Martinez Running For City Council

Nury Martinez

School Board Member Nury Martinez has long been rumored to be planning a run for Tony Cardenas’ City Council District 6 seat, which will become vacant when Cardenas gets elected to U.S. Congress, which he is expected to do in a walk. This would set the stage for a fight for Martinez’s school board seat, and it could also upset the delicate balance of the current school board, which narrowly re-elected Monica Garcia as president and is just one UTLA-sponsored candidate away from tipping the board over to a Garcia opponent like Dr. Richard Vladovic.
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Update: Where The TFAers Are

Ever wonder just how many TFA (Teach For America) teachers there are in LAUSD?  Sometimes it can seem like they (and their alumni) are everywhere.  Other times, they can be hard to find. Here are the latest numbers, via David Stanley, TFA LA executive director: Last year there were 260 first- and second-year teachers (about 20 percent in LAUSD schools).  This year there are going to be 320.   There are also about 435 alumni teachers in the LA area, about 160 of whom are teaching in LAUSD schools.  Click on the link for more information.

Duffy: Comments From The Classroom

A.J. Duffy (LA Weekly)

When former UTLA head A.J. Duffy helped found Apple Academy, a charter school, in 2011, it seemed like the ultimate case of a zebra changing his stripes.

Nearly a year later, Duffy still gets quoted in the Times, but he’s no longer head of Apple, which didn’t enroll enough kids to justify his salary, and is back in the classroom.

He’s not happy about this, or about the performance of  his successor, Warren Fletcher — though he does his best to be diplomatic.

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Morning Read: Less Money, More Problems

• LAUSD is cutting adult education offerings in half– and that’s the good news, since some were afraid that the program would be completely eliminated. “An agreement by LAUSD’s unions to take up to 10 unpaid days restored about $105 million for Adult Ed, enough to accommodate about 105,000 students.” Daily News

• LA School Police Chief Steven Zipperman (sounds like a Wes Anderson character) is “reassessing” LAUSD’s ticketing policies. In the last three years, Zipperman’s troops issued 34,000 tickets for things like cutting class, smoking cigarettes and fighting. KPCC

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Morning Reading: This Space for Sale

• A delightful piece by Barbara Jones profiles the latest scheme by LAUSD to make a little extra cash: selling advertising space on about 70 vans and delivery trucks. Actually seems like a pretty good idea, although it’s only earning $157,000– so far. Daily News

• A typically equivocating LA Times editorial praises the judge’s recent decision in the Desert Trails / parent trigger case, but says the parent trigger law “though an intriguing idea for improving problem schools, is the result of a thoughtlessly written law backed by inadequate regulations.”  LA TimesWill the trigger play a role in LAUSD in 2012-2013?  That’s what no one knows yet.

• Reform critic Diane Ravitch spoke with UTLA lawyer Jesus Quinones, who assured her, in all capital letters, that Stull Act compliance* is still subject to negotiations between the district and the union, despite the recently set December 4 deadline. Quinones is quoted saying that if no agreement is made, the argument will be taken to PERB– a claim I’m sure Scott Whitlin would disagree with. Diane Ravitch Blog 

*Check out my 2011 LA Weekly story to get a sense of what makes Stull such a big deal.

Email Trumps Facebook

Stephanie Abrams

LAUSD’s social media director, Stephanie Abrams (pictured) has already been the subject of a smattering of news coverage and is featured in next month’s Scholastic Administrator magazine.   In the meantime one of Abrams’ biggest projects, a social media survey of the district, is out, and The Journal has some coverage.  Here’s LAUSD’s Tumblr announcement.  No big surprises — older parents who took the online survey still favor email over social media, and favor Facebook over Twitter. (What would have happened if they’d done the survey using mobile technology instead?) Still digging around for the raw results — we’ll update you when we find it.

Morning Read, 7-26-12: Stick a Pin In It

Well, late-morning reading, anyway.

• LAUSD is giving schools more options to have various levels of autonomy from the district, saying it will help teachers and administrators move away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education. It’s another example of how the charter school movement is placing competitive pressure on LAUSD to diversify, experiment and improve. KPCC

• The LA Times probes for disagreement between UTLA and the district, following Tuesday’s agreement on a deadline for Stull Act compliance. It’s unclear from the article just how much fight UTLA has left in it on this issue. LA Times

• A study followed 136 Romanian orphans around for 12 years (!) and found that growing up without a family hurts brain development. LA Times

• Did you know that LAUSD has a pinterest page? Am I saying it right? Is it called a page? Also, the district released results of its first-ever social media survey, which were fairly uninteresting. THE Journal

How Prop. 32 Could Affect LAUSD

Gloria Romero (photo by Celeste Freemon)

Prop 32 would have huge implications for LAUSD politics, drastically limiting the amount of money unions could spend on local races. In 2011, UTLA spent over $2 million on school board races. And at first it seems like a straightforward, partisan issue– Democrats and Unions vs. Republicans and rich guys.

But one Democrat has stepped forward to support prop 32: Gloria Romero, California Director of Democrats for School Reform:  “Unless we’re willing to tackle how the money flows,” says Romero, “we’re not going to ever see education reform in California.”  This raises the question:  will other Democrats and school reformers follow Romero’s lead? Or will they be fearful of pissing off the Democratic establishment? Turns out the politics of prop. 32 — and the implications for LAUSD — are not as straightforward as they may seem.

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25K Alt Cert Teachers In LAUSD

Per yesterday’s post about Congressional deliberations over alt cert teachers, LAUSD says that there are 24,466 fully credentialed classroom teachers [I’m assuming these are folks who came through an alternative route but are now done with their credits and fully certified], plus 199 NCLB-compliant interns [I’m guessing all or most of these are TFA corps members and the like, still taking classes, etc.].  Will let you know if and when I get a number from TFA.

Hill Considers “Alt Cert” Extension

Speaking of court cases (see below), the House education committee held a hearing about alternative certification yesterday in Washington, trying to figure out what to do about the quickly-expiring NCLB exemption for alternative route candidates in LAUSD and nationally.  All indications are that Congress is going to extend the alt cert program, but if it doesn’t it would affect tons of alt cert teachers in LAUSD, which has a big TFA program and a bunch of other nontraditional programs and routes (see here). Continue reading

Morning Reading: Testing, Testing…

• Judge James C. Chalfant has set a deadline for LAUSD to comply with the Stull Act, which, according to the judge’s decision last month, mandates that objective measurement of pupil progress be included in teacher evaluations. Or rather, the judge sent the attorneys into the hallway of the courthouse to hammer out an agreement. They came up with December 4th of this year. KPCC

• Meanwhile, in Sacramento, a long dormant bill that essentially state in plain (well, plainer) english what Judge Chalfant’s interpretation of the Stull Act is (i.e., it would mandate teacher evaluations include student progress), AB 5, is set to resurface. The bill is sponsored by Felipe Fuentes, who just so happens to be running for L.A. City Council. SI&A Cabinet Report

• Release of the scores for the State’s standardized tests, the so-called STARs, will be delayed two weeks, thanks to an investigation into potential cheating, after 36 questions showed up on social media websites. The scores are set to be released August 31. OC Register

• The Adelanto School Board will hold an emergency meeting at 2 PM today, where they’ll discuss the future of Desert Trails Elementary School, site of the recent and successful parent revolution. Redlands Daily Facts

Morning Reading, 7-23-12: After the Revolution

Lots of Parent Revolution coverage from around the country. Plus: Ramon Cortines sued for sexual harassment, and Sally Ride:

• Lots of Parent Revolution coverage, including pieces from the AP, Reuters, the LA Times, the Wall St. Journal and the The Washington Post. RiShawn Biddle posts as well at Dropout Nation.

• Scott Graham filed a lawsuit against former superintendent Ramon Cortines, “accusing him of making repeated unwanted sexual advances.” Graham has apparantly turned down $200,000 (plus lifetime health benefits!) settlement offered by LAUSD. City News Service.

• Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space, died yesterday at 61. In addition to being an astronaut, the Encino-born Ride also worked to “inspire young people, especially girls, to become interested in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” Curriculum Matters

You Say You Want a Revolution

Ben Austin flanked by Desert Trails Elementary parents and their lawyer

A Superior Court Judge has ruled in favor of parents of Desert Trails Elementary, who now become the first parents in the country to successfully take over a public school under provisions of the new and controversial Parent Trigger law.

“People throw around the word historic a lot,” said Ben Austin, Executive Director of Parent Revolution at a press conference today. “Maybe some people on this stage. Maybe some people at this podium. But this is a historic day.”

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Links: July 12, 2012

LAUSD to fight judge’s ruling in charter case, and more.
  • LAUSD is fighting a court order to give more space to charter schools. The district says enforcement would lead to school busing. LA Times, KPCC
  • RiShawn Biddle argues that the NAACP should get on board with public school choice
  • All sorts of media outlets are reporting, incorrectly, that the entire staff of Miramonte elementary was fired. LA Weekly
  • When did “a teacher being accused of lewd acts” become as routine a phrase as “a suspect wanted for questioning?” Gawker has good video of the Kip Arnold denouement. One more question: anyone know why some outlets are calling him Kip and others are calling him Kyp?

LAUSD Challenges Court Order To Allocate More Space For Charters

From KPCC:

When allocating space to charter schools, the law requires the district to look at all space at a school site, look at the total number of students served at that site, and make an equitable offer to charter schools based on the same allocation, said Ricardo Soto, the general counsel for the Charter Schools Association.


Superintendant John Deasy was not quoted in either the KPCC piece or the LA Times piece, although he is said to disagree with the ruling.