JUST IN: Ian McKellen, Hal Holbrook join video to support Esquith

In response to the “teacher jailing” of a beloved LA Unified teacher, Rafe Esquith, acclaimed actors Ian McKellen and Hal Holbrook joined past and present students in a You Tube video to offer their support for Esquith and to show how money spent from his after-school program, Hobart Shakespeareans, benefitted his students.

“It is our response to their request for 15 years of financial records of the Hobarth Shakespeareans,” said attorney Ben Meiselas, who is representing Esquith with Mark Geragos in a dispute with the district. The response was accompanied by a July 28 letter and signed by Geragos, questioning why an outside law firm hired by the district is delving into the school program that was paid for by donations and often by the teacher himself.

Geragos also questioned who hired the firm, Sedgwick, and under what authority is it investigating the financial history of Hobarth Shakespeareans.

In a letter to Sedwick lawyers, Geragos wrote:

“Your letter states that the scope of the investigation has changed, yet again, and is now focused on ‘Mr. Esquith’s compliance with government ethics laws in his actions with the Shakespeareans.’ Your July 20, 2015 letter to the Shakespeareans and your statements concerning Mr. Esquith constitute defamation of character per se. Please notify your legal malpractice carrier that we now intend to include the Sedgwick law firm as a defendant in our action against LAUSD for defamation of character and for aiding and abetting the tortious conduct and due process violations by LAUSD.”

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LA Unified board preparing first step toward hiring new superintendent

Superintendent Ray Cortines

The LA Unified board takes its first step in choosing a new superintendent, with a largely closed door meeting scheduled for tomorrow night.

It’s a baby step, with the seven-member board most likely deciding on the parameters and requirements for a head-hunting firm that will bring them the top names for the position.

While it’s a lofty job and a challenge for any search firm, given the complexities of LA Unified in terms of size, annual budget and classroom demands, there are a handful of companies that specialize in educators and school administrators, such as Korn Ferry Executive Recruitment and Talent Management based in Los Angeles, which was hired for two past superintendent searches.

This time the board is seeking a successor for Ramon Cortines (again), who stepped in after John Deasy left last year. Cortines, who was hired without a search firm, has said he wants to leave by the end of the year but might agree to stay until an ideal replacement is found.

The administrative position paid Deasy nearly $440,000 a year salary. That’s more than the governor makes, and about $100,000 more than the district is paying Cortines. This second-largest school district in the nation has about 644,000 students.

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23 new teachers win ‘rookie’ awards to see Dodgers play Angels

RookieOfTheYearThe Rookies of the Year have been chosen among the LAUSD new teachers, and 23 of them will be going to the Dodgers play the Angels Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

The winners were selected from among 920 first-year teachers last year, 87 of whom were nominated by school administrators and new teacher support staff. The winners were picked by a committee.

The winning rookies will watch the game from a private box provided by Security Benefit, with Superintendent Ramon Cortines joining them — who knew he was a baseball fan?

“Our teachers are the essence of our great schools by inspiring our young people,” Cortines said in a statement. “They give their students the strength and courage to learn and embrace lifelong learning. I hope our honorees will be with the LAUSD for many years to come.”

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CA charter schools association to LAUSD: ‘We’re not the problem’

California Charter Schools AssociationAfter contentious LAUSD school board elections in which the California Charter Schools Association was widely criticized for negative campaigning and accused of draining money from traditional district schools, the association pushed back today asserting that its opponents have mischaracterized the group as detrimental to district.

In a conference call with reporters, the association presented data that suggests charters continue to be a valuable option for LA-area parents seeking an alternative to traditional district schools for their children. The association built its case around data provided by the state Department of Education and other sources.

One of the biggest issues addressed was whether the steady loss of students to charter schools puts a drain on LA Unified’s traditional schools, in both numbers and money.

No, said association officials. The CCSA vice president of policy, Colin Miller, said charter school money does not come out of the district’s budget and up to 3 percent of charter schools revenues go back to the district for oversight costs.

“The decline in enrollment at LAUSD is not due to charter schools,” Miller said, alluding to one of the chief reasons district officials cite as a cause of the district’s budget deficit. In the past decade, LAUSD enrollment dropped by 194,251 students and charter school enrollment increased by 106,710 students, according to state figures. He said that leaves 87,541 students  — or 45 percent — of the decline that isn’t accounted for by charter school enrollment.

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Food experts from LAUSD, other big districts seeking more federal money

Laura Benevidez

Laura Benevidez

In a new position statement, a coalition of food professionals from the nation’s six largest school districts, including LA Unified, is asking for triple the amount of money now provided per school lunch by the USDA and allowing for more free meals as well as autonomy on how to serve them.

The Urban School Food Alliance, which also includes New York, Chicago, Miami, Orlando and Dallas, recently the team met with politicians from the Senate Agricultural Committee and the First Lady’s office to present their case.

“We are working with a combined total of more than three million meals, so what we have to say should have an impact with Congress,” said LAUSD’s representative Laura Benavidez.

The requests strongly suggested and advocated by the six largest school districts are:

  • Significantly invest in farm economies and children by increasing the USDA food dollars spent by school districts.
  • Expand non-congregate feeding opportunities to increase access to food.
  • Provide meals to children as part of their instructional day by implementing Free Meals for All service.

Each year the United States Department of Agriculture allocates money based on numbers of lunches served the prior year. Currently, the USDA gives almost 25 cents for every lunch served during the previous school year.

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LAUSD hoping to double supper programs for kids staying late

LAUSD-students-eating-lunch-e1411425345457To keep local children fed and ready for school the next day, LA Unified officials are hoping to expand the program that serves dinners to students who remain at school hours after the final bell.

Already 76,000 meals a day are provided around dinner time at 584 schools in the district’s After School Supper Program, usually for children who are not picked up until 6:30 or 7 p.m., said Laura Benavidez, Deputy Director of Food Services at LAUSD.

“We want to expand the number of sites and hope to double the number of meals we serve,” Benavidez told the LA School Report. “Sometimes, it will be the only meal the children will have until the next morning.”

Benavidez said the district estimates that more than 140,000 students stay after school in some capacity. Many remain for athletic programs or band practice, or they are part of after-school programs such as Beyond the Bell or LA’s Best. Those are the students whom LAUSD wants to offer meals to, under the guidelines of the national Healthy Hunger-Free Act, which sets healthy guidelines for school meals across the country.

The dinners are available for any child between the ages of 3 and 19.

“If a child is picked up at school, and there are siblings, they can have a meal, too,” Benavidez said.

The meals, according to federal guidelines, have a protein, fruit, grain and dairy component. The district is trying to figure out ways to make the meals more attractive to the students, mostly from low-income communities.

“We are focusing on freshly-prepared meals for our students, looking at salads and sandwiches that are prepared that day or just the day before,” Benavidez said. “Something easy, not heavy.”

Also, the extra federal money that comes from serving the meals at the schools can help pay for the cost of personnel in the after-school programs, Benavidez said.

 

Laid off ‘Reed’ teachers accusing LAUSD of exploiting a loophole

Reed v. State of CA

*UPDATED

More than three dozen teachers at some of LA Unified’s lower-performing schools say their contracts are not being renewed because of a loophole in settlement of Reed vs. California, a lawsuit that tried to curb high teacher turnover in some of the city’s most challenging schools.

The settlement, made in April 2014, was aimed at addressing inequalities at 37 LA Unified schools identified as those with high teacher turnover and student drop-out rates as well as low statewide test scores.

The loophole, some of the laid off teachers say, is that instead of signing probationary contracts last year, the custom for new teachers joining the district, the Reed school teachers were asked by the district to sign “temporary” employment contracts, which expired on June 30.

Without recognizing the difference, they later learned that the contracts were not being renewed, and the district plans to replace the teachers with displaced teachers from non-Reed schools. Displaced teachers are those who are moved out of their positions by virtue of shrinking student population.

In response to the assertions by the Reed teachers, the district says it neither violated “the letter nor the spirit” of the settlement, pointing to a recent ruling by an Administrative Law Judge who upheld the district’s decision to lay off 34 temporary teachers assigned to Reed schools because of “budgetary constraints.”

“The statutory provisions enacted by the California legislature generally prohibit the layoff of any permanent or probationary employee from a subject matter in which the District will be retaining temporary employees,” the district said in a statement to LA School Report.  “In compliance with State law, the District is releasing temporary employees. There is no mechanism in the Education Code to protect temporary teachers from layoff.”

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Boyle Heights school wins national award for technology

ThTheodoreRooseveltHigh boyle heightse Math, Science & Technology Magnet Academy at Theodore Roosevelt High School became the first school in the state to win national recognition for leveraging technology.

It is also the first time that a school with a predominantly Latino student body received the honor from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), according to Eastern Group Publications.

The school, one of 16 Partnership for LA Schools within LA Unified, won the Student Voices Award for integrating technology with their Service-Learning Project to explore community and civil rights. In their project, they used mapping technology and data-driven research to look at how public schools, gentrification, affordable housing and other factors were shaping the community. Then, they showed how the community’s needs can be met.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines issued a statement saying, “I continue to be awed by our future leaders and their exemplary success in mastering and integrating technology.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said, “Congratulations to the Math Science Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School for winning the Elise Brumback scholarship and integrating technology into each classroom so students will be prepared for college and 21st century careers.”

Parent petition results in new principal for Prescott elementary

Prescott

* UPDATED

A wave of angry complaints by parents of students at a small elementary school has succeeded in convincing LA Unified to replace a principal whom the parents described as unfit for the job.

The parents at Mid-City’s Prescott School of Enriched Sciences Magnet Elementary School, one of the district’s original four magnet schools, gathered 119 signatures in a petition from a school that has 250 students, 1st through 5th grades, and said they have been lobbying for help from LAUSD for more than a year.

As a result of their efforts, according to two parents who said they spoke directly to Superintendent Ramon Cortines, Gail Greer will no longer be the school’s principal.

LA Unified spokesperson Shannon Haber declined to comment on the change, saying, “all personnel matters are confidential.”  The Associated Administrators of LA, a union that represents principals, said as of yesterday the union had not been notified of a reassignment at the school.

Cheryl Hildreth the Educational Service Center West Superintendent, sent a message via ConnectEd to all parents at the school today, informing them that Greer will not be returning and that an interim principal will start the new year and will implement basic improvements. She also said that stakeholders will be involved in selecting the long-term principal.

LA School Report was unable to reach Greer. No one answered the phone at the school, and an email sent to her seeking comment went unanswered.

Because the school was not regarded as “failing,” parents could not implement a change through the state “parent trigger” law. As their next-best option, they began a petition drive and pressed the district on their own to force a change.

“I got a call from Superintendent Cortines himself, and he said there would be a new principal at the school,” said the school’s PTA president Lestan D’Souza. “It is not necessarily the outcome that we wanted, because we don’t want to have another principal who won’t listen to us. But, we want to change the way things are happening at the school. He told us that he cares about what the parents think.”

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LA Unified launching new campaign aimed at sexting education

sextingIn a campaign that may be the most ambitious in the state, if not the country, LAUSD is gearing up to launch an anti-sexting campaign for students, teachers and parents.

The launch is scheduled for early in the new school year in all middle and high schools, said Judy Chiasson, the district’s program coordinator for School Operations, Human Relations, Diversity & Equity.

“We monitor what are the emerging trends and what affects the schools, and we determined we need to focus on this issue as a standalone spotlight,” said Chiasson, who noted that the sexting issue has already been a part of the bullying prevention and safety campaign for many years. Now, she said, schools need to focus more attention on the issue.

Before launching the educational campaign to the schools, the program coordinators intend to consult with focus groups of parents, teachers, police and social service experts to make sure the message is appropriate, Chiasson said.

The anti-sexting campaign did not necessarily crop up from the Venice High School incident earlier this year when 15 boys were arrested on suspicion of sexually harassing two girls. Ultimately, prosecutors declined to file charges, and the ACLU suggested education instead of punishment at the school level.

“We have been planning something like this for a long time,” said Chiasson, who is working on the sexting education with Holly Priebe-Diaz, the intervention coordinator who is leading the campaign.

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LAUSD going GLOBE-al with drought education program

image_galleryLA Unified students and teachers this week are helping educate scientists and instructors from 34 countries, with a focus on how they are handling California’s water crisis.

The GLOBE Program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a federal effort aimed at expanding the understanding of global environment to a worldwide audience. As part of its 19th annual conference, now underway at the Universal Sheraton, GLOBE is joining with the district to teach instructors about southern California’s persistent drought and how to mitigate its impact. The curriculum includes explaining how to work with moisture in the ground and how to engage students in learning about the drought.

As an example, children and teachers from Hamlin Charter Academy in West Hills and Gault Street Elementary in Van Nuys will be showing other schools their WaterBuddy Curricula, a training and awareness program geared for teachers, parents and children to inspire a love of English and a fondness for new water words. It helps with English learning and science and math, leading to hands-on drought-tolerant school gardens and butterfly habitats.

There is also instruction for how to save trees on the school grounds and revamp school gardens to use less water.

According to GLOBE, “In LA and the San Fernando valley, low to moderate income children and struggling students are able to join other children in many countries through GLOBE’s Star measurements and either catch up, or join others in wondering about the future and choose to involve themselves in new outcomes at school, at home or along the LA watershed.”

Students actually help provide data for worldwide study.

Henry Ortiz, the LAUSD district GLOBE partner, is hosting the event along with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, UCLA, USC, California Science Center and Raytheon.

To speed up probes, LAUSD has doubled investigation team

miramonte schoolThe staff that investigates allegations against residents of LA Unified’s “teacher jail” has doubled since the team started last year, with the aim of clearing cases faster.

The Student Safety Investigation Team (SSIT) now has 15 members, including six full-time investigators, four LA school police, two forensic specialists and one supervising investigator. The team is directed by Jose Cantu, who has worked at LAUSD for more than 30 years, including 14 years as a principal at Eastman Avenue Elementary School.

“This is unique for a team like this in any school district in the United States,” said district spokeswoman Shannon Haber.

The backgrounds of the staff working on the SSIT reflect expertise in police policies and investigative education.

One of the investigators is formerly from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department. Three investigators once worked for the Los Angeles Police Department.

One of the investigators has had FBI experience and one is from the Department of Social Services.

The SSIT investigates employee misconduct against students while the subject of the investigation, a teacher or staff member, is moved from the classroom to “jail.” The team responds to complaints from a variety of sources, such as students, a fellow teacher or a parent. If an investigation produces evidence of criminal misconduct, the SSIT will take it to the proper authorities.

As of July 1, SSIT members were investigating 174 district employees, most of them teachers. The total includes 65 accused of questionable sexual abuse or harassment while the rest face accusations on a variety of other issues, including 55, who have been cited for acts of violence.

The total reflects 151 certificated employees and 23 classified, such as teacher assistants, library aides, janitors and other support staff.

Most in LAUSD ‘jail’ facing charges of sexual misconduct, violence

teacher jailDespite persistent concerns about teachers sexually harassing or abusing students in the classroom, only slightly more than a third of the teachers and other school personnel currently in LA Unified’s so-called “teacher jail” have been accused of sexual misconduct, according to the district’s latest accounting.

Almost the same number are facing accusations of “violence.”

As of July 1, a total of 174 district employees, the vast majority of them teachers, have been taken out of classrooms, awaiting the results of an investigation into charges. The total includes 65 accused of questionable sexual abuse or harassment, about 37 percent, while the rest face accusations on a variety of other issues, including 55 (or 32 percent) who have been cited for violent acts.

The total reflects 151 certificated employees and 23 classified, such as teacher assistants, library aides, janitors and other support staff.

The list, made available to LA School Report, is the first comprehensive breakdown of misconduct allegations being investigated by the district’s Student Safety Investigative Team (SSIT). And while it suggests that large numbers of personnel are still being taken out classrooms and schools for the goal of protecting students, it also shows that the district is making progress on clearing cases at a faster pace than in years past.

The district said today that the number of housed district employees reached a peak on April 9, 2013, with 322 teachers who were removed from classrooms.

“The district continues to deal with the housed teachers situation as quickly as possible, and they have expanded the staff and the scope for the investigations,” said Shannon Haber, the LAUSD district spokeswoman. “As of July 1, the SSIT is investigating all sexual and nonsexual allegations which have resulted in the teachers being reassigned.”

In a statement, UTLA said: “The ‘teacher jail’ system that ballooned under former Superintendent John Deasy was broken. In our new collective bargaining agreement with LAUSD, important changes were made that protect both students and due process rights of educators.”

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‘Sound Body’ helping LA Unified students pass state fitness tests

A charitable physical education program that is in nearly 100 LAUSD middle and high schools has led to dramatic increases in student performances in state fitness tests, according to a UCLA study released today.

The UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind program offers grants for commercial-grade fitness equipment to under-resourced schools and offers a curriculum that includes nutrition education, exercise and physical education.

The use of the program has produced remarkable increases in passing rates of the state Fitnessgram test. Before the program was used, schools showed a 20 percent pass rate, but after using the equipment and program for eight weeks, the pass rate jumped to an average of 60 percent.

At the Alliance Alice M. Baxter College-Ready High School, a public charter school in San Pedro, the program resulted in 82 percent of students passing the Fitnessgram test, compared with 37 percent of an earlier group.

At East Valley High School, principal Carrie Allen said, “It’s hard to give a number of the people that will be impacted going forward. It’s not just education, but it involves nutrition and a decline in obesity.”

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A closer look at the Mark Twain quote that led to ‘teacher jail’

Rafe Equith

Rafe Esquith

Just what was it that landed Rafe Esquith, a nationally-renowned teacher, in LA Unified’s “teacher jail”?

A line from Mark Twain, his lawyer said in a letter to the district.

Esquith’s lawyer, Ben Meiselas, told the district no parent had complained, nor had a student complained. LAUSD officials, ever more sensitive to classroom issues and protections of students since the Miramonte case, have not commented on all the allegations.

Yet now, Esquith finds himself in hot water, now facing questions that go well beyond why he found a passage in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” so amusing.

It apparently started when a technology coordinator who was in his Hobart Elementary School classroom on March 19 thought that what he said may have been a bit too much for his fifth graders, according to a chronology of events in the letter. She told the principal, Jonathan Paek. When he confronted Esquith, the teacher said the quote should be taken in the literary context that it was made.

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Esquith probe now centers on nonprofit Hobart Shakespeareans

IanMcKellenShakespearean

Ian McKellen visits Hobart Shakespeareans

The LA Unified investigation of popular teacher Rafe Esquith is now focusing on the nonprofit theater group he founded in 1989, The Hobart Shakespeareans.

“It looks like the bizarre accusations of abuse have been forgotten, and now they’re moving on a request to see 15 years of financial records for the Shakespearean group,” said Ben Meiselas, of Geragos & Geragos, who is representing the teacher, and referred to the continuing investigation as a fishing expedition to try to find something wrong with his client.

Esquith faces unspecific allegations of saying something inappropriate about nudity in a classroom while quoting from Mark Twain. He was removed from the classroom on April 13 and told to report to a district administrative office — often referred to as “teacher jail” — while an investigation was pending.

The district has declined to comment because the investigation is on-going.

The initial investigation grew to include an accusation of sexual abuse 40 years ago, which the teacher denies. Now, the investigation is turning toward Esquith’s nonprofit group which is independent from LAUSD and is run by an independent board of directors. Esquith gets no salary from the Shakespeareans, and in fact donates thousands of dollars of his own money to the group, which was started because of cuts in the arts by LAUSD.

The group teaches students how to perform Shakespeare plays, and has been profiled by CBS, Time, Washington Post, PBS and other national media outlets.

The recent request for documentation came from Scheper Kim & Harris, a law firm outside of LAUSD.

“These investigations become self-fulfilling prophecies,” Meiselas said. “This is a program that has changed people’s lives.” Continue reading

Petition to change name of Griffith MS heading to LAUSD board

Movie poster advertises 'The Birth of a Nation,' directed by D.W. Griffith and illustrating a Ku Klux Klan member on horseback, 1915. Based on the novel 'The Clansman' by Thomas Dixon. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

Movie poster of ‘The Birth of a Nation.”

As the Confederate flag came down from the South Carolina State Capitol today, LAUSD teacher Jose Lara continued to drum up support for a petition to change the name of the David Wark Griffith Middle School because the director’s film “The Birth of a Nation” is racist, according to Lara.

“I have been extremely pleased with the way the word has gotten out, people are really angry,” Lara told the LA School Report. He hit the goal of 200 signatures in less than two days and now is shooting for 500 petition signers. “The school board knows about it by now.”

The next step, Lara said, is to take the petition to District 2 board member  Mónica García, who represents the east Los Angeles school. For a change to occur, a majority of the seven board members would have to approve a resolution. As of today, Garcia has said nothing publicly about the situation nor did her office return messages, seeking comment. Further, none of the public officials or state legislators who have the school in their district responded to requests for comment.

Lara said he was thrilled about a bill being proposed at the state level that would ban state and local properties after Confederate leaders. Two schools named after Robert E. Lee would have their names changed within two years.

“That doesn’t affect D.W. Griffith school, which is named after a racist,” Lara said.

Griffith’s 1915 Civil War epic, which was based on a book called “The Clansman,” was protested as racist at the time of its release.

“It’s 2015, and children shouldn’t to a school named after someone who spread this racist propaganda,” Lara said. “It’s a place for education. To have a name like this on a school in this community is a contradiction.”

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As new AALA president, Flecha eyes benefits of stronger economy

Juan Flecha, president of AALA

Taking over as new president of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA), Juan Flecha says the time has come to take advantage of an improving economy and restore support staff and janitors at LA Unified schools.

In an interview with LA School Report, Flecha outlined plans he has for the 3,000 certificated and classified administrators he now leads after assuming the presidency on July 1. Foremost among his goals, he said, is restoring staffing levels to the same level they were before drastic budget cuts made during the past recession.

“I know that all of my administrators are hard working, but I want to improve the working conditions for all my principals,” he said. “There is an upturn in the economy so we can do it.”

Flecha served as principal for Eagle Rock High School and Thomas Jefferson High School before he took over as Administrator of Operations in Educational Service Center North, which covered 200 schools K-12 from Verdugo Hills to Woodland Hills.

SInce he was elected to AALA’s presidency in March, Flecha has been meeting every Wednesday morning his predecessor, Judith Perez, who had been with LA Unified for 46 years. She has agreed to work at least two days a week in his office despite her retirement.

“Dr. Perez has been incredibly collaborative and will ease the transition,” he said.

And that transition, he said, is moving toward well-defined goals. For example, he cited a successful tiny elementary school in the San Fernando Valley that has a principal aided by only one four-hour administrative assistant. The principal still has to fill out all the same paperwork that a larger high school must complete, but she answers the front office phone if the staff person is away.

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Petition calls for Griffith Middle School name change over racism

GriffithBirthofaNation

A scene from “The Birth of a Nation”

A petition inspired by UTLA social justice activist Jose Lara is calling for the immediate removal of the name D.W. Griffith from an East Los Angeles middle school because his 1915 film, “The Birth of a Nation,” celebrated the Ku Klux Klan.

The demand follows nationwide calls for the removal of Confederate flags from public spaces in the aftermath of the June 17 shootings of nine people in a Charleston, S.C. church by a suspect who said he was motivated by racism.

“After a Klansman murdered nine people in South Carolina, this should be a no brainer,” Marian Sunde wrote when she signed the petition. “Don’t stall, study the question, worry about backlash, just do the obvious, correct thing.”

David Wark Griffith Middle School, at 4765 E. 4th St., has 1,400 students 6th through 8th grade. One percent of the students are white, one percent are black, and 98 percent are Hispanic. It is in Mónica García‘s District 2. The school opened in 1939.

Lara was recently named the 2015 Social Justice Activist of the Year by the National Education Association (NEA). He said the idea for a petition came after he read an NPR story about Griffith’s film, which made Klansmen look like heroes.

The three-hour film starts with the scroll: “This is an historical presentation of the Civil War and Reconstruction Period, and is not meant to reflect on any race or people of today.” The film was originally called “The Clansman” and is based on a book that glorified the KKK.

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Report from charter group suggests English learners do better at charters

ELreportEnglish learner students are performing better in charter schools than in traditional schools, according to a new report released by the California Charter Schools Association.

The report, “Success for English Learners in Charter Schools,” found that throughout the state, independent charter schools are serving nearly 2 percent more English learner (EL) students than traditional schools.

And, in LAUSD, autonomous charter schools serve 1 percent more EL students than traditional schools do, according to the report.

“There is a misconception that the charter schools are not serving the hardest to reach students, particularly in urban communities, and this report shows that’s not true,” said Jason Mandell, spokesman for the charter association. “This shows that the California charters are serving the EL community better.”

Scores analyzed included those from the Academic Performance Index (API), Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAO) and the California English Language Development Test (CELDT).

Francisco Rodriguez, vice president of the California Federation of Teachers and member of the English Language Learners Committee, said it is not surprising that some EL scores are better at charter schools, but he also points to increasingly higher scores of EL students at independent schools.

“It is not a surprise that a charter school that comes into a community specifically helps English language learners and the results of their scores are a little higher,” said Rodriguez, who works in Watsonville and Pajaro Valley in Santa Cruz County, where schools are 80 to 90 percent Hispanic with up to 24 percent EL students. He said that some of the report’s findings do not comport with what he has discovered in his community.

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