LAUSD Shows Improvement In State Tests

The Daily News reports (see: LAUSD makes its best showing ever on STAR tests) that LAUSD students made significant improvement over last year in their performance on the state-required standardized test results, also known as the STAR tests: “48 percent of LAUSD students scored proficient or advanced in English, up from 44 percent last year. Math proficiency inched up from 43 to 45 percent.”

The piece quotes a pleased Superintendent John Deasy:

We’ve put a great deal of emphasis in this district on English-language arts, we’ve put a great deal of emphasis on reclassifying our English-learners (in language fluency) and we’ve put a great deal of emphasis in terms of algebra… When the district puts strong emphasis on something, and provides support and clear expectations, we are really delivering.

Deasy singled out schools with alternative models, such as Pilot Schools and Partnership for LA schools as having made even stronger gains: “[I]n many cases, gains are occurring faster in schools that have had different structures and sets of supports than `traditional’ schools.”

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Teacher Evaluation Bill Withdrawn

After much-last minute scrambling, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes decided to withdraw AB 5, the controversial bill to overhaul how public school teachers are evaluated in California. Fuentes (pictured) issued a statement Thursday evening, reading in part: “I could not in good conscious [sic] allow the proposed amendments to be voted on without a full public hearing… I believe this issue is too important to be decided at the last minute and in the dark of night.” You can read the full statement here.

Other coverage:  The LA Times describe the outcome as “a blow for the powerful California Teachers Assn.” (Lawmaker withdraws teacher evaluation bill). EdSource reports that towards the end word got out that Governor Brown didn’t want the bill to pass  (Fuentes withdraws teacher eval bill; says he ran out of time). The CTA posted word that LAUSD board member Steve Zimmer sent a letter endorsing the Fuentes proposal  (L.A. School Board Member: Approve AB 5). LA Weekly named AB 5 to its list of 10 Stupidest California Bills That Legislators Are Trying to Slam Through at Final Hour.

Morning Read: Judgment Day

California test scores: State to release results at 10 a.m. KPCC: The tests in English and math measure whether school districts meet state education standards. Students between the second and 11th grades take the exam.

Steinberg’s school accountability rewrite set for passage SI&A: Legislation approved Thursday would remake the state’s accountability system for public schools by reducing the role of standardized testing and incorporate new college-and career-readiness measurements.

Crisis Counseling, Parent Meeting at School Where Driver Crashed Into Students NBC: 14 people, most of them children, were injured when a 100-year-old backed his Cadillac into a group near the South Los Angeles school. Continue reading

“No” On Teacher Evaluation Bill

It’s not often that a single piece of legislation can be called catastrophic for the future of education in California, but Sacramento has managed to create it. It’s called AB 5 – a bill that will legislate how teachers are evaluated, and it has re-appeared Frankenstein-like, with the backing the powerful teachers’ unions. Stuffed with watered-down amendments and other late-breaking shenanigans, this bill is a disaster, even with the new ‘sunset’ provision that may have been slapped on today.

The bill has suddenly become so urgent that the Senate Education Committee met late Wednesday to cut a deal for last-minute changes so it could be rushed to a vote before the close of the legislative session Friday.  Its resurrection is a bold attempt to gut school districts’ power to assess teachers — and will hamper the districts’ ability to use test scores or student progress as part of the equation.

That long-standing but little-used power is conferred on school districts by a law called the Stull Act, dating from 1971. It cannot be a coincidence that AB 5’s rise from the dead coincides with a Judge’s ruling earlier this summer, which ordered LAUSD to adhere to the Stull Act and use test scores as part of teacher evaluation. The ruling was celebrated by LAUSD chief John Deasy and groups of teachers, parents and school administrators – but came as a shock to the teachers’ unions. So in a stunning show of political muscle, the teachers’ lobby is propelling AB 5 forward. One of the bill’s more outrageous stipulations: that the evaluation process be subject to local collective bargaining – akin to letting your drunk teenager negotiate for the car keys. In effect, the bill will make it easier for those teachers who don’t help students learn hang onto their jobs in the classroom.

So Frankenstein has arrived, ugly and powerful enough to stave off meaningful teacher assessment. For too long as a state we have refused to appropriately link teacher and principal evaluations to student test scores, the very thing this sort of bill could be accomplishing. Even a third-grader could tell you AB 5 deserves an “F” — and should be voted down in the Senate.

Scramble Over Teacher Evaluation

It was a mad scramble in Sacramento yesterday, and well into the night, with state legislators trying to get every bill they possibly could out the door before recess, Friday at midnight.

And perhaps nowhere was the scramble madder than in the Senate education committee, where lawmakers desperately tried to amend AB 5, a bill that would change how public school teachers are evaluated.

Among many issues being debated are the appropriate use of student achievement in teacher evaluations, the role of local bargaining agreements, political relationships between unions and Democratic lawmakers, and the fate of the lawsuit known as Doe v. Deasy, which would make student achievement part of teacher evaluation in LAUSD.

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Morning Read: So Long, Year-Round Tracks

The happy end to the year-round tracks at LA Unified schools Daily News: An op-ed by Hector Villagra, executive director of ACLU of Southern California, celebrates the end of year-round tracks at LAUSD.

Senate backs eliminating BIP mandate; online learning, math adoption move ahead SI&A Cabinet Report: In a cost-cutting move that has near unanimous opposition from schools, a majority in the state Senate moved Wednesday to back a plan to eliminate most state funding tied to school management behavior issues of special education students.

100-Year-Old Driver Plows Into School Crowd AP:  A 100-year-old man backed his car on to a sidewalk and hit 11 people, including nine children, across from an elementary school in South Los Angeles just after classes had ended Wednesday, authorities said.

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Parent Trigger Swirls Around LAUSD

The parents of Desert Trails Elementary, along with Parent Revolution, have filed a “Motion to Compel” the Adelanto School Board to comply with the judge’s order in the Desert Trails case. According to California law, parents of a failing school can, if they gather signatures of over half the parents, change their school’s management structure.You can read the latest complaint here.

In June, a Judge ruled that Desert Trails parents had, in fact, gathered the appropriate signatures. But two weeks ago, the Adelanto School Board voted, 3-1, to reject the parents’ request for a charter school, asserting that the parent signatures were no longer current or sufficient (see LA Times here).

There are a few preliminary parent trigger efforts underway in LAUSD, according to Parent Revolution.  Meanwhile the US Conference of Mayors has endorsed the parent trigger concept, and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is functioning as a surrogate for the Obama re-election campaign at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week.  Screenings of the parent trigger film “Won’t Back Down” are being hosted by Michelle Rhee’s advocacy group, StudentsFirst, at both conventions.

HuffPost LA Highlights Deasy Interview

As you may already have seen, the good folks at HuffPost Los Angeles were kind enough to run our Deasy interview yesterday.  In case you missed it, Deasy notes in the interview that the California Teachers Association supports AB 5, which would revamp teacher evaluation, even though it raids QEIA (class size reduction funding): “This bill allows you to raise class size, and takes away QEIA funds – this is how AB 5 is being funded. I find that perplexing. I don’t understand it.”

Morning Read: Teacher Evaluation & NCLB

Feds offer new details about NCLB waiver flexibility SI&A Cabinet Report: With the Legislature creeping closer to deciding the fate of AB 5 – which would restructure teacher evaluations in California – there’s new focus on the state also winning a federal waiver from No Child Left Behind mandates.

Hagman Blames Teachers’ Unions for Bill’s Failure Diamond Bar AOL Patch: Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, expressed disappointment and blamed unions that amendments to a Senate bill aimed at protecting students from abusive teachers did not pass out of the Assembly Education Committee.

Pension reform: top-paid administrators to take biggest hit Ed Source: The retirement age for new teachers will be pushed back two years; they’ll have to fork over about another 1 percent of their pay into the retirement system. And their bosses – principals and administrators ­– will see a ceiling of $132,120 as the portion of their pay used to calculate retirement pay. Those in the highest-paid jobs, earning $200,000 plus, may see pensions reduced by tens of thousands of dollars.

Teacher Evaluation Debate Deadline

It’s crunchtime for the state legislature, which has yet to figure out what to do with a slew of issues including AB 5, the proposal that would essentially remove pupil progress from teacher evaluations (see KPCC: California lawmakers voting on hundreds of bills to meet a Friday midnight deadline). As you may recall, AB 5’s author offered some changes to the measure last week but LAUSD’s Deasy and reform organizations remain opposed (see previous post: Furious Debate Over Pupil Progress). On Sunday, the Modesto Bee editorialized against the bill (Why rush this gutted bill into law?). The Bee also noted that the bill has “gotten some favorable comments from the Brown administration.”

In the meantime, SI&A reports that Governor Brown has vetoed AB 1765, which would have created a “master teacher” program, and that SB 885, which would promote agencies collecting and sharing student date has been revived (see: Brown rejects master teacher bill, measure to link student data advances).

Morning Read: Romero Vs. Villaraigosa

Gloria Romero to Antonio Villaraigosa: We’re not removing you from Prop 32 ad SFGate: LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was ticked that the pro-Prop 32 folks were using his name and comments “out of context” in an ad. He asked them to remove his name/comments from the ad promoting the measure on the November ballot that would ban unions and corporations from using automatic payroll deductions to fund political campaigns. On Monday, the pro-32 folks responded to his request: Uh, no.

Miramonte lawsuits are on hold, attorneys hope to settle KPCC: Attorney Luis Carrillo is the one who pushed for the stay. He says the temporary delay gives his clients a chance to engage in settlement discussions with the school district. The talks would be facilitated by a mediator and could begin as early as November.

Charters draw students from private schools, study finds LA Times: The study by a Rand Corp. economist found that more than 190,000 students nationwide had left a private school for a charter by the end of the 2008 school year, the most recent year for which data was available.

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Four More Fall Board Meetings

The next LAUSD board meeting isn’t until September 11, and it’s one of only four scheduled board meetings for the rest of 2012. The board will also meet on October 9, November 13 and December 11, according to Jefferson Crain, the Board Secretariat. However “if an issue comes up that has a time component or which the Board Members would like to address before their next scheduled meeting, they have every opportunity to call a “special” meeting,” wrote Crain in an email.  There will also be an as-yet-to-be-determined number of committee meetings, as well as a “Williams Hearing,” a state mandated hearing “to certify that they have or do not have the texts and instructional materials for every student in the “core” classes,” according to Crain.You can see the 2012-2013 board calendar here. If you click on a past meeting (say, the August 21 example), you’ll see there’s archived video, too. Alas, there’s still no public Wi-Fi during meetings.

Early Praise For LA School Report

We’ve been officially launched just a few days and the early responses have been really gratifying.  Thanks for all the emails, tweets, and Facebook “likes.” LA Observed’s Kevin Roderick was kind enough to mention us. WitnessLA’s Celeste Fremon gave us an especially warm (and much appreciated) welcome: LA Gets a New Education Blog! GothamSchools, a four year-old education site in New York City, included us in their roundup of news. Still not quite sure who we are?  Check out the “About” page here.. Meantime, you can like us on Facebook here.  Follow us on Twitter here.  Sign up for email delivery here. Add us to your Google reader here.

Education At The Conventions

Screen shot 2012-08-27 at 11.57.06 AM

Nothing really important will probably happen at the conventions this week or next but there are more education-related events scheduled than in previous years (when there was next to nothing) and some of the education events that will be taking place might be interesting or at least amusing.  Check below for a list, and let us know if you know education people or groups who are going to be showing the flag there, especially if they’re LA-related

Morning Read: LAUSD Restructured

LAUSD restructures district offices Daily Breeze: As of this school year LAUSD no longer consists of eight geographical district offices by number, but instead is composed of four “educational service centers” designated by direction — north, south, east and west — and a fifth at-large center that is based not on geography but school type.

Most local school districts ignore state’s anti-gay bullying law Daily News: None of the six Long Beach area school districts has complied with AB 9’s July 1 deadline, and only one, Long Beach Unified School District, has since met the requirements, a Press-Telegram investigation has found.

Why rush this gutted education bill into law? Modesto Bee (opinion):  In Doe v. Deasy, the judge found that the Los Angeles Unified school district had never obeyed the Stull Act in evaluating teachers.

Gloria Romero’s Revenge NBC/Prop Zero (blog): California’s public employee unions have long prided themselves on their toughness. If a Democratic politician stepped out of line, they would move to punish that politician.

Cortines’ accuser details long friendship that went bad LA Observed:  Scot Graham, the LA Unified leasing chief who has sued ex-superintendent Ramon Cortines for sexual harassment and filed $10 million claim with the district, says he first met Cortines in San Francisco’s gay community in the 1980s.

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Lawmakers Won’t Comment On Sex Abuse Vote

You might enjoy (or be appalled by) this Thursday night segment from the CNN Show Anderson Cooper 360 including footage of reporter Kyung Lah chasing the four SB1530 abstainers around the statehouse.
It’s a little heavy-handed, but three of the four legislators play right into CNN’s hands by ducking interviews and issuing terse “no comments” while waiting for the elevator to arrive.  (Special Interests Over Child Interests?)

A Conversation With John Deasy

John Deasy

Last Friday afternoon in his office high up on the 24th floor of  the district’s downtown headquarters, LAUSD superintendent John Deasy seemed both excited about the school year that had just started and also clear about the realities of the complex task ahead of him.

Deasy taught math and science before becoming an administrator and then a superintendent of progressively larger school districts (including Santa Monica) and finally ending up as former LAUSD superintendent Ramon Cortines’ number two and being promoted to Superintendent of the country’s second largest school district last January.

Just a few days before the first board meeting of the year, the  energetic 52 year old Rhode Island native was alternately candid and cagey on topics ranging from board politics to Sacramento gamesmanship.

There was just one problem with the interview I had arrived to conduct.

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” said Deasy in his still-strong New England accent. “I’ve never read a blog in my life.”

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Furious Debate Over “Pupil Progress”

Rumors are flying fast and furious about Assembly Bill 5, a proposed amendment to the Stull Act offered by San Fernando Valley Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes.

The latest word from EdSource is that AB 5 is being revised slightly to try and mollify opponents and also to help make the state eligible for a No Child Left Behind waiver (see: Fuentes agrees to compromises on AB 5: Are they enough?). If approved, the amended bill could go back to the State Senate education committee early next week. But it’s not clear that’s going to happen without further changes. Romero, EdVoice and other education reformers are still strongly opposed to the law — as is LAUSD’s John Deasy.

What is AB 5? Why do ed reform groups, not to mention Deasy, hate it so much? And what is Fuentes offering to change?

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Morning Read: “Ransom Note”

Prop 30 Is a Ransom Note. But Should We Pay It Anyway? NBC / Prop Zero: Structured around a budget that would trigger big cuts to schools and universities in the event it loses in November, Prop 30 takes California’s kids, and future, hostage, and demands payment.

Fuentes agrees to compromises on AB 5: Are they enough? Ed Source: At the 11th hour, the author of the bill to rewrite the teacher evaluation law has offered compromises intended to placate opponents and to qualify the state for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law. The latter may work, but probably not the former.

In California Politics, Teachers union are to fear Channel 6 News Online: In lawsuits against the state and the Los Angeles Unified School District, they allege that a number of union-backed laws “prevent school administrators from prioritizing or even considering the interests of their students.”

Many UC, CSU students aren’t ready for college-level writing; USC program tries to help KPCC: The 94 students in this year’s program competed to get in from Los Angeles urban high schools with low college attendance rates. For half of their six-hour days, they concentrate on intensive writing courses that offer what few of them have experienced before: one-on-one instruction, peer assistance and revision, revision, revision. Continue reading

Morning Read: A Tale of Two Headlines

• A tale of two headlines: Results of the California High School Exit Exam were released yesterday, and for LAUSD there’s good news and bad news, reflected in two headlines: The LA Times has it like this: “Two-thirds of sophomores pass exit exam, a record high for LAUSD”. Wonderful news! But the Daily News says: “LAUSD trails state for seniors passing high-school exit exam; sophomores taking test show major improvement”. Not very snappy.  Of course, both headlines are true. About 12% of seniors failed to pass the test, which is actually an improvement on last year’s figure of 14%. Superintendent John Deasy is quoted in both pieces, and is pleased with the results in both of them.  Also, KPCC has a map of how various school districts in the area did on the test.

• Student attendance grows at LAUSD: A slightly higher percentage of students within LAUSD enrolled in school compared to last year. Patch

• School closures, employee cuts, selling land debated by near bankrupt Inglewood Unified: School district staff are recommending the school board cut $14 million from their budget. The board has “taken steps to declare bankruptcy in January,” although it can avoid that if it cuts enough. KPCC

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