Saturday, December 31, 2011


Op-Ed By Patrice Apodaca in the Newport Beach Daily Pilot  |

December 31, 2011 | 6:49 p.m. :: By many measures, 2011 was a momentous year.

Osama bin Laden was finally tracked down and killed. The Arab Spring uprisings toppled ruthless regimes. The Eurozone's unity was sorely tested. The Occupy protest movement swept across America.

Closer to home, Costa Mesa became a key battleground in the municipal belt-tightening wars. The Newport-Mesa public schools chief was charged with three felony counts that could send him to jail. And a group of teenagers launched an effort to preserve a cherished local icon, the Balboa Fun Zone.

2012 will be another year of great import, for no other reason than it is an election year. That voters are discontented is not in question; only the outcome of their response to that frustration remains to be seen.

But if this is destined to be a pivotal year, I put to readers that they must consider one issue above all others: the fate of our public schools.

The situation bears reviewing. California schools, from primary grades to public universities, were once the envy of the world. They created generations of well-educated workers, bolstered the economy, pushed living standards higher, and burnished the reputation of the Golden State.

Those days are long gone.

Our public school system is in shambles, with ratings and per-student spending near the bottom of the education barrel. Districts throughout the state are on the brink of insolvency. Programs have been eliminated, departments reduced to bare-bones status, and classrooms packed beyond capacity. Staff members take on extra work for no extra pay; teachers buy supplies with their own money.

Even the vaunted University of California system, long considered the crown jewel among public universities, is collapsing under the strain of funding cutbacks, creating the bitterest of ironies: California kids who can't afford to attend the schools that were built for them.

Absent a sudden reprieve, it's all about to go from bad to worse.

The state's dire financial condition, coupled with a dispiriting lack of spine by our leaders, could force another round of cutbacks in our schools. That would be akin to attaching blood-sucking leeches to a critically ill patient.

Even recent glimmers of hope are tinged with desperation. California faces a $13-billion budget deficit, but year-end revenues were strong enough to dodge automatic cuts that would have resulted in the hacking a week off the K-12 school year.

Yet so much is teetering on the knife-edge of brinkmanship being played out in Sacramento. Gov. Jerry Brown has said that education funding would be preserved, even increase if — a big if — voters pass his initiative to raise some taxes.

The governor's plan is a risky end run around Proposition 13's two-thirds legislative vote requirement for tax increases.

Other initiatives being floated by various interests ostensibly would raise money for schools; they run the danger of canceling each other out at the ballot box.

Meanwhile, Orange County officials have announced plans to take $73.5 million in tax dollars that are supposed to go to local schools. They say they have no choice, because without the school money, they won't be able to balance the county's budget and pay its bills.

It's a big, fat, stinky mess, and here in Newport-Mesa, school officials are holding their collective breath and hoping the stench will subside before they have to make more unpleasant choices.

So far, Newport-Mesa schools have been spared the worst of the budget cuts seen in many districts throughout the state, mainly because district officials pinched pennies in years past, which they kept in a reserve fund. Along with some cost-saving measures, they've raided the piggy bank to get us through to this point.

Those officials have warned repeatedly that the piggy-bank rescue is no longer an option, and this year a budget squeeze could lead to cutbacks galore. That noise you hear is the chilling sound of knives being sharpened.

Let me pause for a moment here and acknowledge that Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard's legal troubles have further muddied the waters for the district at a time when strong leadership is needed. And amid the budget worries, the school board injudiciously granted Hubbard a long paid leave last year to deal with said troubles. Badly done.

But the Hubbard sideshow shouldn't distract from the paramount issue: We must save our schools.

Long before I was born, my parents moved across the country, lured by California's golden promise of sunshine and prosperity. My mother became a public school teacher — a darn fine one, I might add — and my siblings and I were fortunate indeed to grow up in the California public school system.

I believe my career as a journalist was born in those early years, when I developed a love of reading and a thirst for knowledge.

Last year, citizens of the world rose up against oppression, injustice and a sense that their political and economic systems had betrayed them. Let us now channel the same kind of energy, put aside our differences, and insist that education not be sacrificed on the altar of political discord.

Like my parents before me, I wish to fulfill the promise we should always keep to our children, and our children's children; that when it was hard, we chose to give them hope for the future. We chose to make schools our top priority, and give them the education they deserve.

  • PATRICE APODACA is a Newport-Mesa public school parent and former Los Angeles Times staff writer. She is also a regular contributor to Orange Coast magazine and the Daily Pilot. She lives in Newport Beach.



By Martha L. Thurlow and David R. Johnson/California Dropout Research Project/UCSB POLICY BRIEF #18 September 2011 |

The severity of the dropout crisis in California and the nation varies widely among student groups. Special education students are one of the most impacted groups. Not only is the incidence of dropping out among special education students high, the social, economic, and personal costs of dropping out are enormous and often far exceed the challenges and problems encountered by non-special education students who drop out.

Students who receive special education services via an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are a diverse group, with disabilities ranging from the most prevalent (learning disabilities, speech language impairments, mental retardation, and emotional disturbance) to the least prevalent (visual impairments, traumatic brain injury, orthopedic impairments, and hearing impairments). Nationally, about 11 percent of students 6-17 years of age (over 6 million students) receive special education services; in California it is about 9 percent. Additionally, a larger percentage of California special education students

are English language learners (28.4 percent) than special education students nationally (7.6 percent).


“Special Education Students” includes those aged 14-21; “All Students” includes those in grades 9-12. NOTE: The definition of "dropout" for this figure is the number of dropouts divided by the number of enrolled students.

This Policy Brief examines four topics related to the dropout dilemma for special education students: (a) the definition and incidence of dropouts, (b) the economic and social consequences of dropping out, (c) the causes of dropping out, and (d) possible solutions to the dropout dilemma.

To the extent possible, we highlight both the national dropout picture and the situation within California.

Definition and Incidence of Special Education Dropouts

Historically, the special education community has defined “dropout” differently than how it has been defined for those in general education. In response to federal requirements, states provide information on the number of special education students between 14 to 21 years old who exit special education services, and the reason(s). Up until 2005, the dropout rate using these data was simply the percentage of exiting special education students who formally withdrew from school during the school year. After 2005, the dropout rate calculation was changed to include students who were considered to have moved and were not known to be continuing in an education program.

Including both those students identified as dropping out, and those reaching the maximum age for receiving services (i.e., aging out), the 2007-08 dropout rate for special education students was 14 percent nationally, and 11 percent in California. In all but two of ten states with comparable data for special education and non-special education students, the dropout rate for special education students was significantly higher than the rate for non-special education students, although rates varied widely by type of disability.

The specific definition of "dropout" in special education has made it difficult to compare special education students with non-special education students (or with all students), thus limiting our state-level and national understanding of the magnitude and scope of the problem.

For students generally, dropping out is typically measured by using either the percentage of students who dropped out during one school year, or the percentage of individuals in a certain age range (e.g., 16-24) who had not completed high school and were not currently enrolled.

Calculations of dropout rates based on enrollment data provide the best way to compare dropout rates for special education students with dropout rates for all students (including special education students), even though the special education data are based on students aged 14-21, while data for all students are based on those in grades 9-12, regardless of age. These data (see figure) suggest that the annual dropout rate for special education students was 4.4 percent in 2008-09, compared to 4.1 percent for all students; although differences in dropout rates between special education students and all students have decreased over the last five years.

Economic and Social Consequences of Dropping Out of School

The social and economic consequences of dropping out are a serious problem, not only for individuals who receive special education services, but also for their families, schools, communities, and society as a whole. Although these problems are similar to those experienced by their peers without disabilities, they seem to be more pronounced for special education students. Unfortunately, there are only limited data available on the social and economic consequences of dropping out specifically for special education students.

The long-term implications on employment for special education dropouts have not been fully examined.

We do know that adults with disabilities are only half as likely to be employed as those without disabilities. Among those who are employed, there is also a gap in earnings.

Data indicate that students with disabilities are less likely to be enrolled in public four-year colleges and universities than their peers without disabilities, and are instead more likely to attend either public two-year institutions or other institutions, including forprofit vocational training institutions.

Special education students who complete high school are four times as likely to enroll in higher education as special education students who drop out of high school.

Criminal activity and incarceration is higher for dropouts compared to graduates, and a high percentage of individuals in correctional institutions are those who received special education services while in high school. The estimated prevalence of adolescents with disabilities in the juvenile correction system, for example, ranges from 30 to 70 percent.

Special education students who drop out demonstrate more serious criminal justice system involvement as they age compared to special education students who stay in school.

Dropping out of school also increases the likelihood of continued dependence on family members for financial and social support.

Care of a family member with disabilities is more costly than care of a family member without disabilities.

Causes of Dropping Out

Since special education students have only occasionally been the focus of dropout research, our understanding of the specific factors associated with dropping out among these students is limited.

Information that is available reveals that students with emotional/ behavioral disturbances who drop out tend to be older and more likely to have parents who are unemployed and have less education.

Special education students also tend to experience higher levels of absenteeism, school disciplinary problems, difficulties in developing positive relationships with teachers and peers, higher levels of school mobility, low grades, and a history of course failure and limited parent participation.

Again, while these causes of dropping out are not solely associated with special education students, they are consistently acknowledged as dominant factors.

Special education students have been found to be less likely to drop out if they spent more time in general education classes, received tutoring services, and were in schools that maintained high expectations of special education students for academic achievement and school completion. Lower rates of dropout are also associated with a receipt of instruction emphasizing independent living skills and training for competitive employment.


Adequately addressing the challenge of too many students dropping out of school has been a long-time goal in the U.S., one that has been particularly difficult to reach for special education students.

Two primary approaches have been taken to address the problem: (1) change school completion options, and (2) implement programs designed to prevent students from dropping out. The former approaches, which have included generating alternative diploma options, such as modified diplomas and special education diplomas, as well as alternative routes to the regular diploma (such as collecting evidence that graduation requirements have been met or passing a different test) may reduce the dropout rate, yet result in students who do not have the knowledge and skills that they need to succeed in postsecondary educational or work environments.

For the past two decades, special education’s focus on dropouts has been addressed primarily through the transition requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). For those special education students viewed as at risk of dropping out, dropout prevention or intervention strategies are determined by the student’s IEP team and included in the student’s IEP.

Yet the variables related to special education dropping out—such as high absenteeism, low grades, high mobility rates, problem behaviors, and limited parental support— generally have not been addressed successfully through IEP planning efforts.

Dropout prevention strategies have been examined primarily for students in general rather than specifically for special education students. Although a review of dropout prevention programs by the U.S. Department of Education What Works Clearinghouse identified relatively few proven programs, four programs were specifically demonstrated through research to be effective for special education students: Achievement for Latinos through Academic Success (ALAS); Achievement in Dropout Prevention and Excellence (APEX); Check & Connect; and Iowa Behavioral Alliance. Yet these programs have not been adopted in many schools, leaving the dropout problem for special education students largely unchecked.

The current trends toward modest improvements in graduation rates among special education students are insufficient. Increased attention and societal investments in interventions, strategies, and programs that emphasize student engagement and retention, especially for special education students, are critically needed.

The Full Study

The High School Dropout Dilemma and Special Education Students


by Larry Abramson., NPR All Things Considered |

December 30, 2011 :: Teachers and school districts say they agree that better teacher evaluations are needed, but they can't agree on the details. Now, those disputes threaten federal grants meant to encourage education reform.

Take New York state, which has a lot of failing schools. Those schools got more than $100 million in federal School Improvement Grants. In exchange, districts promised to phase in new evaluation systems.

But John King, state commissioner of education, says districts haven't followed through. So he may have to take drastic action. "Their grants would be suspended. There ought to be a process in place to evaluate teachers and principals. They understood that at the time they applied for the grants," King says.

The unions say they back the idea in principle of finding a better way to evaluate effective teachers.

But Carl Korn with New York State United Teachers says the plans would link teachers' future to how students do on a standardized test. "I don't think anybody out there would want their career determined by how 25 8-year-olds did on one two-hour test. That's just not fair."
The unions say that the commissioner could simply ask the federal government for more time for districts to negotiate. But King says students can't wait. "It would be inconsistent with the vision of the School Improvement Grants program, but also inconsistent with the best interests of students in the schools," he says.

On Friday, the chancellor of the New York City schools sent a letter to King, saying he doubted the city would be able to resolve the issue. He blamed the union for insisting on an elaborate appeals process for teachers who get an unsatisfactory rating. Low-performing schools in New York City alone stand to lose $50 million.


Deadlock In Hawaii

A similar deadlock in Hawaii threatens a $75 million grant from another federal program called Race to the Top. To get that grant, Hawaii committed to a number of changes, including new teacher evaluations. Those changes are stalled, and now the federal Department of Education says that means the state could lose the money.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has placed states' Race to the Top money in the "high risk" category. Stephen Schatz, of Hawaii's Education department, says that this has served as a wake-up call. He says he hopes to reopen formal negotiations with the unions, which have been suspended.

Hawaii will get its chance to argue for keeping its grant when federal inspectors come visit in the coming weeks.

Other states have run into similar roadblocks. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has ordered a review of that state's new evaluation system after teachers complained it is intrusive and takes time away from instruction. These disputes come as states are particularly hungry for funds because of their tight budgets. Korn of New York State United Teachers says that the state is using that fact as a pressure tactic. "This Education Department is choosing brinksmanship and politics to threaten to disrupt services to New York's neediest students," he says.

More grief may lie ahead, as the education reform process continues to require painful sacrifices.


Read A Letter From Education Secretary Duncan to the Hawaii Gov. Abercrombie About That State's Dispute |

The Honorable Neil Abercrombie

Office of the Governor

State Capitol, Executive Chambers

Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Dear Governor Abercrombie:

I am writing with respect to Hawaii’s performance against its approved Race to the Top grant project, and in response to Hawaii’s request to amend its Race to the Top plan. After careful review of Hawaii’s requests for amendments, we are only approving certain amendments at this time. We are not approving other proposed amendments at this time because they potentially represent significant changes in the State’s approved plan. In addition, because of Hawaii’s unsatisfactory performance during the first fourteen months of the grant, we are placing Hawaii’s Race to the Top grant on high-risk status.

As you are aware, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) has the authority to approve amendments to a State’s plan and budget, provided that such changes do not alter the scope or objectives of the approved proposal. On October 4, 2011, the Department sent a letter and revised “Grant Amendment Submission Process” document to Governors of grantee States indicating the process by which amendments would be reviewed and approved or denied. To determine whether amendments can be approved, the Department applies the conditions noted in the document, and compares each amendment request with the Race to the Top program Principles, which are also included in that document.

Approved Amendments and Conditions

Between July 22, 2011 and December 16, 2011, Hawaii submitted amendment requests to the Department for all projects in their Race to the Top plan. At this time, the amendments described below and in the attached table are approved based on the State’s compliance with the conditions outlined in this letter.

· For the Alternative Certification of Teachers project, shift the timeline by one year from June 2011 to June 2012. By State law, the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB) is responsible for the approval of teacher education programs. The HTSB recently changed the definition of “alternative routes,” which impacted the State’s ability to implement their plan. HIDOE recently became aware that at least one provider will be approved by the end of January 2012 to provide alternative route programs that align with HTSB’s new definition. In January 2012, the State will begin crafting eligibility criteria for a Request for Proposals (RFP) to fund one program that will meet HTSB’s definition of an alternative route provider by spring 2012 for program implementation in June 2012. Given the delays to date, the State will ask the provider to serve at least 66 candidates per year over two years, rather than 44 candidates per year over three years, to meet the original target of 132 teachers. Year 2 funds are reallocated evenly to years 3 and 4.

· For the Alternative Certification of Principals project, shift the timeline for implementation of the residency-based program to attract non-traditional school administrators to the profession from April 2011 to September 2012. In June 2011, the Hawaii legislature passed Act 75, which provided additional flexibility to the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) to implement an alternative certification of principals program. Development of the Hawaii Administrative Rules associated with Act 75 to enable alternative certification is shifted from August 2011 to March 2012. The development of an RFP to fund a provider to implement an alternative certification program for principals and vice principals is shifted from January 2011 to April 2012. The State has committed to preparing 24 candidates through this program, rather than 36 candidates as originally proposed. The State has reduced the budget in half, to a total of $720,000, due to updated cost estimates and fewer candidates. The budget is reallocated evenly to years 3 and 4, rather than years 2-4.

· For the Knowledge Transfer System/Professional Development Framework project:

1) Shift the end date for developing the professional development plan from May 2011 to June 2012 and the directive on required use of the Knowledge Transfer System from July 2011 to July 2012. All related activities are also shifted in accordance with this timeline.

2) Shift end dates for contracts related to developing PDE3 system features to track professional development and developing online professional development resources and learning communities from October and July 2011, and to October and November 2012, respectively.

3) Shift $750,000 in year 1 contractual funds to years 2 -4. The revised budget includes $700,000 in year 2 (from $500,000), $700,000 in year 3 (from $450,000), and $600,000 in year 4 (from $300,000). The overall project budget remains the same.

The approval of the amendments described above is conditioned on the following actions:

1) By January 30, 2012, the State must submit an updated scope of work with significant monthly milestones over the next 12 months that establishes a timeframe to ensure the State is able to fully implement the projects listed above within the grant period. In addition, the State must submit a complete, revised budget that reflects changes resulting from all approved amendments.

2) The State must provide monthly updates in accordance with the identified milestones so that the Department can determine if the State is making adequate progress. In addition to the projects listed above, the State must submit monthly updates on implementation progress for all projects that are over one-year delayed. These projects are: Interim Assessments (approved on November 8, 2011), End-of-Course Assessments (approved on November 8, 2011), Aligned Planning (Balanced Scorecard), Video-conferencing and E-Course Technology deliverables (in the Equity Plan/Recruitment and Placement project), and HIDOE Assistance and Oversight (approved in this letter).

Amendments Not Approved

At this time, the Department is not approving the amendment requests for the projects listed below. According to the State’s Race to the Top team, the reasons for these amendment requests vary. The State reported that it struggled to fill vacancies on the HIDOE leadership team, which resulted in slow progress and many missed milestones in year 1. Other delays have resulted from the State not having proper authority to carry out its plan, which required new legislation or regulations. These amendment requests potentially represent significant changes in strategy, timelines, and budgets to the State’s approved plans:

· Induction and Mentoring

· Pre-kindergarten Initiatives (new activities)

· Turnaround Leadership Program (new project)

· Aligned Planning (removal of Project Management Oversight Committees at the Complex Area and school-level)

In addition to reasons outlined above, ongoing delays in finalizing master and supplemental contracts between the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) and the State have impacted the State’s ability to make progress against its scope of work. Specifically, these delays have affected most projects in the Great Teachers and Great Leaders reform area and in the Zones of School Innovation (ZSI), where the State committed to implement and pilot many Race to the Top initiatives. It is our understanding that without a revised contract, the State cannot fully implement many initiatives in its approved Race to the Top plans, including:

· Performance-based Compensation System

· Evaluation Systems

· Equity Plan/Recruitment and Placement

High-risk Status

The Department is placing Hawaii’s Race to the Top grant on high-risk status under 34 CFR 80.12. The State has not demonstrated adequate progress implementing its approved plans in the first year of the grant as evidenced by the Department’s on-site program review in June 2011, monthly reports, and the proposed revised Scope of Work the State submitted in conjunction with their proposed amendments. The Department is concerned about the State’s ability to fulfill its commitments within the grant period. In addition, the Department has determined that the scope and breadth of the amendments submitted by the State may constitute a significant change in the State’s approved plans.

As a condition of being designated a high-risk grantee, the State will be placed on cost reimbursement basis effective immediately. Under a cost reimbursement payment basis, the grantee is required to submit receipts for expenditures to the Department for approval prior to drawing down any grant funds. In addition, the State must notify the Department prior to obligating funds and must provide documentation to ensure alignment with its approved plan, as requested. Please note that failure to comply with the high-risk conditions may constitute a material failure to comply with the requirements of the grant. If the grantee disagrees with the high-risk designation, it may request reconsideration by the Implementation and Support Unit.

Moreover, the Department will conduct an extensive on-site review of Hawaii’s Race to the Top program. During the on-site review, the State must provide clear and compelling evidence that demonstrates that it has made substantial progress across its Race to the Top plan. In addition, during the on-site review, the State must provide additional context related to the outstanding amendments listed above. The Department may ask for additional documentation and evidence beyond what is required in a typical on-site review, given the high-risk status of the grant.

After the on-site review, the Department will reevaluate the outstanding amendments and high-risk designation.

Finally, the State recently submitted additional amendments for the following projects that are under Department consideration: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Learning Strategy and Network; Community Access Portal; Hawaii Partnership for Educational Research Consortium (HPERC); Improving the Effectiveness of Teacher Preparation Programs; HIDOE Assistance and Oversight (submitted December 14, 2011); and the Professional Development Design Framework deliverables in the Knowledge Transfer System/Professional Development Framework project.

The Department will continue to provide assistance to Hawaii as you work to meet the commitments in your Race to the Top grant. We appreciate the increased communication from the new HIDOE leadership team. If you need any assistance or have any questions regarding Race to the Top, please do not hesitate to contact me. As is our practice with all Race to the Top amendments, this letter will be posted on the Department’s website.



Ann Whalen

Director, Policy and Program Implementation

Implementation and Support Unit

cc: Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi

Tammi Chun

Stephen Schatz


Friday, December 30, 2011


LA Daily News from  Staff and Wire Reports |

Updated: 12/29/2011 01:53:32 PM PST  :: The California Supreme Court ruled today that the state can dissolve the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and about 400 similar agencies statewide, but cannot force them to transfer some of their revenues to Sacramento.

The state has been counting on $1.7 billion from the agencies in this year's budget and $400 million a year thereafter. A nonpartisan analyst has since reduced the savings estimate to $1.4 billion for the year.

The agencies not only fund major building projects, like a proposed a new art museum, apartments and park in downtown Los Angeles and a proposed football stadium in downtown, but they also spend 20 percent of their income on affordable housing.

Gov. Jerry Brown hailed the court's ruling, saying that it "validates a key component of the state budget and guarantees more than $1 billion of ongoing funding for schools and public safety."

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky also applauded the court's decision, saying the agencies long ago stopped being a catalyst to reinvigorate blighted neighborhoods.

"Unfortunately, over the years it evolved into a honey pot that was tapped to underwrite billions of dollars worth of commercial and other for- profit projects that had nothing to do with reversing blight, but everything to do with subsidizing private real estate ventures that otherwise made no economic sense," Yaroslavsky said.

The California Redevelopment Association and League of California Cities vowed to work with state legislators immediately to develop legislation to revive redevelopment.

"Without immediate legislative action to fix this adverse decision, this ruling is a tremendous blow to local job creation and economic advancement," said CRA board President Julio Fuentes. "The legislative record is abundantly clear that legislators did not intend to abolish redevelopment. We hope to work with state lawmakers to come up with a way to restore redevelopment."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also issued a statement, outlining his hope for a legislative compromise.

"I intend to work closely with leaders in Sacramento and across California to develop a responsible path forward that invests in our schools, our safety and puts the 14 million unemployed Californians back to work," he said. "This includes new legislation to provide economic tools to communities most in need."

City Councilman Tony Cardenas, who represents portions of the East San Fernando Valley, said the decision dealt a major blow to the city's efforts to recover from the recession.

"There was definitely a need to look to at improvements in redevelopment, but this decision goes too far," he said in a statement. "Having grown up in Pacoima, I've seen first hand the impact that blight has on a community, and I've also been able to watch how a community can be revitalized with the right kind of redevelopment, like what we've seen with Pacoima Plaza, the NoHo Arts District and Bunker Hill. Without redevelopment agencies, I am afraid we won't see the kind of investment our neediest communities deserve." According to the Los Angeles CRA website, the agency has more than $500 million invested in 166 projects, including 52 currently under construction.

Ruth Davidson-Guerra, assistant director of the Burbank CRA, called the court's decision "devastating" to her 17-square-mile city. The agency invests about $50 million annually in redevelopment projects, including $10 million for affordable housing.

"This is a huge blow to the community," she said. "It's taking dollars directly from the Burbank community. It's done so much good and so much in terms of community benefit."

The justices heard arguments from both sides last month.

They considered whether the laws passed by the Legislature earlier this year were invalidated by Proposition 22, which bars the state from seizing local tax money. Redevelopment agencies are funded by the increase in tax revenue generated by projects in their areas.

The high court upheld the statute forcing redevelopment agencies to close. However, it invalidated the other, which would have allowed local officials to keep them open if they make payments to the state.

Acting under the authority of that second statute, the Los Angeles City Council voted in August to preserve the city's Community Redevelopment Agency by transferring about $95 million in tax revenue - roughly one third of its 2011-12 operating budget - to Sacramento. That transfer was set to occur on Jan. 15.

Brown and state lawmakers said redevelopment agencies were created by the Legislature, giving the state the authority to dissolve them and impose new requirements if they want to continue operating.

Cities and redevelopment agencies called the move illegal because California voters banned raids on local government money by passing Proposition 22 in 2010.

The Supreme Court's decision determines the fate of a process that has shaped economic development in California for decades.

After World War II, the Legislature allowed cities to combat blight by creating special districts for redevelopment. Growth in property taxes in those areas then could be used to finance more projects, known as tax-increment financing.

In turn, the agencies have used their power to acquire property by eminent domain and sell, lease or develop the land.

California began the year with a projected $26.6 billion deficit and closed the gap with spending cuts, fee hikes and revenue estimates that were overly optimistic. The state budget called for 70 state parks to close next year, tuition increases at state colleges and universities, and cuts to schools and libraries.

In June, lawmakers passed legislation to dissolve the redevelopment agencies and a companion measure that allows cities and counties to continue their redevelopment efforts if they voluntarily funnel their tax revenue toward local services. The budget was passed on a majority vote by Democrats, who were unable to coax Republicans to support fee increases and closing tax loopholes.

Earlier this month, the governor authorized midyear budget cuts of an additional $1 billion, including about $46 million to the Los Angeles Unified School District.


What others report on the same story| from silobreaker

Supreme Court rules on redevelopment [ Published Dec 29 2011 by San Jose Mercury News ]

State supreme court upholds law scrapping redev... [ Published Dec 29 2011 by Palm Springs Desert Sun ]

State Supreme Court upholds abolition of redeve... [ Published Dec 29 2011 by Los Angeles Times ]

California Supreme Court allows redevelopment m... [ Published Dec 29 2011 by San Jose Mercury News ]

CA: California Supreme Court set... [ Published Dec 29 2011 by Stateline ]

Court to rule on state’s fund grab [ Published Dec 29 2011 by Palo Alto Daily News ]

California Supreme Court to decide fate of rede... [ Published Dec 29 2011 by Los Angeles Times ]

CA Supreme Court To Rule On Redevelopment Laws [ Published Dec 29 2011 by ]

Court to rule on RDA funds today [ Published Dec 29 2011 by Palm Springs Desert Sun ]


Opinion by Chuck Robinson, The Packer – a trade publication of the fresh produce industry |

Chuck Robinson, Media Watch

12/30/2011 12:53:22 PM :: The trash can has consumed most of the Los Angeles Unified School District’ revamped, healthful lunch menu.

The Los Angeles Times reported in mid-December that the “trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop.” A student is quoted calling it “nasty, rotten stuff,” and many of her classmates echo the sentiment.

It is enough to waken the snarky high school student in most of us. The Wall Street Journal gave in to that inner malcontent, saying, “L.A.’s education whizzes forgot the law of unintended health-food consequences. You can’t make a child eat vegetables without a little dessert to wash it down.”

Well, it was just before Christmas and the WSJ editorial writers had run out of inspiration. It happens.

The past year has been tumultuous for the school district’s lunch adminstrators.

TV chef/activist Jamie Oliver shines a spotlight on the district with his TV program “Food Revolution.” The school board refuses Oliver access to criticize LAUSD lunch operations, as he had done to a school district in the first season of his show in Huntington Beach, W. Va.

Still, Oliver rabble rouses. Meanwhile, over the summer, a new superintendant takes office and announces with the TV show host on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that the district will outlaw sugared, flavored milk in cafeterias.

Then the menu changes, which the district says was not the result of Oliver’s haranging. The district virtually eliminates canned and frozen fruits and vegetables and boosted spending on fresh produce. Boo-yah.

Also, the district chefs produce vegetable curry, pad Thai, beef jambalaya and other more exotic fare in their central kitchen. They earn some rave reviews during community taste tests.

However, mass production, transporting the fare to schools and serving 650,000 kids took its toll on food quality. Go figure.

So changes will be made. Some exotic items are gone. Hamburgers will be offered daily. Pizza returns, but with a whole-wheat crust, low-fat cheese and low-sodium sauce.

Despite the critical remarks about the more healthful changes being disastrous, there are positive notes. For instance, the Times article mentioned salads being popular among students, which echoes reviews we have heard about salad bars installed in schools through United Fresh Produce Association’s Salad Bar in Every School initiative.

The Times, in an editorial, suggested the district should have introduced new fare more gradually.

I can imagine Jamie Oliver’s stunts are annoying to school district officials, who came off as being very prickly about criticism. A cynic might wonder if everyone involved in L.A. school lunches wanted the healthier-menu effort to succeed.

We shall see if the district has sufficient resolve to see this healthier food push through.

Our industry needs to keep providing support to the healthier school lunch efforts in this and other school districts. We must help deflect crass comments. We need to reinforce the patience of those trying to serve students healthier food.


smf |Los Angeles  |  December, 30, 2011 at 03:08 PM

I have been a parent rep on the LAUSD Cafeteria Improvement Committee for a while – and I appreciate and respect your industry's support and viewpoint. Thank you.

Jamie Oliver's self promotion needs to be recognized for what it was; his efforts in Huntington NY cost that school district far more in money than benefit he brought to Huntington or the children thereof. …though it did create a lot of buzz around Jamie!

A year later Jamie came to L.A. and found a little more media-savvy school district – one that had been hammered by Reality TV and was not so naive a victim (Do the names "Bruno+Borat" ring a bell?

Jamie was able to ingratiate himself with the LAUSD/Show Biz Connected – notably at LA's Promise partnership schools which has a tight Hollywood connection – and the old superintendent saw though that and shot it down. But within weeks the Hollywood Connection to the new superintendent brought Supt .Deasy, Jimmy Kimmel and Jamie Oliver together on Kimmel's show for a great staged media "Peace Hug" …though too late to save Jamie's ratings or show.

For Superintendent Deasy to appear on a TV Show with Oliver and announce his flavored milk ban – and then to claim that Oliver no had no role in the decision process tests everyone's suspension of disbelief. The next step – the expedited roll-out of the new menu – led to what it led to – a result so predictable it could have been scripted.

Except of course, there are no scripts in Reality TV.

FYI: NEW LAW - Stricter booster seat requirements for kids under 8 years old begin Sunday

Victoria Colliver, S.F. Chronicle Staff Writer |

Sarah Rice / Special to The Chronicle - Twins Greer (left) and Scarlet Nakadegawa-Lee, 7, get settled in their booster seats before heading out in Oakland with their father, Tadashi Nakadegawa.

Friday, December 30, 2011 :: Six- and 7-year-olds who had "graduated" from their booster seat to a passenger seat will find themselves back in the saddle come Sunday, thanks to a new law designed to increase child safety in California.

California state law currently requires parents to keep their kids in booster seats until they reach the age of 6 or weigh at least 60 pounds. The new law does away with the weight limit and requires children to stay in booster seats until they hit 8 years old or 4 feet, 9 inches tall - a height that very few children will reach before that age.

While the new requirement is likely to provoke a collective shriek from children throughout the state, child safety experts say the change is for their own good. Studies show booster seat use for children ages 4 through 7 decreases the risk of injury by nearly 60 percent compared with seat belt use alone.

"The No. 1 killer of kids is car crashes. I just want all the families to know how important child restraints are and how they can protect their kids," said Livermore police Officer Traci Rebiejo, who testified on behalf of law enforcement in support of the legislation, which was authored by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.

Booster seats are necessary, experts say, because seat belts are designed for adults and the boost puts children in position to be properly restrained. Research has shown that small passengers whose seat belts fit improperly were at an increased risk for serious injury or death in car accidents.

Vetoed twice before

Although similar legislation was vetoed twice over the past six years by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who objected to imposing a new law telling parents how to keep their kids safe, more than 30 states have surpassed California's current requirements. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the new standards into law Oct. 4.

Mountain View parent Matthew Kagle said his 7-year-old son, Simon, who had been out of his booster seat for a year and a half, didn't take it so well when he learned he would have to go back in it.

Strong disapproval

"You would think I had told him he had to have an extra injection. He wanted to write a letter to Jerry Brown to express his disapproval, but he doesn't quite have the wherewithal to do that yet," said Kagle, who also has a 4-year-old son who just graduated from a car seat to a booster.

Kagle said his older son, who is in the 98th percentile in height, is hoping he hits the 4-foot, 9-inch limit before he turns 8 in June. Kagle says his kid is a tight fit in the seat: "It's like having Andre the Giant in a kindergarten seat back there."

Carol Powers, child passenger safety program coordinator at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, said some children should actually be kept in booster seats after the age of 8.

"It isn't about how old you are; it's about how the belt fits," Powers said. "The booster seat just makes the seat belt fit on the right parts of the body."

Parents should make sure that the lap belt is low on the hips, touching the upper thighs, and that the shoulder belt crosses the chest, but not the face or neck, Powers said. Children should never be allowed to push the shoulder belt behind them.

A lesser-known aspect of the new law makes parents responsible for their child passenger's safety until they reach age 16. Parents or drivers can be fined at least $475 and get a point on their driving records for each child under 16 who is not properly secured.

Tadashi Nakadegawa's three children - 7-year-old twin girls and a 10-year-old son - are all under the height limit. While the girls technically "aged out" of the seats at 6, Nakadegawa has kept them in boosters because of their size.

"For me, anything that would have you keep your kids in the safest restraints possible is good," said Nakadegawa, of Oakland.

He said he would prefer to keep all his kids in boosters as long as necessary, but he acknowledged it would be tough on his son, especially on field trips or with friends.

"If your kid is the only kid in a booster in the whole class, that's a hard thing to deal with. But I still prefer they use it," he said.

-- For more information about car seats, the new law or help in determining whether your child needs a booster seat, call your local health department or go to or


About the law

What is the change? Effective Sunday, all children under 8 or a certain height must be properly buckled in a car seat or booster in the backseat. Previously, the requirement applied to children up to the age of 6 or 60 pounds.

Does that mean a car seat or booster? Typically, children outgrow their car seats at age 4 or 40 pounds, depending on the seat manufacturer's instructions. Now kids who move from car seats will have to remain in boosters until they turn 8 or reach 4 feet, 9 inches tall.

So weight doesn't matter? Studies have shown that height is a better indicator of whether a child needs additional security. Seat belts are designed for adults and typically do not fit children, regardless of weight.

How should the belt fit? The lap belt must ride low on the hips, touching the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt must cross the chest. Never use a booster with a lap belt only.

Is there a penalty for not following the law? Yes. Parents or drivers face a minimum fine of $475 and a point on their driving record.

Source: Safe Kids California.


Jill Tucker, S.F. Chronicle Staff Writer |

Dylan Entelis / The Chronicle - School Smarts Parent Academy grads get diplomas at South San Francisco's Sunshine Gardens Elementary.

Thursday, December 29, 2011 :: When Sunshine Gardens Principal Ifeoma Obodozie recently asked for a parent volunteer to coordinate the South San Francisco elementary school's annual spaghetti feed, 10 people signed up.

At her weekly "coffee with the principal" gatherings, 30 moms and dads are regularly crowding around with cups, asking questions and offering suggestions.

In the predominantly Hispanic school, that kind of parent involvement didn't exist a couple of months ago.

But that was before a group of about 30 parents started spending nearly two hours every Thursday night at a PTA School Smarts Parent Academy.

The pilot program, in its second year, focuses on teaching parents how to be involved in their children's schooling, something consistently found to be one of the most important factors in a child's academic success regardless of family income or background.

Obodozie didn't need to see the PTA's independent analysis showing that the program works.

Parents who were timid in the past - because they couldn't speak English or because they never completed high school - now stop her to ask questions and raise concerns. They communicate with teachers and are more attentive to their child's schoolwork.

"I've seen a difference, a huge difference," the principal said. "When parents are involved, they really stay on top of their child's education."

Parent Maria Carlisle, who has two children at Sunshine Gardens Elementary, took the classes with her husband, Edwin Campos.

Carlisle said many parents came away from the program with new skills as well as a simple understanding: "It doesn't matter what language you speak as long as you're an involved parent," she said.

The parent training program was funded by a Hewlett Foundation grant, with $270,000 this year to expand the program to more schools.

Last year, 345 parents participated at 14 schools in four school districts, including Alameda and South San Francisco as well as two in Southern California.

Just over half of the parents were Spanish speakers, and nearly a third never completed high school.

This year, the program is in 23 schools in the same four districts.

Parents learn how the public education system works, who the superintendent is, and how to reach the school board. They also work on communication and leadership skills, as well as more concrete things like how to set up a study station at home.

"This has everything you need to engage parents," said Carol Kocivar, president of the California PTA. "It's really exciting to see something like this where you help parents learn how to help their children."

Just before the winter break, Sunshine Gardens held a graduation ceremony for the parents who completed the program. Family members took pictures of the graduates as "Pomp and Circumstance" played and their children cheered.

"It took a lot for you to step forward and say, 'Teach me how to be involved in my child's education,' " Obodozie said.

At the graduation ceremony, Gabriela Villalpando, 12, sat in the front row to watch her parents, Gabriela and Victor Villalpando, get their first-ever diplomas.

The couple never got past middle school themselves, but they had different plans for their children and so signed up for the seven-week PTA parent school.

"They wanted to help us go to college," said Gabriela, a seventh-grader. "They wanted to be good parents to us."

MANDARIN IMMERSION PROGRAM FLOURISHES AT L.A. SCHOOL: Broadway Elementary in Venice launched the effort to boost enrollment. The plan worked so well the principal is concerned that dual-language learners will outnumber students in regular classes.

By Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times |

The English half of the day

First-grader Charlotte Woodruff (on class pajama day) shows her science project to her dual-language class as Rae Cullen, who teaches in English, looks on at Broadway Elementary School in Venice. The students spend half the day with Cullen and half with a teacher whose instruction is in Mandarin. (Barbara Davidson, Los Angeles Times / December 16, 2011)

December 29, 2011, 8:28 p.m. :: Twenty-four first-graders scrambled from their seats and plopped onto a rainbow-colored rug in "Wong laoshi's" classroom. In a minute, they would begin a lesson on food groups. But first a quick exercise on water.

"Zhengfa!" teacher Kennis Wong said, using the Mandarin word for "evaporation," and the students jumped to their feet.

"Ningjie!" Wong said next, giving the word for "condensation." And like a forming raindrop, students hugged in small groups.

"Jiangyu!" she said finally, and the raindrops splashed to the floor, giggling the whole way down.

Water cycle complete — and without a word of English — Wong had her students' full attention.

In her Mandarin immersion classroom at Broadway Elementary School, there is not a single English word on the walls. And none of the students are aware that their teacher speaks English.

Her class is a diverse group — some are Asian, others are white and a handful from the Venice neighborhood are black and Latino. Few are native Mandarin speakers.

"It's really fun learning Chinese," said Kyle Pearson, 6. "It's kind of like a tool you use — a secret."

Broadway Elementary last year joined the ranks of more than 200 schools across the state to offer a dual-language immersion program in which students learn in two languages with the goal of becoming academically proficient in both. In the school's "50-50" program, teachers who use Mandarin in the classroom and those whose instruction is in English are paired, and students spend half their day with each.

Broadway began the program to help boost plummeting enrollment — the school had reached a low of 257 students in 2008-09. The experiment worked — maybe too well.

With about 130 students in the Mandarin program so far, school enrollment is now at 330. Principal Susan Wang is concerned that the dual-language learners will outnumber the students in the regular school classes. And, by 2013-14, she figures that the Mandarin program will need a bigger home.

The newcomers to the Mandarin program also changed the demographics of the little neighborhood school. In 2009, 81% of Broadway's students were Latino, 15% were black, six were white and none were Asian. The next year, the new classes of Mandarin immersion students were almost exclusively white and Asian.

"I feel like I'm running two schools sometimes," Wang said, referring to her workload. "Winter break, summer break, spring break, furlough days — none of those mean anything to me. For me, it's about having more time to work."

Indeed, to make the second of the Los Angeles Unified School District's three Mandarin immersion programs successful, parents have to raise funds and staff have to commit to the extra work. The Friends of Broadway booster club contributed thousands of dollars last year, while teachers took on the demands of having two sets of 24 students for three hours each.

It takes "lots of careful, careful planning," said Rae Cullen, who teaches in English and is paired with Wong. "Daily, every hour on the hour, at home, and 'Oh look, Kennis [Wong] is texting me for breakfast this morning!'"

While dual language programs have become popular with parents, some experts caution that the programs must be well run by teachers and administrators.

"These programs have had very good results for the English speakers, sometimes not quite as great for the other language speakers," said Sacramento-based bilingual consultant Norm Gold. "But it all depends on doing a quality implementation."

Even excluding the students in the Mandarin program, Broadway has boosted its standardized test scores — up more than 100 points to 869 on the Academic Performance Index from 2008 when Wang arrived. Mandarin immersion students were too young to be tested last spring, but the school's scores could rise again next year.

Parents like Jack Chen like what they're seeing. Chen grew up going to Chinese school on weekends and "really resented it." But he says his son can't get enough.

"It's not an additional burden," said Chen, a professor of Chinese literature at UCLA. "It's just your everyday school and you're learning Chinese."

Other parents like Lucy Garcia have no connection to China. She lives downtown but drives her youngest daughter back to the school her older children attended. She chose the Mandarin program over English-only classes; the family speaks Spanish at home.

"We mix everything together around the dinner table," she said. "It's fun."

Soon the students left Wong's classroom and migrated to Cullen's next door. One student sang happy birthday in Spanish while another talked in Mandarin about the food groups and a third argued with a friend in English.

Minutes later, students entered another world, reviewing how to make verbs plural. In English.


By Tom Lemmon | San Diego Daily Transcript |

Thursday, December 29, 2011  :: Growing up in San Diego, I always look forward to going to Saska’s in Mission Beach for their baseball cut steak. Both my wife and I have been going there since we were kids and still enjoy going there to this day. Also, back in the day when I had a couple of extra bucks to upgrade my Baja Bug, I always went to the Off Road Warehouse. It’s been a long time since they were located on Othello Avenue, and the move to Balboa Avenue only made the access easier.

These small businesses give San Diego its character. Their products and services are high-quality because the people who run them know San Diego like the back of their hand, and there’s pride in serving people in the town where they live.

Small businesses are a major driver of our economy. Two-thirds of all new jobs are created by businesses with fewer than 20 employees. This makes sense if you think about it. Proportionally, small businesses create more jobs relative to their share of the economy. They also tend to have roots in a local area and therefore circulate their revenues within the local economy.

In the construction industry, public agencies are increasingly setting goals to encourage small-business participation in public works projects. It serves a double bottom line by investing to create both public and private benefits.

  Some data is now coming back about the results of such projects. The California Construction Academy at the UCLA Labor Center recently released a report evaluating construction projects under Los Angeles Unified School District’s project stabilization agreement from 2003 to 2011 [Project Labor Agreements: Pathways to Business Ownership and Workforce Development in Los Angeles] and found that 48 percent of construction project dollars went to small and disadvantaged businesses.

This far surpassed LAUSD’s goal to ensure that 25 percent of construction project dollars went to small business enterprises. Out of a total of $8.68 billion that LAUSD spent on construction projects, $4.15 billion went to small and disadvantaged businesses. Out of 496 total prime contractors, 219 prime contractors were small business enterprises. Out of 4,773 total subcontractors, 1,194 subcontractors were small business enterprises.

LAUSD’s projects also created large numbers of local jobs with family-sustaining wages and benefits. Construction projects under the LAUSD PSA employed a total of 96,000 workers who gained an aggregate of $1.46 billion in wages. Forty-one percent of these workers live in target ZIP codes within LAUSD, and 68 percent of these workers live in Los Angeles County. These workers directly spend their wages into the local economy, thus spurring a ripple effect into food services, tourism, transportation and retail sectors.

These results show the value of a PSA for local and small businesses. They demonstrate that in addition to building better schools, an agency can leverage taxpayer dollars in construction for a high economic impact. Part of the reason for LAUSD’s success was that the leadership embraced the goals of small-business development. They actively put processes into place to help small businesses bid and followed up with prime contractors to help them find small contractors to hire.

In San Diego, we are witnessing the business model generating great success. Whereas LAUSD required more than five years acquiring operational efficiencies, San Diego Unified School District is already making significant strides within two years of adoption of its PSA on Proposition S funds.

A recent SDUSD study, based on a survey of contractors by consultant Rea & Parker Research, found that local hire goals are on track, that there was no change in project cost or quality, and projects were completing faster under the PSA. The SDUSD PSA has an ambitious small-business participation goal, aiming for 40 percent small business enterprise participation. Within this broad target are special provisions for emerging small businesses and businesses owned by the disabled, veterans, women or minorities.

Earlier this month, the board of trustees of SDUSD voted unanimously to extend the PSA to all Proposition S bond and state funded projects. This creates certainty for contractors, administrators and taxpayers, allowing the PSA to stabilize costs and save time. It also allows scheduling and coordination between contractors and apprenticeship programs for multiyear trades curricula. Extending the PSA in the long term creates a level playing field for small businesses by making it cost-effective to invest in work force training and bidding requirements, so that they can increasingly be awarded school construction projects.

Small-business growth will be critical to the recovery of the construction industry in San Diego. It makes good business sense to use our scarce taxpayer dollars to build public facilities, while also building a sustainable base of quality contractors on public works projects in the region. I look forward to the small construction businesses playing a critical role in ushering a happier 2012.

  • Lemmon is the business manager of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


CHUCK BARTELS, JEANNIE NUSS Associated Press/from the Chicago Tribune |

8:25 p.m. CST, December 28, 2011 - LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas cannot cut off millions of dollars in funding for desegregation programs in Little Rock-area school districts until the state asks a federal judge for permission to do so, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision comes after U.S. District Judge Brian Miller ordered an end to most of the payments, calling them counterproductive. He accused the districts of delaying desegregation to keep getting state money.

The appeals court ruled that Miller decided to end the payments without the state specifically asking him to do so. The court said the state must ask, in a separate court action, before a judge could make such a ruling.

A spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Wednesday that no decision has been made about whether the state would file such a request.

Arkansas is required by a 1989 settlement to fund magnet schools, transfers between districts and other programs to support desegregation and keep a racial balance in the North Little Rock, Pulaski County and Little Rock school districts. Those costs currently add up to about $38 million a year, according to the appeals court's ruling.

State lawmakers have long wanted to end the desegregation program funding, though the districts say they're still necessary.

Battles over school desegregation in Little Rock date back to 1957, when nine black teenagers needed the protection of federal troops to integrate Central High School. Little Rock sued the state and its two neighboring districts in 1982, and two years later a judge agreed that the districts hadn't done enough to help the city schools desegregate.

Miller issued his order to end the payments earlier this year, after hearings about whether two of the three school districts in question — North Little Rock and Pulaski County — should be declared unitary, or substantially desegregated.

"That came kind of out of the blue," Stephen Jones, the lead attorney for the North Little Rock district, said Wednesday about Miller's ruling.

Miller wrote that the payments should end in order to avoid "an absurd outcome in which the districts are rewarded with extra money from the state if they fail to comply with their desegregation plans and they face having their funds cut by the state if they act in good faith and comply."

But the appeals court said Miller did not make "specific findings of fact" to support his decision.

Miller, who referred to himself as "a middle aged black judge," instead wrote: "After reading the briefs, the transcripts from the various hearings, and the scores of exhibits filed herein, it is very easy to conclude that few if any of the participants in this case have any clue how to effectively educate underprivileged black children."

The appeals court also reversed Miller's decision to deny the North Little Rock district's request to be declared unitary. Miller had denied the request in part because he said the district offered only anecdotal examples of its efforts to recruit black teachers.

The 8th Circuit disagreed, noting that more than 16 percent of the district's educators are black, compared to 9 percent statewide.

Miller didn't return a phone message left at his chambers Wednesday. But he removed himself from the desegregation case earlier this year, saying he could no longer make unbiased decisions after the state took over his hometown's school district in eastern Arkansas.

Jones, the North Little Rock district's lawyer, said he was pleased with the appeals court's decision to deem the district unitary.

"In a sense, it's anticlimactic because I don't think it really changes how we're going to conduct our day-to-day business," he said.

Another federal judge had previously declared the Little Rock district unitary, but Miller refused to declare the Pulaski County district entirely unitary in his May order. The appeals court upheld that part of Miller's ruling, which found the Pulaski County School District lacking in nine areas in which it had to make changes to be considered desegregated.

Wednesday's opinion notes that Miller found the Pulaski County district "has given very little thought, and even less effort to complying with its desegregation plan. Complying with its plan obligations seems to have been an afterthought."

The appeals court "found no reason to disagree" with Miller's conclusion.

The Pulaski County Special School District's lead attorney, Sam Jones, declined to comment Wednesday.

The Little Rock district's lead lawyer, Chris Heller, praised the appeals court's ruling, adding that part of Miller's decision in May "concerned issues that had not been presented to the district court."

McDaniel said in a statement that Arkansas is moving toward ending the legal action surrounding the decades-old desegregation case and in turn, "taking the courts out of the classrooms" in the county.

Full coverage from Google News

Federal appeals court says Arkansas can't stop

Arkansas Schools Desegregation Funds Can't Be Cut Off, Appeals Court Rules

Huffington Post – 28 Dec

By JEANNIE NUSS and CHUCK BARTELS 12/28/11 09:22 PM ET AP LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas cannot cut off millions of dollars in funding for desegregation programs in Little Rock-area school districts until the state asks a federal judge for permission to ...

LDF Successfully Defends Lower Court Ruling in Historic School Desegregation Case

Sacramento Bee - 28 Dec

By NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund NEW YORK, Dec. 29, 2011 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed key aspects of the lower court's decision in Little Rock School District v. Lorene Joshua. ...

Appeals Court: Arkansas Can't Stop Desegregation Funds

BET - 28 Dec

A federal district judge acted improperly in cutting funds for school integration, the higher court ruled. By Jonathan P. Hicks A federal appeals court ruled that the state of Arkansas cannot stop funding for desegregation programs in the public ...

Appeals court vacates judge's order to end desegregation payments

Arkansas News - 28 Dec

By Rob Moritz LITTLE ROCK — A federal appeals court on Wednesday vacated a US district court judge's order from earlier this year to end the bulk of the millions of dollars in funding the state provides annually to fund desegregation programs in ...

Appeals court weighs in on Arkansas desegregation case

KAIT - 28 Dec

LITTLE ROCK, AR (AP) - A federal appeals court has ruled that the state can't stop providing desegregation money to Little Rock-area school districts without a separate hearing and a judge's order. The ruling from the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals ...

All 10 related articles »


opinion from the eighth district court of appeals

112130P.pdf   12/28/2011  Little Rock School District  v.  Lorene JoshuaU.S. Court of Appeals Case No:  11-2130

and No:  11-2304

and No:  11-2305

and No:  11-2336

  U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of  Arkansas - Little Rock  [PUBLISHED] [Gruender, Author,  with Wollman and Melloy, Circuit Judges]

Civil case - Little Rock School Desegregation Case.  Partial denial of North Little Rock's petition for  unitary status in the area of staff recruitment is  reversed, as the record established that the vestiges of  past discrimination have been eliminated to the extent  practicable in the area of recruitment; partial denial  of Pulaski County's petition for unitary status in nine  different areas is affirmed; portion of the order  terminating the State's funding obligations vacated.



smf: If you only read one legal opinion this year, this should be the one …and with only a few days left in 2011 the possibilities are limited!

Whether or not the precedents here are precedential in California & LAUSD – the court’s writing on replacing bungalows (pp.19), construction cost escalation (pp.18-19), and particularly over-assignment of black males to special ed (pp.21-22.), and likewise in discipline referrals (pp.17), …and especially the statistical manipulation of data in assessing the Achievement Gap (pp.24-26), is enlightened+enlightening.


The All-City Band, A 40-Year Participant In the Rose Parade, To Perform Dec. 30 With Other Bands Participating In The Annual Event …maybe for the last time?

Written by Information Provided to San Fernando Valley Sun |


Thursday, 29 December 2011 03:25  :: The Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Beyond the Bell All- District Honor Marching Band is making to its 40th appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena on Jan. 2.

The achievement was recently honored at a special ceremony at Dodger Stadium.

Rick Jackson, Tournament of Roses Parade President and a graduate of University High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), presented the 2012 Parade flag to Tony White, Beyond the Bell's Arts Coordinator and Band Director in the stadium on Dec. 21.

The celebration also included the presence of Sarah Zuno, the first LAUSD high school student in the tournament's 123-year history to be selected as a Tournament of Roses princess. Zuno is a senior at Los Angeles Franklin High School.

Also present were Don Dustin who founded the band in 1972; Frank Harris, Past Band Director; and Simeon Stewart, Past Drum Major.

The band has served as an ambassador for the District and Los Angeles for 39 years. And members of this year's band are eagerly anticipating their chance to appear in the 123rd edition of the parade, which is viewed by millions around the world.

"To me the All-City Band means Life! It also gives me great motivation to go to school every day," said Drum Major De Andre Hogan, a senior at Locke High School.

"Being in the All-City Band gives students from all over the district a chance to come together as one and represent this great city," added Drum Major Jerry Pulido, a junior at Wilson High School.

"The best part of All City Band is that there is no rivalry between schools, we all come together and take pride in being the Honor Band," said Drum Majors Jorge Vargas, a senior at Los Angeles Fairfax High School, and Misael Cort├ęs, a junior at San Pedro High School.

The band represents all of the students, teachers, administrators and employees of the second largest school district in the nation. It provides high school students with the opportunity to develop important life skills such as teamwork, character development, dedication and collaboration. Performers come from 60 LAUSD high schools in East Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, the Harbor Area, and the San Fernando Valley to work and perform in what can be a powerful and rewarding experience for all involved. All racial and ethnic backgrounds are represented in this truly unique program.

Marching in the Rose Parade is a memory band members can treasure for a lifetime. Known as America's New Year Celebration, the annual Rose Parade features spectacular floral floats as well as bands and celebrities. Approximately one million spectators line the parade route, while tens of millions watch the television coverage in more than 200 international territories and countries.

The Rose Parade is broadcast on several television outlets including ABC, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, KTLA (Tribune), NBC, RFD-TV and Univision.

In addition to appearing in appearing in the parade, the various bands will perform in the annual Tournament of Roses' "Bandfest," presented this weekend, Dec. 30-31. Each "Bandfest" performance features a different slate of seven marching bands and lasts approximately two hours. The first performance will be held Friday at 2 p.m.

"Bandfest" is held in Robinson Stadium, on the campus of Pasadena City College.

SEE ALSO: 40th Year May be the Last: FAIRFAX HIGH JOINS LAUSD ALL-DISTRICT MARCHING BAND AT 2012 TOURNAMENT OF ROSES : This year marks the band’s 40th consecutive appearance in the world famous parade. Next year’s not in the budget |

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


By J.D. Velasco, Staff Writer -  San Gabriel Valley News |

12/25/2011 06:04:21 AM PST :: As education budgets and staffing levels have shrunk in recent years, school principals are being asked to take on an increasing number of duties - some in areas in which they don't have much experience, a new survey suggests.

The recently released survey was conducted by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, a San Francisco-based think tank.

Its researchers surveyed more than 600 public-school principals across the state, asking them about their on-the-job experiences.

"This year's annual report concludes that today's California principals have more to do, less time to do it, and fewer sources of support," wrote the authors of the survey.

Projecting the Need for California School Administrators Over 2010/11-2017/18

The Effects of Projected Retirement and Projected Changes in Student Enrollment Over Two-Year Increments

By: Anthony B. Fong, Reino Makkonen

view online/pdf

Brian McDonald, chief academic officer for Pasadena Unified, said the study's results hold true in his school district.

"I think that these findings pretty much jibe with what's going on in Pasadena," McDonald said. "Principals are definitely having to do more with less."

On average, school principals reported working 60 hours a week, with nearly 15 percent reporting that they work an average of 70 hours or more.

The center found that many of those principals are relatively new to their jobs. Slightly more than half of those surveyed said they had been a principal for five years or less.

Gary Rapkin, superintendent of Bonita Unified, said the percent of new principals was higher than he would have expected, but said it's a trend that will probably continue as more

baby boomers retire.

The survey also found that principals are increasingly being asked to spend time on non-educational tasks, particularly management of facilities, and developing budgets and schedules.

McDonald said all of those activities are chipping away at the amount of time principals can spend with teachers.

"We're asking them to be instructional leaders," he said. "But it's getting more and more difficult when they're having to do a lot of management issues."

A significant number of principals told researchers that they had little-to-no experience in those areas.

Two-thirds said they had "none or minimal" experience with developing a school budget prior to becoming a principal.

"It takes almost a CPA to try to navigate that whole process and how to squeeze blood from a turnip," McDonald said. "If they ask for that kind of assistance, we do have people in our budgeting department and our financing department who are always willing to help."

Slightly more than half said they lacked experience in managing their schools' physical facilities.

The same number said they lacked experience in raising funds for school programs and services.

The survey also found that many principals lacked experience in evaluating their teachers.

Nearly 40 percent of them reported having minimal experience performing formal teacher evaluations.

Debbie Kaplan, West Covina Unified superintendent, said evaluations are a pivotal part of what principals do. She said it's the responsibility of school districts to make sure their teachers are up to the task.

"I do believe that evaluations are the most important thing that principals do to provide support for teachers," Kaplan said.

Rapkin said districts will have to focus their efforts on coaching and training principals in parts of their jobs that colleges and universities can't train them for.

"When you have a fair number of new principals, you do need to invest more time in mentoring," he said.

Kaplan agreed, but worried that principals are not being left with enough time to spend on educational issues.

"I think, yes, we can train principals, but if we're taking away all their resources, we're forcing them to spend all their time on management issues," Kaplan said. "That's scary for me."

Rob Voors, superintendent of Glendora Unified, said the "most shocking thing" to him about the study is that many of its facts are now being considered "normal or acceptable."

"Perhaps we've become desensitized," he said.

Projecting the Need for California School Administrators Over 2010/11–2017/18: The Effects of Projected Retirement and Projected Changes in Student Enrollment Over Two-Year Increments

This summary:

Full Report:

Methodologies: Descriptive

Principal Investigator

Tony Fong, Reino Makkonen

Regional Educational Laboratory West

Related Research

School-Site Administrators: A California County and Regional Perspective on Labor Market Trends

Related Resources

REL West Research Digest: October 2011

REL West Research Digest Spring 2011

Projecting the Need for California School Administrators Over 2010/11-2017/18

School-Site Administrators

Trends in California Teacher Demand: A County and Regional Perspective

This research study explores the differences among California's counties and regions in their needs for new school-site administrators (principals and vice principals), as driven by a combination of projected administrator retirements and projected student enrollment changes.

The study uses data from the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the California Department of Education Personnel Assignment Information Form (PAIF) to project the retirements of school-site administrators over 2010/11–2017/18.

To estimate the demand for school-site administrators due to projected changes in student enrollment, the authors used data from the California Department of Finance, which projected student enrollments at the county level through the 2017/18 school year. Projected demand for administrators due to both retirements and changes in student enrollment were done at the county level in four two-year increments from 2010/11–2017/18.

The study resulted in a report prepared by the Regional Educational Laboratory West at WestEd.

Research Questions

This study addresses the following three research questions:

  • By region, what percentage of 2007/08 school-site administrators are projected to retire in each two-year period over 2010/11–2017/18?
  • By region, how many new school-site administrators (as a percentage of the 2007/08 school-site administrator workforce) will be needed to offset projected changes in student enrollment for each two-year period over 2010/11–2017/18?
  • By region, how many new school-site administrators (as a percentage of the 2007/08 school-site administrator workforce) will be needed due to the combination of projected retirement and projected changes in student enrollment for each two-year period over 2010/11–2017/18?

Projected county-level administrator retirements were derived using five-year historical county- and age-specific retirement rates. To project future retirements, the actual number of school-site administrators in 2007/08 was taken from the PAIF dataset, and then the numbers of entering and retiring administrators were projected for each year over 2008/09–2017/18. Because the study's technical brief was published in 2011, only the projected retirements for the 2010/11–2017/18 period are reported.

Projected county-level demand for administrators for the 2010/11–2017/18 period was calculated by dividing the projected change in student enrollment during the period by the five-year (2003/04–2007/08) county-specific student-administrator ratio. Projected demand due to both administrator retirements and changes in student enrollment was then calculated by summing the two projections.

Key Findings or Outcomes
  • The Central Coast region has the highest projected administrator retirement rates over the four two-year periods in the study; for each two-year period, either Inland Empire or South San Joaquin Central Valley are projected to have the lowest.
  • Due to projected student enrollment growth, and assuming no change in ratios of students to administrators, many regions are expected to face a need for administrators that increases in each two-year period. Inland Empire is expected to have the most enrollment-driven growth compared with its 2007/08 school-site administrator workforce; South Coast is expected to need fewer administrators based on enrollment patterns.
  • The Bay Area is the only region in which combined retirement- and student enrollment-driven demand for school-site administrators is projected to fall. In all other regions, the need is expected to grow — particularly in Inland Empire, which can expect to need 42.2 percent more administrators over 2010/11–2017/18 than were employed in 2007/08. South Coast is expected to have, overall, the state's lowest projected need (17.4 percent).


By Stephanie Minasian | Staff Writer Gazette Newspapers - The Grunion Gazette/The Downtown Gazette/The Uptown Gazette |

test4Buffum Elementary School

WALKING TO CLASS. Buffum Elementary School students head to their classrooms after recess, before the school’s closure at the end of 2010-11 school year. —Gazette file photo

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 1:21 pm ::   California’s major reductions to its public education institutions took another devastating toll on schools across the state in 2011, including the three Long Beach branches of education, which faced another year of heavy budget cuts.

    The state’s midyear trigger cut also deeply impacted the schools and left them reaching into their pockets to pay the differences with their own reserve monies.

Long Beach Unified

    At the start of the school year, LBUSD proposed to operate with $60 million less than it did the previous year. The total budget was adopted at $660 million and illustrated the continued decline in state funding.

    The cuts also needed to be made because of the limited federal stimulus money that had previously helped to offset some of the effects of the recession, according to LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou.

    To meet its strict budget, the district sent nearly 800 pink slips to teachers and certificated staff, and officially let 749 of those employees go. The other major hits to the district were made in art programs, transportation and school closures.

    When December rolled around, revenue levels had not been met and Gov. Jerry Brown pulled a $1 billion trigger cut on all three levels of education. At the K-12 level, $328 million was taken from schools across the state, with Long Beach Unified School District absorbing $4.2 million of that.

    “LBUSD could have lost as much as $24 million under the plan,” Eftychiou said.

    He added that the district is able to absorb the cuts by using its reserves to get through the rest of the year. Out of the $4.2 million, $3.3 million will be taken from transportation funds, but school busing will continue through the end of the 2011-12 school year.

    When the state’s 2010-11 Accountability Progress Report was released in August by the California Department of Education, it showed that while the Long Beach Unified School District is making gains in achievement, the district is still failing to meet the standards of the No Child Left Behind Act.

    The accountability systems are gathered from student performance on the Standardized Testing and Reporting program (STAR) and the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). The results are calculated into the state Academic Performance Index (API) and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

    If districts are unable to make the AYP criteria for two consecutive years, they will be identified for Program Improvement (PI). LBUSD was placed for PI when it failed to meet the AYP requirement in 2007-08. The district did not meet requirements in 2008-09, either. According to the state’s release, the federal No Child Left Behind target increased 11 points this year, and will continue to rise until 100% of students will be expected to be proficient in 2013-14.

    The district’s base API for 2011 was measured at 766 — up from 2010’s base score of 759 — which amounts to a 7-point growth for the district.

    During the summer, it was announced that LBUSD had surpassed California’s graduation rate for the 2009-2010 school year. The data released by California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, used a new calculation method called the cohort dropout rate, which shows LBUSD ’s rate is at 14.1%, and graduation rate at 78.8%, compared to the state’s overall dropout and graduation rates at 18.2% and 74.4%.

    In November, the district announced its plans to completely rebuild Newcomb Academy, a K-8 school at 3351 Val Verde Ave., and Roosevelt Elementary School at 1574 Linden Ave.

    The money for these rebuilds will come from the Measure K bond, which is money that can only be spent on infrastructure repairs or new construction.

    The Newcomb project will take three years, and school district staff has recommended that the 930 students currently enrolled there move to the Keller Elementary School at 7020 E. Brittain St. That school currently has 360 students, far less than capacity, and it lost 100 students in the last year, according to Eftychiou.

    Keller closed at the end of 2011, and the students who lived in Keller boundary will continue attending that campus as part of the Newcomb Academy next year, while those who attend Keller but live outside its boundaries will need to move to Burcham K-8 School, located at 5610 Monlaco Road. In order to rebuild the aging Roosevelt Elementary School campus on Linden the school district decided to transfer the more than 1,000 students there to the Butler Middle School campus. The district said the 625 middle school students at Butler will be moved to the brand new Nelson Middle School, which is close to completion, located at 20th Street and Cherry Avenue in Signal Hill.

City College

    It was another tough year for LBCC, which needed to cut staff, classes and programs to fit the state’s tight budget for 2011-2012.

    LBCC President Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in March that the 2011-2012 academic year cuts included administrative reorganization and the elimination of eight full-time management positions; eight furlough days for the entire management team; benefit modifications and increased contributions from employees; the eliminations of more than 25 classified staff positions; salary reductions of 5% for part-time faculty; suspension of four sports programs (tennis and golf for men and women); and the eradication of 222 course sections, which is the equivalent of 1,000 full-time students.

    The community college continued to brace for the budget cuts from the state, and Brown’s budget called for a minimum of $290 million in reductions to community colleges statewide. LBCC has sustained $9 million in cuts during the last two years, and took a hit when a $2 million trigger cut took effect this month.

    Officials said LBCC planned ahead for the cut, and will not remove any programs or services from its campus this year, although the 2012-13 school year remains uncertain.

    “We are disappointed that the state will impose further cuts to Long Beach City College. Fortunately, the college has anticipated these reductions and will be able to absorb them in our budget,” Oakley said.

    In November, LBCC was the recipient of a national grant and partnership to enhance the education of Latino students. Long Beach City College is aiming to improve retention rates and services offered to its students of that ethnicity.

    The Lumina Foundation supplied $7.2 million over a four-year period to 12 educational partnerships in 10 states. LBCC was one of two institutions in California to receive its $600,000 share to launch the program, according to LBCC officials.

    The grant money will help LBCC partner with 31 community leaders and organizations in the area and across the state to increase the services and programs for students. These collaborations also include community engagement in the cities of Lakewood, Avalon and Signal Hill.

California State University

    Despite drastic cuts and tuition hikes, California State University, Long Beach, saw a 10% increase in freshman applications for the fall 2012 semester. The 54,086 applications from first-time freshmen — an increase of 4,848 — piled in as the filing period ended in late November.

    The grand total of CSULB applications from freshman and transfer students interested in starting their academic careers in the fall 2012 semester reached 75,132 — up from last year’s 69,317. Of that number, about 8,000 (an increase over this year) will be admitted.

    In 2011, students saw their tuition rise by 23%, and enrollment was reduced by 10,000, according to officials. In November, tuition was raised by 9% as a precaution if the state rejects the university system’s request for additional funding in its upcoming budget. The CSU board of trustees asked the state for $333 million in additional “buy out” money for the university system, which includes around $138 million for the cost of tuition and $190 million for enrollment growth to prevent the raise in undergraduate tuition.

    The recent tuition increase means a jump to $498, or $249 per semester for its students, bringing the yearly tuition bill to $5,970.        “We won’t have to increase tuition for the fall of 2012 if the state provides adequate funding in next year’s budget,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed.

    This summer, the CSU system faced deep cuts when the state slashed $650 million from the budget, and took a $7.7 million hit when the Brown pulled the midyear trigger cut earlier this month.

    “For the current fiscal year 2011-12, this repayment to the state will come from limited reserves that we have carefully set aside in anticipation of a mid-year reduction,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “This means that there are no further planned reductions to division operating budgets for the remainder of 2011-12.”

    While the year was filled with budget woes, CSULB did celebrate the grand opening of its new Hall of Science in October.

    The $105 million, 165,000-square-foot science building is the largest and most expensive structure built in the university’s history. The Hall of Science opened to a crowd to show off its state-of-the-art features and construction history.