It’s not a live public forum or debate where we can see the candidates answer questions or exchange views in real time, but it’s better than nothing:
Educators 4 Excellence, an organization that advocates for teachers to take a more active role in shaping education policies, plans to host a podcast interview with District 6 (East San Fernando Valley) runoff candidates Monica Ratliff and Antonio Sanchez.
E4E will interview Sanchez and Ratliff, who have both agreed to participate, on May 8. The podcast will available on E4E’s website to stream or download on May 13.
Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel will meet with parents on Monday, May 6 at 24th Street Elementary, the first school in LAUSD to be taken over by parents using the parent trigger law.
Parent Revolution, an education advocacy group that has led the parent trigger effort in California, will host the meet and greet. Garcetti and Greuel will visit the school at separate times to hear from parents about their successful school overhaul and to have a Q&A session on the future of education in Los Angeles.
The candidates’ positions on education policies and the parent trigger law have evolved over the course of their campaigns. Garcetti, who is endorsed by the teachers union in LA, initially seemed to oppose the parent trigger movement (read about it here), but he eventually expressed unequivocal support for the option (read the story here). Greuel aligned herself with education reformers earlier in the campaign process and has consistently said she support the trigger option as a way to fix failing schools (read about it here.)
To the surprise of almost no one, a bill that sought to make changes to California rules on how to evaluate teachers failed to pass the Senate Committee on Education during its second-chance hearing Wednesday.
What was particularly notable about the bill’s failure was the absence of the majority of the Committee’s members during the hearing and the vote.
Last week, the members had deadlocked 4-4 on the legislation, dubbed SB 441, with one abstention. This week, only three out of nine senators — Senators Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad), Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), and Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) — voted “yes.”
The other six members of the Committee sat silently when their names were called. (Watch video of the roll call here, around the 2:59 time mark.)
The empty seats at the Senate Education Committee’s May 1 hearing on SB 441. via Twitter
A bill known as SB 441 that proposes changes to California’s rules on teacher evaluations is being considered a second time today by the Senate Committee on Education today — but eight out of nine of the Committee’s members have been absent from the meeting.
Scheduling might explain at least in part of the reason why only Senator Carol Liu is present at the hearing. This is a particularly busy day in Sacramento, as the deadline for the policy committees to report fiscal bills to the Fiscal Committee is Friday, May 3.
But another possible explanation might be the controversy surrounding the proposal, which pits the state teachers unions, who oppose the proposal, against reform advocacy groups like StudentsFirst, who support it.
In a statement released Tuesday morning, United Teachers Los Angeles softened its tone on Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), a program in almost 10,000 LAUSD classrooms that feeds low-income students free breakfast at their desks in the morning.
The union’s announcement followed a Monday night LA Timesstory that said a majority of School Board members planned to vote at the May Board meeting to continue funding the program next year, and preceded a Tuesday afternoon parent protest in support of the classroom breakfast program. (See: Parents Rally to Save Classroom Breakfasts.)
The “breakfast program is flawed — but fixable,” the union wrote in the press release, urging the district to work together with UTLA to resolve some of the issues it has with BIC. (See UTLA statement here.) Continue reading →
In a recent Which Way L.A. segment, host Warren Olney discusses the battle brewing in Sacramento over Gov. Jerry Brown’s approach to education budget reform.
Brown’s plan to give struggling school districts like LAUSD, which have higher numbers of low-income and English language learner students, higher funding than more successful districts, has divided Democrats in the California legislature. Listen here:
On Thursday, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy unexpectedly announced that he was putting a controversial classroom breakfast program’s fate in the hands of the School Board.
The possible elimination of a program Southern California Public Radio described as “a political hot potato” presumably pleased the teachers union, which has long called for its end.
But Deasy’s plan to remove the program from his budget and force Board members to vote to restore it confused and displeased some BIC supporters.
“It’s not my favorite strategy,” School Board President Monica Garcia told the LA Times. “But I understand choices have to be made.”.
“I get what he wants to do,” Courtni Pugh, head of the 45,000-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, told LA School Report. “He keeps saying he wants to save the program, so we have the same goal. But I would have gone about it differently.”
Street artist Shepard Fairey is calling on Los Angeles students to send ideas for his next big art campaign, a poster series that will appear this July across the city on billboards and buses. The deadline to submit art ideas is today. Students can submit their ideas on the LA Fund’s Facebook page, by tweeting at the LA Fund’s twitter account with the hashtag #ArtsMatter, or by mailing their submissions.
Concerned that District 6 (East Valley) School Board candidate Monica Ratliff might oppose the leadership of LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, the LA Times editorial page secured a commitment from Ratliff to keep Deasy at the helm of the district as part of re-iterating its endorsement:
“Ratliff, who was a public interest lawyer before she became a teacher, advocates smart solutions to vexing issues — such as improving instruction by giving weak teachers time to sit in on the classes of highly effective ones. She is neither a gung-ho member of the school reform movement nor a backer of the union’s anti-reform rhetoric…. [And] if she were in a position to decide on Deasy’s contract today, she would vote to renew it.” [emphasis added]
District 6 Candidates Monica Ratliff and Antonio Sanchez
The May 21 LAUSD Board runoff for District 6 is less than a month away, and Teach Plus, an urban education advocacy group, is hosting a candidate forum on Thursday, May 2.
Both candidates Monica Ratliff and Antonio Sanchez have been invited, but only Ratliff has confirmed her participation so far. The event is interactive, and audience members will have opportunities to ask the candidates questions and offer input on education issues in LAUSD.
The forum is aimed at LA-area teachers, but Teach Plus said other members of the community won’t be turned away at the door if they show up. See full event details here.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has added his voice to a group of education leaders who are reluctant to support the current union-supported teacher dismissal bill being considered in Sacramento unless it’s amended to address key issues.
In an April 19 letter sent to the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), Villaraigosa praises Buchanan for her “willingness to tackle this difficult and sensitive issue.” But he says he’s withholding support for the bill, known as AB 375, unless she addresses “areas of concern” he has — many of which echo those that have been expressed by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, education advocacy group EdVoice, and former State Senator Gloria Romero.
Earlier this week, the LA Weeklyhoned in on the outsized influence California’s largest teachers union is perceived to have on education policy issues, including recent efforts to speed the removal of sexual predators from the classroom.
“That’s how CTA infamously killed a  law to fire sex-pervert teachers, SB 1530,” LA Weekly writer Matthew Mullins wrote. ”A badly watered-down version, AB 375, is alive — because CTA backs it,”
What the LA Weekly didn’t note was that the “badly watered-down” bill moving through the state legislature was amended last week or that LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has proposed several further changes to make sure that districts have a stronger role in the dismissal process and that teachers who review dismissal cases can be removed if necessary.
Teacher Evaluations: Let the Battle Begin
On Wednesday, the state Senate Education Committee will take up a bill by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, that would adopt a formal state standard for evaluating teachers. SD Union-Tribune Editorial
Garcetti, Greuel Debate Who Can Best Lead Los Angeles As Mayor
The two candidates for mayor of Los Angeles made robust cases for themselves in a televised debate Monday night from the USC Health Sciences Campus east of downtown, but they became most passionate when they squared off, again, on the question of who would be the most independent leader. LA Times
Saving the California Dream: ‘Parent Trigger’ Profiles
Parents at Weigand Elementary School in Watts are the most the recent group to organize and deliver a petition, and they say it’s been a tough fight so far. “The courage it takes to sign a petition when you know there’s going to be a battle is tremendous,” says Alfonso Flores, a former LAUSD “Teacher of the Year.” Fox LA
Attack Shows Education Reform Gaining Ground
The passage by delegates at this month’s California Democratic Convention of a resolution condemning Democrats, including me, who support education reform illustrates an ongoing battle among Democrats across the nation. O.C. Register Opinion (Gloria Romero)
In recent months, the teachers union United Teachers of Los Angeles has been criticizing Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) for delaying the start of instruction, among other things.
But Nicola Edwards, who works for California Food Policy Advocates, told LA School Report that a recent union survey doesn’t really reflect how most LAUSD teachers feel about the program.
“If you look at the survey and number of teachers who didn’t like the program, it’s a very small number [around 400 teachers] compared to the 10,000 classrooms it’s served in. When you look at the statistical significance of this, it’s very small.”
And the district actually plans to increase the number of schools offering the anti-hunger program that serves low-income LAUSD students breakfast at the start of every school day this year, going from 280 to more than 600 schools.
Monday, April 22 is the first day Los Angeles voters will receive and can apply for vote-by-mail ballots for the May 21 East Valley District 6 runoff election, which means that campaigning will finally begin in earnest. (Go here to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot.)
The election will pick between Monica Ratliff and Antonio Sanchez for the LAUSD Board’s District 6 seat representing the East San Fernando Valley. Voters will also elect LA’s next mayor and a number of other city offices.
Early voting might seem like a sleepy issue, but it plays a big role in election outcomes. In the LA Daily News, Rick Orlov wrote about its “increasingly important role in all elections,” making up 46 percent of the total vote in the primary election. We saw proof of the impact of vote-by-mail ballots in the March primary, when District 4 (Hollywood/Westside) LA School Board incumbent Steve Zimmer beat his challenger Kate Anderson thanks to a significant early voting advantage. (Read the story here.)