How do school districts pay for tests and test preparation materials?

The money to pay for the tests and the test preparation materials comes from the districts’ budgets funded by our taxes. Almost 12% of my property taxes go to LAUSD. It is an appalling usage, especially to a teacher in LAUSD!

In order to pay for the tests, districts such as LAUSD:

  • Increased class sizes;
  • Laid off school counselors, librarians, support people, custodians, and office clerks;
  • Cut art, music, sports, and gifted programs;
  • Reduced teacher salaries and health benefits.

Do you as a parent appreciate of this?

Teachers don’t!

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Open Court was an abomination

  • They paid LAUSD teachers to go to training for five days during their vacation.
  • Teachers could also go during the school year for three days and receive their regular pay while the district paid substitutes.
  • They paid Open Court instructors to fly into Los Angeles and stay at nice hotels.
  • They rented large halls in the hotels for instruction rooms and halls where they provided lunch for all of the teachers.
  • Each elementary school had a Literacy Coach who really was the Open Court Police.
  • They ran around the school visiting classrooms, finding fault, and reporting the teachers to the principal.
  • Initially 60% on an Open Court test was considered passing.
  • Open Court measured reading speed, even though there are students that read excellently but slowly.
  • Any elementary teacher can tell you that it is comprehension, not speed that is important in Reading.
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A home for retired LAUSD administrators

People in the know have been saying that the well entrenched bureaucracy, particularly the downtown administrators, needs to go.

Now with the audit of LAUSD Food Services revealing graft, corruption, and waste, plus the MiSIS mess and the iPad scandal, it’s past time for them to leave.Where should they go?

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Once Again, the Children Will Lose

We need to be prudent and not dig ourselves back into a bigger deficit.”

-LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines

When good teachers are put in Teacher Jail, students lose. Without a coach, they lose ability to compete. Weeks before their AP test they lose valuable study time with an experienced instructor. As their teacher sits at home, they lose access to an award winning music program. With an extracurricular coordinator denied access to school grounds, they lose a popular talent show. They lose a chance to fall in love with the Shakespeare and the ability to take potentially life changing trips.

Teacher Jail is also draining scarce resources from the classroom.  The program is a financial black hole that pays teachers not to teach while also paying substitutes to take their place in the classroom. The district does not even let the two coordinate to reduce the harm done to the students and their education. Now facing a pending lawsuit against Teacher Jail, the students will lose again when money that would be better spent on education is spent to defend the viability and legality of Teacher Jail. The district has already hired an outside law firm to mount a defense. Instead of shutting down Teacher Jail, they are conducting a costly investigation (perhaps “witch hunt” is a better description) in an attempt to find anything that could justify their removing an award-winning teacher from the classroom. Meanwhile the LAUSD is laying off teachers, has staff to student ratios that are too high and school libraries that remain closed.

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They’re coming to take me away—I am a veteran teacher

Throughout the United States, veteran teachers are being targeted. Facebook has story after story about veteran teachers, many times an award winning teacher, being targeted by their school administrations.

These school administrators have received the word from on high—the downtown administrators—to get the veteran teachers to leave.

In LAUSD they are put into teacher jails. In other districts the veteran teachers receive poor reviews, the most difficult students, and all kinds of pressure from the administration--all designed to get them to quit before they receive either full or partial lifetime benefits upon retirement.

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Have the Bullies Met Their Match?

Exploiting justified anger...to pursue a war on teachers

-Diane Ravitch

Too often, a teacher in the LAUSD’s Teacher Jail system is doomed to a career ending sentence if they cannot generate the publicity that will force the district’s hand. When district bullies removed Greg Schiller from the classroom because of a science project that they did not understand, students protested and the media noticed. Schiller’s suspension was ended after two months, but not before the fencing team he coached was forced to cancel their participation in a competition and AP students were deprived of study time. After leading class trips to France and the White House, choir teacher Iris Stevenson was placed in Teacher Jail. “Parents, students and community members rallied” and she was released back to the classroom, but only after students missed her instruction for an entire semester. Stuart Lutz was returned to the classroom with his only discipline being a “‘conference memo’, in which an administrator explained what Lutz did incorrectly and how to avoid such problems in the future.” Lutz was also the beneficiary of pressure on the district, including an online petition,  from people who did not believe that improprieties in field trip paperwork and fundraisers are adequate reasons to remove an art teacher from the classroom for eight months.

Until last month it appeared that Rafe Esquith was headed down the same path. After being placed in teacher jail in March for “telling a joke about nudity in Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,’” publicity was building about this teacher’s stay in purgatory. Several media outlets were covering the story and a well-attended protest was held before the School Board. He had also secured the services of a high powered law firm who “told the district to publicly apologize and let him return to work or be sued.”

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Trump Card

Stereotype: “A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.”

-Oxford Dictionaries

Under President Obama, there have been a record number of deportations. He has also employed the largest amount of border patrol agents. These have combined with other factors to drive a zero percent migration rate from Mexico, a trend that some expect to continue into the future. However, none of this is good enough for the xenophobic wing of the Republican party who still see the value of a good  scapegoat - especially one without the power to vote. According to this point of view, we should ignore the hard working people in search of a better life whose labor is exploited by American businessman and instead claim that “they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bring those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

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LAUSD, what have you done to Kindergarten?

A retired Kindergarten teacher wrote

 “When kdgtn was a place to play-act, learn the alphabet, build w/blocks, count objects, make friends, be a friend, share, listen to stories and do finger play and sing songs and sit cross-legged on the rug, and understand (sort of ) what a line of others is, and learn to take turns and to speak with an inside voice and to finger paint and to use paint at an easel to paint fire engines and use the colors....NOT to be tested to the core, but to be exposed to the best in early childhood and then to explore and then to own and direct. And then it changed and I retired...could not tolerate the tears and frustrations of little first graders who had to do math facts in short seconds and would instead have bathroom accidents in the room or have tummy aches and cry....filling in bubbles my foot! Testing was in the moment and highly interactive with responses and then reiterations of examples...by observation and gentle care. Miss those days...and feel so sorry for little people today who bark back the rules and verbage but can't get it down or correct on paper YET ! Reading by 9 is excellent; rote learning by 18 is impractical.

You remember, Kindergarten was fun!

Even today, preKindergarten to some is what Kindergarten was. I have seen the preK homework and it appears to be the end of Kindergarten/beginning of first grade skills of the past.

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Bye, Bye Public School Guy (to the tune of “American Pie”)

A very short time ago

I can still remember how teaching made me smile

And I knew if I teach my way

That my students would be happy everyday

And they’d prepare for the future

 

But testing made me sick

With every test prep I had used

Bad news in the classroom

I couldn't take one more year

 

I can't remember if I cried

When I was so bored I stepped outside

But something touched me deep inside

The day my creativity died

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The next LAUSD Superintendent should have:

  • The public personality of a Cal Worthington;
  • The pleasantness of Sheriff John singing “Laugh and Be Happy” and “The Birthday Polka” everyday;
  • The media savvy of Magic Johnson who is not afraid to publicly criticize, even the Lakers;
  • The truth of Bernie Sanders;
  • The wanderlust of Steve Lopez in order to visit the schools and publicize the issues;
  • The classroom experiences of 1,000 veteran teachers;
  • The ability to say the buck stops here and to the Board that they are wrong;
  • And most of all, a commitment to put the students and the schools first!
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