May 17

“The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.”   ―     Baruch Spinoza
   Valerie Strauss reprints the commencement address delivered by Richard Rothstein at the Loyola University Chicago School of Education in which he warns the graduates to beware of certain “fantasies driving school reform.”  It should be noted that Diane Ravitch also highlighted this.  That makes it doubly significant!   http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-fantasies-driving-school-reform-a-primer-for-education-graduates/2012/05/13/gIQA5vwzLU_blog.html
   In a follow-up to a couple of articles highlighted in the Tuesday edition of the “Ed News” the Wednesday L.A. Times reported on the LAUSD board’s decision to continue to fund the Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program for pupils at a number of district elementary schools:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-la-school-board-continues-breakfast-in-the-classroom-program-20130514,0,1266983.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+(L.A.+Now)  The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reviews the 5-2 board vote to end student suspensions for “willful defiance:”  http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/05/16/12692/los-angeles-school-board-cracks-down-suspensions-minor-infractions   The UCLA IDEA Friday “Themes in the News” takes a look at LAUSD’s new stance on “willful defiance” and puts it into a broader context:  http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=13970ee161&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   The two candidates for L.A. mayor, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti, opined on several subjects related to L.A. schools according to this story in Wednesday’s L.A. Timeshttp://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-mayor-daily-20130515,0,2943306.story  Bennett Kayser, a member of the LAUSD board, reminded both candidates that the mayor of L.A. and the city council have no direct control over city schools.   If they want to have an impact on students there are a number of things they do have control over that they could concentrate on.  He made these points in this op-ed in the same paper:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-kayser-the-mayor-and-the-schools-20130515,0,487190.story
   3 high schools in New York City are using a highly innovative team approach to get students ready for college level work.  Working with an organization called “Blue Engine” that helps recruit recent college graduates who serve as full-time teacher assistants in English and math classes the approach uses a number of strategies to motivate and assist students. One goal is to break large classrooms into smaller groups with a ratio of one adult for every 6 pupils.  The results, so far, are quite remarkable.  This op-ed in The New York Times describes how the program works:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/a-team-approach-to-get-students-college-ready/?hp
   The continuing saga of the forced school closings in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system was ratcheted up a notch when the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) filed two class action lawsuits challenging the shuttering of 53 schools.  The union cited a number of reasons for their case which you can read about here courtesy of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/20125866-418/ctu-to-file-civil-rights-suits-over-school-closings.html

   As the Common Core State Standards approach there is growing speculation that states may request delays in implementing some or all of the program.  Might U.S. Sec. of Education Arne Duncan lead the charge on delay?  This short item from EDUCATION WEEK suggests that may be a possibility:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/05/would_arne_duncan_consider_cal.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29
   Do you know what “social and emotional learning” entails?  This article from EdSource explains what it’s all about and how it is gaining prominence under the Common Core:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/social-and-emotional-learning-gaining-new-traction-under-common-core/32161#.UZWC8P_n-ov
   Larry Cuban is a former social studies teacher and a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University.  He has his own blog called “School Reform and Classroom Practice.”  He recently wrote this piece titled “How to Teach History.  [Ed. note: The Chief Commissar taught social studies for 37 years in the LAUSD.  This one struck a particularly personal note]:” http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/how-to-teach-history/
   Remember the “Arab Spring” of a few years ago?  Well, the author of this blog from the CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA’S FUTURE posits the idea of  “America’s Education Spring.”  What does he mean by that?  Like the popular uprisings that overthrew several long-time Arab dictators, there are more and more push backs against the top-down efforts at corporate education reform.  This article reviews a number of individuals and groups who are fighting back against NCLB, standardized testing, unfair teacher evaluations and big money foundations:  http://blog.ourfuture.org/20130515/americas-education-spring-a-growing-revolt-against-reform-mandates  [Ed. note:  Just to show that the “Ed News” is in good company, Valerie Strauss also featured the above item.  It makes us feel kind of important.]
   And finally, the discussion/debate with Democratic state legislators over Gov. Brown’s new funding formula continues.  This piece from the VENTURA COUNTY STAR brings you up-to-date on the latest developments:  http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/may/16/brown-lawmakers-still-apart-over-details-of-plan/?partner=RSS&utm_source=feedly#ixzz2TZp2BjCR

 
Dave Alpert (’71)

Chief Commissar

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