Wednesday, September 18, 2013


@howardblume tweeted : “More talking than some would wish, but L.A.Unified board OKs budget item whose handling led to criticism”

Never heard of a teacher coach? LA Unified Common Core budget buys 122

Annie Gilbertson | Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC Vladovic, LAUSD Board President

Annie Gilbertson/KPCC

September 18th, 2013, 10:55am  ::  The board deliberated for two hours before approving Superintendent John Deasy's Common Core budget with no changes.

The Los Angeles Unified School District’s board on Tuesday approved a $113 million plan to jump-start the switch to new Common Core learning standards — a big chunk of which will go to hiring an army of teacher coaches.

In a 6-1 vote, the Board of Education approved 122 new teacher coaching positions — a plan that keeps training in-house by training coaches to train teachers.  The coaches are likely to be pulled from the top of L.A. Unified's current teacher roster.

The district is also hiring 30 "content coordinators" — administrative positions to help manage this massive switch in the nation's second-largest school district.

School principals will also get $70 per student in flexible cash to aid in the transition.

The vote came after hours of debate Tuesday — and after months of putting it off. The administration first sent the proposed budget to the board two months ago. A scheduled vote as last week's regular board meeting was put off to Tuesday.

Many board members expressed disapproval of how the funds, which were provided by the state for the transition, were being spent.

Some board members were concerned the action plan lacked evidence-based practices; others thought the money would be better spent if individual schools could get the entire $200 per-student allocation and make their own plans.

The debate heated up on the issue of whether to mandate a specific portion of the budget be spent on parent training and involvement. An earlier version of the budget set aside $750,000 for the purpose, but was removed to give more flexible money to schools.

When several competing ideas were floated to alter the budget, board member Tamar Galatzan intervened.

"It seems like there is this never ending supply of money that folks think is out there and board members keep prioritizing all sorts of things and directing the superintendent and staff to go figure out a way to fund it," she said.

In the end, only one amendment was offered and it didn’t pass. The board voted in favor of Superintendent John Deasy’s plan untouched.

Now, the L.A. Unified faces a second challenge: board president Richard Vladovic wants teacher coaches hired by Christmas.

And board member Steve Zimmer said he may still ask schools to set aside some money for the purpose when school guidelines for Common Core spending are issued.

"We aren't just giving the money to schools and say - hey - anything you want," he said. "This is about accountable Common Core implementation.

LAUSD approves $113M budget to train teachers for Common Core standards

By Barbara Jones, Los Angeles Daily News

9/17/13, 7:52 PM PDT   ::  After debating nearly two hours and voting down a proposed compromise, the Los Angeles Unified board on Tuesday approved a plan for spending $113 million to implement a new curriculum — the same budget that triggered the resignation of the district’s instructional chief when it was rejected last week.

Over the last month, the board has been discussing the best way to spend state money to prepare educators, students and parents for the Common Core — the more rigorous math and English standards taking effect next fall. It settled Tuesday on a two-year budget that includes $25 million to elevate 162 teachers to coaching positions, where they would train other teachers in the new curriculum. There’s also about $15 million for teacher training and $10 million for summer school.

And as a result of concerns raised by the board in August, each school will receive $70 per student that it can use to address specific needs related to the rollout of the Common Core.

The board’s 6-1 approval, with former teacher Monica Ratliff dissenting, followed an 11th-hour effort by board member Steve Zimmer to craft a compromise that retained portions of the district’s plan, but also gave a nod to the teachers union’s request for more money for training and demands from parents that money be set aside to educate them about the new lessons their children will be learning.

His plan also included a daylong “convocation” next year to celebrate the launch of Common Core across the district.

After a lengthy debate, his proposal was defeated 4-3. Zimmer said later that he was disappointed his proposal hadn’t passed but that it had served its purpose of triggering a robust discussion of the Common Core plan.

“The goal was to create substantive debate, and that’s what we had,” said Zimmer, the board’s vice president. “The superintendent now has a budget, and instead of a conversation that was all over the place we had a discussion that dealt with qualitative and substantive issues.”

Zimmer also said he planned to bring back his idea to have some sort of recognition of start of the Common Core, which is being implemented in California and 45 other states.

Superintendent John Deasy said little after the vote, except that he would be moving forward with it as quickly as possible.

A week earlier, Deasy and his instructional chief, Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino, had met with resistance from the board when they presented the same budget proposal. On Friday, Aquino submitted his resignation, saying the board had been interfering too much in the day-to-day management of the district, which was threatening the progress made in boosting student achievement.

Aquino was not in his usual seat on the board dais during Tuesday’s meeting.

But the board appeared to be indirectly addressing his concerns during their discussion, with board President Richard Vladovic saying he was not trying to micromanage the administration with his suggestions about the budget and that members were simply “setting a direction ” in passing the spending plan.

After the meeting, United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher expressed concern that the new teaching coaches will be spread too thin, with 61 English and 61 math specialists to oversee training at more than 1,000 campuses.

He also accused the district of trying to train its teachers “on the cheap,” with after-school training sessions for which they’ll receive just a fraction of their regular pay. He backed Zimmer’s plan, which would have paid teachers more for attending full-day training sessions. In both cases, the training is voluntary and in addition to the weekly professional development sessions held at every school.

The meeting had been scheduled specifically to address the Common Core budget and began about 90 minutes past its scheduled starting time of noon. Vladovic apologized for the delay, saying the board had faced a weighty agenda for the executive session that preceded the meeting.

During the closed-door meeting, the board OK’d the promotion of district lobbyist Edgar Zazueta to the newly created position of chief of external affairs. Zazueta said he’ll continue to oversee LAUSD’s lobbying efforts in Sacramento while serving as Deasy’s community representative in Los Angeles. His new post pays about $146,000, a raise of $9,000 a year, he said.

L.A. school board approves budget for training in new curriculum

By Howard Blume | L.A, Times |

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy won approval of a plan to train teachers in a new curriculum. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / March 13, 2012)

September 17, 2013, 6:44 p.m.  ::  The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday approved a proposal to spend $113 million to implement new learning standards, an issue that became surprisingly controversial and contributed to the resignation of the district's No. 2 administrator.

The plan for the money launched a protracted discussion that spanned three meetings and three weeks. The purpose of the funds is to prepare the district for the Common Core standards, adopted by California and 44 other states.

Approval got bogged down when school board members were either dissatisfied or wanted more information about how senior staff planned to spend the money.

After last week's meeting, Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino confirmed his resignation, saying that the newly configured school board mistrusted senior staff, improperly micromanaged and lacked cohesive and consistent direction. He cited the delay of the $113-million appropriation as a prime example of how the district is veering off course.

Aquino said his resignation would be effective Dec. 31, but he was not present Tuesday when the proposal returned as the main topic of a specially called meeting.

Board member Steve Zimmer brought forward an amendment favored by the teachers union mainly asking for up to three full-day training sessions  for instructors. In contrast, the proposal from Aquino and L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy opted for training after school and on weekends.

Deasy said his plan would cost less and provide more hours of training for teachers.

The amount of pay was one matter of contention. The district plan would pay teachers during this training at only a third to a half of their hourly rate, said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. Teachers deserve their full pay rate, he said in comments before the board.

After more than an hour of discussion, the school board narrowly voted down Zimmer's amendment. It then approved, in essence, the budget that Aquino had brought forward on Aug. 27.

But the matter is not entirely settled. In an interview, Fletcher said that key items of the budget are subject to union negotiations, including the creation of 122 "teacher advisors" who would be drawn from the ranks of instructors. The timing and structure of training sessions also must be hashed out with the union, Fletcher said.

"The law says you have to bargain this," Fletcher said. "We don’t expect we’ll get everything we want."

Fletcher also laid blame for the delay in approval with district staff, including Aquino. He said the district had failed to provide information about the spending plan for weeks.

LA Unified Board Finally Gives Deasy His Common Core Budget

by Hillel Aron, LA School Report |


September 17, 2013  ::  The LAUSD School Board today finally approved a $113 million budget for transitioning to the Common Core curriculum. The 6-1 vote marked the end of a tumultuous and seemingly directionless process that led to the resignation of Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Jaime Aquino, an LA Times editorial calling the Board “dysfunctional,” and finally to Mayor Eric Garcetti wading in to Board politics for the first time.

Aquino was conspicuously absent from the proceedings. As Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, he has been a chief architect of the Common Core transition. He said on Friday that he would resign at the end of the year because of what he sees as school board meddling.

“Due to the announcement of my resignation, I have decided not to do any public engagement during my transition period,” Aquino told LA School Report in an email, when asked why he wasn’t at today’s board meeting. “My focus will be to work behind the scenes to ensure a smooth transition.”

The budget, which passed with only Monica Ratliff dissenting, will give schools $70 per student, to be spent on technology, professional development or new materials to prepare students, teachers and administrators for the new Common Core curriculum and the standardized tests that will come with it. It also spends $24 million over the next two years on 122 math and English teacher advisors and another $8 million on 30 “content coordinators” for science, history, arts and English language development.

Like the teachers union, Ratliff is opposed to teacher advisors.

The absence of any discussion of the budget prior to its passage was particularly notable since the seven-member body had, just last week, postponed approval for the sake of additional discussion. That was already the second draft that Deasy and his team had put together. The slow speed with which the board was moving on the budget was cited as a key reason for Aquino’s resignation and was criticized in the LA Times editorial.

Prior to the vote, the board spent more than an hour discussing a proposed amendment by Steve Zimmer that was first handed to his colleagues as they took their seats, following  a closed-door session ran 90 minutes late. The amendment would have reduced the money to schools to pay for three district-wide Common Core planning days, including one that Zimmer called a “Common Core Convocation” to “bring our entire community together and signal and celebrate the transformation this represents.”

The plan was met with skepticism by Deasy and other Board members.

“I am particularly opposed to a ‘Common Core Convocation’” said Ratliff, who usually votes along with Zimmer. “I think the money should go to the schools.”

“I am trying to be aspirational,” said Zimmer, defending his amendment. “I just wanted to throw that idea out there.”

Board President Richard Vladovic supported the amendment, saying, “I see tremendous value in having everyone march to the same tune,” though he added of Common Core training: “This is not the end all be all. This will be an evolving process and take 10 to 15 years.”

Eventually, the Board rejected the change by a vote of 4 to 3, with Ratliff and, perhaps most surprisingly, Bennett Kayser joining with Monica Garcia and Tamar Galatzan in voting no. Like Ratliff, Kayser said he preferred more money be given directly to schools.

After the meeting, Zimmer told reporters he was disappointed his amendment didn’t pass, but added, “I introduced the amendment to guide the debate substantively, and I believe that happened… I feel that it’s important to have substantive direction and real clear choice.”

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