms of health and education from birth until age 5 is a powerful determinant of success in later life. This is when connections and pathways that will last a lifetime are made. Indeed, researchers at UC Berkeley and Stanford note that 80 percent of the gap in fourth-grade reading ability between Latino and white students is present at kindergarten. Proposition 10 passed because most Californians sensed the lack of courage, vision and heart in Sacramento, and jumped at the chance provided by a brave Californian named Rob Reiner, who led the effort to bring the issue directly to the voters. Proposition 10 created First Five of California, an umbrella for a wide range of services that support the very youngest of our citizens with health care, immunization, child abuse prevention and access to preschool.

Now lawmakers want you to permit them to steal that money from the youngest among us to bail out the mad spending and tax cutting they have been engaged in over the last few years. And to make matters worse, they would also take the money that has gone into educating children about the dangers of tobacco, despite the remarkable success of anti-tobacco education efforts over the past decade.

Proposition 1D is a cowardly act on the part of the Legislature. The same crowd, who exempted yachts and private planes from sales taxes for years, and who this year added billions of dollars in tax breaks for business - including $500 million over five years for Hollywood - now wish to steal health and education money meant for our future leaders.

It is bad public policy to cut back now, or any time, on the health or education of young people. If you want this state and our nation to compete in the global economy, then look to Europe, Japan, Israel and China and note that those nations are committed to preschool for all.

Similarly, Prop. 1E takes aim at a range of services for another long-neglected population: people with mental illness. Voters passed Proposition 63 in 2004 to guarantee new and expanded mental health services, paid for by a tax on the wealthiest citizens (a 1 percent surcharge on income above $1 million).

The people recognized that Sacramento had failed to deliver on a decades-old promise to provide adequate mental health care in the community after the state mental hospitals were closed. Voters kept the promise that legislators had broken. The investments made possible by Prop. 63 are just now starting to pay off, but legislators see only a pile of cash that could help them paper over this year's deficit. So they ask voters to let them steal nearly a half-billion dollars from these new programs with Prop. 1E.

In the end, a budget is a statement of values. The budget of a family, a city, a state or a nation speaks to the values of the people therein. California should rebuild its education system, not cut it. California should value its children, not foreclose on their future.

Please tell Sacramento No and No Again on Propositions 1D and 1E.

Delaine Eastin is the former California superintendent of public instruction.


By George B. Sanchez, Staff Writer | LA Newspaper Group/ Daily News

23 April 2009 -- Embarking on a monumental task that some say is doomed to fail, Los Angeles Unified school officials are taking aim at state laws that make it virtually impossible to fire teachers.

Facing unprecedented layoffs, including 3,500 teachers with less than two year's experience, district officials and their allies say they need the power to cull bad teachers from the ranks or students will suffer in the classroom.

"It's about weeding out people who shouldn't be working with our kids," said Tamar Galatzan, a board of education member who represents part of the San Fernando Valley.

On Tuesday, the school board is scheduled to vote on a pair of resolutions to change state teacher protections as well as internal teacher promotion policy. Among them, they will seek to rewrite codes that favor teacher and administrator seniority during layoffs that allow senior staff to "bump" less senior staff out of their jobs, creating a domino effect that leads to the loss of new, nontenured teachers.

Also, the board has proposed a new evaluation method that would automatically fire teachers if they received two consecutive poor performance reviews. A better evaluation method, say district officials, will improve teaching morale and student achievement.

If approved, the measures will kick off a drawn-out fight with California's powerful teachers unions, who hotly oppose any changes to existing laws. The rules protecting teacher jobs are so effective that just 31 teachers have lost their jobs in the state in the past five years.

Teachers union officials say employees deserve job protection so that they can not be arbitrarily fired by a principal with a grudge.

"Does the public want vocal teachers to be fired because an administrator doesn't want to have a voice of opposition?" said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

District officials missed the Feb. 27 deadline to introduce new legislation this year, so if they do decide to move forward they will have to wait until 2010.

Still, LAUSD board members and Superintendent Ramon Cortines - with the support of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa - say it is time to overhaul the decades-old legal codes that protect teachers by seniority, but pay scant attention to competency and performance.

While recognizing their proposal will start a long struggle with the teachers unions and likely unsettle political alliances in Sacramento, board members say with so much attention on public education right now, there's no better time to begin.

California school districts do not have the authority to fire teachers, according to state law. If a teacher is targeted for dismissal, teachers have the right to take their case to an administrative hearing, where an administrative judge and two school officials hear the case and decide.

In the past five years, 31 teachers across the state have lost their jobs after administrative hearings, said Kathleen Collins, an attorney for LAUSD.

Approximately 149 LAUSD teachers are currently awaiting a dismissal hearing and have been removed from the classroom. All but 17 - a total of 132 people - continue to receive a paycheck, according to district records.

"There is an incentive for a bad employee to fight because they continue to get paid," Galatzan said.

The two motions were first introduced by board members Marlene Canter and Galatzan on April 14, the same day the board voted 4-3 to lay off nearly 7,000 teachers.

The layoffs were prompted by the district's budget deficit, which some fear could reach $1.3billion over three years.

The layoffs come at a difficult time for Villaraigosa, who this academic year began overseeing 10 schools under a partnership with the district. He has begun to speak out against the layoffs, which could effectively cost him all of the principals and assistant principals and about 200 teachers at the 10 schools.

"I believe in seniority, but you can take things to a point where it becomes unfair to other people, too," Villaraigosa said. "Why should administrators be able to bump into the school? They should bump other administrators but not all the way down."

The motion to change state law, Canter explained, is the first step in an attempt to fix a broken dismissal system.

"These conversations are being held all over town," Canter said.

The second resolution, authored by Canter, calls for changes to the district's internal process that promotes teachers to tenure.

Currently, teachers become permanent after two years with little internal scrutiny.

"It's a passive process," Canter said. "If nothing is done, teachers still become permanent."

The day after voting to lay off teachers, Canter flew to Sacramento to discuss the resolutions with state lawmakers Gloria Romero, Julia Brownley, Karen Bass and Secretary of Education Glen Thomas.

"This type of legislation would be a difficult challenge," said Santiago Jackson, director of LAUSD's governmental affairs unit. "Similar attempts have been made in the past but they failed due to opposition from the California Teachers Association and UTLA."

Mike O'Sullivan, president of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, had an even bleaker view.

"It has no chance of passing," O'Sullivan said.

The head of the Los Angeles teachers union said the problem is not with state laws that protect teachers, but principals who fail to help teachers become better educators.

"If administrators would do their jobs and identify teachers who are struggling, give them guidance and assistance; and if those people do not improve, then they should be written up," Duffy said. "If administrators did their job, then we could deal with the issue now."

Over the past months as district officials crept slowly toward making mass layoffs, parents demanded that young and probationary teachers be spared. But parents also understand it is a delicate issue that must balance reform while maintaining protections.

"Many parents feel the seniority should be revised but teachers need protection against discrimination and favoritism," said Diana Kunce, whose children attend Westwood Charter School. "We're interested in true collaboration and true reform. This is a complex issue."


THE STUDY: Effects of the California High School Exit Exam on Student Persistence, Achievement, and Graduation

Sean F. Reardon
Allison Atteberry
Nicole Arshan

Stanford University
Michal Kurlaender
University of California, Davis
April 21st, 2009

The Institute for Research on Education Policy & Practice
@ Stanford University

This study, released April 21, 2009, provides the most detailed analysis of the effects of the California High School Exit Exam to date.  The study finds that the policy has lowered the graduation rates of low-achieving students of color and of girls by 15-20 percentage points.  Moreover, the policy has had no positive effect on students' academic achievement.  

Press Release (April 21, 2009) Press Release (April 21, 2009)

Executive Summary Executive Summary

Full Report Full Report


By Connie Llanos Staff Writer Los Angeles Newspaper Group | Daily News

April 22, 2009 -- California's high school exit exam, which students must pass to receive a diploma, has led to a plunge of more than 30 percent in the graduation rates of low-performing female and minority students since it was introduced, according to a study released Tuesday.

"We estimate that about 20,000 students who would have graduated before this policy was in place did not get diplomas, and an overwhelming majority of them are minority students - that is something we should all be worried about," said Sean Reordan, associate professor of education at Stanford University and the author of the study.

The Stanford study compared graduation rates and test scores from similar 10th- and 11th-grade students in four large urban school districts - Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco and Fresno - before and after the California Exit Exam was established as a requirement in 2005.

The study, the first to measure the effects of the exit exam on graduation and student achievement, shows that graduation rates fell 34 percent among low-performing females, 36 percent among black students and an average of 31 percent among Latino and Asian students.

Los Angeles Unified School District students were not included in the study, but its authors said the findings could be applied to all urban school districts in the state.

State education officials and L.A. Unified officials defended the exam, known as CAHSEE, saying it ensures all students leave high school with a basic skill set.

"The exit exam plays an important role in our work to ensure that a high school diploma has meaning," state schools chief Jack O'Connell said in a statement.

"Passing the exam signifies that a student has critical basic skills that will help them survive in the competitive global economy."

But Reordan said the issue is that students of the same academic level - but of different ethnicities or gender - are not doing as well on the exam, preventing them from culminating high school.

"I think this shows that this exam is not an effective approach to improving student achievement. The test needs to be improved and we need to find other ways of getting student accountability."

The study also states that there is no evidence of an improvement in student achievement - a main goal for implementing the test.

While the study did not include data from Los Angeles Unified, the demographics of the districts studied mirror those of LAUSD, where a majority of students are minorities. Still, district officials did not feel that the study's findings necessarily apply to LAUSD.

According to the district's data, graduation rates dipped at LAUSD in the 2005-06 school year, but rose again last year, reaching 67 percent in 2007.

Judy Elliott, LAUSD's chief academic officer, said that based on the summary of the Stanford study she did not feel the findings were "earth shattering."

"When you look at grades and test performance there is a real achievement gap between black, brown, white, poor," Elliott said. "There's gaps with the CAHSEE. It's everywhere you look."

Still, Elliott said the exam has forced many students and teachers to raise their expectations.

"If you set the bar low, students will meet it low. If you put it higher, kids meet it higher and so do teachers."


by  Debra Viadero - EdWeek School Research Blog

April 22, 2009 -- A study out today suggests that California's high school exit-exam policy may be doing more harm than good for the state's lowest-performing students—especially those who are young women and students of color.

Implemented with the graduating class of 2006, California's exit test—known as the California Hlgh School Exit Exam or CAHSEE—has been controversial from the start. Proponents hoped the test would spur students to study harder, but opponents, in lawsuit after lawsuit, worried that an unintended consequence of the exams might be a drop in graduation rates among some of the state's most disadvantaged students.

The report posted online today by Stanford University's Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice confirms some of the critics' worst fears. It shows that the exit exam led to an overall decline in graduation rates of 3.6 to 4.5 percentage points in the years after the policy took effect, yet without producing a strong effect on student achievement on other state tests.

Among females in the bottom achievement quartile, graduation rates fell by 19 percentage points after the high-stakes exam policy was put in place. That compares with a drop of 12 percentage points over the same period for male students with similar academic profiles.

Likewise, the poorest-performing black, Hispanic, and Asian-American students saw their graduation rates decline by 15 to 19 percentage points following the enactment of the exit-exam policy. The comparable graduation-rate decrease found among white students, in comparison, was a mere 1 percentage point.

"These are clearly troubling, and no one can be happy with a policy that is having such disproportionate effects," said Sean F. Reardon, the Stanford scholar who led the study. (For a look at what California's chief state school officer has to say about the results, see here.)

Just as intriguing, though, is the researchers' explanation for why the effects hit some groups of students harder than others: They chalk it up to "stereotype threat."

Stereotype threat, you may recall, is the idea that people's test performance can be artificially depressed if they are afraid they will confirm an unflattering stereotype about their racial or gender group by doing poorly. For example, women and African-Americans have been found to do worse on math exams after being asked to write their race or gender on their papers or after being told that their group typically scores low on an exam.

The Stanford researchers said they reluctantly fingered stereotype threat as a culprit in the post-CAHSEE graduation-rate declines after ruling out most other possibilities. Thinking that minority students might be attending schools with poorer resources, for example, they analyzed data for subsets of students in the same schools. The patterns stayed the same. They also eliminated possible bias in the tests themselves as an explanation after reviewing studies on that topic.

But, when the research team examined students' previous scores on other state tests, they turned up some evidence that minority students and women had underperformed on particular sections of the state exit exam. Women fared worse than their earlier performance might have predicted, for example, on the math portion. Asian students did worse-than-expected on English-language arts.

"It's a very specific pattern, so it's hard to explain it based on effort," Reardon says. "That's what persuaded me that there was a stereotype-threat story going on, that we have this other set of tests to compare it to, and they don't show the same pattern."

more stories:

Study gives low marks to Calif school exit exam

San Jose Mercury News – 4/22/09

AP PALO ALTO, Calif.—A new study by Stanford University finds that California's high school exit exam prevents a disproportionate number of girls and ...

High school exit exam hinders female and non-white students, study ...

Los Angeles Times - 4/22/09

The mandatory test is keeping at least 22500 California students a year from graduating who would otherwise fulfill all their requirements, researchers say. ...

Study: Exit exam doesn't meet expectations

San Francisco Chronicle - 4/22/09

For a decade, supporters of the California High School Exit Exam have said the high-stakes test would boost student performance while opponents countered ...

California's Exit-Exam Policy: A Study in Inequity

Education Week News (subscription) - ‎8 hours ago‎

A study out today suggests that California's high school exit-exam policy may be doing more harm than good for the state's lowest-performing ...

800 Cherokee County students taking exit exam this week

Gaffney Ledger (subscription) - ‎10 hours ago‎

By SCOTT POWELL Ledger Staff Writer More than 800 county high school students are taking an important test this week on their ...

Stanford study criticizes high school exit exam

Palo Alto Online - 4/22/09

Graduation rates for low-achieving girls and minority students have fallen nearly 20 percent since the 2006 launch of California's mandatory high school ...

Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Response to New Study on California ...

Imperial Valley News - 4/22/09

Sacramento, California - State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today issued the following statement in response to the release of a new ...

SD School Data Helps Reveal Exit Exam Problems

KPBS - 4/22/09

California's high school exit exam is under attack in a Stanford University report which concludes the test is not working the way it was intended. ...

Stanford study of exit exam shows fallacy

Sacramento Bee - 4/22/09

By Dan Walters California celebrates diversity and individualism as virtues, but oddly, when it comes to public education, we try to stuff 6 million ...

Stereotypes can lower exit exam scores

Stockton Record - 4/22/09

By Roger Phillips STOCKTON - Saddled by the combination of typical test-taking stress and the self-fulfilling prophecy of their negative stereotypes about ...

Study: School exit exam hurts minority, female graduation rates

Long Beach Press-Telegram - ‎Apr 21, 2009‎

By Kevin Butler, Staff Writer LONG BEACH - The California High School Exit Exam disproportionately hurts graduation rates of minority and female students, ...

California high school exit exam gets a failing grade in Stanford ...

Stanford Report - ‎Apr 21, 2009‎

BY KATHLEEN J. SULLIVAN Graduation rates for low-achieving minority students and girls have fallen nearly 20 percentage points since California implemented ...

Questions raised over Exit Exam

Inland Empire News - ‎Apr 21, 2009‎

SACRAMENTO--A new report casts some doubt on the value of California's high school Exit Exam. A study at Stanford University found declining graduation ...

Stanford study critical of high school exit exam

Tri Valley Herald - 4/22/09

By Diana Samuels The California High School Exit Exam isn't improving student achievement and has reduced graduation rates for some minority groups by ...

Some graduation rates worse with high school exit exam, study finds

Sacramento Bee - ‎ 4/22/09‎

By Melody Gutierrez Low-achieving students from California high schools are graduating at a substantially lower rate than those in the past who were not ...


By George B. Sanchez, Staff Writer | LA Newspaper Group/Daily News

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discusses the city's budget woes during an interview with the Daily News editorial board. (Evan Yee/Staff Photographer)

April 22, 2009 - With the leadership of his schools in doubt, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday sharpened his attack on L.A. Unified plans to layoff nearly 7,000 employees and said the teacher's union needed to make concessions to get the school district through the rough patch.

The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, the 10 LAUSD schools overseen by Villaraigosa and his staff, stands to lose all of its principals and assistant principals - 49 people - as well as 20 percent of its teachers - approximately 200 educators - under the district's cost-cutting plan.

The district faces a deficit expected to reach $1.3 billion over the next three years.

"You cut 4,500 teachers in this town, you're going to kill the reform effort, you're going to kill my Partnership schools and you're going to kill education in L.A.," Villaraigosa told Daily News editors and reporters at an editorial board meeting.

Offering his own solution, Villaraigosa said if district officials implemented a 3 percent district-wide wage cut and further snipped central office staff, it could cover the rest of its massive budget with federal stimulus funds.

The mayor noted that schools in low-income neighborhoods are getting hit especially hard because many of their teachers are new. State seniority laws force teachers with less than two years experience to be dismissed before tenured teachers. As a result, some schools will lose up to 70 percent of their teaching staff, replaced in some cases by administrators or office staff who haven't taught in years.

The disproportionate number of layoffs at poor schools, Villaraigosa suggested, could be grounds for a civil rights lawsuit.

Villaraigosa said it's time to change the law that preserves seniority during layoffs.

"I'm hearing it from teachers everywhere. They're saying `Why should I get thrown under the bus because I'm a new teacher?"'

Renewing his call for shared sacrifice, Villaraigosa said LAUSD's employee unions, particularly United Teachers, Los Angeles, must agree to short-term concessions to get through the current budget crisis.

Villaraigosa insinuated the UTLA leadership is out of touch with its rank and file membership. Stopping short of mentioning UTLA President A.J. Duffy by name, Villaraigosa said teachers union leaders need to end their chest pounding and demagoguery.

Responding to the mayor's call for shared sacrifice, Duffy said teachers sacrifice every day of every week of every year.

"The mayor would serve the community best by pressuring his allies on the board to finally complete the job of cutting all the bureaucratic fat out of the budget," Duffy said.

Monday, April 20, 2009


By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer| los Angeles newspaper Group/daily news

April 20, 2009 - NORTH HOLLYWOOD - Four years ago Nancy Oda opened Maurice Sendak Elementary, taking the name of the famed children's author who penned "Where the Wild Things Are," a tale of a rebellious boy with a monstrous imagination.

Oda, Sendak's principal, saw the moniker as symbolic of the creative learning community she hoped to create at the new school. Test scores rose, parent involvement increased, teacher morale soared and Oda began to think her mission was complete.

Until last month, when the Los Angeles Unified School District warned of up to 8,500 layoffs of teachers and staff to cover a massive budget deficit. While the layoff plan approved by the school board last week managed to save nearly 2,000 teaching jobs, many elementary schools, like Sendak, are bracing for an uncertain future.

Not only do they stand to lose staff, they're not at all certain how or when it will all take place.

"In 32 years, this is the least-clear time I've ever seen at a school," Oda said.

Current plans call for Sendak to lose seven of 36 teachers and staff - some of the best and brightest - and seniority rules could force former teachers, who had left the classroom years ago for desk jobs, into some of those vacant positions.

"I don't know where my people are going to land," she said. "The cost has been a feeling of betrayal."

Under the district's layoff plan, hundreds of teachers will be shuffled and thousands could be laid off. Early retirement incentives and a plan to allow schools to use federal stimulus money to buy back laid-off teachers could save some more jobs. But even those saved positions would be handed out based on seniority rules.

In the meantime, principals are struggling to plan for next year with little information as they try to prepare themselves and their staffs for the emotional fallout of losing crucial members.

Sendak is set to lose five teachers and two academic coaches, while an assistant principal will go part-time, according to the district's plan. The school still doesn't know exactly how many office employees, custodians and cafeteria workers will also have to go.

"When you build a school, you build a family," said Cindy Sarmiento, Sendak's coordinator for Title I, a federal program for schools in low-income areas. "We don't want to let anyone here go."

District officials admit many schools are confused about the rapid changes taking place.

"There are a lot of balls still up in the air," said Vivian Ekchian, LAUSD's head of human resources.

Ekchian said she will recommend that teachers and administrators be matched up to campuses based on common interests - not just seniority. The move would help principals who need to fill vacant positions, but gives little hope to the youngest teachers hardest hit by the cost-cutting plan.

"It crushes the dream ... but I hope it's not forever," said Jannette Marin, a fourth-grade teacher at Sendak.

State Education Code and union rules require that senior teachers or administrators who are displaced can "bump" out younger teachers like Marin, who have not reached their third year of teaching in the district.

"I wish they would take into consideration your skills - if you're bilingual, if you've built relationships with parents," Marin said.

Marin's ability to speak Spanish helped her connect with her English-language learning students, but the mother of two pre-teen girls regrets that she waited until later in life to find her calling.

"I wish it wouldn't have taken me this long to get here," she said.

Kindergarten teacher Anne Marie Nagel was spared, thanks to the district's decision to rescind the pink slips of almost 2,000 permanent teachers - but Nagel could still be forced out of Sendak. Because of the district's plan to increase class sizes, her classroom could be closed, sending her to a new school in the district. If another position opens at Sendak, there is no guarantee that Nagel will get to fill it.

"They are cutting an entire generation of teachers short," Nagel said.

The position of academic coach, created years ago to address the district's failing test scores, will also be ostensibly eliminated unless principals decide to buy back the position. The move displaces 1,200 coaches, who would then return to the classroom as teachers, bumping out younger instructors.

At Sendak, that could mean Janet Beardsley, the school's math coach and a 20-year LAUSD veteran, could be bumping out one of the young teachers she helped train.

"It's very sad ... things are going to look very different next year," Beardsley said.

Losing teachers and reducing programs could wreak havoc on the progress made by district schools like Sendak, where test scores have been on the rise over the past four years.

In addition to teachers, administrators are also playing musical chairs as many senior district employees see their jobs get cut, forcing them to move back into the principal and assistant principal positions they once held. Also, the district wants more students assigned to school administrators - forcing some of them to oversee more than one campus.

At Sendak, Sarmiento and Oda will be all that's left of a full-time administrative staff. Cutting the leadership team from five to 2<MD+,%30,%55,%70>1/<MD-,%0,%55,%70>2 - including the part-time assistant principal - means more paperwork with fewer people and less time with teachers, students and parents.

"You can feel the heavy energy on campus," Sarmiento said at a recent school luncheon organized to boost the morale of teachers.

As she served up hot dogs and nachos to her staff, Sarmiento joked that next year she'd be "wearing roller skates" to get the job done.

LAUSD officials hope that an early retirement incentive will save some jobs. Longtime teachers like Gina Sutton, a 30-year district employee and preschool teacher at Sendak, are mulling the district retirement package with the deadline to file just a week away. But a weak economy is making many senior teachers hesitant.

"The teachers that are being asked to leave are super teachers, they put in so much effort in times like these," Sutton said.

"But I also have to look out for my own welfare."

Oda could also retire this year, freeing up a position. She plays out different scenarios in her head for the next school year and admits that she is not looking forward to watching the dominoes fall.

"My sister was telling me that during the Depression, teachers used to feed their students because they were the only people with secure jobs," Oda said. "I've lived long enough to see that not be true any longer."

But as the matriarch of her school family, Oda cannot pry herself away.

"I have to see them through this," she said.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The news that didn’t fit from April 19th

Thursday, April 16, 2009 11:43 PM
The latest on California politics and government  Posted by Kevin Yamamura, SACBEE  April 16 - The California Teachers Association has pumped $5 million so far into a campaign to pass Propositions 1A and 1B, with the carrot of $9.3 billion in total additional education revenues starting in 2011-12 under 1B.  But the California Federation of Teachers believes there's a different way to get that

Saturday, April 18, 2009 12:57 PM
by Nadra Kareem | Contributing Writer The Watts Times  April 16, 2009 -- Lamar Queen considered applying to three school districts in Southern California upon graduating from Louisiana’s Grambling State University. In the end, the math teacher settled on the Los Angeles Unified School District.  “They had a nice incentive program for new teachers who were going to teach math, so I went with

Thursday, April 16, 2009 6:16 AM
4LAKIDS unenthusiastically recommends  YES votes on 1A, 1B & 1C. We don’t like any of them, but they are the best we are going to get in this economy with politics-as-unusual in Sacramento.     1D  and 1E hold early childhood education and mental health programs temporary hostage for education, if you can accept that – vote YES.     1E is a no brainer.    Familiarize yourself with the measures

Thursday, April 16, 2009 5:18 AM
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER | NEW YORK TIMES    Michal Czerwonka for The New York Times - Mitchell Summer, the dean of students at Florence Nightingale Middle School in Los Angeles, helps students cross the street  April 10, 2009 — LOS ANGELES — At 2:58 each weekday afternoon, the adults brace for traffic chaos at Florence Nightingale Middle School.  The bell sounds, and children dash to the left


Wednesday, April 15, 2009 3:17 PM
Update 4/15 | 3pm:           Before yesterday’s vote to “save” 1996 elementary school jobs Reduction in Force/RIF/layoff  notices  had been sent to 10,571 employees.            The final vote technically authorized 8,541 layoffs,             Superintendent Ramon Cortines and Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly said the district would route state funding to individual schools, allowing them to

Saturday, April 18, 2009 2:48 PM
“You have heard from Jackie Goldberg and John Mockler;  you have heard from teachers and parents and student. Listen to them.” 

smf to the Board of Ed at the April 14th Meeting:  Members of the Board of Education, I speak today as Vice President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTA and I bring the greetings of Thirty-first District. Together we represent the entirely of PTA in LAUSD.   I am here in

LABOR ORGANIZES AGAINST BUDGET MEASURE 1-A + Strange 1A fellows move their beds closer together
Tuesday, April 14, 2009 8:10 AM
By Kevin Yamamura | Sacramento Bee     Monday, Apr. 13, 2009 - A powerful California public employee union formed a campaign committee Monday with two other labor groups to oppose Proposition 1A, a May 19 ballot measure that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have said will solve future budget problems.  Service Employees International Union's California State Council, which says



Saturday, April 11, 2009 10:34 PM
Spend the Stimulus monies to ensure a future for the kids  &  Deny the District’s self-defeating and rash cuts.     Guiding Principle From 4/6 Meetings                        Public Interest Message of Hope· Maintain level of consistency of instructional and operational support.· Equity.           ·


by smf for LAKids

Bad things happened at LAUSD this week.

You won't read about them in this part of 4LAKids. Not this time.

Kornstein Library

Skid-a-marink a dink a dink, Skid -a-marink a do; we love you,
Skid-a-marink a dink a dink, Skid -a-marink a do; we love you
We love you in the morning and in the afternoon.
We love you in the evening and underneath the moon.
Oh skid-a-marink a dink a dink, Skid-a-marink a do;
We love you Julie Korenstein, yes we do.

You didn't have to be there, but you should've been. If you were you know and heard and saw and felt the love.

Friday. 10AM.. The Charles Leroy Lowman Special Education Center in North Hollywood.

Their Earth Day Celebration.

And the dedication of the New School Library; The Julie Korenstein Library.

Dedicated-to-and-named-for Julie K. who saved the school back when Special Ed Centers were universally out and mainstreaming was universally in. Julie who used her personal board member office funds to get bookshelves for the school library. And books to put on them.

Julie Korenstein. 22 years on the Board of Ed. A teacher before that.

Ponytail. Bangs. The word "retiring" will never fit in a sentence about her

That Julie.

Profoundly challenged and disabled special Ed students like the ones at Lowman don't need books or a library you say? Because they can't read and maybe never will.

That was the thinking - or lack thereof - at LAUSD. Not the big LAUSD we are all a part of, but the small LAUSD about test scores and right sizing and dollar signs. The other LAUSD.

Special Ed Kids can imagine. They can dream.

Like every child they can be and do anything they set their hearts to - and their hearts are a mile wide.

They can sing and dance.

They can connect smiles and make laughter.

They can listen.

They can listen as school librarian Franny Parish reads to them. Yes, that Franny Parish - the PTA Goddess with the leopard print stockings is also the School Library Goddess.

Who knew?

The kids at Lowman know; they know the words and the tune and they dance to the music. Skid-a-marink.

They know about books. They may not be able to decode and decipher and comprehend. They may not know their letters …but they get the very essence of it.

They know about Earth Day and how important the earth is. They know about the hungry hungry caterpillar and about hopping on pop and all those hats Bartholomew Cubbins has. Like every child they love those things. Even if they can't speak they take your hand and show you things you need to know about.

Julie made a speech for the adults about the 22 years. About how this past year has been the hardest; about how next year will be worse. How she wonders whether public education and LAUSD will survive.

And Julie made a speech to the kids about Earth Day and Books and about Franny. How Julie's ninety-year-old- mother asks her each day what she's going to do when she grows up. She talked about the Library. About how special the kids and the school truly are to her and to all of us.

Franny joked about the wonderful new library with the painting on the wall painted over the weekend by Principal Paula Melideo …and how it probably won't have a librarian next year.

That joke didn't get a laugh. Kids don't understand irony and metaphor. The future is a long way away when you have Down's Syndrome …but you have high expectations. You want to know about Bartholomew's hats today and what's in the book next to it tomorrow.

There probably won't be a more meaningful or appropriate memorial to Julie’s service to her community and her constituents than this school library. Julie's community is our aspiring city of angels, her constituents twenty two years of schoolchildren.

Good job, well done. Skid-a-marink indeed.

¡EverOnward/Hasta adelante! - smf

THE LAUSD BUDGET: What we know/What we don't know.

by smf for 4LAKids


· The Federal government though the stimulus package is committed to maintain and create jobs in public education – that is the goal of this initial phase of the stimulus. Reform comes later, with different dollars.

· LAUSD's budget, approved last Tuesday, is reform and 'rightsizing' driven: the Board of Ed voted to reduce and eliminate, not save and create jobs, positions and programs.

· Yes, 1996 elementary teacher positions from a Reduction-in-Force (RIF) pool of over ten thousand were 'saved' – but 8,541 jobs were done away with Tuesday. The possibility of saving 3,167 of these jobs through the federal stimulus was relegated to the school sites' discretion – if they can find the money and can figure out the district, state and federal mandate. 5,374 jobs cannot be saved under the 4/13 budget plan.

· The California Ed Code says that only the Board of Education has hiring and firing authority.

· The first of the Federal Stimulus was released by the feds to the state Friday; California was the first state in the nation to receive the funding.

· The feds say the governor has authority and responsibility to send the money to school districts. The legislature says the California Constitution gives them that sole authority. Where the California Superintendent of Public Instruction – the state's premiere elected official in education fits in is unclear – but he has weighed in (see $3.1-BILLION ECONOMIC STIMULUS WINDFALL OFFERS A CHANCE TO REFORM CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS, TOP EDUCATION OFFICIAL SAYS, following) In LAUSD the Board of Ed and the superintendent are at odds with O'Connell's advice to come up with "creative solutions that benefit all students" while saving jobs of teachers, administrators and employees. They are intent on rightsizing – pushing the decision making authority on saving jobs out to the 900 school sites.

· The March 10th Board of Ed meeting – the first reading of the district budget – was held with no public witnesses, broadcast by a single TV camera controlled by the board from am undisclosed location behind locked doors, inaccessible to the public — in extremely dubious compliance with the state's open meeting law.

· At the next Board of Ed budget hearing on March 31st Dr. Vladovic recused himself – removing himself from the process – citing a conflict of interest. His son was subject to layoff under the proposed RIF proposal.

· Absent consensus, under pressure of the District's congressional delegation and in deference to the public the board voted to postpone to a certain time (the regular April 13th meeting) the motion on the floor (the budget resolution).

· Immediately prior to the April 13th meeting a special meeting was held and Dr. Vladovic's son and 1995 other teachers were removed from the RIF list. Dr. Vladovic did not participate in the special meeting.

· At the April 13 regular meeting – at which the budget resolution was reconsidered as amended – Dr. Vladovic was recorded at the opening roll call as absent. Whether he was ever recorded as present is unclear. From time to time he came and left. At no time did he announce he was no longer recused.

· When the final vote was taken there was a 3 to 3 tie; Dr. Vladovic not being present. In a tie vote the motion would have failed – but the vote was left open pending Dr. Vladovic's return

· When Vladovic returned he explained his absence as illness (…with perhaps more detail then was required!) Asked for his vote he made an inquiry of counsel: [LATimes: "He then asked for a legal opinion on whether the district could spend more restricted money to save jobs. The district's top lawyer warned against it." — this in itself is parliamentarily questionable, no further information should be provided during a vote], He got a reply and recorded an Aye vote. 4 to 3 the motion carried.


· Questions arise as to whether Dr. Vladovic's participation was correct in light of his:

1. previous recusal on a continued motion,

2. absence at the roll call and

3. absence at the vote – which was understood by some witnesses as his continued recusal.

· There is also question as to whether the decision to save the 1996 elementary positions was engineered to secure Vladovic's participation.

· 4LAKids questions what the intended and unintended consequences of saving the 1996 elementary teachers will be. The initial RIF was proposed to facilitate class size increase; now 2000 more teachers are available but the class size increase mandate was not addressed in the budget. What exactly will those teachers are doing?

· How School Site Councils – charged under this budget with determining which RIFed teachers and staff will be rehired — and untrained and unprepared for this fiduciary and ethical responsibility – will function when they are likely to be composed of RIFed employees and their co-workers – and by parents whose children will be served by impacted employees.

· The composition of SSCs is statutory, they are elected bodies and their makeup is formulated to create equitable representation of employees, administration, parents and community, and in secondary: students. Wholesale recusal would disturb the equity

· SSC meetings, normally open, will be closed as they would be discussing personnel matters. This creates both the appearance-of and actual conflicts of interest of biblical proportions with little or no transparency, accountability or oversight. Stay tuned.

Tune in and watch: The April 13th Board meeting will be rebroadcast Sunday, April 19, 10:24 AM on KLCS/Channel 58 - CHANNEL 58.1 Check your cable listings for which channel it is carried.