Talent Search Federal Grants will help pave the road to college for 1,892 LAUSD students annually

LA Unified school board member Monica Garcia announced on her Twitter and Facebook accounts recently that eight district high schools will benefit from three Talent Search Federal Grants from the U. S. Department of Education in the amount of $908,160.00 annually for the next five years.

The grants will be administered by the the University of Southern California and assist 1,892 high school students each year who are low-income, first-generation and from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in college.

According to a release from Garcia’s office, the program “provides academic tutoring, career exploration, financial aid counseling, SAT Prep., aptitude assessments, mentoring programs, career workshops, aesthetic/cultural activities and four-year college tours. Ultimately the goal of Talent Search is to increase the number of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to complete high school and enroll in postsecondary education.”

The high schools that will receive money from the grants are Locke High School, Jordan High School, South East High School, Manual Arts High School, West Adams Prep High School, Belmont High School, Miguel Contreras High School and Edward Roybal High School.


LA Unified data blogger tracks down TFA corps members 8 years later to see if they are still teaching

Education PostBy Caroline Bermudez

Reflexive opposition to Teach For America (TFA) is commonplace and the arguments against the organization are recycled regularly: Corps members are ill-prepared, they don’t stay in the profession, or they primarily teach at charter schools.

It’s rare to come across fresh or fair takes on TFA, much less from someone who is a former corps member and has taught at public schools both traditional and charter.

School Data Nerd is the nom de plume of Benjamin Feinberg, an eighth-grade math and science teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School, in Highland Park, who uses public data to guide his thinking on educational issues rather than resorting to rhetoric or politicking.

Feinberg, a TFA corps member in 2008, was curious to see how many people from his cohort were still teaching, so he took to Internet voyeurism courtesy of LinkedIn, Facebook and Google to find out. (Feinberg admitted his approach was more snoopy than scientific.)

Click here for the full story from Education Post, and read LA School Report’s profile of Feinberg here.

Morning Read: Governor signed bill retaining parents’ right to enroll child in school near work

Parents retain right to enroll in schools near where they work

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Monday that removes a July 2017 sunset on authorization for students to enroll in a school near where a parent or legal guardian works. Assembly Bill 2537 from Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, represents the most recent relaxation of policy that governs family rights to enroll their children in a school district where they do not live. By Tom Chorneau, Cabinet Report

Promised filtration systems at Long Beach schools were never installed

By Rachel Uranga

School children and parents living near the single largest source of pollution in Southern California were promised air-cleaning filters in classrooms nearly four years ago – but many never saw them.

In 2012, the Port of Long Beach signed a deal to give Long Beach Unified School District $4 million to install air filtration systems and erect pollution-cutting landscapes in 27 school facilities near the corridor of the nation’s largest and most active seaport complex.

“The point of getting the money was to try to get these projects implemented as quickly as possible,” said Heather Tomley, director of environmental planning for the Port of Long Beach.

It was a high priority for the port, she said, as children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to diesel pollutants. With big rigs traveling to and from the port day and night, residents who live near the port have higher rates of asthma and respiratory problems linked to diesel-emissions.

But so far, fewer than half the schools – just 12 – have the filtration systems. And of those 12, the filtration systems burned out at least 10 air-conditioning motors at schools.

Click here for the full story from the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Morning Read: Feds issue guidelines aimed at preventing discrimination against students with ADHD

U.S. issues federal guidelines to prevent discrimination against students with ADHD
The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidelines aimed at preventing schools from discriminating against the growing numbers of students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In a letter to school districts and a “know your rights” document to be posted on its website Tuesday, the department said schools must obey existing civil rights law to identify students with the disorder and provide them with accommodations to help them learn. By Joy Resmovits, Los Angeles Times

Morning Read: California needs more teachers, but also more master teachers

California needs not just more teachers but more master teachers
California is trying to increase both the quantity of teachers and the quality of teaching. However, we should be wary about just expanding the pipeline of teachers. What we also need is a different kind of teacher.  By Derek Mitchell, EdSource

Commentary: Making sense of state’s new school evaluation system is practically impossible

Los-Angeles-Times-logoBy the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

It’s not easy to measure the performance of a school, because there are so many things that go into providing a good education. But neither should it be as hard as the State Board of Education is making it.

After three years of work, the board recently revealed a draft of its new annual accountability system for California schools. These are the report cards, in effect, that are to replace the old single-number Academic Performance Index by which schools have been judged for the last decade and a half. The API was based almost solely on the results of the annual standardized tests taken by students.

The board’s determination to measure schools by more than merely test scores is laudable and has led national thinking on the topic. But the new system is more than overly warm and fuzzy. Making sense of it is practically impossible.

Click here for the full article from the Los Angeles Times.

Morning Read: Dispute over developer fees for California schools going to court

Face-off over developer fees for schools heads to court
Litigants fencing over new authority given to school districts to raise developer fees to cover classroom construction costs face an important hearing next week in Sacramento Superior Court. By Tom Chorneau, Cabinet Report

LA Unified principal selected as California’s 2016 National Distinguished Principal

Marcia Reed

Marcia S. Reed

Marcia S. Reed, principal of 186th Street Elementary School in Gardena, was selected as California’s 2016 National Distinguished Principal.

“Reed was nominated and selected by her fellow principals through a statewide search process conducted by the Association of California School Administrators,” said Elementary Principal Representative Ron Tanimura.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals established the program in 1984 to celebrate elementary and middle-level principals, who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character and climate for their learning communities.

“At the helm of every successful school is a successful principal,” said Gail Connelly, executive director of the elementary school principals group. “Our National Distinguished Principals program provides us with an opportunity to recognize the outstanding leadership of these principals and their commitment to creating successful learning communities. Because of them, students thrive academically, teachers grow professionally, and communities are strengthened.”

Click here for the full story from LA Unified.


Morning Read: Academics draft letter criticizing federal proposal on determining student achievement

Letter details opposition to federal proposal defining student success on tests

A University of Southern California professor has collected dozens of academicians’ signatures on a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education John King criticizing how the federal government proposes to measure student scores on standardized tests. California’s top state education officials agree with him and may express the same point of view in a letter they’re drafting. By John Fensterwald, EdSource

Morning Read: Survey of 11th graders shows one-third have felt chronically sad

 Kids in crisis: One-third of California 11th-graders surveyed say they are chronically sad

In a potential crisis crossing demographic lines, one-third of California’s 11th-graders and one-quarter of seventh-graders reported feeling chronically sad or hopeless over the past 12 months, a survey showed. The California Healthy Kids Survey also found that about 19 percent of both ninth-graders and 11th-graders seriously considered attempting suicide. By Sharon NoguchiMercury News

Morning Read: High-poverty neighborhoods short on children’s books

Where books are all but nonexistent
Forty-five million. That’s how many words a typical child in a white-collar family will hear before age 4. The number is striking, not because it’s a lot of words for such a small human—the vast majority of a person’s neural connections, after all, are formed by age 3—but because of how it stacks up against a poor kid’s exposure to vocabulary. By the time she’s 4, a child on welfare might only have heard 13 million words. In high-poverty neighborhoods, books—the very things that could supply so many of those 30 million-plus words—are hard to come by. In many poor homes, they’re nonexistent. By Alia Wong, The Atlantic

Morning Read: UTLA, charter school agree on wanting LAUSD to pay retiree benefits for teachers

Charter, union unite on wanting LA Unified to pay retiree benefits for charter teachers
The local teachers union has made rare common cause with a charter school: They are pressing to have the Los Angeles school district — not the charter — pay for costly retiree benefits that are due to teachers who worked at El Camino Real Charter High School. By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

Morning Read: Belmont High students, alone and from Central America, face challenges outside classroom

Nearly 1 in 4 students at this LA high school migrated from Central America — many without their parents

At Belmont High, nearly 1 in 4 of its 1,000 students came from Central America, many as unaccompanied minors. They are part of several waves of more than 100,000 who arrived in the U.S. as children, some seeking refuge from violence. While some crossed the border to reunite with mothers and fathers, others have no family in the U.S. By Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times



Morning Read: Colors may be new indicator of school performance

‘Get to green’: California wants to grade school performance with colors instead of a single number

For the last 15 years, a number between 200 and 1,000 told parents in California how good their child’s school was. Up next: They might have to decipher performance through a series of colored boxes. The latest proposal, presented Wednesday at a meeting of the State Board of Education in Sacramento, is “the California Model,” a display of 17 colored boxes that summarize how a school is doing in such categories as math or career readiness, both in terms of current status and progress over time. By Joy Resmovits, Los Angeles Times

San Francisco principals defy school board, hire Teach for America recruits

san francisco chronicle- ogoA handful of San Francisco elementary school principals facing an urgent need to fill positions for the fall have hired Teach for America recruits despite the school board’s vocal opposition to the organization.

In May, the board severed the district’s partnership with Teach for America, which supplies enthusiastic if inexperienced teachers to thousands of schools in lower-income communities across the country.

The principals, including those at Bret Harte, Lakeshore and Flynn elementary schools, knew the board’s position. But with a big teacher shortage weighing on them, they said politics mattered less than finding the best teachers to put in front of children.

The principals, who have so far taken on eight candidates from Teach for America, didn’t break any rules.

The hires are intern-credentialed teachers, among several dozen such interns who will be teaching in city schools this year while enrolled at a university to earn a full credential. What makes them unique is they are still with Teach for America, often called TFA, and will be supported throughout the year by the organization.

The hiring of Teach For America members, though, clearly was in opposition to the school board’s will. Board Vice President Shamann Walton was “livid.”

To read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle, click here

Morning Read: State moves to make student test scores easier to understand

New resources designed to make Common Core-aligned tests more useful

California is providing a range of new resources to teachers, parents and the public to make Smarter Balanced tests and student scores easier to understand — and more useful in actually guiding instruction. The State Board of Education on Wednesday will discuss new parent and teacher resources that are available to help understand the tests, as well as improvements to the public website, where this year’s scores are expected to be posted by the end of August. By Theresa Harrington, EdSource

Morning Read: Get to know the new LA Unified student board member

Meet the new LA Unified student board member
The newest Los Angeles Unified School District student board member — elected by other high school student leaders in the district — will have a voice at school board meetings. At 16, she will be able to put items on the agenda up for discussion at meetings, comment and vote. But her vote is just advisory, so it doesn’t factor into decision-making. By Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times

Morning Read: Inside the education reform movement in Los Angeles

Los Angeles conflict escalates as charter schools thrive
Throughout the 1990s and well into the new millennium, the massive Los Angeles Unified School District barely noticed the many charter schools that were springing up around the metropolis. But Los Angeles parents certainly took notice and started enrolling their children. In 2008, five charter-management organizations announced their plans to dramatically expand their school portfolios, and now more than 100,000 L.A. students attend independent charters. By Richard Whitmire, Education Next

Morning Read: How PUC Schools uses exit interviews to change teaching methods

Like Yelp for school: How a charter network uses student reviews to change how they teach
A focus group-style exit interview has become part of the year-end ritual at PUC Schools. Over five weeks this year, co-founder Jacqueline Elliott spoke with all of the roughly 260 seniors graduating from the charter network’s high schools in the San Fernando Valley. The network’s other co-founder, Ref Rodriguez, interviews the seniors at PUC’s high schools in East Los Angeles. By Kyle Stokes, KPCC