Wednesday, March 31, 2010



CDHP PRESS RELEASE: Children’s Dental Health Project Applauds Congressional Leaders for Investment in Oral Health

Children's Dental Health Project

March 23, 2010 -- Washington, DC – The Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP) today applauds Congress and, in particular, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), for enacting significant oral health provisions in the health care reform bill signed into law today by President Obama. The passage of this historic health care reform bill represents an unprecedented investment in the oral health of Americans.

Congress recognized that oral health is essential to overall health and took key steps toward countering the “silent epidemic” of dental disease among America’s children. The new legislation promotes early and effective prevention, assures families that they can obtain dental insurance for their children, and strengthens dental care across the country.

“Good oral health is essential to good overall health. This new law will help ensure that millions more Americans have access to dental care. This represents a major improvement to our nation’s health care safety net,” said U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, who led the effort to include dental provisions in the final bill.

Burton Edelstein, Founding Chair of the Children’s Dental Health Project noted that “In combination with Medicaid and the CHIP reforms passed last year, millions more children are assured of dental coverage and access to dental care. Through passage of health reform, Congress has ensured that children’s dental coverage is as important as their medical coverage.”

Among the provisions directed specifically at improving America’s oral health are:

Expanded coverage. A Significant investment in ensuring access to public and private dental coverage for children in America.

Prevention. Dental disease prevention initiatives including public education, school-based sealant programs in all 50 states and research grants to improve the prevention and management of tooth decay in young children.

Tracking and monitoring. Resources for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other federal agencies to assess American’s oral health and dental care with a special emphasis on pregnant women.

Workforce development. Expanded education of dental professionals and those who train and educate future dental caregivers in rural areas and among underserved populations. Grants to allow study options for new dental care providers.

Safety net improvements. Support for dental programs in school-based and community-based health centers. Creation of a new commission to study oral healthcare workforce capacity.

Medicaid and CHIP. Expands Medicaid coverage and increases Federal government’s contribution to Medicaid in all states, extends the CHIP program for five years, and addresses payment to dentists and other healthcare professionals through the Medicaid and CHIP Access and Payment Commission (“MACPAC”).

Infrastructure improvements. Support for states to bolster their dental public health programs through leadership development, oral health data collection and interpretation, and best use of science to improve oral health.

# # #

To download this press release as a PDF, click the link below.

CDHP Press Release 3.23.10.pdf

Summary: Childrens' Dental Health Project Health Care Reform - Oral Health Summary - 3-23-10

Children's Dental Health Project

1020 19th Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036

Phone (202) 833-8288

Fax (202) 331-1432


by smf for 4LAKids

With the LAUSD’s use of 430,000,000 kilowatt hours annually, it is estimated that the approximate 4.5% hike will result in a $2.58 Million annual increase to the District.

I will leave it to the teachers out there to assign this as algebra problems appropriate to the standards and curriculum for each grade.

  • How many pencils does this equate to?
  • …red rubber playground balls?
  • How many art teachers?
  • …library books?
  • …school nurses?
  • …furlough days?
  • How many kids in overcrowded classrooms?

Yesterday’s rate hike was a first step in anticipated future increases.

LA council votes to increase DWP rates‎ - Los Angeles Times



Jaime A. Escalante (December 31, 1930 — March 30, 2010) got his reputation for being controversial and contentious the old fashioned way; he earned it. He also earned his reputation for being an excellent teacher, for being a fighter, a troublemaker, an angry opponent of mediocrity and a advocate for young people. He fits the Joseph Campbell definition of Hero – he led his students at Garfield in heroic acts against the odds; against what was later exquisitely defined as the 'soft bigotry of low expectations'.

It was Escalante's defeat of the bigotry and the low expectations that is his legacy.

A movie was made about a couple of years in Escalante's life, the lives of one class of his students and Garfield High School – they are forever intertwined in legend. Escalante described "Stand and Deliver" - a low budget/low expectation film with an fairly unknown cast - as "90% truth, 10% drama". The movie changed the way Hollywood looks at Latinos.

Legendary is a tough mantle to wear; Escalante's wearing of his was problematic. He was, to his students, the best teacher in America. That is what mattered – and matters still.   –smf

Jaime Escalante dies at 79; math teacher who challenged East L.A. students to 'Stand and Deliver'

He became America's most famous teacher after a 1988 movie portrayed his success at mentoring working-class pupils at Garfield High to pass a rigorous national calculus exam. He died of cancer.

LA Times Obituary By Elaine Woo


    Jaime Escalante "didn't just teach math. Like all great teachers, he changed lives," said actor Edward James Olmos, who portrayed Escalante in the 1988 film "Stand and Deliver." (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / November 14, 1998)

PHOTOS: Jaime Escalante | 1930-2010 PHOTOS: Jaime Escalante | 1930-2010


    March 31, 2010 -- Jaime Escalante, the charismatic former East Los Angeles high school teacher who taught the nation that inner-city students could master subjects as demanding as calculus, died Tuesday. He was 79.

    The subject of the 1988 film "Stand and Deliver," Escalante died at his son's home in Roseville, Calif., said actor Edward James Olmos, who portrayed the teacher in the film. Escalante had bladder cancer.

    "Jaime didn't just teach math. Like all great teachers, he changed lives," Olmos said earlier this month when he organized an appeal for funds to help pay Escalante's mounting medical bills.

    Escalante gained national prominence in the aftermath of a 1982 scandal surrounding 14 of his Garfield High School students who passed the Advanced Placement calculus exam only to be accused later of cheating.

    The story of their eventual triumph -- and of Escalante's battle to raise standards at a struggling campus of working-class, largely Mexican American students -- became the subject of the movie, which turned the balding, middle-aged Bolivian immigrant into the most famous teacher in America.

    Passionate teacher

    Escalante was a maverick who did not get along with many of his public school colleagues, but he mesmerized students with his entertaining style and deep understanding of math. Educators came from around the country to observe him at Garfield, which built one of the largest and most successful Advanced Placement programs in the nation.

    "Jaime Escalante has left a deep and enduring legacy in the struggle for academic equity in American education," said Gaston Caperton, former West Virginia governor and president of the College Board, which sponsors the Scholastic Assessment Test and the Advanced Placement exams.

    "His passionate belief [was] that all students, when properly prepared and motivated, can succeed at academically demanding course work, no matter what their racial, social or economic background. Because of him, educators everywhere have been forced to revise long-held notions of who can succeed."

    Escalante's rise came during an era decried by experts as one of alarming mediocrity in the nation's schools. He pushed for tougher standards and accountability for students and educators, often irritating colleagues and parents along the way with his brusque manner and uncompromising stands.

    He was called a traitor for his opposition to bilingual education. He said the hate mail he received for championing Proposition 227, the successful 1998 ballot measure to dismantle bilingual programs in California, was a factor in his decision to retire that year after leaving Garfield and teaching at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento for seven years.

    He moved back to Bolivia, where he propelled himself into a classroom again, apparently intent on fulfilling a vow to die doing what he knew best -- teach. But he returned frequently to the United States to speak to education groups and continued to ally himself with conservative politics. He considered becoming an education advisor to President George W. Bush, and in 2003 signed on as an education consultant for Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign in California.

    Escalante was born Dec. 31, 1930, in La Paz, Bolivia, and was raised by his mother after his parents, both schoolteachers, split when he was about 9. He attended a well-regarded Jesuit high school, San Calixto, where his quick mind and penchant for mischief often got him into trouble.

    After high school, he served in the army during a short-lived Bolivian rebellion. Although he had toyed with the idea of attending engineering school in Argentina, he wound up enrolling at the Bolivian state teachers college, Normal Superior. Before he graduated, he was teaching at three top-rated Bolivian schools. He also married Fabiola Tapia, a fellow student at the college.

    At his wife's urging, Escalante gave up his teaching posts for the promise of a brighter future in the United States for their firstborn, Jaime Jr. (A second son, Fernando, would follow.) With $3,000 in his pocket and little more than "yes" and "no" in his English vocabulary, Escalante flew alone to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve 1963. He was 33.

    His wife and son later joined him in Pasadena, where his first job was mopping floors in a coffee shop across the street from Pasadena City College, where he enrolled in English classes. Within a few months, he was promoted to cook, slinging burgers by day and studying for an associate's degree in math and physics by night. That led to a better-paying job as a technician at a Pasadena electronics company, where he became a prized employee. But the classroom still beckoned to the teacher inside him. He earned a scholarship to Cal State Los Angeles to pursue a teaching credential. In the fall of 1974, when he was 43, he took a pay cut to begin teaching at Garfield High at a salary of $13,000.

    "My friends said, 'Jaime, you're crazy.' But I wanted to work with young people," he told The Times. "That's more rewarding for me than the money."

    When he arrived at the school, he was dismayed to learn he had been assigned to teach the lowest level of math. He grew unhappier still when he discovered how watered-down the math textbooks were -- on a par with fifth-grade work in Bolivia. Faced with unruly students, he began to wish for his old job back.

    Motivating students

    But Escalante stayed, soon developing a reputation for turning around hard-to-motivate students. By 1978, he had 14 students enrolled in his first AP calculus class. Of the five who survived his stiff homework and attendance demands, only two earned passing scores on the exam.

    But in 1980, seven of nine students passed the exam; in 1981, 14 of 15 passed.

    In 1982, he had 18 students to prepare for the academic challenge of their young lives.

    At his insistence, they studied before school, after school and on Saturdays, with Escalante as coach and cheerleader. Some of them lacked supportive parents, who needed their teenagers to work to help pay bills. Other students had to be persuaded to spend less time on the school band or in athletics. Yet all gradually formed an attachment to calculus and to "Kimo," their nickname for Escalante, inspired by Tonto's nickname for the Lone Ranger, Kemo Sabe.

    Escalante was hospitalized twice in the months leading up to the AP exam. He had a heart attack while teaching night school but ignored doctors' orders to rest and was back at Garfield the next day.

    Then he disappeared one weekend to have his gallbladder removed. As Washington Post reporter Jay Mathews recounted in his 1988 book, "Escalante: The Best Teacher in America," the hard-driving teacher turned the health problem into another weapon in his bag of tricks. "You burros give me a heart attack," he repeatedly told his students when he returned. "But I come back! I'm still the champ."

    The guilt-making mantra was effective. One student said, "If Kimo can do it, we can do it. If he wants to teach us that bad, we can learn."

    The Advanced Placement program qualifies students for college credit if they pass the exam with a score of 3 or higher. For many years it was a tool of the elite; the calculus exam, for example, was taken by only about 3% of American high school math students when Escalante revived the program at Garfield in the late 1970s.

    In 1982, a record 69 Garfield students were taking AP exams in various subjects, including Spanish and history. Escalante's calculus students took their exam in May under the watchful eye of the school's head counselor. The results, released over the summer, were stunning: All 18 of his students passed, with seven earning the highest score of 5.

    But the good news quickly turned bad.

    Testing controversy

    The Educational Testing Service, which administers the exam, said it had found suspicious similarities in the solutions given on 14 exams. It invalidated those scores.

    The action angered the students, who thought the service would not have questioned their scores if they were white. But this was Garfield, a school made up primarily of lower-income Mexican Americans that only a few years earlier had nearly lost its accreditation. "There's a tremendous amount of feeling that the Hispanic is incapable of handling higher math and science," Escalante reflected later in an interview with Newsday.

    He, like many in the Garfield community, feared the students were victims of a racist attack, a charge that Educational Testing Service strongly denied. Two of the students told Mathews of the Washington Post that some cheating had occurred, but they later recanted their confessions.

    Vindication came in a retest. Of the 14 accused of wrongdoing, 12 took the exam again and passed.

    After that, the numbers of Garfield students taking calculus and other Advanced Placement classes soared. By 1987, only four high schools in the country had more students taking and passing the AP calculus exam than Garfield.

    Escalante's dramatic success raised public consciousness of what it took to be not just a good teacher but a great one. One of the most astute analyses of his classroom style came from the actor who shadowed him for days before portraying him in "Stand and Deliver."

    "He's the most stylized man I've ever come across," Olmos, who received an Oscar nomination for his performance, told the New York Times in 1988. "He had three basic personalities -- teacher, father-friend and street-gang equal -- and he would juggle them, shift in an instant. . . . He's one of the greatest calculated entertainers."

    Ultimate performer

    Escalante was the ultimate performer in class, cracking jokes, rendering impressions and using all sorts of props -- from basketballs and wind-up toys to meat cleavers and space-alien dolls -- to explain complex mathematical concepts.

    Sports analogies abounded. A perfect parabola, for instance, was like a sky-hook by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. "Calculus Does Not Have To Be Made Easy -- It Is Easy Already," read a banner Escalante kept in his classroom.

    In 1991, he packed up his bag of tricks and quit Garfield, saying he was fed up with faculty politics and petty jealousies.

    He headed to Hiram Johnson High with the intention of testing his methods in a new environment.

    But in seven years there, he never had more than about 14 calculus students a year and a 75% pass rate, a record he blamed on administrative turnover and cultural differences.

    At Garfield, where the pass rate was above 90% when he left, his success was aided by a supportive principal, Henry Gradillas, and talented colleagues, including award-winning calculus teacher Ben Jimenez.

    Return to Bolivia

    Thirty-five years after leaving Bolivia for his journey into teaching fame, Escalante went home.

    He settled with his wife in her hometown of Cochabamba and became a part-time mathematics professor at the Universidad del Valle, and was still teaching calculus in Bolivia in 2008.

    He returned to the United States frequently to visit his son and give motivational speeches.

    He made his last trip to the U.S. to seek treatment for the cancer that had left him unable to walk or speak above a whisper.

    This month, as he gave himself over to a Reno clinic's regimen of pills, teas and ointments, many of his former students gathered at Garfield to raise money.

    Unpopular with fellow teachers, he won few major teaching awards in the United States. He liked to be judged by his results, a concept still resisted by the majority of his profession.

    As he faced death, it was still the results that mattered to him -- the young minds he held captive three decades ago who today are engineers, lawyers, doctors, teachers and administrators.

    "I had many opportunities in this country, but the best I found in East L.A.," he said in one of his last interviews. "I am proudest of my brilliant students."

    Escalante is survived by his wife, his sons and six grandchildren.

    Times staff writer Robert J. Lopez contributed to this report.

    Google News

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    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Save the Date: A GARDEN IN EVERY SCHOOL RESOURCE FAIR :: Sat May 16 :: Noon-4pm :: Venice High School Learning Garden

    www.the  |

    A Garden in Every School

    By encouraging and supporting a garden in every school, we create opportunities for our children to discover fresh food, make healthier food choices, and become better nourished.
    Gardens offer dynamic, beautiful settings in which to integrate every discipline, including science, math, reading, environmental studies, nutrition, and health. Such interdisciplinary approaches cultivate the talents and skills of all students while enriching the students’ capacities of observation and thinking.
    Young people can experience deeper understandings of natural systems and become better stewards of the Earth by designing, cultivating, and harvesting school gardens with their own hands.
    School garden projects nurture community spirit, common purpose, and cultural appreciation by building bridges among students, school staff, families, local businesses, and organizations.

    For more information, call the Nutrition Services Division at 800-952-5609.


    By John Fensterwald | The Educated Guess 

    March 29th, 2010 -- Gov. Schwarzenegger isn’t backing down from nominating reform advocates and charter school supporters to the State Board of Education.

    On Monday, Schwarzenegger announced three nominations to the 11-member board. Two – Ben Austin and Alan Arkatov – are charter advocates. Arkatov is a board member of the Alliance for College Ready Public Schools, which runs 16 highly-respected  charter schools in Los Angeles, although that’s just one of his roles. He is well-connected in Los Angeles Unified and served as president of  eEducation Group earlier in the decade  and was founder and chairman of before that.

    As executive director of the Los Angeles Parents Union and Parents Revolution, Austin was a force behind the “parent trigger” that the Legislature adopted in its Race to the Top legislation in January. It empowers a majority of parents at low-performing schools to petition their local school board for a change in their school’s leadership and governance, including conversion to a charter school. Austin was a consultant at Green Dot Public Schools, a charter organization in Los Angeles, before that.

    Austin and Arkatov would replace Jorge Lopez, executive of an Oakland charter school, and Rae Belisle, former CEO of EdVoice and an advocate for minority kids. Both had faced uphill renomination battles in the state Senate. Lopez resigned from the state board in February. Schwarzenegger withdrew Belisle’s nomination  earlier this month amid opposition from the California Schools Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators.

    Schwarenegger also nominated Jeannie Oropeza, the program budget manager for the California Department of Finance since 1998. Before that, she was an education budget consultant for the California State Assembly and staff finance budget analyst in the mid-1990s.

    Schwarzenegger has also renominated David Lopez, president of Hispanic National University in San Jose, and a board member since 2006, and board President Ted Mitchell, former president of Occidental College and currently CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit that underwrites charter schools and other public school reforms in urban areas nationwide.


    Posted by: Tony Spearman to | Text Story by: City News

    Tuesday, 30 Mar 2010, 6:48 PM PDT -- The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday sought to modify a plan by the Los Angeles Unified School District to cancel "interdistrict permits," which enable students who live within LAUSD boundaries to go to schools in other districts.

    Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said students should be allowed to finish out their education at their current elementary, middle or high schools before being forced to attend an LAUSD school.

    The district should "do this rationally, in a phased-in approach," rather than canceling all transfer permits summarily, Yaroslavsky said.

    As proposed by the LAUSD, students enrolled outside the LAUSD would have to transfer to LAUSD schools this summer, unless they have less a year left to graduation or promotion to the next level of schooling.

    Superintendent Ramon Cortines and the LAUSD Board of Education are hoping that canceling interdistrict permits will save about $51 million in state funding.

    The change is expected to affect about 80 percent of the 12,000-plus students granted interdistrict permits. In Torrance alone, 2,169 students attend school under the transfer permits.

    But Yaroslavsky said the LAUSD's gain will be a revenue loss to other districts, calling it a "zero-sum game."

    The board voted unanimously to send a letter to the LAUSD asking for the change.

    ●●smf's 2¢: before anyone gets their knickers in a twist about the County Supes minding their own business one needs to consider:

    1. The County Supervisors are the appointing authority for the County Board of Education, which oversees the Los Angeles County Office of Education – which in turn oversees all school districts in LA County – including LAUSD and the other districts who ‘receive’ LAUSD permit students.
    2. LACOE is in charge of overseeing all school district budgets. LA County collects and disburses all revenues for all school districts and actually writes the checks for all school districts in the county.
    3. Should any LA County school district fail fiscally it is LACOE that would declare it insolvent take it over as receiver in cahoots with FCMAT – the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team


    WHEN LESS MEANS MORE FOR L.A. UNIFIED: Shortening the school year by a week was L.A. Unified's best choice among several bad options.

    L.A, Times Editorial

    March 31, 2010 | We never thought we'd praise a shortened school year -- at least not since we got out of school ourselves. But the agreement reached over the weekend by Los Angeles school administrators and union leaders to trim the school calendar by about a week this year and next was the best choice from a range of terrible options.

    Not that it's something to cheer about. The quantity of instructional time, not just the quality, is an important factor in student achievement. But L.A. Unified is running out of acceptable ways to cut costs. The new agreement allows it to retain close to 2,000 teachers as well as many counselors, nurses and librarians who were slated for layoffs. Better to have five fewer days of instruction than weeks of classrooms so crowded that no one can keep track of students, or teachers so overworked that they refrain from assigning homework because they won't have time to grade it. Better for staff to give up some pay, as financially painful as that will be, than to have no counselors to guide students toward college. The unions' members should approve the measure.

    The shortened school year is just one of many ideas proposed by Supt. Ramon C. Cortines in his tireless scramble to find additional money. We haven't backed all of them, such as the one this month forcing thousands of students who attend schools outside the district to return to L.A. Unified schools, disrupting their education. Nor do we endorse his request that Congress write funding for teacher positions into new federal jobs legislation. Schools received significant new money from the stimulus package last year that was supposed to last them for two years.

    Last summer, though, Cortines proposed an innovative way for L.A. Unified to earn its way to more funding. He asked the U.S. Department of Education to let the district apply for a grant, separate from California's application, under the federal Race to the Top program that awards money to states that commit to major new reforms.

    Cortines never received a reply, but his request has merit. L.A. Unified has five times as many students as the entire state of Delaware, which on Tuesday became one of two states to win Race to the Top funding in the first round. L.A. schools serve the largely poor and minority students the federal program was created to help. Though imperfectly handled so far, the district's Public School Choice initiative holds promise for turning around low-performing schools by changing their management. And it's a better idea than most of what was in California's Race to the Top application. Before launching future rounds of funding, Education Secretary Arne Duncan should allow the nation's biggest districts to show that they can compete when it comes to improving their schools.


    Posted by Jenny Erikson on The Stir, a CafeMom blog

    March 30, 2010 at 11:36 AM -- Ramon C. Cortines was hired as the Los Angeles Unified School District's Superintendent. He replaced the previous tenant of that position, David Brewster (sic), after Mr. Brewster requested to be bought out of his contract after serving half of his four-year term. The school board was happy to comply as Mr. Brewster, a black man, was hinting around that racism was making it difficult for him to do his job.

    When Mr. Cortines was appointed to superintendent, he had this to say (emphasis mine):

    "We will not do things the same way ... [The district will find] new ways of providing services to parents and working with teachers and working with administrators and working with community. We are the urban sprawl, but it is time that we lock arms on behalf of our children. We must put the students first -- not special interests. And so there will be change and change will be good for all of us."

    Students first. Isn't that what we all want? Children are our future, and should have the best opportunities to excel and succeed. They should have the best education possible.

    Let's take a look at how Superintendent Cortines has worked to fulfill his pledge to "put the students first."

    Mr. Cortines has cut school days; The Los Angeles school week has been shortened by five days, to the delight of L.A. schoolchildren. However, this makes it more difficult for teachers, who now must fit their lesson plans into fewer days, and on working parents, who must come up with alternate forms of childcare.

    But cutting those five days wasn't enough to make up the budget shortfalls. I suppose they could have cut back on those extra two non-student teacher-training days, but why require teachers to keep up with current curriculum on their own time?

    So what's the answer? Well, obviously it's to "reclaim" the money lost with each student that has received a transfer to a school outside of the LAUSD. When a student gets a transfer to a school in another district, the allocated money for that student goes with him or her.

    Currently, there are over 12,000 students with those permits. Children whose parents only want the best for them, and have done the leg work to ensure that their kids get to go to the best school for them, even if it happens to be outside of the district they are zoned for.

    Facing a $640 million budget shortfall, Superintendent Cortines has decided to transfer those children back to the LAUSD, along with the $51 million that comes with them. He used the argument that L.A. Unified has been lax with the permits in the past.

    How are the parents of those transferred students taking the news?

    According to the L.A. Times:

    "Many parents contend that schools in their Los Angeles neighborhoods are inferior and complain that the announcement from L.A. Unified came too late for them to apply to magnet and charter schools.

    "Laurie Lathem, a Los Angeles resident whose son Luca, 7, is enrolled at Edison Language Academy, a Spanish-English immersion program in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, said some low-income families seeking better schools may be disproportionately affected by the permit revision."

    I wonder how Superintendant Cortines will handle these distraught parents and students whose lives will be completely disrupted with his No More Transfers to Better Schools Edict?

    In the same L.A. Times article:

    "Cortines dismissed arguments that permits should be granted just because parents don't like neighborhood schools. I 'find it offensive when people think it's their entitlement,' he said."

    Let me get this straight -- Cortines doesn't like it when parents feel like they are entitled to make the best choice for the education of their children? Especially those underprivileged families who will not have the opportunity nor the resources to work the system to their advantage?

    Sounds like it's all about dollars first, not children first.


    Jenny Erikson (according to her own bio)  is a conservative chick with a strong opinion and a smart mouth. Sometimes sassy, sometimes sincere, always honest. She believes that ingenuity, elbow grease, and sheer determination can accomplish anything -- even motherhood.

    Jenny blogs at Candid Conservative and records a weekly radio show, The Smart Girl Report, for Smart Girl Politics on Radio For Conservatives.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and their two young daughters.

    smf adds: I am a lifelong Democrat, but one long drawn to smart girls. I once asked one of the smartest I know, Jackie Goldberg, how to effect positive change in  climate of polar politics and she told me to make friends with Republicans. Poor decisions and bonehead policy driven by folks like Ray Cortines and Arne Duncan seem to be driving progressives like me and conservatives like Ms. Erickson – and really smart girls like Diane Ravitch – together  …just when bipartisan seemed moribund and post-partisan sounded like a form of depression.

    We may yet find each other in the middle of the road; I hope we’re in a crosswalk when we do.

    CARTOON: La Cucaracha [Texas Textbooks]

    by Lalo Alcaraz | March 30, 2010 |

    PRESS RELEASE: Leading K-12 School Districts and State Education Agencies Choose Oracle® to Improve Decision Making and Enhance Teaching and Learning (leveraging federal stimulus funds) + “STOP - in critical danger of system/project failure”

    from an Oracle press release via CNN marketwire



    March 30, 2010: 08:00 AM ET

    News Facts

    • Several innovative U.S. K-12 school districts and state education agencies recently purchased or implemented Oracle business intelligence technology and applications to improve visibility into organizational performance and increase operational efficiency, teacher effectiveness and student achievement.
    • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 provided $100 billion to education organizations, including $245 million for state educational agencies to develop and implement statewide data systems to manage and analyze individual student data. Many school districts and state education agencies are turning to Oracle to help build data systems to foster transparency and enable efficient reporting, while improving performance management throughout their organizations.

    Oracle K-12 Customer Details [Edited/entire release - ]

    Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation's second largest school district with more than 615,000 students, deployed Oracle BI Suite EE Plus with the assistance of the eVerge Group to provide more than 39,000 teachers and administrators access to student performance and attendance data. With Oracle as the backbone for LAUSD's "MyData" initiative, the district has the ability to dynamically generate more than 300 reports that give educational administrators and teachers timely access to relevant district- and campus-level data along with the ability to drill down into detailed student information and history. These reports compile a wide range of data including California State Test (CST) scores; Periodic Assessment scores and performance levels in English/Language Arts (ELA); Mathematics, Science and Social Science Attendance data; interim and final marks for all secondary courses and elementary subjects; intervention history; discipline data; English Learner (EL) status and level; the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for special education students and the CA High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) results. The reports aggregate current student performance data and prior year student performance data to show growth or decline. These multi-measure rosters for the teacher are key in the District's Response thru Instruction and Intervention (RtII) program for instruction that emphasizes the use of data in decision making. LAUSD uses Oracle BI Suite EE Plus to pull data from multiple internal sources, as well as to link to external systems such as the CORE K-12 Periodic Assessment system, intervention strategies and professional development resources.

    ●●smf’s 2¢:  4LAKids supports this in concept+theory– LAUSD has not been good at distilling data into usable information and sharing it in a timely manner with folks who can use it.  Much of LAUSD’s data has been kept ‘Inside Beaudry’ -  unavailable to those at schoolsites and/or in the silos outside IT and Data and Assessment – as some sort of propriety intelligence coded in Fortran. One needs only rewind the complaints from the Board of Ed on how data is not shared with them.

    H O W E V E R . . . one worries that this data system will not be compatible with the also- in-development/issue-plagued [1] /[2]  State Department of Education’s data system [California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS)] 

    The LAUSD platform is Oracle, the CALPADS platform is IBM.

    If the LAUSD box+software cannot speak to the state box+software we will have two very-expensive-but-worthless boxes in the great garage of reform – and 60 Minutes/New York Times “What were they thinking out there in LaLaLand?” stories.

    Sabot Technologies, a consulting firm hired by the California Department of Education to study the CALPADS project, has given the project an overall score of "STOP - in critical danger of system/project failure." 

    In its report, Sabot Technologies, "discovered significant issues with the system and project representing a threat to the success of CALPADS from both an engineering and project standpoint," warning, the "CDE must recognize that there is a risk of losing control of this effort on multiple dimensions."

    According to the report by Sabot Technologies:

    • The IBM team "is less experienced than expected for a project of this size and complexity," and it is "understaffed to handle the work."

    • There is a "distinct lack of technical leadership and engineering resources on the California Department of Education side of the project."

    • "There are simply  not enough capable labor resources to perform all of the required tasks and/or perform quality assurance activities."

    - Critical problems with CA system designed to follow students' achievement/KALI News/8 March 2010

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    CHARTERS ARE FEELING SPACED OUT: Schools say LAUSD not abiding by legal settlement

    By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News

    3/30/201o -- Two years after settling a lawsuit was supposed to give them access to Los Angeles Unified campuses, local charter schools are bracing for another legal battle that would force the district to turn over the facilities.

    In a 21-page letter sent this month to LAUSD lawyers, the California Charter School Association demanded that the district offer more space to local charters by Thursday's state-mandated deadline or face legal challenges.

    "It is our sincere hope that these matters will have swift and significant resolution," the letter said. "Otherwise, (we) will have no choice but to seek judicial intervention."

    According to the charter association's interpretation of Proposition 39, LAUSD must offer space to all charter schools who request it. The measure, approved by voters in 2000, said district facilities must be shared "fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools."

    Charter schools are publicly funded, yet independently operated campuses whose popularity exploded in the last decade.

    California charter leaders say LAUSD has one of the worst track records in the state for providing space to charters.

    "There is a long record of this district being unable or unwilling to meet their Prop. 39 obligations," said CCSA president Jed Wallace.

    "We are working very proactively with the district ... But it is in that larger context of many years of working patiently with the district that we find ourselves in a situation that is still clearly unacceptable."

    As of Monday, LAUSD had offered space to 38 of the 81 charters that had filed requests – a response that charter school advocates call unacceptable.

    The association also has complaints about the location and quality of the facilities that have been offered. Some have been offered space as far as 16 miles from their recruitment area, while others would have to cram up to 100 students in a classroom.

    District officials say they are trying to keep up with charter demands, but that an insufficient supply of campuses has made it difficult.

    "The intent is to answer every single proposal," said Parker Hudnut, executive director of LAUSD's Charter and Innovation Division.

    "But there are very challenging issues being debated on how best to meet the needs of all public school children."

    Hudnut said the district has extended offers of space to a greater number of charter schools since settling the access lawsuit in 2008. However, the district could not provide specific figures.

    The tug-of-war over between the district and charter schools over campus access goes back more than a decade. It issue has grown increasingly contentious as the alternative campuses have surged in popularity.

    An estimated 67,000 students are enrolled in charter schools in Los Angeles Unified - more than the total student enrollment in urban school districts such as Boston, San Francisco or Washington, D.C.

    Feeling pressure from the public and charters, the Los Angeles school board has struggled to find compromises. But even board members who support the charter movement say there is a limit as to what can be done.

    "I want to offer educational choices to district families, but we don't have the money or the space to offer classrooms to 81 charters," said board member Tamar Galatzan, who represents parts of the San Fernando Valley.

    "I don't know where the happy medium is ... Should the board only approve the charter schools that we have space to house?"

    Meanwhile, charter campus officials feel they are continuing to get unfair treatment from LAUSD.

    "As a parent, a charter school administrator and a community member I see kids attending charter schools being treated differently ... as second-class citizens ... because they choose to attend charter schools," said Tatyana Berkovich, founder and president of Ivy Academia, a charter school with four facilities in the West San Fernando Valley.

    "Students at charter schools are already only given leftover space ... That is not only a potential violation of federal discrimination laws but it violates the whole purpose of Proposition 39 that states we need to have equal rights to facilities."

    But Hudnut said that finding classroom space for charters is not an easy task.

    Rather than opening up space for charters, declining enrollment has simply allowed Los Angeles Unified to transition from year-round to traditional calendars in formerly overcrowded areas.

    But after so many years of battling for space, many charter school administrators think it's time that LAUSD tried harder to meet their needs.

    Mike Piscal, chief executive officer of ICEF Public Schools, a charter management organization that runs 15 schools in South Los Angeles, said he made eight requests to the district for space. As of Friday, he had received only one response - the renewal of an earlier agreement to share space with the district.

    "We are paying rent for facilities that have no gym, no library, no field," Piscal said. "We don't even have one square (foot) of grass."


    ●●smf's 2¢:

    ●  “Rather than opening up space for charters, declining enrollment has simply allowed Los Angeles Unified to transition from year-round to traditional calendars in formerly overcrowded areas.” 

    Simply? This has been my life’s work for the past ten years!

    Is the reporter, the charter association or the Daily News suggesting that LAUSD return to year-round calendars –which will be illegal after 2012 – to open up space for charter schools?

    ●  "We are paying rent for facilities that have no gym, no library, no field," Piscal said. "We don't even have one square (foot) of grass."   This may seem like the imposition of a Catch 22, but no public school accepting public funding without gyms, playing fields or libraries should be allowed to operate. If ICEF or any charter operator – or any public school -  is running such schools they should be shut down.  The Rodriguez Consent Decree and the Williams Settlement set minimum facilities standards for public schools as civil rights matters.  I don’t think the charter law was meant to exclude any student or parent from equal rights or equitable protection under the law.


    By David Ellison | Oakland Tribune columnist

    03/29/2010  -- CALIFORNIA HAS published its worst-schools list. The vast majority of the humiliated sites serve students who are predominately poor and/or minority.

    This comes as no surprise, of course, because California's and the nation's schools are more segregated by race and class today than ever — and we've long known that concentrating our disadvantaged kids in decrepit schools staffed too often with our least-qualified teachers might make it difficult for those kids and schools to succeed.

    Now we're going to "reform" those schools by, for example, giving the boot to their principals and teachers (thus discouraging other educators even more from considering a position in them).

    How did our schools end up so segregated more than 50 years after the Supreme Court ruled such an arrangement was, if not immoral, at least unconstitutional?

    For an explanation, look no further than hapless Kansas City, Mo., which must now close 28 of its 61 schools.

    As William Moran explained in his seminal book, "Race, Law, and the Desegregation of the Public Schools":

    "In 1954, Kansas City's segregated schools were more than 80 percent white, enrolled about 60,000 students, and offered arguably the finest public education available in the metropolitan area. "... By 1999, the Kansas City public schools enrolled 31,200 students, approximately 80 percent of whom were minorities "... (and) was the only unaccredited school district in the state of Missouri."

    What happened?

    White and middle-class families fled to the suburbs and private schools. You see, everyone supports school reform and school desegregation as long as "my own kids don't have to go to school with 'them.' "

    Lest anyone in the Tri-City area believes we are more enlightened, it behooves us to recall an ugly incident that occurred as recently as 2001: When faced with new enrollment boundaries to solve overcrowding, community organizations in Fremont's Mission San Jose area — where, unlike the rest of the district and state, students are almost exclusively white, Asian and wealthy — attempted to secede from the school district rather than send their children to a much more diverse but still national-award-winning Irvington High area.

    The Mission San Jose enclave underscores how it is not our schools that are segregated so much as our communities — with dire consequences for all of us, especially those families relegated to blighted neighborhoods.

    In his March 8 column, however, Leonard Pitts highlighted a ray of hope emanating from a bold experiment in Atlanta.

    A courageous developer replaced a segregated housing project with a new apartment complex in which half the units were reserved for middle-income families, "the idea being that (those families) would, just in their daily doings, model for their neighbors the habits and behaviors of a successful life."

    The result? "Near miracles — violent crime down 96 percent, 78 percent of kids passing the state math test when only 5 percent could do it before — in what had been one of the worst and most dangerous public housing projects in the country."

    The moral is obvious: If we truly want to reform our schools, we must reform all of society, beginning with our segregated communities.

    Once we agree to live with people very different from ourselves, and to send our kids to school with theirs, great and wonderful things happen.

    Meanwhile, The Argus reported March 14 on Fremont's long-range development plans: "There is fear in some quarters that the city's vision would continue to saddle Centerville and Irvington with a disproportionate share of Fremont's permanently affordable housing stock" while "Mission San Jose and Warm Springs, the two wealthiest districts "... will be relatively untouched."

    So, de facto community and school segregation will continue in Fremont, as in most of this nation, making most of the talk about reform so much hot air.

    It's a shame and a scandal.

    David Ellison teaches fourth grade at Kitayama Elementary School in Union City. The Fremont resident's column appears on alternate Mondays on the Local page. Contact him via his blog,


    …D.C. comes in last

    LA Times: California finishes 27th among 41 applicants for millions in funding, losing points because only 56% of school districts agreed to participate

    By Kim Geiger and Howard Blume | LA Times

    March 29, 2010 | 6:08 p.m | Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington - In a high-stakes competition, Tennessee and Delaware were awarded $600 million Monday, the only states to win grants in the first phase of "Race to the Top," the Obama administration's $4.35-billion education initiative, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

    Duncan said both states showed that they had overwhelming support for their overhaul plans from all stakeholders -- including teachers' unions, parents, and local and state school officials. Such support weighed heavily in the decision. Tennessee will get $500 million and Delaware will receive $100 million.

    The two states both committed to turn around troubled schools and create systems for teacher evaluation. The states both plan to build on their use of data to measure student achievement. Tennessee's application also focused on increasing high school rigor and recruiting teachers to rural areas.

    Forty states and the District of Columbia had submitted applications in the lengthy and competitive grant awarding process. Tennessee has 964,259 students in 1,731 schools. Delaware has 122,574 students in 243 schools. They were chosen from 16 finalists.

    "The fact that Secretary Duncan picked two instead of five or 10 states sets the bar high," said Andy Smarick, an education expert at Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, who has been tracking the grant application and award process.

    Of the 16 finalist states, Louisiana, Florida and Rhode Island had the strongest proposals but low support from unions. Kentucky and North Carolina had strong union support but weak proposals, Smarick said.

    "Only two states were able to do both things, and those were the states that won," Smarick said. "This seems to give unions a veto in round two . . . the negotiations over the next 60 days are going to be intense."

    California finished 27th among 41 applicants, a middling performance even among the group that failed to become finalists. California's application lost points in part because only 56% of school districts agreed to participate and because teacher union involvement was lower still.

    One reviewer noted that of the state's 10 largest districts, "Six did not provide signatures of union leaders, including Los Angeles Unified, the nation's second-largest school district. . . . The lack of union buy-in at this stage raises serious concerns."

    Other criteria for winning the Race to the Top awards were efforts to build data systems to measure student growth; identifying and turning around low-performing schools; recruiting, retaining and rewarding effective teachers; and adopting standards and assessments to prepare students for careers and higher education.

    Reviewers dinged California for a data collection system that falls well short of federal expectations. California's data system received only 17.4 of 47 points. Delaware scored 47 of 47 and Tennessee 43.6 of 47.

    In this arena, California has been hampered by a data system unable to track the performance of individual students. Instead, the state system takes an annual snapshot of students grouped by subject and grade, making it impossible to determine which individual students are making progress.

    Plans for an enhanced system have been delayed by repeated funding limitations.

    The state also lost points for its management of charter schools, which are a central focus of the Obama administration. Charter schools are independently managed and exempt from some rules that govern traditional schools. Still, the winners were only marginally better in that arena.

    All 41 applications, their scores and the comments of anonymous reviewers have been posted online to guide states seeking awards in the second round. States have until June 1 to submit new or revised applications.

    Unlike in the first round, the second set of applications must not exceed certain budget limits, set by the department based on state size.

    California, Texas, New York and Florida must propose award budgets ranging from $350 to $700 million, while smaller states will be working within tighter ranges. Those ranges had been offered as suggestions in the first round, and were exceeded by both of the winning states.

    Duncan estimated that, at most, his agency could fund only 10 to 15 additional state applications, although he also is seeking new funding for next year.


    WSJ: A Disappointing Start to Race to the Top

    Wall Street Journal Editorial

    30 March 2010 - The Obama Administration yesterday awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in education grants to only two states, which we're glad to say made good on its promise to set a high bar for its $4.35 billion Race to the Top competition. Less reassuring are the reasons the Administration chose Delaware and Tennessee, as opposed to other worthy states.

    In a conference call with reporters, Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised the winning states, first and foremost, for getting local unions and school boards to approve their applications. "Both of them have statewide buy-in for comprehensive plans to reform their schools," said Mr. Duncan, even noting that Delaware "has the full support of the teachers union."

    After announcing the Race to the Top contest last summer, the Administration said repeatedly that it would reward states that encourage the creation and expansion of charter schools. So it's disappointing that charters weren't even mentioned in Mr. Duncan's prepared statement and that the two winning states have some of the country's weaker charter laws.

    States that refuse to cross the teachers unions are unlikely to produce significant education reforms for the simple fact that collective bargaining contracts are the biggest barrier to change. It's not surprising that unions and school boards opposed Race to the Top applications in places like Florida and Louisiana. The reforms being pushed in those states—teacher accountability, school choice—are transformative. By giving unions and school boards such a huge sway over grant money, the Administration is saying that union buy-in matters as much or more than the nature of the reforms.

    The Administration has also left itself open to the charge that Race to the Top has been politicized. More than one commentator has speculated that President Obama wants to win support from a pair of Republicans, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Congressman Mike Castle of Delaware, both of whom will play key roles in the effort to rewrite No Child Left Behind. We hope this didn't figure in the grants, and at least the White House resisted spreading the money to more states, which would have meant a race to the middle.

    The good news for states that didn't win is that a second round of grants is forthcoming in September. The bad news for reformers is that the National Education Association will now be raising the price of its "statewide buy-in."

    Additional Coverage as of 8:20 PM PDT 29 March:

    Google News

    Only Two States Win Race to Top

    Wall Street Journal - Neil King Jr - ‎34 minutes ago‎

    The awards are part of the administration's $4.35 billion Race to the Top competition, which has sparked a nationwide scramble among states to prove which ...

    Arne Duncan the heartbreaker and Race to the Top

    Washington Post (blog) - Valerie Strauss - ‎2 hours ago‎

    Just a few weeks ago, Duncan proudly announced that there were 16 finalists in his $4 billion “Race to the Top” competition for cash, er, I mean, ...

    Feds poke holes in DC Race to Top bid

    Washington Post (blog) - ‎2 hours ago‎

    The District may well end up with a piece of the Obama Administration's Race to the Top action when the grant competition moves to its second round later ...

    Race to the Top winners: How did Delaware and Tennessee succeed?

    Christian Science Monitor - Amanda Paulson - ‎4 hours ago‎

    In announcing the Race to the Top winners, Education Secretary Arne Duncan noted that both states had strong buy-in from almost all districts and teachers ...

    Minnesota edges Wisconsin in Race to the Top

    BusinessWeek - ‎3 hours ago‎

    Minnesota got closer to $4.35 billion in federal education grants than Wisconsin, but both states fell well short in the competition for Race to the Top ...

    Georgia loses Round 1 in Race to the Top

    Atlanta Journal Constitution - Nancy Badertscher - ‎5 hours ago‎

    Georgia lost out Monday on millions of dollars for education, finishing third out of 16 in Round 1 of the national Race to the Top ...

    Delaware, Tennessee Win 'Race for the Top' Education Funding

    ABC News - David Wright, Mary Bruce - ‎4 hours ago‎

    More than $4 billion of stimulus package money was offered through the US Education Department's "Race to the Top'" grant program. ...

    As Race to the Top Winners Announced, Spotlight Now Turns to Losers

    Newsweek (blog) - Patrice Wingert - ‎7 hours ago‎

    Besides state pride, the rankings matters because as round one of Race to the Top ends, round two begins, and states don't have a whole lot of time to ...

    Tennessee, Delaware schools to get Race to the Top funds

    CNN International - Sally Holland - ‎9 hours ago‎

    Education Secretary Arne Duncan says two states will get education funds under the "Race to the Top" program. ...

    School Budget Crisis: Illinois Loses Much-Needed 'Race To The Top' Funds

    Huffington Post (blog) - ‎8 hours ago‎

    Illinois did not make the final cut in its application to the Department of Education's "Race to the Top" fund. Delaware and Tennessee were the only two of ...

    Florida out of first round of Race to the Top education grants - Hannah Sampson - ‎11 hours ago‎

    The official announcement and news conference about Race to the Top winners won't come until Monday afternoon, but word leaked out in the morning that ...

    Georgia loses in Round 1 of Race to the Top

    Atlanta Journal Constitution - Nancy Badertscher - ‎11 hours ago‎

    The state could have received about $400 million as a Round 1 winner in the Race to the Top competition. Some published reports said the state finished ...

    DC on bottom in Race to Top

    Washington Post (blog) - Bill Turque - ‎12 hours ago‎

    The Department of Education just announced that Tennessee and Delaware are winners in the first round of the Race to the Top grant competition. ...

    And the Race to the Top money goes to .....

    Seattle Times - Lynne Varner - ‎10 hours ago‎

    I'll have to dig into this, as well as how the selection informs Washington state's prospects when it applies for Race to the Top's second round in June.

    DC comes in last in Race to the Top

    Washington Post (blog) - Monica Norton - ‎11 hours ago‎

    The Department of Education announced Monday that the District's application in the first round of the Race to the Top grant competition came in last ...

    Delaware and Tennessee Win "Race To The Top"

    ABC News (blog) - ‎11 hours ago‎

    ... has decided to award hundreds of millions in stimulus funding for education reform to just two states in the "Race To The Top": Delaware and Tennessee. ...

    Providence officials await 'Race to the Top' results - ‎15 hours ago‎

    The US Department of Education plans to announce the winners Monday afternoon of its "Race to the Top" competition, in which Rhode Island is a finalist.

    Illinois loses race for federal education money

    Chicago Tribune - Tara Malone - ‎4 hours ago‎

    US Education Secretary tapped Delaware and Tennessee as the only recipients of the first round of Race to the Top grants that promise $4 billion to states ...

    The next heat

    Chicago Tribune - ‎5 hours ago‎

    Illinois wasn't named a winner Monday in the first round of the Obama administration's Race to the Top, a program to divide $4.35 billion in challenge grant ...

    In race to the top, Wisconsin finishes closer to the bottom

    Wisconsin State Journal - ‎1 hour ago‎

    In the 'Race to the Top' for federal school funding, Wisconsin finished 26th out of 41 states in the first round. State officials say they'll use feedback ...

    In Race to the Top horserace, national school choice group deems Georgia a ...

    Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) - Maureen Downey - ‎Mar 28, 2010‎

    On the eve of the US DOE announcement of which 16 finalists win Race to the Top grants, a national education organization deems Georgia a long shot. ...

    Fla. fell short in race for federal schools grant - Bill Kaczor - ‎4 hours ago‎

    Florida fell short on school district participation and teachers union support Monday in its bid to win a federal "Race to the Top" education grant, ...

    Kentucky not named Race to the Top education grant recipient

    News Enterprise - Kelly R. Cantrall - ‎49 minutes ago‎

    In exchange for the money, a state has to show its plans to meet requirements for the four core parts of the Race to the Top plan, which all work to ...

    Race To The Top Report Card

    West Virginia MetroNews - ‎1 hour ago‎

    The US Department of Education released its review of West Virginia's request for the first round of Race to the Top fund. The report tells why the state ...

    La. to try again for Race to the Top grants

    Daily Comet - ‎1 hour ago‎

    AP Writer NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana's education chief says the state will apply again for federal "Race to the Top" money after losing out in the first round, ...

    Why Minnesota lost Race to the Top

    Minneapolis Star Tribune - Emily Johns - ‎58 minutes ago‎

    Minnesota was informed this month that it was not a finalist in the Race to the Top competition for stimulus funds set aside by the Obama administration to ...

    Florida Loses First Round for Race to Top - Kathleen Haughney - ‎1 hour ago‎

    “We're codifying what President Obama has called for nationally frankly in his Race to the Top application, and hopefully we'll get some of that money,” Rep ...

    RI falls short in first round of Race to Top

    Providence Journal - Jennifer D. Jordan - ‎39 minutes ago‎

    Rhode Island learned Monday that it had not won the first round of the US Department of Education's $4-billion Race to the Top competition. ...

    In stunner, Florida doesn't win Race to the Top education grant - Ron Matus, Jeffrey S. Solochek - ‎2 hours ago‎

    Florida was widely considered a leading contender for a share of the $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's ...