Monthly Archives: August 2012

August 28

On the education/environment front the LAUSD banned the use of foam trays at all its schools and now uses compostable paper ones reports the Friday L.A. Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-plastic-foam-20120824,0,1467040.story
   From the same paper, the former Canyon High School student who complained about an ethnically insensitive senior activity provides the details of how he brought his concerns to the administration and was told to “get a sense of humor:” http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0824-seniores-senoritas-20120824,0,3156091.story
   The Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” summarizes several recent studies focusing on “The High Cost of Poverty and Economic Inequality” and how they relate to education and lives in general: http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=52733ce425&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   Valerie Strauss’ blog is aptly titled “Education News You Shouldn’t Miss.”  She covers some interesting topics including the growing Hispanic population in K-12 and post secondary education, performance-based incentive pay for teachers (see next story), a roundtable discussion with Pres. Obama and others.  As she says: “You shouldn’t miss” this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/education-news-you-shouldnt-miss/2012/08/25/a5c97e20-ee57-11e1-afd8-097e90f99d05_blog.html#pagebreak
   Education Week reports on 3 big cities that are jettisoning teacher incentive grants: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/08/22/01tif_ep.h32.html?tkn=XMOFgA%2BPQ2ijwJgqAJcYrDEhDaLCSGVqZwNi&cmp=clp-edweek
   With children learning how to use computers and mobile devices about the time they learn to walk, many schools and districts are realizing that they need to teach them how to properly access/use the web and social media.  The San Jose Mercury News describes an online curriculum from a San Francisco nonprofit being made available free to teachers that will assist in doing just that: http://www.mercurynews.com/education/ci_21407006/training-tomorrows-netizens
   Why is the reading of literature important and why does it seem to be dying out in our high schools these days?  This weekend op-ed makes a strong case for the classics: http://www.nationofchange.org/high-school-english-real-life-reading-1345907943
   As the California Legislature’s 2012 session winds down Friday a number of education-related bills are being sent to the governor’s desk for action.  Two articles highlight some of the more important legislation.  The first is from the SI&A Cabinet Report: http://siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2509  and the second, dealing with school disciplinary issues, comes from Ed Source: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/bills-influencing-school-disciplinary-policies-head-to-governor/19447
   An intriguing blog on Education Week poses the question “Can Bilingualism Counteract the Effects of Poverty?”
It highlights soon-to-be-published research that answers with a definitive “yes.”  The article contains a link to an unedited manuscript of the full report (26 pages):  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2012/08/can_bilingualism_counteract_ef.html
   Public charter schools are pulling a number of students away from private schools and that is placing an added burden on the finances of public education and threatening the existence of some private institutions.  An article in today’s L.A. Times focuses on a Rand Corp. study that discusses the situation:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-charter-school-study-20120827,0,1946609.story
   And finally, yesterday was the first day of classes for most of California’s community colleges.  The system’s 112 campuses are facing a severe budget crunch.  Students are finding overcrowded courses and fewer class offerings as described by this item from the same paper: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-college-classes-20120828,0,6461667.story

 

 

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar
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August 23

The “Ed News” is out a day early to accommodate some weekend travel plans by the Chief Commissar.  The next edition should hit your in-boxes on its regular publication date of Aug. 28th.
   And now to the latest news.  Here’s an intriguing suggestion for lowering the unemployment rate in the U.S.–spend $20 billion on public education.  What do you think of the logic of that idea?  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/11031-to-end-the-jobs-recession-invest-an-extra-$20-billion-in-public-education
   Several parents have joined a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the Clovis Unified School District (Fresno County) claiming that the district’s abstinence only sex-education curriculum is not based on sound scientific evidence.  The suit further contends that textbooks used in the classes are in violation of state law.  You can read all the details in this L.A. Times story from yesterday’s paper: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-sex-ed-20120822,0,2353275.story
   Both Valerie Strauss and Diane Ravitch had posts on the 44th annual Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup poll, released yesterday, on American attitudes towards public education.  Valerie Strauss: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/poll-americans-views-on-public-education/2012/08/22/37203c5a-ebcf-11e1-aca7-272630dfd152_blog.html   Diane Ravitch: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/08/22/what-we-can-learn-from-the-new-pdkgallup-poll/  You can read the full report (18 pages) here.  The questions, answers and results are quite fascinating: http://www.pdkintl.org/poll/docs/2012-Gallup-poll-full-report.pdf
   Another (new) study raises the issue of whether 8th graders should be taking Algebra I.  This one was written by researchers from the California Dept. of Education and the UC Davis Ed Department.  Their report is highlighted in this article from EdSource.  It contains a link to the full study (16 pages): http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/another-study-questions-states-push-for-8th-grade-algebra/19289
   In the past week or so the “Ed News” has been following the fate of the revitalized state legislative bill AB 5 which would require negotiations between school districts and their teachers’ unions over the contents of new teacher evaluations.  That bill is scheduled for a vote in the State Senate this week.  If it passes it would go to the governor’s desk for approval or rejection.  Catch all the details in this piece from radio station KPCC: http://www.scpr.org/news/2012/08/22/33982/state-senate-could-weigh-teacher-evaluations-soon/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+893KpccSouthernCaliforniaNews-Education+%28KPCC%3A+Education+News%29
   The California Dept. of Education, yesterday, released the 2012 CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam) results.  95% of the class of 2012 passed.  That’s an improvement of .8% from the previous year.  You can read the “Press Release” and all the accompanying data on their website: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr12/yr12rel77.asp  An article in today’s L.A. Times discussed how students in LAUSD fared: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0823-exit-exam-20120823,0,5593398.story
   A couple of weeks ago the “Ed News” publicized (out of a sense of alarm) an ad for a concert called “Teachers Rock” that was promoting the upcoming pro “parent-trigger” film “Won’t Back Down.”   The concert was sponsored by the militantly anti-union Walmart Corporation and a right-wing entertainment company.  This commentary, from In These Times, takes a look at what the Aug. 14 concert was really trying to do to teachers and public education: http://truth-out.org/news/item/11048-walmart-right-wing-media-company-hold-star-studded-benefit-promoting-education-reform-film
   How many of you, in high school or college, stayed up late the night before to cram for an exam or to finish a paper or project that was due the next day?  Come on, admit it!  You know you did.  Did you realize that strategy was actually counterproductive?  A recently released study from UCLA used 535 students from 3 L.A. area high schools to conclude that giving up sleep makes it harder for students to understand material in class the next day.  Yesterday’s L.A. Times had the disconcerting details: http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-sleep-study-sacrifice-20120822,0,6937722.story
   A senior activity at Canyon High School (Orange Unified) in Anaheim Hills was cancelled after is was found to be demeaning to Hispanic students and to Latino culture according to a story in today’s Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0823-high-school-event-20120823,0,5135884.story
   An editorial in the same paper takes a look at the controversial issue of making it easier to fire teachers in light of the cheating scandal at the now-closed Crescendo charter schools.  It explains why due process for teachers is still fundamental and extremely important: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-crescendo-charter-cheating-20120823,0,7087034.story
   Three letter writers to the L.A. Times reacted to the Sunday op-ed regarding the difficulty of retaining good teachers that was noted in Tuesday’s “Ed News:” http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-le-0823-thursday-teachers-20120823,0,4920884.story
  America is facing a falling share of global college graduates and that bodes ill for our economic standing in the world according to a new study highlighted in this piece from ThinkProgress. The report analyzes data from the past decade and makes projections out to 2020. The effect of budget cuts to early childhood and K-12 education are also discussed: http://truth-out.org/news/item/11044-how-americas-falling-share-of-global-college-graduates-threatens-future-economic-competitiveness
   A new online poll from PACE/USC Rossier School of Education shows voter preferences for the two initiatives (Prop 30 and 38) on the November ballot that will boost state revenue and funding for schools.  The poll results are from the San Jose Mercury News: http://www.mercurynews.com/california-budget/ci_21374874/california-voters-prefer-gov-jerry-browns-tax-measure?source=rss  The poll also included attitudes on what is being taught in California schools and what are the goals of public schools which the SI&A Cabinet Report focused on: http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2504
   And finally, on the lighter (and fun) side: the August 13 & 20 (double) issue of Newsweek contains its annual college rankings.  The magazine rates a number of schools on numerous categories, i.e., easiest, most stressful, top sororities, most liberal, most rowdy, etc.  In the “Most Beautiful” category at #6 (out of 25) was, none other than, OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE!  You can seen the rating and a great photo of Thorne Hall here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/galleries/2012/08/05/college-rankings-2012-most-beautiful-schools-photos.html#slide21  Oxy also rated #25 (out of 25) for “Most Liberal:” http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/galleries/2012/08/05/college-rankings-2012-most-liberal-schools-photos.html#slide2   You can check out the criteria for the “Most Beautiful category at http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/galleries/2012/08/05/college-rankings-2012-most-beautiful-schools-photos.html  For the “Most Liberal” http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/galleries/2012/08/05/college-rankings-2012-most-liberal-schools-photos.html   If you’d like to peruse the entire report, go to: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/features/2012/college-rankings.html

 

 

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

August 21

Please note: due to some brief travel plans by the Chief Commissar at the end of this week, the Friday edition of the “Ed News” will be published on Thursday.  The next edition will appear on its regularly scheduled date of Tuesday, Aug. 28.  Thanks for reading.
    And now to the news.  The LAUSD recently terminated the contract it had with Crescendo Charter Schools after a 2010 cheating scandal was uncovered involving the founder of the schools.  All the campuses were eventually closed, the faculty and staff were dismissed and 1,400 students had to find other schools to attend.  A front page feature in Saturday’s L.A. Times describes exactly what happened and how it affected the teachers, the principals, the charter’s board, the head of Crescendo, a LAUSD board member and others:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-crescendo-20120818,0,5672962,full.story
   In a story covered extensively in the last “Ed News,” An Assembly bill (AB 5) that would require bargaining between teachers’ unions and school districts over the designing of educator’s evaluations may not meet federal standards to obtain a waiver for California from NCLB mandates. The somewhat complex details behind all this can be found in this story from the Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/teacher-evaluation-bill-might-not-pass-muster-with-feds-official-says.html
   As one means of educational “reform,” several states have tightened requirements for earning teacher tenure.  This item (sent along by Alex Reisbord) from The New York Times takes a look at how the number of educators earning tenure in the past couple of years has dropped in New York and other states (Idaho no longer grants tenure to any new teachers): http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/18/nyregion/nearly-half-of-new-york-city-teachers-are-denied-tenure-in-2012.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120818
   An extensive, front page feature article in the Sunday L.A. Times profiles the power and political influence of the California Teachers Association (CTA): http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cta-20120819,0,5800370,full.story
   In the same paper a veteran National Board Certified teacher from Grand View Blvd. Elementary (LAUSD) writes, in an op-ed titled “A Good Teacher is Hard to Keep,” about the difficulties faced by school districts in retaining strong teachers.  She highlights, in her piece, a report about teacher retention that the “Ed News” focused on a short time ago: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-bhatt-teaching-20120819,0,1605185.story
   A bid by parents in Adelanto to use the parent-trigger law to turn their low-performing elementary school into a charter hit a major roadblock when the school board voted 3-1 Friday to form a community advisory council to reform the school instead.   The board’s decision raised some serious questions about whether it had the power to do that in the face of a recent court case.  You can get all the details in this story from yesterday’s Timeshttp://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-parent-trigger-20120820,0,4783010.story
   The Dinuba Unified School District, located in the Central Valley, quickly moved away from a controversial program it adopted for English learners after the ACLU filed a suit against it.  The suit also challenged the fact that the State of California failed to monitor the program as required.  EdSource has the story: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/district-settles-with-aclu-over-program-for-english-learners/19208
   The “Ed News” has already raised alarms regarding the movie “Won’t Back Down” scheduled for release at the end of September.  Valerie Strauss reprints a commentary from a parent activist in public schools who has seen the film and raises a number of issues about it.  Ms. Strauss promises to publish many more articles as its premiere approaches.  This piece contains a link to the film’s trailer: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/wont-back-down-realities-the-movie-ignores/2012/08/20/390e52ea-eadf-11e1-b811-09036bcb182b_blog.html
   The President Pro Tem of the California Senate is pushing a bill that would downplay the use of test scores as a way of grading and comparing schools, reports The Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/20/4740207/steinberg-seeks-to-change-report.html#storylink=cpy
   Valerie Strauss highlights a speech delivered by Pres. Obama on Saturday that cited a White House report calling for the restoration of teacher jobs around the country.  She also notes the weekly internet and radio address the president gave on Saturday touches on many of the same themes.  This article has a link to another story about both the report and Obama’s speech:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/on-obamas-call-to-states-to-save-teachers-jobs/2012/08/18/6c680da0-e929-11e1-8487-64e4b2a79ba8_blog.html  If you would like to watch the full radio address check out http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/08/18/weekly-address-congress-should-back-plan-hire-teachers  For a transcript of the address go to the same site and click “Transcript.”  For the weekly GOP response to Obama’s radio address try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEzr29dEa2E&feature=youtu.be
   A new program that will divert chronically truant LAUSD students from the court system to city-run youth centers began yesterday according to the L.A. Daily News: http://www.dailynews.com/education/ci_21346433/lausd-truancy-diversion-program-keeps-violators-out-courts
   There will be a number of propositions on the November ballot for California voters to decide.  Some are controversial and some are complicated.  One promises to be both.  Michael Hiltzik, in his column titled “Prop. 32: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” in the Sunday L.A. Times, has some scathing words for the initiative and the people who wrote it: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20120819,0,5536069,full.column  Speaking of November propositions: The L.A. Daily News reports that the LAUSD board voted today to support both initiatives (Propositions 30 and 38) that raise revenue for schools on the upcoming ballot: http://www.dailynews.com/education/ci_21364011/cash-strapped-lausd-backs-both-november-ballot-initiatives
   Radio station KPCC reports on an exciting and innovative program in the Alhambra Unified School District called “Fresh Start.”   For two weeks in the summer it works with incoming freshmen who may have struggled academically and/or socially in middle school to make a successful transition to high school: http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2012/08/20/9471/Alhambra-unified-fresh-start-students-high-school/
   Why are charter organizations so intent on taking over public schools?  This piece from OtherWords has some answers.  (Be sure to check out the cartoon included with this item): http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/299-190/13026-why-are-our-public-schools-up-for-sale
   A new study, co-sponsored by UCLA, takes a look at the correlation between the cost-of-living where students reside and their achievement in school.  This relationship had not been studied prior to this report.  Previous research had looked at family income, poverty levels and other factors but not cost-of-living according to this item from CALIFORNIA WATCH: http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/cost-living-can-affect-student-achievement-study-says-17655
   The Shanker Blog reprints an interesting article from Ed Fuller, an Associate Professor of Education at Penn State University, who looks at how principal turnover effects the retention of teachers and student achievement.  His piece is illustrated with a number of supportive graphs: http://shankerblog.org/?p=6196
   And finally, Valerie Strauss reprints a sobering article that suggests the Broad Foundation is preparing a major push to accelerate school reform through a number of altered and expanded programs that it sponsors: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/broad-foundationsplan-to-expand-influence-in-school-reform/2012/08/20/c118e134-eb0a-11e1-b811-09036bcb182b_blog.html#pagebreak

August 17

With the onerous 2014 deadline for reaching 100% student proficiency under NCLB looming, a number of states have requested waivers from some of the law’s mandates.  This entry from the Huffington Post explains what the waivers entail and why NCLB is “Not Dead Yet.”  California’s waiver is highlighted:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/14/no-child-left-behind-not-_n_1776546.html?utm_hp_ref=education 
   Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University has helped develop and use a new teacher training evaluation.  She discusses the program and addresses some early criticisms of it in this article from INSIDE HIGHER ED: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/08/13/essay-argues-real-teacher-education-reform-going-led-profession
   Most LAUSD teachers had a pupil-free day on Monday.  That evening many of them were greeted by a recorded phone message from UTLA president Warren Fletcher urging them not to participate in a voluntary district sponsored pilot teacher evaluation.  The L.A. Times reports that Supt. Deasy was not pleased with the way the calls were phrased: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teacher-test-scores-20120816,0,716334.story
   CNN featured an interview with Michelle Rhee a-week-and-a-half ago.  Diane Ravitch responded to what was said by Ms. Rhee in a follow-up commentary on CNN:  This article contains a link to the original interview with Michelle Rhee: http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/09/my-view-rhee-is-wrong-and-misinformed/
   School districts have followed many different roads for balancing budgets in the face of severe revenue shortages.  Some have laid off teachers and increased class sizes.  Others have reduced the number of days in the school calendar or tried to trim various non-classroom programs.  This item from NPR station KPCC looks at how students in California will be attending school under very different calendars this year as a result of these various budget trims: http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2012/08/14/9427/public-school-students-enter-classrooms-unequal-in/
   A controversial bill (AB 5, first introduced in 2010) is being revived in the California Legislature.  It would require school districts to collectively bargain with local teachers’ unions regarding any changes to educator’s evaluations.  It received a hearing before the State Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday and passed on a 5-2 vote amid charges it was an attempted end-run around a recent court ruling that required student test scores to be included in any new teacher evaluations.  Today’s L.A. Times has all the details: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teacher-eval-20120817,0,4167806.story  SI&A Cabinet Report had this story on the committee hearing on AB 5:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2495  A commentary in EdSource suggests that students and parents need a say in designing and should be part of any new teacher evaluation system: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/give-parents-and-students-a-voice-in-teacher-evaluations/19092
   A brand new state-of-the-art K-5 (LAUSD) school opened on the old Hughes Aircraft property Tuesday in the Playa Vista area of the city.  It currently houses about 200 students but the enrollment is expected to swell to its 575 capacity as a mini-baby boom seems to be sweeping the development.  The school has a high level of parent involvement according to the story in Tuesday’s Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-playa-vista-school-20120814,0,7155024.story
   The “Great Recession” is now approaching 5 years in length.  According to data analyzed from a recent study by Georgetown University highlighted in this article from The New York Times, less educated people (those with high school diplomas or less) are having a bigger problem with unemployment that those with some college education or more.  The article has a link to the study titled “The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm” (52 pages):  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/16/us/job-losses-persist-for-the-less-educated.html?_r=2&ref=education
   And finally, a story in Tuesday’s “Ed News” discussed a study from UC Berkeley that found that LAUSD students who moved into new school facilities made strong academic gains as compared to students who remained in overcrowded and poorly maintained buildings.  The poor classroom conditions resulted in a court case, Williams vs. California, that included a settlement that provided for a massive school building program.  Friday’s UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” looks at the conditions prior to the case and reviews the findings of the Berkeley study: http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=776e9a30f4&e=f7d7cb8d5d

 

 

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

August 14

Thanks to Alex Reisbord for sending this article from The New York Times.  Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown has weighed in on the debate about the power of teachers’ unions.  She thinks they have too much power,are impeding educational reform and protect teachers who should be dismissed: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/11/education/campbell-brown-joins-debate-over-teachers-unions.html?_r=3&src=recg
   EdSource reports on a 2-1 decision, Friday, by the California 2nd District Court of Appeal vacating the settlement that allowed the LAUSD to set aside seniority rules to protect teachers at 45 underperforming schools:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/court-backs-union-sends-lausd-layoffs-case-back-to-judge/18945  The ruling is a victory for UTLA and they quickly had a statement on their website reacting to the finding:  http://www.utla.net/reedappeal  Saturday’s L.A. Times covered this important story this way: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-layoffs-20120811,0,5163545.story
   In the same paper, a charter school founder who was dismissed by the school’s board for directing his teachers to cheat on standardized tests  received a $245,000 settlement after he sued the board for being incorrectly dismissed from his position: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-charter-settle-20120811,0,4197783.story
   Sunday’s Times had a story about a high school in South Gate (LAUSD) that will finally open today after a 25-year battle that included cleaning up  major toxic problems at the site: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-southgate-20120812,0,535850.story
   A commentary for EdSource takes a very thoughful look at the whole issue of creating new teacher evaluations.  It’s titled “Surefire Way to Know if a Teacher Evaluation System will Succeed or Fail” and it raises some excellent points:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/surefire-way-to-know-if-a-teacher-evaluation-system-will-succeed-or-fail/18868
   Valerie Strauss, as she always does, reprints an engaging blog from Marion Brady who identifies “8 Problems With the Common Core Standards.”  The standards are rapidly on the way so his points, whether you agree with him or not, are quite timely: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/eight-problems-with-common-core-standards/2012/08/12/821b300a-e4e7-11e1-8f62-58260e3940a0_blog.html
   Another article from EdSource highlights 3 summer programs in California aimed at getting low-income students to enjoy reading and become life-long bibliophiles: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/summer-programs-turning-struggling-students-into-readers/18831
   Diane Ravitch helps trace where much of the funding is coming from for the “Teachers Rock” concerts  and the parent-trigger film “Won’t Back Down” in this entry on her personal blog: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/08/14/who-is-funding-teachers-rock-and-wont-back-down/
   A study released Monday has found that LAUSD elementary pupils who moved into new facilities made significant gains on standardized test scores.  High school students who also moved into new campuses made only slight improvements or none at all according to this item from the L.A. Daily News: http://www.dailynews.com/education/ci_21305704/20-billion-building-has-boosted-lausd-elementary-student
   Remember the teachers and staff from Miramonte Elementary who were summarily removed from the campus when two of their colleagues were arrested for lewd conduct in Feb., 2012?  They were all exiled to a vacant nearby campus while investigations at the school continued.  When the LAUSD opened the 2012-13 school year today most of the people who were removed were finally allowed to return reports NPR station KPCC: http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2012/08/14/9411/miramonte-back-session-following-sex-scandal/  The L.A. Times also has an article about this  story: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/miramonte-teachers-return-to-campus-rocked-by-abuse-scandal.html
   And finally, Team USA just left the London2012 Olympics with more medals than any other country in the world.  This segment from the PBS’ “News Hour” program discusses why we lag behind a number of developed nations on high school graduation rates (we came in 7th).  It includes a link to the full audio (6:49 minutes) of the program from station WAMU and a complete transcript: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/08/education-olympics-how-does-the-us-rank-1.html
Today, most schools in the LAUSD opened for the new school year.

 

 

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar  

August 10

   The UCLA Center for Civil Rights Remedies analyzed raw data released in March from the U.S. Dept. of Education and found that students with disabilities were suspended at much higher rates than students without.  The highest rates were among African-American students with disabilities according to this article from The New York Times.  It contains a link to the full UCLA report (57 pages): http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/08/education/analysis-examines-disabled-students-suspensions.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&adxnnl=1&ref=education&adxnnlx=1344452823-gWgX5NoAY6NLAY19WZp38A  A story from the L.A. Times focused on figures from California: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/state-schools-suspend-students-at-higher-rates-than-average-study-finds.html
   In an on-going story that’s been followed closely by the “Ed News,” the parents from the school in Adelanto that used the “parent-trigger” to gain control of their campus have bids from two different charters to run the school as detailed by EdSource: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/distinct-choice-for-parent-trigger-families-in-adelanto/18799
   Two members of the California legislature requested a state audit on Wednesday to determine if anti-bullying laws are actually protecting LGBT students reports NPR station KPCC: http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2012/08/07/9324/lawmakers-want-learn-if-anti-bullying-laws-actuall/
   Public workers and their unions, including teachers, have been criticized for being overpaid and having overly generous health benefits and pensions.  This op-ed presents 4 facts about the issues that will, hopefully, set people straight: http://www.nationofchange.org/facts-make-it-clear-public-workers-and-unions-are-not-overpaid-1340630671
   An editorial in Wednesday’s L.A. Times is in favor of a recently enacted New Jersey law that makes teacher tenure harder to obtain and simplifies the process for getting rid of poor teachers: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-teacher-firing-new-jersey-20120808,0,6665080.story
   The Aug. 3rd edition of the “Ed News” reported on a Louisiana charter school that was forcing students to take pregnancy tests and banning them from the school if they tested positive or refused the test.  In a letter to the school, the Louisiana Dept. of Education directed the policy to be ended as it raised serious legal questions: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/08/08/661021/louisiana-department-of-education/?mobile=nc
   LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who has led the district for a little over a year-and-a-half, addressed administrators in a traditional start-of-the-year speech.  He stressed gains made by students in several areas, in the talk delivered yesterday at Washington Prep High, reports the L.A. Daily Newshttp://www.dailynews.com/education/ci_21278818/lausd-chief-john-deasys-back-school-pep-talk
   One LAUSD teacher took out his anger and frustration over value-added model (VAM) scores and the fact that the Times published them by writing a solo play about his teaching experiences and feelings regarding the ratings.  This story is from the LAUSD’s website.  The play might make an interesting outing for ALOED: http://journal.lausd.net/teacher-turns-disgust-publishing-value-added-ratings-solo-play  This piece was written by the author and explains what the play is about and why he wrote it: http://www.lastagetimes.com/2012/04/a-child-and-a-teacher-left-behind/  Here’s a review of the play from the Culver City News when it premiered in April: http://www.culvercitynews.org/entertainment/frustration-leads-to-hope/  The L.A. Times reviewed the play in July: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-a-child-left-behind-review-20120710,0,2705020.story
   A bill in the California legislature to rework teacher evaluations is coming back to life now that it’s won the support of the CTA explains EdSource: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/do-or-die-time-for-teacher-evaluation-bill/18913
   Yesterday, a group of about 50 students, teachers and community activists staged a rally outside the downtown headquarters of the LAUSD.  They were protesting the overuse of expensive (up to $250) tickets for student offenses and the fact that students of color received an inordinate number of the citations: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/lausd-rally-citations.html
   And finally, Valerie Strauss reprints an article explaining why Alabama chose to go very slowly on allowing charter schools in their state: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/why-alabama-is-going-slow-on-charter-schools/2012/08/09/37378668-e296-11e1-98e7-89d659f9c106_blog.html#pagebreak
Stay COOL and have a good weekend!

  Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar   

August 7

Arthur Levine, president emeritus of Teachers’ College, Columbia University, is a proponent of testing.  BUT, he believes it needs to be redesigned and used in much different ways then it is now.  In an op-ed in Friday’s L.A. Times he explains how that might be accomplished: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-levine-school-testing-20120803,0,7687298.story  Three letter writers in Sunday’s Times were quick to respond to his opinion piece: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-le-0805-sunday-teaching-testing-20120805,0,4708126.story
   Two states, Maryland and Caifornia, are making major efforts to reduce their drop-out rates as described in this article in iWatchNews from the Center for Public Integrity: http://www.iwatchnews.org/2012/08/01/10551/maryland-california-taking-action-improve-dropout-rates?utm_source=iwatchnews&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=rss
   A recent study from Penn State University probably confirms what many of you might have predicted: teens who text end up with poor grammar skills.  The report was highlighted in an article in Saturday’s “Business” section of the L.A. Times: http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-texting-ruining-kids-grammar-skills-20120801,0,1365582.story
   In an op-ed in Sunday’s Times, a parent of an Aldama Elementary School student (LAUSD–Highland Park) passionately defends why she keeps her fourth grade son at the school and it’s not just because of the highly successful Spanish-immersion program: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-mykytyn-aldama-schools-20120805,0,7729837.story
   In his Monday column in the Times, George Skelton reports on a lawsuit being pursued by the ACLU and a bill passed by the state Assembly that would require that school districts in California follow the constitution and refrain from charging students fees for things that should be free: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap-student-fees-20120806,0,1844246.column
   In what should prove to be good financial news for the LAUSD, a nearly $79 million settlement has been reached with insurer AIG over its failure to cover claims for toxic cleanup at Park Ave. Elementary in Cudahy: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-insure-20120806,0,5918915.story
   Despite furlough days and other budget cuts some districts are actually extending the school year by as much as 20 days.  This item in The New York Times describes how that is being accomplished in a school district near Phoenix: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/06/education/some-schools-adopting-longer-years-to-improve-learning.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=education
   Valerie Strauss, in her blog for yesterday’s Washington Post, reprints the “10 Most Inaccurate School Reform Axioms:”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/10-most-inaccurate-school-reform-axioms/2012/08/05/687b69e4-de9d-11e1-af1d-753c613ff6d8_blog.html
   The second SOS (Save Our Schools) conference was held over this past weekend in Washington, D.C., and attracted much smaller crowds and less renowned speakers according to this brief report about the gathering from Education Week: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/08/sos_event_draws_small_crowd_fo.html
   To paraphrase (poorly) Paul Revere: “The Common Core Standards are coming, the Common Core Standards are coming!”  This article from the L.A. Daily News describes what some of the changes will be to teaching, learning and testing as the new curricula are phased in over the next 2 years.  Some schools and grades in the LAUSD are getting an early start:  http://www.dailynews.com/education/ci_21236677/lausd-begin-phasing-common-core-curriculum-standards
   An economic analysis by The Hamilton Project, an affiliate of the Brookings Institution, of the impact of the Great Recession on government employment presents a pretty ugly picture.  Would you like to guess how many teaching jobs have been lost between 2009 and 2011?  . . .  50,000? 100,000?  200,000?  The correct answer, according to their figures is over 220,000!  The losses for other government employees are equally dismal: http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/jobs/posts/2012/08/03-jobs-greenstone-looney
   Now this is going too far!  A charter school is Louisiana is forcing girls to take pregnancy tests.  Those who test positive or refuse are kicked out of the school.  The ACLU has filed suit, claiming this policy violates a number of federal laws and the U.S. Constitution: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/08/07/647221/louisiana-school-forces-students-to-take-pregnancy-tests-kicks-out-girls-who-refuse-or-test-positive/?mobile=nc
   Valerie Strauss reprints a blog written by two principals from New York who complain about how hard it is to get their ideas about education reform before the public.  They highlight a new anti-public school television ad from Michelle Rhee’s “StudentsFirst” organization (included in the article) to buttress their point-of-view: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/principals-our-struggle-to-be-heard-on-reform/2012/08/06/f459fc74-dff5-11e1-8fc5-a7dcf1fc161d_blog.html
   And finally, as previously reported in the “Ed News” most students in the LAUSD will be starting back to school 3 weeks early this year on Aug. 14th as the district shifts to an early-start calendar.  The impact of that policy on school staff, students, parents, and businesses is explored in this piece from the L.A. Daily News: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_21250658/summer-ends-early-lausd-students-school-starts-aug?source=rss

  Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar