LA County Fed endorses all incumbents for LAUSD board

afl-cio-logo LAUSD* UPDATED

If endorsements mean anything, the incumbents running to hold their LA Unified board seats have gotten a boost from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the umbrella organization for more than 300 locals, representing about 600,000 workers.

The group is supporting George McKenna in District 1, Tamar Galatzan in 3, Bennett Kayser in 5 and Board President Richard Vladovic in 7. All but McKenna’s race are contested.

The incumbents “have the experience we need to tackle the issues facing our schools today. Our support means they’ll have the backing of working families,” Rusty Hicks, the union’s Executive Secretary-Treasurer, said in a statement to LA School Report.

While it’s never man-bites-dog news when an incumbent gets the endorsement, the selections would appear to be something of a surprise in the case of Galatzan, who is not so cozy with the teachers union, UTLA, as some of her colleagues.

But, au contraire: As SEIU Local 99, the service workers union, said last month when endorsing the same incumbents: Galatzan “has demonstrated a commitment to the children, families and workers of LAUSD, as demonstrated by her support for Breakfast in the Classroom, the LCFF Equity Index and the adoption of the historic $15 minimum wage for LAUSD employees”

As for UTLA, its political action committee has endorsed only Kayser and, in a symbolic gesture, McKenna, said the committee chairman, Marco Flores. The committee is meeting on Feb. for for a final opportunity to make any other recommendations from the committee.

A full union endorsement is determined by a vote of the House of Representatives on committee recommendations. 

* Add’s UTLA political action committee recommendations.

2 LAUSD roles now 1, UTLA president takes case to talk radio

school report buzz

The Associated Administrators of Los Angeles and LA Unified reached an agreement last week to consolidate two positions into one. The role of “assistant principal” and “instructional specialist” as of July 1 will be merged into the role of “assistant principal elementary” or “assistant principal secondary.”

The change was explained by AALA in its weekly newsletter: “APs and ISs have similar duties and responsibilities at school sites and often are used interchangeably. However, APs earn seniority while instructional specialists are temporary advisers and do not earn seniority. ISs may be released from their positions at any time with no recourse. Some superintendents have encouraged principals to use the budget process to replace APs with ISs which has destabilized schools, caused job insecurity and decreased the number of APs throughout the District. Consolidation will afford greater protections to all while stabilizing school staffs.”

Caputo-Pearl on KABC 790

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of the LA Unified teachers union, UTLA, appeared yesterday morning on the KABC 790 radio show McIntire In the Morning to give his response to a sharp letter from LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines that criticized the union’s contract demands as unreasonable and a path to severe layoffs in the district.

There weren’t any huge surprises in Caputo-Pearl’s comments, but his appearance on the show along with the Cortines letter certainly illustrates how both sides are ramping up their PR campaigns as contract negotiations appear to be stalling.

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Morning Read: Under-vaccinated kids not tracked by LAUSD

Schools don’t track whether under-vaccinated kids get all of their shots
In some L.A. Unified schools, 60, 70, and even 80 percent of incoming kindergartners were enrolled conditionally in the 2013-14 school year. KPCC

Teachers ask high court to hear union dues case
Attorneys for teachers who are challenging the right of the California Teachers Association to force them to pay union dues petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to hear their case this year. Ed Source

2nd teen arrested in stabbing death of 14-year-old at East L.A. middle school
A second teenager has been taken into custody in the fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old boy at a middle school in East Los Angeles, authorities said Wednesday. KTLA

Poll shows residents split on whether to extend tax increases
Californians are evenly divided on whether the state should extend the temporary tax increases approved by voters under Proposition 30. Ed Source

Most major California school districts pledge to reduce suspensions
Among the state’s 50 largest school districts, a study found that 92% had set goals to decrease suspensions. Los Angeles Times

Survey shows Title IX compliance still needs work
Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational agencies that receive federal funding. SI&A Cabinet Report

Alliance charters names Katzir to become new chief executive

Dan Katzir

Dan Katzir

Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a charter group in LA Unified, said today Dan Katzir will join the organization in March as CEO and President.

He replaces Alliance’s founding CEO, Judy Burton, a former LA Unified associate superintendent of innovation and instruction, who returned to the district last month to serve as chair of what is now known as the Instructional Technology Initiative, nee the Common Core Technology Project.

“We are thrilled to have Dan Katzir join Alliance’s leadership team,”  Tony Ressler, co-chair of the Alliance board, said in a news release. “He brings a wealth of experience and strategic vision to the position, and he shares the board’s long-standing commitment to improving public education, especially for low-income and minority students.”

Katzir most recently served as strategic advisor to school districts, charter management organizations and various state departments of education. Prior to that, he was the founding Managing Director for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

“I am excited and eager to join Alliance College-Ready Public Schools,” Katzir said in the release. “I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of Judy Burton, a true educational icon. I intend to build on the Alliance’s first decade of incredible results to reach even greater levels of impact for students in Los Angeles in the coming years.”

Since its founding in 2004, Alliance has grown to serve more than 11,000 students across 26 high schools and middle schools, making it the largest public school charter network in Los Angeles.

Morning Read: Why did Kayser cancel 2 candidate debates?


Why did LAUSD board member Bennett Kayser pull out of two debates?
The affable, soft-spoken Kayser is the number one ally of the teacher’s union, UTLA, and was the number one critic of Superintendent Deasy. LA Weekly

Rural communities struggle to provide after-school programs
School officials in rural districts say there is a shortage of programs in their communities. Ed Source

Sis boom ‘rah': Law would label cheering as school sport
State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez thinks it’s time cheerleaders get the same respect and support as other high school athletes. SI&A Cabinet Report

Study finds pro-charter school arguments are more convincing
Groups against the expansion of charter schools may need to find new talking points. Huffington Post

Harvard buys up water rights in drought-hit CA wine country
Harvard University has quietly become one of the biggest grape growers in California’s drought-stricken Paso Robles wine region. Reuters

Kayser cancels participation in two District 5 candidate debates


LAUSD school board member Bennett Kayser

The debating season kicks off tomorrow night with the first of several scheduled candidate forums for those running in the three contested LA United board districts.

But it’s starting with a buzzkill.

After committing to appear, board member Bennett Kayser has withdrawn from the first of the District 5 debates, scheduled at the Goodwill Community Enrichment Center in northeast LA. His campaign told organizers that a “scheduling conflict” would preclude him from appearing in that debate and another, on Feb. 10 at the Oldtimers Foundation Family Center in Huntington Park.

Both events are sponsored by United Way-LA, which is also staging forums for candidates in the District 3 and District 7 races.

“We believe the constituents in District 5 deserve to hear from all candidates,” Elmer Roldan, a United Way official, told LA School Report. “These forums are designed to give all candidates the opportunity to answer questions from the community and to demonstrate they’re the better candidate running. He and his campaign have a responsibility to prove to communities that he can lead this district.”

Roldan confirmed that Kayser’s two challengers — Ref Rodriguez and Andrew Thomas —  would still appear in the two United Way debates, and so would all six contenders in the District 3 event and all three in a District 7 event. Tamar Galatzan is running for reelection in 3 and board President Richard Vladovic is defending his seat in 7.

Sarah Bradshaw, Kayser’s chief of staff, confirmed that Kayser intends to participate in three other debates for the District 5 candidates, all of them in February.



Report: California earns ‘C’ grade in teacher pension plan health

CalSTRSA new report gives California a “C” grade in the overall health of the state’s teacher pension plan, coming in just slightly ahead of the C- average nationwide.

The report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), which has been tracking the health of teacher pension plans in each state and the District of Columbia since 2008, also offers possible solutions to the growing problem of debt associated with teacher pensions — a load estimated by NCTQ to have climbed more than $100 billion in two years.

The analysis comes as the state and LA Unified are seeing a rise in fees associated with the teachers retirement pension system known as CalSTRS, which has been estimated will cost the district an extra $1.1 billion from 2014-2021.

The report primarily graded states on the extent to which their plans are portable, flexible and fair. One huge problem it pointed out is the lack of susatianabilty with many plans, as in 2014 the accrued teacher pension debt in the United States was $499 billion. Only nine plans in the nation were at least 90 percent funded. California, with over $73 billion of debt, ranked about in the middle with debt.

The report stated, “Looking through another lens, consider teacher pension debt spread out across the K-12 student population. Each American student’s share of the teacher pension deficit is more than $10,000 and growing.”

Alaska earned the only A score, South Dakota earned the only B+, seven states earned a B- and four earned a C+. Twenty-two states earned scores in the D range and one state, Mississippi, earned an F.

Click here to read the full report.


Morning Read: State prepares for rise in new teacher jobs

California officials preparing for rise in new teacher jobs
With the economy now improving, school districts have ramped up hiring and California is poised for a turnabout in teacher credentialing. KPCC

Schools encouraging parents to immunize students
The largest outbreak of measles in California in years is prompting school officials to redouble their efforts to convince parents to vaccinate their children. Ed Source

Bill would return induction costs to districts
School districts would be required to cover the costs of a key training program for new teachers under legislation expected to be considered this month. SI&A Cabinet Report

Classical schools put Plato over iPad
The institutions are designed to reflect the scholarship from the past three millennia of Western civilization, rather than the latest classroom trends. CNN

An international look at the single-parent family
Recent studies have documented a sizable achievement gap between children who live with a single parent and their peers growing up with two parents. Education Next

Summits planned to help schools make smart technology choices


 Via The Hechinger Report | By Nichole Dobo

As more schools move to incorporate technology into classrooms, local leaders often face tough questions about how to make it effective.

Over the next six months, national experts will hop-scotch to a dozen cities to collaborate with school leaders in workshops on those questions. If all goes as planned, the superintendents who attend will walk away with solid technology plans that fit their communities’ needs.

“What we are trying to do is help those districts who are really on the leading edge,” said Richard Culatta, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education.

These workshops are the next step in a national effort to encourage more schools to infuse technology into the classroom. This initiative, Future Ready Schools, is organized through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Education and the Alliance for Excellent Education, Washington, D.C., policy and advocacy organization.

To read the full story here.

Morning Read: LAUSD could lose $100 million due to attendance

LAUSD attendance drop could mean loss of $100 million
For every 3 percent drop in average daily attendance, the district can expect to lose roughly $100 million in state funding. Los Angeles Daily News

Soaring tax collections could trigger budget caps in 2015-16
Higher-than-expected state revenues could in 2015-16 trigger a series of new legal benchmarks that would restrict the size of budget reserves districts could maintain. SI&A Cabinet Report

Measles outbreak: Santa Monica High coach diagnosed with disease
Santa Monica High School students and parents were alerted Friday night that a freshman baseball coach had been diagnosed with measles. Los Angeles Times

Parents try their hand at Common Core math
Common Core supporters say that getting buy-in from parents is essential if the standards are going to have the impact they were intended to have. Ed Source

Debunking one myth about U.S. teachers
It has long been known that the academic abilities of new teachers declined from the 1960s through the 1990s. The Hechinger Report

Vigil honors 14-year-old killed outside middle school
Mourners held a somber vigil for a 14-year-old boy a day after he was killed outside an East Los Angeles middle school Friday. NBC Los Angeles

Morning Read: Vaccination rates for kindergartners rises

Fewer California parents refuse to vaccinate children
The number of California parents who refuse to vaccinate their kindergartners dropped in 2014 for the first time in a dozen years. Los Angeles Times

Legislative leaders want to debate school bond
Gov. Jerry Brown has made it clear he doesn’t like the idea of issuing another statewide facilities bond anytime soon. SI&A Cabinet Report

Lani Guinier: We have a “testocracy” pretending to be a meritocracy
Lani Guinier’s recent book describes the tight linkage between standardized testing and family income. Diane Ravich’s blog

Counselors optimistic about resurgence in schools
Advocates say a shortage of counselors has hampered efforts to serve students. Ed Source

LAO backs repealing cap on districts’ reserves
The California School Boards Association’s campaign to persuade the Legislature to reverse a cap on school district reserves got a boost this week. Ed Source

LAUSD expert: Smart phones belong in schools
Educators can increase their power by maximizing the use of the apps available on their smart phones, according to Warren Dale, technology facilitator for LAUSD. The Journal

KCET asks: Are LAUSD’s ‘crumb rubber’ fields safe?

How safe is your child’s sports field?

KCET recently took an in-depth look at “crumb rubber” synthetic fields and the recent reports of possible health hazards related to them.

The segment, which features interviews with parents, city officials, an LA Unified official and experts, focuses on parks in Los Angeles and at LA Unified that have crumb rubber fields, which is a substance made out of recycled rubber.

The issue has been in the news a lot lately after a report last year from NBC News revealed a possible cancer risk associated with the fields, and a new state senate bill was introduced, calling for a moratorium on new crumb rubber fields until more tests are completed.

The KCET segment includes an interview with Mark Hovatter, LAUSD’s chief facilities executive, who shares the district’s concern about the substance and plans to phase it out entirely. LA Unified stopped building new crumb rubber fields in 2009 and removed the substance from 54 preschools due to lead being discovered.

Click on the embedded link above or go here to see the episode.

Report: Do state districts have meaningful educator evaluations?

EdVoice logoBy EdVoice

To ensure that every student in California has an effective and supportive teacher, schools and districts need to provide educators the help they need to thrive.

And to target help and support to best meet the needs of teachers, schools need to conduct meaningful performance evaluations of instructional staff and leadership that include actual measures of how the students in their classrooms are learning. Fortunately, California already has a law, the Stull Act, which includes provisions requiring evaluations of adults employed to educate kids to include information on how well those children are doing.

In a new report, “Student Progress Ignored,” EdVoice looks at a sample of 26 school districts throughout the state for clear indication of policies and actual evaluations that demonstrate compliance with the law. The analysis exposes a disturbing pattern of non-compliance and ineffective personnel management. The result, some teachers aren’t getting the help they need, others are forced to go through professional development that adds no value to their practice.

To read the report, click here.

Morning Read: LAUSD program brings help to young men of color

‘Village’ program supports at-risk LAUSD students
The novel program brings together volunteers and students of diverse backgrounds into campus “villages” to support an encourage young men. NBC Los Angeles

Officials fight back against anti-immunization parents
Health officials have long been frustrated with the increasing number of parents who decline to have their children vaccinated. Los Angeles Times

Teachers turn to the web for funding help
After dipping into their own pockets to enrich their classes, local teachers are turning to a crowd-funding website for help with classroom materials. La Cañada Valley Sun

Brown, districts at odds over school construction bonds
Gov. Jerry Brown wants the state to cease issuing K-12 school construction bonds. Ed Source

Congressional fight looms on No Child Left Behind
Sen. Lamar Alexander says he wants to work out a bipartisan deal this spring to rewrite the landmark education law No Child Left Behind. Politico

Teacher put on leave after comments on student sex accusations
The art teacher said the students should have kept their “stupid mouths shut” about alleged sex act with two teachers during trips to the beach. NBC Los Angeles

Morning Read: LAUSD debates email retention policy

Controversial iPad emails make LAUSD rethink when to delete
Los Angeles Unified announced Tuesday it will double the amount of time emails are saved to two years – but is it long enough? KPCC

Districts ignore student performance in teacher evaluations, study finds
Major California school districts are failing to comply with a state law. Los Angeles Times

In measles battle, O.C. bars two dozen students lacking proof of shots
Orange County health officials ordered about two dozen high school students without proof of immunization to stay away from campus. Los Angeles Times

Everybody hates Pearson
The venerable publishing company is trying to reinvent itself for the Digital Age. Fortune

Map: Where are L.A.’s crumb rubber fields?
KCET has mapped all the crumb rubber fields at LAUSD schools, as well as parks maintained by the city and county of Los Angeles. KCET

Report says LCAPs need tighter focus
The Legislative Analyst’s Office called on the Legislature to allow school districts to write more focused annual plans for achievement. Ed Source

Morning Read: State creates early childhood center rating system

California creates system for rating early childhood centers
The system is a result of the only statewide grants California received from President Barack Obama’s signature $4.3 billion Race to the Top program. Ed Source

Number of public school students in poverty passes 50%
A new report from the Southern Education Foundation found that over half of U.S. public school students are eligible for free-and-reduced lunch. Education Dive

Some of the youngest learners need mental health treatment
According to a report, 13 percent of infants a year-old and younger and 44 percent of all 2- to 5-year-olds were assault victims in the prior year. The Hechinger Report

“Schools in Context”: A major study comparing the U.S. to 8 other nations
The report tells a different story about international comparisons by looking at a broad range of indicators, not just test scores. Diane Ravich’s blog

Teen sues Culver City district over alleged sexual assault
The school failed to monitor its grounds during the attack, the plaintiffs argue. NBC Los Angeles

Commentary: Brown should bend on school bonds


Via The Los Angeles Times | By George Skelton

Since when did the state government chipping in to help build classrooms for kids become a bad thing? Since Jerry Brown returned as governor, that’s when.

Correct that: It’s not a bad thing for most people in the state Capitol — only the contrarian governor.  Brown just doesn’t like selling bonds — borrowing — and acquiring debt. And you can’t entirely fault him. That’s generally a wise policy in the abstract.

The governor’s proposed $113-billion general fund budget already spends $6 billion paying off various infrastructure bonds, including $2.4 billion for school construction. Since 2000, California voters have approved $103 billion in general obligation borrowing.

Brown, of course, has a credibility problem in opposing more bond debt. And you know what’s coming here.  lRelated Brown offers $164.7-billion budget plan POLITICS Brown offers $164.7-billion budget plan SEE ALL RELATED 8  “It really boils down to priorities,” says Dave Cogdill, president of the California Building Industry Assn., part of a coalition sponsoring a ballot initiative that would authorize a $9-billion school construction bond. “The people have their priorities and the governor has his. And in this case, they don’t match up.”

To read the full commentary, click here.

Morning Read: Arizona civics group eyes California

Arizona group targets CA for graduation civics test
Civics education advocates are looking to push through a requirement in California that public school students pass an exam based on one given for U.S. citizenship. KPCC

Plenty of credits, no diploma
The American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of 250 to 1. In California, the ratio was 1,016 to 1 for the 2010-2011 school year. The Hechinger Report

Helping the Poor in Education: The power of a simple nudge
Researchers have been quietly finding small, effective ways to improve education. New York Times

3D printers changing the way some Pasadena students learn
A $100,000 donation from a retired businessman has turned some lucky Pasadena students into technicians, collaborators and possibly future entrepreneurs. KPCC

Three lessons on the best ways to give feedback to students
Proponents of computerized instruction often point out that software can give instant feedback to students. The Hechinger Report

2 teachers accused of having sex with students at beach
Two high school teachers with the Covina-Valley Unified School District have been arrested on suspicion of having sexual relations with students at the beach. Los Angeles Times

Week in Review: New offer to UTLA, new job for Deasy

lasr logo square
In case you missed it, here are the top five stories from LA School Report this past week:

LA Unified, citing new money, ups its offer to teachers
Bolstered by a more robust state budget, LA Unified said it was doubling its offer to UTLA.

Survey: Teachers support changes in state job protection laws
The majority of public school teachers who participated in a new survey support changes in state teacher job protection laws that were the focus of last year’s landmark ruling in Vergara v. California.

Deasy to work for Broad Center as ‘superintendent-in-residence’
Former LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy will be working as a consultant for The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems as a “superintendent-in-residence.”

Feds find lack of leadership, vision, planning on iPads, MiSiS
A report from the U.S. Education Department on the district’s troubled $1.3 billion iPad program and gitchy MiSiS computer system had few positive things to say.

LAUSD middle school among California’s ‘Schools to Watch’
LA Unified’s Luther Burbank Middle School in Highland Park was honored as a model middle school by the state program, “Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage.”

LAUSD plans expansion of after school supper program

after school supper program LAUSD

Athletes enjoying a meal from the Beyond the Bell After School Supper Program. (Credit: LAUSD Facebook page)

LA Unified announced a major expansion of its after school supper program yesterday through its Beyond the Bell Branch.

The district currently serves 70,000 supper meals a day at 584 schools. Through new outreach efforts, the number could grow by more than a third, according to a district press release. It is also expected to generate net revenue of $16.6 million, as the program is fully funded through a USDA-sponsored program, Child and Adult Care Food Program.

“When kids are hungry, they don’t pay attention,” said LA Unified board member Bennett Kayser, according to the Associated Press. “This is something that should have started years ago.”

The district said expansion of the supper program includes foods like Chipotle chicken salad sandwich, Asian salad or BBQ chicken Slider

“The After School Supper Program aids our students in their academic performance in school,” Alvaro Cortés, executive director of Beyond The Bell Branch, said in a statement  “The goal of the program is to provide those 18 and under access to a healthy meal.”