Closed in observance of labor day

Labor-Day-pics“It was working men and women who made the 20th Century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.”

— Barack Obama, September 6, 2010

Federal free lunches a lens into poverty that’s blurring

EdWeekWhen it comes to free school meals, it’s increasingly clear that students aren’t always what they eat.

The federal free- and reduced-price meals program, launched decades ago by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to combat child hunger through schools, has become a ubiquitous proxy for poverty in federal and state education and health programs, and public and private research on poverty.

As eligibility criteria and participation in the program changes, however, researchers and state data experts argue it is a less-accurate lens through which to view disadvantaged students.

Read the full store here.

Romero pressing for LAUSD hearing on ‘trigger’ waiver

Gloria Romero, former CA State Senator

Gloria Romero, former CA State Senator

Gloria Romero, the former state senator who authored the California Parent Trigger law is asking LA Unified board president Richard Vladovic to schedule a public discussion on the district’s legal opinion that the law does not apply this year.

District lawyers say the Federal waiver granted LA Unified and seven other California school districts, allowing them to to create their own metrics for academic performance in the temporary absence of statewide standards, sets the law aside.

“Of course, I dispute the legal interpretation and I am in the process of seeking a state opinion on the matter,” she wrote to Vladovic. “Nothing that I have seen lends support to the legal opinion of LAUSD.”

She adds that none of the other districts granted a waiver has made such an interpretation.

Vladovic’s chief of staff, Chris Torres, said in an email that Vladovic intends to help arrange to put her request on the agenda of a future meeting.

The district’s legal interpretation is important, so far as parent groups who want to enact changes this year through the state law, which permits parents to initiate action at their children’s school if they can secure signatures from a majority of school parents.

The district is contending that without state-approved metrics for measuring academic performance while Common Core testing is phasing in, the law cannot apply because action through Parent Trigger requires two years of data to show a school is failing.

In her letter, Romero questions several aspects of the district’s decision, including whether the board was aware of such an exemption and why the legal decision was made without public discussion or announcement.

She also asks Vladovic that if the district was certain in its legal analysis, why did the district negotiate with parents at West Athens Elementary School for changes in exchange for their assurance not to use the Parent Trigger law, when in the absence of the law, the parents would have had no such leverage.

Finally, she asks, “Perhaps even more importantly — how could a District simply erase away a law and make a pact to keep this information away from the public?

Morning Read: Aquino defends his role in LAUSD iPad contract

Ex-LAUSD official denies steering contract to former employer
The former Los Angeles schools official under scrutiny for his role in the district’s $1.3-billion iPad program defended himself Thursday, saying that he did not improperly steer the contract to a company that once employed him. LA Times

LA schools iPads: Bid committee got free tablets, resort trips
Los Angeles Unified officials who evaluated bids for its massive technology project received iPads from Pearson, met with a Pearson software executive and attended a weekend sales pitch for that software — all ahead of the public bid process, documents show. KPCC

Judge sets up battle over teacher protections
A Los Angeles judge on Thursday affirmed a tentative June ruling that struck down five laws governing job protections for teachers in California. Politico

Single word at heart of regulatory debate
The State Board of Education next week will consider and possibly settle a debate over one word in the proposed final regulations for the Local Control Funding Formula. Edsource

Last-minute effort to enhance early learning educators
As part of a larger effort to give more of the state’s youngest residents a strong start in school, lawmakers want to offer up to $25 million toward training preschool and early-kindergarten teachers to better meet their needs. S&I Cabinet Report

McKenna has filed to seek LAUSD board seat again in 2015

George McKenna files for next district 1 election

George McKenna, Board Member representing District 1

While George McKenna remained relatively quiet at his first board meeting this week, he has spoken loudly on one issue: He intends to run again for the District 1 seat next year.

Records show that he filed a Declaration of Intent To Solicit And Receive Contributions with the City Ethics Commission last week, a move that makes him eligible to raise and spend money on a re-election campaign next year.

In defeating Alex Johnson two weeks ago, McKenna won the right only to serve out the four-year term of Marguerite LaMotte, who died in office last December. By LA Unified custom, terms are up every other odd year, with districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 up next year and districts 2, 4 and 6 up again in 2017.

For the moment, McKenna has one opponent, Daymond Johnson, who declared his intention to run days before LaMotte died. He has since said that if he believes McKenna is doing a good job, he would withdraw.

McKenna, meanwhile, has more than $17,000 in cash remaining from his just-completed campaign and more than $21,000 in debts. By law, he must repay vendors owed money and offer to return campaign contributions, as part of working down to a zero balance.

Under no circumstances, according to law, can he use the money for his 2015 campaign.

Previous Posts: Another Johnson (Daymond) lining up for LAUSD District 1; Breaking News: McKenna wins election to LAUSD board; McKenna sworn in as LAUSD board’s seventh member

Segregation remains high among American public schools

metrotrends-blog-headerVia Metro Trends Blog | by Reed Jordan

Fifty million children will start school this week as historic changes are under way in the U.S. public school system. As of 2011, 48 percent of all public school students were “poor” and this year, students of color will account for the majority of public school students for the first time in US history.

What is surprising about these shifts is that they are not leading to more diverse schools. In fact, the Civil Rights Project has shown that black students are just as segregated today as they were in in the late 1960s, when serious enforcement of desegregation plans first began following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Read the full story here 

Morning Read: LAUSD audit finds computers missing in action

LA schools’ audit finds computers stolen, missing, unaccounted for
An audit of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s computer inventory reveals 230 devices worth nearly $200,000 have been stolen or are missing – and school officials can’t account for another 3,105 laptops, desktops and iPads. KPCC

Emails prompt LA schools’ inspector general to reopen iPad probe
The inspector general of the Los Angeles Unified School District is reopening an investigation into the purchase of iPads and Pearson software based on findings in a KPCC investigation into communication between district officials and those companies nearly a year ahead of a public bid. KPCC

Before the MiSiS in Los Angeles Unified, there was ISIS — and a lawsuit
Before this month’s disastrous roll-out of student-tracking software MiSiS, the Los Angeles Unified School District was so dissatisfied with the predecessor program that it sued, saying it had paid the company $12 million “by mistake.” LA Daily News

Truancy package, apprenticeship, epinephrine bills OK’d
In the fast and furious final days of the Legislative session, a package of bills is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk this week that, if signed as expected, will initiate a systemic effort to increase student attendance by reducing chronic absences. S&I Cabinet Report

LA Unified board approves hiring of Aquino replacement

Ruth Perez LAUSD

Ruth Perez

Among the non-iPad and MiSiS issues before the LA Unified board yesterday was approving the hiring of Ruth Pérez as the deputy superintendent of instruction.

The vote was 6-0, with Monica Ratliff abstaining.

Most recently superintendent of  Norwalk-La Mirada school district, Perez has also served as a teacher and administrator in Florida and as chief academic officer for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools in North Carolina.

“I look forward to working with her in moving this District forward,” board President Richard Vladovic said in a statement issued by the district.

Perez is expected to start her new position in mid-September, effectively replacing Jaime Aquino, who left the post last December.

Aquino, now Executive Vice President of Strategy and Innovation for the non-profit New Teacher Center, remains connected to LA Unified through new questions over his role in the district’s contracts with Apple and his previous employer, Pearson. 

Previous Posts: LA Unified names Ruth Perez as successor to Aquino; Casillas replacing Jaime Aquino as interim Deputy of Instruction; LA Unified Begins Job Search to Replace Jaime Aquino

The Ratliff report: one view of the iPad program gone awry

Monica Ratliff LAUSD school board meeting 8.26.2014

Monica Ratliff, District 6 Board Member

It’s long. It’s detailed. And it’s dry.

But here it is, LA Unified board member Monica Ratliff’s report to her colleagues on the work of The Common Core Technology Project Ad Hoc Committee. She was chair.

By now, most people know the iPad program didn’t go swimmingly, leading Superintendent John Deasy to suspend it this week and reopen a bid process that would continue the effort to get digital devices to all 650,000 district students.

In her report, which she alone wrote, Ratliff offers recommendations for how to avoid problems in the future. And just what happened this time? In short, she concludes, the district messed up. Big time.

Morning Read: Calls grow to investigate LAUSD iPad project

Calls grow for wider inquiry into L.A. Unified iPad project
A day after Los Angeles Unified abruptly suspended the contract for its controversial iPad project, there were growing calls for a more thorough investigation into whether the bidding process for the $1-billion program was improperly handled. LA Times

Can Supt. Deasy survive LAUSD’s iPad fiasco?
Commentary: So, remember that $1-billion plan to get iPads for each and every Los Angeles Unified student the district has been working on and steadfastly defending for a couple of years now? LA Times

LAUSD’S John Deasy shoots his iPad out
Commentary: LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has his own obsession: a billion dollar dream to put a brand-new iPad in the hands of every public school student in Los Angeles. LA Daily News

Counties approve high number of LCAPs
An EdSource survey of a sampling of county offices of education found that they approved nearly all school districts’ inaugural Local Control and Accountability Plans, laying out spending and academic priorities under the state’s new funding formula, by the Aug. 15 initial deadline for the review. EdSource

Mexico’s president thanks California leaders for welcoming immigrants
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto thanked California’s leaders Tuesday for welcoming immigrants from his country — even those who came illegally — as he capped his first official trip to the United States. LA Times

LIVESTREAM: First LAUSD school board meeting of the year

LAUSD livestream

Click this picture to watch the livestream of the meeting

The LA Unified Board meeting reconvenes today with a full compliment of members. The board now includes a representative from District 1, George McKenna, who was sworn in earlier in the day. He is replacing the late Marguerite LaMotte.

Among the items for discussion are a review of the district’s labor contracts, a handful of procurement issues and and a vote to affirm the potential revocation of charters for Magnolia Academy 6 and Magnolia Academy 7.

The board voted to close the schools over financial improprieties in June, but a court ruled they could stay open, on the condition of meeting certain criteria. The board is voting to make official its position on revocation.

The board is also planning to approve new committee chairs and set forth meeting schedules.

For the livestream of the meeting, click here.

For meeting agenda, click here, and board materials, here.

McKenna sworn in as LAUSD board’s seventh member

George McKenna sworn into office LAUSD district 1George McKenna, third from left, officially became the seventh member of the LA Unified school board today, representing District 1, after he was sworn in by Rev. Jesse Jackson, left.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, second from left, and Danny Bakewell, publisher of the LA Sentinel, far right, also participated in the brief ceremony, which preceded the board’s first meeting of the new school year.

Describing the ceremony as “an emotional experience for me,” McKenna said, “I take this oath more seriously than any other oath I’ve taken.”

Morning Read: iPads coverage here, there, everywhere

L.A. Unified halts contract for iPads
L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy suspended future use of a contract with Apple on Monday that was to provide iPads to all students in the nation’s second-largest school system amid mounting scrutiny of the $1-billion-plus effort. LA Times

Deasy abruptly cancels controversial iPad contract
Faced with mounting questions about the propriety of the district’s handling of an effort to provide iPads to all of its students, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy abruptly canceled the $1 billion program Monday. San Fernando Valley News

LAUSD Superintendent Deasy cancels $1 billion iPad program
Faced with mounting questions about the propriety of the district’s handling of an effort to provide iPads to all of its students, Los Angeles Unified School District John Deasy on Monday abruptly canceled the $1 billion program. LA Daily News

LA schools cancel iPad contracts after KPCC publishes internal emails
The school district announced Monday it will cancel the contract with Apple and Pearson and open its one-to-one technology project to new bids. KPCC

L.A. schools chief halts massive iPad contract amid questions
John Deasy, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified school system, abruptly suspended the district’s contract to provide iPads to students, amid questions about the fairness of the process through which the massive project was awarded to Apple. EdWeek

Breaking News: Deasy says he’s cancelling iPad program

Los Angeles Times logoVia Los Angeles Times | By Howard Blume

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy canceled the $1-billion program to provide all students with an iPad after public records showed he and his top deputy had developed a relationship with the vendors two years prior to the bidding.

Recently released emails showed that Deasy and his then-deputy, Jaime Aquino, began meeting and corresponding with top Apple and Pearson executives and discussing the effort to give all students, teachers and administrators an iPad.

The superintendent sent the Board of Education a letter Monday informing members of his decision. The superintendent was coming under mounting criticism over the emails and an internal report obtained by The Times last week that showed a flawed process and a lack of transparency, among other things.

Read the story here.

In a statement, the teachers union, UTLA said:

“John Deasy needs to publicly explain his role in awarding the iPad contract to Apple and the curriculum contract to Pearson.  Deasy reportedly informed the school board that he is canceling the program that is crumbling around him.  Numerous media reports have questioned how Deasy led the District to award these contracts as part of a billion dollar LAUSD technology program.

“The superintendent does not get to just say, “never mind’ after all the problems the iPad rollout caused this district.  Students, parents, and educators have a right to know what happened.  UTLA will be at the school board meeting on Tuesday demanding some answers.”

LAUSD officials and Apple had a relationship before iPad contract

Logo_LATimesVia LA Times | by Howard Blume

Senior Los Angeles school district officials, including Supt. John Deasy, had a close working relationship with Apple and Pearson executives before these companies won the key contract for a $1-billion effort to provide computers to every student in the nation’s second-largest school system, records released by the L.A. school district show.

The first deal, approved in June 2013 by the Board of Education, was intended as the initial step in a speedy districtwide expansion. Under it, all students, teachers and principals were to receive iPads from Apple that would be loaded with curriculum developed by Pearson. A year later, after pressure from critics and problems with the roll out, the timetable for the project was extended; other curricula and other devices also are being tried out at schools.

Read the full story here

Morning Read: Mistakes were made in LAUSD iPad plan

‘There were mistakes’ in $1 billion iPad plan, says school board member
Los Angeles Unified’s aborted plans to buy iPads and educational software from one of the nation’s leading textbook suppliers were the focus of a draft report created by a school board committee, according to news wire reports. LA Daily News

No easy answers on “career readiness”
The “career” piece of “college and career readiness” continues to challenge the state advisory committee that is charged with reworking the primary measure of school effectiveness in California. Edsource

Feds expand student meal program
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or so the saying goes, but don’t try telling that to the tens of thousands of students across the state and nation who can now eat both breakfast and the midday meal for free – regardless of income. S&I Cabinet Report

Southern California’s team approach to preventing school killing sprees
More than a decade of preparation and planning to prevent killing sprees in U.S. schools appears to have paid off again, this time in South Pasadena where police arrested two teenagers last week. LA Daily News

Burned out teachers, too, deserve day in court
Opinion: My friend is being fired from her teaching job. As sad and sympathetic as I am for my friend, I can’t say that I am surprised. I’ve known this teacher for several years, and I’ve seen the burnout coming for the entire time of our friendship. Edsource

Morning Read: New report targets LAUSD’s iPad problems

LAUSD’s $1-billion iPad effort beset by problems, report finds
The groundbreaking effort to provide an iPad to every Los Angeles student, teacher and school administrator was beset by inadequate planning, a lack of transparency and a flawed bidding process. LA Times

Democrats reject GOP attempts to lift school reserves cap
Democrats in the California Senate on Thursday rejected a Republican effort to overturn a state budget provision that caps the amount of money school districts can hold in reserve. OC Register

State seeks schools lacking Internet capacity
State officials are looking to county offices of education to help them identify schools still in need of enough Internet capacity to be able to administer standardized, online testing next spring. S&I Cabinet Report

‘Straight outta Compton’ and into Princeton’
Op-Ed: Did you hear about the Compton student who graduated from high school at the top of his class last May and starts school this fall at Princeton with a full scholarship? LA Times

The voter turnout conundrum in L.A.
Editorial: Last week, turnout was an abysmal 9.5% for a Los Angeles Unified School Board special election. But dangling a cash prize over the polls is a cynical and superficial pseudo-solution that fails to address the deeper reasons why people don’t vote. LA Times

After Ferguson, LAUSD giving schools tools to discuss conflict

LAUSDlogoWith tensions from Ferguson, Mo. stirring yet another national debate on race relations, LA Unified is distributing an informational packet, “Engaging Students in Peaceful Dialogues about Conflict and Bias,” with a goal of helping solicit questions or concerns from students in “a neutral, safe and respectful space for constructive dialogue.”

The packet includes suggested activities for students in elementary, middle and high school.

“We encourage youth to consider issues much larger than themselves in order to learn and grow. In this instance, we want to allow our students to reflect, discuss and debate with the guidance of adults at school,” Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement from the district.

The material, developed by the District’s Human Relations, Diversity and Equity team, was designed to help teachers facilitate student dialogue and lead lessons on conflict resolution.


NEA’s president says common core testing could “harm kids”

Edsource logoVia EdSource | by John Fensterwald

In the midst of her first swing through California, the incoming president of the National Education Association praised the Common Core State Standards and California’s measured approach in implementing them while warning that the nation’s largest teachers union would fight efforts to use the new tests for the standards in ways that “harm kids” and punish schools and teachers.

A former elementary school teacher and Utah Teacher of the Year, Lily Eskelsen García, 59, has scheduled events with teachers and the news media today in Los Angeles and the Bay Area later in the week. She takes charge of the 3-million-member union next month.

Read the full story here