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
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