Thursday, February 28, 2013


By Kathryn Baron and John Fensterwald | EdSource Today

February 28th, 2013   ::  A collaborative of nine California school districts is submitting today a first-of-its-kind waiver seeking relief from the harshest sanctions of the No Child Left Behind law. The proposal would commit the participating districts to a new accountability system, focusing on student achievement but deemphasizing standardized test scores. The existing requirements and penalties would remain in effect for all of the other districts in the state.

If U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan consents, the districts in the California Office to Reform Education, or CORE, would join the 34 states and Washington, D.C., with waivers from NCLB; ten more states have applications pending. Since California’s waiver was rejected last year, and the state is not reapplying this year, CORE is going its own way, filing for a waiver under a provision of NCLB allowing districts to submit proposals. State Board of Education President Michael Kirst said Tuesday that he has read the law and agrees that Duncan has the authority to grant waivers to districts.

CORE's accountability system would replace the current system, with most schools in Program Improvement, facing NCLB sanctions, with a three-tiered system that rewards top Schools of Distinction and identifies the 15 percent of Title I schools needing improvement. Teams of teachers from Schools of Distinction would mentor their peers in the Priority and Focus schools. All subgroups of underperforming students would have to show academic progress under a strict timeline.

CORE’s accountability system would replace the current system, with most schools in Program Improvement, facing NCLB sanctions, with a three-tiered system that rewards top Schools of Distinction and identifies the 15 percent of Title I schools needing improvement. Teams of teachers from Schools of Distinction would mentor their peers in the Priority and Focus schools. All subgroups of underperforming students would have to show academic progress under a strict timeline. (click to enlarge)

CORE is required to send its proposal to the State Board of Education for review, but under federal law the board can only comment, not block the application. CORE Executive Director Rick Miller said CORE is on schedule to formally submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Education in time to be included in the next round of evaluations this spring, with implementation in the 2013-14 school year. If the waiver is approved, CORE will extend it to all districts and charter schools in the state that agree to the waiver’s conditions. The nine CORE districts seeking the waiver include three of the state’s four largest districts – Los Angeles, Long Beach and Fresno Unified – as well as Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento City, Santa Ana, Sanger and Clovis, which combined serve more than a million students.

Today is this year’s application deadline for the handful of states that have not already sought relief from some of the mandates of NCLB. Although California is not reapplying, Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Board haven’t ruled out another try. However, that would be at least a year away.

Miller and four CORE superintendents flew to Washington, D.C., last week to meet in person with Duncan, and afterward all said they were encouraged by the prospects for their proposal. “The secretary was very supportive of our efforts,” said Long Beach Unified Superintendent Chris Steinhauser. “He’s been positive about our efforts to be innovative.”

Miller said he left with the impression that Duncan “clearly has a strong desire to help in California. He’s been frustrated that it hasn’t worked as a state, that would be his preference, but he saw this as a viable alternative if that doesn’t happen.”

Running toward not away

The waiver application contains the same commitments that all states seeking waivers were required to meet: implementing Common Core or other rigorous standards preparing students for college and careers, developing a teacher evaluation process that includes the results of local and state tests, and creating an accountability system that recognizes that success is more than students’ test scores.  Non-academic dimensions such as a school’s culture and climate and social-emotion learning are given significant weight in determining what constitutes a high-achieving school.

In exchange for meeting those commitments, the districts will get relief from some of the sanctions of NCLB.  They will regain use of the 20 percent of Title I money, about $110 million, they’ve had to turn over

CORE says it will expand measures of a school's success to include factors reflecting social and emotional learning – rates of suspension, absenteeism and as yet undefined gauges of non-cognitive skills – as well as school climate and culture, as measured by student and parent surveys, rates of identifying special education students and the progress of English learners.

CORE says it will expand measures of a school’s success to include factors reflecting social and emotional learning – rates of suspension, absenteeism and as yet undefined gauges of non-cognitive skills – as well as school climate and culture, as measured by student and parent surveys, rates of identifying special education students and the progress of English learners. (click to enlarge)

for supplemental educational services and transportation for students who want to attend schools that are meeting federal academic targets. Superintendents say those funds could be put to better use paying for professional development for Common Core, summer school and other resources that would support the new accountability system.

CORE would also roll back the clock on the percentage of students who must score at proficient or better for a school to meet the annual growth target to the 2010-11 level of 67 percent, rather than the current rate of 90 percent, giving schools time to implement the new system and see some results.

What makes the CORE plan unique is that instead of establishing this system under the authority of the State Department of Education, it relies on participating districts committing to specific conditions and responsibilities. These include openness with achievement data for all student subgroups and collaboration with other districts to improve student achievement.

The 126-page proposal states that, “At its heart, CORE’s goal is to build a new system of accountability rooted in a moral imperative to educate all children and engineered on a foundation of transparent data sharing and mutual accountability.”

A mantra of CORE districts is that they’re using this proposal to create something better for students and teachers, not to escape NCLB sanctions. “We’re trying to get a waiver to something that we think is great rather than away from something that we think is laborious,” said Fresno Unified Superintendent and CORE Chair Mike Hanson.

“This plan is designed with recognition that the expectations for meeting students’ needs have been too narrow for too long; school districts have too often been chasing success in a system that does not define success in a comprehensive or rigorous way,” they write in the proposal.

The requirement that measures of student achievement factor significantly in teacher and administrator evaluations has been a source of contention. Most of the teachers unions in the districts rejected pursuit of a joint CORE proposal for a Race to the Top grant last year because of the requirement. However, an NCLB waiver application does not require unions’ consent, and union presidents complained that they had not been consulted about the application. “We had preliminary but no substantial discussions; it was the usual thing where they talk about working with us and do not do it at all,” said Dennis Kelly, president of United Educators of San Francisco.

However, Miller and superintendents said they planned to work with unions on developing their own district evaluation systems. “In my opinion the waiver does not take away rights of the union, or take away any collective bargaining,” said Steinhauser.

According to the application, CORE based the evaluation framework on Greatness By Design, a report commissioned by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and developed by a task force co-chaired by Steinhauser that made recommendations on teacher effectiveness. The chapter on teacher evaluations suggested a range of measures that could be used, including scored essays and projects created by teachers, results on tests tied to the curriculum being taught, as well as observations and parent surveys.

Superintendents expressed confidence that teachers would be attracted to the alternatives to NCLB that CORE is proposing.

For example, the only standardized tests that will count toward Adequate Yearly Progress, the federal performance measure, will be those that students take in the highest grade at their school; fifth grade in a K-5 school, 8th grade in middle school and 12th grade in high school. Students would still take state exams in all grades, but those would be used as diagnostics by teachers to see if students understand the material or if they need more support or a different type of instruction.

Miller said the hope is this will encourage teachers to work together across grade levels. “We like the notion of stepping back from the stress of assessment. We think all those decisions that go along with this are positive, such as putting more support at third grade to make sure the students are ready for grade five,” said Miller. “No other state has proposed this.”

Beyond the textbook

Non-academic dimensions such as a school’s culture and climate and social-emotion learning receive significant weight from CORE in determining what constitutes a high-achieving school. Districts would have to collect, submit and publish data on a variety of indicators of success such as graduation and dropout rates, expulsions and suspensions, attendance, and surveys of student and community perceptions of their schools.

Because the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, known as CALPADS, isn’t collecting all the data that’s needed, CORE plans to work with a third-party data collection service run by a non-governmental agency – The John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University.

Miller insists that CORE has no intention of creating a shadow state department of education.  He says the CORE office will remain staffed by a handful of people and districts will be self-governed – with consequences.  Those that don’t meet the conditions of the waiver will be forced back into the original NCLB regulations and subject again to the sanctions of the law.

“Our waiver submission is about our collective responsibility, teacher-to-teacher, principal-to-principal, district-to-district, and school-to-school to make something better; not who’s going to get punished for not hitting a target set by someone outside our local environment,” said Fresno Unified’s Hanson.

An early partnership between Fresno and Long Beach Unified is a forebear of and model for CORE and its proposal for cross-district pollination. The State Department of Education approved the Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership in 2008, giving the districts greater flexibility to use state and federal funds to work jointly on improving instruction and developing leaders who were prepared to work collaboratively with another district. “It worked beyond my own expectations,” said Long Beach Superintendent Chris Steinhauser.


Going deeper

But Steinhauser acknowledges that there will be challenges if dozens, or potentially hundreds of districts choose to sign onto the CORE program.  ”I would say that CORE is going is to have a learning curve, but I do believe it’s doable because of everybody working together,” he said.

Some of the elements of the accountability plan are similar to those being discussed by the State Board of Education under SB 1458, the bill by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) that calls for a broader accountability system using college and career readiness indicators, dropout rates and student expulsions to determine a school’s Academic Performance Index. CORE superintendents don’t see their proposal as a conflict; they see it as an opportunity for the state.

“To me this is a pilot on the state level,” said Steinhauser.  ”Once we get started the state has an opportunity to be learning partners side-by-side with us, to see how’s it’s working and what’s not working, and if they write a waiver they can learn from us.”


2cents smf: The water-cooler chatter* around Sacramento this week was that the CA Department of Ed might reapply for a statewide waiver – and that Secretary Duncan might be receptive to it.


*The drink may have been stronger than H²O.


Gov. Jerry Brown wants to use Prop. 30 tax revenues to help poorer students. It's a laudable goal but shouldn't come at the expense of more prosperous school districts.

George Skelton



By George Skelton  LA Times Capitol Journal |

February 27, 2013, 6:14 p.m.  ::  SACRAMENTO — A revenue redistribution scheme probably was not what Californians had in mind when they passed Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase to salvage public schools.

But as it turns out, the tax hike, Prop. 30, was essential to help pay for the governor's plan to redistribute state education money — sending more to mostly inner-city schools at the expense of suburban districts.

Brown's proposal wouldn't work without Prop. 30. But voters weren't told about that during the election campaign.The governor wasn't quoting Aristotle, as he did later after Prop. 30 passed comfortably in November.

"Our future depends on … disproportionately funding those schools that have disproportionate challenges," Brown told reporters in January while unveiling a new budget proposal that contained his redistribution plan for school money.

"Aristotle said treating unequals equally is not justice."

And two weeks later during his State of the State address, Brown put it this way: "A child in a family making $20,000 a year or speaking a language different from English or living in a foster home requires more help. Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice."

Brown certainly has a good point: Poor children and kids who struggle with English deserve extra help. And that usually means more money.

But it shouldn't come at the expense of more advantaged children — middle- and upper-class kids — who also must fulfill their potential if California is to be competitive economically in the 21st century. Most of their schools were hit hard during the recession, many losing counselors, librarians, art and music while class sizes grew.

What's needed is a larger pie — along with some vital reforms that aren't even being discussed — not a redistribution of the current pie, which amounts to practically the lowest per-pupil funding in the nation.

But none of that was part of the Prop. 30 debate.

That tax increase, first and foremost, was aimed at avoiding $5.4 billion in additional whacks at K-12 schools and community colleges, plus $500 million in cuts at the public universities. And Prop. 30 did do that.

But there wasn't any talk about dramatically changing the way the state distributes school aid. Voters didn't hear about robbing Peter in the suburbs to pay Paul in the city.

The promise was to "restore funding for our schools." And voters were assured that "Sacramento politicians can't touch the money."

Well, maybe the governor. And, of course, the legislators.

Brown wants the Legislature to rewrite the school funding law so that spending on poor children — those eligible for subsidized lunches — and English learners grows much faster than for other students.

But the extra money for the disadvantaged students would come out of the state's total education pot, leaving less for the rest.

It's all highly complicated, both the funding and the language of education.

But basically, under Brown's plan, the poor kids and English strugglers would get at least an extra 35% in funding. Some would get 70% more if their district had a heavy concentration of disadvantaged students.

"I think parents who voted for Prop. 30 were expecting money to be restored equitably with everyone brought up to the same level," complains Assembly Education Committee Chairwoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), a former school board member in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"People in my community didn't expect one district to get $2 or $3 and another $8. Prop. 30 was great. It meant we weren't going to have to make more cuts. But it didn't restore schools to their pre-recession levels. And people definitely were not voting to have an inequitable distribution of the funds."

On the other side of the Capitol, in the Senate, Education Committee Chairwoman Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) is more positive about Brown's plan, but still not sold.

"I'm going to try to get there with him," the former teacher says. "But no guarantees."

"At least the governor put something on the table that is pretty serious," she continues. "It's provocative. This will take some time to discuss."

The Brown administration last week released a long spreadsheet specifying how much money each district would receive under the governor's plan. But it didn't include side-by-side data showing what districts would get under the current formula.

"We should have all the details, not just the numbers they want to provide," asserts Buchanan, who adds that she'll insist on the comparisons before her committee votes.

Brown officials contend that no district would be a loser because none would receive less money than currently. They say it with a straight face. But even the governor — by quoting Aristotle — admits that some schools would be much bigger winners than others.

That's shown in the spreadsheet. Los Angeles and Baldwin Park unified districts would be big winners; Arcadia and Burbank unifieds, not so much.

Two nonpartisan research outfits — the Legislative Analyst's Office and the Public Policy Institute of California — released reports last week tentatively embracing Brown's plan with qualifications. They urged some tweaking.

The governor has a nice-sounding name for his plan: "Local Control Funding Formula." He can affix that tag because Sacramento would eliminate spending strings attached to most so-called categorical programs, such as career tech and summer school.

Brown insisted on voters signing off on his tax increase. That was an abdication of power. To be consistent, he also should have allowed voters to decide exactly how the tax money was to be spent.


2cents smf smf: Why aim I not surprised?

But it gets better – Brown wants to slip this spending and policy shift into the budget process – where it can pass as ‘trailer bill language’ not subject to committee hearings, public input or floor debate. The old last-minute midnight-action done-deal!

The Democratic leadership seems disinclined to do it this way:

Rick Simpson, deputy chief of staff and education adviser to Assembly Speaker John Pérez, wrote in an email to EdSource Today that the Assembly’s position is simple: “No bill? No law. Period.”

Simpson repeated this comment twice to the California State PTA Legislation Conference on Monday and Tuesday.

The window for introducing new legislation has closed – so unless the governor gets a legislator to carry his proposal in either a spot bill or a “gut+amend” it will need to be inserted in a trailer bill or will die unvoted-upon like it did last year when it was the “weighted student formula”.

  • There is is difference of opinion among Sacramento legislators as to whether “"Local Control Funding Formula” or “Weighted Student Formula” get “air quotes” when being mentioned in public. In an abundance of caution 4LAKids elects to use the inverted commas on both. And it should be mentioned that both John Deasy and Warren Fletcher like it no matter what you call it!

THE LAST PATRIARCH: C. Everett Koop, MD (1917-2013)

By smf for 4LAKids

“The Teachable Moment” has become an educational cliché. If ever there was a person who seized a number of teachable moments and wrestled them to the ground, it was Surgeon General C. Everett Koop,

When Dr. Koop was named as surgeon general by President Reagan his appointment was opposed by liberals and progressives because of his public reservations about abortion. When he left office he was a figure beloved+respected by all ….with the exception of Big Tobacco. The picture of Dr. Koop with his Yankee chin whiskers and naval officer's uniform (The Chief of the US Public Health Service is a Navy Vice Admiral) is the image of The Surgeon General. He looked like Captain Ahab – not Ahab undone by his nemesis whale but Ahab promoted to admiral – and Koop’s mission against tobacco smoking makes Melville’s Ahab look like Caspar Milquetoast.

Before he came to Washington Dr. Koop was practically the inventor of neonatal surgery – as the savior of thousands of infants (and through education and pioneering technique millions)how could he not be opposed to abortion? Yet Koop balked at the Reagan Administration’s request that he oppose abortion on medical grounds – he contended it was a moral issue and not an issue of public health.

His 1988 Surgeon General’s Report – his crusade against smoking and the Surgeon General’s Warning printed on every pack of cigarettes since was a game changer. In his term as Surgeon General tobacco use began to wane– it has declined every year since. Koop informed, he educated and he did holy battle against tobacco. He did what leaders do: He led. Smoking isn’t just bad – it is evil … in a purely public health sense.

Koop was every bit as successful in initiating the fight against AIDS-HIV. The disease was preying on Haitians, homosexuals and drug addicts – social outcasts – but Koop educated us all that the epidemic was our epidemic – and that its victims were our brothers and sisters. The vengeful judge doing battle with his terrible swift sword became the scholar-priest with the lamp of knowledge – enlightening us all.

We continue Koop’s mission in education today in Tobacco Use and Prevention Education (TUPE) and AIDS/HIV Education – embedded in the curriculum – every bit as important as Language Arts, Math or Science, Only more so – few die from failure at algebra.

Dr. Koop was first and always and ultimately a pediatrician. After that he was a teacher - and he taught not just an entire generation but across generations. He saved and changed lives well beyond his own generation and into future generation.

A long and wonderful life well lived. Godspeed.


Daily News |

2/27/2013 07:19:08 PM PST  ::  Write-in candidate Jeneen Robinson has ended her campaign for the District 4 seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District board, and is endorsing incumbent Steve Zimmer in Tuesday's election.

In an email to her supporters, the 40-year-old minister and mother said the flood of outside expenditures - which topped $1.7 million on Wednesday - had made it impossible for her to compete in the democratic process.

After meeting with both Zimmer and challenger Kate Anderson, Robinson said she'd decided to back the incumbent.

"He is an upstanding guy who sincerely cares about our kids and collaborates with the community for improving education. He will keep our kids first," she wrote.

The Coalition for Education Reform is Anderson's chief outside backer, spending more than $900,000 to support her and oppose Zimmer.

Organized labor, led by United Teachers Los Angeles, has spent about $825,000 to get him re-elected.

Z C & ABMunsolicited campaign ad

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News- Press-Telegram

2/26/2013 10:11:00 PM PST  ::  With awareness of child molestation heightened since the Miramonte Elementary case broke a year ago, Los Angeles Unified is creating a special team to investigate sex-abuse allegations.

Superintendent John Deasy said he plans to hire two investigators who have backgrounds in law enforcement and also know education law to oversee cases in which teachers or other campus employees are accused of sexual misconduct.

"We don't tolerate the mistreatment of students," Deasy said in a recent interview. "The threshold by which we look at that is much, much higher than it was in the past.

"It doesn't have to involve touching - it may be harassment or (sexually) inappropriate comments.

"An employee doesn't have to be convicted of a felony to be dismissed," he said.

The district will continue reporting suspected misconduct to police, so they can determine whether to pursue criminal charges, before launching its own investigation.

District officials last year instituted a "zero-tolerance" policy for misconduct following the high-profile arrests of teachers accused of molesting youngsters at Miramonte and Telfair elementary schools.

An allegation of abuse or harassment - sexual, physical or verbal - now triggers an investigation, with district officials moving aggressively to fire those found to have jeopardized student safety.

School principals have handled most of the complaints, although there are now three


investigators and a computer specialist available to help with more difficult cases.

Human Resources chief Vivian Ekchian said adding a sex-abuse team will give the current investigators more time to work with principals looking into other types of complaints. She hopes that will shorten a process that now can drag on for six months or longer.

During that time, teachers accused of misconduct are pulled from the classroom and "housed" at an administrative office at a steep cost to taxpayers - about $7,100 a month in salary and benefits for each educator, plus the pay for a substitute to fill in.

"With each case, we'll have someone with the specific expertise so we can accelerate the investigations," she said. "This will be more strategic, more centrally driven."

She said the new investigators will help officials navigate the more challenging cases, such as those involving very young children or kids with developmental disabilities for whom communication is difficult.

Ekchian said the LAUSD board has OK'd the firing of 24 teachers since school started last fall, half for misconduct and half for incompetence. With the board meeting once a month, she expects that two or three dozen more will be terminated by the time school ends in late May.

The board fired 99 teachers in 2011-12, most of them for misconduct. The year before, 56 teachers were dismissed.

By comparison, 92 teachers on track for termination have decided to resign instead. That four-month total nearly equals the 122 who resigned in 2011-12 and the 105 who quit in 2010-11 rather than going through the arduous dismissal process.

"The majority are performance related," Ekchian said. "When (principals) started to visit the classroom, teachers knew they were dismissal bound and they chose the easy out."

2cents smf: Here is another of those solutions to parents’ concerns reached without any input from parents at all – just like the the security aides posted to every elementary school whether we want or expect or know what to do with –or expect from - them.

The special investigators above are a ‘solution’ to a two-year-plus series of crises that has plagued the Garcia/Deasy Administration  announced less than week before a school board election where the district’s response to the crises is an issue.

Nothing placates the electorate like an investigation announced before an election where the report is due after the election.   Especially when the report is subject to the privacy issues that this one is subject to.

Here’s the questions:

  • WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?  Are they attorneys? Police officers? Detective/Investigators with law enforcement backgrounds? Are they sworn public safety officers with guns and badges …or are they security consultants with business cards and a degree from DeVry? Do they have an expertise in sensitively dealing with children? Are they G-men or P.I.s …or empty cop cars permanently parked in the Costco parking lot?
  • WHAT IS THEIR MISSION?  Do they catch bad guys+gals and throw them in the slammer ….or do they write a report and file it at Beaudry?
  • WHAT IS THEIR BUDGET?  Who is paying them?  From what fund?? Is it enough?
  • SHOW ME THE ORG CHART. Who are they accountable to?  Do they report to LAUSD Operations? The General Counsel? The School Police chief? Directly to the Superintendent? (Remember that the current superintendent has been accused of failing to report abuse by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and his predecessor has been accused of sexually harassing employees. Two superintendents before that flashed a badge on the freeway and illegally pulled a woman over one night.)
    • The LAUSD Inspector General reports directly to the Board of Education – except on state bond issues where he/she reports to the state legislature.
    • The LAUSD IG position is currently vacant.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Be a Hollywood Insider with your screener:

Talk about mixing the visual metaphors – and then smashing them in the old molcajete!


Kathryn Baron - Ed Source Today |

February 21st, 2013  ::   The State Legislative Analyst’s Office is calling into question the legality of Gov. Brown’s proposal to count new revenue from Proposition 39 toward funding for education. In a report released Thursday, the LAO warns that the governor’s plan for the initiative, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, violates the intent of the law

Proposition 39, which won with 61 percent vote last November, is projected to raise up to half a billion dollars in revenue this fiscal year and as much as a billion per year starting next year for clean energy projects. It does this by changing the tax formula for multistate corporations doing business in California to one used by most other states.

At issue is a provision of Prop. 39 that requires the state to put half of the revenues raised for each of the next five years into a new Clean Energy Job Creation Fund for energy efficiency projects in local communities, such as hospitals. The other half of the money would go into the general fund, where it would increase the minimum school-funding guarantee of Proposition 98 by as much as $500 million this year and go up from there.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office finds little to like in Governor Brown’s proposal for using Proposition 39 revenues to boost the Proposition 98 school funding guarantee. Source: LAO

The Governor’s budget plan would count all the revenue raised by the initiative toward calculating the minimum school funding guarantee of Proposition 98. Brown also wants to allocate all Prop. 39 funds for the next five years to K-12 schools and community colleges to reduce their energy costs by using energy efficient construction for new school buildings and modernizing their aging buildings. For next year, $400.5 million would go to K-12 schools, while community colleges would receive $49.5 million.

The LAO report calls this approach “a serious departure from our longstanding view of how revenues are to be treated for the purposes of Proposition 98,” and says it “is directly contrary to what the voters were told in the official voter guide as to how the revenues would be treated.”

The Department of Finance disputes that interpretation. Spokesman H.D. Palmer counters that the LAO has it backwards. Because Prop. 39 generates corporate tax revenue it’s counted as part of the general fund, even if the money is then moved to the new Clean Energy Fund.

“In our view it’s not a gray issue,” said Palmer. “By definition and by law you must include those revenues when you calculate the Prop. 98 guarantee.”

The LAO also argues that this approach could also lead to “greater manipulation of the minimum guarantee” by opening the door to all types of accounting shifts. “The state could, for example, require that all sales tax revenues be deposited directly into a special fund rather than the General Fund, thereby excluding the revenues from the Proposition 98 calculation.”

In an alternative proposal, the LAO recommends that the Legislature exclude Prop. 39 revenues from being counted toward the school funding guarantee and instead create a competitive grant process for energy efficiency projects administered by the California Energy Commission. Schools and community colleges would be welcome to apply.

Going deeper

The 2013-14 Budget:  Analysis of Governor’s Proposition 39 Proposal, Legislative Analyst’s Office, Feb. 21, 2013

The 2013-14 Budget:  Proposition 98 Education Analysis, Legislative Analyst’s Office, Feb. 21, 2013

Governor’s 2013-14 budget summary for K-12 education

Full text of Proposition 39 (2012)

Common Core Testing: BILL TO SUSPEND STAR NEXT YEAR COMES AS CA SCHOOLS PILOT NEW TESTING. Rival bill postpones new testing rollout

By Tom Chorneau - SI&A Cabinet Report –

Thursday, February 21, 2013  ::  The first large-scale pilot testing of new assessments based on common core curriculum standards got underway Wednesday, a key milestone in which a handful of California schools participated.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium opened a three-month window for pilot testing aligned to common core standards in math and English language arts that is expected to attract as many as one million students from the 24 member states.

The intent is to gather information about the performance of the test items and the delivery of the assessments under real-life conditions. The consortium is working toward release of a final product for use in 2014-15 – although it is far from clear if California schools will be able to join the program that soon.

Two types of schools have agreed to test the system this spring. One, the scientific sample group, was specially recruited to undertake the trial run because of demographic or other characteristics that the test designers needed. The second, the voluntary group, is open to any school that wants to be included in the program.

California has about 1,100 schools entered into the scientific sample and another 1,700 in the voluntary group.

The test window opened Wednesday for the sample group with the volunteers set to begin in early April.

The deadline for joining the volunteer group has been extended to March 27.

In a related development, legislation that may dictate the next steps in revising statewide testing in California was introduced late Tuesday – AB 484 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord.

The bill, as currently drafted, would take the first of multiple recommendations contained in a plan from state schools chief Tom Torlakson for rebuilding the state’s assessment system.

That first step is to suspend the current Standardized Testing and Reporting system beginning in 2013-14 except for assessments required to meet federal mandates or those used in the Early Assessment Program.

A rival proposal, from state Sen. Carol Liu, would delay the suspension of California’s existing Standardized Testing and Reporting system until July, 2016.

Neither bill clarifies when new testing should begin, although Torlakson’s plan calls for use of the Smarter Balanced assessments based on the common core in the spring of 2015.

Many school districts and education advocacy groups have expressed concern about meeting the aggressive schedule proposed by Torlakson – largely because of the lack of state funds so far to provide the new textbooks and teacher training to go with the new curriculum standards.

Finally, the Smarter Balanced Consortium announced last week that Deb Sigman, deputy superintendent at the California Department of Education’s District, School & Innovation Branch, was elected co-chair of the organization’s executive committee.

Sigman was elected to the executive committee itself last July after California became a governing state within the consortium. Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to join the group in 2010.

The pilot testing, which began on Wednesday, targets grades 3 through 11 in English language arts/literacy and mathematics.

Test administrators noted that while the pilot testing will all be conducted online, the trial run does not include the computer adaptive feature designed for the operational assessment in 2014-15.

Computer adaptive testing provides an interactive platform for student testing in which a response to a question determines what the next question would be, scaling up or down in difficulty based on that first answer.

Smarter Balanced officials said the results from the pilot testing will allow initial scaling that will be used to program the adaptive test engine.

Participating schools will not receive student test scores.

To learn more about the program visit:


Study compliments and questions Brown’s funding formula

By John Fensterwald| EdSource Today

This graph shows the strong relationship between results on California Standards Tests and poverty, with highest scoring API scores in the upper left going to children not in poverty. Source: CA Dept; of Education (click to enlarge).

This graph shows the strong relationship between results on California Standards Tests and poverty, with highest API scores in the upper left going to children not in poverty. Source: CA Dept. of Education. (Click to enlarge)

February 22nd, 2013 | An analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California, released Wednesday, praises Gov. Jerry Brown’s overall plan for school finance reform, while raising questions about elements of the formula that would steer substantially more money to disadvantaged students.

“The governor’s series of reform proposals are in keeping with many of the principles of good school finance reform,” conclude Margaret Weston, a PPIC research fellow, and Heather Rose, a UC Davis associate professor of education. And his “very explicit and simple” Local Control Funding Formula funnels additional resources to students who most need them. But achieving a consensus on the formula “faces a specific and difficult challenge: agreeing on the appropriate weights for disadvantaged students,” they said.

PPIC published the study on the same day that the Department of Finance released a much anticipated district-by-district breakdown that translates the Local Control Funding Formula into per-student dollars. The 80-page chart discloses how much districts and charter schools would get during the next two years and once the formula is fully funded in seven years, if revenues meet projections. (See our explanation.)

Brown’s formula would simplify the rules for distributing state funding to school districts while channeling more dollars to low-income students and English learners to try to close gaps in their learning. Districts would receive a base level of funding, equal to their general or “revenue limit” funding in 2008, before state budget cuts slashed K-12 funding. Each disadvantaged student would get an extra 35 percent funding. And, on top of that, in schools where disadvantaged students comprise a majority, funding would be bumped up again under a “concentration factor.”

PPIC’s study suggests that the Legislature view finance reform in the context of not just state funding but all sources, since low-income students and English learners already receive significant amounts of federal aid. It also suggests that lawmakers consider raising the base level of funding and take a second look at how supplemental money for disadvantaged students would be ratcheted up under the concentration factor.

Those same students already are targeted under federal and state “categorical” programs. The study found that unified districts composed entirely of low-income students currently receive an average of $2,372 more per student than unified districts with no indigent students: $8,934 compared with $6,567. That difference of 36 percent is a net figure, after subtracting the average advantage that districts with few low-income children have in local revenues, like parcel taxes, and through “basic aid” – districts funded solely by property taxes. Federal funding contributes about 40 percent of extra revenue for low-income students and the state about 60 percent.

The problem under the current system is that state categorical aid is not uniformly distributed. Districts in which high-needs students make up 70 percent of enrollment receive an average of $1,755 per student, but averages are deceiving. Funding  among districts ranges from $991 to $3,324 per student.

If Brown's finance formula (WPF) were implemented fully this year, total school funding, based on percentage of low-income students, would rise from a little more than $6,000 to more than $11,000 in schools where all students were low-income, state and federal funds included. Source: Public Policy Institute of California (click to enlarge).

If Brown’s finance formula (WPF) were implemented fully this year, total school funding, based on percentage of low-income students, would rise from a little more than $6,000 to more than $11,000 in schools where all students were low-income, state and federal funds included. Source: Public Policy Institute of California. (Click to enlarge)

With a few exceptions, what had been categorical money would be distributed uniformly under Brown’s formula. And there would be a lot more of it: 77 percent more per student in combined state and federal funding for a unified district with all low-income students under full funding of Brown’s formula in 2019-20. That’s more than twice the 36 percent in combined federal and state categorical money under the current system.

Under the Local Control Funding Formula, Brown would add bonus dollars through a concentration factor once disadvantaged students comprise a majority of students. A district with 80 percent high-needs students would get 46 percent more funding for each of those students. A district with all high-needs students would get 53 percent more funding per student, the maximum.

Concentration factor deserves scrutiny

The study doesn’t venture whether that’s the right amount, saying it’s the Legislature’s role to determine the balance between the base funding for all students and the extra money for the disadvantaged. “The literature provides some support for directing even more resources to communities with concentrated poverty,” the authors write.

However, they imply that the threshold at which the concentration factor kicks in may not be high enough, since 60 percent of students and 58 percent of districts would benefit from it. “This may argue for a higher level of base funding rather than a concentration factor,” they write.

Another problem is that concentration is measured by district, not by school, for the purpose of funding. As of two years ago, nearly 600 schools with high concentrations of disadvantaged students were located in districts where the overall number of disadvantaged students was under 50 percent; those schools would not benefit from a concentration factor.

State Board of Education President Michael Kirst, who co-wrote a brief five years ago that was the model for the Local Control Funding Formula, defended the concentration factor. He said that the study understated the compound impact in California of large numbers of English learners who are also poor. Over half of English learners attend schools where English learners are the majority. Extra money where there is such a concentration is needed, he said.

Kirst also said he was satisfied that the 35 percent basic supplement for disadvantaged students is in the general range of other research in California.

Weston and Rose also reviewed those studies, most of which were done for the 2007 Stanford-led Getting Down to Facts reports. One recommended giving districts with all high-needs students 66 percent more than districts without those students. Another, by Jon Sonstelie, a school finance expert at the University of California Santa Barbara, concluded that a 25 percent increase in base funding, plus a 30 percent supplement for high-poverty districts, would be needed to raise achievement to the state’s API target of 800. He based this on budget simulations with California educators. But since 2007, API scores have risen significantly anyway even though district budgets have been cut, casting doubt that raising test scores should be the measure for increasing spending. Kirst said more resources will be needed to meet the ambitious goals of preparing students for college and careers and for schools to succeed in teaching the more rigorous Common Core standards .

Weston and Rose concluded that research studies all pointed to the need for more money to increase student achievement, and disadvantaged students need even more. But the studies had flaws, so using their results to set spending targets is problematic.

“The reality is we don’t know how additional funding will translate into outcomes,” but a lack of certainty over how to link spending and achievement “does not relieve our state government of setting school funding goals and priorities,” they write. “A strong finance system is an essential component of a strong education system.”

Going deeper

Margaret Weston and Heather Rose, analysis of Gov. Brown’s latest version of his plan for K-12 school funding reform;
PPIC primer on school finance by Margaret Weston, November 2012;

2008 brief co-authored by State Board President Michael Kirst proposing model for funding formula adopted by Gov. Jerry Brown;

Explanation of Local Community Funding Formula;

District-by-district breakdown giving impact on charter schools and districts at full funding.

Two recent opinion pieces in EdSource Today on the funding formula, by John Affeldt and by Bob Blattner.


State releases district breakdowns under school funding formula

By John Fensterwald   | EdSource Today

February 20th, 2013 | Districts and charter schools now know how they’d make out under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed Local Control Funding Formula, his plan for sweeping school finance reform. The state Department of Finance posted the long-awaited district-by-district breakdown and a two-page overview Wednesday. The 80-page chart calculates districts’ base per student funding for 2011-12 as a comparison and lists funding for the next two years and full per student funding in seven years – if projected state revenues hold up.

Brown outlines increases in education spending in a news conference last month.

<< Brown outlines increases in education spending in a news conference last month.

Brown’s proposed formula promises to simplify and rationalize the state’s idiosyncratic and irrational funding system, with its complex rules governing dozens of “categorical” programs with funding designated for special purposes. Starting off with what districts now receive in base funding (known as “revenue limit” funding), it would create a new financing system as additional money becomes available from increased revenues generated by an improving state economy, and past debts that the state owes to schools are paid off.

Brown’s plan would provide additional funds to districts having to meet the extra costs of educating economically disadvantaged and other high-needs students. There would be a “phase in” period, with annual funding increases, leading to full funding in 2019-20. The Legislature, which reacted cooly last year to an earlier version, must now consider whether to approve or change it.

Under the plan, no district would receive less than they receive this year in state support, and “the vast majority” – 1,700 districts and charter schools – will get “moderate to significant” funding increases over the next five years, according to the overview. During this time, the average per-student funding under Proposition 98 is projected to rise $2,700 per student.*  Receiving little or no increase in money would be 230 charter schools and districts – among them “basic aid” districts that already receive more in funding from property taxes than they would be entitled to in state funding.

The formula would work this way:

  • Every district would receive a base grant for every student – an average of $6,800 when fully funded, with more for high schools and less for elementary schools. The base  grant would include restoring the dollars the state owed to districts from past years’ budget cuts and unpaid cost-of-living increases. It would not include money for special education and a few other categorical programs that would be funded outside of the formula. No district, including basic aid districts, would receive less than they get today. Schools would get an extra $700 per student in grades K-3 for smaller classes, though districts could spend the money otherwise.

Districts with disadvantaged students – low-income students, English learners and foster youth – would get additional dollars:

  • A supplement of $2,385 per student, which is equal to 35 percent of the base grant for every disadvantaged student in the district.
  • An additional grant for those districts in which high-needs students comprise 50 percent or more of students, reflecting the need for additional money to counteract the demands on districts with a high concentration of poor children and English learners. Districts with 60 percent high-needs students would get 38.5 percent more revenue per high-needs student ($2,624); a district in which every child is an English learner or low-income student would get a maximum of 52.5 percent more ($3,578) in per-student funding than a district with no high-needs children.

Looking at  how the formula will play out  in Orange County (pages 39-40):

  • Magnolia Elementary School District in Anaheim has 6,142 students, 73 percent of whom are low-income students and 49 percent of whom are English learners. Its base grant of $6,122 last year would rise to $11,190 per student when fully funded by the state as projected in seven years.
  • Los Alamitos Unified, with 9,343 students, got about the same base grant last year as Magnolia: $6,132. But, with only 12 percent low-income students and 2 percent English learners, its funding would rise to only $8,616 per student at full funding, $2,574 less than in Magnolia.
  • Laguna Beach Unified, with 2,878 students, is a “basic aid” district, with enough income from property taxes from high-priced homes to generate an enviable $13,362 per student without any additional support from the state. It wouldn’t lose any money under Brown’s formula, but it wouldn’t gain any either.

Although the formula for when the plan is fully implemented is pretty straightforward and simple, determining funding during the  phase-in period would be anything but. That’s because each district’s starting point is different, reflecting differences among districts’ current revenue limit funding and funding from categorical programs. The rate of yearly increases, to get to the fully-funded target amount, would be quicker for low-funded districts and slower for those already getting above-average funding.

A comparison of Los Angeles Unified (page 23) and Fresno Unified (page 10) is illustrative. Based on Department of Finance calculations, Fresno, the fourth-largest district in the state, received $6,547 per student in the equivalent of base funding under the formula last year. Los Angeles Unified got $7,509 in base funding, nearly $1,000 more per student than Fresno, because of funding from a categorical program – desegregation money now called TIIG (Targeted Instructional Improvement Block Grant) – that Fresno never got, and Los Angeles will continue to receive, even though they serve roughly the same proportions of high-need students. At full funding, both Los Angeles Unified and Fresno Unified would get close to the same amount: $11,635 for Fresno, $11,993 for Los Angeles. Over the next two years, Fresno would get $968 more per student; Los Angeles would get $830 more per student.

The Department of Finance overview doesn’t detail the formula for determining the amounts that districts will get each year as this plan is phased in: it’s complex. Consult your district’s chief finance officer or, if you’re ambitious, it’s spelled out in the 500-page trailer bill on Brown’s proposed funding formula.

* The Department of Finance doesn’t make projections beyond five years; it uses what is describes as “conservative” Proposition 98 forecasts beyond that.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


From Urban Educator |

Jan/Feb 2013  ::  The Council of the Great City Schools recently released a research brief called the Impact of Sequestration on the Nation’s Urban Public Schools, providing a snapshot of the major effects of the potential across-the-board federal budget cuts, or sequestration, on education programs and services for tens of thousands of urban schoolchildren.

In December, the Council called on national leaders to design a fully balanced budget solution that includes both rev­enue and entitlement program reforms to prevent the “fiscal cliff ” of pending federal budget cuts and tax increases in 2013.

To avoid what it calls an “academic pro­ficiency cliff ” as the nation works to imple­ment the more rigorous Common Core State Standards, the Council cautions that the investment in educational programs for disadvantaged students, English learn­ers and students with disabilities, as well as teacher professional-development pro­grams, must be strengthened— not cut.

“The economic implications of the ed­ucational cliff are as serious as those pre­sented by the fiscal cliff itself, and the na­tion’s leaders should keep these twin issues in mind with the same sense of urgency,” says Council Executive Director Michael Casserly.

Without a balanced resolution to the fiscal crisis, federal domestic discretion­ary programs in education and other areas --which constitute only 16 percent of the federal budget -- will be squeezed out, and important investments in the nation’s fu­ture, such as better schooling, will be per­manently undermined, Casserly stresses.

The research brief – Impact of Sequestra­tion on the Nation’s Urban Public Schools -- is based on a survey of more than 30 big-city school districts and can be accessed on the Council’s web site at (follows)

Sequestration Research Brief by


Deepa Fernandes | Pass / Fail :  89.3 KPCC

Head Start - 1

Mae Ryan/KPCC - Harvesha Knight plays with her children Darniyah Davis and Darryl Jr. Davis. Harvesha is pursuing her nursing degree, but in August last year had to put off school because her local Head Start preschool didn't open its doors at the start of the school year. Might her son's program be affected again if Sequestration goes into effect?

February 21st, 2013, 6:00am  ::  Just one week after promising to inject funds into early childhood education in his State of the Union address, President Obama is warning that the Head Start program will instead face cuts if lawmakers fail to reach a compromise over the budget.

Advocates for early childhood education warn sequestration would have an immediate effect on Los Angeles’s poorest families.

“We’re estimating that, statewide, sequestration would amount in 6,000 children being cut from head start services,” said Rick Mockler, Executive Director of the California Head Start Association. He said families that rely on the program for childcare and other services could lose that help overnight.

“Head start children are the most vulnerable children in the state of California," Mockler added. "They come from the absolute poorest families."

Congress has until March 1 to reach a deal to avoid automatic across-the-board spending cuts.

Head Start funds come from Washington and are funneled through large local agencies that pick which programs and pre-school centers to support.

Locally, it's hard to know how cuts will ultimately affect services, said Laura Escobedo, of the Los Angeles County Office of Childcare, which focuses on quality child care. She says the county office that oversees spending, Los Angeles County Office of Education, would decide how much it could absorb and how much to pass on to providers.

“We don’t really know what it means for us at this stage,” said Kostas Kalaitzidis, a spokesman for the county office of education. He called it a “very complicated affair.”

The Child Care Resource Center is already cutting back on expenses to prepare for the worst. The center operates 18 Head Start centers serving 1,500 children in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and the Antelope valleys. Its president and CEO, Michael Olenick, expects a $300,000 cut between March and June should sequestration go into effect.

“We’re not sure if we’ll be able to continue the school year through June or if we’ll have to end the school year early,” he said.

The Child Care Resource Center has already lost 20 percent of its operating budget over the last two years due to statewide budget cuts to early childhood programs.

The lack of certainty about whether more cuts are around the corner is hard on his staff and parents who use the center's services.

“What makes it so difficult is that it's hard to know whether to believe it or not, given that the last two fiscal crises have been overcome," Olenick said. "So is it really going to happen or is this just another fire-drill?”


Beau Yarbrough, Staff WriterInland Valley Daily Bulletin  from LA Daily News |

2/22/2013 09:23:51 PM PST  ::  It doesn't necessarily rob from the rich, but Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed school funding formula would definitely give more to the poor.

And that has officials from some well-to-do districts crying foul.

"I don't think it's fair," Upland Unified School District board President Wes Fifield said.

"Discrepancies can't always be solved with money."

Brown's proposed Local Control Funding Formula upends the state's traditional model for funding public school districts and charter schools, each of which rely mostly on revenue from the state.

Districts currently get paid for average daily attendance, which provides funds based on how many students are sitting at their desks on an average day.


Local Control Funding Formula at a glance

A summary of fiscal effects found in Gov. Brown's funding formula document:

  • No school district or charter school will receive less than it did in 2012-13
  • No basic aid district will receive less in state support than it does today.
  • Districts will receive substantial additional funding based on the number of English learners, students eligible for free and reduced-priced meals, and foster youth they serve. These students account for more than half of current K-12 enrollment.
  • Approximately 230 school districts and charter schools are estimated to receive little or no additional funding as a result of the Formula.
  • The governor's proposal, which would be phased in over the next few years, would add considerations for the percent of English-language-learner students, the number of students whose families qualified for the federal free or reduced lunch programs, and the percent of foster children at the school.

    Brown's model has to win approval from the Legislature.

    Although every school district is set to get more money in the 2013-14 fiscal year than in previous years - thanks to a combination of the recovering economy and voters approving the general sales tax increase tied to Proposition 30 in November - better-off districts would receive a smaller increase in revenue than their neighbors.

    In Southern California, that means a well-to-do district such as Manhattan Beach Unified, where only 2.32 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunches and less than 1 percent of students speak a language other than English at home, would get $8,312 per student annually, once the formula is fully phased in over the next few years.

    The district will receive $6,307 for the 2013-14 school year, using the current system.

    Other school districts in affluent communities would also find their piggy banks emptier than their less well-to-do neighbors: San Marino Unified would receive $8,303 per student under the new formula, Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified would get $8,429, Las Virgenes Unified would receive $8,546 and Etiwanda Elementary would have $8,549.

    "It's unfortunate that's the way the governor is looking to solve all the problems," Fifield said.

    Upland Unified would receive $9,985 per student.

    "You can't just throw money at kids who are in a difficult situation and expect that to solve it," he said.

    At the other end of the spectrum, Victor Valley Union High School District in Victorville, where almost 80 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunches and almost 10 percent of students don't speak English at home, would receive $12,135 per student annually. The district would get $6,770 per student if Brown's plan is not approved.

    "I am a fiscal conservative, personally, but I do believe that English language learners need to get all the support they need so they can be prepared for school and the career world," said Steve Garcia, an Ontario-Montclair School District board member.

    Ontario-Montclair would receive $11,466 per student under the new formula, making the school district one of the big winners under Brown's plan.

    "As governor, I would have some performance measures to safeguard that those moneys are not spent frivolously," Garcia said.

    "You have to have a very sophisticated, accountable system, where there are safeguards and internal controls, to make sure that money is spent properly, appropriately and where they're most needed."

    Brown's formula does promise more money than districts have received in recent years, but only because districts have suffered so many cuts, said Donald Stabler, deputy superintendent of administrative services for Torrance Unified.

    The district would get $9,116 per student if the new formula is implemented.

    "We lose about $2.4 million annually" under the new formula, Stabler said.

    Brown "said everybody wins. We win a little bit if it goes in, but there are still definite winners and losers in this process. I consider Torrance a loser."

    Brown's plan also received a mixed reaction in the Alta Loma Elementary School District in Rancho Cucamonga, which would receive $8,705 under the new formula, as compared to $6,056 next year under the current system.

    "We would still be asked to (be) invited to the table for (the formula change) discussion, but we'll say `Thank you' for anything more than we're getting now," school board president Brad Buller said.

    Friday, February 22, 2013


    Could a single school board race determine LAUSD's future?

    Vanessa Romo | Take Two | 89.3 KPCC |

    Mercer 1505

    Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC - L.A. Unified School District board member Steve Zimmer outside the home of a high school dropout. He and other educators formed one of 10 teams out to "recover" students who'd stopped showing up to school. Zimmer and his team recovered 15 students from neighborhoods near Fremont High School in South L.A.

    February 22nd, 2013, 8:56amSchool board races don’t usually garner much attention from the general public. But the races for three seats on LA Unified’s school board are making national headlines. None, more so than the race for District 4 between incumbent Steve Zimmer and lawyer, Kate Anderson.

    That’s because people believe the winner of this seat will determine the future of LA’s public schools, and the rest of the country is watching.

    Zimmer, 42, calls it a "pitched battle between the Humanists versus the Darwinists" and the "market-based competition over student enrollment."

    What Zimmer is talking about, slouched over a plate of Kosher pasta on Valentine’s night, is the great schism among LAUSD’s seven sitting board members; At any given school board meeting the "Reformists", who vociferously support Superintendent John Deasy and an aggressively pro-charter agenda, are pitted against the pro-teacher and organized labor faction.

    They’re evenly split and Zimmer, a former Teach for America teacher and school counselor has been the swing vote since he won the seat in 2009. But if he loses to challenger Kate Anderson, both sides agree, that will permanently tip the scales 4 to 3 in favor of a board that pushes for more charter expansion and data based teacher evaluations.

    Ultimately, Zimmer said, losing that check and balance is detrimental. 

    "Respectful disagreement and give and take between the Superintendent and the school board is actually the healthy relationship and dynamic that needs to exist to have the right type of balanced approach to creating transformational change." Holding his head in his hands he adds, "If I’m taken out, that’s gone. Absolutely gone."

    But his opponent, Anderson, 40, has no qualms about aligning herself with Supt. Deasy's vision. "I support the reforms that Supt. Deasy has put in place," she said on a recent afternoon in one of the tiny offices at her campaign headquarters in West LA.

    "I support his work to improve our teacher evaluation system, I support his work to bring and support more innovative models to the school system," she said. 

    She’s a mother and the LA director of Children Now, an advocacy group for early childhood education and health. With twin girls in public school she said she’s seen enough to know “not every teacher is good.” And neither the district nor students should be saddled with sub-par teachers. Instead, she said, “lets find something else for you to do."

    Anderson is not coming at this from the classroom experience. Before she became an advocate most of her career was in the world of politics. She’s a former Congressional staffer for Henry Waxman and Jane Hartman, and a former corporate lawyer.  In 2010 she ran for the state assembly now held by Betsey Butler.

    Anderson said those experiences give her an advantage at crucial moment for LA schools.

    “It’s a political position and I’m good in those worlds.”

    Canvassing for signatures to get on the ballot she took the pulse of her district, a stretch that covers the Westside, east to Hollywood and north into the San Fernando Valley.  Going door to door she became convinced parents would pull their kids from private schools if they had more choices. She argues the greatest demand from parents in the area is for more charter schools.

    And this is perhaps the place where Zimmer disagrees with her the most. He thinks that the charter movement is moving entirely too fast. In the last board meeting alone more than a dozen were approved.

    And he’s also come out against tying teacher evaluations too closely to student performance. He thinks teaches are being villainized and that long term, that will hurt kids.

    “It’s a loss for the concept that we really can have people who are educators serve as decision makers about education, and that’s a real loss,” he said.

    On the other hand, what makes him a swing vote is that he’s completely behind keeping staunch reformer Supt. Deasy who is constantly at odds with Zimmer’s backer – UTLA.

    “Taking difficult stands, that were sometimes contrary to labor has softened my support.”

    Like any political race who wins may come down to who spends the most. And that’s why it’s drawn the national spotlight and why it’s drawn money from as far away as New York. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, just last week, pumped $1 million into the reform candidate’s coffers, ensuring that they’ll maintain much bigger war chest than anyone on the labor slate.

    So far spending on behalf of Zimmer and Anderson has been pretty even – about a half a million dollars on each - but with two weeks to go, Anderson has the bigger piggy bank to draw from.

    Unlike other races that have multiple candidates the District 4 seat will be decided on Tuesday March 5.  

    Los Angeles School Board Election Spending Unprecedented

    By Michael Higham |The Independent Voter Network –

    1x1.trans Los Angeles School Board Election Spending Unprecedented


    02/22/2013  |  While the election season is over for state and federal races in California, it isn’t over for municipal elections in the city of Los Angeles. Three seats up for election on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board, in particular, are drawing attention because of an unprecedented amount of outside spending.

    Based on disclosure reports published by the City Ethics Commission of Los Angeles, more than $2.5 million has been spent by outside organizations for the three school board races. Tweet at LAUSD:

    In contrast, $4.7 million in total independent expenditures was spent during the 2011 municipal election cycle for four school board seats.

    In addition to the pace of independent expenditures, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg donated $1 million to the Coalition for School Reform. The organization has contributed most to outside spending, thus far, in support of candidates who advocate school reforms such as parent triggers, charter growth, and revamped teacher evaluation. Tweet at @MikeBloomberg:

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was the active figure in securing Mayor Bloomberg’s donation. Villaraigosa said Bloomberg is “the most important voice in education reform today.”

    Mayor Bloomberg’s press secretary released a statement saying:

    “The mayor [Bloomberg] has said he’s going to support efforts and candidates around the country on the issues that he cares about and education reform is one of the issues at the top of that list.”

    Mayor Bloomberg has considerable influence in education and school reform as his mayorship resides in the largest school district in the nation. He has pushed for school reforms in New York City similar to those advocated by the Coalition for School Reform.

    LAUSD is the second largest school district in the United States, which may become an example of school reform in action. Share the news:

    1x1.trans Los Angeles School Board Election Spending Unprecedented

    Credit: (click to enlarge)

    In LAUSD’s sub-district 2, $707,660 in independent expenditures supported current board president and candidate Monica Garcia. Most of the money was spent by the Coalition for School Reform.

    Garcia has also been supported by the AFL-CIO labor union, but is opposed by the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA). Three other candidates in this race have received support from UTLA. However, their combined $20,000 from UTLA has been dwarfed by Garcia’s supporters.

    Sub-district 4 candidates Kate Anderson and incumbent Steve Zimmer have been supported by $655,090 and $463,306 in outside spending, respectively.

    Anderson has been supported by the Coalition. Trustee Zimmer has received support from AFL-CIO and UTLA. This race could turn out to be the most contentious and costly of the three. Independent expenditures are nearly matched and Anderson’s supporters are expected to up the ante.

    The only candidate in sub-district 6 with independent expenditures recorded is candidate Antonio Sanchez. He has had $696,624 spent on his behalf, but is also supported by the Coalition and labor unions.

    The primary election is scheduled for March 5. Candidates who receive 50 percent plus one of the vote are declared winners. Otherwise, the top two candidates advance to a runoff election scheduled for May 21. Share it:

    The amount of independent expenditures recorded two weeks before the primary election in Los Angeles supports the notion that education issues are a high priority. LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has a record of pushing for school reform measures and the composition of the school board can change the way the city forms education policy.

    Los Angeles School Board election spending may change drastically leading up to the primary and possible runoff election. The races for these three seats may result in one of the most expensive school board elections.

    Donations from independent groups shaping city, LAUSD elections

    By Rick Orlov and Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News |

    2/21/2013 06:42:54 PM PST  ::  With the primary election just 11 days away, donations to independent campaigns are mounting fast in high-stakes races for mayor and school board.

    Donations have topped $20 million in the races for three citywide offices, seven City Council seats and three each on the boards of Los Angeles Unified and the Los Angeles Community College District.

    In the reports due Thursday, City Councilman Eric Garcetti reported a cash balance of $1.5 million in his run for mayor, including $450,000 raised in the last month.

    Controller Wendy Greuel, another mayoral candidate, reported $1.6 million in cash, after raising $475,000 in the most recent period. She has raised more than $4.7 million for the race.

    Greuel also has been helped with independent expenditure committees, which have put in more than $1.2 million, primarily from the IBEW through its Working Californians Committee and the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

    The latest campaign figures for Councilwoman Jan Perry, Kevin James and Emanuel Pleitez were not immediately available.

    The campaign of James, the former radio talk show host and federal prosecutor, has been bolstered by more than $431,000 in independent expenditures from Republicans.

    Independent expenditures continue to dominate the school board election, with reform- and union-backed organizations battling to guide the future of the nation's second-largest school district.

    District 2 incumbent Monica Garcia, a reformer who serves as president of the school board, has received $333,000 in cash donations, with the Coalition for Education Reform, the County Federation of Labor and SEUI Local 99 spending nearly $620,000 on her campaign.

    United Teachers Los Angeles has spent more than $100,000 to supporting three candidates and oppose Garcia in an "Anybody but Monica" campaign for her Eastside seat.

    In District 4, which stretches from the San Fernando Valley to the Westside and Hollywood, the reform coalition has spent $530,000 campaigning for challenger Kate Anderson, who reported $200,000 in individual contributions.

    She is challenging first-term incumbent Steve Zimmer, who received early $425,000 in campaign help from organized labor and $70,000 in individual contributions.

    The unions also spent $125,000 in campaign mailers opposing Anderson, while the reform coalition has spent $40,000 to fight Zimmer's re-election.

    In the West Valley's District 6, schoolteacher Monica Ratliff reported $13,000 in cash contributions while former LAUSD employee Maria Cano reported about $9,000. They have both been endorsed by UTLA, but have received no outside campaign help.

    The third candidate in the race, Antonio Sanchez, has been endorsed by both UTLA and the reform group. He previously reported almost $700,000 in independent expenditures, but updated numbers weren't available late Thursday.

    Z C & ABM smf: In the West Valley's District 6, schoolteacher Monica Ratliff reported $13,000 in cash contributions while former LAUSD employee Maria Cano reported about $9,000. They have both been endorsed by UTLA, but have received no outside campaign help.”  ●●I don’t know about that – I went to a fundraiser/wine tasting for Maria Cano at The City Club Friday evening – and I wasn’t alone in being helpful or tasting the vino.

    I strongly recommend voting for Ms. Cano if you live in District 6 and the 2008 Marlbrough Sauvignon Blanc even if you don’t!


    See some of the emotional, heated and pointed discussions at the long afternoon meeting Thursday in the attached video.

    By Mike Szymanski, Sherman Oaks Patch |

    Attorney Georgianna Kelman challenges the district representatives to do something. Credit Mike Szymanski


    Principal Martinez greets seven LAUSD officials. More than 200 people came to Carpenter.
    Seven LAUSD officials came to answer questions.


    Principal Martinez welcomes the crowd and outlines the problems.

    Bruce Takeguma, Administrative Director of LAUSD school management, talks about school caps.

    Superintendent Linda Del Cueto responds to the Carpenter parents' concerns.

    Attorney Georgianna Kelman challenges the district representatives to do something.

    Superintendent Linda Del Cueto talks about the next steps.

    Rachel Medved talks about how this affects Studio City.

    A dramatic speech late into the meeting by parent Amber Schaeffer.


    22 February 2013 - 11:28 am  ::  More than 200 present, past and future parents of students at Carpenter Community Charter School in Studio City came to meet seven of the top Los Angeles Unified School District officials to answer questions about the future of their school, and how they can combat fraudulent enrollment.

    Tensions grew high. There were tears, angry outbursts and applause. And, they got some long-awaited answers. (See a sampling of the speeches above.)

    One of the most positive outcomes seems to be that San Fernando Valley LAUSD Superintendent Linda Del Cueto said she hopes to launch a pilot program at the charter affiliate school in order to help them combat enrollment fraud.

    “Our teachers are stressed, the classes are compacted and we are all overwhelmed,” said Laura Diaz a parent of a fourth and first grader at the school. She said she knows of two families that have gamed the system and brag about not living in Studio City, but still attend Carpenter.

    “People are taking advantage. What will it take?" Diaz said. "This is a very big public outcry from very, very visible parents in this community.”

    Almost moved to tears, Del Cueto said, “I am just asking you to let me bring all this information to Dr. [John] Deasy (the LAUSD superintendent). You have touched me with what you said. I take this very, very seriously.”

    Del Cueto said she will look into Carpenter’s situation as a pilot program for combating fraud in the nearly 900 schools in LAUSD. Carpenter experienced an increase in enrollment because their test scores skyrocketed. The school wants to use a records system to help identify fraud.

    The school’s enrollment committee has identified nearly five classrooms full of students (an estimated 120) that do not belong at Carpenter, and could force incoming residents into a lottery system to get into the public charter school that is still affiliated with LAUSD.

    “This could be a district-wide problem to our nearly 900 schools, and of course we have limited personal,” said Del Cueto. “I’m a mom as well, I take it very seriously.”

    The school was able to nail the district down to a school enrollment cap.

    Bruce Takeguma, the administrative director of school management for LAUSD, said the Kindergarten enrollment for next year will be capped at 192. This past year, 210 new students entered.

    He capped the entire school population at 1,020—and promised that number would not change. The school did have more than 1,000 students earlier this year and is at 998 now.

    When the school reaches that limit, then a lottery will be put in place, and a priority will be given to residents living in Studio City. The school’s Governance Council made up equally of teachers and parents, have devised a policy for enrollment that will have to approved by LAUSD in April.

    Meanwhile, for now, the district representatives have denied the school to use the public records in the LexisNexis database to indentify potential fraudulent addresses for students.

    Parent and attorney Georgianna Kelman insisted the district give answers now. “You have caused us widespread panic. Our hands are tied, we can’t sit around for three more weeks.”

    The district representatives said they would have an answer by early next week about approving extra counselors to review enrollment fraud, and get questions answered by the legal department that may give a greenlight to a pilot program at Carpenter.

    Teacher Lydia Friedlich, who has been at the school for 22 years, said, “Very simply there are 120 students who don’t belong here. We want to keep a great school GREAT!”

    In 20 inspections where administrators paid visits to houses, five families were found that they didn’t belong and were sent to the appropriate school of their district, said Patricia Jimenez, the Public Service and Attendance Coordinator for the district.

    The LAUSD Charter School Division Director Jose Cole Gutierrez received some negative response when explaining that because of Carpenter’s charter status, a family can enter a student as a resident and stay at the school even if they have moved out of the district. In LAUSD public schools, if you move, you enter the neighborhood school of your new district.

    Richard Niederberg, of the Studio City Neighborhood Council who went to Carpenter as a student half a century ago, said, “I don’t understand why the district won’t allow some of this simple technology to help them locate people who don’t belong here.”

    Andrew Barrett, of the Governance Council, said, “They are giving us no tools for us to monitor this. It is like they are telling us to dig a ditch without a shovel, without a spoon, and telling us to do it with our fingers.”

    Oona Hanson, of the Governance Council, said Carpenter is a public school that was converted to a charter affiliate, and therefore needs to cater to the community and residents first. She even cited that there would be funding problems from businesses if residents were no longer going to their local school.

    Principal Martinez nixed some of the parents’ ideas that would ask teachers to monitor where children live, or have an anonymous tip hotline for people to turn in families that don’t live in the district.

    “I think pointing fingers at each other is not healthy community building,” said Kevin Finkelstein, of the Governance Council.

    Parent Denise DaVinci said, “I’m not worried about my son, who’s in fourth grade, but I wanted to show support to the district representatives that we all stand together on this. I know two families who don’t belong at Carpenter, we all do, but I would be sad if they left, too.”

    Meanwhile, the priority is to make sure that people who do live in the area will have the chance to attend Carpenter and avoid a lottery system.  First, some more questions from the district need to be answered.

    Heather Tonkins, chairperson of the Governance Council, said, “This is the most-attended Governance Council meeting in our school’s history.”


    Parents accuse LAUSD of allowing out-of-area kids at high-performing Studio City school


    Rob Hayes  |

    Friday, February 22, 2013  ::  STUDIO CITY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A much-sought-after elementary school in Studio City is proving too popular. Carpenter Community Charter School says parents from outside the area are committing fraud to get their kids admitted. Now the school is overcrowded.

    Carpenter Community Charter School is one of the Los Angeles Unified School District's highest-performing elementary schools.

    But now dozens of neighborhood parents are worried their kids won't be able to go to Carpenter. The problem, neighborhood parents say, is that families from other areas are fraudulently signing their kids up at Carpenter using bogus addresses near the school. LAUSD puts that number around 120.

    School officials say as a result, last year their kindergarten enrollment jumped 32 percent, forcing them to enact an enrollment cap and possibly a lottery for this upcoming year.

    With neighborhood kids possibly locked out of Carpenter, parents are fighting mad.

    At a heated meeting with school district officials Thursday, parents wanted to know if the district would crack down on families lying about their addresses by taking advantage of widely used software that roots out fraudulent claims. District officials at the meeting didn't give an answer.

    LAUSD officials denied requests for an interview.

    Incoming parents say as Carpenter's registration deadline approaches, the district has left them hanging, wondering if their neighborhood school will be off-limits to their kids.

    The LAUSD released a statement Thursday afternoon:

    "During a packed meeting on Thursday, educators and administrators from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) addressed concerns of parents and guardians regarding enrollment at Carpenter Elementary, which converted to an affiliated charter school in 2010-2011.

    "A team from LAUSD responded to allegations of fraudulent enrollment practices, such as using a false address to allow students who live outside residential boundaries to attend the high-performing school in Studio City.

    "Administrators also explained education and District enrollment policy guidelines related to affiliated charter schools. Carpenter was a traditional LAUSD school prior to a recent conversion to an affiliated charter school.

    "Carpenter's growing enrollment, and the other issues raised by parents, including verification of student addresses, will continue to be monitored by school staff and District administrators."


    2cents smf: OK: Upper middle class white folks arguing over equity. Yuppie scum. My people.

    Carpenter is a victim of its own success. A number of years ago it was faced with declining enrollment as the Studio City population aged and South of the Boulevard gentrified. The then principal aggressively recruited parents to come to Carpenter  to save her teaching staff and budget (“Damn the catchment map, full speed ahead!”)  and the outcome was a robust program and a school on a par by all the measurements – from test scores to turning out well-rounded scholars – with the best schools in the District: Ivanhoe, Third Street, Warner Avenue, Wonderland and Mount Washington.

    Of those schools Carpenter has the benefit of an affluent parent base and a supportive business community – Studio City merchants and CBS studios support Carpenter with the mother’s milk of education: Money!

    Parents and kids flocked to Carpenter, success bred success like bunnies. Test scores went up – and GPAs and SATs followed …the kids went on to Harvard and Princeton and Berkeley.

    And now all that success is a problem.

    I agree that local resident kids must have first priority – and fraud where it exists needs to be discouraged.  But at what cost?  I  know from my experience at one of those “destination” schools mentioned above that parents who commit the fraud and show up at the first-day-of-school with a false address and a bogus DWP bill are exactly the parents you want at your school: Motivated, engaged and involved in their children's education.

    Fraud is simply one of the flavors of ©hoice the ®eformers delight in. I worry that a pilot program to root it out becomes Les Miz …only longer. The similarities between Russell Crowe and John Deasy don’t need exploring!

    That parents succumb to temptation to advance the education of their children may be an ethical failing – but it isn’t a moral one. They are not “those parents” – wretched refuse of some teeming shore;  North of The Boulevard is not The Third World! And their children, because they are not entitled, because they are flying under-the-radar - tend to work a little harder and do a little better. And the children themselves are not the perpetrators of the fraud; once established at a school they should not be punished for it.

    There are inevitably some Carpenter parents who would like to erect gates and restore restrictive covenants to maintain some socio-geographic status quo ante.– to maintain the Whole Foods/whole grain fed purity of the stock.   They need to be loaded on the yellow bus and bused to the real world.

    And lastly, I note with curiosity that the advertising “partner” (sponsor) of the article in the Patch is Campbell Hall – a private school which stands to pick up any affluent students removed from Carpenter for fraud. Coincidence? I think not..