Despite board approval, Cortines opposes bond money for iPads

Child practicing multiplication on iPad

A day of iPad use at Cimarron Elementary

Barely a week into his job as LA Unified superintendent, Ramon Cortines is pushing back against the school board that hired him, voicing opposition to using any more of the $1.3 billion in bond money to buy digital devices equipped with curriculum for use in classroom instruction.

Three times since his first day on the job, at the start of this week, he has suggested that the district should not use voter approved capital improvement funds for the Pearson software that the board approved for the iPads bought from Apple.

In a statement from the district today, he said he is committed to providing technology to students, but added, “I still need to meet with the Common Core Technology Project team to learn more about the plans in place but I think we will need to identify alternative sources to fund the curriculum ongoing.”

This morning, he was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, saying, “I don’t believe the curriculum should be paid for with bond funds, period.”

And at his first school board meeting two days ago, he publicly disagreed with the board’s unanimous decision to use money from bond sales to pay for the $1.3 billion program, characterizing the expenditure as “stealing” from taxpayer dollars.

His public pronouncements would appear to put him at odds with a board that just hired him to replace the architect of the iPad program, John Deasy, whose handling of the program drew widespread criticism from the LA Unified community, including board members. Nonetheless, at every step in planning, the board approved Deasy’s approach to getting all LA Unified students a tablet or laptop.

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LA Unified educator among five California Teachers of the Year

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Lovelyn Marquez-Prueher (LAUSD photo)

A middle-school teacher at LA Unified has been named one of five recipients of the 2015 California Teachers of the Year Award from the California Department of Education.

Lovelyn Marquez-Prueher is an eighth-grade English teacher at Dodson Middle School in Rancho Palos Verdes. She has been teaching for 11 years, the last six at Dodson.

Marquez-Prueher was an immigrant child to the U.S and experienced a difficult beginning in school but has embraced the teaching philosophy that learning is a journey, according to a district press release.

“I intend on using what I learn about myself to understand the diversity and culture of every child that walks through my classroom door,” Marquez-Prueher said in a statement. “Through this, I believe that I can ensure that all students learn to function effectively in today’s diverse society.”

Newly-installed interm Superintendent Ramon Cortines offered his praise.

“The award salutes her dedication, passion, and commitment to achieve educational excellence for her students,” Cortines said in a statement.

One of the five winners will be chosen to enter the National Teacher of the Year award, which will be given out by President Obama in April.

“I am thrilled for Ms. Marquez-Prueher, Dodson Middle School, and LAUSD,” said Instructional Area Superintendent-South Robert Bravo in a statement. “I had the pleasure of visiting her classroom with Dodson Principal (John) Vladovic just a few weeks ago and I know first-hand she is a gifted teacher and completely worthy of the recognition.”

John Vladovic is the son of LA Unified board president, Richard Vladovic.

Recent California Teachers of the Year honorees from LAUSD include Veronica Marquez (2012), Jose Navarro (2009), Lewis Chappelear (2008) and Kelly Hanock (2006).

LAUSD awards safe drivers during National Bus Safety Week

little-girl-boarding-schoolbus LAUSDAs part of National School Bus Safety Week, LA Unified’s Transportation Services Division is recognizing its top drivers this week by handing out 811 safe driving pins and certificates.

Some drivers will be receiving pins for multiple years of safe driving, with one reaching as high as 37 years of safe driving, according to Transportation Services Division Director Donald Wilkes

“It is during [National School Bus Safety Week] that LAUSD takes time to celebrate the safe driving accomplishments of their school bus drivers at several award ceremonies,” Wilkes said. “During the ceremonies drivers are treated to refreshments and individually recognized for their achievement in the presence of LAUSD Board member offices, school administrators, as well as their peers.”

Wilkes also said that California state law requires that students receive instruction in school bus emergency procedures and passenger safety at least once each year. (See the attached LAUSD-produced video below on bus safety shown to many students in the district.)

“School bus drivers are required to review with their students how to safely board, ride, disembark the school bus, cross the street, and practice safe habits when walking to or from the school bus stop,” Wilkes said.

In honor of National School Bus Safety Week, here a few interesting facts about the LAUSD fleet. According to the LAUSD Transportation Services Division:

  • Transports approximately 42,100 students daily. 
  • Owns 3,400 buses, trucks, autos and vans.
  • Operates the largest compressed natural gas school bus fleet in the nation, with 530.
  • Logs an average of 23 million miles per year.
  • Assists an average of 1,000 callers per day in the Dispatch/Customer Service Section.

Top 5 issues in Tuck vs. Torlakson state superintendent race

tuck torlakson

Dueling views offered by Marshall Tuck and Tom Torlakson in their bid for State Superintendent of Public Instruction will give voters a stark choice — in what has become a surprisingly close race leading to the Nov. 4 election.

Torlakson, the incumbent, a former teacher and state legislator, has the backing of the Democratic establishment and the teachers unions. Tuck, a relative unknown statewide, was a charter school administrator and has the backing of reform groups and editorial boards throughout the state. 

The two men share vastly different backgrounds and overall educational beliefs, leading the LA Weekly to characterize the election as a reform vs. union battle for the heart of the Democratic Party and the Los Angeles Times to call it “a prime example of the strange rift in education, in which liberal Democrats are sharply divided on such issues as charter schools, job protections for teachers, the authority of the federal government in schools and the value of standardized test scores.”

Much of the media focus is often on the black and white contrast of the candidates’ background and supporters. Equally important are the actual issues at hand and where the candidates stand on them.

LA School Report has picked five major issues, with a breakdown of each candidate’s position:

vergara thumbThe Vergara Ruling

The landmark case in which in which a court found the state’s laws regarding teacher tenure, firings and layoffs are unconstitutional has become a litmus test for public officials.

Torlakson:  As the top education official in the state, Torlakson was a defendant in the lawsuit and led the charge on behalf of the state to appeal the ruling with a statement that the judge’s decision is “not supported by the facts or the law.”

Tuck: A big supporter of the ruling, he has been endorsed by the student plaintiffs in the case. He also publicly urged Torlakson and the state not to appeal and has said he would withdraw support for the appeal on his first day on the job.

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LA Unified reiterates: UTLA demands would lead to cutbacks

teachers union raise salary UTLA Contract NegotiationsIn the first contract talks under LA Unified’s new superintendent, Ray Cortines, negotiators for the district and the teachers union, UTLA, hit another snag yesterday as the district reasserted claims that unions demands are unsustainable and would lead to severe cutbacks to key programs, resources, and personnel that would detrimentally impact students.

The union is calling for a 10 percent salary bump for 2014-15, with the expectation of re-opening pay negotiations next year. Smaller class sizes, salary raises and an end to teacher jail are among key components the union is seeking it its new contract.

“Our budget calculations show that the proposal would cost more than $800 million in 2015-16,” said Vivian Ekchian, the district’s Chief Labor Negotiator. “Combined with a projected $365 million deficit next year, agreeing to the union’s proposal would deal a devastating blow to the District’s educational programs.”

The union’s new wage demand exceeds the district’s standing offer of a 6.64 percent salary increase over the next three years plus a one-time 2 percent bonus.

Another topic UTLA returned to during talks yesterday was the issue of “teacher jail.”

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Morning Read: No iPad software with bonds, says Cortines

Bonds should not pay for iPad curriculum, new L.A. Unified head says
Newly installed Supt. Ramon Cortines said he opposes using construction bond money to pay for curriculum on student computers. Los Angeles Times


California moving rapidly toward post-NCLB accountability
In one sentence, the president of the California State School board signaled the end of the old era of assessment and the dawn of another. Education Week


State seeks $140 million federal grant to expand preschool
CA officials are asking for $140 million in federal funds for subsidized preschool slots in communities where parents have a difficult time finding quality childcare. KPCC


Support for Prop. 2 inching toward 50 percent
Voter support for Proposition 2, a new version of a state budget rainy day fund, has increased from a month ago. EdSource


Art ed advocates put candidates on the spot
If you want to know where school board candidates stand on arts curriculum, there’s an online tool that can help – sort of. S&I Cabinet Report

KIPP set to expand with 9 new schools in south, east LA

KIPP Empower Academy

(Photo via Kipp Empower Academy’s Facebook page)

KIPP LA Schools today announced plans to open nine additional campuses, nearly doubling its presence in south and east LA by 2020.

The high performing charter schools are part of the Knowledge Is Power Program,which runs 162 campuses, educating 58,000 students nationally. In LA, the organization currently operates 11 schools serving 4,000 elementary and middle school students in some of the city’s most downtrodden neighborhoods.

“The families in these communities are demanding access to an excellent college-preparatory public education for their children. KIPP LA’s growth will help meet that demand,” said Executive Director Marcia Aaron at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the organization’s new home.

The campus features 27 classrooms designed for KIPP’s blended learning model. That learning style has contributed toward an Academic Performance Index score of 991, making KIPP Empower the highest performing school in LA Unified and the 10th-best performing elementary school in California.

KIPP also operates three other schools in LA Unified that have earned API scores above 900; the state standard is 800

KIPP has not yet detailed plans for location of future campuses.

Weingarten pleads for ‘collaboration’ in Deasy aftermath

Weingarten at AFT convention

AFT President Randi Weingarten Weingarten speaking at an AFT convention

In a speech today  in Buena Park, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, cited former LA Unified superintendent John Deasy as a failed example of school district management and argued for collaboration over fiat as the pathway to success in public education.

“Collaboration is the vehicle that creates trust. It’s the vehicle that enables risk. It’s the vehicle that enables shared responsibility; it’s the vehicle that has all our backs as opposed to throwing us under the bus, or under the bicycle,” she told an audience of union leaders and school and district administrators from across the country at the West Coast Labor Management Institute. “And it’s the vehicle that gives parents confidence in our public schools and our public institutions.”

While she insisted that collaboration “is not a silver bullet,” she described it as “a way to engender collective responsibility.”

Her plea was to both sides the labor-management relationship, insisting that the “top-down” ways of leaders like Deasy, Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee have failed to achieve their promised revolution in public education.

To her labor colleagues, she asked, “Is a manager or a principal really going to be willing to help us solve a problem after we’ve punched the living daylights out of them? Really? Who would ever want to solve a problem if that happens?”

A full transcript of her speech is available here.

LAUSD employees file lawsuit against SEIU over union dues

Judge Rolf Treu affirm vergara decision

*UPDATED

Several LA Unified workers have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99 over what they say is an improper collection of their full dues.

In the complaint, which was prepared with free legal assistance by the National Right to Work Foundation (NRWF), the employes claim SEIU Local 99 union officials denied their requests to refrain from paying full dues, according to a NRWF press release. SEIU represents employees who work in a number of non-teaching jobs in public schools, including bus drivers, gardeners and cafeteria workers.

Under federal law set by the Supreme Court in the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, public employees that must join a union and pay dues as a requirement for employment can request to withhold payment of any fees that support political causes not related to collective bargaining.

“Because California does not have Right to Work protections for workers, workers can be forced to pay union dues and fees to an unwanted union as a condition of employment. However, under Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent, workers who refrain from union membership can also refrain from paying for union politics and members-only events,” the press release said.

The release also added that despite “the workers’ requests to refrain from union membership and full union dues payments, the Los Angeles Unified School District continues to confiscate full union dues from the workers’ paychecks at SEIU Local 99 officials’ behest.”

The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit were identified by NRWF as grounds keeper Douglas Kennedy, bus drivers Eduardo Berumen and Griselda Moran and cafeteria worker Magi Shanagian.

“SEIU officials are stonewalling workers’ attempts to refrain from paying for the union bosses’ radical political agenda,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, in a statement. “This case underscores the need for California to pass a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary.”

SEIU Local 99 Interim Executive Director Scott Washburn issued a statement on the lawsuit.

“The lawsuit filed by the National Right to Work Foundation is yet another example of this group’s attempt to silence the voice and strength of working families in this country. It is no coincidence that this suit was filed on the heels of the historic $15 per hour minimum wage increase won by school workers at LAUSD,” the statement said. “Wherever workers are making big strides to improve their lives and the wellbeing of their families and communities, we can expect to see attacks like this. SEIU Local 99 members will continue to stand strong and move forward with our efforts to ensure quality schools and good jobs for our communities.””

*Includes statement from SEIU

Commentary: Is the L.A. teachers union tone deaf?

Los Angeles Times logoVia Los Angeles Times | By Steve Lopez

It was back-to-school night in August. A time for new beginnings and high hopes at Thomas Starr King Middle School on the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border.

Then came an awkward moment.

With new parents and students in the room, a teachers union rep got up on a soapbox to lay out the labor issues that could lead to a strike.

“He could not have been more tone deaf,” said Tomas O’Grady, a parent who was in the room. “What a stupid thing to do, for a new group of parents excited about this school.”

O’Grady said the speaker is “one of the most amazing teachers at King,” so out of kindness, O’Grady reined him in by suggesting this was not the time or place for a labor rally.

“In an attempt to protect him, I spoke up. Because if it was anyone else, I’ll be honest, it wouldn’t have been to protect him, but to reprimand him.”

Read the full commentary here.

Morning Read: Education Secretary meets with Cortines

Education Secretary Duncan talks tech with L.A. Unified’s Cortines
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a brief visit to Los Angeles on Tuesday, met with newly installed L.A. Unified Supt. Ramon C. Cortines. Los Angeles Times


Education secretary says time to debate preschool is over
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a conference of preschool advocates in L.A. Tuesday that the value of early education to young children is undisputed. KPCC


LGBT students face less harassment and fewer assaults in schools
Harassment and physical assault against LGBT students has been trending downward in the last six years, according to a report. Los Angeles Daily News


Officials debate Common Core amid standing-room-only crowd
About 200 people attended a standing-room-only debate in a special meeting by the Orange County Board of Education. Orange County Register


Nation’s wealthy places pour private money into public schools
Private groups are raising an increasing amount of money for public schools in wealthier communities, highlighting concerns about inequality. New York Times

Cortines promises fixes for LAUSD’s flawed computer program

updates1In his first open address to the LA Unified school board since he was rehired as superintendent last week, Ramon Cortines promised accountability, transparency and constant communication.

“I know the buck stops here,” he told the seven members during a brief address that included an update on the district’s flawed student data software program, MiSiS.

Cortines, who got an early start on the job Monday morning and spent the day in intensive meetings with the district’s top leadership, quipped, “I’ve been here two days going on 10 years.”

Then he outlined a series of changes to MiSiS that will be effective immediately.

At the top of the list is a two-month extension to Dec. 1, from the previous deadline, Oct. 23, for schools to submit the number of students enrolled in the free and reduced meal program, which determines the allocation of federal dollars to individual campuses for low-income students.

A school is eligible for Title I money only if at least half of the student body is enrolled in the federal meals program. A school receives even more money per pupil if at least 65 percent of low-income students qualify. When a campus reaches a threshold above 85 percent combined free and reduced lunch it becomes exempt from collecting applications for four years.

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UTLA calls for smaller class sizes at a morning press event

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North Hollywood HS PE teacher Brad Hodge speaks today at a press event about class sizes. (Via UTLA Facebook page)

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl appeared at a press conference today outside North Hollywood High School where he and other speakers focused on the union’s demand for smaller class sizes in its ongoing fight for a new contract.

Caputo-Pearl said that the most fundamental thing the union wants to communicate is “that our students are human beings that deserve personalized attention,” KNX 1070 reported.

The press event came as union and LA Unified officials are set to meet for another contract bargaining session tomorrow, the first since John Deasy resigned as superintendent and was replaced with Ray Cortines on an interim basis.

Smaller class sizes, salary raises and an end to teacher jail are among key components the union is seeking it its new contract, which is outlined in UTLA’s Schools LA Students Deserve campaign.

Students and teachers at North Hollywood High spoke at the press conference and talked about the troubles large class sizes are causing. Ninth grader John Huddleston said his physical education class has over 50 students.

“It takes the teacher so long to take attendance that it truly does cut into our class curriculum time,” said Huddleston, according to KNX.

UTLA said in a statement that thousands of students and teachers around the district were wearing stickers today that highlighted their class size and student/teacher ratios, KNBC reported.

When speaking to LA School Report yesterday, Caputo-Pearl was hesitant to characterize the change in superintendents as a positive or negative in terms of the union’s bargaining position.

“We are looking forward to talking to the interim superintendent about some positive direction about this,” Caputo-Pearl said. “I don’t want to speculate, just whoever the superintendent is, interim or permanent, we are going to continue to bring the issues that are affecting students, schools and educators to the table and we look forward to productive negotiations around that.”

Captuo-Pearl did say that he will continue to aggressively pursue a new contract even though Cortines is an interim superintendent.

“The condition that our schools find themselves in in terms of class size, in terms of schools not having nurses and librarians, educators that have not gotten a pay increase for seven years, that absolutely determines for us that we have got to pursue our Schools LA Students Deserve campaign aggressively,” he said.

Listen to the full report KNX report here:

Embezzlement, Poisoning, Murder? Welcome to LAUSD, Mr. Cortines

Law_&_Order_LA_Title_CardIn case there were any chance LA Unified‘s new superintendent, Ramon Cortines, had forgotten just how bizarro school board meetings can be, his first one back today as head of the district included accusations of embezzlement, murder and sexual harassment.

Welcome back, Mr. Superintendent.

While the school board voted unanimously to approve the $300,000 a year contract Cortines was offered to shepherd the district out of its current troubled state — $50,000 less than what his predecessor earned — a handful of speakers criticized him for the sexual harassment lawsuit that followed his departure in 2011.

During the public speaking portion of the brief meeting — during which anyone can have three minutes to address the board on any topic they please — Patricia McAllister, who identified herself as a substitute teacher who was fired, took it a step further.

She hurled a litany of accusations at the board, saying former Superintendent John Deasy “embezzled” billions of dollars from the district and claiming Cortines was guilty of sexually harassing district employees. Then in a Law & Order-type twist, she accused unknown persons of poisoning or murdering the late board member, Marguerite LaMotte, and recommended that an autopsy be performed.

Another speaker, Lady Cage Barile, addressed the board to oppose the return of Cortines. She also cited the circumstances under which he left his previous tenure as superintendent and called him “a disgrace these kids are to look up to.”

The sexual harassment case against Cortines was thrown out twice by a judge, and a $250,000 settlement that was to be paid to his accuser, fell apart.

Cortines, sitting beside board President Richard Vladovic, looked on impassively as the speakers criticized him and did not comment.

 

Commentary: Please, school board, focus on our children

Hispanic children LAUSD school board

By Michelle Crames

My daughter started Kindergarten this year, and part of why I enrolled her in public school was that things were getting better, and my belief that our family’s energy and resources could contribute to bettering our community. Two months after her start, we learn that Superintendent John Deasy, who has provided leadership during this turnaround, turned in his letter of resignation to the school board.

As a parent of three young children, I know it takes at least two parties to fight. Regardless of what you think of Deasy’s resignation, we all want to minimize the impact and distraction inevitable with such a leadership change. Can we please refocus our energy on what matters most, our children’s education?

I believe Deasy achieved a lot, but he certainly made mistakes. However, during the last several months, like many parents. I am most disappointed that our focus has shifted away from what is important, which is the kids. As an outsider, I feel that more time is being spent bickering and politicking than working to provide students with the best possible education.

The parents’ voice was largely absent in the recent feud between the school board and Deasy, but now needs to be heard. Lets put this behind us and get back to work on what matters.

In a city where 80 percent of LAUSD students live around or below the poverty line, the American dream requires great schools for our children. America is a land of equal opportunity, and access to quality education is the basis of that.

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LIVESTREAM coverage of today’s school board meeting

livestreamGrafix250Today, available by LIVESTREAM, the seven members of LA Unified school board will meet for the first time since the high-profile resignation of Superintendent John Deasy and the selection of Ray Cortines as interim replacement.

At 10:00 a.m., the board is set to hear an update on the troubled computer system, MiSiS, which, has caused management and scheduling snafus at several schools. The board is also set to vote on the terms and conditions of the employment contract for Cortines as well as hear public comment.

In a closed-door session to follow, of note is a late addition to the agenda of an item listed as ‘Public Employment, Chief Deputy Superintendent of Schools,’  a possible look at the employment Michelle King, who was passed over to serve as interim superintendent after she offered up her services to replace Deasy.  The agenda is here.

At 2:00 p.m., the Committee of the Whole is scheduled to meet to discuss the controversy over the district’s temporary suspension of the Parent Trigger Law will be discussed with a presentation by Gloria Romero, former California State Senator. The committee’s agenda is here.

At 3:15 p.m., the full board will return for a Special Session to report on the labor negotiations between the teachers union and the district. Agenda is here.

At 4:15 p.m. the Committee on Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment is set to meet to discuss, among other items, the Public School Choice Initiative, first launched in 2011 by then interim Superintendent Cortines. That agenda is  here.

LA Unified’s next boss? Round up the usual (and unusual) suspects

LA Unified superintendentNow that John Deasy has stepped down as superintendent of LA Unified, replaced on an interim basis by Ray Cortines, it’s open season on speculating who might be considered as a permanent superintendent.

In the second largest district in the nation, the challenges of finding a candidate who is qualified, interested in the job and gels with the LA Unified school board are sure to be imposing. The recent experiences of Deasy and his like-minded superintendents around the country who have struggled in efforts for change, would suggest that Cortines’s successor would need superlative policy credentials as well as great political instincts to bring opposing sides together.

A successor would also need to avoid the kind of mistakes LA Unified made with technology programs. Is such a person out there?

As Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality told LA School Report, “I don’t know a single person on earth who would want that terrible job. It won’t be a change agent. It will be a status quo candidate who will make life pleasant for himself by enjoying all the wrapping of the superintendency and being smart enough not to try and change a thing.”

In any case, let the speculation begin. Below is a list of possible candidates, compiled by LA School Report :

  • Alberto M. Carvalho has served as superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation’s fourth largest school system, since 2008. He was named Florida’s 2014 Superintendent of the Year, the 2014 National Superintendent of the Year and has worked his whole career for the district
  • Richard A. Carranza has served as superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District since 2012. He previously served as deputy superintendent of Instruction, Innovation and Social Justice at the district from 2009 to 2012 and as northwest region superintendent for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas. 

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Morning Read: Deasy is being paid but won’t advise Cortines

New LA schools superintendent won’t use district-paid Deasy as adviser
New L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said his improvement plans won’t involve the man who arguably knows the district best: resigned Superintendent John Deasy. KPCC


Deasy’s exit reflects other school battles across the U.S.
Union leaders say Deasy’s exit marked a repudiation of his policies. Los Angeles Times


On his first day, Cortines feels a ‘sense of urgency’ at L.A. Unified
Ramon C. Cortines’ first day in his latest tour at the helm of Los Angeles Unified started in a familiar fashion: early, with his first meeting at 7 a.m. Los Angeles Times


Gloria Romero: Parents trigger change at failing school
Commentary: Increasingly, parents are mobilizing to “trigger” change at failing schools. Orange County Register


A New Breed of Journalism
There’s been a recent and surprising revival of education reporting, a resurrection driven by a new breed of journalism. Education Next


NYC Chancellor Fariña Forges a New Era for Nation’s Largest District
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s victory last November was a clear indication that many voters sought a clean break from former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s signature school policies. Education Week

LAUSD teacher to keep marking the ‘nation’s report card’

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Shannon Garrison

Shannon Garrison, a fourth grade teacher at LA Unified’s Solano Elementary School, has been reappointed to the National Assessment Governing Board, which helps set policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly known as the “nation’s report card.”

Garrison was appointed to the board in 2010 and will serve another four-year term.

“I am honored to have been reappointed to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) by Secretary of Education [Arne] Duncan,” Garrison said in a district press release. “I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from a diverse group of individuals from across the nation who care deeply about education and student success. My work on the board has deepened my knowledge of assessment methodology, item development, and standard setting. This learning has strengthened my ability to effectively assess student learning and evaluate the appropriateness of assessment items.”

The board, which is made up of politicians, school officials, educators, business leaders and others— is appointed by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education but operates independently and is responsible for developing the framework and test specifications that serve as the blueprint for the NAEP’s assessments, according to the NAEP’s website.

“Ms. Garrison is an amazing leader with a distinguished career in the LAUSD,” LA Unified board member Monica Garcia said in a statement. “She serves our local 4th graders at Solano Elementary and will continue to serve our nation’s children through her work with the NAEP. High-quality instructional leaders are key to getting to 100% graduation. We are proud to have the authentic LAUSD perspective informing the national conversation on student achievement.”

At LAUSD, the district said Garrison has served as a data coordinator, bilingual and Title I program coordinator, writing coordinator, science lead teacher and member of the language appraisal and student success teams. She also received a Milken National Educator Award in 2008.

“Shannon is an exemplary teacher whose hard work and dedication endear her to staff and students alike,” Solano Principal William Bertrand said in a statement.

School cafeteria workers told ‘English only’ when handling food

espanol* UPDATED

A controversy is brewing at Harvard Elementary School where LA Unified cafeteria workers say they feel discriminated against after being instructed to speak only English during working hours.

According to employees at the Koreatown school, an “English only” sign was posted in the cafeteria last week, reminding employees that they could be dismissed for violating the district rule, according to the newspaper, La Opinion.

Most cafeteria workers at Harvard are native Spanish speakers, and 86 percent of students identify as Hispanic.

But district officials said today the workers misinterpreted the notice and that it only applies in narrow circumstances, specifically when food is being handled.

“It’s not that we’re telling them you can’t speak Spanish or whatever language they speak,” Monica Carazo, a district official told LA School Report. “It’s just that for safety reasons, when they’re handling food everybody has to be on the same page. If someone says, ‘Hot plate!,’ we want everyone to understand.”

Employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, told the newspaper the language ban extends to all communication on campus. One woman said workers were told they could only respond to questions from teachers or students in English, even if they were asked in Spanish.

“I feel like I’m being a little bit rude when teachers speak to me in Spanish and I have to answer them in English,” she said. In other schools, she said, she was allowed to speak her native language.

The district’s Food Services Handbook says, “Due to the need for safety and effective communication, the Division has implemented an “English Only Rule.”

It goes on to say, “The rule requires that employees speak in English while in the kitchen and other work areas during the work shift while performing job duties. This is required in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness of communication and to promote the safety of our employees and students. This rule does not apply to employees on rest breaks or during lunch breaks.”


 

* Adds language fro the district’s Food Services Handbook.