Monthly Archives: July 2012

July 27

theguardianUK is reporting that over 90% of teachers in Chicago voted to authorize a strike against the city school district.  If the educations do, indeed, hit the picket line the ramifications of the outcome could be huge for the union movement in general: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/16/chicago-teachers-strike-blow-organised-labour
   An L.A. County Superior Court Judge ruled last month in a suit brought by a group of parents that the LAUSD had violated the Stull Act by not including student achievement results as part of individual teacher evaluations in a story covered closely by the “Ed News.”  Attorneys for both the district and the union in a court hearing on Tuesday agreed that those performance reviews could include things like student test scores beginning this year.  One major stumbling block is how that’s to be implemented as detailed in a story in Wednesday’s L.A. Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0725-teacher-eval-20120725,0,5808473.story  The L.A. Daily News reported on the same story in this brief item: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_21149662/lausd-faces-dec-4-deadline-launching-new-teacher?source=rss
   A statewide bill to revamp teacher evaluations and possibly use student outcomes is making a comeback up in Sacramento amid negotiations between the Brown administration and legislative leaders according to this piece from SI&A CABINET REPORT: http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2471
   Are there corporate-related groups that are trying to reform (privatize?) education.  This expose looks at several organizations that try to influence education policy by writing and distributing model bills to various state legislatures.   Their bogeymen include ineffective teachers and the unions that support them: http://truth-out.org/news/item/10435-the-other-alecs-k-12-education-agenda-exposed
   The California School Boards Association (CSBA) will be making a major push in support of the two measures on November’s ballot (Propositions 30 and 38) that will increase funding for schools in the state as detailed in this SI&A CABINET REPORT:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2474
   A series of across-the-board federal budget cuts that are set to take effect in January could do serious harm to school programs nation-wide.  Why the cuts are coming and what they will mean to schools are explained in this item from Education Week: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/07/lawmakers_explore_impact_of_tr.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29
   Southern California PBS station KPCC describes a new initiative in the LAUSD that moves away from “one-size-fits-all” teaching techniques and allows schools wide latitude to design their own assessment systems and select their own curricula: http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2012/07/26/9144/lausd-tries-move-away-one-size-fits-all-approach-t/
   Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) addressed the union’s annual convention that opened today in Detroit.  Valerie Strauss published Ms. Weingarten’s full speech in her blog for The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/randi-weingarten-calls-for-new-approach-to-unionism-and-support-for-obama/2012/07/27/gJQAqfJuDX_blog.html?wprss=rss_education
   Amid all the slashing of education budgets the issue of the poor quality of many school facilities in the state rarely gets addressed.  A new report from UC Berkeley, highlighted in this article from EdSource, details where the problems are and what it might cost to bring things up to an acceptable standard.  This article contains a link to the executive summary and the full report (85 pages) from the “Center for Cities & Schools:”  https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#drafts/138cbb31cf83d47c
   A lawsuit has been filed against formed LAUSD Supt. Ramon Cortines alleging sexual harassment of another district employee: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/07/former-la-schools-supt-cortines-sued-for-sexual-harassment.html  The employee who levied the charges recently returned to work at the district: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/07/la-unified-employee-who-filed-harassment-claim-returns-to-job.html
   And finally, the UCLA IDEA Friday “Themes in the News” revisits the victory of parents in Adelanto and their use of the “parent trigger” law but questions how the education of the children will improve if the severe underfunding plaguing the district, and many other statewide, continues: http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=45ee8b4df1&e=f7d7cb8d5d

  Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar   
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July 24

A previous edition of the “Ed News” featured the popular online video teaching lessons of the Khan Academy.  Valerie Strauss reprints a blog that takes a critical look at them and questions how effective they truly are: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/khan-academy-the-hype-and-the-reality/2012/07/23/gJQAuw4J3W_blog.html?wprss=rss_education
   Aspire Public Schools, California’s largest charter organization, is expanding its Teacher Residency program for training new educators in the state and nationwide according to this item from EdSource: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/aspire-to-expand-residency-program-for-teachers-in-training/18172
   The head of the LAUSD police force is taking a careful look at the department’s discipline policy with the goal of revising the ticketing procedures now in place based on this blog from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-center-for-public-integrity/los-angeles-school-police_b_1689377.html
   Yesterday’s L.A. Times featured an article about a newly created off-shoot of the 20-year old teen court in Los Angeles that now deals with bullying, bias and hate crimes: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teencourt-20120723,0,1070338.story
   Can a real life “horse whisperer” use the lessons he’s learned working with animals to improve teaching techniques and raise student test scores?  If you are skeptical about this, an article in the same paper may make you a believer: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-parker-20120722,0,7091664,full.story
   The “Ed News” reported several times in previous editions about an attempt by parents to invoke the “parent trigger” law to convert their public elementary school in Adelanto, out in the Mojave Desert, into a charter.  Matters got sticky when some of the signers of the petitions attempted to revoke their signatures and the case ended up before the San Bernadino Superior Court.  The judge ruled, in a decision made public yesterday and reported in today’s L.A. Times, that the district violated the law when it allowed some parents to remove their names from the petitions:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-parent-trigger-20120724,0,4848549.story  Valerie Strauss, writing on her blog for The Washington Post, was quick to respond to the judge’s opinion finding it “strange” and illogical.  Her article includes a short trailer (2:31 minutes) about a soon to be released (opening Sept. 28) film titled “Won’t Back Down” that’s strongly supports the “parent trigger” law: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/a-strange-parent-trigger-court-ruling/2012/07/24/gJQAJ3c46W_blog.html?wprss=rss_education  neatoday has an early preview of the film: http://neatoday.org/2012/05/02/wont-back-down-parent-trigger-gets-the-hollywood-treatment/  Despite the negative topic this film might make an interesting “fieldtrip” for ALOED.
   The Sacramento Bee today comments on Prop. 32 facing California voters in November. It’s a third attempt to restrict unions from collecting political funds via payroll deductions:  http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/24/4653536/dan-walters-prop-32-will-be-a.html#mi_rss=Dan%20Walters#storylink=cpy
   Student enrollment has steadily declined in nearly half of the largest urban school districts over the last 5 years according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Dept. of Education by The New York Times.  This has led to lay-offs of teachers and staff and the closing of schools: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/education/largest-school-districts-see-steady-drop-in-enrollment.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss
   And finally, low- and middle-income students in Indiana who used vouchers to attend private schools saw their passing rates on math and English standardized tests dip slightly while public school students’ scores rose a bit according to an item in Education Week: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/07/23/538581inschoolvouchersistep_ap.html?utm_source=fb&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mrss
The opening ceremonies of the London Olympics are this Friday.

  Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar   

 

July 20

A proposal to include several courses in career and technical education as a graduation requirement for students in La Jolla was bitterly opposed by parents in the affluent district north of San Diego as detailed in this article from CALIFORNIA WATCH: http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/push-career-and-technical-education-meets-parent-resistance-17150

   The New York Times has a story describing how state budgets will remain in crisis even years after the current recession, which began in late 2007, ends: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/us/in-report-on-states-finances-a-grim-long-term-forecast.html?_r=3&ref=us
   Valerie Strauss takes a jaundiced look at a U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee that is planning to vote on whether a person with five weeks of training should be considered “a highly qualified teacher:”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/does-5-weeks-of-training-make-a-teacher-highly-qualified-house-panel-to-vote/2012/07/17/gJQARodPsW_blog.html?fb_ref=sm_btn_fb&fb_source=other_multiline  Her piece makes reference to a funny article about Teach for America (TFA) in the satirical newspaper “the ONION” that you can read, in full, here: http://www.theonion.com/articles/my-year-volunteering-as-a-teacher-helped-educate-a,28803/?ref=auto  Nancy Kuechle sent out an article to the discussion group while the Chief Commissar was traveling about TFA.  It not only caught Nancy’s eye but even Diane Ravitch commented on it in her personal blog: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/19/a-wise-tfa-teache/
   Need some more to laugh about?  Stephen Colbert has a short video (5:22 minutes) skewering the Texas Republican Party Platform for opposing the teaching of “critical thinking skills.”  http://www.good.is/post/stephen-colbert-skewers-texas-gop-s-attack-on-critical-thinking/
   Did the federal stimulus law, passed by Congress in 2009, have any impact on education?  A new study from the Center on Education Policy (CEP) reported on in Education Week says “yes:” http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/07/do_not_publish_till_midnight.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29
   The Obama administration is proposing a new program to create a group of master teachers to promote excellence in teaching the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) across the nation: http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2461
   A current math teacher at Palisades Charter High School takes a look at the issue of student cheating in an op-ed piece in Tuesday’s L.A. Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-dorff-cheating-20120717,0,6524981.story
   Is it the role of education to turn out “thinkers or test takers?”  That’s the partial title of an extended editorial in Sunday’s Times that compares what schools in the U.S. are turning versus what China is trying to achieve: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/education/la-ed-school-creativity-20120715,0,5690286.story
   Several months ago the “Ed News” reported on a story about students posting pictures of standardized test items on various social media.  With test results soon to be released, yesterday’s L.A. Times reports on how several schools and districts are reacting to the news that some of their students are involved: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0719-state-tests-20120719,0,7856207.story  In a follow-up story the Times details how several districts were not alerted to the fact that their pupils participated in the posting of photos: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/07/schools-not-told-that-test-questions-were-posted-online.html  A student who used to attend North Hollywood High (LAUSD) has been identified as one of the people who posted pictures online of test materials: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/07/former-north-hollywood-student-posted-test-items.html
   Today’s L.A. Times reports on two foundations that are providing grant money to help underprivileged students attend after-school programs that have been decimated by budget cuts: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-afterschool-20120720,0,490915.story
   How does the largest online school program (K12 Inc) stack up against similar charter and public schools?  The answer is its students “lag behind” on measures of achievement and graduation rates according to a new study from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) highlighted in this article from the Washington Post.  It includes a link to the full report (65 pages): http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/students-in-k12-incs-online-classes-lag-academically-study-finds/2012/07/18/gJQAMdvPuW_story.html
   And finally, should California’s 8th graders be taught Algebra I?  There’s a lot of controversy around that question.  A committee appointed by the State Dept. of Education has been given the task of providing a definitive answer to that question along with helping to implement the new Common Core Math standards according to this item from EdSource: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/state-to-adopt-common-core-view-of-algebra-i-in-8th-grade/18041
 Enjoy the warm (hot?) weather this weekend!
 

Dave Alpert (’71)
Chief Commissar