LAUSD cops arresting fewer students with goal of ‘get the kids to school’


By Teresa Watanabe

Just before 8 a.m. at Peary Middle School in Gardena, a boy was refusing to leave his mother’s car. The school police officer on duty could have barked orders at him to get to class. He could have written him up for truancy. He could have forcibly moved him — as a South Carolina police officer did to a student last month, sparking a national uproar.

But Los Angeles Unified School Police Officer Henry Anderson did none of that. Instead, he tried to cajole the boy with friendly persuasion and ever-so-subtle appeals to guilt.

“What’s up, man?” the lean and lanky officer said, greeting the boy. “You’re all dressed up and ready to go. C’mon.”

Anderson told the boy that he’d be bored at home. He told him he would trouble his mother. He called in a school administrator to help. In the end, the mother decided to take her son home and try again later.

“Instead of sending kids to court on tickets, we’re using diversion programs to counsel them and talk about why they’re truant,” said Anderson, a 20-year school police veteran. “We try to work with parents. Our main goal is to get the kids to school.”

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Study calls for more school construction bonds

Study: State should increase, overhaul school construction bonds
“California must bolster – not recede from – its role in the state-local funding partnership for K-12 school facilities,” concluded the paper.
EdSource, by John Fensterwald

Rethinking ‘ultra-safe’ playgrounds
Playgrounds have drastically changed over the years. Most no longer offer the same sensory and motor challenges as the playgrounds of yesteryear.
Washington Post, by Angela Hanscom

Police: A daily part of school life
People nationwide were disturbed by a video that went viral of a police officer roughly handling a high school student who wouldn’t put away her cellphone in class.
Los Feliz Ledger, by Sheila Lane

Solving the teacher shortage by keeping graduates home
One rural district has engaged a new strategy to encourage its own graduates to become teachers and return to their hometown to live and work.
Cabinet Report, by Kimberly Beltran

School advocates look to extend tax hike on wealthy
A voter initiative aimed at extending temporary personal income tax hikes to fund schools was cleared for circulation last week.
Cabinet Report, by Kimberly Beltran

Same standards, different tests
Could you answer these Common Core test questions?
Hechinger Report, by Sarah Butrymowicz

Cellphones make a comeback in the classroom, with teachers’ support

Logo_LATimesBy Daniela Gerson

Priscilla Farinas, an English teacher at Social Justice Humanitas Academy in San Fernando, faced her 31 students recently and made an announcement that seemingly violates official Los Angeles Unified policy.

“This is the one and only time I will have you take out your cellphones,” she said, instructing the students to share their definitions of “privilege” via text message as part of a lesson on “The Great Gatsby.”

Students immediately grabbed their mobile devices. Their texts populated a screen in the front of the classroom. Every student appeared focused on their schoolwork.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, an official policy mandates confiscating phones used inappropriately in class; students can have their devices if they are off. But schools enforce that rule unevenly. Many teachers take alternative discipline approaches such as placing phones in paper bags on desks, turning a blind eye, and simply asking students to put them away.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: School district cafeterias phasing out sporks

The venerable spork’s days are numbered as school cafeterias move on
LA Unified is one of the six major school districts that’s doing away with the flimsy plastic fork-spoon combination after 30 years in school cafeterias.
The Washington Post, by Lyndsey Layton

Commentary: Career, tech education must be integrated with academics
The California superintendent of public instruction gave school districts until Nov. 30 to apply for grants to develop career technical education programs.
EdSource, by Gary Hoachlander and Christopher J. Steinhauser

Sex education lessons ignore gay, lesbian relationships, research says
Researchers said teachers almost always depicted young people as heterosexual – despite claiming their lessons were inclusive of sexual diversities.
Independent, by Richard Garner

School districts can reduce suspensions to increase achievement
California has been at the forefront of a national effort to reduce school suspensions and reform the school discipline process.
San Francisco Chronicle

Cuomo, in shift, is said to back reducing test scores’ role in teacher reviews
Facing a parents’ revolt against testing, New York state is poised to change course and reduce the role of test scores in evaluations.
The New York Times, by Kate Taylor

LA County supervisors ask governor to intercede in Porter Ranch gas leak
The governor is brought in over month-long stench that affects two LAUSD schools and the north San Fernando Valley neighborhood.
Los Angeles Daily News, by Sarah Favot

Duncan discusses his successes and setbacks as education secretary


By Matt Murray

Arne Duncan has been pushing the cause of education all his career. And as he prepares to step down as education secretary after seven years, he is asking CEOs to join him in the fight.

In today’s global marketplace, it’s critical for the U.S. to develop in young people the skills that will keep America competitive. But across the nation, says Mr. Duncan, businesses continue having trouble finding enough college graduates with those skills.

Mr. Duncan, in discussing the successes and setbacks of his tenure, asked CEOs for help to improve education from top to bottom, and discussed other challenges in an interview with Wall Street Journal Deputy Editor in Chief Matt Murray.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: LAUSD announces new arts education funds

New flow of money for arts education heads to LAUSD schools
The Los Angeles Unified School District announced Monday that schools received more than a million dollars in new funding for arts education from the state.
KPCC, by Priska Neely

There’s more to a ‘growth mindset’ than assuming you have it
Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck coined the phrase “growth mindset.” Now she’s worried about its misapplication.
EdSource, by John Fensterwald

Former LAUSD teacher to stand trial for alleged sexual contact with boys
Michelle Yeh could face up to nine years in prison if convicted of four counts of statutory rape, four counts of lewd act on a child and other charges.
Los Angeles Daily News, by Larry Altman

Report: US falls behind other nations in the global knowledge economy
Fewer Americans are going to preschool and college compared to other nations.
Hechinger Report, by Jill Barshay

Goodbye, No Child Left Behind
After a long stalemate, a bipartisan team of congressional negotiators has agreed to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
NPR, by Claudio Sanchez

Combating a new surge of teen overdose and drug abuse
More focus on prevention and early intervention is needed to curb soaring drug-related deaths among teens and young adults, according to a new study.
Cabinet Report, by Alisha Kirby

Poll: What’s the best way for LAUSD to stop declining enrollment?

OPINION.POLL_An independent Financial Review Panel recently dropped some sobering news: LAUSD is headed toward a financial cliff and, without changes in operation, faces a $600 million budget shortfall by 2019.

The reasons for the dark financial clouds ahead are varied, but one often cited is declining enrollment. The district has lost 100,000 students in recent years due to such factors as a declining birth rate in the county and a rise in charter schools.

So . . . If you could make one major change in LA Unified to reverse years of enrollment decline and start attracting more parents and students to the district, which would it be?

Tell us in our poll, which will remain open though the Thanksgiving weekend.

LAUSD scores low in ranking based partly on parent, student feedback

studentsNiche, a company that researches and compiles information on schools, has released its 2016 rankings of the Best Public High Schools in the country, a list that includes charters and magnet schools.

Despite looking at more than 100,000 schools and ranking them in areas like academics, teachers, student culture, diversity, resources and facilities, not a single school from LA Unified, the second largest district in the nation, cracked the top 25. Nor did any school from California.

What makes the methodology of the rankings so unusual is that Niche also considers parent and student opinions in online reviews. So the list doesn’t necessarily mean California’s schools aren’t performing well, but it does indicate that Californians aren’t very happy with their schools.

“We believe that the quality of a school or district should be measured, at least in part, by the parents and students who actually go there,” Niche stated while explaining the methodology of the list.

Perhaps that California’s per-pupil spending is ranked 42nd in the nation or that its student-to-teacher ratio is dead last or that two-thirds of its students cannot meet basic standards in math accounts for why Californians are down on their schools.

Coming in at No. 26 on the list is LA Unified’s very own Granada Hills Charter High School. A handful of other California schools are in the top 100, but no others from LA Unified.

The company also released a list of Best School Districts, and making the top 100 from California was San Marino Unified, Palo Alto UnifiedPalos Verdes Peninsula UnifiedAcalanes Union High School DistrictPiedmont City Unified and Carmel Unified.

There are some other interesting lists also worth checking out, like Best TeachersBest Places to TeachCollege ReadinessMost Diverse and Safest School Districts.


Shift in practices driving down suspension rates in California

Edsource logo

By Jane Meredith Adams

School suspension rates have fallen in California for students of every ethnicity in the last three years, a sign that a shift in discipline practices in many school districts is starting to have an effect, according to a study released Monday by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the UCLA Civil Rights Project.

The study includes a spreadsheet of the number of suspensions by ethnicity in 901 California school districts.

At the same time, lower rates of suspension were correlated with higher academic achievement for every racial group in the state, the study found. For African-American students, the correlation was the strongest. While some parents and educators expressed concern that suspending fewer students would lead to chaos and lower academic scores, the study found evidence of the opposite.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Racism lawsuit against LAUSD teacher dropped

Suit accusing popular LAUSD teacher of racism dropped
A student had sued her teacher, alleging he made racially charged remarks during a history lesson on civil rights.
City News Service

Commentary: L.A. new front in education war
A big and perhaps decisive charter school battle is brewing in the state’s largest – and in many ways, most troubled – school district, Los Angeles Unified.
Fresno Bee, by Dan Walters

How turning math into a maker workshop can bring calculations to life
By the end of the school year, all of Elizabeth Little’s her math students, not just those needing extra support, were clamoring for more math.
KQED, by Linda Flanagan

Urban charter schools often succeed. Suburban ones often don’t.
Not all charter schools are outstanding: In the suburbs, for example, the evidence is that they do no better than traditional public schools.
New York Times, by Susan Dynarski

The fight over K-12 education appears headed back to the states
Congress is poised to pass a law that would shift power over K-12 public school policy from the federal government back to the states.
Washington Post, by Lyndsey Layton

Massachusetts’s rejection of Common Core test signals shift in U.S.
Across the country, what was once bipartisan consensus around national standards has collapsed into acrimony about the Common Core.
New York Times, by Kate Zernike

LAUSD adult ed school caught in the middle of charter wars


By Erin Aubry Kaplan

The long-running battle between charter schools and traditional public schools has heated up nearly to a boiling point, with business magnate Eli Broad recently unveiling a campaign to charter-ize public ed in L.A. once and for all.

The drama is happening mostly at the top between the Broad camp and public school advocates–notably the teacher’s union, which has stepped up protests and criticism of Broad and his so-called reforms.

But beneath the drama is the story of one campus’s attempt to resist the takeover of a charter school, a story that illustrates the political complexity of the battle–the limitations of both sides, and how what almost always gets sacrificed in the struggle is what’s best for students.

The campus is Emerson Adult Learning Center, a dedicated adult-school campus that sits at a dead end of a leafy block off of Manchester Boulevard in Westchester.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Looks like another good year for K-12 funding

Analyst predicts another good year for school funding
The Legislative Analyst’s Office is projecting another healthy year for K-12 schools, with an average increase of about $530 per student in 2016-17.
EdSource, by John Fensterwald

Negotiators come to agreement on revising No Child Left Behind law
A conference committee of members from the House and the Senate voted, 39 to 1, to approve the agreement on Thursday.
New York Times, by Motoko Rich

How does your state rank for school Internet access? 
A $20 million Zuckerberg gift may help improve it.
Hechinger Report, by Nichole Dobo

Teachers union allies demand Kevin Johnson resign over sex allegations
A Los Angeles-based organization and local activists want Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to resign in light of resurfaced allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Sacramento Bee, by Ryan Lillis

State Supreme Court says no — again — to Washington charter schools
The court ruled Sept. 4 that the state’s voter-approved charter school law is unconstitutional
News Tribune, by Debbie Cafazzo and Melissa Santos

Survey: What students and teachers really think about computer science 
Teachers at poor schools are more likely to think that computer science is vital to their students’ futures, but are less likely to think their school boards agree.
Huffington Post, by Rebecca Klein

Commentary: LAUSD robocalls confusing and infuriating


By Kerry Cavanaugh

I am the parent of a Los Angeles Unified School District student, and I get robocalls from the district probably two times a week. These are not calls from my son’s elementary school. These are recorded messages from various district officials, informing me of some meeting or workshop or that parents should fill out some paperwork.

I admit, these calls come so frequently and are so rarely useful that whenever I see the (213) 241 prefix, I let it go to voicemail and only occasionally listen to the message.

But last night’s call was so frustratingly useless that I had to listen to it several times to figure out if I was confused or if the district was just being confusing. Guess which one it was?

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Alliance parents divided over unionization

A growing split among parents over unionization efforts at Alliance charters 
The fight to unionize the largest provider of charter schools in Los Angeles is beginning to divide parents.
Los Angeles Times, by Joy Resmovits

Prop. 98 guarantee could reach $80B by 2020
The minimum funding guarantee for K-12 schools and community colleges is expected to surge to $77.5 billion by the 2019-20 school year.
Cabinet Report, by Tom Chorneau

About those kids who sued over fake classes
Behind the lawsuit against sham classes in California high schools.
Hechinger Report, by Peg Tyre

Supporters, opponents share opinions on proposed Glendale charter school
A parent-led effort to establish a charter school in Glendale has pitted Glendale Unified educators and parents against those who favor the school.
Los Angeles Times, by Kelly Corrigan

Curriculum materials a sticking point in Common Core implementation
During the five years since California adopted the Common Core State Standards, the search for high-quality textbooks and curriculum materials has been a sticking point.
EdSource, by Louis Freedberg and Theresa Harrington

Money and clout on the line for teachers union in 2016
The California Teachers Association, one of Sacramento’s most powerful interests, is heading into an extraordinary year with decisions on the ballot.
CALmatters, by Lauren Rosenhall

Commentary: How to make digital devices matter in the classroom

ed tech magazine

By Eric Patnoudes

As the parent of four kids, I had the pleasure of listening to Fredi Lajvardi give a keynote at CETPA’s annual conference last year, and it was the sort of talk that sends shivers down educators’ spines and gives them goose bumps.  It was an hour of awe-inspiring pure education magic — the type of story that most educators would tell you is the very reason why they became a teacher.

For those who don’t know, a movie was made about Lajvardi, called Spare Parts. It’s based on a true story about four of his students, undocumented Mexican immigrants who spoke English as a second language and lived on public aid. These kids asked Lajvardi to support them in entering an underwater robotics competition. Then, against seemingly insurmountable odds, these students won the competition and beat MIT in the process.

That’s MIT, as in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yeah, crazy, right?

The questions I always ask when telling the story about Lajvardi and his students are: Which platform, apps or cool tools do you think Lajvardi mentioned the most? Do you think he used Google, Microsoft or Apple? A tablet or a laptop?

The answer? He didn’t mention any of those things.

Click here for the full story.

‘Flipped’ learning: Homework at school, schoolwork at home


By Roxana Kopetman

Students sit down for homework, plug in their earbuds and turn on their cellphones. And they don’t get yelled at.

Because they’re actually working.

Their history class, at Esperanza High, is part of a small but growing trend in education. The teaching method, “flipped” learning, is catching on in Orange County and beyond.

Here’s the basic idea: On the night before class, students watch a video of a lesson, which typically includes a short lecture from their teacher, at home. The next day in class, students do the work they otherwise would’ve done at home, getting help from teachers as needed.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Brown asked to ‘reaffirm the vision’ of LCFF

Brown urged to ‘reaffirm the vision’ of funding law
A team of researchers found that, two years into the state’s new school financing law, “nagging concerns” are tempering enthusiasm.
EdSource, by John Fensterwald

Clinton says ‘no evidence’ that teachers can be judged by student test scores
Clinton said she is opposed to using student test scores as a way to judge a teacher’s performance, dismissing policies promoted by the Obama administration.
Washington Post, by Lyndsey Layton

AFT President Randi Weingarten, defends Hillary Clinton on charter schools
The union, which has been critical of charter schools, is supporting Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy.
New York Times, by By Maggie Haberman

Hey, new teacher, don’t quit. It will get better
Research shows that roughly one teacher in 10 will quit by the end of that first year, and the toughest time — for many — is right now.
NPR, by Corey Turner

Report finds school crowding is worse in immigrant communities
New York City recently acknowledged nearly 540,000 students attended schools that were over capacity in the 2014-15 school year.
WNYC, by Beth Fertig

The 3 barriers school districts face in the bandwidth race
A report on the state of bandwidth in U.S. schools shows affordability is still a huge challenge.
Ed Tech Magazine, by D. Frank Smith

JUST IN: In final year of exit exam, LAUSD graduation rates climb

GRADUATIONLA Unified’s preliminary graduation rate climbed seven points for the class 2014-15, making it the ninth straight year the district has seen an increase. Seventy-four percent of seniors earned their diploma in the spring, the district announced this afternoon.

An additional four points was added to the total from Senate Bill 725, the district said, which allowed about 1,400 of last year’s seniors to graduate even though they had not passed the California High School Exit Exam.

Comprehensive high schools also saw an increase to 83 percent, up from 77 percent in 2013-14. The rate for comprehensive high schools does not include continuation or other alternative high schools.

The final graduation rates will be calculated  by the state in the spring. In 2013-14, the state’s final graduation rate for LA Unified was 70 percent.

“These results reflect the efforts by our teachers, administrators and staff to prepare our graduates for college and careers,” Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a statement. “I am very proud of their hard work, and of the accomplishments of our new graduates.”

This year’s numbers represent a 29 percent increase in graduation rates since 2006-07, when the dLA Unified began calculating the preliminary rate, the district pointed out in a press release.


Commentary: Almost everything is wrong with LAUSD leadership

Los-Angeles-Times-logoThe more you hear about attempts to improve the nation’s schools, the sorrier you have to feel for the kids.

After years of “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” initiatives, national test scores dived deeper into failure and mediocrity in the last reading. In a stunning reversal, the Obama administration, a tireless champion of more and more testing, is now whistling a different tune.

There’s too much testing going on out there.

Arne Duncan, Obama’s education secretary, said his conversations with countless educators have made him realize “how much time testing and test prep are taking from instruction.”

Translation: Instead of testing, let’s try teaching.

Click here for the full story.