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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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