To all our readers: Happy Holidays and we’ll see you in 2015

happyholidaysWe at LA School Report want to wish all our readers and their families the happiest of holidays and good fortune for the year ahead, which promises to be a busy one in our little corner of the world.

After today, we are closing shop for the remainder of 2014, with plans to return on Monday, Jan 5.

Thanks for supporting us this year, and we hope to see you back in the new year.

SEIU 99 endorses all incumbents in 2015 LAUSD board races

SEIU99SEIU Local 99, one of LA Unified’s largest and most powerful labor partners, announced today it is backing all of the incumbents running for a district school board seat in 2015.

After a town hall meeting for their members, the union representing nearly 40,000 cafeteria workers, bus drivers and special education assistance, among others, made the decision to support George McKenna in District 1, Tamar Galatzan in 3 and Bennett Kayser in 5.

Earlier this month SEIU announced plans to “work tirelessly” on behalf of school board President Richard Vladovic in his bid for a third term to represent District 7.

The union did not say how much financial support it would provide for the candidates it is endorsing.

“They demonstrate an understanding of the connection between economic and educational justice,” Scott Washburn, SEIU Local 99’s Interim Executive Director, said of the incumbents, adding, “As parents of students in their schools, Local 99 members serve as both workers and consumers. Earning a living wage creates added stability in the home and increases opportunities for academic growth and success.”

Backing Galatzan and Kayser is a turnabout for the union. It’s the first time it is backing either candidate, and in Kayser’s case, it’s a complete reversal. SEIU spent a lot of money trying to defeat him the last time he ran.

In statement today, the union explained its support for Galatzan, saying she “has demonstrated a commitment to the children, families and workers of LAUSD, as demonstrated by her support for Breakfast in the Classroom, the LCFF Equity Index and the adoption of the historic $15 minimum wage for LAUSD employees”

“I’m honored and gratified by the support of of the hard-working employees of SEIU,” Galatzan told LA School Report. “I look forward to working with them on behalf of our students.

As for Kayser, the union said he has been “a champion for early education, securing funding that will result in expanded educational opportunities for tens of thousands of children and has been a strong voice for living wages.”

McKenna is running unopposed, so it’s unclear what SEIU’s endorsement will mean for his campaign, but the union is throwing its support behind him anyway.

“In the past few months, George McKenna has already shown himself to be a willing partner in our efforts to increase opportunities for kids and families,” the union wrote.

Election day is March 3.

Whistleblower case costs LAUSD a $3.3 million jury award

Judge Rolf Treu affirm vergara decisionLA Unified sustained another legal blow this week in a “whistleblower” case that’ll cost the district millions.

After nearly a month-long trial, a Los Angeles jury awarded retired Air Force Officer and Junior ROTC instructor, Archie Roundtree, $3.3 million, finding that the district had revoked his teaching certification in an act of retaliation.

This latest setback comes a month after the district announced a $139 million settlement in civil cases stemming from the actions of a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary School.

Shortly after reporting a series of violations in the operation of the JROTC program at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, Chief Academic Officer Gerardo Loera began complaining to the Air Force about the veteran instructor. The Air Force subsequently revoked Roundtree’s 15-year certification to teach JROTC cadets.

According Renuka V. Jain, a lawyer who represented Roundtree, “The jury awarded Roundtree $1,810,840 on the whistleblower claim, $1 million in defamation damages against Loera, and $500,000 against Assistant Vice-Principal Adriana Maldonado-Gomez. The jury also concluded that Loera had acted with malice, oppression or fraud.”

“The settlement is good but he will never be able to get his certification back,” Jain told LA School Report. “There is no appeal, there is no review. The only people who can get it back is Air Force and they’re not going to do that,” she said.

The district said in an email response it is “very disheartened” by the verdict.

“It is never the intention of the District or its administrators to engage in defamation or retaliation against any employee for any reason,” the district said. “While the jury found in favor of Major Roundtree, the District believes and maintains that each of the administrators’ actions were taken with the students’ interests at heart and were not done in retaliation against Major Roundtree.”

The district is currently reviewing the record and considering its options with respect to any challenges to the verdict.

VIDEO: Protesters want LA Unified police to demilitarize

A small but loud group from The Labor Community Strategy Center’s Fight for the Soul of the Cities and Community Rights Campaign protested outside of LA Unified headquarters yesterday, demanding that the LA School Police Department give up any military weapons it received through the Pentagon’s controversial 1033 Program.

Check out the attached video for highlights of the protest.

The group banged drums, marched and chanted before delivering 1,000 signatures it has collected asking the LA Unified school board to direct its police force to end its participation in the program and to do a full inventory of any military-grade weapons it may have purchased on its own.

Manuel Criollo, director of organizing at the Strategy Center, said the group is planning to protest outside a LA Unified school board meeting in January where it plans to deliver another 2,000 signatures it has already gathered.

In response to growing criticism of the 1033 program after protestors clashed with heavily-armed local police in Ferguson, Missouri this past summer, LASPD Chief Steven Zipperman announced that the department was getting rid of three grenade launchers and a mine-resistant vehicle it had obtained through the program but was keeping dozens of assault rifles.

Zipperman explained to the Los Angeles Times that the rifles were used for training, and that many officers are also equipped with civilian-grade assault rifles kept in the trunks of their cars or centralized locations in case of a Columbine High School-type attack.

But Criollo said that Zipperman’s moves don’t go far enough. He and his group are also asking the department to destroy its military weapons instead of transferring them to other agencies, encourage the LAPD and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to take similar actions and to establish a Black and Latino-led community-control board of the LASPD.

A letter from Cortines reflects deep divisions with teachers union

UTLA contract proposal to DeasyA bargaining update from LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines yesterday to district employees may prove ominous for the teachers union, UTLA, and ultimately the district’s 650,000 students.

In his three-page review of negotiations so far, Cortines concedes that all workers “deserve additional salary increases, particularly in view of the recent past years of salary freezes and furlough days that were necessary to save jobs and survive the Recession.”

But he warns that any raise must be based upon “available resources.”

“The District’s 2014-15 budget is now balanced and fully committed with its current offer on top of all other expense commitments,” he wrote. “The District has offered to open its books should UTLA have any questions about its budget condition.”

Is he signaling that the district will not budge from a 2 percent salary raise that other unions have accepted, no matter how LA Unified might sweeten the pot with one-time bonuses?

To recap: In its latest offer, the district would give the teachers a 2 percent bonus for last year, a 2 percent bonus for the year approaching and the 2 percent raise — payouts that equate to $150 million, according to the district.

The union has asked for 17.6 percent over two years, 10 percent over one year and, it’s latest demand, 9 percent over one year.

Cortines’s message reviews other issues, including evaluations, class size and thw way cases of alleged misconduct are handled.

But nothing in the letter would lead anyone to assume major progress is underway.

 

Don’t go away: Big LAUSD headlines are on the way for 2015

LAUSD stories 2015* UPDATED

As LA School Report prepares to shut down for the year — and gear up for a long holiday Tamale Fest and Eggnog-a-thon — we’d like to take a moment to look ahead at the big stories awaiting us in 2015.

So grab your snow globe, give it a good shake and look into the future with us. Here is a handful of headlines you can expect in the new year:

 

Teachers are growing (more) angry

The teachers union, UTLA, is approaching teach-or-cut-school time.

Despite months of fruitless negotiations, in which the district has held to a 2 percent salary raise offer while the union has bounced from seeking 17.6 percent over two years to 10 percent over one year to 9 percent over one year, the sides remain on AM and FM bandwidths.

All fingers are now pointing to Alex Caputo-Pearl, the hard-charging new union president who has been threatening a strike since long before he won office last summer. Is the time finally approaching? Will teachers walk out in 2015?

Caputo-Pearl has shown himself to be the George Washington/Fidel Castro (you decide) revolutionary of UTLA, providing cogent arguments for why it’s time teachers get a break — and a hefty raise. But does he have any Menachem Begin in him? In other words, can the revolutionary cut a deal?

Maybe the bigger question is: how will teachers react to whatever deal he can cut?

 

Tamar Galatzan 2-11-14Possible shakeup on the school board

With four board seats up for grabs this spring, it’s conceivable that one or two board members will disappear from view, bringing in new faces and philosophies on education.

Most vulnerable may be full-time prosecutor, board member, school reformist and mom, Tamar Galatzan. She’s in the most crowded race, facing off against five hopefuls for the valley’s District 3 seat.

The list of candidates includes: Ankur Patel, a former candidate for LA City Controller, who has become a familiar face at school board meetings, often addressing the board during public speaking periods; Elizabeth Badger, owner of an auto repair company in Canoga Park; Social media consultant Filiberto Gonzalez; LAUSD school principal Scott Schmerelson; and Carl Petersen, who works for a Glendale manufacturing company.

The leading contender will be the challenger UTLA gets behind with money and ground support.

School board president and newly-goateed Richard Vladovic is running for a third term against two challengers in District 7: Euna Anderson and Lydia Gutierrez. But it’s Gutierrez, a Republican born and raised in San Pedro, who is likely to be Vladovic’s biggest competition. She ran for State Superintendent in 2014 and, nearly passed Marshall Tuck for second place. She got close to a million votes and according to one of her campaign managers, came within 1,000 District 7 votes of the total Vladovic received in 2011.

Continue reading

Morning Read: Cost of LAUSD special ed services on the rise

Costs for LAUSD special ed services climb as parents feel the pinch
Changing demographics, advances in care and stronger advocacy by families are all combining to drive up the expense of special ed. KPCC


Inglewood Unified: Filth, exposed wires, roaches still at some schools
An LA County inspector found 23 “extreme deficiencies” at Inglewood High School. KPCC


California schools step up help for ‘long-term’ English learners
A new law requires the state to define and identify a “long-term English learner,” the first effort in the nation to do so. SFGate


Teaching English learners language of math
The issue of making sure English learners benefit from the Common Core has been the subject of considerable research and discussion. Ed Source


The “How Does a Principal Work?” Edition
Slate’s podcast about work explores how a principal deals with angry parents, standardized tests, and low-income middle school students. Slate

Cortines doubles number of direct reports in LAUSD overhaul

LAUSD organizational flow chartJohn Deasy was often described by critics as an autocrat in how he ran the district. Nine senior aides reported to him directly.

That was nothing. In the two months since taking over, his replacement, Ramon Cortines, has doubled the number of LA Unified officials under his direct supervision. He has 18 aides reporting to him directly.

The change came early this month when the district circulated a new organizational chart of top district management. In another realignment, Cortines continued the expansion of some departments while eliminating others.

Taken together, the changes throw into relief the differences in management styles between the two men: Where Deasy had a handful of people delivering information from the bottom up, Cortines prefers a more hands-on approach with direct contact.

In a letter to the board that accompanied the new organizational charter, Cortines offered no specifics as to why he was making so many changes, other than to say they would “continue the trajectory of stability and calmness that our schools and support staff depend on.”

The most notable changes within the top tier, which took effect on Dec. 1, affect Matt Hill and Donna Muncey.  Hill’s job as Chief Strategy Officer has already undergone some alterations under Coritnes, after the resignation of the district’s Chief Information Officer, Ron Chandler. A month ago, Hill was asked to share oversight of MISIS, but he has since been pulled off of that project to oversee the Information Technology Department.

Aside from his experience with the district in managing the development and troubled rollout of MISIS, it is unclear what experience Hill has in running an IT department. Prior to his career in education, Hill worked in Black & Decker’s business development group. He’s also been a strategy consultant in the financial services industry.

Continue reading

5 LAUSD teachers win scholarship, students raise 15K for toy drive

school report buzzFive LA Unified teachers have been selected to receive a Raytheon-Engineering is Elementary teacher scholarship for 2014-2015.

The scholarships will help the educators implement Engineering is Elementary STEM curriculum from the Boston Museum of Science in their classrooms. The award covers tuition and travel to attend a professional development workshop in Boston and has a value of $2,500, according to an LA Unified press release.

The recipients are LaNelle Harvey of 93rd Street Elementary School, Lauren Levy of Synergy Charter Academy, David Owens of 96th Street Elementary, Robyn Tirschel of 96th Street Elementary and Anna Gaiter of Plainview Academic Charter Academy.

“I am ecstatic and honored to be one of the recipients,” Harvey said in a statement. “I’m ecstatic because it’s a wonderful opportunity to stretch my capabilities, and to add to the repertoire of the learning experiences I will be able to provide for my students.

Polytechnic High students raise $15,500 for toy drive

After raising $15,500 for the school’s annual toy drive, students from Polytechnic High in Sun Valley will go on a shopping spree with the funds at the Matel Store in Pomona at 8 a.m. Friday.

Thirty-five students will be purchasing toys and delivering them to a local Los Angeles Fire Department station, where they will be taken to a warehouse and then delivered to needy children, according to a district press release.

The funds were raised through pizza, bracelets, balloons roses and other items, as well through a talent show, student/teacher basketball game and business donations, according to the release.

Ruth Perez on Podcast

In his weekly podcast,  LA Unified’s Local Instructional Service Center-South Superintendent Bob Bravo interviews LA Unified Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Ruth Perez. In the interview, Perez explains why she left a cherished job at another district to come to LA Unified.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Group to protest LA school police department’s military weapons

The Fight for the Soul of the Cities group protest on Nov 24, 2014. (Credit: Fight for the Soul of the Cities Facebook)

The Fight for the Soul of the Cities group protest on Nov 24, 2014. (Credit: Fight for the Soul of the Cities Facebook)

The Strategy Center’s Fight for the Soul of the Cities and Community Rights Campaign is holding a rally and press conference outside LAUSD headquarters at 4 p.m. to protest the Los Angeles School Police Department’s possession of military-grade weapons.

Earlier this fall, media around the country began to focus on the Pentagon’s 1033 Program in the wake of protesters’ clashes with heavily armed police in Ferguson, Mo. Under the program, local police departments large and small have been armed with billions of dollars of surplus military-grade weapons.

In response to growing criticism of the program, the LASPD Chief Steven Zipperman announced that the department was getting rid of three grenade launchers and a mine-resistant vehicle it had obtained through the program, but was keeping dozens of assault rifles.

Zipperman explained to the Los Angeles Times that the rifles were used for training, and that many officers are also equipped with civilian-grade assault rifles kept in the trunks of their cars or centralized locations in case of a Columbine High School-type attack.

The Fight for the Soul of the Cities campaign is calling for further moves by the LASPD. In a press release about the protest, the group is calling on the department to end its participation in the 1033 program, destroy its military weapons instead of transferring them to other agencies, encourage the LAPD and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to take similar actions and establish a Black and Latino-led community-control board of the LASPD.

“President Obama has called for more oversight of military weapons transfer and body cameras – yet the reality is that we need an end to police violence, criminalization and militarism,” the press release stated. “LAUSD as an institution of learning can provide leadership to reject militarism and police violence, we urge the LAUSD Board to begin the process to end its relationship to the 1033 Program.”

 

A turbulent year in LA Unified: Our top 11 stories of 2014

Top LA School Report storiesThe year 2014 was not a banner one in the history of the Los Angeles Unified School District. While there was positive news – in particular continued improvement in student achievement – the district often found itself the subject of increasingly negative headlines.

Here, in no particular order, are the top stories about LA Unified as reported this year by LA School Report.

 

Superintendent Deasy resigns

On Oct. 15, LA School Report broke the news that John Deasy was going to resign the next day as superintendent of LA Unified. Although his future with the district had been openly debated for weeks, the news still rocked the education world to the core and made headlines around the country. Despite his eagerness to help students with the greatest need, his departure was viewed as a victory by those who opposed his centralized style of management.

Key Deasy resignation stories: Breaking News: LAUSD makes it official, Deasy steps downRatliff: lone vote on school board against Deasy settlementCaputo-Pearl insists Deasy’s resignation not a victory for UTLAIn resignation letter, Deasy ‘overwhelmed with pride’

tuck torlaksonSchool reform loss is union’s gain 

Deasy’s departure was a reflection of a general retrenchment of school reform advocacy in 2014. The teachers union showed a strong hand at local and state level in elections this year while reform advocates suffered not only the loss of Deasy but also reform candidate Marshall Tuck in his bid to unseat Tom Torlakson as state Superintendent of Public Instruction. The shift occurred at the local board level, too, with the election of George McKenna, who defeated a candidate, Alex Johnson, heavily supported by charter schools.

Key reform stories: In words of congratulations, Zimmer blasts ‘reform billionaires’Tuck, in defeat: In California, ‘a growing call for change’Reaction to Deasy resignation as polarizing as his tenureMcKenna victory gives appearance of a pro-teacher union board.

Continue reading

Morning Read: CA opposing suit demanding action on schools

State to fight lawsuit by impoverished students
State officials granted the California Department of Education $3.4 million to fight a lawsuit that demands the state fix disruptive conditions in some schools. Ed Source


California schools step up efforts to help ‘long-term’ English learners
A new law requires the state to define and identify a “long-term English learner,” the first effort in the nation to do so. Los Angeles Times


To give their children a better education, parents launch new school
In a unique showing of parent power, Nava College Preparatory Academy opened in the fall. Los Angeles Times


Will LAUSD get an accountability break?
LAUSD is asking state officials for permission to exclude student test scores from school performance ratings. Politico


Turning around schools with low achievement rates never seems to work
One of the goals U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan set in 2009 was to turn 1,000 schools around annually for five years. Washington Post

Cortines springs an art teacher after months in ‘teacher jail’

South Gate Middle School teacher Stuart Lutz

South Gate Middle School teacher Stuart Lutz

LA Unified art teacher Stuart Lutz had a celebratory homecoming today as he returned to the classroom after nearly eight months in so-called “teacher jail.”

Lutz was pulled from South Gate Middle School on April 21 while the district investigated allegations of mishandling fundraising money for an annual field trip to Disneyland Art Studio.

Throughout the investigation, Lutz, who is the teachers union Chapter Chair for the school, and his supporters maintained there was no wrong-doing and claimed the disciplinary actions taken against him were in retaliation for his queries into the school budget, complaints about insufficient campus restrooms, and concerns about unsafe conditions for students.

A request for comment from the district’s legal counsel on the findings of the investigation was not returned. However, UTLA spokesperson Suzanne Spurgeon told LA School Report, “At the urging of UTLA, the District — under [Superintendent Ramon] Cortines— took a closer look at Lutz’s case and agreed he should be allowed back at South Gate Middle School.”

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JUST IN: Hamilton High put on lockdown after 3 shot nearby

Hamilton High

*UPDATED

Hamilton High School in West LA was put on lockdown for over an hour this morning after three men were shot in streets near the school, which is located on S. Robertson Blvd. near the 10 Freeway.

The three victims were shot at different locations — with one victim being found on the 3100 block of Helms Avenue — after likely being chased through the streets by at least two shooters, Officer Drake Madison of the LAPD Media Relations Section told LA School Report.

Madison said the three victims were all adult males and were not students at Hamilton. The shooter or shooters are still at large, and the victims are all being treated at local hospitals. No description of the shooters is available, Madison said.

The shooting was reported around 9 a.m. and the lockdown was lifted at 10:40 a.m. The incident may be related to drug or gang activity, Madison suggested.

“It was not random, let’s put it that way,” Madison said.

UPDATE 2:50 p.m. One of the victims in the shooting died, according to NBC Los Angeles.

 

UTLA drops salary demand to 9 percent over 1 year

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA

Representatives for the teachers union, UTLA, lowered their salary demand yesterday, asking LA Unified for a one-year 9 percent pay increase for the current academic year, with future increases tied to that.

Vivian Ekchian, the district’s chief negotiator, said the proposal “is under review and we will ascertain the cost to the District.”

While the shift suggests movement in contract negotiations that have been stumbling along for months, it still leaves the side far apart, with the district holding to a 2 percent salary increase and one-time bonuses.

The union said on its website that its new demand was done as an effort “to increase the pace of bargaining.” In the same vein, it called for weekly negotiation sessions, starting in January even though the sides have been meeting almost once a week since the talks began.

The union’s latest proposal also included demands for three self-directed voluntary planning and collaboration days to be paid at hourly rate, stipends of $1,000 for materials, full rate pay for professional development  and a potential retirement incentive.

Fully anticipating no immediate agreement from the district, the union’s website said Gov. Jerry Brown‘s new budget in January will reflect how much money LA Unified can expect from the state.

Previous stories: UTLA rejects pay increase offer from districtAnalysis: LAUSD offer to UTLA a march to progress or a strike?

 

Morning Read: LCAPs a mixed bag so far, advocacy group finds

Report on LCAPs finds mixed success
An advocacy organization analyzed dozens of school districts’ inaugural improvement plans and found mixed results. Ed Source


Students’ active engagement in music leads to brain gains, study finds
Brain researchers are finding increasing evidence that music is a powerful learning tool. KPCC


An alternative to suspension and expulsion: ‘Circle up!’
One by one, in a room just off the gym floor at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif., seventh-graders go on the interview hot seat. KPCC


Only GPA outranks attendance as a performance indicator
After grades, attendance habits among Chicago middle school students provided the best indicator of later academic performance. SI&A Cabinet Report


Charges dropped against teacher accused of having sex with teens
A longtime San Bernardino educator accused of molesting two teenage boys is beginning to restore her reputation. Los Angeles Times

CA considering Cortines request to delay use of computer tests

LAUSD Superintedent Ray Cortines

LAUSD Superintedent Ramon Cortines

Responding to a barrage of requests from district superintendents around the state, including a recent appeal from LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines, state education officials will consider a delay in using the results of the 2014-15 Smarter Balanced computerized test as means of measuring academic growth next year.

“This will be a public discussion beginning with the next scheduled State Board meeting in January,” Keric Ashley, a deputy to Tom Torlakson, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, said in a written statement.

He added, “Regardless of this public discussion of the API, schools and parents will receive scores and the Superintendent strongly urges all schools to continue their preparation for the computer-adaptive assessments coming in the spring.”

The outcomes of this year’s reading and math tests are supposed to be used to establish a base in calculating Academic Performance Index (API) scores in 2015-16. But, at a meeting with the California Department of Education in November, leaders from several statewide educational organizations suggested a year-long postponement. They argued that many districts need more time to implement the state’s new Common Core curriculum while others do not posses the technological infrastructure to carry out the exam.

In a letter to Torlakson last week, Cortines joined a growing group of local superintendents’ seeking permission to ignore the test results for “high stakes accountability purposes.”

“We do not feel that our students have had adequate time practicing on the testing devices,” Cortines explained.

As a result, he added, “I would like to ask that any data or scores derived from [testing] not have a negative impact on state and/or federal funds that are allocated for the students in LAUSD.”

The Smarter Balanced tests have replaced California’s statewide exams as the state is transitioning to the Common Core State Standards. All students in third through eighth grade and high school juniors are required to take the exam. In all, nearly 350,000 LA Unified students will take the test in April.

Teachers, LA Unified in last bargaining session of the year

UTLA-Contract-NegotiationsThe teachers union, UTLA, and LA Unified officials will be back at it today, for the last contract negotiations of the year.

The final bargaining session has no set agenda, but Vivian Ekchian, the district’s Chief Labor Negotiator, told LA School Report salary discussions are likely to be front and center.

To that end, the district yesterday sent out an email addressed to its “Dear Employees”  and the subject line: “District’s latest wage offer – willing to pay while talks continue about future increases.”

Earlier this month the district proposed a one-year deal with an equivalent raise of 6 percent. The money would be distributed through a 2 percent ongoing salary increase retroactive to July 1; a 2 percent lump-sum payment based on 2013-14 earnings; and a 2 percent one-time payment for the 2014-15 school year to be paid at the end of this school year.

According to the email, “This offer represents an increase to UTLA members of $48 million above the previous District 4% offer for 2014-15.”

Negotiations on all other issues — class size reductions, so-called teacher jail and teacher evaluations — would continue uninterrupted and UTLA would resume salary negotiations next year.

Although UTLA made no official response, the website pointed out, “the District is still only offering a 2% salary increase.”

The meeting begins at noon today and will take place at UTLA headquarters.

Previous Stories: UTLA rejects pay increase offer from districtAnalysis: LAUSD offer to UTLA a march to progress or a strike?Caputo-Pearl asks energetic UTLA rally: ‘Are you ready for a fight?’

Commentary: The time has come for ethnic studies at LAUSD

Los-Angeles-Times-logoVia Los Angeles Times | By Sandy Banks

An ethnic studies course changed my life when I was a teenager — though not in the way that today’s opponents of ethnic studies seem to fear.

It didn’t teach me to feel like a victim, to despise America or to resent white people. I learned that history doesn’t have to be boring, and that you may have to dig deep beneath the surface to find the truth in a story.

I was a high school junior in 1971, trying to avoid another mind-numbing history course heavy on names, dates and battles. A social studies teacher I liked persuaded me to enroll in her new class. She was a rabble-rousing feminist, a Russian Jew who’d offered to teach “Black History” on a campus where almost every student was black.

To read the full commentary, click here.

Morning Read: Most CA schools free of computer testing problems

Most schools solve web issues for computer testing
Of the state’s more than 11,000 public schools, fewer than 21 of them will be taking the Common Core assessments this spring on pencil and paper. SI&A Cabinet Report


State likely to support existing lunch standards
California’s enthusiasm for healthy school lunches appears unlikely to change under a Congressional budget bill headed to President Obama for signature. Ed Source


Commentary: Teachers need to be honest about their unions
Many individual teachers are wonderful, inspiring people who deserve admiration and respect. But that simply doesn’t extend to the CTA and CFT. U-T San Diego


Getting kids online at home is key to closing the digital divide 
The FCC voted Thursday to increase funding for the federal e-rate program, which provides money for school districts to access the Internet. The Hechinger Report


The top Education Next articles of 2014
Each year we provide readers with a list of the most popular articles we published that year. Education Next