Monthly Archives: April 2013

April 26

 “All I have learned, I learned from books.”  ―    Abraham Lincoln
    Democratic members of the California legislature are in basic agreement with the concept and goals of Gov. Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) but would like to see it delayed for a year with some significant changes reports EdSource:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/democratic-senators-offer-alternative-to-browns-funding-formula/30860#.UXgeaiv5nye  Be sure to read the sidebar article about the California School Boards Association’s (CSBA) willingness to support the legislation (SB 69) IF Brown will increase the total by $5 billion.  The Governor was quick to react to the news that the legislature was seeking major changes to his LCFF.  He vowed to fight strongly for his proposal according to this piece in yesterday’s L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-brown-schools-20130425,0,4101190.story
   A new state law that passed last year will require the inclusion of graduation rates into a school’s API and lessen the weight given to standardized test scores.  How that is to be implemented is the task of the Public Schools Accountability Act Advisory Committee whose members are looking into creating the specific regulations for implementing the new law.  The SI&A CABINET REPORT has the details:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=3781
   As new, more rigorous, teacher evaluations are being implemented around the country the Aspen Institute offers a novel suggestion.  Why not survey teachers after they have received their evaluations to see if they are actually helping to achieve the intended goals?  Intrigued by this idea?  Check out this brief item explaining the concept at EDUCATION WEEK:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2013/04/report_survey_teachers.html
   Remember the report “A Nation at Risk” from Pres. Reagan’s Dept. of Education that detailed the shortcomings of the U.S. education system and offered a list of improvements?  Did you realize it was issued 30 years ago this week and that many of the weaknesses that it pointed out remain today and some of its suggestions for reform were ignored?  That’s the main point of this story from the ASSOCIATED PRESS:  http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NATION_AT_RISK?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&utm_source=feedly
   We all know that teachers make extraordinary sacrifices for their students.  Be it extra time, or money or just plain caring for their charges, most educators make the effort.  A front-page feature in Wednesday’s L.A. Times describes one teacher who went above and beyond the call of duty for one of her students who was undocumented.  This story, guaranteed, will bring a tear or two to your eyes. If it doesn’t there’s something wrong with you (or, perhaps, you read the wrong article):  http://www.latimes.com/news/columnone/la-me-ff-immigrant-teacher-20130423-dto,0,2505430.htmlstory
   Valerie Strauss reprints a sobering list of problems that Pearson, the standardized testing company, has had over the years with exams that it creates, scores and reports results for.  It was compiled by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing known as FairTest.  [Ed. note:  here’s a great example of where accountability in education might really work]:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/24/a-brief-history-of-pearsons-problems-with-testing/  Diane Ravitch has a LONG post on her blog today cataloging numerous errors and problems with Pearson and some people who are attempting to do something about them:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/04/26/alan-singer-pearson-fails-the-test-again-and-again/
   The “Ed News” is back to the obituaries to highlight this story from yesterday’s Times.  Former LAUSD board member and two-term president Tom Bartman died on Monday.  He was 67.  He was one of a conservative group on the board that voted to end the mandatory busing for school integration that was in effect at the time:  http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-tom-bartman-20130425,0,6400765.story
   Thanks to Larry Lawrence for sending along two interesting articles.  The first is from The Atlantic and reviews all the problems with the current corporate education reform movement and offers some real ideas for improving education.  It posits the idea that a revolution may finally be coming to public education in reaction to the overemphasis on testing, charter schools, vouchers and all the “experts” who claim to know how to bring business techniques to the job of teaching and that all these things may actually be harming students rather than helping them:  http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/the-coming-revolution-in-public-education/275163/  The second is from the Jersey Jazzman blog and continues the takedown of MIchelle Rhee by the John Merrow report (covered extensively in previous editions of the “Ed News”) that uncovered the memo about possible cheating on standardized tests in the Washington, D.C. schools.  It takes the controversy one step further and asks “Who creates these so-called educational reformers in the first place?  http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/04/who-created-michelle-rhee-john-merrow.html?m=1
   The leadership of UTLA is in bit of turmoil over a supposed deal between a union vice president and one candidate for the remaining open school board seat who is considered to be anti-union.  Yesterday’s L.A. Times attempts to sort this one out:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-sanchez-utla-20130425,0,1921204.story
   Valerie Strauss has an interesting post titled “Can Computers Really Grade Essay Tests?”  The National Council of Teachers of English answers “no.”  Some recently developed computer software says “yes.”  Here’s her article.  What do you think?  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/25/can-computers-really-grade-essay-tests/
   The “Ed News” has been following the large amounts of outside money that’s been rolling into open LAUSD school board seats.  The latest contribution is $350,000 from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to a coalition supporting Supt. John Deasy’s reform efforts according to this article from yesterday’s L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-school-board-money-20130425,0,6967603.story  Speaking of Supt. Deasy, an op-ed in today’s Times by a person who donated money to LAUSD board candidates who support the superintendent, believes that UTLA’s possible attempt to remove the district’s leader “would hurt students:”  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-lynton-why-is-utla-taking-on-superintendent–20130426,0,1391458.story  An editorial in the same paper endorsed Monica Ratliff for the one remaining LAUSD school board race in District 6 on the May 21st municipal election ballot:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/endorsements/la-ed-end-lausd-district-6-20130426,0,5139328.story
   Last week’s edition of the “Ed News” had a link to the obituary of long-time Eastside LAUSD social studies teacher Sal Castro who died at the age 79 on April 15th.  Today’s Times reports on his funeral, attended by over 1,000 people, held at the downtown Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-sal-castro-20130426,0,6067154.story
   A story from the Times website reports that 2 senior administrators and 2 principals were removed from their LAUSD positions pending the outcome of an investigation into their handling of a sexual misconduct case against an elementary school teacher in the Wilmington area.  One of the administrators, Linda Del Cueto, was the featured speaker at the 2010 ALOED Teachers Reception: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0426-lausd-probe-20130426,0,2697223.story
    And finally, the Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” offers a brief primer on the  educational reform know as “Linked Learning.”  It’s a plan that aims to lower dropout rates and increase preparedness for work and college for the state’s high school students.  Most previous reform efforts have focused on the primary grades.  This one is geared specifically to secondary education:  http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=757bdcd587&e=f7d7cb8d5d

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 23

“The soul takes nothing  with her to the next world but her education and her culture. At the beginning of the journey to the next world, one’s education and culture can either provide the greatest assistance, or else act as the greatest burden, to the person who has just died.”

―    Plato,    The Republic of Plato

   Valerie Strauss reprints a very interesting and powerful op-ed from Marion Brady in which he looks at what makes a teacher effective and how much of the current education reform agenda is forcing educators into the wrong roles:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/15/the-right-and-wrong-role-for-teachers/
   The “Ed News” highlighted several articles about the record amounts of outside money given to the 3 LAUSD school board races in March.  Two of those seats were decided in the first round of balloting but one position required a run-off.  Guess what?  Large amounts of money are being poured into that race which will be decided May 21st reports yesterday’s L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-school-money-20130421,0,1982149.story
   In a unanimous vote on Thursday the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) ruled that teacher interns will have to meet more stringent requirements in order to be able to work with ELLs in California.  Teacher for America (TFA) and other alternative certification programs were included in the new guidelines.  EdSource has this important story.  Check out the box “Going Deeper” at the end of this article for more resources on this issue:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/state-toughens-regs-for-interns-teaching-english-learners/30669#.UXV91OBwa22
   An extensive editorial in yesterday’s L.A. Times made the case for postponing implementation of the Common Core State Standards in California as the state does not appear to be anywhere near prepared for their scheduled arrival for the 2014-15 school year:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-common-core-20130422,0,7397614.story
   The GED (General Educational Development) high school equivalency exam is getting a major makeover that will make it more difficult to pass but, hopefully, it will test the skills required for success in the workplace or in post-secondary education.  The Washington Post has an interesting piece discussing the current issue and delving into the history of the GED.  Do you know when it was instituted and why?  When will the new test be introduced?  For answers to those questions and much more go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/ged-high-school-equivalency-test-to-get-major-overhaul-become-more-difficult/2013/04/20/a2427996-a126-11e2-82bc-511538ae90a4_story.html
   The hornets nest that was recently stirred up regarding cheating on standardized tests in the Washington, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) when they were run by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee gets another look in this article from EdSource.  It contains a link to the original blog from educational writer John Merrow titled “Michelle Rhee’s Reign of Error:”  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/d-c-cheating-issue-calls-test-driven-incentives-into-question/30754#.UXV9zOBwa22
   Put this one in the “We Could Have Seen This Coming” file:  Valerie Strauss points out that the latest Pearson designed Common Core State Standards aligned tests in New York State contain PLUGS FOR COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS.  She couldn’t resist commenting on the original story that appeared in the New York Post which her blog has a link to:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/20/new-standardized-tests-feature-plugs-for-commercial-products/?wprss=rss_national&utm_source=feedly
   A special program run by a New York based non-profit that trains teachers to become school administrators is being utilized up in the Bay Area as described in this article from the Contra Costa Times:  http://www.contracostatimes.com/west-county-times/ci_23072074/program-training-teachers-west-contra-costa-be-school
   There’s another “parent-trigger” law (a previous one was defeated last year) before the Florida legislature.  Valerie Strauss writes that you can tell a lot about it by looking at who is for it and who is against:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/23/parent-trigger-whos-for-it-and-whos-against-it-tells-the-story/
   NPR station KPCC reports on another alleged standardized test cheating incident.  This one took place in one classroom at McKinley Elementary School (Burbank Unified):  http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2013/04/22/13406/state-officials-to-decide-penalty-for-burbank-scho/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+893KpccSouthernCaliforniaNews+(KPCC%3A+News)
   And finally, Diane Ravitch highlights this post on her blog.  It’s written by a parent in L.A. who reports on the physical and psychological toll standardized testing is taking on her middle school daughter:  http://redqueeninla.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/a-parents-vignette-of-the-cst-from-child-level/

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 19

 “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”  ―    H.G. Wells
   The excessive suspension of students for “willful defiance” has been in the news lately.  Today State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson will release a much more detailed database of pupil statistics than has been compiled and made public before.  A State Senate committee got a preview of the figures while debating a bill about the issue.  This article from EdSource has some of the preliminary numbers:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/more-than-half-of-suspensions-are-for-willful-defiance-of-school-authorities/30375#.UW78riv5nye
   When Pres. Obama mentioned education in his State of the Union Address in February one of the points he highlighted was a “redesign” for the American high school.  To back up his words he introduced a $300 million competitive grant program for innovative ideas towards that end.  Both the pros and cons of the president’s proposals are discussed in this story from EDUCATION WEEK.  Be sure and look at the sidebar which features 3 model programs for secondary school redesign:  http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/04/17/28highschool_ep.h32.html?tkn=PVPFQTlyx8Y7If%2B7GBRrqQ3fqxjz9S%2FGguvW&cmp=clp-edweek  Also click on the Infographic box titled “Graduation Rates: Vital Stats.”
   There are many buzzwords for educational reform bandied about these days.  Two of them are “personalization” and “engagement.”  Valerie Strauss reprints a blog from a superintendent AND principal of a secondary school in Ohio who takes people to task for using the terms incorrectly:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/17/personalization-of-learning-genuine-or-slick-marketing/
   California Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff wants to expand the “parent-trigger” and “open enrollment” programs in the state with two bills he has introduced (SB 452 & SB 451) in the current session.  The SI&A CABINET REPORT discusses those two and several other education-related GOP legislation before the state legislature:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2772
   NPR has stated a 3-part series on the confluence of education and the arts.  the inaugural segment concentrates on a program partly funded by the federal government to use the arts to help turn around 8 under-performing schools from throughout the country with students from mostly poor families.  You can read the transcript and/or listen to the program (5:45 minutes) here:  http://www.npr.org/2013/04/16/176671432/creative-classes-an-artful-approach-to-improving-performance
   On the same day the U.S Senate defeated a gun safety bill in Washington, D.C., an Assembly committee in Sacramento rejected a bill (by a 6-1 vote) that would have promoted the training of school personnel to carry firearms on campuses in California in order to protect students.  This brief item was posted on the L.A. Times website Wednesday evening:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/political/la-me-pc-school-marshal-20130417,0,1663784.story  The focus of the gun safety bill in Washington, D.C., was on background checks but it also contained measures to provide mental health and other school safety proposals and they also went down as explained in this brief item from EDUCATION WEEK:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/04/school_safety_mental_health_pr.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29
   Gov. Brown’s proposal to provide more funds to school districts with high numbers of poor and ELL students is officially called
the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).  A new poll of 1,705 adults from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found a slim majority (52%) of voters favoring the plan for poor pupils but that number dropped to 40% when applied to English learners.  EdSource has those figures and more opinions about schools in the state here:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/voters-favor-extra-funds-for-poor-students-but-not-english-learners/30569#.UXA9VCv5nyd
The above article contains to link to the full report (36 pages) titled “Californians & Education” with lots of poll results about many topics.
   Yesterday’s L.A. Times picks up the story that broke over the weekend (and appeared in Tuesday’s “Ed News”) about former Washington, D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee and a memo made public by NPR that warned her of widespread cheating on standardized tests at some schools in her system.  The Times asked her directly about the scandal and her comment that she’s a “public school parent.”  You can read how she responded to both questions plus the article contains a link to the controversial memo (4 pages) and it makes for some very interesting reading.  Be sure to vote about what you think about Michelle Rhee in the poll question at the start of the article:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/education/la-me-rhee-20130418,0,4385169.story  For a humorous look at the testing scandal and Rhee’s alleged role in it, check out this parody cover of her appearance several years ago on the cover of TIME magazine.  This link was provided by someone who wrote a comment about the L.A. Times piece above:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/94930640@N02/8647715462/in/photostream  If you don’t recall or never saw the original TIME cover from the Dec. 8, 2008, issue, the “Ed News” was able to dig it up here:  http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20081208,00.html
   A big problem that leads to poor student achievement and ultimately to dropping out is attendance and truancy issues.  4 school districts (Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo and El Segundo)  in beach communities in L.A. have banded together to try to resolve these issues and help students to become successful in school.  They are slated to get an award today from State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in recognition of their achievement.  This SI&A CABINET REPORT item describes the award and discusses how their program works:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2774
   California’s “parent-trigger” law took effect in 2010.  Yesterday’s L.A. Times reports that, for the first time, a school district did not challenge a petition to take over a school.  The district, LAUSD, the school, 24th St. Elementary.  The board approved the partnership between the district and Crown Prep Academy Charter this week:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-parent-trigger-20130418,0,4717478.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedly
   The Common Core State Standards are not without their critics on both the left and right of the political spectrum.  The Republican Party, however, is making a concerted attack on them by threatening to withhold funding.  Valerie Strauss explains what they are up to on her blog:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/19/common-core-standards-attacked-by-republicans/
   Speaking of controversy.  The use of value-added measures (VAM) to rate teacher performance is right at the top of the list.  The Florida Education Association, which represents teachers, is taking the state to court challenging the use of VAM on teacher evaluations.  You can read all about it and what their rationale is for filing a lawsuit on the “HechingerEd” blog, part of The HECHINGER REPORT:  http://hechingered.org/content/will-value-added-measurement-survive-the-courts_6196/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HechingerReport+%28Hechinger+Report%29
   The Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” returns to the death of Sal Castro on Monday and reviews his fight for civil rights for Chicano students through the Eastside “blowouts” in relation to some current issues:  http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=7c8d649240&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   And finally, Occidental College has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons.  A group of current and former students and faculty filed a complaint with the U.S. Dept. of Education against the school alleging that the college was insensitive and failed to act properly regarding sex abuse cases on and near the campus.  You may have received an email from the college [the Chief Commissar got one yesterday] explaining the situation.  Today’s L.A. Times has the story:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-occidental-rape-20130419,0,1476316.story

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 16

“A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.”  ―    Theodore Roosevelt
   An attempt by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to close up to 13% of the campuses in that system is not being taken sitting down.  This article outlines how different groups including the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) are fighting back:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/15660-chicagoans-fight-for-education-and-against-standardized-testing
   The final vote count for the Glendale School Board was posted late last week and was certified yesterday.  ALOED’s own Jennifer Freemon placed a close fourth (out of seven candidates) for the 3 available seats.  The complete official results are here.  Scroll down to the GUSD Governing Board chart:  http://www.glendalevotes.org/
   Nancy Kuechle found this op-ed piece from Saturday’s New York Times (it appeared on their web site on Friday) after it was posted on Natalie Kolodinski’s Facebook page who got it from her mom Janice Kolodinski.  Jill Asbjornsen also sent it to the “Ed News.”  It looks at ways to truly reform education with a focus on the professionalization of the teaching profession:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/13/opinion/teachers-will-we-ever-learn.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&emc=eta1
   In the aftermath of the recent primary election for 3 seats on the LAUSD school board, yesterday’s L.A. Times identified some of the movers and shakers who contributed large amounts of money to the various races.  These donors far surpassed the amount of dollars injected into previous races by outsides sources:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-adv-lausd-money-20130415,0,6947986.story?utm_source=feedly
   Thanks to Randy Traweek for forwarding this article from The New York Times.   It reports that an NPR correspondent has uncovered a memo warning of widespread cheating on standardized tests in the Washington, D.C. schools, in 2008 during the tenure of Superintendent Michelle Rhee.  Ms. Rhee, in a statement claimed she couldn’t recall receiving the memo.  Your can sort out the details here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/13/education/hearing-on-test-cheating-claim-in-washington.html?src=recg&_r=0
   Over the weekend, delegates to the St

ate Democratic Party Convention blasted several groups including StudentsFirst (led my Michelle Rhee) and Democrats for Education Reform as being fronts for Republican attempts to privatize/voucherize public education.  Yesterday’s L.A. Times covers the issue:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-democrats-20130415,0,2919125.story
   Erik Eckholm (Oxy ’71) reports in The New York Times what several critics have discovered: “With Police in Schools, More Children [end up] in [the] Court System:”  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/education/with-police-in-schools-more-children-in-court.html?pagewanted=1&hp
   The L.A. Daily News has a piece about how LAUSD Supt. John Deasy has become a lightning rod for both critics and supporters of his program to reform the district:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-democrats-20130415,0,2919125.story
   One of the prime movers behind recent “parent-trigger” takeovers of schools in California and other states is a Los Angeles based advocacy group called “Parent Revolution.”  An extensive expose by Frying Pan News [Ed. note: That is their name.  This is a newly discovered source for the “Ed News.”] looks at the leaders of the group, where their funding comes from (Walton and Gates Foundations among others) and what their agenda is:  http://fryingpannews.org/2013/04/02/public-schools-private-agendas-parent-revolution/
   Are Teach for America (TFA) candidates qualified to work with ELLs under California state law?  The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is scheduled to take up that issue and vote on the matter later this week.  Anthony Cody on his blog for EDUCATION WEEK reports, in detail, on the story:  http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/04/tfa_faces_a_california_showdow.html
   The ever expanding granting of charter applications by the State Board of Education is drawing the scrutiny of California lawmakers who are interested in whether there is proper oversight of these charters which have grown in numbers from 8 three years ago to more than 30 today.  Local school districts and county school boards also have the ability to grant charter applications according to this article from the SI&A CABINET REPORT:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2768
   The “Ed News” doesn’t usually feature the obituaries.  However, today’s L.A. Times has an extensive look at the life and death of LAUSD Social Studies teacher Sal Castro who died yesterday at age 79.  He was one of the leaders of the Eastside “blowouts” in 1968 when students from 5 high schools marched off their campuses to protest poor conditions for Latino students:  http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-sal-castro-20130416,0,6720373.story
   In a story the “Ed News” previewed last week, the LAUSD board today will take up a measure by member Tamar Galatzan to deal more quickly  and fairly with teachers who are charged with misconduct and placed in “teacher jails.”  UTLA is supporting the effort but has a few reservations regarding the details.  This item is also in today’s Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teacher-jail-20130416,0,5155435.story  This graphic appeared in a related story on the Times website this morning:
In a related matter to this one, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is seeking to change and clarify procedures for school districts to refer disciplinary actions against teachers to the CTC.  This comes in light of the LAUSD sending over 600 cases of teacher misconduct to the Commission in a 3 month span last year which swamped the system and led to long delays.  The SI&A CABINET REPORT provides the story:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2770
    An editorial in the same paper supports a proposal before the LAUSD board today to deal with students who are “wilfully defiant” in ways other than outright suspension from school:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-suspensions-lausd-20130416,0,4313965.story
   Valerie Strauss follows-up on a blog she posted in December (and featured by the “Ed News”) in which a teacher in Florida was evaluated using test scores of students and subjects she didn’t teach.  Now that teacher and 6 others have filed suit against that practice:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/15/lawsuit-stop-evaluating-teachers-on-test-scores-of-students-they-never-taught/
   And finally, in 2011 the LAUSD began a program to serve daily breakfasts in elementary classrooms around the district.  UTLA conducted an online poll among teachers regarding the practice and found a number of complaints according to this piece in the L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-classroom-breakfasts-20130415,0,6454842.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+(L.A.+Now)  You can check out the survey results from the UTLA website here:  http://www.utla.net/bicsurveyresults  Click on the graph to see results for each question asked and click on the chalkboard to read individual teacher comments about the program.  You can also view a video (6:21 minutes) about the poll.

April 12

“When I am king they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out of books, for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved.” ― Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper
   EdSource provides some comparisons of how districts will fare monetarily under Gov. Brown’s proposed funding formula:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/apples-to-apples-comparison-of-browns-funding-formula/30110#.UWWpBqv5nye  The governor’s plan has been getting a rocky reception from education leaders in the State Assembly this week.  This story in the SI&A CABINET REPORT detail some of the criticisms of the controversial proposal:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2762
   High school graduation rates in California inched up again in 2012 according to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle.  African-American and Hispanic students posted the largest gains based on an analysis of the latest date from the State Dept. of Education:  http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/State-graduation-rates-inch-higher-4421580.php#ixzz2Q5LH9SK8
   The teaching of climate change will be included in the new national science standards released Tuesday.  They address the first change in 15 years to the way science is taught in classrooms throughout the U.S.  California will review the new standards and vote on whether to accept them in November.  Wednesday’s L.A. Times provides the details:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-science-20130409,0,1524486.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+(L.A.+Now)
   Fewer California community college students are finishing two-year degrees and transferring to a 4-year college or university based on data released by the system’s chancellor’s office.  The Times again has this story:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-college-scorecard-20130409,0,554227.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+(L.A.+Now)
   In the on-going saga of the “parent-trigger” takeover of 24th St. Elementary (LAUSD), yesterday’s Times reports that the parents have agreed on a charter to take over the grade 5-8 portion of the school:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0411-parent-vote-20130411,0,6821401.story
   Valerie Strauss (you know her) reprints a blog from Linda Darling-Hammond (you know her, too) about the need for teachers to have time to collaborate particularly with the arrival of the Common Core State Standards:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/11/what-teachers-need-and-reformers-ignore-time-to-collaborate/
   Pres. Obama unveiled his fiscal year 2014 budget on Wednesday and it included some substantial increases for education.  Check out what programs were winners in this story from EDUCATION WEEK.  Keep in mind these are only proposals.  They must be passed by both the Senate and House before they become lawhttp://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/04/obama_budget_would_invest_in_p.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29&utm_content=Google+Reader
   This item from the SI&A CABINET REPORT describes several bills making their way through the California Legislature that deal with education technology, the Common Core State Standards and the new science curriculum:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2764
   Another California school district, Fresno Unified, is adopting the alternative approach to student behavior known as “Restorative Justice.”  The “Ed News” has highlighted this system in the past.  For a review of how it works check out this article in The Fresno Bee:  http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/04/10/3252573/fresno-unified-leaders-embrace.html
   UTLA recently held a week-long “no-confidence” vote on the job of Supt. John Deasy.  Today’s L.A. Times published the results.  Not surprisingly, 91% of the votes cast disapproved of his performance.  A second measure, critical of the union’s leadership also passed with 77% in favor.  Read about both here:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0412-teachers-deasy-20130412,0,7411286.story  Somebody seems to like the job Supt. Deasy is doing.  This week’s edition of the LA WEEKLY has a laudatory article about his role in firing “lemon teachers” with nary a word that some of them were fired or forced to resign with little or no due process:  http://www.laweekly.com/2013-04-11/news/dance-of-lemons-lausd-firing-jumps/?ref=trending
   An editorial in yesterday’s Times reacted to a Bill Gates op-ed in The Washington Post regarding the overuse of standardized test scores in teacher evaluations that a previous “Ed News” featured.  The piece was critical of Gates’ apparent change of direction since his foundation had been at the forefront of pushing districts to adopt test scores in their evaluations of educators:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-gates-testing-teacher-evaluations-20130411,0,7561671.story  The Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” echoed the Times editorial about Bill Gates’ change of heart but was critical of the paper for being one of the first to publish individual teacher test scores:  http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=9d0bbc23ce&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   Thanks to Nancy Kuechle for sending along this article from EDUCATION WEEK.   Even though it was published in Aug., 2011, it has a number of handy tips for using technology in the classroom.  http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2011/08/10/barnett_hightechteaching.html?tkn=WMZF3yV56Iw0seCA2qBYyku1JmjJUSRrlTxQ&cmp=ENL-TU-NEWS1
   The SI&A CABINET REPORT highlights a report to the state legislature from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) that points out a steep decline in the number of teachers earning credentials.  Last year’s figure was under 16,500–a 10-year low!
The number of candidates entering teacher training programs has also been steadily declining.  Here are the details:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2766
   L.A. mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel stated in a speech yesterday that she wants to be the city’s “education reform mayor.”   She outlined some of her other education policies in her talk at Granada Hills Charter High School according to this story in the L.A. Daily News:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23008194/wendy-greuel-pledges-be-l-s-education-reform?source=rss
   And finally, the State of Texas, where test-based accountability got its start, is seriously considering back-tracking on the number of tests administered in its schools.  The state legislature is working on a couple of bills that would reduce the number of exams that must be passed to earn a diploma from 15 to 5 among other curriculum issues.  The New York Times has the details and the implications for other states:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/11/education/texas-considers-reversing-tough-testing-and-graduation-requirements.html?src=recg&_r=0
Today is Friday which means HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

April 5

“I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough…the more one reads the more one sees we have to read.” ― John Adams
   ALOED’s own Jennifer Freemon was running for a spot on the Glendale School Board in Tuesday’s elections.  The top 3 vote-getters would become board members.  She was a VERY close fourth (out of 7 candidates) in the unofficial results according to this story in the Glendale News-Press:  http://www.glendalenewspress.com/news/election/tn-gnp-0403-close-call-could-cost-glendale-school-board-incumbent-her-seat,0,1761709.story For the election day results go to the City of Glendale web site and scroll down to the school board totals:  http://www.glendalevotes.org/
   Much of the news this week was dominated by the extensive cheating scandal in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS).  The author of this op-ed believes that the recent indictments should have included people even higher up than the superintendent, i.e., the president of the United States and the secretary of the Dept. of Education:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/15510-the-road-to-atlantas-standardized-test-cheating-scandal  This piece refers to a report from FairTest that documents cheating in 37 other states and the District of Columbia.  You can read the press release about that report here:  http://www.fairtest.org/2013-Cheating-Report-PressRelease  It includes 2 attachments at the bottom.  One, lists the states where cheating took place and the second one features over 50 ways that test scores were enhanced.  Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, weighed in on the scandal with, not surprisingly, some very pointed criticisms of how standardized tests scores are being misused in this comment for the Huffington Post.  It includes a video (1:52 minutes) about the Atlanta scandalhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/randi-weingarten-atlanta-cheating-scandal_n_3002004.html?utm_hp_ref=@education123  A L.A. Times editorial on Wednesday opined about the situation in Atlanta:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-cheating-atlanta-test-scores-20130403,0,6992628.story  The Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” summarized the scandal and some of the reactions to it:  http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=1d1bdfc06b&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   The National Rifle Association (NRA), on Tuesday, unveiled its plan for school protection in light of the shooting that killed 20 students and 6 adults in Connecticut.  It includes a number of proposals including having more armed personnel on campus, fences, bullet-proof glass and tamper-proof hinges installed in classrooms among other proposals.  The New York Times has the details: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/us/nra-details-plan-for-armed-school-guards.html?_r=0  You can read the full NRA report (20 pages) titled “The National School Shield” here:  http://www.nraschoolshield.com/NSS_Final.pdf  This blog, from THINKPROGRESS, was highly critical of the plan and pointed out several contradictions in NRA policy: http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/04/02/1810441/nra-concedes-background-checks-are-necessary/?mobile=nc  The head of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest teachers organization in the country, was quick to react to the NRA proposals and he, predictably, was not impressed.  This article appeared on the CNN Politics web site:  http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/03/nea-chief-cool-to-nra-recommendations/  In response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary the LAUSD has hired over 400 safety aids to patrol its elementary schools reports The L.A. Daily News:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_22930392/lausd-adds-400-security-aides-at-elementary-schools?source=rss
   Wednesday’s L.A. Times had a very interesting front-page feature about an all-girls wrestling (yes, wrestling!) team from Panorama High School and how they are altering ideas about contact sports, feminism and competition:  http://www.latimes.com/news/columnone/la-me-girl-wrestling-20130402-dto,0,1191265.htmlstory
   Bill Gates, in an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post, issued a plea for using multiple measures for evaluating teachers and not relying so much on test scores.  He provides a very interesting analogy from professional football to make his cogent point:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bill-gates-a-fairer-way-to-evaluate-teachers/2013/04/03/c99fd1bc-98c2-11e2-814b-063623d80a60_story.html  This commentary from EDUCATION WEEK reacted to the Gates piece:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2013/04/bill_gates_dont_overuse_tests_in_teachers_evaluations.html  Anthony Cody, in his “Living in Dialog” column for the same publication was highly skeptical of Gates’ motivation:  http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/04/bill_gates_dances_around_the.html
   Are there any large urban public school districts that are successful at teaching groups of poor and minority students?  Valerie Strauss comments on a new book titled Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System And A Strategy for America’s Schools that highlights one such story and excerpts a small section of the book.  Might this be a title for the next ALOED book club?     http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/04/an-urban-school-district-that-works-without-miracles-or-superman/
   The LAUSD has decided to work with a group that invoked the “parent-trigger” law to take control of 24th Street Elementary School.  Under the proposal the district will run the K-4 grades and a charter grades 5-8.  Does this need some sorting out?  Check out yesterday’s L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-trigger-20130404,0,7784984.story?track=rss
   The president of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Karen Lewis, is the subject of an interview with The Real News Network (TRNN), regarding the proposed closure of a number of schools in the City of Chicago.  You can read the interview and/or view the full video (12:03 minutes) of it here:  http://truth-out.org/video/item/15543-chicago-teachers-union-president-karen-lewis-on-fighting-school-closures
   And finally, Valerie Strauss highlights the “United Opt Out” event that started yesterday and runs through Sunday called “Occupy the DOE” in Washington, D.C. by giving her space over to a new pre-K teacher from New England who explains why she’s attending:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/04/why-renowned-educators-and-new-teachers-are-occupying-ed-dept/

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar