Morning Read: Five States Have School Tax Votes

Schools Face Test From Voters
[This] is the largest number of education-tax initiatives to appear on state election ballots in two decades, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wall St. Journal (subscription required; via KPCC)

Fact Check: Obama Supports Smaller Classes in Public Schools
The president has publicly supported the concept of reducing the size of classes in the nation’s public schools. And he pointed out that Romney has not embraced the concept of small classes. LA Times 

Near L.A. Live, Parents Press for Downtown Charter School
Residents of South Park have submitted plans for Metro Charter to L.A. Unified. They say a school that their kids can walk to is too important to give up. LA Times

More Than 2 Dozen L.A. Unified Magnet Schools are Under-Enrolled
LAUSD magnet schools have long been considered prized programs, but more than two dozen of them are under-enrolled and actively looking to fill classroom seats. LA Times

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Morning Read: Ed Reform Group to Dissolve

Communities for Teaching Excellence, Los Angeles-Based Education Organization, Closing
A Los Angeles-based education advocacy organization backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will disband next month as a crowded field of reform groups compete for limited funding, officials said Thursday. The board of Communities for Teaching Excellence voted last week to dissolve, with a target date of Nov. 15, said Yolie Flores, who founded the group in 2010 and serves as its CEO. Daily News

Here’s the LA Times story.

Desert Trails Parents Choose Charter Operator, Next Step in ‘Parent Trigger’
With a low voter turnout Thursday, parents exercising a “parent trigger” option at the Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto selected a charter operator in nearby Hesperia to run their school starting next August. The selection of LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy, a small K-8 charter with an API of 911 – more than 200 points above Desert Trails’ score of 699 this year – marked the next stage in parents’ contentious and protracted exercise of California’s parent empowerment law. Ed Source 

Most Students Give More Healthful State School Menus Thumbs Up
Public school students, by a 3-to-1 margin, say meals have become better tasting under California’s new nutritional standards. For every three California public school students who think school meals are yummier than usual, there’s only one who thinks they’re worse, according to a new poll released Wednesday.  LA Times

The Quantified Student
A LAUSD teacher reflects on her past criticism of education reform’s push for standardized test data; her about-face; and her new belief in the role of standardized testing within education. HuffPo Opinion
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Morning Read: Proposition Countdown

How Will You Vote on California’s Propositions? Let’s Start With the Biggies, Props. 30 and 38
The future of California’s education system will be decided Nov. 6, when voters consider two dueling propositions that would raise taxes to support public schools. Daily News

Prop. 30 Inspires Voter Registration Drives Aimed at Students
Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hike measure is being touted as the only way to avoid tuition increases this year at California’s public universities. Some predict a higher-than-usual turnout.  LA Times

Some Readers Can’t Handle the Truth About Schools’ Precarious State
Steve Lopez fires back at angry commenters after he wrote about the necessity of Props 30 and / or 38. LA Times Opinion

Parent Trigger Group Wins Another Legal Battle
A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge has upheld a ruling that allowed the Desert Trails Parent Union to move forward with plans to convert the failing elementary school into a charter school. KPCC

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Parent Trigger Swirls Around LAUSD

The parents of Desert Trails Elementary, along with Parent Revolution, have filed a “Motion to Compel” the Adelanto School Board to comply with the judge’s order in the Desert Trails case. According to California law, parents of a failing school can, if they gather signatures of over half the parents, change their school’s management structure.You can read the latest complaint here.

In June, a Judge ruled that Desert Trails parents had, in fact, gathered the appropriate signatures. But two weeks ago, the Adelanto School Board voted, 3-1, to reject the parents’ request for a charter school, asserting that the parent signatures were no longer current or sufficient (see LA Times here).

There are a few preliminary parent trigger efforts underway in LAUSD, according to Parent Revolution.  Meanwhile the US Conference of Mayors has endorsed the parent trigger concept, and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is functioning as a surrogate for the Obama re-election campaign at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week.  Screenings of the parent trigger film “Won’t Back Down” are being hosted by Michelle Rhee’s advocacy group, StudentsFirst, at both conventions.

Morning Read: Teacher Evaluation & NCLB

Feds offer new details about NCLB waiver flexibility SI&A Cabinet Report: With the Legislature creeping closer to deciding the fate of AB 5 – which would restructure teacher evaluations in California – there’s new focus on the state also winning a federal waiver from No Child Left Behind mandates.

Hagman Blames Teachers’ Unions for Bill’s Failure Diamond Bar AOL Patch: Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, expressed disappointment and blamed unions that amendments to a Senate bill aimed at protecting students from abusive teachers did not pass out of the Assembly Education Committee.

Pension reform: top-paid administrators to take biggest hit Ed Source: The retirement age for new teachers will be pushed back two years; they’ll have to fork over about another 1 percent of their pay into the retirement system. And their bosses – principals and administrators ­– will see a ceiling of $132,120 as the portion of their pay used to calculate retirement pay. Those in the highest-paid jobs, earning $200,000 plus, may see pensions reduced by tens of thousands of dollars.

More On That Adelanto School Board Decision

As we mentioned earlier, the Adelanto school board voted, on friday night, to set up a “community advisory board” to reform the parent-trigger targeted Desert Trails Elementary, but to reject the petition for a charter.

“They decided they could thumb their nose at the court decision,” Parent Revolution spokesman David Phelps told me today.

Phelps also said that one board member, Jermaine Wright, showed up to the meeting with a pair of handcuffs, saying he would rather go to jail than comply with the judge’s order. Wright has yet to respond to my request for comment.

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Morning Read: The Powers That Be

• Adelanto parents lose charter school bid: On Friday, the Adelanto School Board rejected the petition by parents of Desert Trails Elementary (site of the recent parent trigger ruling) to convert their school into a charter, saying there wasn’t enough time to implement before the school year. The board voted, instead, to install a “community advisory council” composed of teachers, parents, administrators and community members. The council will supervise reforms and report directly to, you guessed it, the superintendent and the school board. Parent Revolution says the vote violates the judge’s recent ruling. LA Times

• California Teachers Association, a powerful force in Sacramento: The LA Times goes long on the power and influence of the CTA:

The union views itself as “the co-equal fourth branch of government,” said Oakland Democrat Don Perata, a former teacher who crossed swords with the group when he was state Senate leader.

The article is highly recommended. LA Times

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Morning Read: Less Money, More Problems

• LAUSD is cutting adult education offerings in half– and that’s the good news, since some were afraid that the program would be completely eliminated. “An agreement by LAUSD’s unions to take up to 10 unpaid days restored about $105 million for Adult Ed, enough to accommodate about 105,000 students.” Daily News

• LA School Police Chief Steven Zipperman (sounds like a Wes Anderson character) is “reassessing” LAUSD’s ticketing policies. In the last three years, Zipperman’s troops issued 34,000 tickets for things like cutting class, smoking cigarettes and fighting. KPCC

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Morning Reading: This Space for Sale

• A delightful piece by Barbara Jones profiles the latest scheme by LAUSD to make a little extra cash: selling advertising space on about 70 vans and delivery trucks. Actually seems like a pretty good idea, although it’s only earning $157,000– so far. Daily News

• A typically equivocating LA Times editorial praises the judge’s recent decision in the Desert Trails / parent trigger case, but says the parent trigger law “though an intriguing idea for improving problem schools, is the result of a thoughtlessly written law backed by inadequate regulations.”  LA TimesWill the trigger play a role in LAUSD in 2012-2013?  That’s what no one knows yet.

• Reform critic Diane Ravitch spoke with UTLA lawyer Jesus Quinones, who assured her, in all capital letters, that Stull Act compliance* is still subject to negotiations between the district and the union, despite the recently set December 4 deadline. Quinones is quoted saying that if no agreement is made, the argument will be taken to PERB– a claim I’m sure Scott Whitlin would disagree with. Diane Ravitch Blog 

*Check out my 2011 LA Weekly story to get a sense of what makes Stull such a big deal.