August 2

“Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.”  ―    Victor Hugo
The “Ed News” is pleased to welcome Katie Hess to our ALOED discussion group.  We now have 57 members!
   And now to the news.  Wednesday’s L.A. Times has two follow-up articles to stories the “Ed News” has highlighted.  One is a front-page feature about the first couple of days of school at the Adelanto campus that was the first in California to be successfully taken over using the “parent trigger” law passed in the state in 2010.  The Desert Hills Preparatory Academy, a public charter affiliated with the University of La Verne, opened this week.  (They have both a longer school day and year then traditional campuses.)    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0731-parent-trigger-20130731,0,2997402.story      The second story tells about the appointment of a new principal to the “leadership challenged” downtown Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts (LAUSD).  She comes from the highly regarded New York City performing arts school and had accepted the post at least twice before, according to the Times, so keep your fingers crossed this time:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0731-arts-high-20130731,0,1993505.story
   “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC (with guest host Melissa Harris-Perry) featured the scandal involving Tony Bennett (not the crooner), the former Indiana and current Florida school superintendent, who is accused of changing the grade of a charter in Indiana to appease a campaign donor.  The segment (3:28 minutes) explains the situation:  http://video.msnbc.msn.com/rachel-maddow-show/52627210/#52627210    A column in the Indianapolis Star tries to clarify what’s going on with the scandal:  http://www.indystar.com/article/20130730/OPINION/307300033/Dan-Carpenter-Bennett-takes-care-his-list?gcheck=1&nclick_check=1     This cartoon appeared in the same paper:
Follow Gary Varvel on Twitter @varvel and like him on Facebook.
Thanks to Randy Traweek for sending along this story from EDUCATION WEEK reporting that Mr. Bennett RESIGNED his post yesterday over the scandal:  http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/08/01/37indiana.h32.html?tkn=MRTFvjAoNnzYL0D5H3OHmgNvHOQR64Yktotx&cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1       Reaction was prompt from many quarters:  Valerie Srauss was quick to respond to the news with a blog titled “The Biggest Loser in the Tony Bennett Resignation:”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/01/the-biggest-loser-in-the-tony-bennett-resignation/      Diane Ravitch had a very brief but trenchant comment to the departure:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/02/how-tony-bennett-raised-the-c-to-an-a/     Bob Sikes wonders why Bennett left so quickly and suggests there is more to the story than just the one scandal.  His post, by the way, includes a number of links to other articles about this story:  http://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/in-resigning-bennett-calls-email-story-unfounded-malicious-and-politically-motivated/
   Teach for America (TFA) is set to increase its presence at L.A. schools thanks, in part, to a $20 million grant from the Walton Foundation.  The funds went to a non-profit that recruits TFA candidates and are enough to send up to 700 of their college graduates to campuses in Los Angeles.  Wednesday’s L.A. Times has the details:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-20-million-walton-tfa-20130730,0,4348367.story    In reference to TFA, Diane Ravitch reprints a short item from Arthur Camins who suggests that the candidates, themselves, not be criticized, but the philosophy behind Teach for America is a fair target:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/07/31/arthur-camins-the-tfa-ideas/
   A detailed profile in last weeks (July 19-25) edition of the L.A. Weekly focused on newly elected LAUSD board president Richard Vladovic.  You can read about him, warts and all, and his adversarial relationship with district superintendent John Deasy here:  http://www.laweekly.com/2013-07-18/news/richard-vladovic-lausd-president-bully/full/
   Verbun Dei, the all-male Catholic high school in Watts, was always known for the athletic prowess of its students.  Now, according to this uplifting front-page story in today’s L.A. Times, they stress academics.  100% of their 2013 grads are headed to college.  The article focuses on a pair of twins and their single mother to explain how the school gets poor, mostly African-American and Latino kids to succeed:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-verbum-dei-20130802-dto,0,1073872.htmlstory
   Valerie Strauss reprints a blog that wonders why “reformers” want to hold teachers accountable for all the problems in education these days yet the profession is held in such low esteem.  The author is a professor of political science at Rhodes College in Memphis and his piece is titled “The Problem with ‘the Problem With Teachers’:”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/01/the-problem-with-the-problem-with-teachers/
   This item from today’s L.A. Times is sure to shake things up a bit.  An L.A. County Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that the LAUSD should release individual teacher value-added results to the paper.  The story reviews his reasoning for the decision and explains why both the district and UTLA were against disclosure.  It includes a link to the full judicial decision (26 pages):  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-teachers-ratings–20130801,0,165579.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29
   An op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post actually tried to defend standardized testing.  It’s written by the former chair and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp.: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/high-marks-for-standardized-tests/2013/08/01/34947a2a-eb4f-11e2-a301-ea5a8116d211_story.html?hpid=z8     Diane Ravitch didn’t waste any time responding to his arguments:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/02/test-defenders-feeling-the-heat-from-test-critics/
   And finally, the firing of a gay Glendora Catholic high school teacher, after the wedding to his partner was publicized in a local paper, has sparked wide controversy and a petition drive to have him reinstated.  The piece was first posted on the L.A. Times web site yesterday evening and was updated this morning.  You can catch up on the details here:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-firing-of-gay-teacher-who-got-married-sparks-controversy-20130802,0,2261767.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar
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