Monthly Archives: March 2013

March 22

The “Ed News” is pleased to welcome Tyler Reich, the new Assistant Vice President for Alumni Engagement at Oxy, to our alumni education news and discussion group.
The highly successful and informative ALOED panel about the Oxy credential program from Feb. 7 is now available for viewing (57:07 minutes) on YouTube:
And now to the news.
“Education is no substitute for intelligence.”  ―    Frank Herbert
   The last edition of the “Ed News” detailed a proposal by Gov. Brown to shift adult education spending from the K-12 system to the community colleges.  One small problem.  The plan was voted down by a State Assembly subcommittee on Tuesday.  However, as this piece from the SI&A CABINET REPORT suggests, that doesn’t totally derail the idea:
   As the student body at America’s public schools is made up of more and more members of minority groups the number of teachers from those groups remains quite small.  The New York Times highlights a study released Wednesday from the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) that looks at this issue and others related to teacher education programs:  You can read the official press release for the report.  It contains a link to the full study (28 pages) titled “The Changing Teacher Preparation Profession:”
   Last year the California legislature defeated, by one vote, a bill that would have accelerated the process for dismissing teachers accused of serious offenses against children.  The Assembly member who cast that vote has now introduced an alternative bill to deal with the issue.  EdSource has the details:
   Monica Garcia is currently serving her sixth year as president of the LAUSD Board of Education.  A new rule passed by a narrow 4-3 vote of the board on Tuesday will now limit how long a president can serve to no more than two one-year terms.  You can read all about it in this brief item from the L.A. Times website:  The board also approved on Tuesday the creation of a new “pilot” program to teach middle school students about entrepreneurship.  A location for the new school on the westside has not been determined reports yesterday’s Times,0,1270439.story
   George Skelton, in his column in yesterday’s L.A. Times, makes the case for bringing back shop classes, now referred to as “career tech,” to the high school curriculum:,0,3363165,full.column
   Attorneys for several students allegedly abused by a LAUSD teacher at De La Torre Elementary in Wilmington are claiming that district officials knew of the activity for an extended period of time.  Today’s Times has all the details:,0,478183.story
   Q: Do you know how many states have “parent-trigger” laws?  A: 7  Q: Which state had the first one?  A: California (surprised?)  Q: Want an interesting history of the issue?  A: This story from EDUCATION WEEK has the background and describes how 12 more states on considering adopting them:
   Valerie Strauss asks (and answers) the question: “How Big is the School Counselor Shortage?  Big.”  The number of pupils per counselor may shock you.  Q:  Guess which state has the highest?  A:  California (surprised?):
   The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that the latest California Dept. of Ed. (CDE) recommended reading list for K-12 students includes some titles about LGBT and immigration issues.  This article contains a link to the catalog of titles published by the CDE:
   The issue about earning online credit for college and university degree programs has been in the news lately in California.  The Contra Costa Times has a short piece about the UC Academic Senate’s strong opposition to it:
   One education reform that has caused a lot of controversy is to close under-performing or under-utilized schools.  That’s happened in Washington, D.C., and soon in Chicago and Philadelphia.  Valerie Strauss decries that practice and offers an alternative to outright closure in her blog for the Washington Post:
   A newly released study finds that bullying of LGBT students is common in schools in California.  This article, from The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, describes how various districts in southern California deal with the issue:
   And finally, with the NCAA basketball tournament in full swing (known as “March Madness”) the Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” looks at the importance of students getting a college education whether they are athletes or not.  It provides some interesting statistics to bolster the title of the piece “Education Pays:”


Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar


March 9

The “Ed News” will be off the week of March 11-15th.  Look for the next edition on Tuesday, March 19.
   Don’t forget to read the book and sign-up for the next ALOED book club discussion:
   Daylight Savings Time officially begins at 2 a.m. Sunday.  Turn your clocks AHEAD one hour.

 And now to the news.
“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of Constitutional power.”

Thomas Jefferson

   An editorial in Wednesday’s L.A. Times checked in on the topic of the LAUSD and eight other California districts requesting waivers from NCLB so as not to be labeled as “failing schools” but setting their own criteria to measure progress:,0,5165889.story
   Valerie Strauss reprints a blog that comments on the impending vote by the Philadelphia Public School District to possibly close 12% of the campuses as a cost cutting measure and what it would mean for students and the community:
   EDUCATION WEEK provides this story about research that demonstrates that student absenteeism can bring down scores on the NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) tests:  Check out this chart (also linked to in the article) that compares number of days absent with test scores by a sampling of states (California was NOT included):
   A front-page story in Wednesday’s L.A. Times had some preliminary results of the heavily contested LAUSD school board races on Tuesday’s ballot:,0,2329423,full.story  You can get full results (with 100% of precincts reporting) for all the L.A. municipal races here:  For an analysis of the voting and how the millions of outside dollars affected the 3 school board races, this story from yesterday’s Times should provide some insight:,0,1968152.story
   Another editorial in yesterday’s Times was against a proposal before the Commission on Teaching Credentialing that would alter the way new teachers could become certified to work with ELLs.  There are currently two methods to accomplish that.  The first is through a college or university teacher training program.  The second is by way of an intern program.  The change before the CTC would eliminate the latter one.  Some people believe, including the Times, that it’s aimed at eliminating Teacher for America educators from California schools.  You can read the editorial, titled “A Teach for America Fight,” here and decide for yourself:,0,2807694.story  An extensive article in today’s Times describes what the Commission decided in its unanimous ruling yesterday.  TFA and other intern programs will be allowed to continue but under stricter state controls.  All the details are here:,0,580648.story
   Nancy Kuechle passes along an interesting discussion and book signing at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena.  She found this in their newsletter:
Thursday, March 14, 7pm

Nancy       Pine discusses and signs      Educating Young       Giants

What Kids Learn (And Don’t Learn) in China & America In her groundbreaking book, Educating Young Giants, Nancy Pine reveals       how reliance on antiquated teaching methods and ineffectual reform efforts       has left youth in the United States and China ill-equipped for the demands       of modern technology and the global economy. Transporting us into Chinese       elementary and high school classrooms, Pine, a U.S. education expert,       highlights essential differences and striking similarities between the two       systems. She shows how parents, educators, and policymakers can implement       practical solutions, drawing the best from both systems and genuinely       equipping our children to meet the challenges we face in the 21st century.

   Diane Ravitch included this picture on her blog:

   Speaking of Diane Ravitch.  Valerie Strauss conducts a Q & A with the eminent education historian regarding the new advocacy group she’s formed to counter those of Michelle Rhee and other “reformers:”
   And finally, the Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” comments on the return to more Career and Technical Education (CTE) at high schools in California.  The Tuesday edition of the “Ed News” highlighted the linked-learning system at the Long Beach Unified School District and how it’s becoming a growing trend among education reformers:



Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar


















March 5

My favourite definition of an intellectual: ‘Someone who has been educated beyond his/her intelligence’.”
[Sources and Acknowledgements: Chapter 19] ― Arthur C. Clarke, 3001: The Final Odyssey
   It’s still not too late (the polls close at 8 p.m. this evening) to decide who you want to vote for mayor of L.A. in the municipal primary taking place today.  One of the eight candidates running for the position will eventually become the new leader of the city.  Sunday’s L.A. Times has an analysis of their positions and the role the mayor should play vis a vis education:,0,7466702,full.story
   If you live in one of the 3 LAUSD school board districts, particularly District #4 which runs from the Westside to the western San Fernando Valley,  you probably noticed an inordinate number of campaign brochures in your mailbox the past couple of weeks.  Why?  The amount of outside money spent on the races exceeded $4.2 million through Friday according to this story in the L.A. Daily News:   If you’d like brief profiles of the candidates for the LAUSD board positions check out this item from the L.A. Times:,0,5316362,full.story  The contest for the LAUSD school board seats has drawn national attention because it has implications for districts around the country as evidenced by this article in yesterday’s The New York Times:
   Peter Dreier, Occidental College Professor of Politics, writes how the Walton family fortune is being channeled into school “reform” in L.A. in this op-ed for the Bill Moyers’ website:
   The “Ed News” has been tracking the growing movement against the overuse and misuse of standardized tests.  This article from yesterday’s L.A. Times again reviews the mounting number of schools, districts and educational experts opposed to the exams and notes how the issue is seeping into school board races like the one for the LAUSD taking place today:,0,4686481.story
   The San Jose Mercury News is reporting on a great deal of confusion over a new law that took effect in California on Jan. 1 that bans schools from charging fees for supplies and certain activities.  At the end of this article is an interesting copy of the “Legislative Digest” (5 pages) of the new law (AB 1575) and also a “Fact Sheet” (1 page) about it.  In addition, there is a 5-page school fee complaint sheet from the ACLU with FAQs and forms if someone feels they’ve been charged illegally.  Check this out so you or your school or district are not breaking the law:
   As California contemplates making the formal switch to the Common Core Standards in 2014-15 a major concern has arisen–will teachers be properly prepared for the new curriculum?  The major emphasis so far has been on creating materials and assessments that correlate to the new standards with little focus on teacher training.  This SI&A CABINET REPORT takes a close look at the issue and the question of where funding will come from:
   Today’s L.A. Times reports that the number of California school districts in financial crisis has dropped by 33% since a previous list was announced in May according to a study released by the State Dept. of Education.  However, the number of districts in L.A. county that are at-risk increased by two to a total of three:,0,3285992.story  One reason why districts are in better financial shape may be due to the passage of Prop. 39 by voters in November.  It changed the way some businesses are taxed in the state and the result will mean many more dollars for schools in the future.  This piece from the CAPITOL WEEKLY provides the details:
   The same paper reports on a unique competition among 20 high schools called the “Aspen Challenge” in which students attempt to seek solutions to current problems facing society:,0,4105771.story
   The entire California State Senate is taking a field trip, starting today, to see first-hand the highly successful “linked-learning” program of the Long Beach Unified School District.  Schools tie academics to the world of work and careers in what used to be called career tech education.  The SI&A CABINET REPORT describes the excursion and what the lawmakers hope to learn:
   Valerie Strauss describes a Washington Post-sponsored conference on families that U.S. Sec. of Ed. Arne Duncan addressed.  She comments on several points he made during the course of his remarks:
   “Is Sequestration the New Normal for Federal K-12 Aid?” is the topic of this blog from EDUCATION WEEK.  The author explains what Congress has done over the past several days to deal with the drastic cuts and what might be in store for the future:
   Even Diane Ravitch has a link to this blog that Valerie Strauss reprints.  It is written by an English teacher in North Carolina and cleverly uses the language of George Orwell’s 1984 to explain what’s going on with corporate school “reform:”
   And finally, more and more charter schools are being exposed for more and more problems.  This piece from the L.A. Daily News describes a very successful charter in Studio City that discovered that 12% of its student body was attending based on fraudulent addresses:




Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar