Monday, August 31, 2015



Posted on  LA School Report by Mike Szymanski |

BoardInformalAugust 31, 2015 9:20 am  ::  The LA Unified school board made limited progress yesterday in the search for a new superintendent. The members invited two headhunter firms to pitch their ideas on how to handle the search but said three other firms may also still be in the running.

The two leading firms — Hazard, Young and Associates of Rosemont, Ill. and Leadership Associates of La Quinta — each played a role in two former senior LA Unified administrators moving to other jobs. Hazard, Young helped Tommy Chang, superintendent of the Intensive Support and Innovation Educational Service Center, become superintendent of Boston Public Schools, and Leadership Associates helped Chief Strategy Officer, Matt Hill, win the job of superintendent of the Burbank Unified School District.

The two firms were invited to made a follow-up presentation to the board while three others could still be asked to make presentations at some future time. A $250,000 contract with the district awaits the winning company.

The selection was the only public action announced as the members spent more time in closed session than open. Billed as a board “retreat,” it was held at the Point Fermin Outdoor Education Center in San Pedro, miles from the usual board meeting setting downtown. The location is part of San Pedro High School and a special environmental education program that has been around since 1926. Buildings look out to the Pacific.

The casual setting was chosen so board members could be more relaxed, in substance and style. The warehouse-like building had fans, and members sat around a table. Mónica García handed out cookies and read a prayer to start the meeting, and each board member read excerpts aloud. Superintendent Ray Cortines showed up wearing shorts, as if his next stop was the beach. School police officers even noted how they had never seen the 83-year-old superintendent wear anything but a suit to a board meeting.

The selection of Leadership Associates drew only four votes, as Mónica Ratliff and Ref Rodriguez voted against, and George McKenna abstained —  he declined to say why. All seven members approved Hazard, Young & Associates.

Ratliff and Rodriguez pointed out that Leadership did not spell out a plan for its search candidates as other companies did. “That alone was enough to drop them to the bottom for me,” Ratliff said.

Ratliff, whose staff came up with a comparison table for all five of the companies, also said she was concerned about Leadership’s “relationship with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” one of her many objections, she said.

The Foundation helped the provide the seed money for the Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC), charter schools that Rodriguez co-founded, suggesting he might have been concerned over an appearance of a conflict of interests.

Board member Richard Vladovic said the company has a lot of experience and recruited many of the school superintendents in Los Angeles County. Board President Steve Zimmer said he agreed that Leadership “was not clear of what they would actually do” but added, “If we choose them, we have to drill down to the procedures.”

Zimmer said the remaining three companies could still be invited to make presentations to the board members. The remaining three are Ray & Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; McPherson & Jacobsen of Omaha, Neb., and Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Associates from Carmel, a firm that helped with the search for two recent district superintendents, Roy Romer and David Brewer.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for tomorrow — at the usual place, LA Unified headquarters downtown, where Cortines will likely be wearing a suit.


2cents_thumb Randomly noted:

  • There is much speculation about the choice of date, time and location and the board’s desire for for some quiet conversation, far from the madding crowd.  Certainly the difficulty in finding the location using the public information posted on the agenda leaves some room for suspicion of a conscious lack-of-transparency. Or maybe it was unconscious. All seven board members found the place – but they may have had better maps. One reporter wrote: “Under state law, a gathering of the majority of board members must be open to the public. Board President Steve Zimmer apparently envisioned the discussion occurring all in private.” Envisioning isn’t exactly secret conspiring …but  Robbie Burns had it right about the best laid plan o’ mice and men: They gang aft agley. And gentle reader: This is the Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles we are talking about; they are neither as cunning nor as dumb as we would like to believe.
  • “Hazard, Young helped Tommy Chang, superintendent of the Intensive Support and Innovation Educational Service Center, become superintendent of Boston Public Schools, and Leadership Associates helped Chief Strategy Officer, Matt Hill, win the job of superintendent of the Burbank Unified School District.”  It is pretty well conceded around public education water coolers that both of those placements were the work of one John Deasy in his capacity as Superintendent-in-residence at the Broad Foundation. 
  • “Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Associates from Carmel… helped with the search for two recent district superintendents, Roy Romer and David Brewer.” Romer’s superintendency was outstanding; The right man at the right time. Brewer’s was politically controversial and over Mayor Tony’s dead body …though he was a unanimous choice by the board – the ultimate decider. Tony just made sure Brewer didn’t survive the controversy.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

AND SO IT BEGINS: @HowardBlume live tweets from the LAUSD superintendent selection retreat


Howard Blume@howardblume 6m6 minutes ago

LA Unified supt selection process, advertised as transparent, gets off to murky start with faulty address listed for special meeting.

Howard Blume@howardblume 5m5 minutes ago

2 members of the public and 2 reporters managed to find the meeting, although the issue caused this one to be late.


  • Howard Blume@howardblume 4m4 minutes ago

    School board convened shortly after 10 AM & after 2 public speakers went into closed session in a student dorm at this seaside spot.

    All board members are here. First to arrive was Richard Vladovic. Supt Cortines arrived at about 10:45 AM, in shorts.


    1. Howard Blume@howardblume 2m2 minutes ago

      This is the indication of the board meeting, about half a mile away from the listed address of the public meeting

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  • Howard Blume@howardblume 6m6 minutes ago

    Board of Ed is apparently meeting in private in this building on the right, normally a student dorm.

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  • Howard Blume@howardblume 7m7 minutes ago

    apologetic staffer Barbara Jones suggested this waiting area while board sequestered. She also offered granola bars

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  • Howard Blume@howardblume 10m10 minutes ago

    Here is where the public was asked to wait while board meets in private. No AC but there is Wi-Fi.

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    0 retweets 2 favorites

  • Howard Blume@howardblume 11m

  • Friday, August 28, 2015


    LA Times Education Reporter tweets:

    eb37f5dc0f345f2f9b817a347c5f71d3_400x400[1] Howard Blume@howardblume beginning at 4:35 PM - 28 Aug 2015

    Just in: Cal.Dept of Ed responds to criticism by deciding to restore data from old state tests to familiar part of web site.

    Earlier, the state had removed data from old test in prep for upcoming results from new tests. Officials had discouraged comparisons.

    Word is that much lower % of students will be "proficient" per new test, which differs in content & form from prior STAR exam.

    State officials had suggested/implied that state law gave them the authority or mandate to remove old results to avoid faulty comparisons.

    That position caused firestorm among critics, who called for transparency & continued access to data with instructional/research value.

    State officials pointed out that the old data was still accessible although harder to find online.

    As of Friday morning, the state was working on web site changes that would make the old data more accessible.

    By later Friday, state ed said the data would simply be restored where people were used to finding it, in interests of transparency.


    by Mike Szymanski | LA SCHOOL REPORT |

    superintendent searchPosted on August 28, 2015 9:57 am  ::  The LA Unified board is going to the end of the earth, or close to it, to accelerate the search for the district’s next superintendent.

    The seven board members are gathering at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Point Fermin Outdoor Education Center in San Pedro, about a quarter mile from the Pacific Ocean, for a retreat that board President Steve Zimmer had intended to hold earlier this month but couldn’t because of members’ travel plans.

    So it was finally scheduled on a day all could attend, even through it precedes by only a few days the September board meeting, planned for Tuesday in the usual place, the district’s downtown headquarters.

    The Sunday retreat differs from a regular board meeting in two ways:

      • One, it’s less formal, which means members might show up in shorts and t-shirts and certainly without ties.
      • And, two, only one item is on the open session agenda: a decision on which of five executive search firms will win a $250,000 contract to find the district’s next leader.

    “The Sunday meeting will give board members the opportunity to spend important time together to make sure we all understand each step in the process that lies ahead of us,” Zimmer told LA School Report. “It has been almost a decade since LAUSD conducted a national search for our superintendent. We all know that this is a pivotal moment for public education and the collaborative equity mission of this district.  And that the eyes of the nation are upon us.”

    In recent weeks, the board has requested proposals from the following firms:

    • Hamilton, Rabinowitz & Associates of Carmel, California
    • Hazard, Young, Attrea & Associates of Rosemont, Illinois
    • Leadership Associates of La Quinta, California
    • McPherson & Jacobson of Omaha, Nebraska
    • Ray and Associates, Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Each company has submitted a formal bid, and the members are expected to discuss them in a closed session before announcing the winner. That decision will kick off the formal start to replacing Ramon Cortines, who intends to end his third term as superintendent in December.

    Cortines, who turned 83 last month, will also be part of the search firm selection process.

    “I am grateful that Superintendent Cortines will be joining the Board and working with the Board on Sunday,” Zimmer said. “He is the most accomplished public education leader in the United States. And the effort he has made to bring the entire LAUSD family together this past year is one of the great acts of public service in our time. We will be leaning on and learning from Superintendent Cortines’ wisdom and experience throughout this process and throughout this school year.”

    The retreat format also gives the board’s two newest members, Scott Schmerelson and Ref Rodriguez, a chance to mingle with their colleagues without the more formal trappings of the Beaudry headquarters. Rodriguez, in particular, drew sharp criticism from some board members, including Zimmer, for the tone and substance of his election campaign, in which he ousted Bennett Kayser.

    The Tuesday meeting is far more routine, with the usual laundry list of agenda items, most of which are approved with little controversy or debate.

    This meeting, too, will include a closed session in which one of the more troubling issues to on the agenda is the class action teacher jail lawsuit evolving out of the district’s disciplinary action against teacher Rafe Esquith.

    Among issues scheduled for open discussion is the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA), which would become the district’s only all-girls school.

    There will also be four items involving charters, one seeking to deny a charter for Today’s Fresh Start Adams Hyde Park. The board is being asked to approve charter revisions for two Citizens of the World schools to add a site and to approve a five-year charter for Equitas Academy 4 in Pico-Union.

    These will be the first charter issues to come before Rodriguez, who served as a charter school executive before winning his board seat.

    The board will also hold public hearings to consider applications from three other charters seeking five-year terms — El Camino Real K-8 Charter School at Highlander, El Camino Real K-8 Charter School at Oso and Rise Kohyang High School in Koreatown.

    On the labor front, the board will consider approving Salary Reopener Agreements between the district and the Los Angeles School Police Association, the Teamsters Local 572 (which includes food service employees) and Office-Technical and Business Services employees.


    Video For This Meeting Will Not Be Available

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    08-30-15 Board Report Selection of Executive Search Firm.pdf
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    08-30-15 Search Firm Proposals 2015.pdf
    17.11 MB

    MOST VOTERS HAVEN’T HEARD OF LOCAL CONTROL FUNDING FORMULA …but favor Prop 30 extension (2 stories)

    By John Fensterwald | EdSource |

    Credit: LA School Report | Gov. Jerry Brown campaigns for passage of the Local Control Funding Formula during an appearance in Los Angeles.

    Aug 27, 2015 | Though far from a majority, an increasing number of Californians say that the state’s public schools have gotten better over the past few years, according to a poll released on Thursday.

    But it’s not because they are impressed with the sweeping changes in managing and financing K-12 schools. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they had never heard anything about the Local Control Funding Formula, the new funding and governance law that the Legislature passed two years ago.

    These are among the findings in the latest annual joint poll of 2,411 registered voters, including 688 parents of K-12 students, conducted this month on behalf of the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and Policy Analysis for California Education, or PACE. Participants were chosen to reflect the state’s demographics, and interviews were conducted in Spanish or English. (Go here for more details on the methodology.)

    The poll also found widespread support for renewing Proposition 30, the temporary quarter-cent increase in the sales tax and increases in income taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of Californians, which has brought in an average of $6 billion yearly for K-12 schools and community colleges. And it found that more Californians approved of Gov. Jerry Brown’s handling of education (45 percent) than disapproved (38 percent), a slightly higher margin than in 2012, the first year of the survey.

    Local Control Funding Formula

    The 65 percent of all respondents (56 percent of K-12 parents) who said they had never heard or read about the new funding law in the previous six months was significantly higher than a year ago, when 45 percent of the total said they hadn’t heard or read about it.

    David Plank, PACE’s executive director, speculated that the new law was more in the news last year, the first year of its rollout.

    The shift to local control – a key reform under the funding formula – assumes that the public will become engaged in the process of setting priorities over spending. But just 9 percent of K-12 parents and only 4 percent of respondents overall said they had been invited to or made aware of a meeting regarding the Local Control Funding Formula.

    “To have such low levels of awareness and participation after two years of LCFF implementation is alarming,” said Julie Marsh, USC associate professor and PACE co-director.

    Plank said, “The great promise of (the funding law) is it would change the conversation to innovate and experiment at the local level. We created a space to engage a much broader community, but unless there are new actors, then we will continue to have the same conversations over again.”

    Fewer respondents to the poll reported hearing anything about the new funding formula this year. compared with a year ago.

    USC Rossier School of Education/PACE

    Fewer respondents to the poll reported hearing anything about the new funding formula this year, compared with a year ago.

    Of voters familiar with the Local Control Funding Formula, 54 percent had a positive view of it, and 22 percent viewed it negatively. Among parents, the view was 54 percent positive and 14 percent negative, with the rest saying they weren’t sure or didn’t know. And when read a summary of the intent of the law, 80 percent of all respondents agreed that it was important to involve the community in making decisions.

    The survey did not specifically ask voters whether they were involved with the Local Control and Accountability Plans, or LCAPs, in which districts set spending priorities and academic and education goals. It’s possible that some of those surveyed were familiar with the new funding law under a different name, Plank acknowledged.

    Perceptions of schools

    According to the survey, 17 percent of voters said that schools have gotten better, which was 10 percentage points higher than in 2012. The number who said schools had gotten worse fell significantly, from 57 percent in 2012 to 39 percent this year. The rest said they remained the same or had no opinion (9 percent).

    Plank speculated that the latest numbers reflect a decline in bad news. In the years following the most recent recession, headlines were all about massive cuts in funding and staff layoffs. Now, finances have stabilized, he said, “and some people are beginning to sense that things also genuinely are getting better.”

    Asked to grade California schools:

    • 18 percent of voters gave schools an A or B, compared with 15 percent in 2012, when schools were still experiencing cuts;
    • 43 percent gave schools a C, compared with 36 percent in 2012;
    • 32 percent gave schools a D or F, compared with 42 percent in 2012;
    • 7 percent had no opinion, the same percentage as in 2012.

    Respondents gave their own schools higher grades, which is consistent with other surveys:

    • 34 percent gave an A or B, compared with 31 percent in 2012;
    • 33 percent gave a C, compared with 37 percent in 2012;
    • 21 percent gave a D or F, the same percentage as in 2012;
    • 12 had no opinion, compared with 11 percent in 2012.

    School funding

    Even though many schools have recovered from cuts following the recession, with an average 30 percent increase in spending over the past three years, few respondents said they’ve seen money coming to schools.

    • A third of the total (30 percent of K-12 parents) said schools have had at least a little more money in the classroom;
    • 26 percent of all respondents said it’s about the same;
    • 26 percent of all respondents (32 percent of K-12 voters) said there was less money;
    • 16 percent were unsure.

    A majority of all respondents (60 percent) and K-12 parents specifically (74 percent) said that schools remain underfunded, and the state should be paying more. By party affiliation, 73 percent of Democrats said there should be more money for schools, compared with 47 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independent voters.

    With the sales tax increase under Prop. 30 set to expire in 2016 and the income tax increase to end in 2018, 63 percent of all respondents and two-thirds of K-12 parents favored extending it in some form – a position opposed at this point by Gov. Brown.

    • 29 percent of all respondents and 28 percent of K-12 parents supported extending both taxes;
    • 26 percent of all respondents supported extending the income tax increase but not the sales tax;
    • 8 percent of all respondents and 12 percent of K-12 parents supported extending the sales tax but not the income tax;
    • 28 percent of all respondents and 22 percent of K-12 parents said both taxes should end;
    • 9 percent of all respondents and 12 percent of K-12 parents were unsure.

    Among Democrats, 78 percent favored some form of an extension, while only 42 percent of Republicans did; Independents fell in between, at 63 percent.

    Support for renewing Prop. 30 was stronger than it was in two previous polls by the Public Policy Institute of California. Its survey of likely voters in January 2015 and December 2014 found 52 percent favored an extension and 43 percent opposed.

    MFour Research and Tulchin Research conducted the poll. The margin of error was 2.9 percent.



    California voters back extending Proposition 30 to funnel more money to public schools

    PACE/USC Rossier Poll shows voters have little knowledge of Local Control Funding Formula reform meant to dramatically alter public school finance and accountability in the state

    Policy Analysis for California Education |

    Contact: Merrill Balassone at or (213) 740-6156

    08/27/2015 | LOS ANGELES – August 27, 2015 – As optimism about the state of California’s public schools continues to rise, a strong majority of California voters would back the reauthorization of Proposition 30 to channel additional money to public campuses, according to a new poll released Thursday.

    The PACE/USC Rossier School of Education Poll shows 63 percent of voters are in favor of extending at least one provision of Prop. 30 – the tax increase on high incomes or the sales tax hike or both – that is set to expire at the end of 2016. Only 28 percent of voters said both fiscal provisions should be allowed to expire, the poll showed.

    Approved by the voters in 2012, Prop. 30 temporarily increased the state sales tax by a quarter cent and the personal income tax rate on people earning more than $250,000 a year to fund public education and other government programs.

    Six in 10 voters said California should be spending more on schools, as opposed to 26 percent who said the state’s public schools have enough money, the poll showed.

    “Since the inception of this poll in 2012, we have identified valuable trends that not only reflect the opinions of the state’s voters but also influence policymakers in Sacramento,” said USC Rossier School Dean Karen Symms Gallagher. “The latest results indicate a growing confidence in our public school system as voters are clearly willing to provide greater financial support to education."

    Voters were comparatively less enthusiastic about proposed changes to Proposition 13, which sets limits on property taxes. Changing the rules on the taxation of business and commercial property would raise an estimated $6 billion to $10 billion per year, of which 40 percent would go to public schools. A slight majority of voters – 51 percent – said they would support changes to Prop. 13, as compared to 39 percent who would oppose it.

    “Although voters want more invested in education, we don’t see an underlying appetite for more extreme measures, such as making changes to Prop. 13,” said Jeff Harrelson, chief operating officer of Republican polling firm MFour Mobile Research, part of the bipartisan team with Democratic polling firm Tulchin Research that conducted the PACE/USC Rossier Poll. “Policy makers should be prepared to engage in an extended voter education effort on this issue."

    Said Ben Tulchin, president of Democratic polling firm Tulchin Research: “Voters believe California’s public schools have made some progress over the last few years. As a result, a large majority of California voters wants to extend Proposition 30, particularly its tax on the wealthy, in order to continue this progress.”

    California voters have become less pessimistic about the state of their public schools. Between 2012, when the question was first asked, and 2015, the percentage of voters who say the state’s public schools have gotten better more than doubled, from 7 percent to 17 percent. During that same time period, the percentage of voters who said public schools were getting worse declined, from 57 percent to 39 percent. Thirty-six percent of voters said public schools had stayed the same.

    When asked about their neighborhood public schools, 17 percent of California voters said they had gotten better, up from 11 percent in 2012. Thirty-four percent of voters said their local public schools had gotten worse, down from 45 percent in 2012. Thirty-eight percent of voters said local public schools had stayed the same.

    “Voters are clearly not satisfied with the state of California’s public education system, but they are beginning to see their schools moving in the right direction,” said David Plank, executive director of PACE. "They still see a lot of room for improvement, but this is a very encouraging trend.”

    Lack of awareness of Local Control Funding Formula “alarming”

    Sixty-five percent of California voters said they have never heard or read about the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013 reform under which billions of dollars have been funneled to school districts to directly help English learners, foster children and students from low-income families, and an additional 21 percent said they had not heard or read much about it, the poll showed. Only 14 percent of voters said they had heard or read a little or a great deal about the LCFF.

    When given basic information about the new funding formula, 57 percent said they approved of the policy, while 22 percent said they opposed it.

    The new LCFF policy requires school districts to work with their local communities to develop accountability plans and decide on the allocation of funds, but just 4 percent of voters said they had been invited to or made aware of a meeting regarding LCFF. Eighty-seven percent of California voters said they were not invited or made aware of meetings related to deciding how schools should spend funds, the poll showed.

    Among parents, 76 percent said they had not been invited to or made aware of a planning meeting, while 9 percent said they had.

    “To have such low levels of awareness and participation after two years of LCFF implementation is alarming,” said Julie Marsh, USC associate professor and PACE co-director. “California’s new accountability system under LCFF depends on broad public engagement and an expectation that the usual suspects are not driving decisions. The overwhelming majority of voters endorse public participation, but we’ll have to do a lot more to bring them into the process.”

    Those California voters who had heard "a good deal or a little" about LCFF were more likely than those who were unaware of the new funding policy to be engaged already with their schools in other ways. Voters who were aware of LCFF were nearly twice as likely to vote in school board elections (38%) as those who were unaware (20%), and more than four times as likely to be members of a PTA (29% versus 7%).

    Nearly 8 in 10 voters (79%) said they thought it was important for parents and community members to be involved in the LCFF process, as opposed to 10 percent who thought it was unimportant, according to the poll.

    While LCFF intends to broaden the measures by which school are held accountable to include more than performance on state tests, voters appear to still greatly value student achievement measures above all others. When asked about the eight state priorities for which schools are accountable under the new LCFF policy, voters were most likely to rank student achievement as the most important (29%); followed by provision of basic services as measured by, for example, the condition of school facilities (16%); and student engagement using measures such as school attendance (14%). School climate, implementation of Common Core State Standards and course access were the least likely to be ranked by voters as most important.

    Approval ratings on education rise for Brown, but CA schools earn middling grades

    A plurality of voters said they approved of the job Gov. Brown is doing on education, with 45 percent who approve as compared to 38 percent who disapprove - the highest approval rating since the PACE/USC Rossier Poll first asked this question in 2013.

    Forty-six percent of voters said they approve of the job President Obama was doing on U.S. education issues, as compared to 41 percent who disapprove.

    The PACE/USC Rossier Poll also showed that Californians continue to give the state’s public schools average grades, although fewer voters believe schools are failing.

    The largest percentage of Californians (43%) gave their state’s schools a grade of “C.” And 32 percent of voters graded them a “D” or “F,” down from 42 percent in 2012.

    Twenty-one percent of voters gave their local public schools a “D” or “F” rating, down from 32 percent in 2012.

    When asked to rank the state’s public schools on specific measures of performance, on a scale of 0 (worst) to 10 (best), Californians gave the best mean score – 5.24 – to “teaching the basics of reading, writing and math.” The next highest marks came for “preparing students for a four-year university” (4.9) and “providing parents with a choice of public schools to send their child” (4.74). The lowest was “not spending too much on bureaucracy” (3.98).

    The PACE/USC Rossier School of Education Poll was conducted August 3-22, 2015 by polling firms MFour Mobile Research and Tulchin Research and surveyed 2,411 registered California voters. The poll was conducted online and allowed respondents to complete the survey on a desktop or laptop computer, tablet or smartphone. The poll was conducted in English and Spanish. The margin of error for the overall sample was +/- 2.9 percentage points.

    The poll is the fifth in a series from Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) and the USC Rossier School of Education.

    To view the results of the PACE/USC Rossier Poll, go to

    About the USC Rossier School of Education
    The mission of the USC Rossier School of Education
    (ross-EAR) is to improve learning in urban education locally, nationally and globally. USC Rossier leads the way in innovative, collaborative solutions to improve education outcomes. Their work is field-based, in the classroom, and online, and reflects a diversity of perspectives and experiences. USC Rossier prides itself on innovation in all its programs, preparing teachers, administrators, and educational leaders who are change agents. The school supports the most forward-thinking scholars and researchers, whose work is having direct impact on student success in K-12 schools and higher education. USC Rossier is a leader in using cutting-edge technology to scale up its quality programs for maximum impact.

    About Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE)
    Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) is an independent, non-partisan research center based at Stanford University, the University of California – Berkeley and the University of Southern California. PACE seeks to define and sustain a long-term strategy for comprehensive policy reform and continuous improvement in performance at all levels of California’s education system, from early childhood to post-secondary education and training. PACE bridges the gap between research and policy, working with scholars from California’s leading universities and with state and local policymakers to increase the impact of academic research on educational policy in California.

     Crosstab        Topline        Methodology       Memo

    LCAP/LCAP: POOR KIDS’ SCHOOL AID DIVERTED? + Making the Local Control Funding Formula Work ...and 3 reasons why current plans don’t!

    • LCFF-logo-179x179[1] Schools got extra money for ‘high-need’ students, but ACLU study suggested funds going elsewhere.  Schools chief Torlakson says they can go to salaries

    commentary By Dan Walters, The Sacramento Bee |

    28 Aug 2015  ::  California school districts were granted extraordinary flexibility in implementing a historic overhaul of public education finance to provide more help to “high-needs” poor and English-learner students.

    Gov. Jerry Brown cited “subsidiarity” as his principle, defining it as trusting local school officials to use extra money from the Local Control Funding Formula wisely within broad state guidelines.

    The flexibility Brown and the state Board of Education granted disturbed an informal coalition of civil rights and education reform groups. They feared that the extra allocations of funds for nearly 60 percent of California’s 6 million-plus students would be dissipated into teacher salaries and other general uses, rather than concentrated on the targeted kids.

    Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union surveyed the “local control accountability plans” of 40 large districts and found them wanting.

    Just one of the LCAPs the ACLU studied addressed the eight required “metrics.” Moreover, most districts couldn’t account for extra money they had been allocated and didn’t explain why they were using LCFF funds for other purposes.

    Last spring, the ACLU and Public Advocates, another civil rights organization, sent letters to every school district, county school superintendent and many other school officials outlining the findings.

    The ACLU report, coupled with other studies of the LCFF’s implementation, fed suspicions that the extra money was being diverted to other purposes.

    Those suspicions gained even more currency a few weeks ago when state schools chief Tom Torlakson, countermanding his own department, told districts that they could use LCFF money for teacher salary increases – even suggesting the rationales they could use to justify it.

    The ACLU has taken a new look at the most recent batch of LCAPs and once again found them lacking.

    “Unfortunately, our preliminary review of a small sample of just-adopted LCAPs reveals that districts are still struggling with these foundational issues,” David Sapp, the ACLU’s director of educational advocacy, wrote this month.  (article follows)

    The ACLU’s report suggests that districts are ignoring the LCFF law and diverting billions of extra dollars meant to help poor kids who desperately need a boost.

    Brown told us the districts could be trusted to do the right thing by those kids but they are also under enormous political pressure, particularly from the California Teachers Association and other unions, to make up for years of austerity.

    Brown should intervene, demand that the districts comply with the law he championed and if they fail, tighten up on the “flexibility” they were granted.

    Torlakson obviously won’t do anything. He, by his own words, is complicit in the diversion.

    The ACLU and Public Advocates are already suing Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, for such diversions and are clearly ready to use the courts to enforce Brown’s law if he won’t do it.


    Making the Local Control Funding Formula Work ...and three reasons why current LCAPs don’t!

    1. Districts did not address each statutory metric.

    2. Most districts failed to account for a majority of their LCFF funds.

    3. The majority of districts did not identify and explain the rationale for non-targeted uses of the additional funds generated by high-need students.

    By: David Sapp, Director of Education Advocacy for the ACLU of California |

    students photo via Shutterstock

    August 16, 2015  ::  While students, parents, faculty and school staff gear up for the excitement of a new school year, a critically important process is unfolding largely out of public view.

    California schools are nearing the conclusion of the second annual cycle of the district planning and budgeting process ushered in by Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the historic reform of the state’s K-12 education finance and governance system.

    And what we are seeing so far raises serious concerns.

    Under LCFF, school districts receive additional funding based on how many high-need students—English learners, foster youth, and low-income students—they enroll. They also now have significantly more discretion over how to use their state funding.

    In exchange for the increased flexibility, districts must engage local stakeholders in developing an annual Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). That plan shows how the district will use its funding, including the additional money for high-need students, to improve student outcomes based on specified metrics across eight state priority areas. Districts had to adopt their LCAPs by July 1, and county offices of education must review and approve those plans by October 8.

    LCFF has tremendous potential to improve student outcomes and close opportunity gaps for high-need student groups. By linking goals for student outcomes with actions and expenditures across multiple indicators, the LCAP process is intended to make analysis of student need the touchstone for all decisions about services and programs, while helping districts engage the community when making hard choices about how to prioritize limited resources.

    When districts adopted their first-ever LCAPs in July 2014, the ACLU of California reviewed those plans from a random sample of 40 districts around the state to identify trends and to inform our ongoing advocacy around LCFF implementation. Among our findings, three significant issues stood out as significant barriers to whether LCFF will ultimately be successful:

    1. Districts did not address each statutory metric.

    School districts have much greater flexibility over how to use their resources, but they are expected to track their progress within the eight state priority areas, using the specified metrics. Ten of the 40 districts, however, failed to address at least half of the required metrics, and only one district’s LCAP addressed each relevant statutory metric. And, as reflected in this chart, certain metrics were particularly likely to be omitted.

    When districts do not address all of the statutory metrics, districts, stakeholders, and state policymakers cannot assess whether the local choices about the educational program reflected in the LCAP are, in fact, improving outcomes across the state priorities and make adjustments necessary to support a culture of continuous improvement.

    2. Most districts failed to account for a majority of their LCFF funds.

    The LCAP is supposed to function as the central planning and accountability tool under LCFF. But excluding two districts that reported expenditures exceeding their total LCFF funds, the districts in our sample accounted for only $2.5 billion of the $6.3 billion in total LCFF funds they received in 2014-15, meaning that $3.8 billion in LCFF funding was not accounted for. In fact, 29 of the districts failed to account for 90% or more of their LCFF funds.

    Districts cannot reliably assess why they are, or are not, making progress toward their goals across the eight state priority areas if a majority of their education program is not even reflected in the LCAP. Additionally, failing to account for the bulk of LCFF funds in the LCAP makes meaningful stakeholder engagement impossible because the public cannot assess how the few actions identified fit within the district’s broader program.

    3. The majority of districts did not identify and explain the rationale for non-targeted uses of the additional funds generated by high-need students.

    Districts may use the additional funding they receive for high-need pupils for schoolwide and districtwide, i.e., non-targeted, programs, as long as they identify each such use in the LCAP and explain how it advances goals set for the high-need students. Our review found, however, that 10 districts failed to identify schoolwide and districtwide uses of these funds, and 20 districts identified only one or two examples, rather than identifying all such uses. And only 10 districts made a meaningful attempt to explain why the schoolwide or districtwide uses that they did identify advanced outcomes for the high-need students who generate the funds.

    This requirement is essential to ensure that the funds the Legislature intended to meet the greater needs of high-need student are not treated as indistinguishable from the base funding districts receive. Providing the required explanation ensures that the decisions are anchored in the particular needs of the students who generate the funds, and that stakeholders have appropriate insight into the rationale so that they can participate meaningfully in the local conversation about priorities.

    We shared our findings with key stakeholders throughout the spring. We also flagged these issues in a letterthat the ACLU of California and Public Advocates sent to every district and county superintendent in the state in June.

    We hoped and expected to see improvement on these areas in the second round of LCAPs, which districts had to approve by July 1. Unfortunately, our preliminary review of a small sample of just-adopted LCAPs reveals that districts are still struggling with these foundational issues.

    Implementing the dramatic changes enacted by LCFF is a significant undertaking. It has been and will continue to be a learning process. There have also been many positives over the last few years and some promising practices in LCAP development that I will highlight separately later this month.

    But, taken together, these three issues cut to the heart of whether LCFF will succeed. If districts fail to address and monitor progress on numerous statutory metrics, include only a sliver of their LCFF funds, and fail to transparently explain how they are using the additional funds generated by high-need students to serve those students, the LCAP simply cannot be useful as a tool for continuous improvement or to facilitate meaningful local engagement or accountability.

    We must all work together to make LCFF work, and getting these foundational components of the LCAP right is essential. County offices have until September 15 to recommend changes to LCAPs, and we believe these three issues should be front-and-center to the ongoing review process.

    Thursday, August 27, 2015


    by Caitlin Emma in Politico Morning Ed | via email

    27 August 2015  ::  HUNGER STRIKE STRETCHES ON: A hunger strike to save a shuttered Chicago high school is now in its 11th day. The strike, backed by teachers unions and the traditional public school advocacy group, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, is also targeting Mayor Rahm Emanuel's education policies. On Wednesday, one of the strikers collapsed after testifying before the Chicago Board of Education, the Chicago Tribune reports. The protesters would like to see the closed school, Dyett High, transformed into a science-focused school. Irene Robinson, a grandmother who had nine children attend Dyett, was hospitalized Monday after giving up solid foods. But she was back to protesting on Wednesday. 'I will stand here and I will fight ... until the last breath I have,' she said. More:


    smf: For fans of long form journalism, I give you:

    Annals of Education August 31, 2015 Issue of The New Yorker

    Class Notes

    THE LIFE & DEATH OF JAMAICA HIGH SCHOOL: What’s really at stake when a school closes?

    By Jelani Cobb | The New Yorker |


    By Alexei Koseff, Sacramento Bee |

    Senate Bill 725 allows students who’ve fulfilled all other graduation requirements to receive diploma

    Thousands of high school seniors were left in limbo after July test canceled

    Lukas Novak tosses his hat into the air in celebration at Folsom High School’s 2014 graduation ceremony.

    Lukas Novak tosses his hat into the air in celebration at Folsom High School’s 2014 graduation ceremony. Paul Kitagaki Jr. The Sacramento Bee file

    27 August 2015  ::  Thousands of students left in limbo by the cancellation of California’s required high school exit exam will be able to graduate after all.

    On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 725, suspending the test for the class of 2015 and allowing students who’ve fulfilled all other graduation requirements to receive their diplomas. About 5,000 high school seniors were blocked from graduating this year when the California Department of Education canceled a final administration of the exit exam in July because its contract with the provider had expired.

    Concerned that students would be prevented from enrolling in college or the military, lawmakers introduced the quick-fix legislation, which will take effect immediately. The University of California and the California State University later announced that they would not deny entry to admits affected by the exam cancellation.

    Brown signed SB 725 without comment, but on Monday, his deputy press secretary, Deborah Hoffman, said he would approve the bill: “Students who’ve been accepted into college should not be prevented from starting class this fall because of a test cancellation they could not control.”

    Read more here:

    Politco’s AM Education - THE BEST JOBS FOR YOUNG ADULTS: Physician's assistant, actuary, statistician, biomedical engineer …or elevator repairman!

    By Caitlin Emma, via e-mail

    27 August 2015  ::  High school seniors and college students might want to consider a career as a physician's assistant, an actuary, a statistician or a biomedical engineer, according to a new report from Young Invincibles.

    Those jobs are considered the best ones for young adults based on their salaries, projected future growth and access to the positions. About half of the top 25 jobs are in the STEM fields and more than half of the top 25 employ more men than women. Most of the top jobs require an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree, but one notable outlier on the list is elevator installer and repairer. It's a job that requires no postsecondary degree, but is highly in demand, offers significant growth and a competitive salary. While no degree is necessary, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that job candidates often need an apprenticeship under their belt to be considered, "which highlights the importance and potential of the Registered Apprenticeship program as an option for young adults seeking a productive career without attending college," the report says.


    Wednesday, August 26, 2015


    Standardized Testing

    Education Matters: How Schools Measure Learning

    By Joy Resmovits | LA Times |


    Teacher Svetlana Djananova supervises students taking an ACT college admission exam at HS2 Academy in Arcadia in February. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)


    26 Aug 2015  ::  A performance gap on the ACT college entrance exam persisted this year between California's Latino and white high school students, according to new test results.

    Educators and experts find this trend particularly concerning. They had hoped for better results from the relatively small segment of test takers who are largely a self-selected group of students who are motivated to get to college.

    "I find it really disturbing," said Mark Schneider, a vice president at American Institutes for Research who previously directed the federal government's education research arm.

    Across the country, the class of 2015 stagnated, with 40% of the 1.9 million test takers showing what the organization calls "strong readiness," according to results released Wednesday.

    In California, 30% of the class of 2015 took the test.

    California students overall outperformed their peers nationally. While 28% of students across the country met all four ACT targets, intended to represent college success, 37% of California's test takers did so.

    "California had some higher-performing students than the country did," said Jon Erickson, ACT's president of education. "That's a good sign."

    California's test takers had an average overall score of 22.5, compared to 21 nationally. A maximum score is 36.

    The gap between Latino and white students has remained since at least 2011.

    In 2011, 25% of Latino students met three or more ACT targets, compared to 69% of white students. In 2015, 28% of Latino students met three or more, compared to 70% of whites — representing a continuous gap of more than 40 percentage points.

    The ethnic breakdown of test takers is not precisely the same as the state's: nearly 28% of test takers were white, and about 38% were Latino. According to census data, California's population between the ages of 18 and 24 is 31% white and 47% Latino.

    Readiness for college

    In all four subject areas, English, reading, math and science, the difference between the percentage of white and Latino students meeting ACT benchmarks ranged from 37 to 39 percentage points.

    In California, about twice as many students take the SAT college entrance exam as the ACT, which is typically more popular in the Midwest. Many universities require students to take either the ACT or the SAT as part of the admissions process.

    According to the ACT, 23% of test takers came from families that made $36,000 a year or less.

    Poverty can have a profound effect on education — but income inequality by itself does not explain educational disparities, according to Ryan Smith, the executive director of Education Trust-West.

    "Race does play a factor in student achievement. It's not just an issue of class," Smith said. "It's a conversation that is lacking, particularly among education leaders."

    "My national concern is that those gaps aren't closing rapidly," Erickson said. "I'd say the same thing for California. I was hoping to see those gaps narrow, and it's pretty much been stable."

    With its limited scale, the ACT results are piecemeal. But they still provide a piece of the puzzle in evaluating California's schools during a drought of state testing data. For two years, the state has not released standardized test results as California eases into teaching the Common Core standards, a set of learning goals in math and English language arts that specifies what a student should know by each grade.

    In California, Common Core test results will be released in September, officials say, but even those numbers will not show progress — rather, as the first set of scores, they will set a baseline for future performance.

    The ACT defines college readiness as the minimum score a student must achieve to have a 75% chance of earning a C or higher, or a 50% chance of earning a B or higher in a typical first-year college course.

    Although test scores are a source of anxiety for parents and the public, what is often lost is that they measure probability, said Anthony Carnevale, a Georgetown University professor who researches workforce skills and a former vice president of the Educational Testing Service.

    "A test score is a probability statement," he said. "The whole apparatus is an artifice designed to get kids from high school to Harvard."


    • 2cents_thumb “The ACT defines college readiness as the minimum score a student must achieve to have a 75% chance of earning a C or higher, or a 50% chance of earning a B or higher in a typical first-year college course.”  Which one is it? Cs and Bs are perfectly good passing scores in college.
    • Note that The Times and Their Education Matters sponsors head this as:  Standardized Testing:  How Schools Measure Learning
    • Note that the actual quoted  testing expert/educator says: "A test score is a probability statement… the whole apparatus is an artifice…."  What part of “artifice” is so hard to understand?



    noun: artifice; plural noun: artifices

    1. clever or cunning devices or expedients, especially as used to trick or deceive others.

    MUSIC CENTER ON TOUR: Arts performance grant opportunity for PTA Schools in L.A. County

    California State PTA Logo

    Your school could be eligible for a grant towards a performing arts assembly from The Music Center!

    August 26, 2015  ::   Music Center on Tour brings the immediacy of live performance to schools across Los Angeles County. These performances reflect and celebrate the finest artistic contributions of the world’s cultures – from the colorful regional dances of Mexico to the pulsating rhythms of Brazil; from the exquisite music of the Middle East to the golden harmonies of 20th Century America. Assemblies include written teacher preparation materials that contain background information on the artist and the specific performance as well as activities for the classroom and connections to multiple curricular areas.

    You can learn more about these performance at:

    Funding of up to $500 is available for Los Angeles County schools
    The two criteria to be eligible are:

    • Your school must have at least 40 percent Free/Reduced Lunch Price students.
    • Your school has not had a Music Center on Tour performance within the last five years. Schools that haven’t ever had a performance from The Music Center are also eligible.

    Interested PTA leaders are encouraged contact The Music Center to determine eligibility. The funding will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis so a prompt reply is crucial. Contact Monk Turner at (213) 972-4310 or

    A $50 administrative fee will be assessed for performances under the $500 amount. This opportunity is only available to public schools in the First, Tenth, Thirty-First, Thirty-Third and Thirty-Fourth PTA districts. The funds must be used in the 2015-16 school year. Funding is made possible by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

    This message is being sent to all PTA unit, council and district leaders in First, Tenth, Thirty-First, Thirty-Third and Thirty-Fourth District PTA.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015

    I’m a teacher, and I’m tired of being scapegoated: WHY THE GOP’s ATTACKS ON EDUCATORS FLUNK THE EVIDENCE TEST

    John Kasich's recent "joke" is only the latest indignity. I've had enough .

    Jess Burnquist | Salon |




    noun: scapegoat; plural noun: scapegoats

    1. (in the Bible) a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it (Lev. 16).

      • a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency.

        synonyms: whipping boy; More

        informal fall guy, patsy  "find yourself another scapegoat"


    verb: scapegoat; 3rd person present: scapegoats; past tense: scapegoated; past participle: scapegoated; gerund or present participle: scapegoating

    1. make a scapegoat of.

    I'm a teacher, and I'm tired of being scapegoated: Why the GOP's attacks on educators flunk the evidence test

    (Credit: AP/Reuters/Brian Snyder/Gretchen Ertl/Yuri Gripas)

    Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 07:20 AM PST  ::  When I attended public elementary school, I was taught that America does not have a king. Rather, our country’s founders staged The American Revolution to avoid answering to a monarch. I recently learned of Governor Kasich’s statement, “If I were King of America, I would abolish all teachers lounges where they sit together and worry about how woe is us.” As a public high school teacher, I am compelled to respond to this and other troubling remarks Governor Kasich and a couple of his fellow Republican presidential candidates made during last week’s “education summit” in New Hampshire.

    Governor Kasich arrived at his “If I were King” comment after stating, “I think a lot of our teachers feel that we don’t understand the challenges they have in the classroom because they are getting kids who have [been] basically not been loved—that when we evaluate them they think, oh my God, we’re out to take their jobs. But we’re not out to take their jobs.”

    By his use of the pronoun “we,” I can only assume that Governor Kasich means like minded people, or simply put, his fellow Republican candidates. What a relief to learn that they are not out to take my job. Certainly, they wouldn’t be able to afford to campaign in their desired fashion on my salary. Nor would they have the time. It may be surprising for Governor Kasich to learn that my time as well my colleagues’ time, are not being spent worrying about Kasich’s aforementioned evaluation system. A system on which my Republican-led state legislature has yet to agree. Instead, we are busy planning lessons and assessing student progress.

    My colleagues and I face immediate challenges such as navigating seating arrangements for classes of up to 40 students as a result of a hiring freeze due to district funding cuts. We are occupied with attending 3 after school events in addition to our club sponsorships, coaching positions, and daily schedules per semester in order to qualify for merit pay, which we desperately need in order to survive. And, we are frequently attending professional development sessions in part because we are required to, but also because we desire to be pedagogically astute. The majority of us arrive to school every day with the desire to accomplish our main objective. That objective is to teach our students in measurable and meaningful ways. 

    It may also surprise Governor Kasich to learn that my students, all 130 of them— a light load compared to many of my colleagues—appear to be loved and supported. Even if some students are experiencing difficulties in their immediate families, they appear to be receiving care from guardians and friends, and to a great extent, yes, their teachers. If Governor Kasich is going to argue that our nation’s children are unloved, then why isn’t he also offering solutions to this perceived problem? I wonder if it is because what he meant when he stated that teachers are ‘getting kids who have [been ] basically not been loved’ has more to do with a lack of financial security than it does with emotional security. To deal with such an assertion requires that more attention be given to our nation’s struggling middle class and poor.

    In any case, when we teachers are afforded the luxury of eating together in our teacher’s lounge, we do just that. We eat. We share recipes, discuss lesson plans, offer support and discipline approaches to new teachers and try to squeeze in time to use the bathroom before the bell. We are too professional to “sit together and worry about woe is us.”

    Kasich did clarify that he believes teachers are called to make kids learn and “sometimes that means shaking it up a little bit.” He stated to a woman in attendance, “See that cross you are wearing around you neck. The lord expects that. He expects us to get out of our comfort zone on the behalf of children. Because you see education is about unlocking this brain to discover and improve the world.”

    I assert that implementing change requires less god-speak and more of the almighty dollar. Educational funding provides a gamut of resources, from textbooks and technology to new desks and athletic equipment. Override elections have become the new Hail Mary in financing public education, and that is unacceptable. Shaking things up in today’s educational landscape means adequately funding our nation’s schools, which were established to provide compulsory learning to children of every religion, race and class. Diverting funding to trending charter programs with little to no measurable advantage over public schools often serves to widen the gap impeding access to safe and effective education.

    Moreover, motivating students to improve the world means leading by example. Improving the world means helping our most vulnerable populations as well as giving attention to our increasingly endangered environment. America’s youth should be at the forefront of enacting change in these areas. These topics were noticeably absent from Kasich’s remarks as well as those by former Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin’s Governor, Scott Walker, who were more focused on addressing the Common Core.

    Bush, on record as having been a proponent for the Common Core, responded to moderator Campbell Brown’s question pertaining to the national standards, “If people don’t like Common Core, fine. Just make sure your standards are … much higher than the ones you had before. We can’t keep dumbing down standards.” In response to Brown’s further questioning about how one could measure standards if they are not common, Bush indicated that he believed alternatives would be apparent.

    One standard that English teachers such as myself are required to teach is the citing of evidence when arguing a point. If Jeb Bush submitted a paper with the comment, alternatives will be apparent, I would hand it back and instruct him to revise it immediately making sure to provide citable evidence in his next draft. I have some feedback for Governor Walker too. He indicated that he desires high standards but that he prefers such standards be established “by people at the local level.” I am certain that he didn’t mean teachers, and that is just mind boggling. Who better to ask? Why are teachers so often the last to be consulted about educational standards? Is it because there are fewer and fewer of us? Valuing teachers means listening to them. Not demonizing them or disregarding their expertise—two practices that are leading to nationwide teacher shortages.

    Another standard that I’m required to teach involves self assessment. Apparently, Governor Kasich is lacking in this skill. This became clear when he was asked by Campbell Brown what he would like to accomplish that he hasn’t been able to yet in his Governorship. Kasich responded, “I’d have to sit down and ask my staff where we are frustrated.” When I ask my sophomore or senior students where they believe they need improvement, they don’t respond, “I have to ask my friends.” It doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect a presidential candidate to exhibit the ability to articulate his or her needed areas of improvement. One should be able to do so as well as a high school student can.

    It is my sincere hope that whomever is elected as President in 2016, he or she will meet high expectations in the area of educational legislation. I hope that these expectations will be reached by addressing the need for the adequate funding of our schools as well as by reflecting the wealth of knowledge our nation’s teachers can offer. We are not the enemy. The majority of us have chosen our profession out a deep desire to enable our youth to master skills well enough that they can begin to improve the world. We spend upwards of 40 hours per week with our nation’s children and have the expertise necessary to help create sensible legislation.

    In spite of what some politicians would have their constituents believe, most teachers are extremely solution oriented. Our lounges aren’t filled with the sounds of woe. Typically, our lounges sit empty while we tend to the important work of education. We do this work while too many who are not educators continue to make incorrect assumptions and stereotype our intentions in grandiose and damaging speeches or legislation. That is no way to bring progress to our nation—let alone any kingdom.

    • Jess Burnquist received her MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. She currently teaches high school in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Her work can be found at

    Monday, August 24, 2015


    Politico AM Education By Caitlin Emma | Mon, Aug 24, 2015 7:03 am |

    DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDE OVER HOT-BUTTON ISSUES: African Americans, Hispanics and whites are split on some of the most contentious issues in education, including the Common Core and standardized testing, the 47th annual PDK/Gallup poll shows. For the first time, the results feature demographic data. Overall, a majority of those surveyed oppose the Common Core, but African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to support the standards. Standardized testing lacks support across the board, but just 28 percent of African Americans say they should be allowed to opt their children out of tests. That's compared to 35 percent of Hispanics and 44 percent of whites. The results:

    - Sixty-five percent of public school parents overall said they wouldn't excuse their own child from exams. Broken down by demographic, three-quarters of African Americans parents said they wouldn't excuse their own child, compared to 65 percent of Hispanic parents and 54 percent of white parents. "Communities of color tend to see the standardized tests as more valuable," said PDK International CEO Joshua Starr. "There are a lot of factors involved with that." He said urban and under resourced schools might see the tests as more important, but he said he's hesitant to draw conclusions from the demographic differences. He said the data is something PDK hopes to further explore.

    - When asked about ideas for improving schools, people surveyed ranked testing as least important. But a third of African Americans and Hispanics ranked testing as very important, and African Americans were more likely than whites to say that student test scores were very important when measuring a school's effectiveness. Sixty-one percent of parents overall opposed the use of test scores in teacher evaluations.

    - American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the poll shows that "the public is saying end the fixation on and misuse of testing. ... What's infuriating is that parents and teachers have repeatedly raised the red flag over high-stakes testing, but policymakers routinely dismissed them."

    - Paige Kowalski of the Data Quality Campaign, said "it's clear we need to have a conversation about how the information from tests is used. The backlash against student testing came about because teachers and families have traditionally gotten little value from it. Evidence suggests this is changing, but tests need to give parents more than a number that lacks context or meaning."

    - On a related note, Cheryl Oldham, VP of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, talks about the need for strong assessments and accountability while reviewing the amount of testing that happens in schools in a new podcast:

    - Other results from the survey: Americans continue to believe that their local schools are better than schools across the country. A majority of Americans endorse school choice and are on board with charter schools, but only about a third support the idea of vouchers. And students should also receive certain vaccinations before attending public school, according to a vast majority of those surveyed.

    Sunday, August 23, 2015


    • Teacher shortage has blindsided the state just as Common Core launches
    • Recession layoffs, boomer retirements and rebounding economy have hit classrooms hard
    • Incentives to teach, once plentiful in California, have all but disappeared from state budget

    History teacher Sue Gularte talks with new students, from left, Daniella Guerra, Hnub Lee and Katie Yang, on the first day of classes at Fresno’s new Phillip J. Patiño School of Entrepreneurship. State education officials estimate districts will have to fill nearly 21,500 open teaching slots this school year.

    History teacher Sue Gularte talks with new students, from left, Daniella Guerra, Hnub Lee and Katie Yang, on the first day of classes at Fresno’s new Phillip J. Patiño School of Entrepreneurship. State education officials estimate districts will have to fill nearly 21,500 open teaching slots this school year. JOHN WALKER

    By The Fresno Bee Editorial Board |

    22 August 2015  ::  We should have seen it coming. The numbers warned us. But like a bright and promising kid who forgot the summer reading assignment, California is scrambling as the school year opens, scurrying in this case to get qualified teachers to helm its classrooms.

    Thanks to a perfect storm of demographics, economics and regrettable cutbacks, baby boom era educators are retiring in waves just as school districts are trying urgently to backfill teaching jobs they slashed during the recession.

    Meanwhile, the college students who might otherwise replace them are being greeted by a rebounding economy and a tech sector that can make them a far better offer than a school teacher’s paycheck. All this as higher Common Core standards are being rolled out, leaving less margin for teacher error than ever before.

    According to the Labor Department, 82,000 school jobs disappeared in California between 2008 and 2012 as the recession hit bottom. In that same time frame, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, enrollment in teacher preparation programs plummeted from more than 42,000 in the 2008-09 school year to fewer than 20,000 by 2012-13.

    Even before the recession, teaching was ebbing as a career choice. The number of newly issued teaching credentials has fallen every year for a decade. Last year, the state issued fewer than 15,000. State education officials estimate districts will have to fill nearly 21,500 open teaching slots this school year.

    One answer to the shortage is to make teaching more attractive, something public schools have struggled with for a generation. But paying teachers like engineers isn’t the only solution.

    So the pipeline is broken. And last week, with school set to start on Monday in Oakland, for instance, the Oakland Unified School District was still down 30 teachers. Administrators or substitutes are expected to end up covering about a dozen classrooms.

    The Fresno Unified School District started school with substitutes filling in for more than 40 open positions. And, a national education jobs web site, had more than 550 teaching job openings listed in California public schools.

    So what’s to be done?

    One answer is to make teaching more attractive, something public schools have struggled with for a generation. But paying teachers like engineers isn’t the only solution.

    Once, for example, California offered all sorts of financial aid for education majors, plus teacher mentoring programs to make sure they stayed with the profession. But over the years, popular recruitment programs such as the Governor’s Teacher Fellowship and Cal Grant T programs have gone by the wayside.

    In 2012, the one remaining state incentive for college students to go into teaching, a program that forgave student loans for new teachers who agreed to a stint in an area of high need, was zeroed out of the state’s recession-wracked budget.

    Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, has been trying to restore it. Her Senate Bill 62 would forgive student loans for 1,000 teachers in impacted areas at an extremely reasonable cost of about $3.75 million a year for four years. But the bill has stalled.

    State lawmakers should, at the very least, bring back that pot sweetener, known as the Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE), and consider restoring other incentives, especially for math, science and special education teachers. Meanwhile school districts should devote some of their professional development dollars to mentoring beginning teachers, a third of whom typically quit within the first five years.

    Finally, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to dial down on the teacher bashing. Some may resent the teachers’ unions, or simply feel that standards have fallen. But no one with talent wants to work for an employer who disrespects them, no matter how bright and promising the boss’ kids.

    Friday, August 21, 2015


    from the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) weekly update for the week of August 24, 2015 |


    20 August 2015  ::  The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month that the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is leading an effort to expand the number of charter schools in LAUSD. The Broads are being joined by the Walton Family and the Keck Foundations, among others. The expansion of charter schools is supposed to decrease the number of children attending what the charter industry calls failing schools or those with lower test scores. The aim is to get at least 50% of these children in the privately-run charter schools which could potentially be located on District sites. LAUSD already has about 100,000 students attending charter schools, more than any other school district in the country. In an email to LA School Report, the officials from the Broad Foundation wrote, “Too many of our school children still aren’t getting the quality of education they deserve, which is why tens of thousands of students are currently on public charter school waiting lists. We are in the early stages of exploring a variety of ideas about how to help give all families—especially in low-income communities of color—access to high-quality public schools and what we and others in the philanthropic community can do to increase access to a great public school for every child in Los Angeles.”

    Officials from charter organizations, such as ICEF and Green Dot, are, understandably ecstatic about the proposal as it will generate more dollars for their programs. The foundations could provide funding for early administrative costs of new charters and for teacher training. Board Member Mónica Garcia said she is open to the foundations’ plans and says that her district could benefit from additional charter schools. However, not everyone is happy about this expansion. Because charter school teachers are not unionized, UTLA is not supportive of these independent schools and feels that input of teachers is disregarded. In a call to members, Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA President, vowed to fight the plans of the foundations, saying they are “out to destroy collective bargaining.” Board President Steve Zimmer is concerned that the charter schools will continue to be selective about who they enroll, leaving those students who require more specialized services and resources at the District schools. A mass exodus of students to charters will also severely decrease state and federal funding for the traditional schools.

    As has been noted before, Eli Broad, the Waltons and other billionaires have been active in LAUSD politics for many years and have supported controversial efforts for reform. Financial resources have been provided candidates for the Board of Education that AALA has not supported and who have been strongly procharter. It should also be noted that Dr. John Deasy, former LAUSD Superintendent, was a graduate of the Broad Superintendent Academy and is now the Superintendent-in-Residence for the Broad Center. In fact, it has been reported that Eli Broad said that John Deasy was the best Los Angeles superintendent in memory. That, in and of itself, should give us all a reason to pause and look at this expansion plan with a critical eye.


    On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, the Los Angeles Times introduced a new weekly newsletter which will be titled Education Matters. The announcement was made to coincide with the first day of school for Los Angeles students. With Education Matters, the Times writes that it is rededicating itself to coverage of teaching and learning and will provide a report card on K-12 education in Los Angeles, California and the nation. Really? Another report cardjust what we need.

    The CEO of the Times, Austin Beutner, wrote in the paper that Education Matters will explore issues that matter most to parents and their children. The paper has expanded its team of education reporters who will convene public forums to address educational policies, saving for college and how to talk to teachers. Funding for Education Matters has been secured from the California Endowment, the Wasserman Foundation, the Baxter Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation via United Way and the California Community Foundation. According to the Times, the aforementioned organizations “…are dedicated to independent journalism that engages and informs its readers.” We are hopeful that this will be the case and that Education Matters does not just become another attempt to point out all that is wrong with the public school system in order to expand the charter industry.