Ed News- June 8

And now to the news.  A late-breaking story in Tuesday’s “Ed News” reported on a lawsuit filed against LAUSD in hopes of forcing the district to include student test scores in its evaluation of teachers.  John Fensterwald in his blog for TOP-Ed has a follow-up to that story.  The judge announced he may have a tentative decision by Monday.  Stay tuned for further details: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teacher-eval-20120606,0,3577978.story

   A little noticed provision in Gov. Brown’s latest budget revision would eliminate one year (of two) of the science requirement for high school graduation.  Why would the governor propose this?  Why else?  To SAVE MONEY!  When people notice this the blowback is immediate as detailed in this front-page story from Wednesday’s L.A. Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-science-schools-20120606,0,2454775.story
   Steve Lopez, in his Wednesday column in the Times, laments the very real possibility that the LAUSD will cut almost all arts education in light of budget constraints.  He visits Belmont High to illustrate the impact of those cuts on one long-time teacher and his program and students: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lopez-lausd-20120606,0,5267133,full.column
   LAUSD’s plan to place a parcel tax on the November ballot to help offset some budget cuts has been postponed until 2013 according to this article in the L.A. Daily News: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_20792032/lausd-may-postpone-vote-298-year-parcel-tax?source=rss  The UCLA IDEA Friday “Themes in the News” addresses the use of parcel taxes to help replace budget cuts that impact the arts, social studies, science and other programs: http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=a0fde84c41&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   In Tuesday’s election results, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin survived a recall attempt after he eliminated collective bargaining rights for many public union members (including teachers) in his state.  Diane Ravitch steps up and explains the implications of this decision for the field of education: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/06/06/after-wisconsin/  There were several other interesting races related to education but two measures in California (San Jose and San Diego) passed that will lead to lower pension benefits for teachers in those cities.  The ramifications of those decisions could reach far beyond those two cities.  Check out this article in Time magazine for all the particulars: http://ideas.time.com/2012/06/06/forget-wisconsin-the-unions-biggest-loss-was-in-california/
   With ongoing battles between district school boards and teachers’ unions over revised teacher evaluations SI&A Cabinet Report describes an agreement between Green Dot Public Schools and its union regarding a new review format for educators: http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2408
   A community initiative of progressive teachers, students and local activists is trying to empower students at Roosevelt High School (LAUSD) in East L.A.  They are sponsoring a conference this Saturday that they hope will promote social change: http://www.good.is/post/students-and-teachers-join-forces-for-social-change-in-east-l-a/
   What happens when special education services are turned over to private business (privatization)?  Don’t think it could happen?  Diane Ravitch (who else?) reports on what has taken place in the only state (New York) that has tried it so far: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/06/07/the-high-cost-of-privatizing-special-education/
   The “Ed News” has previously reported on the use of computers to grade student essays (yes, essays, not just multiple choice tests).  National Public Radio (NPR) has a feature that looks at how successful and accurate those computers are.  Be sure to check out how Abe Lincoln fared when a computer graded one of his speeches.  You can read the story and/or listen to the audio (4 minutes) here: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/07/154452475/computers-grade-essays-fast-but-not-always-well?ft=1&f=1091
   Here’s an exclusive for most “Ed News” readers.  The Argonaut is a weekly source of local news for the Westside of L.A. from Santa Monica to LAX.  It includes the community of Westchester where the Chief Commissar resides.  The latest edition (June 7th) has an extended article about LAUSD school board member Steve Zimmer, who represents a portion of that area.  He plans to introduce a proposal to the board on June 12th regarding a new teacher evaluation system developed in consultation with Linda Darling-Hammond.  She is quoted several times in the article: http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2012/06/08/news_-_features/area/a2.txt
   One proposed “fix” for low-performing schools is called “reconstitution” in which at least 50% of the faculty and staff are told up front they will not be rehired.  Parents, students and teachers held another protest after school yesterday against the proposed reconstitution at Manual Arts High (LAUSD but part of the L.A.’s Promise group of schools).  [Ed. note: the entire process is extremely nasty and disruptive.  His former school, Huntington Park High, went through it exactly a year ago.  The scars left from it are VERY deep].  The L.A. Times has a short item about the on-going protests: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/06/protest-at-manual-arts-high-over-removing-teachers.html
   And finally, an excessive use of student suspensions has led administrators at Roosevelt High (LAUSD) to develop and implement a new positive student behavior model that hopes to keep more pupils in school according to this item in the Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/06/roosevelt-high-looks-for-alternatives-to-student-suspensions.html   National Public Radio (NPR) looks at the issue of the over use of expulsions and suspensions to deal with student misbehavior in California.  You can read the story and/or listen to the audio (5:36 minutes) here: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/07/154461878/calif-school-district-finds-gentler-path-to-discipline?ft=1&f=1013
Have a GREAT weekend. 
GO L.A. KINGS (as they try to clinch the National
Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Championship)!
Dave Alpert (’71)
Chief Commissar
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