Morning Read: LAUSD Buses Violate Safety Rules

LAUSD Bus Inspection Reports Show Major Safety Violations
While your children ride LAUSD buses, we obtained the most recent reports, finding fuel leaks, steering violations that could endanger students, and bad brakes. CBS LA


A Level Playing Field for Transgender Students
In February, the California Interscholastic Federation adopted a progressive policy, which takes effect in the fall, under which transgender students must be allowed to participate on sports teams of the gender they identify with rather than the teams of their physical gender — after a panel reviews each situation to determine that the athlete truly is transgender. LA Times Editorial


Why We Need to Reform Education Now
To improve our schools, we have to humanize them and make education personal to every student and teacher in the system. Education is always about relationships. HuffPo Opinion (TED Talks Education)


Bill Aims to Help Expelled and Truant Students Get Back on Track
The purpose of a complicated bill aimed at preventing students from languishing in alternative schools became much clearer after the testimony of a former student who got stuck in one. EdSource

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Morning Read: Garcetti, Greuel Debate Who’s Best for LA

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)


Burbank Teacher Suspended After Breaking State Standardized Testing Rules
At least one elementary school class has had their test scores invalidated, and the district’s ranking could be in jeopardy. NBC LA
See also: KPCC

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Morning Read: Progress for Bill Limiting Overuse of Suspensions

Bill Restricting ‘Willful Defiance’ for Suspending Students Moves Ahead
With new data showing that more than half of all suspensions and a quarter of expulsions in California schools are for “willful defiance” of school authorities, the Assembly Education Committee voted 6-0 on Wednesday to move forward a bill that would restrict the use of the vague category by school administrators. EdSource


School Boards Join Movement Against Out-of-School Suspensions
The National School Boards Association has labeled the use of out-of-school suspensions a “crisis” in a new report. EdWeek


Baldwin Park School District Wins #1 Spot in Closing the Achievement Gap
Recently we reported on two schools in the Baldwin Park school district that have unique programs: a high school that helps teenage parents stay in school, and an elementary school where teaching a dual language immersion program is yielding top results. KPCC


Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti Engage in Acrimonious Debate
Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti blasted one another with a torrent of allegations Wednesday night in the most acrimonious debate of the Los Angeles mayor’s race. LA Times

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District Silent As Charter School Dodges Audit

Monica Garcia, left, Marcos Aguilar, right, after Academia Semillas was renewed in April of 2012

Fresh off a controversial April 2012 renewal, the El Sereno charter school called Academia Semillas has refused to comply with an LAUSD audit, according to this December 2012 report by the Office of the Inspector General.

“Repeated attempts to obtain this information from the school were unsuccessful and the school chose to communicate to the OIG exclusively through its legal counsel,” states the report, which was ordered specifically for the school by the LAUSD charter school division.

Thus far, LAUSD has taken the somewhat unusual step of declining to comment on the situation.  However, California Charter School Association spokesperson Sierra Jenkins said charter schools should not be allowed to dodge audits*.

“Schools need to comply with audits,” said Jenkins. “Charter schools are public schools and should be transparent.”

Morning Read: Board Votes to Speed Dismissal Process

LAUSD Board Votes to Improve Abuse Investigations
With 278 Los Angeles Unified educators sitting in “teacher jail,” the school board voted Tuesday to streamline and improve the investigations of those accused of serious physical abuse or sexual misconduct. LA Daily News
See also: LA School Report, LA Times


L.A. Unified Board Ratifies ‘Parent-Trigger’ Partnership
The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday ratified a partnership between the school district and a charter school to take control of struggling 24th Street Elementary under a controversial parent-empowerment law. LA Times
See also: Color Lines, LA School Report


School Board Renews Contract for Ivy Academia Charter
The petition by Ivy Academia Entreprenurial Charter School was renewed with little discussion, less than two weeks after a jury convicted its founders of grand theft, embezzlement and other charges. LA Times
See also: LA School Report


L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa Challenges on Schools
Unions and other elements of the education establishment strongly backed Antonio Villaraigosa’s steps up the political ladder – until he became an advocate of charter schools, parental empowerment, modifying teacher seniority and tenure and other reforms that the establishment despises. Sac Bee Opinion

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Board Preview Update: Discipline, Misconduct, and Dismissals

The LAUSD Board, via LA Times

The agenda for today’s School Board meeting is packed with hot-topic resolutions, including a plan to streamline LAUSD’s teacher misconduct investigation process, a call to work with state legislators to pass a new teacher dismissal bill, and a plan to reduce student suspensions and discipline for “willful defiance” in LA schools.

These topics have received scads of media coverage and statehouse activity in recent months. LAUSD Board members have obviously been paying attention, and the media is getting behind their resolutions.

Board Member Tamar Galatzan penned an op-ed published Monday in the Huffington Post that explains the rationale behind her resolution to streamline investigations of teachers who have been accused of misconduct in the classroom.

And the LA Times published an editorial piece Tuesday morning urging the School Board to approve Board President Monica Garcia’s resolution that would update schools’ discipline policies across the district and cease the suspension of students for “willful defiance.”

Read on for more details on the resolutions up for vote at today’s School Board meeting.

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Morning Read: State Democrats Pass Anti-Reform Resolution

California Democrats Blast Efforts to Overhaul Schools
California Democrats on Sunday condemned efforts led by members of their own party to overhaul the nation’s schools, arguing that groups such as StudentsFirst and Democrats for Education Reform are fronts for Republicans and corporate interests. LA Times


L.A. School Reform Effort Draws Diverse Group of Wealthy Donors
Republicans, liberals, Hollywood notables and global corporate executives are among those who gave to the Coalition for School Reform. LA Times


LAUSD Chief John Deasy Draws Fire as He Pursues Aggressive Reform Plan
The reforms that Deasy enacted – and just how aggressively he’s pursued them – have put the fast-talking New Englander at the center of a heated debate over the future of the nation’s second-largest school district. LA Daily News


Interest in Teaching Continues to Drop in California
Interest in teaching is steadily dropping in California, with the number of educators earning a teaching credential dipping by 12% last year — marking the eighth straight annual decline. LA Times
See also: EdSource

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Morning Read: Greuel to Release Education Plan

Greuel to Release Education Plan
Greuel might have wanted her staff to do a little better advance work, because Garcetti is well liked at the school — Camino Nuevo Charter Academy — which he helped get a $700,000 grant to help build a new soccer field,” reports The Times. KPCC


Eric Garcetti Avoids Schoolyard Tussle With Wendy Greuel
On the heels of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calling on the two mayoral candidates to step up and communicate their education platforms during his State of the City address Tuesday night, Wendy Greuel stepped up with a challenge to Eric Garcetti. KPCC
See also: LA School Report, Annenberg News, LA Times


LAUSD Superintendent Fires Lemon Teachers
The speed with which Deasy moves and speaks is well documented. He brings an uncomfortable impatience to the LAUSD supe’s job as he moves to increase the types of schools available to students (known as School Choice), raise achievement on test scores and graduation rates, and require accountability from L.A.’s more than 20,000 tenured-for-life teachers. LA Weekly


Education Coalition Wants to Stay Course in L.A. Unified
A coalition of groups, including the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, has launched an effort to put education at the center of the mayoral race and civic attention. LA Times
See also: LA School Report


Operation Back in School Sweeps up Truant Kids
Operation Back in School, a multi-agency task force in the Harbor area Wednesday to sweep up truant kids who should be in school. No citations were issued in a friendlier approach to the problem that offered counseling for kids and parents. Daily Breeze


Parents Choose Unique School Takeover Model in ‘Trigger’ Vote
In the latest test of California’s controversial “parent trigger” law, South Los Angeles parents have voted to transform their struggling neighborhood school into a charter school hybrid beginning this fall, organizers announced Wednesday. Hechinger Report
See also: LA Times, LA School Report

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Morning Read: Parents Choose New Plan Today

24th Street Elementary Pulling Parent Trigger
The Parent Trigger at 24th Street Elementary School in West Adams keeps chugging along — despite what L.A. mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti thinks about it. LA Weekly
See also: San Bernardino Sun


New Analysis Bolsters Case Against Suspension, Researchers Say
The results of a new analysis of out-of-school-suspension data that show staggering rates of the punishment’s use at some schools are even more reason to rethink that common method of disciplining students, researchers said Monday. EdWeek
See also: KPCC, EdSource, Yahoo


LA Unified Off Track to Meet Deadline for College Prep Courses
Los Angeles Unified School District has some work ahead of it to meet its deadline for all students to pass college-preparatory classes in order to graduate. EdSource
See also: LA Daily News


California Federation of Teachers Lobbies Lawmakers
It’s lobby day for the California Federation of Teachers, which means members of the state’s second-biggest teachers union (after the California Teachers Association) are in Sacramento to petition lawmakers. Sac Bee

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Morning Read: Parents Weigh Trigger Options

Parents With Power Over L.A. School Weigh Their Options
About 50 parents on Thursday attended a presentation to help them decide who should run 24th Street Elementary School, a campus whose fate is in the hands of families who are trying to change the management of the school under the controversial parent trigger law. LA Times
See also: San Bernadino Sun, LA School Report


University Conference Hopes to Rally Southland Education Reformers
A TEDx conference at Loyola Marymount University on Saturday seeks to turn the traditional education conference on its head. Organizers believe that competing ideologies, little cooperation, and “finger-pointing” are keeping public schools in Los Angeles from improving. KPCC


U.S. Dept. of Ed. Protesters Turn Fierce Rhetoric on ‘Corporate’ Reform
As they kicked off four days of protests at the U.S. Department of Education, organizers of Occupy DOE 2.0 today used inflammatory—and, in one case, racially insulting—rhetoric to rally opposition against high-stakes testing, “corporate” education reform, and the “dismantling of public education.” EdWeek


Brown’s Funding Plan Faces Vigorous Review – and Speed Bump
The chair of the Assembly Education Committee turned Gov. Jerry Brown’s comprehensive plan for education finance reform into bill form Thursday, ensuring that all aspects will get an extensive review, while raising the possibility that the plan may not pass in time to take effect July 1, as the governor wants. EdSource

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Morning Read: Teacher Dismissal Plan Moving Ahead

Teacher Firing Bill Gains Momentum
Legislation that would make it easier to fire teachers accused of sex crimes against children and other serious offenses appears to stand a good chance of reaching Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk after similar measures repeatedly stalled through the years. SD Union-Tribune


Wendy Greuel Re-Starts Campaign With Aggressive Tone
On schools, Greuel said: “I will aggressively and creatively fight to ensure that every dollar is spent in the classroom. I will make sure that our neighborhood teachers, parents and principals are in charge – not downtown bureaucrats.” KPCC (See also LADN)


LAUSD Adds 400 Security Aides at Elementary Schools
Los Angeles Unified has hired more than 440 safety aides to provide security at local elementary schools, part of its plan to bolster campus safety in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, officials said Tuesday. LA Daily News
See also: CBS LA


NRA Report Sees Guns as Path to Safety in Schools
A National Rifle Association task force released a 225-page report on Tuesday that called for armed police officers, security guards or staff members in every American school, and urged states to loosen gun restrictions to allow trained teachers and administrators to carry weapons. NY Times
See also: LA Times, KPCC

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Morning Read: Symbolic Teacher Vote on Deasy

Teachers to Vote on ‘Confidence’ in L.A. Schools Supt. Deasy
Members of the L.A. teachers union begin casting ballots Tuesday in a symbolic confidence-vote referendum on L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy. LA Times
See also: LA School Report


CTA Goes Hollywood on Teacher Dismissal Bills
An adage in politics is that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Not so for the California Teachers Association, California’s most powerful political special interest. Their mantra seems to be more like, “If you can’t beat ‘em, just overtake ‘em.” OC Register Column
See also: SD Union-Tribune Editorial


What’s Really Scandalous About the School Testing Scandal
Even if we eliminate all the cheating, what remains is a broken system built on the dangerous misconception that testing is a proxy for actual teaching and learning. Time


What Will New Evaluation Systems Cost?
The cost of new teacher-evaluation systems is likely to vary based on how states and districts choose to establish student-growth measures for all teachers, according to an analysis from a researcher at the Value-Added Research Center. EdWeek

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Morning Read: Teachers Pass as Students Lag Behind

Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass
Across the country, education reformers and their allies in both parties have revamped the way teachers are graded, abandoning methods under which nearly everyone was deemed satisfactory, even when students were falling behind. NY Times


California’s Largest Teachers Union Now Backs Bill to Ease Firing
Districts have long complained that the process is cumbersome and expensive, but unions have stridently fought attempts to change it.  Union leaders say the new proposal would shorten the dismissal process in a way that still allows charges against teachers to be handled fairly. San Jose Mercury News


Want to Teach Better? New Study Says Use Your Hands
One key to more effective teaching could be as simple as talking with your hands, according to a new study from the University of Iowa and Michigan State University. KPCC


Final Count in L.A. Election Due Tuesday After Three-Week Delay
Three weeks after the Los Angeles primary election, the city will announce the final vote count Tuesday in races for mayor, City Council and other local offices. LA Times

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Morning Read: Teachers Unions Team Up Against Tenure Lawsuit

California’s Two Largest Teachers Unions File to Become Defendants on Vergara v. California
Lawyers for California’s two largest teachers unions filed a motion in L.A. County Superior Court on Wednesday to intervene as defendants in a lawsuit that would radically alter tenure for public school teachers. KPCC


Report: Cheating on Standardized Tests in 75 Percent of U.S. States
The National Center for Fair & Open Testing issued a report Thursday that tallies cases of cheating on standardized tests in 37 states across the country, including notable cases in Southern California. KPCC


SBE Allows Higher Student/Teacher Ratio for Online Charter Schools
California’s State Board of Education approved waiver requests this month increasing the pupil-to-teacher ratio for independent study students at several online charter schools. SI&A Cabinet Report


Michelle Rhee, ‘a Public School Parent’?
In the course of reporting a story about Michelle Rhee, the controversial former District of Columbia chancellor seeking to take her brand of education reform to statehouses across the country, the Los Angeles Times asked her spokeswoman a simple question: Do Rhee’s children attend public or private school? LA Times

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Morning Read: LA Teachers to Vote on Deasy, District Policies

LAUSD Teachers Set to Vote on Confidence in District, Union Policies
Los Angeles Unified’s 40,000 teachers will be polled next month on their confidence in Superintendent John Deasy and whether they want their union to ratchet up demands for higher pay, smaller classes and an end to many of the district’s reforms. LA Daily News


California Voters Split on Jerry Brown School Plans
Fifty percent agree with the governor’s proposal to give more funds to school districts that serve low-income children. A separate Brown plan to give local districts more funding control is favored by 59%. LA Times


LAUSD Salvages Summer School, but Classes Will Be Limited
Despite fears that Los Angeles Unified would have to cancel summer school this year, officials say they’ll be able to hold a limited number of credit-recovery classes at 16 high school campuses across the sprawling district. LA Daily News


State Educators Support LAUSD Waiver From No Child Left Behind Law
State education officials support efforts by Los Angeles Unified and eight other school districts to get a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law, but remain concerned about who would monitor a new accountability system. LA Daily News
See also: EdSource

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Morning Read: Teacher Dismissal Bill Gets New Champion

Sen. Padilla Drops His Teacher Dismissal Bill
Two days after Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, introduced a bill that would make it quicker and potentially cheaper to fire teachers, Sen. Alex Padillo, D-Los Angeles, has shelved his controversial version of a teacher dismissal bill and signed on as a principal co-author of hers. EdSource


L.A.’s Mayoral Rivals Walk Fine Line in Dealing With Labor
Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel are Democrats with long histories of supporting organized labor. But the competition for labor support has upended conventional thinking about the candidates. LA Times


L.A. Unified Officials Let Abuse Allegations Slide, Lawyers Say
Two high-level district employees heard but failed to act on accusations of sexual misconduct by an elementary school teacher, according to attorneys representing alleged victims. LA Times
See also: KPCC, KTLA


LA Unified School Board Blocks Current President From Another Term
The term limit may be the first sign that fewer members on the board of education may support the reform agenda. KPCC

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Morning Read: Decreased Pink Slips Statewide

Dramatic Dip in ‘Pink Slips’ Given to Teachers
Reports are still trickling in, but the number could be as low as 2,600 notices statewide – down 87 percent from the 20,000 “pink slips” issued last year and just a 10th of the 26,000 notices issued in 2010, the peak during the recession, according to the California Teachers Association, which tracks the numbers. EdSource
See also: HuffPo


Most State Board members Back Districts’ NCLB Waiver
A majority of State Board of Education members expressed strong support at their meeting Thursday for a consortium of districts’ unconventional request for a waiver from constraints of the federal No Child Left Behind law. EdSource


Aspire Surrenders Benefit Charter Status Under Settlement Terms
Aspire Charter Schools will surrender its statewide benefit charter status under terms of a settlement agreement reached today between the charter operator, the state board of education and the group of education advocates that brought the lawsuit. SI&A Cabinet Report

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Morning Read: Deasy in DC

Angelenos Storm Capitol Hill for Annual LA Chamber Lobbying Trip
This year’s Access LA group included Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, LAUSD school superintendent John Deasy, five city councilmen, and more than a hundred local business leaders. KPCC
Also: Deasy was at the Council of Great City Schools conference in DC earlier this week.


SBE, School Groups in Settlement Talks Over Statewide Benefit Charters
At issue is a section of the Education Code that gives a charter operator the right to submit a petition directly to the state board for approval of a charter school that operates at multiple sites throughout the state. SI&A Cabinet Report


Miramonte Family Presses Forward With Lawsuit Against LA Unified School District
Depression, anxiety and insomnia have become almost daily challenges, according to the mother of a student allegedly abused by a teacher while attending Miramonte Elementary School.  Her family is among the 71 not included in the settlements negotiated between 58 families and the Los Angeles Unified School District. NBC LA


SoCal Olympians Mentor LA Students to Encourage Fitness, Health
While Olympians fight for the gold medal at prestigious international events, California kids are working to pass their own mandated fitness tests at schools throughout the state. These two groups come together in a program called Ready, Set, Gold! KPCC

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Morning Read: LAUSD to Pay Millions Over Abuse Lawsuits

LAUSD to Pay Nearly $30M to Settle Miramonte Sex Abuse Lawsuits
Los Angeles Unified will pay nearly $30 million to settle claims by 58 children who say they were victims of former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt, the veteran educator charged with committing bizarre acts of sex abuse against students, attorneys said Tuesday. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times, KPCC, AP, LA Times Now Live


LAUSD Charters Would Lose Funding Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s Budget
Wilbur Elementary got $230,000 in state grants when it converted to a charter last fall. Now, administrators at Wilbur and other affiliated charters, nearly all of them in the San Fernando Valley, are struggling with the news that they stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants if lawmakers approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s new formula for funding public education. LA Daily News


L.A. Charter School Aims to Toss Out Students With Fake Addresses
Officials at Carpenter Community Charter, a top-notch elementary, think 120 children are enrolled fraudulently. They want to make room for students who live in the neighborhood. LA Times


Try a Different tack: Hold Teachers Responsible for Education Quality
The logic of the reformers seems to be that teachers unions are so wrongheaded, and the citizenry sufficiently tired of fights about seniority and teacher evaluation, that putting forward a slate of school board candidates is the way to change the balance of power in the school district and mute the pesky union.  But the strategy hasn’t worked. EdSource Opinion


Over-Praising Preschool
Obama wants the government to fund a free year of pre-kindergarten, but studies don’t back up his claims of long-term benefits. LA Times Opinion

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Charter Leaders to Gather in San Diego

More than 3,000 charter school leaders from across California — including many from LA — will gather in San Diego on Tuesday, March 12 for a three-day conference hosted by the California Charter Schools Association (CSSA).

Speakers at the conference include education advocate and StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee, CCSA President Jed Wallace, and Congressman George Miller.  TFA alum Brian Johnson is slated to MC the awards dinner. For full event details, click here.