June 15, 2012

The “Ed News” will be taking an extended summer break after the June 19th issue so the Chief Commissar can do some travelling with his wife.  After the Tuesday issue on June 19th look for the next one on Friday, July 20th.  Hopefully, nothing of any significance will happen in the field of education during that time.  lol
   And now to the news.  A prominent, front-page article in Wednesday’s L.A. Times reported on the LAUSD school board’s approval of the labor agreement with UTLA.  As you may remember, it included 10 furlough days and shortened the school year by five more days in order to save as many positions as possible.  The article focuses in on critics who condemned the shortened year aspect and it’s impact on student achievement and standardized test results: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-union-20120613-85,0,7674512.story  The UCLA IDEA Friday “Themes in the News” addresses the teachers’ loss of salary and the students’ loss of 5 more instructional days: http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=ee82efb437&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   In another article in the same paper a L.A. Superior Court judge finalized his ruling, issued Monday, requiring the LAUSD to use student test scores as part of a new teacher evaluation process.  The decision left it up to the negotiation process between the district and UTLA as to how that is to be accomplished: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teacher-eval-20120613,0,3512440.story  A 900-strong group of local teachers (80% of them from LAUSD) was quick to offer its suggestions for a new teacher evaluation that takes into account student test scores and other factors: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/06/teachers-evaluations-educators-excellence.html  In an editorial yesterday the Times took the position that now that a judge has ruled test scores must be included in teacher evaluations it’s time for the LAUSD and UTLA to come up with a viable solution on how to implement this: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-adv-lausd-20120614,0,5540729.story
   Many school districts up and down this state are cutting or eliminating adult education programs in order to help balance their budgets.  EDSOURCE released a report on Tuesday, titled “At Risk: Adult Schools in California,” looking at the issue and suggesting a role for the community colleges and other resources to fill-in the gaps.  This article contains a link to the full report (13 pages): http://www.edsource.org/extra/2012/expanding-the-role-of-california-community-colleges-in-adult-school-programs/8861  TOP-Ed also weighed in on this story.  Theirs is the second of a 2-part series they are running on the state of adult ed in the state.  The following article has a link to Part 1 which ran on Monday: http://toped.svefoundation.org/2012/06/13/adult-education’s-existential-crisis/
   US News is highlighting a report from Education Week that tracks national graduation rates.  The latest figures improved for the second straight year spurred by a healthy increase in Latino rates.  This article has a link to the full report.  Some parts of it you do have to pay for: http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/2012/06/13/graduation-rate-increase-propelled-by-latino-achievement  You can access the Executive Summary of the report (for free) here: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/06/07/34execsum.h31.html?intc=EW-DC12-TOC and/or the report Overview (also for free): http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/06/07/34overview.h31.html?intc=EW-DC12-LNAV
   A USA TODAY story says that the average cost of tuition at a 4-year university rose 15% between 2008 and 2010 according to an annual report from the U.S. Dept. of Education: http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2012-06-13/college-costs-surge/55568278/1
   In what one might characterize as a mini-revolt the Democratic controlled California Legislature in some ways defied Gov. Brown and crafted a budget proposal that ignores some of the governor’s favorite proposals for K-12 education.  If you want to know how this series of events came to pass, check out the details at TOP-Ed: http://toped.svefoundation.org/2012/06/14/leg-erases-govs-ed-reforms/
   No Child Left Behind mandated that all students would have “a highly qualified” teacher in front of their classroom.  Two years ago Congress amended the wording to include programs like Teach for America as turning out “highly qualified” teachers.  Our lawmakers are on the verge of extending that modification and Valerie Strauss is quick to take them to task for doing that: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/will-congress-compound-its-error-on-highly-qualified-teachers/2012/06/11/gJQAAT8HWV_blog.html?wprss=rss_answer-sheet  Speaking of Teach for America, NPR has an interview segment with an alum of the program who happens to be highly critical of what TFA is doing.  The program is titled “Is Teach For America Failing?”  You can read the full transcript and/or listen to the audio (8:51 minutes) here: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/11/154761299/is-teach-for-america-failing?ft=1&f=1013
   Diane Ravitch takes to task Michelle Rhee’s organization “StudentsFirst” for automatically making people who sign one of their petitions “members” of the group.  [Ed. note:  The Chief Commissar has this exact thing happen to him.  He all of a sudden found himself a “member” of “StudentsFirst” after signing a petition on another web site.  He just recently went to the bottom of one of their emails and clicked “unsubscribe.”]  http://dianeravitch.net/2012/06/12/how-students-first-recruits-new-members/
   Diane Ravitch tackles the issue of academic fraud and credit recovery involving online courses that help boost school and district graduation rates on her blog for Education Week: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2012/06/academic_fraud_does_anyone_car.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BridgingDifferences+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Bridging+Differences%29
   A critic of the Common Core State Standards takes a look what’s wrong with them in this blog from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/protest-builds-against-pe_b_1586573.html?utm_hp_ref=education
   And finally, John Fensterwald for TOP-Ed argues that the API has outlived its purpose and should be shelved for the Academic Growth over Time (AGT) model used by the LAUSD: http://toped.svefoundation.org/2012/06/15/api-has-served-its-purpose-if-it-ever-did/
Speaking of the API, latest data released yesterday by the California Dept. of Education has two-thirds of LAUSD elementary and middle schools and three-fourths of high schools ranking among the lowest performing schools in the state according to this brief item in the L.A. Daily News.  The article also compares the scores of whites, Latinos and African-American students to the statewide averages: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_20861270/most-lausd-schools-among-states-worst-key-tests?source=rss
Enjoy your weekend.
  
Dave Alpert (’71)
Chief Commissar
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