Morning Read: UTLA members vote for dues increase

UTLA wins dues increase, vows to battle foes of traditional public education
The increase was approved by 82% of those who cast ballots, according to United Teachers Los Angeles, which tallied the votes Wednesday.
Los Angeles Times, by Howard Blume

One way to improve kindergarten attendance: Take the school bus
Students who ride the school bus in the critical first year of formal education – kindergarten – are absent less often, according to a new study.
EdSource, by Jane Meredith Adams

Data on teacher prep grads will soon lead to consequences for some programs
More states are tying teacher data back to teacher preparation, report says.
Hechinger Report, by Jackie Mader

Lawmakers eyeing loan repayment as teacher incentive
In light of a statewide teacher shortage, California legislators are moving to resuscitate an abandoned loan repayment program.
Cabinet Report, by Alisha Kirby

Assessing assessments: The new wave of testing
Perhaps not surprisingly, PARCC and Smarter Balance correlate best to the Common Core standards.
U.S. News & World Report, by Lauren Camera

Morning Read: UTLA counting votes after asking members to raise dues

L.A. teachers union seeks to raise dues as it fights a charter school push
This week the union asked its 32,000 members — down from 45,000 in 2008 — to raise their dues by nearly a third. The votes will be counted Wednesday.
Los Angeles Times, by Howard Blume

ICE agents won’t be going onto Los Angeles public school campuses
A new LAUSD school board resolution directs school staff members not to let any federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents enter school campuses.
Los Angeles Times, by Sonali Kohli

Los Angeles teachers union seeks to re-negotiate evaluation system
The proposal could spell more change for the district’s teacher evaluation system, which the union says has been in “transition” in recent years.
KPCC, by Kyle Stokes

California worries about the price of education
California still ranked 41st in the nation for per-pupil spending in 2013, the most recent year available.
CALmatters, by Judy Lin

Transgender issue roils high school
The Poway Unified School District board meeting was packed Tuesday night with people raising a broad array of questions about student rights.
San Diego Union-Tribune, by Gary Warth

Patt Morrison interviews LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King
After some off-the-chart outsiders, like a Colorado governor and a former vice admiral, the newest chief couldn’t be more of an insider. What light of her own will she shine?
Los Angeles Times, by Pat Morrison

Just in: Winners, losers and a surprising existential charter debate at school board meeting

lasr logo squareGoing into Tuesday’s LA Unified school board meeting, three-for-three was the Charter School Division’s recommendations against two new charters and a renewal. In the end, it went the other way, with two votes going in charters’ favor (a new school plus a renewal for the Partnership to Uplift Communities) and one vote postponed (a new charter for WISH Westside Innovative School House Academy High School).

Another winner was a district performing arts school, which won the go-ahead to pursue expansion onto a long-shuttered school site in the west San Fernando Valley. But it came at the expense of a charter school’s plan to move onto that site. Read about that here.

And then there was the existential, heated debate over whether the board has moved toward an anti-charter slant, as put forth in an open letter to the district from the California Charter Schools Association, in which 23 charter operators said they see increased scrutiny of charter schools. For more on Tuesday night’s school board debate, come back to LA School Report Wednesday and we’ll tell you all about it.

LIVESTREAM of today’s LAUSD school board meeting

livestreamGrafix250The LA Unified school board is scheduled to hold an open session meeting today at 1 p.m.

Items up for discussion include a vote on the closed Highlander campus in the San Fernando Valley, which El Camino Real wants to develop into a K-8 campus.

There will also be votes and public meetings on several charter school applications and renewals.

Click here to watch the livestream of the meeting.

Morning Read: Vote on smaller CA school construction bond in the works

Vote on smaller June school construction bond possible within a week
The move would require a rapid series of committee and floor votes to meet ballot deadlines over the next week, and success is far from certain.
Sacramento Bee, by Jim Miller

Hoaxers increasingly going online to threaten schools
In almost every instance, the threats disrupted school for thousands of students, faculty and administrators.
Merced Sun-Star, by Christine Armario

Credentialing commission considers slowing rotation of substitute teachers
The issue is attracting additional attention because school districts throughout California are increasingly having to rely on substitute teachers without full credentials.
EdSource, by Louis Freedberg

District of Choice transfers increasingly popular
Initially launched in the early 1990s, the choice program was aimed at giving parents more flexibility in choosing when to send their children to school.
Cabinet Report, by Tom Chorneau

New, reading-heavy SAT has students worried
Chief among the changes, experts say: longer and harder reading passages and more words in math problems.
New York Times, by Anemona Hartocollis

Charter schools say L.A. Unified is unfairly scrutinizing their campuses
Charter supporters say the district is unfairly scrutinizing their independently run campuses because it sees them as a threat.
Los Angeles Times, by Howard Blume

Morning Read: LAUSD has long backlog of El Niño rain-related service requests

Under the leaking roofs of Los Angeles Unified schools
Every time El Niño dumps rain on the city, dozens of LA Unified schools feel the impact of old architecture and outdated roofs.
Los Angeles Times, by Sonali Kohli

How two San Fernando Valley schools have kept learning after an epic gas leak
After LA Unified took the unprecedented step of temporarily closing two of its schools because of the Porter Ranch gas leak, the campuses have settled into their new routines.
Los Angeles Daily News, by David Montero

Legislative Analyst endorses parental choice program
Forty-seven California school districts have opened their doors to students outside their borders, under a little-used program set to expire next year.
EdSource, by John Fensterwald

Academic decathlon Super Quiz is a sport unto itself — with the fans to prove it
LA Unified schools completed the annual decathlon Saturday with the game show-style Super Quiz event at the Roybal Learning Center downtown.
Los Angeles Times, by Sonali Kohli

Room to improve school services for LGBT students
Even with all of the progress made in recent years to improve educational services for LGBT students, their well-being is still at risk in many schools.
Cabinet Report, by Alisha Kirby

As immigration resurges, U.S. public schools help children find their footing
There were more than 630,000 immigrant students nationwide in the 2013-2014 school year, according to the latest federal education data available.
Washington Post, by Emma Brown

Morning Read: New L.A. schools chief ‘up to the challenge’

Michelle King talks to 100 community leaders
Speaking at an NAACP reception at First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the new LAUSD superintendent discussed her plans and challenges for the district.
Los Angeles Wave, by Cynthia Gibson

What happens to the $63 million if no one claims California lottery ticket?
Money from unclaimed lottery tickets goes to the schools. The distribution, however, gets a bit more complicated.
Los Angeles Times, by Sonali Kohli

Santa Monica State Senator Ben Allen tackles California teacher shortage
Legislation could provide matching grants to school districts to create training programs, modeled on those that already exist in LA Unified.
Santa Monica Lookout

LA84 Foundation awards $1.3 million in grants for youth sports
LA’s Best will receive $335,000 for after-school programs in 188 elementary schools in LA Unified.
Los Angeles Times, by Eric Sondheimer

Is it time to ditch Tdap as a routinely recommended teen vaccination?
Routine immunization with Tdap did not prevent pertussis outbreaks, according to a new study by Kaiser Permanente.
Forbes, by Tara Haelle

State to begin collecting data on students who are chronically absent
California will begin its first statewide collection of data on students who are chronically absent, a key indicator of academic trouble.
EdSource, by Jane Meredith Adams

Jindal lawsuit against Common Core scrapped by new governor
Although new Gov. John Bel Edwards is against Common Core too, he ended Louisiana’s lawsuit against the Obama administration’s education standards.
Associated Press, by Melinda Deslatte

Bebe Rexha surprises Jefferson High with big gift

Students get instruments and selfies with hit singer-songwriter Bebe Rexha

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This week the 800 students of Jefferson High were surprised by singer-songwriter Bebe Rexha with a big gift: $80,000 worth of musical instruments and a live performance. The gift was compliments of the nonprofit Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, along with event marketer StubHub, which announced last year it would commit $1 million in an effort to provide musical instruments to schools. Rexha, co-writer of the hit song “The Monster,” this week has a new No. 1 song on the rap charts, “Me Myself & I.” She performed for a rapt audience of assembled students including Jefferson’s band members and posed for a few selfies with students.

According to the LAUSD, the donation will support the Jefferson school band and allow student-musicians a total of 2,040 additional hours of practice time in class each year.

Located in South Los Angeles, Jefferson has a long history of producing musical talent, counting singer Etta James and saxophonist Dexter Gordon as alumni.

The school, which has struggled with performance and academic progress for decades, was recently part of a court settlement between the district and the teachers union, aimed at rectifying the practice of sending less experienced teachers based on seniority to high-needs schools. Jefferson was also hit hard in the fall of 2014 with a scheduling crisis after hundreds of students were left without proper classes due in part to a malfunctioning MiSiS computer system.


Morning Read: Audit finds problems with mental health services at CA schools

Troubling audit on mental health services for students
A state audit has revealed problem areas in mental health services at some schools, including reductions in services and, in some cases, a backlog of unspent cash.
Cabinet Report, by Kimberly Beltran

State sends mixed messages on Smarter Balanced test participation
The federal No Child Left Behind law requires states to ensure that 95 percent of all students are tested – both statewide and districtwide.
EdSource, by Theresa Harrington

The real cost of a bomb threat at your kid’s school
The decision made by LAUSD to close its schools in December due to a threat cost the district at least $29 million.
CNBC, by Krysia Lenzo

Nation’s charter schools aren’t growing as fast as once thought
The National Alliance of Public Charter Schools estimates in a new report that 2.9 million children now attend U.S. charter schools. But a closer look at at the numbers shows the growth rate is down.
Washington Post, by Emma Brown

In Oakland, building boys into men
The Oakland Unified School District is trying to to rewrite the pernicious script of racial inequality, underachievement and lack of opportunity for African-American boys.
New York Times, by Patricia Leigh Brown

Putting California first in driving education reform
Just how much say should Washington have over California’s education policies in return for the federal education funds the state receives?
EdSource, by Louis Freedberg

Morning Read: Legislators look for solutions to CA’s teacher shortage

Legislators challenge Sacramento to tackle teacher shortage
Three California lawmakers have introduced a package of bills designed to attract new teachers to the profession.
EdSource, by Louis Freedberg and John Fensterwald

As California faces a dire teacher shortage, should other states worry too?
A new report suggests that California should expand routes to the classroom to fill positions, including recruiting teachers as early as high school.
Hechinger Report, by Jackie Mader

More money buoys California schools, but challenges remain
Up and down California, public schools are enjoying a rapid rise in state funding.
CALmatters, by Judy Lin

Gov. Brown not ready to engage on ‘adequacy
The debate over adequacy in school funding and what it means has raged for decades and led to dozens of lawsuits brought by advocates.
Cabinet Report, by Kimberly Beltran

Students play mind games in National Science Bowl regional competition
More than 100 students from high schools throughout Southern California took part in the competition, which marked its 24th year at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Los Angeles Times, by Ryan Fonseca and Kelly Corrigan

Fire investigated as arson at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights
The flames began inside trash cans placed around a one-story bungalow being used as a temporary classroom. It was contained to that building and knocked down by 4:15 a.m.
City News Service

Morning Read: Federal waiver releases CA from after-school tutoring mandate

CA schools freed from costly after-school tutoring mandate
California joined more than 40 states granted a waiver by the US Department of Education from sanctions established under No Child Left Behind.
KPCC, by Annie Gilbertson

Results due from new rating system for 6 school districts
The CORE districts in the state, including LAUSD, received a waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements and designed their own formula for how to rate schools.
Fresno Bee, by Mackenzie Mays

New federal law puts spotlight on English learners
The successor law to the No Child Left Behind Act significantly expands states’ obligations to measure the progress of English learners.
EdSource, by John Fensterwald

School funding increases in California don’t buffer from future uncertainties
In 2013, California changed the way it funded schools by adopting what it calls the Local Control Funding Formula.
Cabinet Report, by Alisha Kirby

The Seventy Four, founded by controversial advocate, takes over LA School Report
Critics question the merger while the CEO of The 74 defends its reporting as unbiased.
Los Angeles Times, by Howard Blume

Commentary: Our children are not commodities
Three LA Unified board members reiterate their opposition to the new charter expansion plan and promote the board’s “Excellent Public Education for Every Student” plan.
By Steve Zimmer, Scott Schmerelson and George McKenna

LA School Report announces partnership with ed news site, The 74

The 74seventy four and LA School Report – two rapidly growing education news sites – will partner to expand coverage of education in Los Angeles and America’s second-largest school district, the founders of the sites announced today.

In less than four years, LA School Report has become a must-read for insiders and everyday Angelenos alike. The site follows the politics and policy of the public school system in Los Angeles, shining a light on underreported but critical developments in education.

The 74 brings with it a deep bench of veteran journalists, and together with our team at LA School Report we will be positioned to expand our reach and deliver a more robust news site that helps keep education front and center throughout the city,” said Jamie Lynton, founder of LA School Report, who will join The 74’s board as part of the partnership.

“All of us at The 74 and LA School Report firmly believe there is a real opportunity to expand coverage throughout Los Angeles and the West Coast and put an even greater spotlight on the system,” said Campbell Brown, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of “We will bring the same kind of aggressive and substantive coverage that has defined our reporting since we launched to an even greater audience.”

Longtime Los Angeles-based newspaper editor Laura Greanias will come on board as executive editor of LA School Report. Greanias has worked in the Los Angeles media space for nearly a quarter-century, over 15 years at the L.A. Times where she served as executive news editor/deputy Page One editor and morning assignment editor on the city desk, and more recently as the city editor of the L.A. Daily News.

“Having been an editor at two of Los Angeles’ largest newspaper publications, Laura’s journalism Bona Fides speak for themselves, and we can think of no one better to help harness the vast institutional knowledge of LA School Report and the national perspective of The 74,” said Romy Drucker, co-founder and CEO of The 74.

In addition to her responsibilities at LA School Report, Greanias will also lead The 74’s new West Coast bureau.

Since launching in New York six months ago, has made huge strides in fulfilling its mission of making education front-page news.

The site has conducted one-on-one interviews with a majority of the presidential candidates to reveal detailed plans on how they would improve education in our country; has broken news on the forgotten students of the California drought, the transformation of New Orleans’ schools in the years following Hurricane Katrina, and the potential long-lasting impact of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association; and has rapidly grown a following among those most impacted – parents who entrust their children to the school system.

“Our development of a West Coast bureau will allow us to go even deeper, covering local and regional issues that impact large swaths of parents and children with the kind of vigor and aggressiveness that those issues deserve,” Drucker added.

Morning Read: California schools rolling in dough, but ‘scary’ clouds appear on horizon

California schools rolling in dough, but ‘scary’ clouds appear on horizon
Up and down California, school districts that handed out tens of thousands of pink slips in the recession are now buying equipment and scrambling to find qualified teachers.
San Jose Mercury News, by Judy Lin

State says number of students approved to get free lunch is way up
A change in the way California determines which students are eligible for meal programs means far more kids this year will receive free lunch at school.
KPCC, by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Obama invites L.A. teen with perfect AP Calculus exam score to White House
Of the 302,531 students across the world who took the AP Calculus AB exam last year, Cedrick was one of only 12 to earn every single point.
Los Angeles Times, by Hailey Branson-Potts

Advocates point to severe shortage of early ed care in LA County
Los Angeles County faces a critical shortage of access to early childcare education that threatens to keep its neediest families in a cycle of poverty.
EdSource, by Fermin Leal

Pondering the future of CTA, Sacramento post-Friedrichs
Deserved or not, the California Teachers Association has a reputation as kingmaker in Sacramento.
Cabinet Report, by Tom Chorneau

Obama: Computer science should be taught as a ‘basic skill’
“In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill — it’s a basic skill, right along with the three ‘Rs,’ ” he said Saturday during his weekly address.
The Hill, by Mark Hensch

Commentary: Single-Sex education is for parents to decide

EdWeekBy Walt Gardner

When Michelle King recently became the new superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, she immediately drew criticism for proposing single-sex education. The basis was a 2014 meta-analysis of existing studies of single-sex instruction that showed no significant benefit, for boys or girls, over coeducation.

I respect empirical evidence, but I doubt that most parents will pay any attention to the cited study. That’s because they alone know what is best for their own children. For whatever reasons, parents have largely made up their minds about the education their children need. It’s why I continue to support parental choice.  Yes, there will always be some parents who are on the fence and are open to hard evidence. But they are in the minority.

According to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, there are about 241 public schools offering at least some single-sex classes. If the LAUSD and other large districts ever expect to stem plummeting enrollment, they need to offer parents more options.  The real issue will be complying with the 2006 amended Title IX requirement that single-sex classes must be “substantially equal” to co-ed classes.

Click here for the full story.

LAUSD board told charters attracting more federal dollars than magnets


Joel Packer who lobbies in Washington for LAUSD

For all the successful magnet schools in LA Unified and elsewhere, they are not attracting as much federal support as charter schools.

That was a stark message from the district’s federal lobbyist, who told a district board committee this week that Washington is increasing national support for charter schools by nearly 32 percent but by only 6 percent for magnet schools, a difference that surprised some of the school board members.

“We never imagined this would ever be this much of a discrepancy,” board president Steve Zimmer said at a meeting of the board’s Committee of the Whole.

The money for charters rose to $350 million from $270 million while the magnet school support increased to $96 million from $91 million, according to Joel Packer, of the Raben Group, which lobbies for the district in Washington.

“Charter schools have big bipartisan support in Congress,” Packer said. “They got a big increase. Magnet schools don’t have the same political clout.”

In response to Packer’s overall report outlining changes in federal education policy, committee chairman George McKenna pointed out, “Charters can lobby and have money to give to campaigns and give to board members. Magnets don’t have that ability; they are not separate legal entities.”

Zimmer wondered if the charter money could also go to affiliated charters, which are still associated with LAUSD employee standards and controls.

“No one can seem to answer that,” he said. “And the Republicans don’t even know what they are.”

Board member Mónica Ratliff said, “We have some amazing magnet schools, maybe we need to do a better job at publicizing what a great job they are doing and replicate more of them.”

Continue reading

LAUSD’s Rory Pullens on how to diversify Hollywood

Hollywood Reporter

How Hollywood can diversify its ranks — in every area of the business from the creative sides through the executive ranks — is a subject that has seen its fair share of headlines, especially during the last week. But Rory Pullens has yet another possible solution, though this isn’t one that has been featured as prominently on Twitter or tabloid TV.

As the executive director of Los Angeles Unified School District’s arts programs, Pullens is hoping to remind the industry that there’s a diverse generation of talent growing up in Hollywood’s backyard that could be the backbone of the industry in the coming years. And he’s already working to make sure that this particular solution remains top of mind around town.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Schools within 5 miles of gas leak getting air purifiers

Schools within 5 miles of Aliso Canyon leak will get air purifiers
The largest number of devices, 210, is going to the largest campus in the area, Granada Hills Charter High School.
Los Angeles Times, by Howard Blume

LAUSD Supt Michelle King talks segregation, iPads, and priorities
The new superintendent of the nation’s second-largest district inherits a number of challenges.
Education Dive, by Erin McIntyre

Green Dot Charter Schools founder weighs 2017 challenge to Garcetti
Steve Barr said his exploration of a potential run was driven by frustration over what he described as Garcetti’s hands-off approach to public education.
Los Angeles Times, by Peter Jamison and Howard Blume

Parents getting onboard with immunization mandate
Nearly 93 percent of the 551,123 kindergarten children whose schools reported their status were fully immunized.
Cabinet Report, by Alisha Kirby

Obama’s plan to give free lunches to millions more kids
The pilot program will allow participating states to use Medicaid data to automatically certify students for free and reduced-price school lunches.
Washington Post, by Roberto A. Ferdman

He’s 48, just graduated high school and owes it all to the library
Ron Hagardt is one of 30 L.A. adults who earned a high school diploma through a partnership between Los Angeles Public Library and Career Online High School.
Los Angeles Times, by Sonali Kohli

Introverted teachers burning out from ‘collaborative overload’

the atlanticJayson Jones was my favorite person to call when I needed a substitute for my high-school English classes. Jayson was an aspiring teacher who was extremely popular with the students and related especially well with many of the at-risk kids.

One day, I walked into the classroom at lunchtime, and he was sitting alone in the dark, listening to music. “Oh, an introvert?” I said. “I had no idea.” He smiled and responded, “Absolutely. I do this every day to recharge.” Unfortunately for me and thousands of future students, Jayson has left the classroom for the workshop: He’s refurbishing furniture instead of teaching and says that his “introversion definitely played a part.”

I’ve written about the challenges faced by introverted students in today’s increasingly social learning environments, but the introverted teachers leading those classrooms can struggle just as much as the children they’re educating.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Will the real Michelle King please stand up?

From L.A. Unified teacher to superintendent: Who is the real Michelle King?
There’s not much recent public evidence by which to evaluate King’s suitability for one of the most important positions in education.
Los Angeles Times, by Howard Blume

Plaintiff in lawsuit updates costs of inadequate funding
The school boards association argues in a new report that California would have to spend between $22 billion and $42 billion more annually for K-12 schools.
EdSource, by John Fensterwald

Even at schools, so much comes down to size and money
In schools, where attendance generates the lion’s share of revenue and correlates with administrator salaries, the two are inseparable. Size equals money.
Modesto Bee, by Nan Austin

Turkey wants Fremont school board to reject charter school
In a bizarre twist, an attorney representing the Turkish government spoke against Magnolia Public Schools at a recent Fremont school board meeting.
San Jose Mercury News, by By Rebecca Parr

Advocates pushing for subgroup accountability
Among the concerns of the advocacy groups is that the rubrics, as currently designed, might diminish the still lagging performance of subgroups.
Cabinet Report, by Tom Chorneau

Spending in nation’s schools falls again, with wide variation across states
The nation’s per-pupil spending on K-12 public schools dropped in 2013 for the third year in a row.
Washington Post, by Emma Brown

New data shows fewer California kids living in poverty

SI&A logoBy Alisha Kirby

Approximately 44,000 school aged children in California will no longer be living in households considered low-income, according to the latest U.S. Census data, reflecting a positive shift since the recession ended nearly six years ago.

While the number may seem impressive, the percentage decrease among children age five to 17 living in poverty between 2013 and 2014 actually fell just half of one percent leading some advocates to point out how much more still needs to be done.

“The reduction in poverty was very small, and we still have one in four children currently living in poverty,” Michele Stillwell-Parvensky, policy and government affairs manager for the Children’s Defense Fund – California, said in an interview. “There are differences between (school) districts and student populations; the poverty rates for African-American children actually went up slightly.”

Click here for the full story.