June 21

“Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.”  ―    Ambrose Bierce,    The Devil’s Dictionary
   A nonprofit primarily funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Carnegie foundations called InBloom has been helping to design education programs for students and in return will be able to mine valuable personal data about those pupils.  If you thought the NSA was snooping on your phone calls and emails wait until you read about this.  The publication DOLLARS & SENSE has the frightening details:  http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2013/0513schneider.html
   The LAUSD board was faced with a number of budget decisions on Tuesday.  One of the biggest, money wise, was their agreement to sign an initial $30 million contract for a pilot program with Apple to provide iPads for all students at 47 schools.  Wednesday’s L.A. Times describes the nuts and bolts of the agreement along with several other actions taken by the board:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0619-lausd-20130619,0,3194906.story  This short article in the L.A. Daily News briefly reviewed the budget deliberations and some of the board discussion and debate:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23488981/lausd-board-passes-6-2-billion-budget?source=rss&utm_source=feedly

   Reactions to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) report on teacher training programs continue to come in.  EdSource checks in with this review of the study and some pros and cons regarding its findings:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/critical-report-on-teacher-preparation-programs-sparks-debate/33721#.UcI6Ddfn_IW   Several teacher prep progams in the San Diego area were highly critical of the NCTQ report.  This piece from PBS station KPBS has an extended article and a truncated audio segment (1:33 minutes) describing some of the reactions from California’s second largest city:  http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/jun/19/san-diego-teacher-prep-programs-dismiss-new-rating/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kpbs%2Flocal+%28KPBS+News%3A+Local+Headlines%29

   The over emphasis on standardized testing has led to a stress on math and reading to the detriment of the humanities and social sciences according to a new report that says the latter two subjects are just as important for a democratic society and its economic competitiveness as the first two.  The Washington Post has the details about this story:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/report-humanities-social-science-education-needed-along-with-stem/2013/06/18/76076df6-d83e-11e2-a016-92547bf094cc_story.html?wprss=rss_national

   You’ve probably read about the student loan debt crisis and some of the solutions for solving it.  Are you aware of the magnitude of the amounts owed and the fact that the numbers have doubled in the last 5 years?  A congressional report released Tuesday was highlighted in this brief item from yesterday’s “Business” section of the L.A. Times discussing this urgent problem:  http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-student-loan-debt-almost-doubles-20130618,0,2109733.story  An editorial in today’s paper urges Congress to reach a compromise on the issue before a July 1st deadline doubles the interest rate on many student loans:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-0621-federal-student-loans-20130621,0,7404255.story

   The Republicans, who control the U.S. House of Representatives, passed out of committee their version of a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and to replace some of the provisions of NCLB.  Democrats in the Senate moved their bill out of committee previously.  This article from The Washington Post will help you see what the GOP has included and compare general education philosophies with the Democrats:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/republican-led-house-committee-passes-new-federal-education-bill/2013/06/19/fe9b02b2-d8ee-11e2-a016-92547bf094cc_story.html?wprss=rss_education

   Do you have any idea how much it costs to educate a student in California from K to 12?  This piece from EdSource invents “Average Alex” to help you discover what the true amount is:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/guess-how-much-we-invest-in-our-students/33802#.UcNsPT75nye
   The “Ed News” has tried to chronicle the major problems facing the public schools of Chicago–a nine day teacher strike, serious budget shortfalls and the largest number of school closures in U.S. history.  This article places the blame for many of those woes directly on the doorstep of Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/17091-chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuels-war-on-teachers-and-children
   Last week the state legislature passed a budget for next year that contained the governor’s Local Control Funding Formula.  The next steps will look at how it will be implemented.  To get that process rolling a one hour briefing was held for interested parties around the state by the director of the California Dept. of Finance, the president of the State Board of Education and other speakers.  EdSource (who co-hosted the program along with New America Media) describes some of the topics covered:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/after-passage-of-school-finance-plan-focus-shifts-to-implementation/33968#.UcSaFD75nyd  You can hear the full (62:29 minutes) audio recording of the briefing here:  http://newamericamedia.org/2013/06/understanding-cas-new-school-funding-formula.php
   The new budget contains $1.25 billion to help implement the new Common Core State Standards.  Districts will have wide latitude on how to spend the funds for 3 main purposes but there will be certain strings attached.  The SI&A CABINET REPORT has the story:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=3862
   The LAUSD class of 2016 will be the first students who will need to pass the A-G entrance requirements for the UC and CSU systems in order to graduate.  A report released yesterday from the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access (IDEA) and the Alliance for a Better Community (ABC) found that only 19% of ninth graders who started as the class of 2011 met this new, stringent requirement.  This item, posted on the L.A. Times website yesterday afternoon, provides more information:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-college-prep-20130620,0,2709998.story?track=rss
   And finally, Diane Ravitch’s eponymous blog, which began 14 month ago, reached 5 million page views today.  You can read what she has to say about that milestone here:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/21/today-is-the-day-5-million-page-views-on-this-blog/

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

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