December 11

The UCLA IDEA Friday “Themes in the News” last week focused on schools in France where they are proposing to make changes to homework policies and time spent in school.  In addition, it touted the experimental program in 5 states (mentioned in a previous “Ed News”) that will add up to 300 hours of instruction to the school year but with the caveat that the quality of the extra time is just as important as the hours themselves:  http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=293e40fbac&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the lives of millions of people on the east coast.  This blog describes how it affected public education and decries how most officials reacted to the suffering of thousands of students and teachers:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/13194-losing-time-or-doing-time-drowning-public-education-in-the-wake-of-hurricane-sandy
   After a recent laudatory article in the L.A. Times, the same paper, on Saturday, reported that Kent Taylor, the state appointed administrator for the financially challenged Inglewood Unified School District, will be stepping down after he reportedly over stepped his powers in negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with the district’s teachers union:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1208-inglewood-schools-20121208,0,6981288.story
   Sandy Banks, in her Saturday column for the Times, writes about the huge turnaround being achieved at Jordan High (LAUSD):  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-banks-education-20121208,0,4671638,full.column
   The argument over evolution vs. creationism is over 85 years old.  Steve Lopez, in his Sunday column in the Times, describes a controversy involving Harbor Teacher Prep Academy in Wilmington, a LAUSD high school, where the campus Christian Club invites people to “discuss” biblical theories of where humans came from:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1209-lopez-christian-20121207,0,1493552.column
   The State of Hawaii has one school district for the entire state.  The teachers in the Aloha State have resorted to a work-to-rule tactic in order to try to win a fair contract based on collective bargaining rather than the imposed one they were forced to accept in 2011.  LABOR NOTES has all the details:  http://labornotes.org/2012/11/hawaii-teachers-unleash-work-rule-campaign
   Yesterday’s L.A. Times had an extensive analysis of the new tentative teacher evaluation agreement negotiated between the LAUSD and UTLA.  The article describes the new accord as “a major victory for the teachers union” because it puts major restrictions on the use of value-added results.  The story describes what factors will be included and gets reactions from some of the major players in the field of education:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-eval-20121210,0,4023046,full.story
   Valerie Strauss enthusiastically supports a proposal from the superintendent of the Montgomery County (Maryland) school system to have a 3-year moratorium on standardized testing.  Sound too good to be true?  Check out why he believes this would be good for education and, also, what he thinks about using scores to evaluate teachers:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/12/10/moco-schools-chief-calls-for-three-year-moratorium-on-standardized-testing/
   On Friday, says EdSource, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) decided to require a “performance-based assessment” for candidates interested in earning an administrative credential.  Check out the picture and information in the article from Linda Darling-Hammond:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/credentialing-commission-imposes-tougher-test-to-become-school-administrator/23925#.UMWeCIN9IVR
   The same publication also reports that Dr. Darling-Hammond was elected as the new chair of the CTC:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/darling-hammond-elected-new-chair-of-credentialing-commission/23960#.UMW1-IV0w5M
   On the lighter side, yesterday’s L.A. Times, has a delightful piece on the move to grant historically significant status and, thus, preserve a one-room schoolhouse in the Leona Valley (west of Palmdale) that was built in 1915.  A now 97-year-old former teacher who worked at the school is quoted in the story along with a former student (now 82-years old):  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-leona-valley-schoolhouse-20121209,0,669288.story
   And now back to reality, such as it is!  Is our system of public education headed in the same direction as public housing, public hospitals and other public entities?  This op-ed fears that outcome particularly in light of the passage of a constitutional amendment by voters in Georgia in November to allow public funds to go to private, possibly for-profit charter schools.  Will this sound the death knell for our historically highly successful public school system?  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/13256-the-ghettoization-of-public-education
   More international standardized test scores for math, science and reading were released today for fourth and eighth graders.  The Huffington Post has the results and records how U.S. students fared:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/11/international-tests-show-_n_2273134.html  Valerie Strauss was quick to respond to the scores and issued several caveats about what they “really mean:”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/12/11/what-international-test-scores-really-mean/?wprss=rss_answer-sheet
   The charter school movement began in California in 1982.  How fast has the idea spread?  This article from the San Diego Union-Tribune traces the rapid growth with a focus on San Diego County programs:  http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/dec/10/charter-schools-continue-to-grow/?page=1#article
  And finally, after a long and involved process U.S. Sec. of Ed. Arne Duncan announced the 16 winners (including 3 from Calif.) of Race to the Top grants that range from $10 million to $40 million.  EDUCATION WEEK has the details:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/12/arne_duncan_picks_16_race_to_t.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29  The L.A. Times looks at the story from a local point-of-view:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-race-to-top-20121211,0,3635406.story

 

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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