October 16

EVENT REMINDERS:  The Occidenal College panel on “The Role of Education Departments at Liberal Arts Institutions” is Monday, Oct. 22 at 5:30 p.m.  For more information and to register go to:  http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index1col.aspx?sid=956&gid=1&pgid=1564&content_id=2523  The ALOED panel on the role of technology will take place the following day at 6 p.m.  The next ALOED book club is scheduled for Nov. 7.  For all the details and to RSVP go to:  http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index1col.aspx?sid=956&gid=1&pgid=1543&crid=0&calpgid=300&calcid=869  Don’t wait to start reading the book.
   Before the Chief Commissar left for vacation there were a couple of important and interesting items he’d like to share with you.   The first pertains to SB 1458, a bill signed into law by Gov. Brown on Wednesday, Sept. 26.  It expands the scope of the API ratings for schools to include other factors besides just standardized test scores.  You can get all the details from this Ed Source article:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/brown-signs-bill-moving-api-away-from-standardized-tests/20510#.UGSjkvnuUl–  Prior to the opening of the anti-teachers union film “Won’t Back Down” on Sept. 28 there were three interesting stories about the movie.  Even before the film’s release, critics were vociferous in their opposition to it as highlighted in this L.A. Times piece:  http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-wont-back-down-20120927,0,6897332.story Kenneth Turan reviewed it, quite negatively, for the Times:  http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-wont-back-down-review-20120928,0,2053199.story  The Oct. 1 & 8 (double) issue of Newsweek had a story about the writer-director of the movie, Daniel Barnz, who believes teachers unions might actually like it (that’s a little hard to fathom): http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/09/23/daniel-barnz-new-movie-makes-him-teachers-union-whipping-boy.html  Valerie Strauss offers some pithy summaries of what many critics are saying about the film:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/wont-back-down-what-actual-film-critics-think/2012/09/27/ac057088-08cd-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_blog.html?wprss=rss_answer-sheet Diane Ravitch draws some interesting parallels between the replacement NFL referees and Teach for America candidates.  If you can’t imagine what she might be alluding to you definitely need to read her very brief and to-the-point blog:  http://dianeravitch.net/2012/09/26/why-are-the-media-so-upset-about-an-inexperienced-referee/  The Jersey Jazzman blog makes the exact same point in a slightly more detailed post:  http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2012/09/refs-for-america.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+JerseyJazzman+%28Jersey+Jazzman%29  This item also includes this picture:
   While the Chief Commissar was on the road the following items were brought to his attention.  First, thanks to Larry Lawrence for sending along this detailed article about what’s “wrong” with public education:  http://www.zcommunications.org/the-war-on-public-schools-by-ken-jones  and second, a fellow traveler from Kansas passed along this cartoon while the Chief Commissar was staying at a bed and breakfast in Little Rock, Arkansas:
Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -
Last Tuesday the LAUSD school board approved a one-year agreement that will implement the use of student test scores on new evaluations for principals as reported in this brief item from the L.A. Daily News:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_21735375/lausd-principals-agree-use-student-test-scores-their?source=rss
   And now to the latest news.  Friday’s L.A. Times had a front page comparison of the education polices of Pres. Obama and Gov. Romney:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-president-schools-20121012,0,1317772,full.story  Stand-ins for Obama and Romney debated the issue of education last night and revealed major differences in the two candidates’ philosophies according to EdSource:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/stark-education-differences-in-presidential-race-say-surrogates/21455#.UH2vWWnuUl
   The latest API results for the 2011-12 school year were released by the California Dept. of Education on Thursday.  You can read the “News Release” from state schools chief Tom Torlakson here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr12/yr12rel96.asp  Friday’s L.A. Times focused on the results for LAUSD:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1012-lausd-scores-20121012,0,228727.story  You can check on individual school scores here:  http://api.cde.ca.gov/reports/page2.asp?subject=API&level=School&submit1=submit
   It seems all the teacher and union bashing, over emphasis on test scores and attacks on education are taking their toll.  In his Sunday column in the L.A. Times Steve Lopez writes about the two propositions on the November ballot to raise revenue and describes how a number of his readers just don’t seem to get the dire predicament that schools are facing due to draconian budget cuts.  This piece includes a link to a previous column that he refers to:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1014-lopez-30-20121014,0,4690702.column  In another column in yesterday’s Times George Skelton takes a look Proposition 30 and 38 and tries to cut through the hype being served up by competing T.V. ads: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap-taxes-20121015,0,139152,full.column
   The ongoing saga of the attempt by parents to use the California parent-trigger law to take over their under-performing elementary school in Adelanto took another turn when a judge ruled the school board had to accept the parents’ petition to open a charter school.  You can catch up on the details, as reported by the Times, here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/10/adelanto-parents-must-be-allowed-to-form-a-charter-school-judge-rules.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29
   Is it possible to make budget cuts “away” from the classroom?  The author of this blog on EdSource makes the argument that most education costs are interconnected, making it difficult to keep cuts “away” from the classroom.  Read what he has to say here: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/contrary-to-common-wisdom-nothing-is-away-from-the-classroom/21129#.UHxhdmnuUl9
   And finally, the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that an interesting mix of union organizations and big business companies have been donating large sums to Gov. Brown’s Prop. 30 on the November ballot:  http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Prop-30-s-big-donors-include-big-companies-3951475.php#page-1

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

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