June 18

“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”  ―    Will Durant
   The LAUSD and other California districts will be spared lay-off notices this year because of the improving economic situation in the state and the passage of Prop. 30.  However, the rest of the nation has not been so lucky.  The “Ed News” has already highlighted the dire situation in Philadelphia and now comes word from the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES that over 850 teachers and staff at schools slated to be closed or reconstituted in that city received pink slips on Friday:  http://www.suntimes.com/20741706-418/850-teachers-staffers-get-pink-slips-at-closing-turnaround-schools.html
   The Friday edition of the “Ed News” highlighted a new “Education Declaration to Rebuild America” that was signed by a number of prominent leaders in the field.  This op-ed from the CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA’S FUTURE strongly endorses the document and gives you an opportunity to add your name to the list of supporters  [Ed. note:  The Chief Commissar of Current Events proudly added his name]:  http://blog.ourfuture.org/20130613/fighting-for-our-classrooms-and-for-the-human-beings-inside-them?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fighting-for-our-classrooms-and-for-the-human-beings-inside-them
   The California legislature passed Gov. Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) as part of the state budget bill on Friday.  A number of school districts around the state with small numbers of low-income and/or English learners are forming a coalition to try to make changes to the law that will allow their “invisible students” to enjoy the extra funding that schools with high numbers of “needy students” will be getting.  A front-page story in yesterday’s L.A. Times sorts all this out for you with specific examples of the pupils mentioned and impacted districts:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-school-finance-20130617,0,7095145.story
   You’ve probably read about how large companies in the U.S. make all kinds of effort to avoid paying taxes.  Did you ever wonder if that has any impact on education funding?  This op-ed from Nation of Change looks at how corporate state tax avoidance affects public school finances:  http://www.nationofchange.org/why-our-schools-are-broke-five-years-corporate-state-tax-avoidance-1371477824
    An extended editorial in yesterday’s L.A. Times asks the critical question “Was Adopting Common Core A Mistake?”  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-race-to-the-top-common-core-curriculum-20130617,0,7818933.story
   Talk about taking using test scores to evaluate teachers to the extreme, you must check out why Florida just passed a law that states educators cannot be evaluated using test scores of students they never taught.  Valerie Strauss is very distressed by what is passing for school “reform” in the Sunshine State:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/16/new-florida-law-teachers-cant-be-evaluated-on-students-they-dont-have/
   The “debate” over the “parent trigger” between Ben Austin, founder of the Parent Revolution group, and Diane Ravitch is heating up.  Ravitch comments on her blog on the organization’s latest effort to respond to her comments last week (covered by the “Ed News”):  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/17/parent-revolution-creates-a-truth-site-to-debunk-me/   You can read Parent Revolution’s piece about her, part of their new series titled “Truth in Education Reform” here:  http://truthinedreform.org/   As they say on television–STAY TUNED!
   The title (on the website) of Sandy Banks’ column in today’s L.A. Times pretty much tells it all “Here’s A Teacher I’d Want for My Children.”  It features a first-year teacher in a third-grade class in a charter school in south L.A.:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0618-banks-teacher-20130618,0,6501860,full.column
   Valerie Strauss turns her blog over to the editors of Rethinking Education who take a detailed (critical) look at the Common Core State Standards which, they claim in their piece, are not really “state” standards:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/18/the-common-cores-fundamental-trouble/
   WOW!  This should really stir things up.  The long anticipated ratings of teacher training programs around the country are out.  California came out smelling like a skunk!  The state’s teacher education schools were among the lowest rated with UCLA and LMU noted as “hardly worth attending.”  The metrics were developed by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and were published by U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT.  Only 4 schools received the group’s highest 4-star rating.  An article in today’s L.A. Times features the report:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0618-teacher-training-20130618,0,5100253.story  THE WASHINGTON POST covered the same story this way:   http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/university-programs-that-train-us-teachers-get-mediocre-marks-in-first-ever-ratings/2013/06/17/ab99d64a-d75b-11e2-a016-92547bf094cc_story.html  Thanks to Jill Asbjornsen for passing along this link to the full report (112 pages) titled “Teacher Prep Review:”  http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Teacher_Prep_Review_2013_Report-tsv201361891546  Reactions to the report were swift and not complimentary.  Linda Darling-Hammond, whose book Powerful Teacher Education about exemplary teacher training programs was an ALOED book club selection a year-and-a-half ago, used Valerie Strauss’ column to pen a scathing critique titled “Why the NCTQ Teacher Prep Ratings are Nonsense:”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/18/why-the-nctq-teacher-prep-ratings-are-nonsense/   On her blog, Diane Ravitch reviewed the NCTQ report and said IT deserves an “F:”  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/18/that-nctq-report-on-teacher-education-f/
   The LAUSD is flush with cash for the first time in almost half a decade.  Today the district’s board takes up a number of proposals about how to spend this windfall.  An editorial in today’s L.A. Times suggests several ideas that should be funded and urges the board not to be foolish with its resources:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-lausd-budget-20130618,0,7710361.story
   The L.A. Daily News has 2 articles about the LAUSD.  The first deals with the district’s decision to shift hundreds of students in the fall from special-education centers to traditional schools in order to comply with federal and state mandates and a court consent decree:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23464708/more-special-ed-kids-head-traditional-schools   The second is a feature on newest LAUSD board member Monica Ratliff who will take her seat, representing schools in the east San Fernando Valley, on July 2.  She recently went through a 3-day orientation at the district’s downtown headquarters and reports on her goals for her new position:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23480273/new-lausd-board-member-monica-ratliff-seeks-end?source=rss&utm_source=feedly
   And finally, newly reelected LAUSD board member, Steve Zimmer, is introducing a resolution at the board’s meeting today to make changes to the “parent trigger” law.  NPR station KPCC has the details:  http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2013/06/17/14022/la-unified-school-board-member-wants-changes-to-ca/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+893KpccSouthernCaliforniaNews+%28KPCC%3A+News%29
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar
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