Morning Read: Deasy faces board review as controversies abound

Amid controversies, school board to weigh superintendent’s performance
After weathering a solid year of criticism for his controversial iPad program, taking a high-profile position in a case against teacher tenure and now dealing with the fallout of an irksome new attendance system, LAUSD superintendent John Deasy is about face the school board for his an annual review. KPCC

Report focuses attention on English learners
As accountability for student progress in California becomes more local, a new report focuses on how school districts can better educate their English learners. Edsource

Charter school movement must focus on excellence
Opinion: When the California Charter Schools Association released our first “Portrait of the Movement” report in 2011, it revealed a stark picture of uneven performance among the state’s charter schools. Edsource

Financing a hurdle in charters’ hunt for space, says report
Federal, state, and private financing for charter school facilities is not keeping up with demand for the publicly funded but largely independent schools. Edweek

Getting beyond one ‘right way’ of K-12 reform
Opinion: Why don’t we get education changing the way successful systems change? This means that we keep working to improve the schools we have, but don’t bet all our chips there. Edweek

Morning Read: Teacher dismissal bill may further muddy process

Teacher dismissal bill may add complexity not simplify
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in late June with the goal of expediting the process of dismissing teachers for egregious misconduct, but some experts say AB 215 will only further muddy up an already difficult and costly process. S&I Cabinet Report

Officials optimistic about spring assessments
Last spring more than 3 million students in California, the largest number ever to take an online test in the state, took field tests of new assessments aligned to the Common Core state standards without major technical breakdowns or system crashes. Edsource

Child-Care, research bills make Congressional short list
As the curtain begins to close on the 113th Congress, lawmakers showcased a brief burst of bipartisanship to push forward on two education measures that had been languishing in the legislative pipeline. Edweek

San Diego school district will get rid of armored vehicle
Yielding to residents’ concerns, the San Diego Unified School District says it’s returning the 18-ton MRAP, or mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, that its police department recently acquired from the Department of Defense’s surplus equipment program. NPR

LAUSD 10th graders hold steady on state high school exit exams

LAUSD high school exit examsThe state today released the latest California High School Exit Examination results, and the news for LA Unified is either encouraging or disappointing, depending on your point of view.

The percentage of district 10th-grade students who passed the on their first attempt, remained at near-historical highs, according to state figures showing that 68 percent of District 10th graders passed both the English Language Arts and mathematics portions of the exam in 2013-2014.

That compares with 69 percent from a year earlier, an all-time high, and with 44 percent in 2003-04, the year the exam was first given statewide.

“We held mostly steady for the year, but when you look at the historical trends, we’re making great progress in preparing our sophomores and other students for graduation,” Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement. “There’s no doubt that we have more work to do in serving our historically-underserved students, and we are committed to doing so.”

Overall, 78 percent of sophomores passed the English Language Arts portion of the test, and 79 percent passed the mathematics part, recording a 1-percentage point increase in both subjects from the previous year.

The results in English Language Arts for 10th graders compared with 71 percent in 2008-2009. In mathematics, L.A. Unified students have shown a similar pattern of growth.

The rate of 11th graders who passed both exams rose this year by one percentage point, to 80 percent from a year ago. Among seniors, 87 percent passed, a decline of 1 percentage point from the previous year.

Schools with the highest percentage point gain in 10th graders’ pass rates

                                                     May 2013  May 2014    1-Year Change

Marquez Senior High                        55%           72%              17%

R.F. Kennedy Senior High Arts         63%            79%              16% 

Jefferson Senior High                       49%            62%              13%

RFK UCLA Community School         60%            73%              13%

Rivera Learning Center                     52%            65%              13%

Torres Humanities/Arts/Tech            50%            63%              13%

Legacy Senior High                           61%            73%              12%

Chavez Language Arts                      49%            61%              12%

Rivera Learning Com & Tech             51%            63%              12%

Carson Academy of Med Arts           79%            90%               11%

RFK Ambassador Global                   51%           61%                10%

Morning Read: LAUSD pays out to settle software vendor lawsuit

L.A. Unified settles suit with student data software vendor
The Los Angeles Unified School District paid $3.75 million Thursday to settle a lawsuit with the vendor of a software system designed to track attendance, grades, schedules and other student data, officials said. LA Times

L.A. school district will double staff helping with iPad rollout
In response to problems with providing iPads to all students, teachers and campus administrators, the Los Angeles school system will double the number of people who will help with technical and instructional issues. LA Times

Report critical of charter school oversight
A lack of oversight of the nation’s charter schools has led to too many cases of fraud and abuse and too little attention to equity, according to a new report that offers recommendations to remedy the situation. EdSource

Brown shoots down history curriculum update
Gov. Jerry Brown rejected legislation Thursday that would have required the state to complete a full revision of its history and social studies curriculum standards by July, 2018. S&I Cabinet Report

A simple fix for L.A.’s voter turnout problem
Editorial: When fewer than 1 in 4 registered Los Angeles voters bothered to cast a ballot for a new mayor last year, it set off a round of soul-searching among city officials and political experts. LA TImes

Editorial: Pre-Deasy days weren’t as great as you thought

Logo_LATimesVia LA Times | by the TImes Editorial Board

At L.A. Unified, tensions are high and crisis is in the air. The relationship between Supt. John Deasy and the school board that oversees him is at what is perhaps an all-time low. Deasy is again muttering about quitting; others are grumbling that he should be fired.

Not surprisingly, United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers union, is practically giddy. The union has regularly lambasted the superintendent, calling his performance “anything but satisfactory,” suggesting he be placed in “teacher jail” like a teacher accused of misconduct would be, and making it clear that it would like him to resign. If Deasy resigns, the leadership no doubt figures, it can go back to the good-old days.

Read the full story here.

Morning Read: New report says iPad curriculum rarely used

New report on L.A. Unified’s iPads reflects problems with curriculum
An evaluation of the iPads-for-all project in Los Angeles schools found that only 1 of 245 classrooms surveyed even used the costly curriculum. LA Times

More than 100,000 LA school repairs backlogged
Los Angeles Unified schools are waiting on 116,000 maintenance and safety problems reported since January, records show, and officials said they don’t have the staff or money to fix them all. KPCC

CTA backs Torlakson with big contribution as race tightens
Flush with $150,000 in new support from teacher organizations, state schools chief Tom Torlakson was still forced on the defensive by challenger Marshall Tuck at a candidate forum Wednesday night. S&I Cabinet Report

Fate of high school exit exam undecided
While the state’s standardized testing program is being revamped during the transition to the new Common Core State Standards, the fate of the high school exit exam – the one test students must pass – remains murky. Edsource

Deasy, LAUSD board must decide if they can work together
Editorial: A year after John Deasy threatened to resign, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s superintendent and its board are back at a dangerous crossroads. LA Daily News

Morning Read: Lawsuit challenges CTA’s power over dues

Lawsuit challenges teachers’ compulsory dues
A lawsuit working its way through the courts is striking at the core of the CTA’s power: its authority to automatically deduct hundreds of millions of dollars a year in dues from the paychecks of both members and non-members. Edsource

LAUSD police to give up some weaponry obtained in federal program
Los Angeles Unified school police officials said Tuesday that the department will relinquish some of the military weaponry it acquired through a federal program that furnishes local law enforcement with surplus equipment. LA Times

L.A. Unified students claim walkout over heat; district repairing A/C
As intense heat continued its stranglehold on the Los Angeles area, students from at least one high school said they walked out of class. LA Times

EpiPen, TB testing bills signed into law
Bills scaling back tuberculosis testing for school employees and requiring schools to stock epinephrine auto-injectors were signed into law this week by Gov. Jerry Brown. S&I Cabinet Report

North Hills elementary school at center of latest LAUSD molestation lawsuit
The latest in a series of lawsuits claiming Los Angeles Unified failed to protect children from predators alleges school officials knew a teacher’s aide was under investigation for distributing child pornography. LA Daily News

Editorial: LA Unified schools won’t get better if leaders fight

Logo_LATimesVia LA Times | Editorial Board

This would be a difficult period for Supt. John Deasy and the Los Angeles Unified School District even if he and the school board were intent on working together for the benefit of students. But these aren’t the most cooperative of times, to put it mildly. The questions surrounding the superintendent’s 2012 emails with Apple and Pearson, well before the companies were picked as the winners of the contract to provide thousands of iPads for the district’s students, have further damaged the already tenuous relations between Deasy and the board. Nothing is likely to get better until the matter is resolved by further investigation.

Read the full story

Morning Read: LAUSD wins waiver extension from federal gov

NCLB waiver extended for seven districts
Seven California school districts, including LA Unified, have received a one-year extension of the waivers from the federal government exempting them from key provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act in return for meeting a slew of new requirements mandated by the Obama administration. Edsource

Some LA Unified students wilting in heat waiting for air-conditioning repairs
L.A. Unified says it has air conditioning in all 32,000 school district classrooms, but 2,000 pending service calls have turned the current heat wave into a repair crisis. KPCC

State, districts struggle to support foster youth
California’s bold initiative to provide extra support for foster youth in school is proving difficult for most districts to implement, advocates say. Edsource

Recovery for autism service costs pending
Despite an announcement from federal officials in July that comprehensive autism services for children are covered under Medicaid, special education administrators and school business officers shouldn’t expect to be reimbursed for providing those services just yet. S&I Cabinet Report

David Boies, eyeing education through a civil rights lens
David Boies, the superlawyer who chairs a group that is trying to overturn teacher tenure laws in New York and elsewhere, said Monday that his organization is not looking to take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court — at least not in the short run. Washington Post

Compare: LAUSD teacher salary competitive with other CA cities

Teacher salary LAUSDThe Los Angeles Unified school district offers competitive teacher salaries compared to other large districts in the state of California. That’s according to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a nonprofit which complies data from across the country.

Despite a recent press report indicating LAUSD was below the average, it turns out on many measures, when compared with other urban districts in California, the district appears competitive.

Of course, how to measure (average salaries versus starting salaries) or which districts to include (size versus region) can change the numbers. But here are a few of the findings using the pool surveyed by NCTQ. Click here for a full comparison.

What is the annual salary for a fully certified first year teacher with a bachelor’s degree?


What is the annual salary for a teacher with a master’s degree on the highest step of the salary schedule?
Teacher Pay highest stepQUESTION:
What is the maximum portion of the employee’s health insurance premium paid by the employer?
Teachers fringe benefits



Morning Read: LAUSD owns grenade launchers and M16 rifles

What LAUSD is doing with its military-surplus grenade launchers and assault rifles
Opinion: So how about the curious finding that the Los Angeles Unified School District has taken possession of Pentagon military surplus that included 61 M16 assault rifles, three grenade launchers and a mine-resistant protective vehicle? LA Times

Strained ties cloud future of Deasy, LAUSD
The controversy engulfing Los Angeles Unified’s $1.3-billion technology project has inflamed long-held tensions between the Board of Education and Supt. John Deasy, who is questioning whether he should step down. LA Times

LAUSD’s students need better libraries, not iPads
Op-Ed: While the iPad-for-every-student controversy has gotten much media coverage lately, a long-term problem has gotten very little attention: the lack of equal access to a quality school library. LA Times

Frank Gehry designing new social service campus in Watts
It’s a small coup for the institute, which began working in Watts in 2007 and is best known for the 10 preschool sites it runs in the community. Yet it offers more than just free preschool. KPCC

With Tech Taking Over in Schools, Worries Rise
California is poised to become the first state to comprehensively restrict how such information is exploited by the growing education technology industry. New York Times

Next election season opens for 2015 primary

election deadlines lausdWith more than a month left before November’s election, the Los Angeles City Clerk is already looking toward the next election season. It announced today that candidates intending to run for office in the primary, slated for March 2015, must live in their respective districts by October 3.

According to the City Charter, failure to meet the residency requirement will disqualify candidates from running for office. Candidates must also be registered voters.

So far 13 candidates have indicated they are running for LA Unified school board seats according to the City Ethics web site. But there are still some hurdles: the official date to file a Declaration of Intent isn’t until November 3, and then there is the matter of getting thousands of valid signatures before a candidate can actually appear on the ballot.

Morning Read: Deasy’s attorney asks for LA school board emails

Attorney for Supt. Deasy asks for L.A. school board emails
An attorney representing Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy is seeking records that would explore possible links between school board members and technology vendors. LA Times

L.A. Unified should rescind plan to delete year-old emails
Editorial: The requirement that most emails at the Los Angeles Unified School District be destroyed after one year may not be legal under California public records law. LA Times

Keeping parents involved in shared decision making
Commentary: As school staff and families head back to school this fall, districts and communities are ramping up for the second year of the Local Control Funding Formula. Edsource

New schools chief: Oakland “full of opportunity”
The Oakland Unified School District has begun the school year with a new superintendent, Antwan Wilson, at the helm. The 46,000-student district is the 14th-largest in the state. Edsource

Vaccine opt-out rate doubled in 7 years
California law requires that children entering kindergarten be fully vaccinated against a range of diseases. However, the rate of parents opting out of vaccines for their children has doubled since 2007. KQED

A teacher finds lessons in the awfulness of 9/11

PBS_logoAs with most moments in my adult life, it was my students and literature that taught me the most significant lessons about the meaning of 9/11.

That morning felt unremarkable, even after my co-teacher came back into the room in the middle of second period to whisper something to me about planes crashing and terrorism. It was only my second year of teaching high school. By the end of the day, I had my classes journaling their initial reactions, creating a sort of time capsule, I said, for when their future selves wanted to remember.

Read the full story here.

Children’s Defense Fund names Alex Johnson as CA chief

Alex JohnsonAlex Johnson, who finished behind George McKenna in the race to fill the LA Unified District 1 board seat, has added two new lines to his resume since the August election runoff.

Nominated by his former boss, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Johnson is now a member of the LA County Board of Education, which mediates a variety of school district disputes, and as of tomorrow, he becomes executive director of CDF-California, the state affiliate of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Johnson is scheduled to appear at the official announcement tomorrow, along with Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of CDF, a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked for 40 years to improve the lives of children.

Morning Read: LA Unified board enforces email deletion rule

L.A. school board approves contract to destroy emails after a year
The Los Angeles Unified School District took steps this week to enforce rules under which emails are deleted after one year, raising concerns about whether important public records would be destroyed in the process. LA Times

Hearing opens on Crenshaw teachers’ claims of anti-union bias
Twelve former Crenshaw High teachers alleged during opening arguments in a labor hearing Wednesday that the Los Angeles Unified School District targeted and removed them from the campus in retaliation for their union activism. LA Times

Homeless student population growing and less urban
Affluent Santa Barbara was surpassed only by Trinity as having the highest countywide percentage of public school students identified as homeless sometime during the 2012-13 school year, according to a new survey. S&I Cabinet Report

New funding law could raise cost of textbooks
Thirty pounds of math arrived for 6th grader Bethany Hughes in July, hefty tomes whose delivery from a warehouse in West Sacramento to her home in Westminster represented a victory in a small but heated dispute over the new education funding law. Edsource

Centinela Valley school district begins search for new superintendent
The Centinela Valley school district on Wednesday officially began its national search for a new permanent superintendent to replace Jose Fernandez, who was fired for as-yet-unknown reasons. LA Daily News

Reps for LAUSD, teachers union talk about computers, not salaries

UTLA contract talks computersAnother bargaining session came and went today and still no contract agreement between LA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA.

The district said in a press release, “union leaders weren’t ready to talk about raises at the table,”  leaving the sides to focus, instead, on issues with the student-tracking system known as MiSiS, for My Integrated Student Integrated System.

The union did not engage in salary talks, according to the district.

“Teachers certainly deserve a bigger paycheck,” Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement. “Finally, after years of severe budget cuts, we can afford to provide some relief that our teachers well deserve. We want to give raises.”

Chief Labor Negotiator Vivian Ekchian added, “While discussions around MiSiS implementation are very important, it shouldn’t preclude us from spending at least equal time on discussing salary increases.”

The union did not have an immediate response to the district’s characterization of the session.

The District has offered UTLA members an 8.64 percent salary increase over three years, which includes a one-time lump sum for 2013-14. It’s effectively the same deal the district has offered to all its other labor groups — the one-time payment and annual raises of 2 percent, 2 percent and 2.5 percent.

The union is seeking a 17.6 percent salary increase over two years, an amount the district said in the release it cannot afford “without a return to layoffs, dreaded unpaid furlough days, a shortened school year, reduced summer school and repeated deep cuts in staff and services needed to balance recent budgets.”

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Oct. 2

Garcetti endorses Torlakson in state superintendent race

Mayor Garcetti endorses tom torlakson

Mayor Garcetti

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti today endorsed state Superintendent Tom Torlakson in his bid for reelection against Marshall Tuck, a former charter school executive.

Citing his leadership in improving school safety and creating the largest network of after-school programs in the nation, Garcetti said in a statement, “Tom Torlakson is dedicated to the safety of our children and our schools. I support Torlakson because of the work he is doing to combat bullying, expand after-school programs, and keep gangs, drugs and guns out of our schools.”

For now, polls are showing the non-partisan race a volatile tossup because so many voters are not yet expressing a preference. In a Field poll issued yesterday, the two were in a statistical tie, with 41 percent saying they were undecided.

Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa endorsed Tuck several months ago.

Previous Posts:

Torlakson, Tuck in statistical tie, according to new Field pollMarshall Tuck: ‘We need fundamental and urgent change’

Caputo-Pearl Q&A: Running LAUSD like a business?

Logo_LATimesVia the Los Angeles Times | By Patt Morrison

It’s a funny world, and a small one. Alex Caputo-Pearl, the new head of United Teachers Los Angeles, went to school in the same Maryland school district where John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, was once superintendent.

They missed each other there, but now they’re in the same place, at the same time, on opposite sides of the table and sometimes on the issues. Caputo-Pearl, who was elected with 80% of the vote, was an ardent labor activist at Crenshaw High School, which he says got him ousted from the school after 13 years there. It was Deasy who decided the poorly performing school needed a clean sweep of faculty. Watch for big headlines as contract negotiations unfold.

Read the full story here.

Morning Read: LAUSD eyed Pearson software early on

Early technology plans called for training on Pearson software
The Los Angeles Unified School District’s early technology expansion plan called for all teachers to be trained on textbook publisher Pearson’s iPad educational software, according to a document obtained by KPCC. KPCC

MiSiS computer mess could impact college applications
Concerned that high school seniors could miss college application deadlines if the school district’s stumbling computer system isn’t fixed, Los Angeles Unified School board members asked staff Tuesday about backup plans. LA Daily News

County approves LA Unified’s accountability plan
After seeking clarification from the Los Angeles Unified School District about how it calculated the funds it said it was spending on low-income students, English learners and foster children, the Los Angeles County Office of Education has approved the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan. EdSource

It’s time to do accountability right – and yes, we know how
Opinion: Using standardized tests as the sole measure of educational performance is a bit like using a measuring tape to calculate weight. You’ll get a number, all right, but it will have limited meaning. S&I Cabinet Report

Panorama City school first to clean up neighborhoods around campuses
Walking to class at Vista Middle School in Panorama City, kids cross over the Pacoima wash — a littered and foul-smelling channel that has become the first battlefront in Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer’s plan to create a safer environment for children. LA Daily News