Tuesday, May 31, 2011


PASADENA STAR NEWS |  http://bit.ly/jGv8gd


 5/31/2011 11:23:05 AM PDT - LOS ANGELES - Eagle Rock High School has been named an International Baccalaureate World School, officials announced Tuesday.

The only traditional campus in the Los Angeles Unified School District with grades seven through 12, Eagle Rock is the district's first IB. The school will implement a fully recognized IB Middle Years Programme for students in seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th grades beginning this fall, district officials said in a statement released Tuesday.

"This is an incredibly historic moment for the students, families and greater community of Los Angeles," said Judy Elliott, Chief Academic Officer for LAUSD. "After three years of hard work and dedication, Eagle Rock, under the leadership of Principal Salvador Velasco, has been awarded this international recognition of excellence. This has truly been a school-wide and community effort."


from the ERHS website: http://bit.ly/iiOBQE

Eagle Rock Junior/Senior High School, an International Baccalaureate World School, is located between the cities of Pasadena and Glendale in the northeastern tip of Los Angeles, one of sixty-one high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. It is the only one with a 7-12 grade  configuration, housing both a comprehensive junior and senior high school, as well a magnet program serving gifted, high ability and highly gifted students in grades 7-10.  ERHS also offers a fully authorized IB Middle Years Programme to all students grades 7-10.

International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (490 students): ERHS is a fully authorized IB Middle Years Programmee.  Students participating in the Programme develop a broad and balanced base of knowledge through the study of eight subjects, completing a minimum of 50 hours instruction each year, in each of the following subjects: Arts- Performing and Visual, Humanities - Social Studies, Language A - English, Language B - Spanish, German or French, Mathematics, Physical Education/Health, Science, Technology.  Contact Laurie Bollman-Little, IBMYP Coordinator, for more information.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


U.S. Reforms Out of Sync With High-Performing Nations, Report Finds

“This paper is the answer to a question: What would the education policies and practices of the United States be if they were based on the policies and practices of the countries that now lead the world in student performance?“

- STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS: An American Agenda for Education Reform by Mark S. Tucker

By Stephen Sawchuk – EdWeek Vol. 30, Issue 33 | http://bit.ly/iliY5n

May 27, 2011 - The United States’ education system is neither coherent nor likely to see great improvements based on its current attempts at reform, a reportRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader released this week by the National Center on Education and the Economy concludes.

The NCEE report is the latest salvo in a flurry of national interest in what can be gleaned from education systems in top-performing or rapidly improving countries. It pushes further than other recent reports on the topic by laying out an ambitious agenda for the United States it says reflects the education practices in countries that are among the highest-performing on international assessments.

Among other measures, the report outlines a less-frequent system of standardized student testing; a statewide funding-equity model that prioritizes the neediest students, rather than local distribution of resources; and greater emphasis on the professionalization of teaching that would overhaul most elements of the current model of training, professional development, and compensation.

“I think we have been for a long time caught in a vicious cycle. We’ve been unwilling to do the things that have been needed to have a high-quality teaching force,” including raising the entry standard for teacher preparation and requiring prospective teachers to major in a content area, said Marc S. Tucker, the president of the NCEE.

“We’ve been unwilling to pay teachers at the level of engineers. We’ve been solving our problems of teacher shortages by waiving the very low standards that we have. We have been frustrated by low student performance, and now, we’re blaming our teachers for that, which makes it even harder to get good people,” Mr. Tucker continued.

The paper also states that progress on any one of the reform areas alone is unlikely to result in widespread boosts in student learning. All efforts, it says, are interconnected and should be linked to a coherent vision of what students should know and a system for ascertaining whether they achieve those goals.

The report also praises the United States’ progress on clearer, common academic standards in English/language arts and mathematics as a first step in defining such outcomes. But it notes that the success of that venture will depend on its ability to connect such expectations to the other pieces of the country’s education system.

Major Findings

Once a topic primarily reserved for academics, the “international comparisons” discussion has exploded over the past few years, with policymakers, pundits, and teachers’ unions arguing that better educating students is crucial to the nation’s economic success.

It has also been the subject of considerable federal interest. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan helped convene a major forum of education leaders from 16 countries in March, and he commissioned the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a forum representing a group of industrialized nations, to produce a report about what lessons could be learned from the results of the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA. ("International Leaders Urge Nations to Raise Status of Teachers," March 30, 2011.)

The NCEE report draws both on qualitative case studies of other countries’ systems and on the quantitative data and extensive background surveys produced as part of PISA. Much of the analysis incorporates information from the OECD report commissioned by Mr. Duncan, which NCEE also produced.

It builds on the former efforts, however, by contrasting the practices of those countries with undertakings in the United States.

For instance, the report notes that no other country has grade-by-grade national testing, pointing out that such countries as Singapore and Japan tend to use such exams sparingly, only at the end of primary and secondary schooling. The tests are closely linked to curricula and carry stakes for students in terms of progressing, rather than being used for school or teacher accountability.

Such countries also have much higher entry standards for teachers and require greater content knowledge, which is better integrated with training in pedagogy. In general, the report states, such efforts have helped to elevate the status of the profession, which is reflected in higher pay, more autonomy, and additional career opportunities as teachers advance.

Finally, teachers’ unions are prevalent in top-performing jurisdictions such as Finland and Ontario, Canada, but work in a “professional” rather than “industrial” mode. The report says that U.S. teachers must give up blue-collar work rules like seniority rights and recognize difference in performance in exchange for being treated as professional partners, who are given autonomy and trusted to diagnose and solve instructional problems on their own.

The report also takes aim at what it deems “myths” of international comparisons, such as the notion that other countries educate only an elite corps of students, or that their scores are higher because of less-diverse student populations.

The report concludes by calling on the federal government to fund a competition, modeled on the Race to the Top program, to help states adopt a comprehensive system of education practices used by other countries.

States, it says, should be the key level of government to help move toward a more coherent education system—as they have been in provinces, such as Ontario, that are part of federated nations.

On Track?

At an event where the report was released this week, panelists outlined different opinions about whether the agenda embodied in the report reflects or diverges from the current education reform efforts in the United States.

In his remarks, Secretary Duncan highlighted similarities between the two. He noted that, for instance, high-performing systems like Singapore use bonuses, scholarships, and salary supplements to reward great teaching and to attract teachers to hard-to-staff schools or shortage areas. The Obama administration has pursued such policies through the Race to the Top and other federal competitions.

“Clearly, our education system is not as far down the track as those of top performers, nor are we anywhere near where we need to be to win the race for the future,” Mr. Duncan said. “But we are not off-track or chugging down an abandoned spur line.”

He also praised the work on the common standards, which was underwritten by experts convened by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have adopted those standards, which draw heavily on curriculum guidelines used in top-performing countries.

Mr. Duncan stated, however, that the federal government would not prescribe a national curriculum as part of its support of the common-standards agenda. That comment came as an apparent rebuttal to a group of scholars and education advocates who have accused the Education Department of overstepping a federal law prohibiting it from mandating a national curriculum. (" 'Manifesto' Proposing Shared Curriculum Draws Counterattack," May 18, 2011.)

Other commentators, though, outlined perceived differences between international practices on teaching and the United States’ current efforts.

For instance, the Obama administration supports the idea of linking test scores to teacher evaluations. But many international education leaders at the March forum raised concerns about such policies.

“The perception is teacher evaluation based on narrow student test scores, and no country thinks that’s a good idea,” noted Vivien Stewart, the senior adviser for education for the Asia Society, a New York City-based nonprofit that facilitates policy dialogues between the United States and Asian nations, in an interview. “The evaluation systems in these countries tend to be fairly broad,” said Ms. Stewart, who is writing a paper about the issues discussed at the forum.

Singapore, she noted, has 16 domains in which evaluation takes place, including a focus on achievement, professional contribution to the school, community involvement, and relationship with parents.

Data on student performance and teaching are widely used to improve practice, but not disseminated in the public way they are in the United States, she added.

Challenging Views

William H. Schmidt, a professor of statistics and education at Michigan State University who has extensively studied other countries’ curricula, generally praised the NCEE report, especially for its focus on defining a specific body of knowledge students should master. Mr. Schmidt, who has also researched vast differences in the math skills of middle school teachers prepared in the United States, said teacher preparation should be the next frontier. ("U.S. Middle-Grades Teachers Found Ill-Prepared in Math," December 19, 2007.)

“We’re really at a precipice here. We’ve got these common standards, a nationally specified set of clearly focused standards. The problem is what comes next,” he said. “The U.S. has such a short attention span.”

The report’s general principles have been debated by other international scholars, however, who have raised concerns that the movement to common standards and tests could lead to more rigid schooling and lockstep expectations for students.

Many of the report’s recommendations also do not fit neatly within current U.S. debates about the use of assessments or how to upgrade the quality of teaching.

For instance, the national teachers’ unions have been among the strongest proponents of less standardized testing for accountability and more autonomy for classroom teachers. But doing away with seniority, which the report characterizes as a relic from “industrial” unionism, could be challenging.

The American Federation of Teachers has been reluctant to discard seniority as a factor in layoffs, noting that evaluation systems capable of distinguishing teachers by performance are not yet widespread.

At the release event, however, AFT President Randi Weingarten said that the union is open to discarding some work rules as long as teachers are treated fairly and maintain due process rights. She pointed as an example to the “thin” contract signed by AFT-affiliated teachers in a New York City charter school and the Green Dot charter-management organization, which among other provisions does not specify work hours for teachers.

And increasing teacher-preparation quality means tackling the perception of teacher education as an easy route to a diploma, a change that will have consequences, noted Mari Koerner, the dean of the education school at Arizona State University, a top preparer of teachers. She described losing teacher-candidates after the college increased the rigor of its preparation programs.

“These sentimental views of teachers [in the United States] drive me nuts,” Ms. Koerner said at this week’s forum. “[Preparation] is not about whether you love children; it is whether you can teach children.”



Panel Finds Few Learning Gains From Testing Movement

By Sarah D. Sparks- EdWeek  Vol. 30, Issue 33 | http://bit.ly/kAmcTU

May 26, 2011 - Nearly a decade of America’s test-based accountability systems, from “adequate yearly progress” to high school exit exams, has shown little to no positive effect overall on learning and insufficient safeguards against gaming the system, a blue-ribbon committee of the National Academies of Science concludes in a new report:  Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education

“Too often it’s taken for granted that the test being used for the incentive is itself the marker of progress, and what we’re trying to say here is you need an independent assessment of progress,” said Michael Hout, the sociology chair at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the chairman of the 17-member committee, a veritable who’s who of national experts in education law, economics and social sciences that was launched in 2002 by the National Academies, a private, nonprofit quartet of institutions chartered by Congress to provide science, technology and health-policy advice. During the last 10 years, the committee has been tracking the implementation and effectiveness of 15 test-based incentive programs, including:

• National school improvement programs under the No Child Left Behind Act and prior iterations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;

• Test-based teacher incentive-pay systems in Texas, Chicago, Nashville, Tenn., and elsewhere;

• High school exit exams adopted by about half of states;

• Pay-for-scores programs for students in New York City and Coshocton, Ohio and;

• Experiments in teacher incentive-pay in India and student and teacher test incentives in Israel and Kenya.

On the whole, the panel found the accountability programs often used assessments too narrow to accurately measure progress on program goals and used rewards or sanctions not directly tied to the people whose behavior the programs wanted to change. Moreover, the programs often had insufficient safeguards and monitoring to prevent students or staff from simply gaming the system to produce high test scores disconnected from the learning the tests were meant to inspire.

“I think there are some real messages for school districts on accountability systems” in the report, said Kevin Lang, an economics professor at Boston University who, during his time on the committee, also served as a district school board member in Brookline, Mass.

“School boards need to have a means for monitoring the progress of their school systems, and they tend to do it by looking at test scores,” he said. “It’s not that there’s no information in the objective performance measures, but they are imperfect, and including the subjective performance measures is also very important. Incentives can be powerful, but not necessarily in the way you would like them to be powerful.”

Gaming the System

Among the most common problems the report identifies is that most test-based accountability programs use the same test to apply sanctions and rewards as to evaluate objectively whether the system works. As a result, staff and students facing accountability sanctions tend to focus on behavior that improves the test score alone, such as teaching test-taking strategies or drilling students who are closest to meeting the proficiency cut-score, rather than improving the overall learning that the test score is expected to measure. This undercuts the validity of the test itself.

For example, New York’s requirement that all high school seniors pass the Regents exam before graduating high school led to more students passing the Regents tests, but scores on the lower-stakes National Assessment of Educational Progress, which was testing the same subjects, didn’t budge during the same time period, the report found.

“It’s human nature: Give me a number, I’ll hit it,” Mr. Hout said. “Consequently, something that was a really good indicator before there were incentives on it, be it test scores or the stock price, becomes useless because people are messing with it.”

In fact, the report found that, rather than leading to higher academic achievement, high school exit exams so far have decreased high school graduation rates nationwide by an average of about 2 percentage points.

The study found a growing body of evidence of schools and districts tinkering with how and when students took the test to boost scores on paper for students who did not know the material—or to prevent those students from taking the test at all.

Recent changes to federal requirements for reporting graduation rates, which require that schools count as dropouts students who “transfer” to a school that does not award diplomas, may help safeguard against schools pushing out students to improve test scores or graduation rates. Still, the National Academies researchers warned that state and federal officials do not provide enough outside monitoring and evaluations to ensure the programs work as intended.

AYP and Academics

For similar reasons, school-based accountability mechanisms under NCLB have generated minimal improvement in academic learning, the study found. When the systems are evaluated—not using the high-stakes tests subject to inflation, but using instead outside comparison tests, such as the NAEP—student achievement gains dwindle to about .08 of a standard deviation on average, mostly clustered in elementary-grade mathematics.

To give some perspective, an intervention considered to have a small effect size is usually about .1 standard deviations; a 2010 federal study of reading-comprehension programs found a moderately successful program had an effect size of .22 standard deviations.

Moreover, “as disappointing as a .08 standard deviation might be, that’s bigger than any effect we saw for incentives on individual students,” Mr. Hout said, noting that NCLB accountability measures school performance, not that of individual students

Committee members see some hopeful signs in the 2008 federal requirement that NAEP scores be used as an outside check on achievement results reported by districts and states, as well as the broader political push to incorporate more diverse measures of student achievement in the next iteration of ESEA.

“We need to look seriously at the costs and benefits of these programs,” said Daniel M. Koretz, a committee member and an education professor at Harvard University Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Mass. “We have put a lot into these programs over a period of many years, and the positive effects when we can find them have been pretty disappointing.”

Jon Baron, the president of the Washington-based Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy and the chairman of the National Board for Education Sciences, which advises the Education Department’s research arm, said he was impressed by the quality of the committee’s research review but unsurprised at minimal results for the various incentive programs.

Incorporating diverse types of studies typically reduces the overall effects found for them, he noted, adding that the study also addresses a broader issue. “One of the contributions that this makes is that it shows that looking across all these different studies with different methodologies and populations, some in different countries, there are very minimal effects in many cases and in a few cases larger effects. It makes the argument that details matter,” Mr. Baron said.

“It’s an antidote to what has been the accepted wisdom in this country, the belief that performance-based accountability and incentive systems are the answer to improving education,” Mr. Baron said. “That was basically accepted without evidence or support in NCLB and other government and private sector efforts to increase performance.”

Friday, May 27, 2011


By Connie Llanos Staff Writer | Daily Breeze/Daily News | http://bit.ly/lA3uCj

Posted: 05/27/2011 07:47:16 PM PDT - Capping weeks of heated negotiations, Los Angeles Unified officials announced Friday they had tentatively come to an agreement with the teachers union on a contract that avoids many of the cuts threatened for next year and mandates four furlough days for educators.

Superintendent John Deasy said leaders of the 40,000-strong United Teachers Los Angeles worked with the district "to provide a solution for next year that brings stability - and the majority of our employees - back to the classroom."

image The deal, which must still be approved by the school board and UTLA's members, restores cuts to preschool education, campus libraries and magnet services and saves the jobs of at least 3,400 teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians, officials said.

Some 1,700 educator jobs are still at risk of elimination because of declining enrollment in the nation's second-largest district and the expiration of federal stimulus funding.

However, district officials said they expect at least some of those jobs to be saved through retirement, attrition of other employees, and the possibility of schools buying back positions.

It's also possible the district could restore a 180-day calendar, after having been slashed by one week for the last two years.

District officials stressed, however, that the agreement is contingent upon some $3 billion in state funding, which state officials have said will be available only if tax extensions are placed on a ballot this fall and approved by voters.

"Should the actual, approved state budget and revenue limit come in above our proposed budget ... we will be in a position to incrementally reduce the number of furlough days for all our bargaining partners," Deasy said.

"If there is huge decline in revenues ... the district and all of its bargaining partners will be compelled to reopen negotiations."

A.J. Duffy, UTLA president, had a rosier outlook of the district's budget picture.

The union and the district have disagreed on their analysis of the state's latest budget. While district officials contend that an increase in funding is contingent on tax extensions being approved, union officials have said they believe LAUSD could receive as much as $300 million in additional cash next year.

"I believe our numbers are accurate and that eventually this deal will save as many as 5,000 teachers," he said.

"I'm ecstatic to leave office knowing that these people will have their jobs back," the outgoing union leader said.

The tentative agreement follows months of negotiations, which at times threatened to come to impasse.

The union and the district are also at odds over several school reforms, including LAUSD's plans to try out a new teacher evaluation system that will include student test scores and the turnover of low-performing schools to charter operators.

Duffy said the union felt that those disagreements should not interfere with these negotiations, which have the potential of saving so many jobs.

With UTLA agreeing to the district's deal, seven of the district's nine unions have now signed on to a furlough package. If signed by all nine unions, district officials said, the deal would save about 5,700 jobs, although the district still would have to lay off about 1,900 workers.

"While this agreement does not restore all the cuts - because our schools are still drastically underfunded - it goes a long way toward providing the resources and personnel for our students to succeed," Deasy said.

"In the meantime, all those who care about public education in this state must continue to apply pressure on Sacramento to fund education above the current pathetic, substandard levels."


Themes in the News for the week of May 23-27, 2011 by UCLA IDEA | http://bit.ly/iE86Ay

VAM cover05-27-2011 |  With Memorial Day signaling the approach of summer, we start to look back on a school year that has brought massive and unfairly distributed financial uncertainty to public schools. One of the biggest education reforms on the horizon, however, does little to address basic school problems of overcrowded classes, insufficient textbooks, impoverished students, narrowed curriculum, deteriorated facilities, and ultimately, teacher, school, and community accountability. 

Called “value-added measures” (VAM), this method offers simple-sounding, “common sense” explanations and justifications. By testing students at two or more points of time, VAM designers attribute higher-than-expected gains in student scores to “effective” teachers and lower-than-expected gains to “ineffective” teachers. Designers claim to account or control for influences on student learning that originate outside the classroom and are not under a teacher’s control (i.e., different family resources, previous instruction, outside support, etc.)

Relying on VAM, school leaders can use test scores to decide which teachers to fire, to promote or to reward with salary increases or bonuses (New York Times, Washington Post). Spinoffs include financial incentives not only for teachers, but for students as well (Los Angeles Times).

However, taking a closer look at VAM, the method unravels (Education  Nation). With current testing knowledge and resources, VAM formulas cannot possibly "control" for all the factors influencing student growth. For example, school administrators often follow parent preferences in making or switching class assignments. If a teacher is assigned a class with a disproportionate number of high-achieving students, other students who are low or average achievers in that class can show greater gains than if their classmates were randomly selected. These "peer effects," introduced by selective sorting, can distort judgments about teacher effectiveness.

The use of VAM will likely lead to a number of unintended consequences, not least of which is to encourage even greater focus on testing. Student tests that feed into the VAM systems are already heavily criticized for narrowing curriculum, distorting what teachers teach and ignoring much important learning that schooling provides.

Even greater problems arise when VAM is used to create a shorthand public impression of a teacher's overall teaching worth--such as when individuals' scores are published in newspapers. Such actions are not only counterproductive in their own right, they sap the resources and attention that might otherwise go to real educational improvement.

UCLA IDEA has created a guide to some key questions of VAM. Value Added? explores in more detail the methodology and its consequences. We invite you to read the full brief.

THE CASE FOR/AGANST CALPADS: 5 advocates, one opponent share their perspectives

By John Fensterwald - Educated Guess | http://bit.ly/km8mWO

●●smf: In the interest of fairness, 5 for/1 against isn’t.

For all of the shortcomings in its implementation, the data system CALPADS has always had plenty of supporters. Gov. Jerry Brown is clearly not among them. He’s proposing to kill funding for it and CALTIDES, a related database yet to be built. I’ve asked five longtime backers to argue why both systems should be saved, and an opponent – a teacher who shares Brown’s skepticism toward standardized tests and statewide databases – to make the case for defunding them. Brown has called for stripping funding for the two systems as part of an overall look at how data can best be used at the local level and whether the state is putting too much energy and attention on standardized tests.

CALPADS (California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System), which came online last fall and is scheduled to be completed next year, collects data on student achievement, enrollment, teacher assignment, and other statewide student information like dropout and graduation rates. CALTIDES (California Longitudinal Teacher Integrated Data Education System) would become the central repository for information on the state’s teacher workforce.


Arun Ramanathan: Kids no longer forgotten

Having kids has forced me to look at the world differently. Back in my twenties, I worked with adults with mental illness and addictions, and with very troubled adolescents. I looked at them and saw people who had made adult choices.

Now that I have kids, I look at people who have “fallen down” and see them as the children they used to be. I imagine the paths they’ve taken and think about the unnecessary sorrows they’ve lived through. Twenty, even 10  years ago, a child could “fall down” academically or in school attendance, and one person might know and be able to help. Today, we are lucky to be able to collect the kind of data that allows us to identify and help the kids who have fallen down and pick them up with targeted supports and interventions.

The problem in California is that this work only happens in isolation in forward-thinking districts and charter schools scattered around the state. As a result, millions of our children fall through the cracks and end up in places like our justice system. With a statewide data system that tracked these students and eventually linked into other government data systems, it wouldn’t have to be this way. We could focus on treating symptoms instead of the resulting diseases.

That’s the promise of CALPADs and CALTIDES. They are the statewide foundation upon which we can build a better future for our children, especially the millions of California’s youth who are low income, highly mobile, or stuck in places such as our foster youth system. Fully funding these systems is an adult decision that we ask our leaders to make on behalf of California’s children.

Arun Ramanathan is executive director of The Education Trust—West, a statewide education advocacy organization.

Joe Simitian: For well-informed choices

Both CALPADS and CALTIDES were created to serve two primary purposes: 1) Report required testing and accountability data to the state and federal governments; and 2) Provide state and local policy makers with accurate longitudinal data in order to meaningfully evaluate education policy and investments.

Longitudinal data, the ability to link data from year to year for each individual student and teacher, is important.  It allows educators and policy makers to see changes over time for individual students, groups of students, or teachers.

In the past, school districts would submit aggregate reports summarizing certain student and teacher statistics for a particular point in time. These aggregate reports provide useful ‘snapshot’ data, but the data from one year’s report often can’t accurately be compared to the data from another year, because each snapshot is of a different cohort. For example, under the current system, when the state compares the achievement of English language learners from one year to the next, it can’t accurately distinguish progress because aggregate data doesn’t distinguish between the old and new sets of students.

Longitudinal data will enable policy makers to compare the achievement from year to year, and more accurately evaluate which programs improve student performance and which ones don’t. Similarly, longitudinal data could also be helpful in evaluating the outcomes of teacher credential programs, or the effectiveness of certain professional development activities.

Policy makers don’t yet have the information needed to make smart, well-informed choices for schools and kids. Taking an extended time-out on funding for CALPADS and CALTIDES won’t help solve the state’s budget problem. The $3.5 million targeted for elimination is one-time federal funding.

It has been a long, slow haul, but California has made significant progress with CALPADS and CALTIDES over the past few years. Now is not the time to stall out or forfeit our gains. If anything, the difficult decisions that the budget crisis presents can only underscore the value of meaningful data to the policy and decision-making processes, and to millions of California students.

State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is the author SB 1614, which authorized the creation of CALTIDES; SB 1298, which established a process for schools and universities to report data using existing unique statewide student identifiers; and SB 885 (currently pending) to take the next step toward establishing a statewide education data system.

Margaret Gaston: Critical data on our teaching force

In 2001, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning and SRI International compiled and distributed data showing that over 42,000 members of California’s teaching workforce lacked even the minimum requirements to teach, and that vastly disproportionate numbers of those underprepared teachers were assigned to low-performing schools serving economically disadvantaged children of color. That information, which documented a severe shortage of fully prepared teachers and pervasive inequities among schools, garnered headlines and drove policy changes to strengthen California’s teacher development system. The revelation of this stark data also challenged the common practice of assigning the least prepared and novice teachers to schools where students arguably need accomplished veteran teachers the most.

Today, policymakers and educators would not have access to that same data. Last year’s veto of funding for the CALPADS system by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger badly damaged California’s ability to collect and analyze data about the status of teaching and student learning. And now, with the further loss of funding for the CALPADS and CALTIDES data systems, the gap in the availability of reliable information upon which sound policy decisions can be made would be even wider.

We support Gov. Brown’s proposal to reform the state’s data collection systems, making them less bureaucratic and more helpful to school- and district- level decision-making. But we would argue for using what has been developed and paid for thus far as a base for further improvement.

CALPADS is also designed to collect and house critical data on the teacher workforce. That information is essential to developing an adequate pool of teachers with the training, knowledge, and skill necessary to ensure all students are able to reach the high academic goals Californians have set for them. It also reveals the subject matter areas – like math and science – and assignments where teachers are needed most. In times of tight budgets, this data is even more important: Legislators, policymakers, and educators must have the current and accurate information necessary to help them target and leverage limited resources in ways that make every nickel count. Without CALPADS and CALTIDES, California is once again flying blind in its quest to strengthen public education.

Margaret Gaston is president of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.

Rick Miller: Statewide data does matter

Before transitioning to CALPADS and a statewide student identifier system, if a school reported that a student transferred in-state, there was no way to verify the information. But several years ago, after years of infighting, California finally established a unique identifier system and now tracks students between schools and districts. Now, when this data is published, if a district reports that a student transferred to another school and the student doesn’t show up, the student is classified as a dropout on the originating district’s watch. As a result, schools throughout California have tracked down and re-enrolled many of these students. Real-life students have returned to further their education. Statewide data matters

CALPADS is also designed to provide critical information about students: Do they need special education? What courses have they taken? Have they taken the CELDT? With a statewide data system, all of this information can follow the student, saving time and avoiding unnecessary retesting. When the data in CALPADS is linked to CALTIDES, California will be able to measure effectiveness of teacher preparation programs and other educator workforce trends. Ideally, California will eventually have a statewide data system that allows us to track programs across the state so we can judge effectiveness and better broker expertise.

These are all common-sense uses of a statewide data system that the governor’s shortsighted budget proposal puts in jeopardy, without saving one cent for the state, as the system is 100 percent federally funded. If we consign the collection and use of student-level data to districts and schools, we abandon the ability to learn from each other and leverage successful approaches throughout the state. We need information to know what is working well and what is a waste of time and money. In this era of scarcity, using a high-quality data system to inform and foster a continuous learning cycle  – and using federal dollars to do it — just makes sense.

Rick Miller is a principal at Capitol Impact, an education policy advisory firm.

Ted Lempert: Save, fix, and expand it

Gov. Brown is right in asking questions about how CALPADS will support education in California, but wrong in taking an action that will waste millions and undermine progress made thus far.

Ninety-nine percent of districts are successfully using CALPADS to report enrollment. Eliminating funding for the data systems now is the technological equivalent of repealing class-size reduction on the second day of school. Eliminating this funding would create unnecessary turmoil for districts, which would need to retool in the next few months in order to comply with basic federal reporting requirements. It would further undermine basic data functions that CALPADS will fulfill, including:

  • Providing the minimal system needed to effectively manage over $50 billion in educational programs.
  • Efficiently monitoring student mobility, dropout, and records transfer when students move between districts.
  • Ensuring compliance with assurances that California gave when securing $4.9 billion in federal stimulus money.

CALPADS provides efficient uses of data, including automated matches to certify 1.4 million students as eligible for free school meals without further application; it ensures the timely transfer of student records, eliminating delays while identifying at-risk students; it eliminates redundant assessments for English learners as well as those with special needs; and it consolidates several major data collections into one.

Advocates agree that simply meeting No Child Left Behind reporting requirements will never provide the most meaningful benefits that CALPADS can provide. Largely because the original scope of CALPADS has been restricted since its inception, it does not currently provide more robust data linkages, warehousing, dashboards, and reporting needed to fully support state and local needs.

However, CALPADS has finally provided California with the technological equivalent of an advanced operating system; it can readily support more robust data functions when the governor is ready.

Ted Lempert is president of the advocacy group Children Now.

Anthony Cody: Put more faith in teachers, not data systems

We do not need CALPADS. We already have far too much money, time, and energy spent on student performance on tests. The emphasis on these tests has led to a profound distortion of instruction, consuming huge amounts of learning time and vast resources. The bottom line is that these tests are blunt instruments compared to the fine work of a dedicated and intelligent teacher, working in collaboration with peers. The limited information from these tests does not grow in usefulness simply because it is developed in ever finer and more sophisticated detail. Rather, this lends a false air of mathematical certainty to decisions that are much better made by the human beings in direct contact with students.

If not CALPADS, then what?

We have placed far too much faith in data systems, and far too little in the capacity of our teachers and students in responding to the learning challenges they face. California is a huge and diverse state. We can tap the creative potential of our teachers best when we actively engage them in designing curricula and assessments that correspond to the interests and needs of their students. There is so much phony rhetoric about how important and precious teachers are. It is time to give teachers real responsibility – not just for preparing students for tests, but for the complex challenge of life in the 21st century.

An 18-year veteran teacher, Anthony Cody coaches science teachers in Oakland Unified. His blog, Living in Dialogue, is published by Education Week.


LAUSD, teachers union reach tentative agreement

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez | KPCC & wire services | http://bit.ly/iVzAkO

AUDIO: MP3 Download

Mike Roe/KPCC - Demonstrators protest LAUSD's proposed budget cuts at a rally at L.A.'s Pershing Square on Friday, May 13, 2011.

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Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy., Antonio Villaraigosa/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

27 May 2011 - 4:48 p.m. | The Los Angeles Unified School District announced today it has reached a tentative agreement with its largest union, which could save about 3,400 jobs and maintain class sizes in elementary schools at their current levels.

In exchange, United Teachers Los Angeles members would take four furlough days in the coming school year -- three teaching days and one day when students are not in school.

The agreement caps months of heated debate between teachers union leaders and top school administrators. United Teachers Los Angeles staged large rallies urging the district to protect all teacher jobs and cut administrative budgets instead. L.A. Unified said it needed to prepare for a worst-case funding scenario.

The four furlough days will cancel out all but 1600 of the 5,000 preliminary dismissals the school district sent to employees with teaching credentials.

The teachers union said LA Unified could rescind all those notices. The school district did not predict the same.

"While this agreement does not restore all the cuts -- because our schools are still drastically underfunded -- it goes a long way toward providing the resources and personnel for our students to succeed,'' LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement.

The agreement hinges on how much money may land in state coffers. Recent predictions suggest that this year’s picture looks a lot better than last year’s, but if the state budget sinks further into the red, L.A. Unified teachers would have to take six furlough days instead of four. If districts receive unexpected money, they’d subtract employee furlough days.

"This agreement demonstrates that when UTLA and the district collaborate, problems can be solved to the benefit of our students,'' UTLA President A.J. Duffy said.

Teachers and the school board still must approve the furlough deal. Teachers took seven unpaid furlough days this school year.


L.A. teachers union tentatively agrees to furlough days

The deal between the teachers union and L.A. Unified could save $42 million and thousands of jobs. The agreement requiring teachers to take four unpaid days off must be ratified by union members.

By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/ji9qoZ

Teachers union

United Teachers Los Angeles march on Tuesday to demand the school board rescind layoff notices. On Friday, the teachers union agreed to a deal with the district to accept four unpaid work days in order to save the district money and potentially save thousands of jobs. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times / May 24, 2011)

May 27, 2011, 8:14 p.m. - Los Angeles teachers will take four unpaid days off next year to help offset the city schools' estimated $408-million budget deficit, according to a tentative agreement reached Friday.

The deal between the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Unified School District would save the district about $42 million if ratified by union membership and would be the third consecutive year that teachers have agreed to furlough days, which essentially are a pay cut.

      Citing the projected shortfall, the school board voted earlier this year to issue nearly 7,000 preliminary layoff notices to employees.

      The teachers union is the sixth labor group in the school district to agree to furlough days. The other unions had agreed to six furlough days, but will now only take four unpaid days off, officials said.

      The school board could rescind about 3,400 of the layoff notices, which would include teachers as well as librarians and nurses. An additional 1,700 jobs could also be saved or created, depending on how many employees retire and whether school principals decide to hire more teachers.

      About 2,000 employees' jobs could still be at risk, district officials said.

      The agreement marks the end of a long and at times contentious negotiation between the teachers union and the district.

      Supt. John Deasy had pressured the union to agree to a deal through public statements as well as on Twitter, and teachers union officials had said they believed other revenue sources could be used to solve the budget deficit.

      This week, teachers union President A.J. Duffy told a cheering crowd of hundreds of teachers that he did not want to accept any furlough days.

      But on Friday, Duffy said he was pleased that the union and district had reached a compromise. "To save as many as 5,000 jobs is huge for me," said Duffy, who has served two terms as the union's leader and is leaving office in July.

      Under the agreement, teachers may end up with fewer furlough days if the district's financial picture improves. If the deficit does not shrink, the educators may be required to take up to six unpaid days off.

      The other unions that have already accepted furlough days will have the same deal. The only two labor groups that have not agreed to the time off without pay are the Teamsters and the California School Employees Assn.

      Deasy said the deal should lead to less instability on campuses and better instruction for students.

      "It was a very long process … but I'm pleased we can give the kids what they deserve," he said.


      LAUSD & UTLA Tentative Ageement


      -- Jason Song/LA Times/LA Now | http://lat.ms/j2Sduw

      May 26, 2011 |  6:39 pm - A state agency on Thursday denied the Los Angeles Unified teachers union's attempt to stop several school district initiatives, including a new educator evaluation system and plans to give charter school organizations control at two campuses.

      The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, filed a complaint last week with the Public Employment Relations Board, which could have filed a court injunction on the union's behalf. But the board denied the union's request in a single-sentence letter on Thursday that did not state a reason for the action.

      The union had argued that the distict violated collective bargaining laws by not negotiating a new teacher evaluation system that would have used student test scores as one component. Los Angeles Unified  officials had planned to start a pilot version of the program next year before implementing it districtwide in 2012-13.

      The union also wanted to stop a plan to let Green Dot Public Schools take over all of Clay Middle School and about half of Jordan High School and a requirement to impose so-called "thin" union contracts, which generally give administrators more flexibility, at some campuses.

      The two sides will still have to attend meetings over the complaint, but "we can continue with our plans," said LAUSD Supt. John Deasy in a statement.


      L.A. school board member can't join union in lawsuit against school district, attorneys say

      State agency files two claims against LAUSD reforms

      The Coalition for Community Schools Presents: A CONVERSATION WITH DAVID KIRP - our first live Video Webinar!

      Coalition for Community Schools Invitation |

      Join this Webinar on
      Friday, June 3rd at 1pm (ET)  | 10 AM  (Pacific)

      Join us for a fireside chat with David Kirp. During this interview you will learn about: Kirp’s “5 Big Ideas;” why he thinks community schools are a powerful strategy; the role of higher education in preparing graduates to work within this strategy; and his policy recommendations to support community schools–Don’t miss this opportunity to participate and ask questions! Register NOW!

      David Kirp, Professor at the University of California- Berkeley, and author of Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children's Lives and America's Future, argues that all policies and budget decisions should be made against the Golden Rule: "Every child deserves what’s good enough for a child you love."

      Through his research, Kirp has proposed policies that enrich preschools, ensure transitions to stronger elementary schools, build strong relationships with community leaders, and provide viable path to careers and college. He recognizes community schools as the vehicle in which this work can be accomplished! He writes, "When done right, the research says, community schools can make a powerful difference in the lives of children".

      Register NOW!


      • David Kirp, Professor at the University of California, Berkeley

      Space is limited – RSVP by Thursday, June 2nd, at 5 pm ET. Share this announcement with colleagues and networks!

      Archived Webinars:

      National Call to Action: Making the Case for Community Schools (5/24/2011)

      Through this webinar, you will gain insight into the policy landscape as Congress aims to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and how community schools fit into the picture. Presenters will share key community school talking points for your meetings with policymakers. Learn about the key pieces of legislation that support the community school principles and how community schools can be embedded within ESEA. Finally, you will walk away with strategies on how to share why community schools are important to your students, families, and communities.

      To access all of the Coalition's past Webinars click here.


      Coalition for Community Schools Team


      What is a Community School?

      A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Schools become centers of the community and are open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings and weekends.

      Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities. Partners work to achieve these results:

      • Children are ready to learn when they enter school and every day thereafter. All students learn and achieve to high standards.
      • Young people are well prepared for adult roles in the workplace, as parents and as citizens.
      • Families and neighborhoods are safe, supportive and engaged.
      • Parents and community members are involved with the school and their own life-long learning.

      To learn more about the Coalition’s vision of a community school, read the section An Enduring Vision in the Coalition’s report, Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools. Also, watch as the U.S. Secretary of Education speak of the importance of community schools on Charlie Rose.

      For more information on what it means to be a community school, read Community Schools: Partnerships for Excellence (PDF, 426k).

      Our funding partners provide us with the opportunity to build the field of community schools - at the local, state, and national levels.  Our work would not be possible without their generous support. We thank them for their commitment to making sure that our nation's students graduate ready for college, careers, and citizenship.


      Retired teacher supported by UTLA defeats Luis Sanchez, who was supported by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, for the last open seat on the board.

      By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/j8claO

      Bennett Kayser

      Los Angeles school board candidate Bennett Kayser was backed by the teachers and administrators unions. His rival, Luis Sanchez, had the support of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. (KayserForSchoolBoard.org)

      May 27, 2011 = Bennett Kayser, the candidate favored by the teachers union, won the last remaining open seat for the Los Angeles Board of Education on Thursday, beating Luis Sanchez, who was supported by the mayor.
      "Teachers and teachers unions have been scapegoated, and I think we're on the road to vindication right now," Kayser said.

      Kayser, a retired teacher, received about 10,700 votes, nearly 600 more than Sanchez, who is chief of staff for the current school board president, Monica Garcia. Voter turnout was less than 10%, and most ballots were cast by mail. Sanchez said he does not plan to ask for a recount.

      The race to represent the 5th District, which covers the area from Los Feliz to Maywood, was the only school board race to go to a runoff. Three other seats were decided in March, but neither Sanchez nor Kayser was able to garner a majority of voters. The winner will replace Yolie Flores, who chose not to run.

      Kayser, 64, was supported by both the school administrators and teachers unions and did almost none of his own fundraising. United Teachers Los Angeles spent almost $620,000 in support of Kayser and many instructors also volunteered to campaign for him.

      Sanchez was backed by several large labor groups and key politicians, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who helped raise funds for Sanchez's campaign.

      "The mayor congratulates Mr. Kayser and looks forward to working with him and the board to improve our schools and fix the broken bureaucracy," a Villaraigosa spokeswoman said in a statement.

      Villaraigosa has supported four current school board members. Kayser's victory will not give the teachers union a majority on the seven-member body.

      The board will grapple with a thorny set of issues this year: continued efforts to deal with a budget shortfall, negotiations on a new contract with the teachers union, and a revamped teacher evaluation system. Additionally, the nation's second-largest school district could potentially have to approve up to 7,000 layoff notices in July.

      The runoff campaign turned increasingly negative as election day approached. The two candidates accused each other of ethics violations, although the city Ethics Commission, which oversees school district races, did not sanction either one.

      Sanchez repeated his earlier complaints that the teachers union ran an untruthful campaign. A mailer in support of Kayser alleged that Sanchez took lavish trips at taxpayer expense. Sanchez took one trip to Washington, D.C., in 2007 to meet with members of Congress and their staff.

      "They won this election, but they lost some credibility," Sanchez said. "They had to play as dirty as they did to win."

      Sanchez said he was unsure what he will do next but said he would continue to push for educational reform.

      CERTIFIED FINAL ELECTION BULLETIN: http://cityclerk.lacity.org/election/archives/archives2011/general/bulletin.pdf

      Thursday, May 26, 2011


      Marguerite Poinndexter LaMotte

      Photo: After taking the oath of office for the L.A. Board of Education, Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte addresses the audience, July 3, 2007. Credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times

      May 26, 2011 | 1:15 pm | A school board member’s attention-getting vow to join the teachers union in suing the Los Angeles Unified School District is likely to go nowhere, attorneys said Thursday.

      Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte said Tuesday that she wanted to take part in litigation against the nation’s second-largest school system over the handover of low-performing Clay Middle School, in South Angeles, to a charter-school operator.

      But attorneys for both the union and the school district said it would be a conflict of interest for LaMotte to, in effect, join with the union in a suit against the entity she represents, which employs members of that union.

      She could still testify as a witness. And it's possible LaMotte could take part with community members or taxpayers in a legal challenge, said union attorney Jesus Quinonez.

      The district's decision about Clay was made by a majority on the seven-member board, which outvoted LaMotte, who represents the Clay area. The teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, subsequently sued, saying L.A. Unified had violated state laws in how it converted Clay to a charter school.

      Most charters, which are independently operated, are non-union; Green Dot, the charter selected for Clay, is unionized but not represented by UTLA.

      LaMotte’s unusual tack came during a televised board meeting, as she raised her latest round of objections over the Clay decision.

      She said the current Clay principal had not been in place long enough to have a fair shot at improving the school academically. She also called attention to Green Dot’s own test scores, which frequently have been below the district average but higher than nearby traditional schools.

      “Any vote for Green Dot is a vote for deform” rather than reform, she said. “You are playing with the lives of children -- not cars, not bicycles.”

      Calling the district’s action illegal, she said she wanted to disassociate herself from the school board majority’s decision and join the union’s suit.

      “Are you looking to be a party to the lawsuit against the district?” asked general counsel David Holmquist.

      “Yes I am,” said LaMotte.

      “I’d like to discuss that with you outside this setting,” Holmquist said.

      Board member Richard Vladovic, who represents a different portion of South Los Angeles, defended the charter conversion.

      “By God, I’ve got to do something different,” he said. “Those kids deserve better.” He added that he intended to hold Green Dot accountable for its performance.

      Board member Steve Zimmer, who is sometimes the only board member to support LaMotte’s perspective, disagreed with her criticisms of Green Dot. He praised the charter operator for being willing to take on long-struggling, low-performing schools. Other charter operators have opted instead to bid for newly constructed, yet-to-open campuses, he said.


      California's previous plan for schools could have won $700 million from 'Race to the Top,' but federal officials may award $50 million to the Golden State after revisions.

      by Howard Blume - LA Times | http://lat.ms/l2OVAU

      Race to the Top

      From left, Ted Mitchell, then-president of the California board of education, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-State Superintendent Jack O'Connell sign the second phase of the "Race to the Top" application at Lafayette Elementary School in Long Beach. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / June 1, 2010)

      Federal officials also announced a new competition Wednesday for grants from a $500-million fund established to promote early childhood education. This opportunity arises as the Los Angeles Unified School District is poised to slash funding to such programs amid an ongoing budget crisis.

      The Race to the Top dollars would go to state finalists that fell short in two previous rounds.

      "We had many more competitive applications than we had funds to award," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Every state that applied … has a blueprint for raising educational quality across America. These funds will encourage states to continue their courageous work to challenge the status quo."

      To claim the money, California must scale back its most recent plan, for which it could have received $700 million. The revised proposal must pass muster with federal officials, and there could be complications.

      The new state schools superintendent, Tom Torlakson, strongly opposed provisions of the state's first Race to the Top application. And pending legislation could restrict the future expansion of charter schools, a limitation that federal officials oppose.

      "That would clearly put us in a disadvantageous position to compete for those federal dollars," said Jed Wallace, who heads the California Charter Schools Assn.

      On the other hand, a group of seven school systems, including L.A. Unified and Long Beach Unified, has already pushed forward with measures outlined in the state's second, nearly successful application.

      The districts are planning the looming shift to national curriculum standards recently adopted by California. The federal application also had included a commitment to using student test-score data as part of teachers' evaluations, among other elements.

      "The bottom line is that we can't do this just for the money, and we shouldn't," said Long Beach Supt. Christopher J. Steinhauser. "We need to do these reforms based on what's best for students."

      The early education grants drew an enthusiastic response from advocates; such programs have fallen under the budget knife in many financially strapped school systems.

      "At the very least, it dangles a big carrot in front of state policymakers, who may be prone to forget the long-term payoff that comes from making investments in early childhood programs," said Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative at the Washington, D.C.-based New America Foundation.


      Letters to the LA Times | http://lat.ms/inp6fP

      Re "Success beyond the stacks," Column, May 20

      Those who think school libraries are obsolete might consider the results of a 2010 Scholastic-Gates Foundation(!*) poll given to 40,000 teachers. One question asked where students get books for their independent reading most often. The winner: school libraries. Teachers reported that 80% of high school students, the group least dependent on school libraries, get reading material from school libraries.

      Will e-books take over? To compete with the library as a source of books, e-book readers and e-books need to get cheap enough for everyone to be able to buy, use and replace them. Amazon.com's Kindle costs more than $100 and e-books about $10, and there are restrictions on sharing.

      Little wonder that only a small portion of adults, mainly affluent ones, read e-books.

      Stephen Krashen

      Los Angeles

      The writer is a professor emeritus of education at USC.

      * smf: They are everywhere!

      Thank you for Hector Tobar's columns on librarians and their importance. Those who would do away with school librarians are equivalent to those who say books are obsolete.

      Emma Willsey

      Huntington Beach

      THE THREE Rs, PLUS COAL: The coal lobby gained access to fourth-grader learners through Scholastic Inc., the venerable educational publisher.

      LA Times Editorial | http://lat.ms/ixhQql
      A coal-powered plant in Texas. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

      A coal-powered plant in Texas. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

      A division of Scholastic partnered with a coal industry trade group to produce an energy curriculum for fourth-graders — a poster and related materials — that extols the virtues of coal but neglects to mention the strip mining that degrades the landscape and removes entire mountaintops, the pollution of air and water associated with coal, or its role in global warming. The American Coal Foundation posted an online announcement about its joint project with Scholastic, which sent the "United States of Energy" package, free and unsolicited, to 66,000 teachers on its mailing list, including many in California, and emailed it to 82,000 more.

      In this case, schools got what they paid for — a biased, incomplete and frankly embarrassing promotional product parading as education. We're reminded of the glossy lunch menus some school districts sent home with children in the late 1990s that showed colorful cartoons of dancing M&M candies extolling the virtues of healthful eating. Of course, no one knows how many teachers actually used the Scholastic/American Coal Foundation materials. It's quite possible that the vast majority of them tossed the freebie.

      In praising its partnership with the educational publisher, the coal group noted that Scholastic has formed similar alliances with Coca-Cola and Home Depot. "Four out of five parents know and trust the Scholastic brand," the website enthused.

      Maybe not so much anymore. In addition to this cynical, mercenary project, Scholastic lent its hand last year to a promotion for SunnyD, the corn syrup-sweetened beverage. Classes that collected 20 SunnyD labels could win free books; teachers were encouraged to hold SunnyD parties and create posters of the labels.

      In a statement this month, Scholastic announced that it would review its policies, admitting it had not been "vigilant enough" with the coal partnership, although it did not concede there was anything wrong with the curriculum or with having private companies pay for glowing "educational" materials in an effort to promote themselves. The problem, according to the company, was simply how the joint venture looked to the public. Not quite. Though this was hardly a pact with Lord Voldemort, Scholastic has some serious soul-searching to do before it regains a full measure of trust.


      Howard Blume - LA Times/LA NOW | http://lat.ms/l1h2bx

      In both cases, the Public Employees Relations Board is following up on filings by the United Teachers Los Angeles union, which argues the school system is pursuing unproven reforms.

      Officials with the union and school district learned of the agency’s action late Wednesday.

      Jordan New Technology High
      2265 East 103rd St., Los Angeles, 90002
      • Public school in the Los Angeles Unified district.
      • Grades 9-12
      • 225 students
      • 15 faculty members
      Jordan New Technology High
      Source: California Department of Education
      Sandra Poindexter, Ben Welsh Los Angeles Times

      One effort involves Jordan High School in Watts, which former Supt. Ramon C. Cortines announced in January would be “restructured.”

      Staff members would have to reinterview for their jobs, and campus management would be split between a charter-school operator and a nonprofit group controlled by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Cortines said.

      The other move involves the testing of a new teacher evaluation system, which would link student scores on standardized tests to an instructor’s job-performance rating.

      The legal case brought by the state centers on whether LAUSD followed the state’s collective-bargaining regulations. The complaint says preliminary evidence suggests the school district did not bargain in good faith.

      District officials have denied wrongdoing and insist reforms are needed to improve student learning.

      An internal memo to top district officials said the complaint was expected.

      “The standard for issuance is quite low,” said the e-mail from general counsel David Holmquist. “Indeed, it is only when a case cannot be made as a matter of law that [the employment board] refrains from allowing the matter to proceed to a hearing.”

      The union took issue with the interpretation, noting the state action closely followed its own filings earlier this month.

      “It’s not pro forma at all,” said union attorney Jesus Quinonez. The employment board “dismisses hundreds of charges. You have to establish the basis of a violation” for a complaint to go forward.

      The next step is a settlement conference and a hearing before an administrative law judge, if necessary.

      Both sides are waiting to see if the employment board will seek an injunction to stop the district from proceeding with its school-improvement strategies until the legal issue is settled.

      Other claims by the teachers union and by the administrators union are pending with the employment board and in civil court.