June 4

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”

―    Dalai Lama XIV

 The “Ed News” has been diligently chronicling the move to close over 50 schools in Chicago.  This article details what’s been happening as the Washington, D.C., Public Schools (DCPS) moves to close 15 campuses and how many critics believe the plan smacks of racism:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/16672-racist-school-closings-in-washington-dc
   The financial woes for the LAUSD continue!  The beleaguered district’s insurance company sued on Wednesday in L.A. Superior Court to avoid having to pay the costs of the settlement the district reached with 58 victims of the alleged abuse case at Miramonte Elementary School.  The cost could ultimately reach $30 million.  Saturday’s L.A. Times sorts out all the details:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0601-miramonte-settle-20130601,0,2586901.story
   Supposed education “champion” and former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, has nothing but “disdain” for public schools proclaims Valerie Strauss in this scathing entry on her blog about the possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/31/jeb-bushs-disdain-for-public-education/
   Philosopher, author, pundit and MIT professor Noam Chomsky comments on the history of education in this country and where he thinks it’s headed in this interview:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/16651-noam-chomsky-on-democracy-and-education-in-the-21st-century-and-beyond
   In a front page feature article in Sunday’s L.A. Times the Common Core State Standards are described in layman’s terms and some of the pros and cons are raised.  Some lessons and activities that are being tried out in the Santa Ana Unified School District are shared:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-adv-schools-standards-20130602,0,1589134,full.story
    An editorial in the same paper revisits the “parent trigger” law and finds some more deficiencies in the way it it written.  The removal of a popular principal at Weigand Avenue Elementary school (which the “Ed News” highlighted last week) is used as an example of what needs fixing:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-trigger-20130602,0,1845434.story  21 of 22 teachers at Weigand plan to leave the school in protest over how the principal was treated.  They believe a more open, transparent approach to “parent trigger” campaigns would be a way to provide information to people prior to their signing petitions:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-parent-

trigger-20130531,0,7501095.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+(L.A.+Now)  An op-ed in yesterday’s paper takes a different view of how the “parent trigger” was utilized at Weigand Ave by claiming that the removal of the principal shows that parents want change at their schools quickly:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-newton-parent-trigger-weigand-20130603,0,7865288.column
   A front page story in yesterday’s Times describes a move that’s afoot to reform how school bond issue campaigns are handled.  The use of bond underwriters and the lack of competitive bids are two of the main items being looked at by the state legislature:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bond-donations-20130603,0,3479332,full.story
    In his column in the same paper George Skelton predicts that Gov. Brown is about to gain a “big victory” for his Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) for schools (an issue extensively covered by the “Ed News”).  Skelton notes, however, that the win was subject to some important changes by member of the legislature:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap-schools-20130603,0,2078852,full.column  EdSource is also predicting a big win for Gov. Brown’s funding plan.  This item provides a short history of it, how it works and some of the groups who have signed on in support (including Michelle Rhee’s organization):  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/governor-brown-eyes-yet-another-education-victory/32907#.Ua5StmT5nye
   Three high school teams from LAUSD were among 20 campuses from around the country that will compete in the Aspen Challenge  in Colorado at the end of this month.  Their task is to find creative solutions to some of society’s most intractable problems.  This piece from yesterday’s Times highlights what each of the local schools has developed:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-aspen-challenge-20130603,0,174789.story
   The LAUSD voted last month to become the first district in the state to end suspensions for “wilful defiance” and move away from “zero tolerance” policies of the past regarding student behavior.  In there place are suggested programs like “restorative justice” based on a book titled “Discipline That Restores, Strategies to Create Respect, Cooperation and Responsibility in the Classroom.”  All these ideas and programs are the subject of this article from HealthyCal and will bring you up to speed on any of these concepts that you may not be fully aware of:  http://www.healthycal.org/archives/12127
   Two bills were introduced in Congress at the end of May with vastly different ideas of how the federal government should be involved in the preparation of teachers in the future.  Both are described by this story from EDUCATION WEEK:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2013/05/Differing_viewpoints_on_teacher_prep.html
   And finally, the LAUSD has a radically different teacher evaluation system that is scheduled to roll out next year.  Many districts around the state and the country are watching intently to see how it works.  This extended piece from the Center for Investigative Reporting explains how it came into being and how it will work:  http://cironline.org/reports/state-watches-la-unified-tests-new-ways-grade-teachers-4625
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

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