Friday, March 29, 2013


By Bennett Kayser, Op-Ed in the LA Daily News |

3/28/2013 12:17:23 PM PDT  ::  In my 2011 school board race, I beat the big money.

My campaign coffers never topped $35,000. My opponent Luis Sanchez raised more than five times as much. Sanchez also benefited from the generous support of "independent" interests willing to spend millions to promote their agendas. He also had the backing of well-known elected officials. Sanchez had served as chief of staff for the current School Board President Monica Garcia -- who had served as chief of staff for then-board member Jose Huizar who is now a member of the Los Angeles City Council.

Big money, heavy connections and big machine politics are at it again in the up-coming school board race run-off on May 21 to represent east San Fernando Valley. Monica Ratliff is a teacher, and that's almost like being Satan to many of the very rich "reformers" willing to make mega-contributions. In this contest, Antonio Sanchez has big financial backers and connections. That's no surprise because he used to work for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigrosa, who has plenty of rich friends who care passionately, or so they say, about the students of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Why is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reaching deep into his pockets to support candidates for the Los Angeles School Board? Shouldn't he focus on the New York City schools that still need major improvements? Why does Michelle Rhee, the former superintendent of the Washington D.C. public schools or the other outsiders willing to write huge checks care about our public schools? Let's call these self-proclaimed "reformers" what they really are -- reactionaries.

No matter how they pay to spin it, the b/millioniares are quite content to allow a two-tiered education system with more for the haves and much less for the have-nots. Would they be willing to send their children to a neighborhood school in LAUSD, or to a public school near their mansions? Want to make a bet? My children attended Ivanhoe Elementary School, 32nd Street Elementary School, the Open School, King Middle School and John Marshall High School. While their kids attend $50,000 a year schools, California students sit at 49th in the nation at $5,266 per student, the cost of a night out for some of these one-percenters.

Why should we believe that billionaires such as Eli Broad, Jerry Perenchio, Bill Gates, and the Walmart heirs know best about how to improve the education of the children of Watts, or Pacoima or South Gate? Their drive-by visits to classrooms and photo opportunities at schools do not make them experts, nor do they reveal the challenges overcome by our teachers and principals -- the miracle workers of LAUSD.

Yes, the Los Angeles Unified School District needs better schools and more resources to help all of our students meet or exceed their potential. That is why I became a teacher so many years ago. That is also why I ran for the Los Angeles School Board.

During the recent primary, Antonio Sanchez is estimated to have raised more than $100,000 and got more than $1.5 million in TV ads and mailers from "independent expenditures." He garnered 13,087 votes. Monica Ratliff raised about $18,000 and got nothing from the so-called independents. She got 10,351 votes.

Money may be the mother's milk of politics -- a cliche no decent English teacher would allow a student to use in an essay -- but fortunately votes can't be bought outright, and the big money doesn't automatically prevail.

  • Bennett Kayser is a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.


The New York Times



A MODEST PROPOSAL: For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being Aburden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public

By Jonathan Swift (1729)

Jonathan Swift's satirical essay from 1729, where he suggests that the Irish eat their own children.

March 29, 2013  ::  Late last week, I was driving my daughter to her play-based, shoe-optional, sugar-free preschool — a magical Arcadia where an actual chicken is free to roam and grow fat off Pirate’s Booty, and where the major areas of academic focus revolve around turn-taking, problem-solving and the life story of Rosa Parks — when I experienced a moment of self-doubt so paralyzing I almost had to pull over. The radio in my car was tuned to an NPR show, on which callers were debating the decision by the C.E.O. of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, to ban employees from working from home. I’d been thinking about Mayer since early that morning, having fallen down an Internet rabbit hole that plunged me deep into her art collection, her exclusive wardrobe and her estimated $300 million net worth. Specifically, I was thinking about the rather highhanded, Marie Antoinette-ish way in which she dismissed the need for extended maternity leave, as if it hadn’t occurred to her that building an en suite nursery for her newborn next to her office basically elided the need for it, since the baby could remain within a few feet of her all day long.

En route to the preschool, I was suddenly visited by an apocalyptic vision of the future: I saw my daughter as a frustrated former liberal-arts major stuck in a midlevel job at a company where, despite the easy availability of 3-D holographic telepresence software allowing people all over the globe to interface with one another from the comfort of their own brain implants, employees were now required to “live from work” and occasionally beam themselves home for some cursory family face time. Moreover, I saw that I alone was to blame for this dismal state of affairs, because I am a deluded throwback to carefree days, and in my attempt to raise a conscious, creative and socially and environmentally responsible child while lacking the means to also finance her conscious, creative and environmentally and socially responsible lifestyle forever, I’d accidentally gone and raised a hothouse serf. Oops.

As Facebook’s C.O.O., Sheryl Sandberg, writes in her new book, “Lean In,” a guide for helping women claw their way to the top of the corporate heap, “the media will report endlessly about women attacking other women, which distracts from the real issues.” And it’s true; there’s something about the is-she-or-isn’t-she-a-feminist way the Mayer debate has been framed (and even about the way Mayer herself has participated in it) that feels almost deliberately obtuse. Not that it’s surprising — pretty much every issue that concerns a woman is framed as a woman’s issue. But while Mayer is, in fact, a woman, her circumstances are so rarefied that she might as well be a unicorn. So it’s interesting that the discussions about whether she is a feminist, or whether she displays sufficient empathy for her fellow working mothers, persist even after she has made it amply clear that she never intended to become a standard-bearer for the plight of working women. Furthermore, as she told PBS, she does not consider herself a feminist because she lacks “the militant drive” and “the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that.” (Take that, ladies!)

As Lisa Miller wrote in her 2012 New York magazine profile of Mayer: “Since her earliest days at Google, and despite a canny performance of her own ‘girliness,’ Mayer has refused to make the Woman Question part of her public persona. She doesn’t want to talk at all about how being a woman — in tech, or at Google, or in upper management — makes her different from the guys in the room or deserving of any kind of special consideration. ‘I’m a geek,’ is what she always says.”

Which pretty much sums it up. Mayer doesn’t identify with working mothers or feminists not because she identifies with another sex or a different ideology, but because she puts herself in a different column altogether — and I don’t mean the geek column. As Miller puts it: “While American women may wish to see themselves, their maternal joys and their workplace dilemmas reflected in Mayer, it is not a sensible comparison for most. Mayer is a superstar.”

This seems to closer to the real issue, which is not feminism, or working mothers, or even Mayer or Yahoo in particular, but privilege and the choices it confers.

The United States is now among the most unequal countries in the world in terms of wealth distribution. In 2007, the concentration of wealth at the top reached levels not seen since 1928, and much of this is a result of C.E.O. compensation. Businessweek reported that the average C.E.O. made 42 times that of the average worker’s pay in 1980. According to an A.F.L.-C.I.O. study, a C.E.O. now makes a surreal 380 times more than the average worker. In the last 35 years, income for all but the highest earners has flattened as the costs of education and health care have soared. Paradoxically, according to some measures, Britain offers more opportunity for upward mobility than does the United States.

I encountered much of this information in a documentary called “Inequality for All,” which had its premiere earlier this year at Sundance and is being billed as “An Inconvenient Truth” for income inequality. (Full disclosure: The film, which will be released in September, was directed by my old friend Jacob Kornbluth and edited by my new friend and fellow preschool mom Kim Roberts.) The film stars Robert Reich, secretary of labor under Bill Clinton and now a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. It’s based on a class he teaches called Wealth and Poverty, which sets out to answer three questions: What is happening in terms of the distribution of wealth in this country? Why is it happening? And is it a problem?

Reich’s thesis is that some inequality is inevitable, even necessary, in a free-market system. But what makes an economy stable and prosperous is a strong, vibrant, growing middle class. In the three decades after World War II, a period that Reich calls “the great prosperity,” the G.I. Bill, the expansion of public universities and the rise of labor unions helped create the biggest, best-educated middle class in the world. Reich describes this as an example of a “virtuous circle” in which productivity grows, wages increase, workers buy more, companies hire more, tax revenues increase, government invests more, workers are better educated. On the flip side, when the middle class doesn’t share in the economic gains, it results over time in a downward vicious cycle: Wages stagnate, workers buy less, companies downsize, tax revenues decrease, government cuts programs, workers are less educated, unemployment rises, deficits grow. Since the crash that followed the deregulation of the financial markets, we have struggled to emerge from such a cycle.

At one point in the film, Reich points to a chart showing the stratospheric rise of the Dow at the beginning of the ’90s. “One of the big reasons that corporations were showing higher profits is that they were keeping pay down,” he says. “At the same time, corporate C.E.O.’s were starting to pay themselves large multiples of what the average worker was earning.” The film then cuts to a clip of Viacom’s C.E.O., Philippe Dauman, discussing a period of layoffs: “It was a difficult time, you knew that you were impacting people who would have a difficult time, many of them, in finding new jobs, but you had to do it for the organization to, in that day, look to survive.” In a corner of the screen, Dauman’s total compensation for 2010 fades in: $84.5 million.

It’s hard to find your bearings in the middle of a cataclysm. Do you fight or surrender? Beat ’em or join ’em? Is joining them even possible? If not for me, at least for my kids?

This is my daughter’s last year at her beloved free-to-be-you-and-me preschool, and for the past six months or so, I was consumed by the question of where she would go next. I went deep, touring schools of every possible description (public, private, progressive, academic, bilingual, charter and magnet) and swinging wildly from one type of school to another. (My husband, pragmatically, let himself be guided by the quality of the complimentary baked goods, if any, on offer.)

As diverse as these schools were, the one thing they had in common was that the values they espoused, while admirably democratic and humanistic, didn’t seem to me to jibe with the realities of late capitalism. And so I began to wonder: Are we feeding our children a bunch of dangerous illusions about fairness and hard work and level playing fields? Are ideals a luxury only the rich can afford? (Tuition certainly is.) As seduced as I was by the good intentions on display, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something not quite fair about all this — not fair to my daughter, I mean. What if the kid got it in her head that it was a good idea to go into public service, the helping professions, craftsmanship, scholarship or — God help her — the arts? Wouldn’t a greedier, more back-stabby style of early education be more valuable to the children of the shrinking middle class ­ — one suited to the world they are actually living in? Because every time my daughter says, “I want to be a writer like Mommy,” I have to resist the urge to wash her mouth out with soap.

I’m reminded of the quote by John Adams: “I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history [and] naval architecture . . . in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, tapestry and porcelain.” For all intents and purposes, I guess I studied porcelain. The funny thing is that my parents came from a country (Peru) with a middle class so small that parents had to study business so that their children could study business. If I didn’t follow suit, it’s at least in part because I spent my childhood in the 1970s absorbing the nurturing message of a progressive pop culture that told me I could be anything I wanted, because this is America.

Looking back at the schools I toured for my daughter, which ranged from the luxuriously utopian to the grimly pragmatic, I find myself thinking about something Reich said in the movie. “When we see the contrast between the values we share and the realities we live in, that is the fundamental foundation for social change.”

It’s nice to think so. Until that happens, though, what should we tell kids? How should we raise them? I’m not sure, but in the meantime I’m open to ideas. Wilderness survival camp? Gladiator school? Krav Maga? Should I just start organizing “Lean In” circle playdates now? Or tiger-momming her straight into the trainee program at Goldman Sachs?

It’s not what I envisioned when I had her, but then this is not about me. Until it gets figured out, though — baby steps. Maybe I’ll ask my daughter’s preschool teachers to consider injecting a little social Darwinism into circle time. A little less Rosa Parks, a little more Scrooge McDuck.


By Tom Chorneau - SI&A Cabinet Report.

Thursday, March 28, 2013  ::  The National School Boards Association and its 90,000 members are sponsoring legislation aimed at curbing the authority of the U.S. Secretary of Education – an outgrowth likely stemming from the group’s chilly relationship with the Obama administration during the president’s first term.

HR 1386 by Congressmen Aaron Schock, R-Illinois and Patrick Meehan, R-Pennsylvania would prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from adopting any new regulations, rules or grant requirements without first offering the education community 60 days to provide written comments.

The bill would also restrict the education secretary from taking any new regulatory action that would conflict with the “power and authority” of local educational agencies or would add additional costs not supported by federal funding.

“A lot of the policies of the department have just been stepping over the authority of a locally-elected school board to make decisions that are in the best interest of their community and students,” said Erika Hoffman, legislative advocate for the California School Boards Association.

“What we are asking for in the bill, is an opportunity to review policies and have a voice in how it comes down – which we think is important,” she said.

Schock, a former member of the school board in his hometown of Peoria, said in framing his legislation that there is growing concern that regulatory actions from the Department of Education threaten to undermine the benefits of local school boards.

“The vital national interest in local self-governance of local educational agencies has been weakened through Department of Education requirements that are either unnecessary to achieve the specific direction of legislation enacted by the United States Congress, or that impose unnecessary limits on the flexibility needed by local educational agencies in order to meet local, state, and federal goals in education,” the bill states.

In a statement released Wednesday as part of a campaign to generate voter support for the bill, C. Ed Massey, president of the NSBA, said school boards need the legislation’s protection.

“Local school boards and local educators play a vital role in educating our nation’s school children which should not be eroded by unnecessary federal regulations,” he said.

The bill comes just a few months after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan spent an uneasy session with members of the NSBA in January at the organization’s annual legislative conference in Washington D.C.

Duncan, who has led the administration’s effort to get states and schools on the common core standards and to link teacher test scores to student growth, has also developed a reputation for weakening the role of local school officials with a strategy the offers big federal grants conditioned on significant policy changes.

Thomas Gentzel, the executive director of NSBA, has also said that the organization is frustrated by the amount and breadth of regulation and guidance that the department has issued under Duncan.

Key parts of HR 1386 as currently proposed:

  • Unless specifically authorized by federal legislation, the Secretary shall not issue federal regulations, rules, grant conditions, guidance materials, or other requirements pertaining to a State educational agency or a local educational agency that:

(1) conflicts with the power and authority of a local education agency;

(2) results in additional costs to the local educational agency for reporting, grant administration, and general operations unless fully paid from federal funds;

(3) conflicts with the power and authority of the local educational agency to determine how to engage or act upon community participation and advice;

(4) imposes requirements on a local educational agency that would limit or adversely affect its authority to function as a legislative, executive or quasi-judicial agency;

(5) conflicts with the authority of a state to determine the appropriate governance structure of its local school districts, or the authority of a local educational agency to determine the appropriate governance and management of its schools and management of its schools;

(6) establishes reporting requirements for local educational agencies that duplicate existing federal requirements or that are issued without first conducting a fiscal impact statement related to the costs to local educational agencies including requests for data and recommendations from local educational agencies and national education organizations;

(or 7) places conditions or requirements on grants to a state or local educational agency that are not directly related to, or support the intent of the specific purposes of grant or the legislation authorizing such grant.

  • The Secretary shall annually provide local educational agencies and the major national educational organizations including those representing local school boards, local superintendents, principals, and teachers a minimum of sixty days in order to provide written comments regarding the local impact of implementing federal regulations, rules, grant conditions, guidance materials, or other requirements for any applicable program or activity of the Department.
  • Within 180 days after this bill is in enacted, the Secretary shall conduct a review of existing reporting requirements and eliminate any unnecessary duplications. Further, the Secretary shall not issue any regulation, rule, guidance material, grant condition or other requirement pertaining to a state educational agency or local educational agency without first: (1) requesting, with at least sixty days’ notice, data and recommendations from local school officials, local educators, and their national organizations relating to the educational, financial, and operational costs involved; (2) verifying from such local reporting that school districts will have the capacity to implement the federal requirements; and (3) ensuring that maximum flexibility and local decision-making is provided to local school districts in implementing the requirement.

To read more visit:


By Mark Slavkin / commentary in EdSource Today |

March 26th, 2013  ::  A well-rounded education that includes the arts is essential to prepare California students for college and careers. A year of fine arts is required for admission to the CSU or UC campuses. Further, the skills students gain in the arts – imagination, creativity and innovation – are essential for success in the California economy, no matter the industry or sector.

While the California Education Code has long established the place of the arts in the required course of study, actual implementation in California classrooms varies widely. Recognizing these disparities and understanding the need for additional resources, the Legislature in 2006 established the Art and Music Block Grant, a $105 million line item in the California Department of Education budget that provides every school district an allocation based on their total enrollment.

Just as districts began to gain traction in expanding arts programs, the state economic crisis threatened all school funding. In light of state budget cuts, the Legislature granted districts special flexibility, allowing many categorical funding sources to be used to sustain basic operations.

As the state emerges from the economic crisis and school funding begins to improve, it is time to turn back to the question the Legislature addressed in 2006: How can we best ensure all California students have equitable access to quality arts education?

The governor’s proposed 2013-14 budget would eliminate almost all categorical programs in the name of local control and flexibility. We have strong concerns about whether all kids will have equitable access to the arts under this new funding model. Historically, students in high-performing schools in more affluent communities have had the greatest access to the arts. Sadly, those students in underserved communities who might benefit the most from a more engaging and well-rounded curriculum receive the least. We urge the Legislature to give careful thought to this issue and consider the options below to address it.

  1. Establish “innovation matching grants” to encourage districts to invest in the arts. Perhaps half of the existing Art and Music Block grant could be set aside for competitive matching grants for districts that increase student access.
  2. Require districts to publish an annual “arts education report card” documenting the current status of arts education in their schools. This could empower parents and other concerned citizens to understand current gaps and advocate with their school board to make arts learning a greater priority.
  3. Require districts to include their plan for arts education in the overall “academic achievement plan” called for in the governor’s budget proposal.
  4. Require that student learning in the arts be included in the expanded Academic Performance Index now being developed by the State Board of Education.

We look forward to working with the governor and Legislature to ensure all students gain equitable access to arts education.


Mark Slavkin

Mark Slavkin chairs the board for the California Alliance for Arts Education, a statewide coalition working to strengthen arts education in K-12 schools. A former member of the Los Angeles City Board of Education, Slavkin directs education programs for The Music Center in Los Angeles.

●●smf: Most excellent!  Except that “perhaps half of the existing Art and Music Block grant could be set aside for competitive matching grants for districts that increase student access” rewards school districts for doing the right thing …and penalizes students who attend districts that don’t! 

Competitive grants don’t create equity, they guarantee otherwise.

How about just insisting that the California Arts Education Standards be taught and providing enough money so that they will be?


Michelle Rhee came to prominence as the tough-minded chancellor of Washington, D.C., schools. Now she's in Sacramento, taking on this state's system — and its teachers unions.

By Michael J. Mishak and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times |

Michelle Rhee, center, answers questions after giving a speech to the World Affairs Council in L.A.

Michelle Rhee, center, former chancellor of Washington, D.C., Public Schools, answers questions after delivering a speech titled "Making the U.S. Education System Competitive Globally" to the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles earlier this year. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / January 31, 2013)

Your take?

    Do California's schools need Michelle Rhee?
    • Yes 49% (2,052 votes)
    • No 51% (2,169 votes)

    as of 5am Friday 29 March  |  vote here


    March 26, 2013, 4:58 p.m. SACRAMENTO — When Michelle Rhee wants to make a point about what she sees as the coddling of American children, she refers to her daughters' abundant soccer trophies.

    "My daughters suck at soccer," she says to crowds that roar with knowing laughter.

    The former District of Columbia schools chancellor is pitch perfect in the role of outraged parent and education reformer, distilling complex policy debates into bare-knuckled banter.

    In Rhee's world, as she recently told crowds in Los Angeles and Sacramento, teacher seniority protections are "whack," principals can be "nutty" and charter schools can be "crappy." Such frank talk has made the controversial former teacher a celebrity and potential political powerhouse.

    StudentsFirst, the advocacy group Rhee founded in California's capital, where she lives with her husband, Mayor Kevin Johnson, is positioning itself as the political counterweight to teachers unions. Funded by entrepreneurs and philanthropists, it's pushing to elect candidates and rewrite policies on charter schools, teacher assessment and other charged issues in at least 17 states, including California.

    Teachers unions and other critics say the group, which spent $250,000 to boost three candidates for the Los Angeles Board of Education in the March 5 election, promotes unproven policy proposals with cash from sources whose main goal is crushing organized labor. Among StudentsFirst's major donors is the Walton Family Foundation, funded by heirs to the fortune generated by Wal-Mart, which has vigorously opposed unions.

    "StudentsFirst," said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, "has found a way to be the education flank of a broader anti-union movement."

    Rhee says she supports collective bargaining. Her group, she said, balances labor's role in the education debate.

    "The purpose of teachers unions is to prioritize the pay and privileges of members. That is their job. I don't think that's the problem," she said in an interview. "What I think the issue is is we don't have an organized national interest group with the same heft … advocating on behalf of kids."

    The 43-year-old Rhee, whose children attend public school in Tennessee, where her ex-husband lives, is guided by the free-market principles that characterized her tumultuous three-year tenure in Washington.

    She wants publicly funded charter schools, "trigger" laws that allow parents to shut down low-performing campuses and vouchers that permit low-income students to use public dollars at private schools. Many labor leaders and academics call her a stalking horse for corporate interests that want to turn a profit in public education.

    In Washington, Rhee closed scores of under-enrolled schools and fired hundreds of teachers deemed ineffective by a new evaluation system based largely on student test scores. She dismissed a principal in front of a TV news crew for not meeting goals. Top performers received bonuses.

    Rhee's record there still generates debate. Her critics have said her administration resisted calls to investigate evidence suggesting that teachers and administrators falsified test results, and they allege inadequacies in outside probes that found no major wrongdoing.

    In 2010, unions spent heavily to oust Rhee's boss, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, in what was widely viewed as a referendum on Rhee. She resigned. A few months later, she announced StudentsFirst on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

    Since then, millions of donated dollars have funded a staff of more than 120 and enabled the group to push model legislation crafted in its Sacramento offices.

    "There is a really talented field of advocates, but it is … underpowered," said Ed Kirby, deputy director of the Walton Family Foundation, which has reported giving StudentsFirst at least $3 million. "The fact that StudentsFirst has joined the fight — that's a big deal."

    Rhee's group is not required by law to disclose its donors or what they give and declined to provide a list. But she names several in her new memoir, "Radical."

    They include the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, funded by John Arnold, a former Enron Corp. trader and Democratic donor who has pushed to rein in public pensions across the country. Eli Broad, the Los Angeles arts and education philanthropist and a Democrat, is another supporter.

    StudentsFirst spent nearly $2 million in last year's general election to support 105 candidates across the country. The vast majority, mostly Republicans, won their races.

    Rhee, a lifelong Democrat, says her group has helped pass more than 100 education proposals nationwide. StudentsFirst has worked with Republican governors in Florida, Nevada and Tennessee to abolish seniority systems that protect veteran teachers from layoffs without regard for performance.

    In Michigan, the organization worked on legislation that limited teachers' bargaining rights and based their evaluations on student test scores — exempting that element from union negotiation. StudentsFirst then spent $500,000 on a successful campaign against a union drive to overturn it.

    "There are some things that are good public policy," Rhee said, "that we should not have in the realm of collective bargaining."

    Rhee said she works on both sides of the aisle, citing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and President Obama among the Democrats who support much of her agenda. But at the state level, where the group is most active, she has had an uneasy relationship with members of her party.

    In Connecticut, she helped Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy battle lawmakers and teachers unions in his bid to gain broad authority over low-performing schools and overhaul the teacher assessment system. StudentsFirst blanketed the airwaves with ads urging lawmakers to "stand up to special interests and fight for students." One spot featured footage of Obama.

    Nevertheless, Malloy kept his distance, declining to appear with Rhee at a rally staged by supporters of his proposal. "The governor did not want any distractions to stand in the way of real reform," said Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba.

    Compromise legislation passed with union support.

    It was only last year that Rhee began pressing her case in deep-blue California, where the California Teachers Assn. has long been the most powerful player in education policy. Her group and its political action committee spent more than $1.4 million lobbying the Legislature and promoting political candidates in 2012.

    It also flooded lawmakers' offices with letters, phone calls and visits from parents to help kill legislation that would have eliminated the required use of student test scores in teacher evaluations. The author withdrew the bill.

    StudentsFirst made a failed attempt to revamp key policies near the end of the last legislative session. It drafted a proposal to eliminate seniority-based layoffs and require at least half of an educator's evaluation to be based on student test scores.

    But the group dropped the effort amid a dustup with other advocates over its political maneuvering, including campaign spending to help the son of the lawmaker who agreed to introduce the bill.

    Now StudentsFirst has hired a Sacramento veteran to guide its strategy here: former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, a Democrat who cut his political teeth as a union operative.

    Rhee said big change could take years.

    "There is no city that represents the status quo bureaucracy … like Sacramento," she said. But "if you can do it here, it just cracks everything open."


    2cents smf: Michelle Rhee tells a story about how bad her classroom management was when she was a second grade teacher in Baltimore: She taped her students mouths shut for talking …and when she pulled the tape off their lips were bleeding. Some were sent to the school nurse. 

    It’s good that those schools had a nurse, it’s bad that they had Rhee.  This is not an amusing story – it’s cause for dismissal and removal from the profession.

    Thursday, March 28, 2013

    2 ON ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS: Dropouts + Parents

    Language and Dropouts

    "The English-Learner Dropout Dilemma: Multiple Risks and Multiple Resources"

    By Lesli A. Maxwell, EdWeek Report Roundup  |

    English-Learner Parents

    "English Language Learners and Parental Involvement"

    By Alyssa Morones,  EdWeek Report Roundup  |

    March 26, 2013  ::  English-language learners are twice as likely to drop out of school as their peers who are either native English speakers or former ELLs who have become fluent in the language, concludes a report by the California Dropout Research Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Synthesizing much of the research over the past three decades on the reasons behind the low academic achievement and high dropout rates of English-learners, author Rebecca M. Callahan, an education professor at the University of Texas at Austin, finds that many English-learners are still isolated in English-as-a-second-language programs that focus little, if at all, on academic content. That's the case even though most states and districts will not reclassify a student as fluent in English until he or she has demonstrated proficiency in both language and academic content.

    English Learner Dropout Dilemma: Multiple Risks and Multiple Resources

    Download: Full Report (60 pgs.)       |       Policy Brief (4 pgs.)

    Reference: Callahan, Rebecca M. (2013). The English Learner Dropout Dilemma: Multiple Risks and Multiple Resources.

    Abstract:   In the 2008-09 school year, nearly 11 percent of U.S. students in grades K-12 were classified as English learners (EL), and many more were former EL students, no longer identified by their 'limited' English proficiency. This report examines the extent, consequences, causes, and solutions to the dropout crisis among EL students and the extent to which these issues are similar or different among dropouts relative to the general population. Research repeatedly shows that EL students are about twice as likely to drop out as native and fluent English speakers. The social, economic and health consequences of dropping out that threaten the general population likely influence EL students as well. While many of the same factors that produce dropouts in the general population apply to EL students, others are unique: tracking as a result of EL status, access to certified teachers, and a high stakes accountability system. In terms of solutions to the EL dropout dilemma, three main reforms rise to the top of importance: Academic exposure, use of the primary language, and a shift from a deficit to an additive perspective.

    March 26, 2013  ::  A recent brief from the National Education Policy Center outlines ways for policymakers, districts, and schools to improve educational opportunities for English-language learners. Those students tend to be concentrated in schools serving low-income populations and lacking adequate instruction or materials—a problem that is exacerbated by communication and cultural barriers between schools and parents, it says.

    School-based efforts to strengthen parental involvement could help increase parental efficacy and advocacy, says the brief, written by William Mathis of the NEPC. Improved communication, collaboration with families, and an embrace of community culture, it says, could help alleviate educational challenges for ELLs. Providing parents with avenues to learn English would also help promote ELL parent involvement and encourage parents to read and write with their children at home.

    For policymakers, adequacy studies and identified financial inequities in serving ELL students, once reviewed and updated, should be utilized for improved legislation and budget allocations, the brief recommends.


    English Language Learners and Parental Involvement


    Symposium looks at research, solutions

    by Gina Cairney, Ed Week |

    • also see: LONG BEACH MIDDLE SCHOOLS TO START DAY AN HOUR LATER + smf’s 2¢: By Stephen Ceasar, L.A, Times |

    March 27, 2013, Rockville, Md. ::  Mystery still surrounds what sleep is actually for, but multiple research studies suggest that it is critical to brain development, memory function, and cognitive skills, especially among children and teenagers, according to experts and advocates at a symposium here this month.

    Organized by a pair of Maryland-based advocacy groups—the Lloyd Society and Start School Later—the event explored adolescents' need for sleep, and the consequences of and need for appropriate start times for schools across the country.

    It's difficult to pinpoint the exact benefits of later start times. But a May 2012 study in Education Next looked at more than 146,000 middle schoolers in the Wake County, N.C., district and found that pushing back their start times an hour increased standardized math and reading scores by 2 to 3 percentile points.

    Although the sample is small, the study's main author, economist Finley Edwards from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, said the findings are significant enough to be important, suggesting that later start times can be a relevant policy change for those districts trying to find ways to improve students' academic achievement.

    Sleep deprivation is considered a widespread, chronic health problem among adolescents, according to the Arlington, Va.-based National Sleep Foundation, and can have negative effects on their cognitive development and cause mental and emotional problems.

    Experts recommend that high-school-age youths get around nine hours of sleep per night, but the reality is that many teenagers get seven hours or less, according to the sleep foundation.

    Sleep-Wake Cycles

    Sleep changes in adolescents are "kind of a perfect-storm scenario," said Dr. Judith Owens, the director of sleep medicine at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, with many factors "conspiring to increase the risks of insufficient sleep in this population."

    As adolescents hit puberty, their natural sleep-wake cycles begin to shift, and they are unable to fall asleep as early as they did when they were in elementary school. Hence, it's normal for teenagers to be awake until about 11 p.m., according to Dr. Owens.

    But with some schools starting as early as 7 a.m., that means many teenagers aren't getting the recommended nine hours of sleep for proper rest and development.

    As more research becomes available on the relationship between adolescent sleep and school start times, educators, parents, and students throughout the country are taking steps to bring start times into the spotlight.

    When the school system in Arlington County, Va., first considered pushing back high school start times in 1999, officials had to take into consideration the start times for all school levels and for outside programs like child care, said Deborah DeFranco, a supervisor for the health, physical, and driver education department.

    One of the challenges Arlington County faced was competition for interscholastic sports and facilities use. But after some trial and error, Ms. DeFranco said, and work with neighboring Fairfax County, Va., and the Arlington recreation department to share facilities, educators were able to devise a strategy that allowed everyone to participate in something.

    Around the same time Arlington was looking at the issue, Ms. DeFranco said, other counties, including Fairfax and Maryland's Montgomery County, were also examining their start times, but most of those movements died. She credits Arlington's success in changing its school start times to the superintendent at the time, Robert Smith, and a focused school board.

    In Maryland, a bill was introduced in February to set up a task force to study school start times and sleep needs of adolescents.

    The Maryland chapter of Start School Later, a conference co-sponsor and a national coalition of parents, educators, students, and professionals, started a petition specifically for Montgomery County, to change schools' start times to 8:15 a.m. or later.

    Health and Behavior

    Michael Rubinstein, the public coordinator for the organization, said there's an untapped interest in the issue, and the online petition helped catalyze it.

    "We need to start with the premise that 'it must be done,' " said Terra Ziporyn Snider, a medical writer, historian, and co-founder of Start School Later.

    In Columbia, Mo., the board of education voted 6-1 to delay start times for the district's high schools after a grassroots effort led by Student's Say, a student-run advocacy group in the district, successfully pushed to delay start times from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., according to a Start School Later press release.

    When adolescents don't get adequate sleep, they experience health problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation, including impaired alertness and attention, which is important in academics but also important for those teenagers who drive to and from school.

    Sleep deprivation can also inhibit the ability to solve problems, cope with stress, and retain information, and is often associated with problems such as depression and substance abuse.

    The other conference co-sponsor, the Silver Spring, Md.-based Lloyd Society, which studies at-risk youths, looked at whether sleep deprivation had an impact on youth behavior.

    According to Ann Gallagher, one of the society's principal investigators, statistics show that violent crimes committed by teenagers tend to occur when school is out for the day, which implies that later end times could narrow the opportunity for such crimes.

    Studies show that insufficient sleep was associated with a range of risky behaviors, including substance abuse, sexual activity, and aggression.

    Dr. Owens of Children's National Medical Center suggested that even a modest change, say 30 minutes, can improve teenagers' sleep habits, which then may have an impact on their health and academic performance.

    Teenagers have erratic sleep cycles, Dr. Owens said, and they try to overcompensate during the weekend to "make up" for lost sleep, but the cycle just keeps going. "They're in a semipermanent state of jet lag," she said.

    Elementary principal to take district helm: NEW SAN DIEGO SUPERINTENDENT HAS DEEP PARENT TIES

    By Michele Molnar, Education Week |

    Cindy Marten walks with Jasmine Nevarez, 5, the girl's mother, Jessica Lopez, and other parents to a nearby middle school last week. Ms. Marten, who soon takes the reins of the San Diego district, planned the trip as part of a parent-involvement effort.—Sandy Huffaker for Education Week

    March 27, 2013  ::  Call it "parental prescience."

    Two years ago, a parent leader in San Diego introduced Cindy Marten, the principal of Central Elementary School in City Heights, this way: "Meet the next superintendent of San Diego Unified."

    It seemed a more-than-generous welcome, considering that about 850 students attend Central, and 133,000 are enrolled in the district, California's second-largest. The elevation of an elementary educator directly to such a level—the superintendency in the 19th largest school district nationwide—would be highly unusual, if not unprecedented, in the nation.

    "The solutions are local: parents, uncles, grandparents, philanthropies, agencies. Whatever is in your own backyard, … not some flashy new program."

    cynthia Martens, San Diego Unified Superintendent-Designee

    Little did Amy Redding, a parent leader attending that Title I Tiger Team meeting, know just how accurate that prediction would be. In early 2013, she would organize a press conference announcing a partnership between a dozen parent groups and Ms. Marten after the principal was appointed by the school board to that very role. The purpose of the partnership is to advance "academic success and educational enrichment for the children of San Diego Unified," Ms. Redding said at a March 5 news conference.

    Ms. Redding, now the chairwoman of the district advisory committee for Title I, expressed unequivocal approval of Ms. Marten's selection, saying, "I have seen her complete devotion to doing what is in the best interests of the children."

    However, in a phone interview, Ms. Redding echoed the surprise felt by many in San Diego at the school board's method of making the decision: The new appointment came within 24 hours of current Superintendent Bill Kowba's retirement announcement. Ms. Marten will begin her new position July 1.

    "Since the board had talked about parent involvement, then chose the superintendent behind closed doors, we thought it would make it very difficult for her," Ms. Redding said. Publicly forging a relationship with 12 parent groups was intended to be "like the first day of school, starting with a clean slate," she said.

    Known Quantity

    For her part, Ms. Marten has attended parent and community meetings beyond the confines of Central Elementary for years. Parent leaders already know her. And now, so does most of San Diego. Last fall, she starred in the only district-produced commercial urging voters there to support Proposition Z, a $2.8 billion school bond measure on the San Diego school district ballot to make capital improvements like roof repairs and upgrades to fire-safety systems. The electorate approved the measure on Nov. 6 with 61.8 percent of the vote.

    The incoming superintendent stresses her commitment to student achievement regardless of the vicissitudes of budget, outside support, or internal strife.

    "The district's mission is a quality school in every neighborhood; I believe that what we need is right in our backyard," she said in a recent phone interview, likening her challenges to the "Wizard of Oz" wonderment of finding all the answers at home.

    Known widely, but informally, as a "turnaround principal"—Central Elementary is not officially designated as a failing school in need of formal turnaround—Ms. Marten objects to the potential misinterpretation of that moniker. She rejects the idea that she possesses any "superhero" leadership qualities and questions the wider meaning of transforming educational institutions.

    "That 'turnaround' term has national implications for corporate America coming in and turning around a school. Outsiders. I don't believe in a paradigm that somebody outside is going to save you. I don't think we even need to be saved," she said. "The solutions are local: parents, uncles, grandparents, philanthropies, agencies. Whatever is in your own backyard, … not some flashy new program."

    Ms. Marten believes that, in relying on local resources for her brand of school reform at Central, she has been creating change that is more likely to last and earn the confidence of the community.

    "With every decision I've made, [I ask], 'Is this going to be sustainable if the money comes or the money goes? Is it scalable?' " she said.

    Scaling Up

    For the benefit of San Diego Unified, Ms. Marten's work will need to scale up her approach in a district that runs 118 elementary schools, 24 middle schools, 26 high schools, 44 charter schools, and a number of specialized schools on a $1 billion annual operating budget.

    "The biggest challenge is her transition from being a principal to having more responsibility for a district the size of San Diego. But I wouldn't consider that an insurmountable challenge. She's obviously a quick learner," said Dan A. Domenech, the executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, in Alexandria, Va. He said he is unaware of any elementary school principal being named directly to such a position in a district with more than 2,000 students.

    Another observer who can appreciate Ms. Marten's challenge is Deborah Jewell-Sherman, now director of the Urban Superintendents Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A former elementary school principal herself, she was the superintendent of schools in Richmond, Va., for six years—but only after studying at Harvard and taking other leadership roles in the district.

    "This is a [superintendency] we'll probably be watching throughout the nation," she said. "Part of me is tickled to death. If people who have no concept of teaching and learning can step into the role, she's going to be able to show all of us just what an elementary school principal can do."

    Ms. Jewell-Sherman summarizes the road ahead: "Now she will have to do systemically what she was able to do in her elementary school, while taking on fiscal challenges, political challenges, [and] governance concerns."

    But Ms. Jewell-Sherman also cautions, "The learning curve is going to be rather steep. My hope is that she will surround herself not only with people who are embracing her ... but also people from a local university or the corporate sector who can help her think about this as a system, as opposed to a school."

    Carl Cohn, who served as San Diego's superintendent from 2005 to 2007 and is now director of the Urban Leadership Program in the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., sees a strong signal from the local school board.

    "By this selection, it seems to me that [the school board's] theory of action for change is that it will be school-based, decentralized, collaborative—the opposite of the 'top down' corporate reform model that so many other places are articulating," he said. The choice "grows out of their listening to the stakeholders in that community.

    "The San Diego board of education, which appointed Ms. Marten unanimously, gave her a major vote of confidence by granting her the maximum allowable contract—four years—with a starting salary of $255,000, which is $5,000 more than Mr. Kowba's earnings in the position. Ms. Marten has committed to donate that additional $5,000 to a student who is planning a career in education.

    Staying Accessible

    Barbara Flannery, the president of the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs, which guides and supports 80 PTA units in San Diego, says she thought the board's decision on Ms. Marten was "surprising in its speed," but she does not dispute the wisdom of the move. The current superintendent is "very engaging and he's always been there supporting our PTA effort," she said. She will be looking for Ms. Marten to be similarly accessible.

    "In fact, Cindy Marten is coming to our next general meeting, so she's definitely out there, meeting the community," she said.

    Ms. Marten said she is eager to tap any parent resource—whether part of an organized group, or not—to accomplish her goals. She especially appreciates Ms. Redding's efforts to get organized parent groups prepared to work with her.

    "Amy ignited a parent group that's right there, at the ready," Ms. Marten said. "The parents are the heart of the community," she said. "We do the work together."

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013


    ●●smf’s 2¢: …maybe that should be LAUSD Savages Summer School …creating market opportunity for charter operators …in the Valley?

    By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News |

    3/24/2013 11:36:18 AM PDT  ::  Despite fears that Los Angeles Unified would have to cancel summer school this year, officials say they'll be able to hold a limited number of credit-recovery classes at 16 high school campuses across the sprawling district.

    Assistant Superintendent Alvaro Cortes said he got the word last week that administrators had found $1 million to fund the program. Summer school will operate at the same level as last year, when the offerings were the smallest in the district's history.

    "If you'd asked me (before) last week, I'd have said we weren't going to be having summer school at all, so this is good news," he said.

    Students will be able to take only one class, and priority will be given to high school seniors who get a D or an F in a required course and need to make it up so they can get their diploma, he said.

    If there are seats left in a class, incoming seniors will be next in line for admission.

    There will be only one session offered - from July 8 to Aug. 2 - and only a limited number of core subjects will be offered. Last year, LAUSD was able to offer about 175 classes.

    Summer school for elementary or middle-school students will not be offered.

    Registration will open in about a month, after officials finalize where summer school will be held. Cortes said it's unlikely that it will be the same 16 campuses where classes were held last summer.

    Five years ago, before the state's financial crisis devastated education funding, LAUSD spent more than $42 million on summer school.

    Cortes said voter approval of a half-cent sales hike helped salvage the summer program although officials remain concerned about sequestration, which would result in a 5 percent cut in federal funding.

    Granada Hills Charter High will be offering both credit-recovery and enrichment classes this summer, but expects to have only enough seats for its own students, a spokeswoman said.

    Options for Youth, a network of charter schools, has seen demand for its summer programs double since 2011, with 20,000 students expected this year.

    "Students are already registering," said Deputy Superintendent Bill Toomey. "Every year, it starts earlier and earlier. "

    Toomey said OFY will hiring more teachers and renting out additional space for credit-recovery classes in subjects like high school English, math and biology. In addition to its existing campuses in Burbank, Northridge, Sylmar and Van Nuys, classes will also be offered in San Fernando, Arleta, Encino, Studio City and Chatsworth.


    2cents smf: The spin is dizzying! 

    Summer School was totally inadequate last year. To say that Prop 30 and/or LAUSD has saved/salvaged Summer School this year is to embrace failure and enshrine social promotion. This is the same mindset that reduced Art Education and Adult Ed  by more than two thirds and  hen claimed to have saved it because it wasn’t eliminated altogether …and goes on to raise non-profit funding to erect billboards celebrating their saviourhood!

    With apologies to Senator Franken: These are Lies and They are the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. When do we get a fair+balanced look at School ®eform?

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013


    by smf for 4LAKidsNews:

    When the following email with the title above popped up in my browser I thought it was going to be about Prop 39 charter co-locations in California – maybe about Dr. Deasy’s threat to place  a charter co-lo at Venice High School if the School site Council/School Based Management Committee won’t agree to his Pilot School Plan – even though it has already been rejected by the Board of Ed based on community input!


    27. Superintendent behaves as if he is beyond reproach.

    33. Superintendent bypasses school board entirely and keeps them out of the loop on significant or all issues.

    34. School board candidates receive unprecedented amounts of campaign money from business interests.

      • …..almost all the numbers from 1 to 41 apply …these just apply specifically today!

    But no – it’s different. It’s National!

    And – gentle reader – it’s exactly the same thing, the same thinking, scaled nationally.

    Read on:

    By email  to  Save Our Schools Members

    Tuesday 26 March 2013

    To Occupy or be Occupied, that is the question.  In reality, perhaps the greater question is are we, in this country, preoccupied with high-stakes testing, and teaching only The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] courses? Do we score our youth and define them, their teachers, and schools as successes or failures only to end opportunities for education? Do we  care about the children or are we just busy building adult coalitions? 

    Perhaps it is time to take an active role in real education reform. But where do we begin and how?  Let us consider that education policy is borne in an office, in Washington DC. Oh sure, Congress approves the plans, but basically the root of regulations  is found in a building, the  Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building. 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, 7E-247, Washington, DC 20202.  Let's go there to change the education conversation! We will. Please Join Us! Find out how you too can Occupy the DOE.

    Hear the details this Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 at 9:00PM EST! Join Us for the Save Our Schools Webinar Fundraiser; Occupy the DOE 2.0!.


    The Battle for Public Schools


    Please Join Us as We Occupy the Department of Education for a Second Time!!

    Drs. Sam Anderson, Morna McDermott, Shaun Johnson, Veteran Educator Ceresta Smith and Student Voice Stephanie Rivera will share the details during this Save Our Schools hosted Webinar.

    Come and chat or just listen in! It is all about education, learning and doing.

    March 27th at 9PM EST.  6 PM PDT

    Learn more about the four-day gathering of progressive education activists and our shared endeavor. We resolve to shine light on the destructive influences of corporate and for-profit education reforms. On March 27th, at 9PM Eastern Time UNITED OPT OUT NATIONAL Board Members and Organizers, Sam Anderson, Morna McDermott, Shaun Johnson, and Ceresta Smith will speak about the second annual event.Save Our Schools, in support will host the Webinar/Fundraiser. Together let us help raise funds so that student scholars might attend the Washington DC Rally and March.

    Save Our Schools wholeheartedly endorses and encourages each person who cares about high quality, equitably funded professionally staffed public schools to attend the second Annual Occupy The Department Of Education and a Save Our Schools Webinar Fundraiser to learn more about the endeavor to be held on April 4-7, 2013.

    Save Our Schools wishes to further awareness for the cause and offer support for support for student travelers. Please help defray the cost of their travel. We ask you to contribute what you are able. Donate Now!


    See the Full Schedule for Occupy the DOE Occupy2.0:

    The Official Schedule for Occupy DOE 2.0: The Battle for Public Schools via TweetMe @unitedoptout Please review the Full Schedule at

    Together we can change the conversation.

    We can preserve and transform public education for all the children!


    Our mission is to build a national grassroots, people-powered movement,

    which preserves and transforms public education,

    as the cornerstone of a democratic society.


    By Stephen Ceasar, L.A, Times |

    March 25, 2013, 7:43 pm  ::  The Long Beach school board voted Monday to push start times at the district’s five middle schools from 8 to 9 a.m. -- a cost-cutting move officials believe will also boost student success.

    The board unanimously approved the plan, spearheaded by Supt. Christopher Steinhauser. Beginning in the fall, students at all of the district's middle schools will start class at 9 a.m. and get out at 3:40 p.m.

    U P D A T E > Experts: LATER SCHOOL START HELPS SLEEP-DEPRIVED TEENS - Symposium looks at research, solutions by Gina Cairney, Ed Week  |

    The change will save the district about $1 million in transportation costs, Steinhauser said. The savings will be realized by making the bus schedule more efficient by staggering pick-up and drop-off times.

    Under a similar proposal, which was not passed by the board, the district's high schools also would have begun the day an hour later. But the board approved creating a pilot program at McBride High School, a new school opening in the fall, which will start the day at 8:50 a.m. and let out at 3:40 p.m.

    Currently, district high schools begin the day at 7:50 a.m. and get out at 2:40 p.m.

    Some teachers and parents bristled at the idea of changing the start times at all the high schools. Opponents expressed concerns that delaying the start time by an hour would create problems for parents who drop off their kids on the way to work and would disrupt extracurricular activities and sports schedules. A later dismissal time could also create safety concerns, with students leaving for home later.

    In a letter, the local teachers union asked that the district delay such a plan in order to gather more information about the effects it would have on individual schools. A change could force additional work on teachers by disrupting their schedules and preparation time.

    Steinhauser likened the uneasiness to similar opposition when a proposal to require school uniforms came up. Instead of implementing the uniforms all at once, they began with pilot program before eventually rolling out the policy districtwide.

    “The change process is always a difficult one,” he said. “Not all the schools were excited about uniforms, but now that’s a very normal thing in Long Beach.”

    Under the plan approved Monday, a committee will research the pros and cons of a later start time for high school students and report to the board no later than September 2014.

    Much of the research for the proposal found that an extra hour of sleep for teenagers provided positive changes academically. Steinhauser said that more than 80 school districts nationwide have made similar changes and have reported seeing students do better in class and experience fewer discipline issues.

    That potential for an extra hour of sleep, if students actually take advantage of it, could help them, Steinhauser said.

    “If they do so, they’ll do better in school,” he said.


    2cents smf: Starting school a hour later in secondary is one of those things on the smf/4LAKids wish-list agenda – along with Full Day K, Quality Preschool, Schools as Centers of their Community, Nurses in Nurses Offices, Librarians in Libraries, Educators in Education, Arts and Music Education; Altruistic rather than Self-Serving Philanthropy, All Parents Empowered to Vote in School Board Elections, Field Trips and Recess.

    You know: Magical realism, delivered daily in every classroom.

    4LAKids has followed with interest the trials and tribulations of fellow parent troublemaker/fighters-of-the-good-fight SLEEP IN FAIRFAX [Start Later for Educational Excellence Proposal] – which has contested the late school start fight against the entrenched bureaucracy and conventional thinkers in Fairfax County VA. The problem with School ®eform Inc is that it is not reform at all – it is a redesign of the Twentieth Century Factory Model to reproduce/reengineered  conventional thinkers for the 21st century …when it’s critical thinkers we need.

    Critical thinkers know the important questions are never on the test.

    Don’t screw this up Long Beach USD – The Whole World is Watching!


    from Fitzwire

    2cents smf:

    • The privatizers need a clubhouse…. so of course there is an “Education Industry Association”.  Who better to commission studies from academia to conclude what you’ve wanted to believe all along?
    • And what if it isn’t just Bad Teachers and Bad Teachers’ Unions that produce all those bad test scores, bad grad rates and bad data?  What if it’s Bad School Districts?  OMG!  

    …and Michelle Rhee agrees, so it must be true!

    Wednesday, March 27, Performing Teacher Evaluations - an Education Industry Association webinar at 1:30 PM EDT

    Race to the Top and NCLB Waivers have included mandates for districts to evaluate teachers in a more systematic way that includes their student's growth as part of the process. In response, state legislators have passed evaluation legislation and departments of education are issuing new regulations around teacher evaluation. In all cases, 50% of a teacher's evaluation must be based on student growth. Despite the highly politicized nature of the new policies, districts across the country are scrambling to develop (or purchase) evaluation frameworks, manage evaluation data, and train evaluators and teachers on the new process. Private organizations who have experience with teacher or program evaluation, online data management systems, and/or professional development programs for teachers and administrators have an opportunity to partner with districts who lack capacity in some or all of these areas. In this webinar, you will learn how to identify which states and districts have the greatest needs for partnership with private vendors and how to align your services with their evaluation plans.  Isaak Aronson with SmartStart Tutoring will be presenting this webinar.

    Participation is free to EIA members and is designed to help Members diversify and grow their enterprises.  Non-members may attend for just $49. Register for Webinar Series.

    For assistance with registration, EIA membership or questions about the series, please contact Clare Sladic, 301-253-2915, or email at  

    Wednesday, March 27, How Important Are School Districts?

    Many popular education reforms focus on improving school districts whereas others, such as charter schools, are premised on school districts being the problem rather than the solution.

    On March 27, Russ Whitehurst and Matthew Chingos from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings will release findings from a new study examining the importance of school districts to student achievement. The study uses ten years of student data from North Carolina and Florida to determine how much districts influence student learning compared to schools and teachers, and to identify districts that show exceptional patterns of performance across time such as moving from low- to high-performing status.

    Following the authors' presentation of their findings, Michelle Rhee of Students First will draw on her experiences as chancellor of D.C. Public Schools from 2007 to 2010 in a keynote address on the role of districts in improving student achievement. Whitehurst and Rhee will then engage in a discussion and take questions from the audience.

    This discussion can be followed on Twitter using hashtag #BCdistricts.

    Introduction and Moderator
    • Russ Whitehurst, Senior Fellow and Director, Brown Center on Education Policy, The Brookings Institution
    • Michelle Rhee, Founder and CEO, Students First
      Matthew Chingos, Fellow, The Brookings Institution

    To be held from 10:30 am - NOON
    The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC
    To RSVP for this event, please call the Office of Communications at 202.797.6105

    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    The Incubator Pilot @ Venice High: A PARENT WRITES TO SUPERINTENDENT DEASY

    Venice HSby Mary Smith, reprinted with permission

    Thursday, 3/21/13

    Dear LAUSD School Superintendent Deasy:

    This morning myself and another Venice High parent, witnessed you quickly and abruptly enter our Venice High School cafeteria building where we were holding a silent, peaceful, non violent protest, for Venice High students, parents and community members against the planned co-location of the Incubator Pilot School staff that was in our cafeteria. You proceeded to aggressively tear down, rip and put in a trash can in the inside of the cafeteria entrance, our two signs that were posted on the outside facing and open doors to the cafeteria.

    The first sign read: No TECH Pilot School on Venice High Campus and the second Sign said: Come In and Silently Protest the Pilot School. These signs were handmade, they were not obstructing visibility into the cafeteria room since the two doors were open and the administration and security personnel of Venice High were aware and saw that the signs were in place. The silent, peaceful protest took place in the cafeteria all day and was available for any Venice High student(s), parents or Venice High stakeholders to join the silent, peaceful protest during nutrition and lunch to silently protest against the co-location of the Incubator Pilot School on our Venice High Campus.

    When you, Mr. Deasy, aggressively and without our permission tore down our two signs and quickly and abruptly entered the cafeteria area, I asked you who you were and why were you ripping down our signs? Since I had never met you before personally, I did not recognize you right away. You introduced yourself to me as Superintendent Deasy and then proceeded to shout at me and the other parent that the two posted signs were a "fire hazard" and "I tore them down." I retorted in a calm voice with the other female parent by my side, that you could have asked us to take the signs down and relocate them, but that you tore them down, ripped them and put them in the trash can in an aggressive manner. I then proceeded to introduce myself as, Mary Smith, a parent of a Venice High Freshman student and shook your hand. Myself and the other parent(s) had properly signed in at the main office, obtained a visitor's pass and that we were volunteering our time to silently protest against the co-location of the Incubator Pilot School on our Venice High Campus. I informed you that myself and the other parent didn't appreciate you tearing down our signs and that I was going to retrieve, repair and re-post the two signs on the outside cafeteria doors. You said to me: "Don't post them on the windows, that is a fire hazard." I informed you that I was not going to post them on the windows. I proceeded to retrieve, repair and post the two signs again on the outside doors of the cafeteria.

    While you were in the cafeteria, you asked myself and the other parent in a loud voice, "What do you want? Do you want to dialog with me on this issue?" I informed you that myself and several other Venice High parents, students and community members and 7 Venice High stakeholders spoke and gave testimony at the LAUSD Board meeting of why we don't want the Incubator Pilot School on our Venice High School campus. We were present all day at the LAUSD Board Meeting on Tuesday, 3/19/13, from 7:30 am to 5 pm. I informed you that you must have recognized me from the LAUSD Board meeting with my 6 foot frame and wearing a Venice High School sweatshirt. I informed you that we had presented our opinions and dissent to you and the LAUSD Board regarding Venice High stakeholders being opposed to the co-location of the Incubator School on our Venice High Campus. We submitted to you and the LAUSD Board at the Board Meeting on Tuesday, 3/19/13, close to 900 signatures gathered in just 2 days, of Venice High and the local Mar Vista/Venice area signatures of students, parents, teachers, Venice High alumni and local community members urging you and the LAUSD Board to postpone the vote on co-locating the Incubator pilot school on our campus.

    I informed you today that clearly the postponement of the vote for co-locating the Incubator pilot on our Venice High campus was not being honored by you or the LAUSD Board as agreed upon on Tuesday, 3/19/13.

    Myself and the other parent are concerned, startled and upset about your abrupt and aggressive behavior in tearing down and disposing our informational signs on our Venice High campus today, Mr. Deasy. Myself and the other parent, found your behavior aggressive, unprofessional and unbecoming of the behavior we would expect from a LAUSD administrator like yourself. I informed Venice High Principal Mendoza, Administrators, Venice High parent leadership and Mr. Steve Zimmer of your unprofessional and abrupt behavior in our Venice High cafeteria today.

    I am happy to report to you, Mr. Deasy and to the LAUSD School Board, that Venice High had 35 students during nutrition and 75 students during lunch participate in the silent, non violent, peaceful protest AGAINST the co location of the Incubator School on our Venice High Campus. Mr. Deasy and the LAUSD school board, I respectfully want to inform you again that Venice High School does not want nor will it be railroaded into having the Incubator Pilot School on our campus. If you tear down our signs, we will put them up again. If you continue to be disingenuous and not respecting what was agreed upon at the LAUSD Board Meeting on 3/19/13 regarding that the co location site of the Incubator School would be decided upon by the vote(s) with stakeholder, SSC and SBM school committee of the yet to be determined school site within LAUSD, we will continue to have our voices heard and the process that was voted on respected. If you plan to do or have whoever you want on our Venice High campus, we will continue to voice our opinions, insist that we have a say and a vote on what programs and schools will be on our Venice High campus.

    I urge you and the LAUSD Board--invest in Venice High School, fund our new Venice High STEM Magnet, support and fund our Small Learning communities and the community school on campus. Be respectful and professional when you come on our or any LAUSD campus.

    Respectfully and Sincerely Submitted:

    Mary Smith
    Venice High Parent, Family Nurse Practitioner
    Public Health Nurse, Master's of Science in Nursing.


    By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer | LA Daily News |

    3/23/2013 01:43:12 PM PDT  ::  Los Angeles Unified's 40,000 teachers will be polled next month on their confidence in Superintendent John Deasy and whether they want their union to ratchet up demands for higher pay, smaller classes and an end to many of the district's reforms.

    Teachers will be asked to vote yes or no on two questions: Do they have confidence in Deasy's leadership of LAUSD? And should UTLA adopt the "Initiative for the Schools LA Students Deserve?" a plan submitted by a breakaway faction of about 1,100 union members demanding more aggressive negotiations on disputed issues.

    Ballots were distributed last week to United Teachers Los Angeles representatives. Voting will take place on local campuses from April 2-10, with the results announced on April 11.



    To view the UTLA's "Initiative for the Schools L.A. Students Deserve" plan, visit

    Backed by the signatures of some 1,130 members, the initiative demands that union leaders negotiate with the district on a slate of issues, rather than tackling the topics one at a time. It also calls for mobilizing members to "a series of escalating actions, including preparing to strike if necessary, to fight for the demands of the campaign."

    In addition, the plan says UTLA should collaborate with parents, students and education advocates as a "force for positive school change."

    While some view the initiative as being critical of UTLA President Warren Fletcher, the head of the 40,000-member union has endorsed the plan. Fletcher did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but posted a statement on the UTLA website recommending a "yes" vote.

    "We must now mobilize together to force the district to restore class sizes, to restore our RIF'd colleagues to their jobs, and (of course) to increases certificated salaries," Fletcher wrote.

    Tim Delia, who sits on UTLA's the board of directors, posted an argument saying the plan should be defeated because some portions are too vague, while others simply underscore existing policy.

    UTLA will also vote on their opinion of Deasy, whose aggressive efforts to reform the district have divided union membership.

    The confidence vote on Deasy was originally scheduled for January, when it was billed as an opportunity to rate the superintendent's performance. The vote was cancellened shortly before March 8 school board election, which became a referendum on Deasy and his agenda.

    Now, results of the balloting will be released about five weeks before a May 21 runoff between two candidates to represent the East San Fernando Valley.

    While the union hasn't said publicly what it intends to do with the results, it's very clear how leaders want their members to vote.

    "Who has Deasy's ear?" the union asks on its website. "Is it the parents, teachers and health and human services professionals who are in schools every day ... or is it his billionaire businessmen mentors?"

    UTLA also asks members to send in examples of "how Deasy's decisions have hurt our schools."

    Deasy said he had no comment on the confidence poll.

    School board member Steve Zimmer - the UTLA-backed incumbent who held off a challenge by a reform candidate whose campaign spent $2 million to defeat him - questioned whether years-long financial crisis may skew the election results.

    "Certainly, the prerogative of any labor organization is to poll its members on the most important and salient issues facing the membership," said Zimmer, a former high school teacher and counselor.

    "My concern is that the poll is too close to the crisis and the layoffs that resulted for there to be any substantive analysis."

    Still, Zimmer said, it's important for the school board to understand teachers' concerns and their lack of confidence in the administration.

    "While I am supportive of the superindency and the superintendent, I absolutely reserve the right to dissent, disagree or even organize against certain policies," Zimmer said. "Having information about the overall confidence of the teaching corps is important for any board."

    The two candidates for the District 6 runoff, who each have a UTLA endorsement, said they'll be keeping a close eye on the union vote.

    "I hope the message gets through that as many teachers as possible should vote," said candidate Monica Ratliff, who teaches at San Pedro Elementary and sits on UTLA's House of Representatives.

    "The board should have a sense of teacher morale and what's important to teachers. But In order for the poll to have validity, a large number of teachers need to vote."

    Ratliff said she supports the initiative's goal of collaboration, and hopes UTLA and the district can find common ground.

    "As a (school) board member, I'm never going to say that a strike would be beneficial to students," she said. "My hope would be that UTLA would attempt to negotiate in a manner that would not require a strike."

    District 6 opponent Antonio Sanchez said he hopes results of the UTLA poll will pave the way for constructive conversations.

    "I'm obviously interested in what the teachers have to say," said Sanchez, who also has the support of the well-funded Coalition for School Reform. "The superintendent's actions should be evaluated as to his effectiveness in helping children get a good education.

    "I hope this results in positive dialogue and takes out the political back and forth. The infighting just gets in the way of our progress."

    Deasy took the helm of Los Angeles Unified nearly two years ago, at the height of the budget crisis. In November 2011, he and Fletcher announced an "unprecedented" initiative that empowered teachers to help turn around struggling schools.

    At the time, Deasy and Fletcher each said they hoped to build a collaborative working relationship.

    Since then, however, the two have been at odds over Deasy's efforts to link student test scores and teacher performance, and to take over struggling campuses.