July 9

Program Reminder:  The next ALOED bookclub is scheduled for Wednesday, July 17th at 6 p.m.  The book: Brain Rules.   A delicious dinner and delightful discussion will be on tap for everyone.  For all the details and to RSVP:  http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?sid=956&gid=1&pgid=1951&cid=4538&ecid=4538&crid=0&calpgid=61&calcid=4203
“It’s what we think we know that keeps us from learning.”
―    Claude Bernard
   Education “expert” Eli Broad has an op-ed in the Wednesday L.A. Times titled “A Better Way to Train Teachers.”  It refers, favorably, to the highly controversial National Center for Teacher Quality (NCTQ) report (highlighted a number of times by the “Ed News” recently) on teacher training programs around the country.  The Chief Commissar suggest you read his piece with a grain of salt:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-broad-teacher-prep-review-20130703,0,1984429.story    3 letters to the Times were quick to comment on Broad’s piece:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-le-0705-friday-eli-broad-teachers-20130705,0,5455383.story
   California comes in toward the bottom of another set of ratings among the states.  The Golden State only placed #41 on a measure of “children’s well-being” based on a survey from the Annie E Casey Foundation in partnership with Children Now.  You can read about what the rankings were based on and speculate on what the implications are for student learning in this story from  NEW AMERICA MEDIA:  http://newamericamedia.org/2013/07/california-ranks-among-10-worst-states-for-childrens-well-being.php
   The last issue of the “Ed News” featured a letter written by Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten urging U.S. Sec. of Education Arne Duncan to intervene in the crisis-gripped Philadelphia school system.  In response, Duncan issued this statement published in EDUCATION WEEK:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/07/arne_duncan_on_philadelphia_we.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29   The crisis in the Philadelphia public schools is analyzed in this story from TakePart.  It looks at why the district is in such dire straits and suggests that other school systems could face similar predicaments:  http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/07/08/philadelphia-school-district-financial-crisis
   Speaking of Arne Duncan, Valerie Strauss reprints (with minimal comment from her–she’s on vacation) the speech delivered by the Secretary to the annual convention of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools meeting in Washington, D.C., last week in which he voices both praise and criticism for the members:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/07/03/arne-duncan-praises-slaps-charter-schools/
   Last week the LAUSD board voted to make Richard Vladovic its president for a 1-year term.  You can read about some of the intrigue behind the decision in Howard Blume’s story from Wednesday’s L.A. Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-school-board-20130703,0,5333788.story   Barbara Jones, from the L.A. Daily News reported on the same topic with some slightly different details:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23585123/lausd-board-taps-richard-vladovic-new-president?source=rss   When the LAUSD board selected Richard Vladovic as its next president it spelled possible trouble for Supt. John Deasy.  He even threatened certain civic leaders with resignation if Vladovic was chosen according to this story in Sunday’s Times that goes into detail about the sometime contentious relationship between a board president and the district superintendent:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-board-20130707,0,5447454.story
   Michelle Rhee’s group StudentsFirst tripled its budget in its second year of existence and spent heavily on political activities according to this piece from POLITICO:  http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/michelle-rhee-group-budget-93664.html#ixzz2Y0RMDrIa
   With school district budgets extremely tight over the last several years one of the victims of the funding shortage has been summer school/enrichment programs.  The Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” looks at how these programs supplement regular learning, especially for low-income students who can’t afford to attend expensive summer “camps.”  It also looks at different organizations and projects that are trying to fill-in the void:  http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=eda7e52b02&e=f7d7cb8d5d   With the dearth of summer programs many low-income students miss out on free federal lunch programs.  Friday’s L.A. Times describes how many districts come up with creative ideas to provide nutritious meals to pupils:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-summer-food-20130705,0,4703583.story     The L.A. Daily News looks at the very limited LAUSD summer school offerings this year and the difficulty many students are having getting the classes they need:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23622818/lausd-summer-school-sorry-experience-limited-offerings?source=rss
   Online classes at the college and university level have been a hot issue lately.  This item from Saturday’s Times takes a close look at the pluses and minuses of these offerings using courses at Pierce Community College as as example:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-online-remedial-20130706,0,397995,full.story   Valerie Strauss reprints this piece on her blog in which Stanford University professor emeritus of education Larry Cuban opines about why Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) may not be the panacea that some are predicting for post secondary education:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/07/08/why-moocs-wont-revolutionize-higher-ed/
      For a second year-in-a-row the California legislature is grappling with the issue of streamlining the process for getting rid of teachers.  Last year it was union groups that raised objections.  This year it’s district and administrator organizations that are not on board.  EdSource brings you up-to-date on the latest developments:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/effort-to-shorten-process-of-firing-teachers-faltering-again/34734#.UdswHPmG12u
   Every school in Bell Gardens in southeast L.A. county has a community garden that grows fruits and vegetables for the mostly Latino city.  Students who belong to the Environmental Garden Club tend the plants at their individual campuses and gain an education in urban agriculture in the process reads this article in Sunday’s L.A. Timeshttp://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-school-gardens-20130707,0,597895.story
   The cost of implementing the Common Core State Standards could be quite steep.  This article from the SI&A CABINET REPORT describes a possible $67 million price tag JUST for the assessments that are designed to accompany the standards according to a report before the
state board of education this week:   http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=4875
   Yesterday’s L.A. Times has an extended profile of the new state-appointed superintendent of the financially troubled Inglewood Unified School District.  It looks at his background of running previous districts and outlines some of the challenges he will face in his new position:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-inglewood-leader-20130708,0,4363386.story?track=rss
   Some education “reformers” have pointed the finger at teachers’ unions as the boogieperson causing all the problems in education today.  Efforts have been made to weaken the influence of unions in the past.  Now, a lawsuit filed in California threatens to take away much of the power of these teacher organizations.  The implications of the case are nationwide.  “The Hechinger Ed” blog from The HECHINGER REPORT takes a look at this very significant development:  http://hechingered.org/content/new-lawsuit-an-assault-on-unions_6296/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HechingerReport+%28Hechinger+Report%29
     And finally, after years of budget cuts the LAUSD finally has funds to restore arts education to school curricula.   NPR station KPCC reports the news.  You can read the story and or listen to the segment (4:48 minutes) here.  At the end of this article is a copy of the 44-page report the district is introducing for the integration of arts into the curriculum:  http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2013/07/08/14183/after-years-of-cuts-la-unified-reveals-plans-to-re/
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

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