LA Unified improving school centers to help parents parent

Steve Zimmer greets parents at Vine Street Elementary's new parent center

Steve Zimmer visits Vine Street Elementary’s new parent center

Now LA Unified is trying to make it fun for parents to go to school, too.

In a report by Ruth Yoon, the district’s administrator of Parent, Community and Student Services, she said 75 parent centers at schools will be renovated and updated by the end of December. Another 35 parent centers will be renovated by spring, with at least 100 more if staff approves. Those renovations will take place thanks to $20 million approved by the school board in 2011 to improve parent and family centers.

“We are providing a welcoming environment for families and inviting them to participate as equal partners in the education of their children,” said Yoon who presented her update to the Early Childhood Education and Parent Engagement Committee this week.

Some of the parent centers have new computers, some have staff people training parents, and some teach parents how to use computers and use educational websites. Applications for new renovations of parents centers ended last week, Yoon said, but schools will be able to apply for grants to update their centers next year.

Board member Scott Schmerelson, a former principal, said, “Parent Centers should not be hidden, and administrators should show true interest in the parent center.”

Schmerelson said the one at his school was not renovated, and that some are plagued with broken furniture or computers that don’t work.

Mónica Ratliff said she worried about schools that are slow to get in line first for these kinds of renovations. “Congratulations for those who are good at jumping through the hoops, but I am concerned about what happens in schools that are not good at it, and don’t get what they need.”

Yoon said that North Hollywood High School is an example of the many schools that have seen a great increase in parent involvement since the parent center was improved.

Some of the parent centers serve as a training ground for parents, with workshops that provide tips on helping with homework, understanding school budgets and teaching children discipline.

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Broad charter plan could wipe out thousands of UTLA jobs


By Howard Blume

If a proposal for a massive expansion of charter schools in Los Angeles moves forward, the casualties probably would include thousands of teachers who currently work in the city’s traditional public schools.

As new charters open, regular schools would face declining enrollment — and would need fewer teachers.

Under the $490-million plan being spearheaded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, 260 new charters would be opened in the city in eight years. The goal is to more than double the number of students attending these schools, which are independently run and mostly nonunion.

The plan talks about hiring from an expanded Teach For America and other groups that work with young, inexperienced instructors.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: LAUSD rehires lawyer dismissed over teen sex case

LAUSD brings back lawyer who said student could consent sex with teacher
The district announced last November that it would sever ties with the attorney, W. Keith Wyatt. It has now rehired his firm for several cases.
Los Angeles Times, by Teresa Watanabe

New law calls for modernized role of school counselors
The law comes as schools and districts not only in California but across the nation struggle to provide even meager access to academic counselors.
Cabinet Report, by Kimberly Beltran

Eli Broad and the end of public education as we know it
If there were still any doubt about Eli Broad’s desire to gut traditional public education, it has been erased.
Capital and Main, by Marc Haefele

Governor signs bill allowing diplomas for students who failed exit exam
Senate Bill 172 will require school districts to award diplomas to students who met every other graduation target but failed the exit exam.
EdSource, by Fermin Leal and Theresa Harrington

Board OKs settlement over principal who hypnotized students
The settlement closes a bizarre, yearslong case that began after a former principal admitted he hypnotized dozens of students. Several committed suicide shortly after.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, by Shelby Webb

In exit exam limbo: Telesis Radford
If Telesis Radford scored two points higher on the math portion of the California High School Exit Exam, the last nine years of her life may have turned out very differently.
EdSource, by Matt Levin and Tiffany Lew

LAUSD’s ‘OUT for safe schools’ praised, expands to other districts

OUT for safe schools LGBTQTwo years after it was launched, an LA Unified program aimed at making schools safer for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) is being praised as it expands to eight other major districts around the country.

The “OUT for Safe Schools” program was created in 2013 by a school board resolution authored by board member Mónica García and calls on district staff and teachers to wear rainbow-colored badges on Oct. 11, which is National Coming Out Day. The badges identify them as an ally of LGBTQ students.

The program, with the aid of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, has seen around 30,000 LA Unified staff participate in each of the last two years. This year, districts in New YorkChicagoBostonSan FranciscoSan DiegoDuval County (Florida), Oakland and Washington, D.C. are adopting the program.

“Despite increased public acceptance of LGBT people in general, many school campuses remain toxic environments for LGBTQ students, contributing to higher rates of suicide, depression, homelessness and HIV infection,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said in a statement. “We approached the LAUSD about developing this program to create visible adult allies throughout the entire school system, helping LGBTQ youth feel safe and supported while helping to deter would-be bullies. Now, wherever students look, they’re sure to see adults who proudly identify themselves as LGBTQ allies for students.”

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LAUSD asking public to rate qualities necessary in next superintendent

SuperintendentSurveyThe whole world can now prioritize the characteristics necessary for LA Unified’s next superintendent through an online survey the district released last night.

The question is — as some school board members pointed out before the survey launched — why would anyone want anything less than all 21 qualities included in the survey?

With a pull-down menu in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Armenian, the survey asks respondents to rate characteristics on a scale of 5 to 1, signifying greater or lesser importance.

They include such qualities as:

  • Hold a deep understanding of the teaching/ learning process.
  • Foster a positive, professional climate of mutual trust and respect among faculty, staff, and administrators.
  • Establish a culture of high expectations for all students and personnel.
  • Hold all employees accountable for their performance.

Some of these are “duh!” questions, and when the school board looked at them at its last meeting, several members said so.

George McKenna looked over the questions handed to him by the search firm on Sept. 15 and pointed out the obvious. “Why would someone not choose all fives?” he asked, with a reference to the highest rating. “I don’t know how you say no to any of these?”

Further, none of the charcteristics reflects anything specific to LA Unified, such as, “Has the political skills to balance the interests of an assertive teachers union and a well-funded state charter association.” Or, “Has the temperament to manage the diverse interests and personalities of seven bosses.”

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New sex ed curriculum ‘vaults California into a leadership role’

san francisco chronicle- ogo

By Jill Tucker

California kids will get one of the most rounded educations on sex and sexuality in the country under new legislation that advocates called a victory in providing information that could prevent disease and teen pregnancy as well as sex-based violence and prejudice.

The new mandate ensures that public school students get a comprehensive sex education, offered at least once in middle school and once again in high school. That means teaching about condoms and emergency contraception, abstinence and abortion, sexual consent, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Under the measure signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week, individual parents can opt out, but schools cannot.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Thousands of retroactive diplomas may be coming

California poised to grant high school diplomas retroactively
The state of California is poised to give between 40,000 and 150,000 diplomas to former students who failed to pass the California High School Exit Exam, or CAHSEE.
EdSource, by Louis Freedberg

Parents of teen killed outside East L.A. middle school sue LAUSD
Steven Cruz was stabbed about 3 p.m. Jan. 23 outside Griffith Middle School just as classes were being dismissed for the day. MyNewsLA, by Hillary Jackson

Report highlights education inequities in nine California cities
The report was released Wednesday by the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education.
EdSource, by Theresa Harrington

Updating key things new teachers should know and do
Teaching Performance Expectations, or TPEs, were first developed in 2001 and have been amended from time to time since.
Cabinet Report, by Tom Chorneau

Test scores under Common Core show that ‘proficient’ varies by state
Ohio seems to have taken a page from Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average.
New York Times, by Motoko Rich

California’s Aspire charter network gets a blended-learning boost 
Aspire Public Schools announced last week that the network will expand its blended learning program to 15 of its 38 schools.
Hechinger Report, by Nichole Dobo

LAUSD panel unsure why girls score better than boys on English tests

McKennaOne of the most interesting and surprising results of LAUSD student test scores this year was that across the board, girls outscored boys in English Language Arts.

It didn’t matter if they were in traditional schools, magnet schools or charters. It didn’t matter the grade level, area of LA Unified, nor the racial breakdown. Girls were better — and that was reflected in the overall California results, too.

“It is curious that females scored higher than males, we have never seen that before,” Cynthia Lim, the executive director of the Office of Data and Accountability, told the LAUSD Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Equity Committee at a meeting today. In math tests, the differences were minimal, and in years past there was never as marked a difference according to gender, she said.

Now, the district is going to look into possible reasons why.

“Do girls still keep diaries?” School board member George McKenna mused aloud. “That may help them write, and writing is a most complex process. I do not know many boys that keep diaries.”

The new Smarter Balanced Assessment scores are taken on computer tablets and require more blocks of reading than previous tests. Also, they require a section in which listening is required to answer the questions, which was never done before.

“The tests require much more writing, we will look into this, we haven’t seen the same trend with the math scores,” Lim said.

McKenna posited, “Are females demonstrating their superiority of males, or are males not as competitive as they should be? Or maybe being smart is not machismo?”

Ruth Perez, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, was also interested in figuring out the disparity and seeing whether girls tend to write more, therefore scoring better.

One result that was not the least surprising was that economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and English language learners scored worse than the average student population.

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French students make video to cheer up LAUSD’s ‘crying kid’

Millions of people around the globe saw the viral sensation of little Andrew Macias, a pre-K student at City Terrace Elementary School, who broke down and cried on live television when asked by a KTLA reporter if he was going to miss his mom on his first day of school.

But have no fear, this tale has a happy ending. Or, at least one that will make you smile.

A group of French eighth-grade students who are learning English saw the video and created their own video to cheer Andrew up, LAUSD Daily reported.

“Don’t cry. School is not horrible,” one of the students says.

The video is attached above.

Community groups want a say in the LAUSD superintendent search

superintendent searchThirty seven community groups under the umbrella of the nonprofit organization Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) are asking the LA Unified school board to form a committee of community leaders to participate directly in the search for a new superintendent. The organization wants the committee to have the opportunity to interview top candidates and provide a recommendations to the school board.

The board has hired the executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to find candidates; it has also scheduled a series of public meetings this month for people to weigh in on what characteristics the next superintendent should possess. Those meetings are open to the public and include community leaders that board members have suggested. But there has been no plan for a formal committee of community leaders.

The search firm has said it plans have to have a list of candidates for board members to interview by late November or early December, a timeframe that coincides with plans by Superintendent Ramon Cortines to retire by the end of the year.

“It’s critical that LAUSD not make these decisions in a vacuum, without meaningfully incorporating community leaders into that process, ” Elise Buik, President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said in a statement. “In addition to the community input sessions and survey that the Board is leading, we believe the District must also create a search committee that includes representation from key leaders who have a stake in this decision – students, teachers, business leaders, civil rights leaders, union leadership, higher education experts, to name a few. This is an incredibly important decision and it’s crucial that we have the support and guidance of these key leaders.”

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LASR poll results: No school until after Labor Day, most readers say

OPINION.POLL_A plurality of LA School Report readers responding to an online poll want LA Unified to return to a tradition schedule, starting school after Labor Day in September, giving families an eight-week window for summer vacations in July and August.

With 758 readers voting, over 41 percent chose the post-Labor Day schedule, which is what LA Unified always had before it began experimenting with August schedules in 2012.

With many teachers and parents complaining about the late summer heat — which has also increased the district’s electric bill by over $1 million per year since the August schedules began — the district is now considering various options — and is even conducting its own phone poll, although technical glitches and interrupted it.

LA School Report offered readers the same six options the district offered in its telephone survey.

The winning choice represented a 2-to-1 preference over the second most popular option, a calendar that would begin August 15 and end June 12, with the semesters being separated by a three-week winter break. This option, which got almost 20 percent of the vote, is close to what the district has adopted for the current academic year.

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CA bill would ban concealed weapons on school campuses


By Roxana Kopetman 

As gun-control issues once again grip the nation in the wake of the Oregon community college shooting, California may be poised to ban most concealed weapons on K-12 and college campuses.

State legislators recently passed a bill that would prohibit most people who have a permit for a concealed weapon from bringing that firearm to a school.

“This is our No. 1 top priority bill in California for our 26 chapters,” said Charles Blek, president of the Orange County Brady Campaign Chapter to Prevent Gun Violence.

The bill by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, has been a year in the making. It arrives on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for consideration as the nation mourns nine victims killed while in their writing class in a Roseburg, Ore., community college last week.

California law prohibits possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school or on a college campus without permission from administrators. There are some exceptions, including one for those who have permits for concealed firearms.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Brown, Duncan were often at odds

Jerry Brown, Arne Duncan had deep, long-standing disagreements
The governor of a solidly Democratic state and a Democratic president’s point man on education were like two ships colliding in a sea of policy disagreements.
EdSource, by John Fensterwald

Girls and boys, the lesson today is how to start your company
As South Bay communities increasingly become a sun-kissed complement to Silicon Valley, startup culture is making its way into some L.A. schools’ curricula, too.
Los Angeles Times, by Sonali Kohli

Fallout from lower test scores challenges some states
If debate over the adoption of the Common Core State Standards has subsided, the new struggle is how to deal with the fallout when student test scores plunge.
Cabinet Report, by Tom Chorneau

Texas mother teaches textbook company a lesson on accuracy
Texas textbooks — and how they address aspects of history, science, politics and other subjects — have been a source of controversy for years.
New York Times, by Manny Fernandez and Christine Hauser

Would any college reject President Obama’s daughter?
Admission decisions rest largely on grades, test scores, extra-curricular activities and “the hook.” What’s the hook? Something that distinguishes you from everybody else.
Washington Post, by Valerie Strauss

Duncan’s departure illustrates national divide over education
Duncan’s announcement on Friday that he plans to step down later this year was greeted by a range of reactions.
Washington Post, by Emma Brown and Lyndsey Layton

Wellness program using Spanish to help 23 LAUSD schools

FuelUpStudentsThe nation’s largest in-school health and wellness program announced today that it will provide Spanish-language programs to schools to promote healthier lifestyles through good nutrition, low-fat and fat-free dairy and physical activity.

Already 23 LAUSD schools are involved with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program that is co-sponsored by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The free program offers schools an online Playbook of strategies to improve physical activity and eating habits. More than 73,000 schools in the country participate in one or more of the programs, reaching more than 38 million students.

To reach more communities, Fuel Up to Play 60 is providing resources in Spanish because of the increasing Hispanic population. LA Unified and Miami-Dade County Public Schools have the most schools participating in the programs. The group wants to spread health benefits to the Hispanic population that is projected to increase to 29 percent of total enrollment by 2024.

“The dairy checkoff is pleased to broaden our Fuel Up to Play 60 resources and make them available to a growing and vital segment of our country’s student population,” said Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy farmer and chairman of Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff. “All kids deserve the opportunity to lead a healthy life. Fuel Up to Play 60 can help make this happen.”

The organization also helps provide grants to schools for $300 to $4,000. The next deadline is Nov. 4.

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Do LA charter schools really screen out special education students?

Special ed

LAUSD’s Lowman Special Education Center

Accusations that charter schools screen out special education students or discourage them from enrolling have returned with a controversial plan by the Broad Foundation to expand charter enrollment at LA Unified.

After the president of the LA teachers union, Alex Caputo-Pearl of UTLA, raised the issue a year ago, telling the Los Angeles Times a year ago that “a lot of charters don’t allow special-education or English-language learners,” it resurfaced at a recent UTLA-sponsored rally outside the grand opening the Broad Museum.

But is the accusation true?

Legally, charter schools are not allowed to discourage enrollment from special education students or English learners.

While it may be true that LA Unified’s independent charters have smaller percentages of special education students overall and fewer have students with moderate to severe disabilities, the reasons for any disparity are complex, said Sharyn Howell executive director of the Division of Special Education at LA Unified, who oversees special education services for all district schools and most of its independent charters.

But the discrepancies are not due to screening, she said. And while she may have heard the accusation in the past, Howell said it has become a non-issue.

“Probably in the last two or three years I have not had a parent call me and say a charter school, I wanted to go there, and they discouraged me from coming. I used to get a lot of calls and emails like that, but I’m not getting them anymore,” she told LA School Report.

Because charter schools tend to be smaller and newer than district schools, they may not have had certain types of special education students before, which would tend to discourage more students with the same issues from enrolling, Howell said. But if any such students were to enroll, charters are required by law to provide them appropriate services. Continue reading

A busy day ahead for LAUSD board — test scores, early ed, textbooks

textbooksTwo committee meetings and a board meeting on the sufficiency of school textbooks will keep the LA Unified school board members busy tomorrow as they discuss the adequacy of textbooks, a detailed analysis of the recent state test scores and district plans to expand early education classes.

Two of the new school board members will chair their first committee meetings of the new school year.

The Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Equity Committee meets at 10 a.m. and will be run by new chairman Scott Schmerelson. The members will get a report from Cynthia Lim, executive director of the Office of Data and Accountability, analyzing the Smarter Balanced Assessment Scores. Lim’s report explains how the new test scores cannot fairly be compared to past scores and how LAUSD students in both charter and traditional schools fell below the state averages in meeting standards. However, in both math and English tests magnet schools at LAUSD scored better than the state average in all grades.

The Curriculum Committee also will receive a report about the district’s College and Career Readiness Plan presented by Linda Del Cueto, the chief of Professional Learning and Leadership Development.

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NEA endorses Clinton for Democratic presidential nomination

Washington Post logo

By Lyndsey Layton

The National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union, endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

“We recommended Hillary Clinton on the incredible and lengthy track record she has, that is just wrapped around children, working families and education, from preschool to graduate school,” NEA president Lily Eskelsen García said.

Seventy-five percent of the union’s 170-member board backed Clinton.

The nod from the NEA gives Clinton a much-needed boost, after the International Association of Firefighters earlier this week backed away from plans to endorse her.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Delayed test results frustrating parents, educators

Late parent notification of test results frustrates some educators
The California Department of Education said the delays were due in part to a desire to ship all the reports at once. EdSource, by Theresa Harrington 

Obama vs. teachers unions: It’s still on
Unions wanted Obama to fire Arne Duncan. They got John King instead. Politico, by Michael Grunwald

What Arne Duncan did to American education and whether it will last
During his tenure, one of the longest in President Barack Obama’s cabinet, Duncan made a deep mark on U.S. schools. Hechinger Report, by Ariana Skibell

When the incoming Education secretary met former gang members
On a hot day in August, John King arrived in Los Angeles to better understand gangs. LA Times, by Joy Resmovits

How much time should kids spend with screens?
The current recommendation is that parents monitor and limit their children’s screen time, but there’s no magic number. LA Times, by Jessica Roy

‘They don’t allow failure’: In custom classrooms, at-risk students thrive
At a NYC high school, a technique called blended learning replaces a portion of traditional face-to-face instruction with online learning. PBS, by Hari Sreevivasan

An LASR Poll: Tell us what months kids should be in school

OPINION.POLL_LA Unified is gathering public input on six different academic calendars it is considering for the years ahead. However, there have been technical glitches with its phone survey, and it isn’t clear when or if it will be completed.

The stories here at LA School Report about the calendar options have attracted a high level of interest from readers, perhaps because one option is somewhat radical and would limit summer break to four weeks and increase winter break to seven weeks.

With it being such a hot topic, we thought we would ask our readers directly: What months do you think kids should be in school? Take our poll and tell us.

Below are the options being considered. Each includes a one-week Thanksgiving break and a one-week spring break in April. Check back with us next week and we will announce the results.





The ‘reanimation’ of John Deasy, will the next superintendent be a native?

school report buzzUTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl released a 12-minute video on YouTube today in which he asks members to vote for a dues increase.

According to Caputo-Pearl, the union has not updated its dues structure since its inception 45 years ago, which now “literally threatens the future of UTLA.”

In the video, Caputo-Pearl points out that UTLA’s monthly fees are lower than other large teacher unions in the country and lower than most other teacher unions in the state.

The video also includes a humorous reference to former LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy, who resigned a year ago. Deasy and Caputo-Pearl locked horns frequently, but now Deasy is working at the Broad Center, and its affiliated Broad Foundation is currently developing a plan to expand charter schools in the district to include half of all students.

reanimator_1024x1024Caputo-Pearl claims in the video that UTLA has confirmed that Deasy is, in fact, the architect of the plan, which was outlined in a 48-page draft report. Caputo-Pearl calls this the “reanimation” of Deasy. Reanimation? Is that a reference to the 80s cult classic film, “Re-Animator“?

The film is about a doctor who discovers how to bring corpses back from the dead. Using the film as a metaphor, it certainly shows the ironic position Caputo-Pearl finds himself in. He helped chase Deasy out of the district, which he hailed as a “victory” for UTLA. But now Deasy is arguably in a much more powerful position as he allegedly orchestrates a plan that would wipe out half of the jobs of UTLA members.

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