May 24

Office of the Commissar of Current Events
Monday is the Memorial Day Holiday. 
Enjoy the 3-Day Weekend!
“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” ― James Madison  
[Ed. note:  Because of the Monday holiday the Tuesday issue of the “Ed News” may be delayed by one day or combined with the Friday edition.]
   And now to the news.  California dropped one spot to number 35 among the states in per pupil spending based on the latest figures from 2011.  This item, posted on the L.A. Times web site Tuesday afternoon, has the discouraging details.  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-school-spending-20130521,0,1671854.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29  THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reports that per student expenditures for education across the nation have FALLEN for the first time in over 30 years:  http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/05/21/public-spending-per-student-drops/
   An editorial in Wednesday’s L.A. Times supports the current “parent trigger” law but suggests several changes:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-parent-trigger-24th-street-elementary-20130522,0,4013260.story
   California is the latest state to offer the General Educational Development (GED) test on the computer.  This article, also from Wednesday’s Times, features a 59-year-old mother who took the exam using the latest technology:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-ged-computer-20130513,0,6133907.story
   The new Common Core State Standards have been criticized for their English and math content.  This author, a guest writer on Anthony Cody’s blog at EDUCATION WEEK, bemoans the treatment they afford  Social Studies claiming that the focus on the first two subjects is “crowding out” the creative, exciting teaching of History.  Thanks to Larry Lawrence for sending this story:  http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/05/paul_horton_will_career_teache.html  Larry also forwarded this video (11:19 minutes) that compares the progress of education between the U.S. and Finland over the past 6+ decades.  It was created by a New York teacher who is currently working and doing research in Finland and it comes from the blog @ the Chalkface:  http://atthechalkface.com/2013/05/22/the-first-finland-comparison-ive-cared-about-in-months/
   Fifth-grade teacher Monica Ratliff won the LAUSD District 6 board seat in the eastern San Fernando Valley with 52% of the vote on Tuesday.  The win was described as “a huge upset” as detailed in this story in yesterday’s L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-schools-20130522,0,5319743.story
   The California Teachers Association has come out in favor of Gov. Brown’s new funding formula for schools.  You can listen to the very brief segment (0:49 minutes) and/or read the full transcript from capital public radio here:  http://www.capradio.org/188172?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CapitalPublicRadioLatestNewsRSS+(Capital+Public+Radio%3A+Latest+News+RSS)
   Valerie Strauss provides another story of a veteran teacher who just “can’t take it any more.”  A fourth-grade teacher in Highland Park, Illinois, put together a video (10:27 minutes) in which she matter-of-factly explains why she is quitting the profession.  You can all probably relate to what she laments has happened over the past 15 years:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/23/teachers-resignation-video-everything-i-loved-about-teaching-is-extinct/
   Was anyone aware that the most recent California Teacher of the Year is an OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE graduate (’99)?  Her name is l’Asha Warfield and she hadn’t intended to go into teaching until she was accepted into the Teach for America program.  She stuck around after her two-year stint with TFA was up and has now been teaching English for 13 years at an Oakland middle school.  You can read all about her in this extended profile from EdSource:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/woman-who-never-intended-to-teach-now-praised-as-california-teacher-of-the-year/32278#.UZ5UVSv5nyd
   72% of the educators who voted and the school board of the San Jose Unified have agreed to a new, innovative teacher evaluation process for the district.  EdSource profiles what might become a model for other distritcts: http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/san-jose-teachers-board-adopt-landmark-teacher-evaluation-system/32542#.UZ-juSv5nye
   Hawaii’s experiment with extending the school day did not quite work out as hoped.  NPR station KPCC briefly reports on some of the obstacles that were encountered and what lessons can be learned for other districts/states contemplating instituting this reform:  http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2013/05/23/13780/hawaii-s-experiment-in-fixing-schools-may-hold-les/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+893KpccSouthernCaliforniaNews+(KPCC%3A+News)
   As reported in the Tuesday edition of the “Ed News” the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) board on Wednesday voted to close 50 of a proposed 54 campuses despite strong protests from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and community activists.   NPR covered the story:  http://www.npr.org/2013/05/23/186195961/disappointed-by-school-closing-vote-union-targets-elected-officials?ft=1&f=1013  Diane Ravitch saw fit to post this complete interview with a History teacher from the University of Chicago Labratory High School describing what the school closures will mean to the city:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/05/24/the-scoop-on-chicago-privatization/
   The State of California is proposing major changes to the way teachers are recruited, trained, hired, evaluated and supported.  One aspect of this reform is to move from a traditional model of “professional development” to one known as “professional learning.”  Confused as to what all that means?  This piece from EdSource promises to clarify the issues for you:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/evolving-from-professional-development-to-professional-learning/32586#.UZ-j4yv5nye
   As usual, Valerie Strauss is able to focus on a complex issue with easy to understand information and graphics.  This time she highlights a newly released report that tackles the issue “The Problems Facing Community Colleges–in Seven Graphs:”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/23/the-problems-facing-community-colleges-in-seven-graphs/  You can read the entire report (83 pages), from The Century Foundation, titled “Bridging the Higher Education Divide, Strengthening Community Colleges and Restoring the American Dream” here:  http://tcf.org/assets/downloads/20130523-Bridging_the_Higher_Education_Divide-REPORT-ONLY.pdf
   And finally, with the L.A. mayor’s race now behind us Anthony Cody reports that 3 big cities, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., have mayors who control the local public school system.  How has that arrangement worked out?  Should it continue?  Should L.A. change its charter to allow the same?  You can read Cody’s column titled “Chicago: Time to End the Billionaires’ Experiments with Mayoral Control?” from EDUCATION WEEK here:  http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?DISPATCHED=true&cid=25983841&item=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs.edweek.org%2Fteachers%2Fliving-in-dialogue%2F2013%2F05%2Fchicago_has_the_billionaires_e.html
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar
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