Making the LAUSD Accountable to All Students
Empower Parents * Respect Teachers * Protect Taxpayers

What About Your Own Backyard?

“The nurse is at the school three days a week, my daughter has diabetes five days a week.”

- LAUSD Parent


The warning letter is marked “2nd Notice,” but it is actually the fourth one that we have received. Our daughter has received all of her vaccinations and we have turned in her records to reflect this fact, but once again we are receiving notice that if she does not receive her second Varicella shot she will be “excluded from school attendance.” The new deadline that we have been given is May 4. These continued warnings expose serious flaws in our District’s health policies and calls into question their ability to protect our students in the event of an outbreak.

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A Charter School Runs Amok

One of the reasons given for approving charter schools is that they provide more choices for parents.  However, about 30% of these schools are converted from existing public schools, actually removing the choice of a neighborhood public school for those families who live in the area. Parents who feel that the neighborhood school  is the best option are left dealing with a school that  “is free from most regulations that apply to school districts,” resulting in the loss of important protections.

Our neighborhood school is Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS). Having this charter as a homeschool automatically disqualifies two of our daughters from attending a school with their neighbors as GHCHS does not serve special education students who cannot be mainstreamed. The school does not provide their own special day classes so both girls are transported to schools outside of our area. Our two other children are current students and my oldest daughter graduated from the school four years ago. My wife also graduated from the school before it broke from district control. My family has experienced the tradeoffs of giving a separate bureaucracy control over a school.

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We Don't Need No Arne Duncan

The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.”

-Arne Duncan


In a time when it is difficult to find common ground between our two ruling political parties, Common Core stands out as an exception. Both “conservatives and liberals increasingly are voicing similar concerns: that the standards take a one-size-fits-all approach, create a de facto national curriculum, put too much emphasis on standardized tests and undermine teacher autonomy.” Despite the fact “that we won’t know for probably a decade” if these new standards and other “education stuff” will work, we have pushed them, untested, on our students.

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Standing Up for Change in District 7

It can be argued that the middle is a voice that needs to be represented more in American politics. In an era of hyper-ideological division, we need people who can reach out to both sides of the political spectrum to find solutions. However, politicians who stake out the middle ground must do so with a sense of conviction. Without an adherence to principles, they run the risk of crossing the thin line between consensus building and pandering.

In many ways, Richard Vladovic is an example of the worst kind of moderate as he seems more interested in keeping the peace than taking a stand. For example, in last year’s special election in District 1 that pitted Dr. George McKenna against Alex Johnson, he was the only Board member not to make an endorsement. The LA School Report says that as the Board’s leader “he rarely attempts to sway opinion and almost never flashes any ‘passion’ for his position.” When asked during the first District 7 debate about John Deasy’s tenure with the district he would not take a stand stating that “he was respected and did a good job, and I don’t talk about people behind their back.” No mention was made of the former Superintendent’s iPad program or MiSiS - two issues that greatly affect the students of the district.

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AWOL

District Goals: 1) 100 percent graduation; 2) Proficiency for all; 3) 100 percent attendance; 4) Parent and community engagement; 5) School safety

-LAUSD Web Site

The LAUSD expects its students to come to school every day “prepared to learn new skills and talents so you can use them to make a difference once you cross the graduation stage.” In return, these students should expect those elected to run the district to show the same commitment. Instead, the students of District 3 have a Board Member who prioritizes other obligations over attending Board meetings in their entirety.

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"Inappropriate Personal Relationship"

The LAUSD’s first responsibility should always be to protect the safety of the students that they serve, especially when these children are in their care. Unfortunately, the Miramonte sex abuse scandal, the failure to remove drinking fountains and pipes containing lead from our schools,  and the fact that special education students are sent to a school where there are allegations of physical abuse are examples where the district has failed at this task. However, administrators in the district have become adept at using the public’s concern to remove staffers from the classroom for reasons that do not appear to have anything to do with student safety. In the case of Nobel Charter Middle School, it appears the Principal, Derek Horowitz, is using this same method against a parent to silence her complaints.

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Campaigning on the Public Dime

In November, Superintendent Cortines relayed an “anecdote about not being able to get through the door of two separate classrooms...’ because they were so crowded’” and promised that class size reduction is a LAUSD priority. However, before Tamar Galatzan rushed out the door before the end of the last School Board meeting, she voted to send layoff warning notices to 609 teachers, counselors and social workers. She took this step because the Superintendent says that the district is facing a deficit of nearly $160 million dollars. Instead of balancing this budget by increasing class sizes that are already too large, the Board should consider other ways of saving money. One way is to decrease Ms. Galatzan’s printing budget.

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Youthanasia

Tom Torlakson:

The November election between you and Marshall Tuck was billed by many as one that pitted those who would privatize our public education system versus those who would defend it. Based on the belief that you were the candidate who would put student’s needs first, I chose to support you. With this in mind, I hope that you will rescind your support of the “One System: Reforming Education to Serve all Students” report. Some of these proposals will inflict harm on the most fragile members of our population and are already being used by the Los Angeles Unified School District to dismantle programs that are desperately needed.

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Reply to the LA School Report

Mr. Petersen,

I am growing really tired of your comments. You rarely add anything constructive to a conversation, and I'm about at the end of the line letting you use our site to bash us time and again.

I've indulged your comments more than any other reader, especially in your efforts to use LA School Report as an extension of whatever campaign you mounted for the school board.

If you want to trash me and LA School Report on your own blog or Twitter account or wherever, that's fine. I don't care. But I am no longer going to abide by your using my website as a repository for your slings and arrows.

And so it has come to this: If you want to offer an opposing argument to a subject, fine. But if your words are framed around accusations of bias or unfairness or belittlement, they will come down, and I will block all further comments from you.

- Michael Janofsky, LA School Report


To give credit where credit is due, the LA School Report (LASR) is the best source of news in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Unfortunately, their coverage is tainted by a subtle but distinct bias for those who would like to privatize our public education system. Their refusal to acknowledge this slant make them the district’s version of Fox News and their claim of being “fair and balanced.”

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Enforcing Compliance

“Pupils, school personnel, classroom, special programs or other activities, regardless of their funding source, are not subject to visitation observation or any other external attention without the school administrator’s endorsement.”

- Derek Horowitz, Principal, Nobel Charter Middle School


The problems that I had been hearing about Nobel Middle School were confirmed when I wrote The Administrator Who Stole Christmas. Shortly after I published this piece, the head of their charter board complained about the general accuracy of the piece - but despite being asked, he never offered a specific correction; he would only say that most parents were happy with the school. Instead, he seemed more interested in knowing which parent had provided me with the information. I was taken aback when his response to my refusal to name my source was to start listing parents who he thought were responsible. He referred to them as his few “disgruntled parents.” Interestingly, his list did not include the actual person.

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