Events: Board Member Martinez to Talk About Props

LAUSD Board Member Nury Martinez

LAUSD Board Member Nury Martinez is hosting a town hall meeting in the San Fernando Valley on Saturday, October 27 to educate parents and community members about how propositions on the upcoming election ballot will affect LA schools.

Martinez will speak along with LAUSD’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Megan Reillyhas, about the drastic budget cuts that will be triggered if prop 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure, doesn’t pass on November 6.

Representatives for props 30, 32, and 38 will also speak and take questions from parents about the impact of their props on LAUSD.

The workshop will be held at Valley Region Middle School #3 in Sun Valley from 10 a.m. to noon.

Find the full event details here.

Morning Read: Prop. 30 Losing Support

Support Plunges for Prop. 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Tax Initiative
Only 46% of registered voters now support Prop. 30, a drop of 9 percentage points over the last month, and 42% oppose it. LA Times

See also Ed Source

Molly Munger’s Prop. 38 Is Spoiling Jerry Brown’s Prop. 30. She’s Not Sorry.
Both proposals could fail, leaving Brown and the Legislature to grapple with huge budget cuts they’ve threatened to make to schools and other government programs. LA Weekly

L.A. Schools Chief Urges Union Cooperation on Federal Funds
The union fears the grant won’t cover all the costs of implementing the district’s proposal. LA Times

See also LA Daily News and Ama Nyamekye’s editorial in the Huffington Post

LAUSD Loses Appeal in Settlement of Teacher-Layoff Lawsuit
The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to overturn an appellate court ruling invalidating a landmark settlement that would have exempted dozens of struggling Los Angeles Unified schools from seniority-based layoffs. Daily News

Innovation at L.A. and Long Beach School Districts May Pave Way for Others
The innovative actions by eight school districts — including LAUSD and LBUSD — who have come together to form a consortium that plans to seek federal funds to be targeted toward students is encouraging. Daily News (editorial)

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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: LA Times Sues for Teacher Ratings

Times Sues LAUSD for Info on Teachers
The Los Angeles Times claims Los Angeles Unified School District is violating public records law by refusing to release records tying teachers, by name, to the expected and actual test scores of their students. Courthouse News Service

LA Schools to ‘Shake It Up’ With the Rest of California
As millions of Californians participate in the “Great California ShakeOut” Thursday, so will students at L.A. Unified. The district uses the day for an annual full-scale emergency drill and an opportunity to teach kids about earthquakes. KPCC

L.A. Unified Partners With Gay Advocates to End Bullying
The initiative, called Project SPIN, seeks to help gay, lesbian and transgender students deal with bullies, and more broadly, to change the district’s culture. LA Times

T.V. Camera Crews to Join Football Players for East L.A. Classic
Next week, the 78th East L.A. Classic between the Roosevelt Roughriders of Boyle Heights and the Garfield Bulldogs of East Los Angeles will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable-the first live broadcast in more than 20 years.  Not everyone, however, has been thrilled with the idea of watching the East L.A. Classic on T.V. Eastsider 

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Comparing Education Tax Measures

Ed Source has an excellent, 8-part infographic comparing Propositions 30 and 38, the competing ballot measures that would temporarily raise taxes to fund public education in California.

As you may recall, Proposition 38, sponsored by the well-to-do Molly Munger, would raise a bit more money than Prop 30, sponsored by Governor Jerry Brown, but wouldn’t avoid “trigger cuts” set up by Brown, which target public education.

Both measures are uncertain to win enough popular support (see: Proposition 30 support dips below 50%, survey finds). The “No on 30” campaign has received more than $32 million, much of it coming from Molly Munger’s libertarian brother, Charles Jr. And it recently got an extra infusion of cash from what the Sacramento Bee calls “a shadowy Phoenix-based group” called Americans for Responsible Leadership (see: Mystery Arizona group sends $11 million to fight unions, Gov. Jerry Brown).

Morning Read: Get Out The Vote

Gov. Brown Urges UCLA Students to Support Prop. 30
Gov. Jerry Brown brought his campaign for the Proposition 30 tax measure to UCLA on Tuesday, urging students at a rally there to vote for it or risk facing a substantial tuition increase. LA Times 

LAUSD Urges Students, Community Members to Vote
Like public school educators throughout the state, L.A. Unified officials and board members are urging students, parents and concerned adults to vote in next month’s election and are working to inform them about Propositions 30 and 38. KPCC

Labor’s Big-Money Focus on Prop. 32 May Hurt Chances of Prop. 30
Unions say their political survival hinges on defeating Proposition 32, leaving less financial backing for labor ally Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30. LA Times 

Fact check: Romney Takes Credit For Education in Massachusetts
Mitt Romney, in an extended response to a question about assault weapons during his debate with President Obama, said, “We were able to drive our schools to be No. 1 in the nation.” As in the past, the former Massachusetts governor took credit for education achievement in the state. LA Times

Obama Makes Education a Presidential Debate Subject While Discussing Gun Violence
In perhaps the biggest pivot of the presidential debate Tuesday night, President Barack Obama turned a question about gun violence into an answer about education. The twist is especially notable in a campaign year when schools have gotten little play. HuffPo

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Mike Antonucci: Follow the Money

You’ve probably never heard of Mike Antonucci, but you might be glad — or angry — that there’s someone like him around. Described by Education Week as “the nation’s leading observer — and critic — of the two national teachers’ unions and their affiliates,” Antonucci writes an insider blog called Education Intelligence Agency that tracks teachers union revenues, membership, campaign spending, and the occasional scandal.

On the strength of his research, he’s been published in the Wall Street JournalEducation Next, and quoted as an expert in a long list of mainstream publications.  (Even when he’s not quoted by name, you can be reasonably sure that a reporter writing about union spending spent heaps of time talking to Antonucci.)

Not surprisingly, what Antonucci has to say isn’t always uplifting:  “At the rate we are going, California will soon consist solely of public employee unions, politicians, industries that service ballot initiative campaigns, and Disneyland,” he wrote in a recent blog post (see California Unions Hate All Hedge Fund Managers… Almost).

Read below for some of Antonucci’s thoughts about how to track union (and others’) spending on campaigns and candidates, and whether LA’s relatively stringent disclosure rules really capture the full extent of what’s being spent to help union candidates win elections.  Spoiler alert — he doesn’t.

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Morning Read: Proposition Détente

Munger Pulls TV Ad Critical of Governor’s Prop 30
The wealthy activist behind Proposition 38 says her campaign is taking down its television ad that sought to portray Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 as a bad choice for voters interested in protecting K-12 education. News10

New Lottery Forecast Adds Badly Needed Dollars to Schools
State lottery sales could reach close to $5 billion during the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to an updated forecast from the California Department of Education. As a result, the CDE is increasing its projection for what schools can expect to receive in lottery support in the coming year from $150 per unit of average daily attendance to $154 per ADA. SI&A Cabinet Report

Education and the 2012 Election: A Strategist’s Analysis
Tami Abdollah interviews Democratic strategist Darry Sragow about education’s role in the 2012 election. KPCC

Prop. 30’s Big Donors Include Big Companies
The lion’s share of campaign donations for Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-raising Proposition 30 has come from public employee unions, but the effort also has the backing of many businesses, some of which do not appear to have a direct connection to the initiative. SF Gate (via Barbara Jones)
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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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Morning Read: Scrutinizing the Scores

L.A. Schools Improve by State Standards, Not Enough by U.S. Yardstick
Just like across California, campuses are at their highest-achieving level yet, but they aren’t keeping pace with rapidly rising federal targets. LA Times

Also see stories from the Daily News, Ed SourceCity News ServiceSI&A Cabinet Report

The Times also reports that two L.A. schools this year were stripped of an API score because of mistakes or misconduct by a teacher.

Overusing Test for Special Ed Students Inflates API Scores
A deeper look at the results shows not only inflation contributing to the gains but also a substantial policy shift toward lower expectations for special education students in California. Ed Source

California’s New School Budget Math
Add 30 and 38, and what do you get? In California, the answer is zero. The ballot propositions are on the verge of cancelling out each other to produce a big, fat zero. Prop Zero

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Brown-Munger Feud Worries Ed Advocates

Yesterday we explained the unfortunate rift between ideological allies Jerry Brown and Molly Munger over Propositions 30 and 38, ballot initiatives that would increase education funding (Competing Ballot Initiatives Split Ideological Allies). Today’s news is that the conflict continues to heat up — and may only get worse between now and Election Day.

Late yesterday afternoon, the LA Times reported that the California State Superintendent of Education was calling on Munger to ease up on her criticism of Brown’s Prop. 30 (Schools chief urges Molly Munger to drop negative ads). Since then, the San Jose Mercury News has fact-checked Molly Munger’s attack ad against Prop. 30  and found it wanting (Anti-Prop. 30 ad is misleading because it implies it won’t help schools). The SF Gate has reported a  rift between Munger and her main ally, the state PTA (Trouble brewing between Munger, PTA). Last but not least, a parent advocate writing at EdSource called on Brown and Munger to get their act together lest voters become confused and neither ballot measure passes (A parent’s plea).

Brown’s Prop. 30 is polling ahead of Munger’s initiative, and if both initiatives won voter approval the one with higher approval would prevail.  But obviously Prop. 30’s backers are worried.

Competing Ballot Initiatives Split Ideological Allies

In recent weeks, Superintendent John Deasy has been warning about the dire circumstances confronting LAUSD if voters don’t approve one of the two measures to raise money for public education on the ballot in November.   However, even if Governor Jerry Brown’s Prop. 30 and Molly Munger’s Prop. 38 both pass, only the top vote-getter will become law, setting them in direct competition.

The competition between the two is getting ugly.  A few days ago, Munger appeared on NBC News to call Governor Brown’s advertisements “utterly deceptive.” She’s then released an ad bashing Prop. 30, something that Democrats have been afraid of (for more, see John Fensterwald’s post at Ed Source). Prop. 30 is slightly ahead in the polls and seems the more likely of the two to pass.

Morning Read: District Budget In Peril

Deasy: LAUSD’s Future Rests With Voters
Los Angeles Unified is making significant progress in improving its academic achievement and graduation rates, but future gains will be in peril if voters reject a statewide tax hike to fund public schools, Superintendent John Deasy said Monday. Daily News

TV News covered the speech as well, including CBSABC, and KTLA Channel 5:

Campaign Launched To Promote Arts Education In L.A. Unified
The campaign, called “Arts Matter,” consists of messages on “hundreds of billboards, bus shelters, wall postings, mall media and bulletins,” according to organizers. Those signed up to tweet encouraging messages include singer Justin Bieber and entertainer/producer Ryan Seacrest. LA Times

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Video: Parents Urge Funding Increase

There are some fun parts to this novelty video put together by some filmmaker parents at LAUSD’s Aldama Elementary, including the chorus (“Our budget’s been cut, school’s hitting the skids, We’re coming for you, and we’re bringing our kids.”)

Obviously, these parents want voters to support increased funding for schools proposed in some of next month’s propositions.  Click here to watch it again or read the lyrics.

Morning Read: Teachers Ponder Propositions

Should California’s Teachers Vote With The Governor?
Nearly half a million of California’s voters are teachers. Like other voters, they will soon have to decide how to mark their November ballots. They will certainly scratch their heads over Propositions 30 and 38, competing measures that would ease the damage of four years of steady budget cuts. Ed Source

California School Funding Formula Not Easy To Change
Columnist Dan Walters writes about how a plan “to streamline state aid and shift more money to low-performing schools with large numbers of students who are poor or ‘English learners,'” met its untimely end. Sac Bee

Heatwave Leaves Southland Residents Weary
By the end of the school days, technicians had responded to calls for air-conditioning service at 65 San Fernando Valley campuses, about 20 percent more than usual, Los Angeles Unified School District Deputy Maintenance Director Robert Laughton said. San Bernardino Sun

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Tomorrow’s School Board Events

The board

Tomorrow morning at 10 am, the Board of Education’s Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee will meet (see agenda here).

According to LAUSD spokesman Tom Waldman, one of the issues to be discussed tomorrow is propositions 30 and 38, and what effect they will have on the district should they pass or fail. Both propositions are tax increases aimed at raising money for public schools.

After a closed session to discuss ongoing lawsuits, the full school board will meet at 4 PM for what’s called a Williams Sufficiency Hearing (agenda here). The annual meeting is mandated by state law in response to a lawsuit, which concerns the adequate distribution of textbooks and other instructional materials in the classroom.

Education-Related Ballot Measures: An Update

A new Los Angeles Times / USC poll shows support for Governor Jerry Brown’s Prop 30 ballot initiative – which would temporarily raise income tax on high earners – has slipped to 54%, down 10 points from March. Despite the erosion, Democratic voters still overwhelmingly favor it, 69-20%.  Meanwhile, Molly Munger’s competing tax measure, Prop 38, has the support of only 34% of voters.

This seems a good time for an update on the three initiatives that will have the biggest impact on LAUSD and public education in California: Propositions 30, 32 and 38. The expenditure data is from a nice interactive feature on the Los Angeles Times website.

Proposition 30
The initiative, being pushed by Governor Jerry Brown, would temporarily raise income taxes on those making more than $250,000 (for seven years) and increase the sales tax by a quarter of a cent (for four years). The money would allow the state to avoid automatic “trigger cuts” – which were designed by Brown himself – that would fall mostly on public education, to the tune of $6 billion. Detractors say this measure won’t result in more money for schools.

Money raised in support: $39.8 million
Money raised against: $1.1 million
Biggest donor in support: California Teachers Association, $6.1 million
Biggest donor against: Charles B. Johnson, $200,000

Brown has worked hard to raise money to support the measure, but will it be enough to get it to the finish line?

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Morning Read: Prop. 38 Debate Heats Up

Leg Analyst: Prop. 38 Won’t Stop $6 Billion in Trigger Cuts to Schools CTA Blog: During a September 24 hearing, a member of the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office’s team told members of the Assembly Budget Committee that Proposition 38 would not prevent $6 billion in automatic or trigger cuts to public education in 2011-2012.

TV ads for Prop. 38 start airing SF Chronicle: The 30-second spot hits on the themes that proponents have pushed so far and includes a barely subtle jab at Brown’s measure.

Seeking Allies, Teachers’ Unions Court G.O.P., Too NYT: While donations to Democrats still far outweigh contributions to Republicans, the proportion of union money going to Republican candidates this year, just over 8 percent, has doubled since the last election cycle, according to the National Institute on Money In State Politics.

Finding Classroom Success In Bilingual Mix Of Spanish, English Hechinger Report: In 2011, while 56 percent of elementary-age students in California were proficient or above on state tests for English language arts, two thirds of Ernest R. Geddes Elementary School in Baldwin Park, Calif students were [proficient].

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Morning Read: The New Accountability

New accountability demands coming for charters – startups and renewals SI&A Cabinet Report: SB 1290 by Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, would require that charter authorizers must consider pupil academic achievement for all subgroups as measured by the API “as the most important factor” for renewal and revocation.

Push for a Downtown Charter School Includes Big Fundraiser This Week Los Angeles Downtown News: Downtown Parents Aim to Secure Approvals and Raise $250,000 for Local Elementary School.

Prop 38 sponsor says ed initiative will upset polls Ed Source: Confident that Californians will tax themselves to send more money to their local schools, Molly Munger is preparing for “a big air war” – extensive TV advertising to persuade voters to pass Proposition 38.

Taking care of truants LA Times Editorial: L.A. Unified’s new, gentler plan emphasizes counseling over handing out tickets. Continue reading