It's DIBELS time again in LAUSD, aren't you excited?

Three times each school year, LAUSD elementary teachers must give the DIBELS to every student.

The teacher must sit in the back of or on the side of the classroom with each student for 15 to 20 minutes. The students read to the teacher while the teacher follows on a computer. In Kindergarten the students identify letters.

While the teacher is working with each student individually the other students must work without teacher assistance. Some elementary classes have 35 students. Think about the time lost to the class while the teachers must give this superfluous test. Think about Kindergarteners needing their teachers.

The DIBELS like all the other tests costs money that could go to instructional materials, reducing class sizes, and repairs.

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Apologizer in Chief

Have we ever had a president who was so eager to address the world with an apology on his lips and doubt in his heart?

-Mitt Romney

No matter how genuine your intentions, it is impossible to negotiate with a party that refuses to talk. Still, faced with the colliding problems of Republicans in Congress who viewed “any government action [as] bad for the country” and an economy quickly descending into depression, President Obama tried to keep his campaign promise of changing the tone of Washington. Since the opposing party would not negotiate, he used their publicly stated policies and replaced infrastructure spending with tax cuts in his stimulus plan. To overcome an attempted filibuster he reduced the amount of spending. For his efforts he was rewarded with a package that passed without any Republican votes and an opposition party that gloated any time that a projection did not meet reality as America slowly recovered from near calamity.

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I wish that the new LAUSD Superintendent would:

  • Sell the Beaudry headquarters, clean house of the long-standing bureaucrats who haven’t been to schools in decades and of the administrators who have top degrees and have never taught.
  • Abolish all formal, standardized testing except for the end-of-the-year tests which would be a maximum of two hours per student. One hour of Math and one hour of Language Arts.
  • Halt all new construction and new land purchases, and use the remaining construction bond money to fix up the schools—they surely need it.
  • Sell KLCS Channel 58, land, building, license, and equipment.
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King Us

A former Montgomery County, Md., schools chief backed away, calling L.A. Unified ‘a total mess.’

-Los Angeles Times

After the LAUSD spent 15 months without a Superintendent that did not have “interim” in his title, the School Board finally did their job and hired a replacement for John Deasy. The fact that Michelle King is career player for the District and also attended its schools means that she has the breadth of institutional knowledge that will help her hit the ground running.  Hopefully, it also shows that she has loyalty to both the institution and the students that it serves. Reports that she began her career as a special education aid is reassuring to this parent of two daughters who require these services. The fact that she offered to step in for Deasy before he had been actually been pushed out the door also shows that she can have the hutzpah that the District needs. The shattering of the LAUSD’s glass ceiling is the crowning touch. Still, I cannot help but feel that her appointment could have been handled better.

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Meet the Impotent Press

You have to be really careful with the press -- not all of them, because I know some great reporters. But I’m going to start naming names because it really is incredible how dishonest the press is.”

-Donald Trump

In a poll released last year, 16% of Americans said that there was no “solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades”. It is very important to note that they were not passing judgement on the cause of this warming, they were denying the fact “that Earth has warmed since 1880...with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.” A large amount of blame for this ignorance falls on our media which covers this subject by pretending that it is debatable, sitting two people side-by-side, creating the appearance that they have equal weight. If, instead of this false equivalence, they held “a statistically representative climate change debate” that had 97 scientists debating three climate change deniers, the American public might have a greater understanding of how science works.

It has yet to be proven how much the hot air coming from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will increase the rate of global warming. His increasingly outrageous statements have continuously kept him in the spotlight allowing him to brag that he has “spent nothing” on his campaign and that he “can’t advertise because [he’s] getting so much coverage.” He keeps the reporters who cover him in line with a mixture of public ridicule at his rallies and threats to cut off access. The press reacts by allowing him to confuse biased reporting with doing the job of asking hard questions of the person who seeks be the leader of the free world. Nowhere was this more obvious than on Trump’s appearance on Meet the Press:

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Do the Right Thing?

And -- and -- you know, it goes back to the whole concept of regulations, which are in everything. The reason that I -- I hate them so much is because every single regulation costs in terms of goods and services.”

-Ben Carson

Hearing Board of the South Coast AQMDIt is not uncommon for businesses in California to complain that they have to deal with too many regulations. Unlike their brethren in Texas, they have to deal with inconveniences like state fire codes and contributions to workers’ compensation insurance, which they say puts them at a competitive disadvantage. In response, some threaten to relocate their business from Los Angeles to cities like Houston, which does not even have zoning laws. Government regulation is viewed as unnecessary “government interference” because these critics say that “market forces regulate the seller as strictly as any bureaucrat could”. The 2,258 households that have been displaced by the Porter Ranch Gas Leak are living within the fallacy of this argument.

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Ground Zero at the Porter Ranch Gas Leak

“So far the leak seems to be a minor annoyance in the area, said Sean O’Rourke, a member of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council Board of Directors.”

-Los Angeles Daily News

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While the natural gas leak in Porter Ranch, California is now starting to get national news coverage, the problem existed long before the networks turned their cameras on the issue. In fact, an informational picket line staged by Save Porter Ranch was held in front of Castlebay Lane Charter School as the students arrived dressed in costumes for their Halloween festivities. At that time residents complained about a delay in an acknowledgement of the problem by the Southern California Gas Company and a lack of attentiveness by local politicians. For example an affected stakeholder complained that a message left with Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office was returned by a utility official. Another said that City Councilman Mitch Englander had blocked her from his Twitter feed after she had posted about the leak. As late as the November 18th meeting of the Northridge Neighborhood Council, Englander’s representative was reporting that the leak posed no significant health risks. Little did he know that this talking point would be wiped away the next day by Los Angeles County health officials.

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LAUSD: A tale of two cities

It was the best of schools, it was the worst of schools, it was the age of segregation, it was the age of separation. It was Los Angeles in the 50’s and early 60’s. Los Angeles was segregated. Los Angeles City Schools were segregated.

The schools in the Westside, the Valley, and other areas were excellent. The success of their students from Kindergarten through 12th grade led to college and professional careers.

Meanwhile, students in other parts of the city received a lesser education in many instances. 

In the beginning Los Angeles created the Los Angeles City Schools. 

As the population of Southern California grew, as cities incorporated, the Los Angeles City Schools became the Los Angeles Unified School District. The Los Angeles Community College District became a separate entity.

Today, in the 21st Century, LAUSD is a tale of three cities: three school districts in one: the haves and the have nots and those in between.

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Throwing Bricks at the Wall

Nothing changes on New Year’s Day

-U2

Wall.JPGFamiliarity is the enemy of a movement that operates under the moniker of Change The LAUSD, but that did not stop 2015 from ending in territory that was too familiar. The Office of the General Counsel had promised that “responsive documents [would] be provided on or before December 31, 2015”, but the last day of the year passed without the LAUSD providing all the complaints filed with the Charter Schools Division (CSD) about Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) during the last two school years. Never mind the fact that this request was almost two months old or that a reasonable person would expect that this information would be readily available, the District’s self-imposed deadline passed without even a request for an extension. If the LAUSD is ever going to meet its core goal of “parent and community engagement”, perhaps it should resolve in 2016 to be more open to the public that it is supposed to serve.

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The District's Deaf Ears

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Shut up! Sit down!

-Ben Stern

Under Bennett Kayser’s leadership, the LAUSD’s Budget, Facilities, and Audit (BFA) Committee exposed details of John Deasy’s iPad program that helped lead to the former Superintendent’s resignation. Kayser was rewarded for his efforts with a campaign to unseat him that was heavily funded by the California Charters School Association (CSSA) and other corporate education “reformers.” After an election that included accusations that were not ethically sound, a $25,000 “Voteria” payout to one lucky voter and an attack based on Kayser’s Parkinson's diagnosis, Ref Rodriguez replaced Kayser on the Board. The effects of this change have already been felt in the District.

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