Monthly Archives: May 2012

May 29

John Fensterwald, at TOP-Ed, comments on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Science test results for public school 8th graders which were announced earlier this month.  He focuses on how students in California did.  The results are not encouraging as you can ascertain from his title: “More Dismal Science Test Results:”
   In a previous edition, the “Ed News” reported on the possibility that Birmingham Community Charter High School (LAUSD) might lose its charter.  On Wednesday, the school responded to the charges against it in a 215-page action plan addressed to the school board as described in this article from the L.A. Daily News:
   USC’s Annenberg School for Communication publishes a newsletter called “INTERSECTIONS SOUTH LA.”   A report in the May 25th edition looks at how difficult teaching conditions in the area make it hard for students to achieve and the important role teachers can play in these students’ lives:
   The UCLA IDEA Friday “Themes in the News” reviews Mitt Romney’s educational proposals as the candidate described them in two speeches he delivered on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week:
   An Oxnard school district Wednesday voted to ban the use of a derogatory term that some Mexicans call other indigenous Mexicans as explained in this L.A. Times story:,0,3018233.story
   Teachers in Chicago are threatening to take a strike authorization vote as they negotiate a new contract to replace the one that ends on June 30th:  The situation in Oregon is similar.  Several districts have already struck and some others have taken strike authorization votes amid drastic budget cuts and assaults on tenure, working conditions, salaries and benefits:
   A recent edition of the “Ed News” highlighted a report on chronic absenteeism and the lack of statistics to truly analyze the problem.  This item from the SI&A Cabinet Report takes another look at the numbers and what they mean for student achievement and graduation rates:
   Valerie Strauss reprints an article about a coalition of national leaders, called “Defending the Early Years” (DEY), who believe that national education policy has a major impact, often negative, on early childhood education:  Ms. Strauss is at it again as she reports on a group of teachers who met with Mitt Romney at a charter school in Philadelphia last week at which he claimed that class size doesn’t really matter.  She reprints a letter from a public school parent and Executive Director of an organization called “Class Size Matters” responding to Mr. Romney’s, Sec. Duncan’s and Pres. Obama’s positions on class size:
   A lot has been written about value-added models (VAM) as a tool for teacher evaluation.  This piece looks at two prominent misrepresentations that proponents of VAM are pushing.  Note that one of the responses to this article is from, none other than, Diane Ravitch:
   And finally, speaking of Diane Ravitch, here is her latest blog.  This time she’s tackling the topic of how charters take unfair (possibly illegal) advantage of their students and parents to advocate for even more charters:

Ed News- May 24, 2012

Office of the Commissar of Current Events

Due to the Memorial Day holiday and some weekend travel plans this edition of the “Ed News” will be out one day early. Look for the next issue on Tuesday May 29th.

And now to the news. Here’s a truly impassioned defense of public education that identifies certain groups/organizations that are out to destroy it:
LAUSD is going to apply directly to the U.S. Department of Education for Race to the Top Funds. California’s previous applications for the money were rejected. The Department is now allowing individual districts to apply directly for the funds. LAUSD wants to use the grants to help implement new teacher evaluations that include student test scores. This article quotes Linda Darling-Hammond’s speech on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles. Yesterday’s L.A. Times has the details:,0,3011182.story
In a front page story in the same paper the issue of “zero-tolerance” behavior policies for students is getting a renewed look:,0,61074.story
The May 28th edition of Newsweek magazine is out with their annual ranking of the “Best High Schools in America.” You can read the main story and click on several related side ones here:
If voters fail to approve Gov. Brown’s revenue initiative on the November ballot he is proposing that districts be allowed to shorten the school year by up to 15 additional days in order to off-set mid-year budget cuts as detailed in the San Francisco Chronicle:
The LAUSD board, by a 4-3 vote Tuesday, approved a proposal to implement its recently enacted plan to require more rigorous college-prep classes for graduating high school students as described in this item from the L.A. Daily News:
The San Diego Unified board, by a 4-1 vote on Tuesday, approved the final issuance of over 1,500 pink slips. The move could leave almost 20% of the district’s teachers without jobs for the new school year. You can check out all the grim details in this report from the San Diego Union-Tribune:
LAUSD reached a settlement in a case of sexual harassment against former superintendent Ramon Cortines as explained in this article from today’s L.A. Times:,0,3133076.story
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney explained his education policies in a speech delivered yesterday to a group of Latino businesspeople in Washington, D.C.:,0,2404218.story Both Valerie Strauss: and Diane Ravitch: were quick to pass judgement on his proposals.
Diane Ravitch bemoans the growing role of Wall Street investors and hedge fund managers in the school “reform” movement:
And finally, a massive annual report released today from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), highlighted in Education Week, contains a myriad of educational statistics including student attitudes about their classes and goals. This article contains a link to the full study (378 pages!) titled “The Condition of Education 2012:” You can read the MUCH briefer (4 pages) official overview here:

Happy Memorial Day!

Dave Alpert (’71)
Chief Commissar