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   

 

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