Monthly Archives: November 2012

November 16

[Ed. note:  The “Ed News” will be taking the week of Thanksgiving off. 
 Look for the next issue on Tuesday, Nov. 27th.]
Event Reminder:  The Oxy Ed. Department’s panel about the future of the credential programThe Role of Urban Education Majors and Math/Science Secondary Teachers in Today’s Educational Landscape” will be held Thursday, Nov. 29th at 5:30 p.m.  For details and registration:
And now to the news.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ― Nelson Mandela
    California’s financial health appears to be brightening substantially from the depths of the Great Recession in 2009 according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office budget projections for the next couple of years.  The San Francisco Chronicle has the much rosier details:
   A new report, highlighted by Valerie Strauss, looks at how school P.E. programs have been reduced or eliminated over the years and also provides some sobering statistics on childhood obesity in the U.S.  The article includes a link to the full report (92 pages) titled “2012 Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA” produced by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the American Heart Association:  Only 31% of California students are considered physically fit:
   Pres. Obama addressed the issue of the “fiscal cliff” and how he thinks it should relate to education in this post from EDUCATION WEEK.  It also describes how the ed lobby is gearing up to do battle:  Valerie Strauss writes about “What the ‘fiscal cliff” means for public schools” in her latest blog.  (If nothing else, check out the picture accompanying her article):
   Dana Goldstein has been writing about Crenshaw High School (LAUSD) for some time now.  In her latest blog she describes the reforms that have been instituted at the school and how they have helped to improve the atmosphere on campus and student achievement.  However, she also describes how Supt. Deasy has a different agenda for the school that she believes is more politically motivated.  Read all her thoughts here:
   And finally, the UCLA IDEA Friday “Themes in the News” believes that the passage of Prop. 30 is not the end of the financial crisis facing schools in California but, hopefully, the beginning of a drawn-out journey for positive education reform for what was, once, one of the best school systems in the world:

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

November 13

[Ed. note:  due to the Veterans Day Holiday on Monday this edition of the “Ed News” has been delayed by one day.  Look for the next one on its regularly scheduled Friday publication date.]
     Are you ready for a rest from elections, campaigns and political ads?  If so, don’t turn around.  There’s is a major L.A. municipal primary election (mayor, city council, school and community college boards, etc.) coming on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, and the general election on May 21!  The deadline for candidates to file for the LAUSD school board was Saturday and the stakes couldn’t be higher as detailed in this item from Sunday’s L.A. Times:,0,2597201.story
   Teach for America (TFA) is expanding its recruitment of candidates to include military veterans according to this item from the Huffington Post:
   The Smithsonian Institution is offering a live, free online conference for teachers on Feb. 6, 2013, titled “Oh Freedom!  Teaching Civil Rights Through Smithsonian Collections.”  Registration opens in December and is required to participate.  Check out this website for all the details.  This link contains a “teacher spotlight video” that demonstrates how one U.S. History teachers uses the Smithsonian materials in her class:
   The LAUSD school board, as expected, voted yesterday to restore the full school calendar and full pay for employees this year .  The L.A. Times explains the decision:,0,1227667.story In another action the board voted to adopt a comprehensive food policy for the district:
   Valerie Strauss does it again.  She reprints a blog from a principal from Long Island who briefly describes her ordeal with Hurricane Sandy before getting down to explaining three fallacies that dominate the discussion of teacher evaluation “reform:”
   Is good teaching innate or can it be taught?  Robert Bligh, former general counsel  of the Nebraska Association of School Boards, tries to answer the question:  “Who should teach?”  He provides seven points about teacher training programs.  [Ed. note:  be sure to read the last two sentences of this post.  They are most succinct!]
   Have you heard the term “fiscal cliff” bandied about recently?  Have any idea what it means and how it pertains to education?  EDUCATION WEEK provides you with an excellent primer with 10 FAQs about this critical issue:
   The charter school movement is getting bigger and bigger each year.  Want to know how big?  This EDUCATION WEEK piece highlights a report released today with some startling figures:  You can read the full report (6 pages), titled  “A Growing Movement: America’s Largest Charter School Communities,” from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools here:  [Ed. note:  LAUSD is prominently mentioned throughout the report.  For example, it is serving more students than any other district in the country!  See the charts on p. 3 and 10 of the report.]   Speaking of the growth of charters, Valerie Strauss briefly reports on the passage (by 1.5 percentage points) of a charter school measure in Washington State after millions of dollars were poured into the campaign to see that it was approved:
   And finally, more good news after the passage of Prop. 30.  Both UC and CSU have decided to withdraw planned tuition hikes now that the measure was approved by voters on Nov. 6, says an article in today’s L.A. Times:,0,2973358.story
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

November 9

California voters delivered two big wins for education on Tuesday.  EdSource reports on the win for Gov. Brown’s Prop. 30 (the other funding measure, Prop. 38 was soundly defeated) and what it means for schools:–  The L.A. Times looks at the impact of the passage of the measure on K-12 and post secondary schools:,0,790902.story   The Los Angeles Daily News describes how the passage of Prop. 30 will help restore some programs and fund other budget cuts in the LAUSD: The same paper has a brief story about how a consortium of unions in California helped defeat Prop. 32:  Besides positive results on the education-related propositions the voters delivered super majorities in both the California Senate and Assembly.  What might this mean for education in the state?  EdSource provides this analysis:
   Education Week discusses the reelection of Pres. Obama and what people can look forward to regarding education in his second term:
   If an elementary school in Encinitas adds yoga to its curriculum is it indoctrinating its students in Hinduism?  That’s what a group of parents are charging as detailed in Wedesday’s L.A. Times,0,6809683.story  In today’s Times several letter-writers chimed in regarding the “controversy” raised by some parents about the yoga classes:,0,1758678.story
   A story in the same paper reports about a principal of a religious school who became a citizen and voted for the first time on Tuesday.  He used his experiences as a teaching moment for the students of his school:,0,7346997.story
   Rae McCormick shared this story from the Glendale News-Press with ALOED members at their meeting on Wednesday about Glendale Unified allowing students to bring wireless devices to class for use in school-related lessons:,0,2779354.story
   Ever since anyone can remember teachers have reached into their own pockets to provide books, school supplies, clothing, food and other essential items for their students.  This story highlights individual educators who’ve done just that and why they must continue to do so:
   An editorial in today’s L.A. Times opines on the use of standardized test scores in the new API report cards for state schools.  The piece favors California’s approach as compared to what the federal government would like to see but raises some questions about the specifics:,0,7474419.story
    Any of you ever have to work a second job while teaching in order to make ends meet?  Quite a few of your current colleagues are in the same boat according to a new study from the National Center for Education Statistics as highlighted in Education Week:  You can read the full report (45 pages), with lots of other data, titled “Beginning K-12 Teacher Characteristics and Preparation by School Type, 2009” here:
   A lawsuit filed against teacher tenure is scheduled to go forward after a L.A. Superior Court judge’s tentative ruling on the issue was announced yesterday according to this brief item in the L.A. Times:
   Here’s a novel concept.  Now that the election season is (finally) over campaign contributors should be encouraged to make matching donations to the public schools.  EdSource reprints this commentary from an earlier one in The Sacramento Bee:
   A fifth-grade teacher from Harmony Elementary School (LAUSD) was named one of five California “Teachers of the Year” yesterday:
  A late-breaking story on the Times website today finds that LAUSD Supt. John Deasy will ask the school board next week to restore the full 180-day school year and rescind all furlough days for employees:
   And finally, the UCLA IDEA Friday “Themes in the News” takes another (last?) look back at the Tuesday election:
Enjoy the Veterans Day Holiday on Monday!
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

November 6

EVENT REMINDER:  ALOED book club tomorrow at 6:30 p.m..  Come even if you haven’t read the book.  Nancy Kuechle’s chili is well worth the drive over!  For all the details:
   And now to the news.  The Master Plan for Education made California the envy of the nation.  Now, according to Steve Lopez’s column in Sunday’s L.A. Times, the idea is in tatters as evidenced by the plight of the state’s community colleges:,0,3891925.column
   The same paper reports that public school K-12 campuses are not just for students.  Parent Centers at several LAUSD schools aim to promote more adult involvement in their local schools:,0,5180823.story
   A Thousand Oaks parochial school won a world championship mock trial competition in Brooklyn on Monday and then had to ride out Hurricane Sandy:
   Here’s one you should read carefully, bookmark on your computer, clip on your bulletin board or place a copy in your wallet/purse.  Linda Darling-Hammond co-wrote an excellent op-ed piece in yesterday’s Times titled “A Better Way to Grade Teachers.”  She makes a succinct case against the use of value-added results in evaluating teachers and offers some well-developed alternatives:,0,650639.story
   Today is election day which means the rash of ads on television and radio and mailers to your mail- and in-box will cease.  How much money has been spent in favor and against Props. 30 and 38?  Ed Source tabulates the totals and they are quite astounding.  One has to wonder what impact all those dollars might have had if they were just donated to the schools to begin with:–  [Ed. note:  This cartoon is not exactly education related but may represent how many voters are feeling today.  Just be thankful we don’ live in one of those swing states where they were inundated with ads seemingly 24/7].

election © David Fitzsimmons,The Arizona Star,election,final election countdown, undecided voters, voters


What if Prop. 30 is defeated?  Is there a possible “plan B’ in the works to mitigate the drastic cuts that have been outlined?  The Sacramento Bee takes a look at the ramifications:
   Would the creation of a master teacher credential in California help to improve the profession?  Gov. Brown recently vetoed a bill that would have gotten the ball rolling.  SI&A CABINET REPORT says interest is still around:
   Pedro Noguera has apparently replaced Diane Ravitch in the “Bridging Differences” dialog with Deborah Meier at Education Week.  Today he makes the case for the reelection of Pres. Obama for a number of reasons related to education:
   Here’s a (not too) farfetched suggestion.  The author of this blog on the Huffington Post wants to know what it would be like if teachers moderated presidential debates:
   Valerie Strauss tackles the dicey issue of how much influence private concerns have over public school “reform.”  If private companies can get even a toe-hold in education today they stand to make a lot of money.  Is that what’s driving their agenda?
   And finally, the “Ed News” recently reported on the lack of agreement between the LAUSD and UTLA over the application for a $40 million Race to the Top grant.  In Fresno, the teachers’ union went along with the districts proposal as detailed in yesterday’s L.A. Times:,0,375963.story
Happy election day!
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar


Novemer 2

EVENT REMINDERS:  With Halloween now passed it’s time to remind you about the general election Tuesday, Nov. 6.  Be sure to vote!                                    
The ALOED book club is Wednesday, Nov. 7.  For information and to register:
   Here’s a feel-good story to begin this edition.  A group of 104 students from the Montebello Unified School District were given a second chance to graduate from high school and last week they were able to participate in a fall graduation ceremony to celebrate their accomplishment.  Tuesday’s L.A. Times has the uplifting details:,0,3058386.story
   Gov. Jerry Brown is pleading with voters to get them to support Prop. 30 to help finance schools in the state according to this item in the Contra Costa Times:  The L.A. Daily News details the cuts that LAUSD would have to make if the proposition fails to pass on Tuesday:    What if Prop. 30 fails on Tuesday?  This survey from Ed Source looks at what kinds of cuts are anticipated by the 30 largest districts in the state.  Check out the chart at the end of this piece for the number of possible furlough days that will be implemented if the measure fails.  It’s not pretty:–   The UCLA IDEA Friday “Themes in the News” looks at the ramifications of Prop. 30 passing or failing:  Besides Propositions 30 and 38 on the Nov. 6 ballot there are a number of local measures related to education that voters will decide.  NPR station KPCC has the details:
   Here’s an interesting idea.  An educator from Indiana who is fed up with the overemphasis on standardized testing has created a “Just Let Me Teach” wristband that’s he’s distributing on FaceBook.  Check out Valerie Strauss’ blog for all the details:
   Yesterday’s L.A. Times “Business Section” has a story about teachers who supplement their meager incomes by selling lesson plans and other educational materials online:,0,642753.story
   The Times is reporting that the LAUSD is going to go ahead and apply for a $40 million grant for Race to the Top funds despite the fact that UTLA is not on board:,0,4869100.story  Today’s Times weighs in on the subject with a sharply worded editorial that spreads the blame around for the failure to reach an agreement on applying for the grant:,0,3465452.story
   Do you ever feel so frustrated or angry with teaching or education in general that you just want to QUIT?  Diane Ravitch forwards an impassioned letter from a veteran educator who was so disgusted with the profession that he decided to give up:
   Parents are highly critical of the former administration of Short Ave. Elementary School and the LAUSD after it was the only school in the state to be stripped of it’s API rating for the second-year-in-a-row for alleged cheating and other irregularities on standardized tests.  This article also includes links to a list of all 23 schools that lost their API rating this year and the actual forms listing the “irregularities”  that were reported for each school:
   And finally, can student achievement be assessed in ways other than standardized tests?  Valerie Strauss reprints a blog that offers just such an alternative:
Keep in mind that this is the last weekend
for those persistent paid political announcements!!!

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar