LAUSD teachers: Are you there for the test scores or for the children?

The current generation of teachers is totally different from the generation that I trained and began with.

We were there for the students, not the test scores.

We had the freedom to plan our own lessons and to schedule them.

The lessons were designed to fit our personality and that of the class.  Lesson plans and pacing plans did not come from publishers, they came from teachers, experienced teachers who were there to prepare students for the next grade and for life, teachers who cared about educating the students and who were not forced to care only about test scores.

We had sufficient time to remediate. An early principal of mine used to say, “Bring the students up to grade level and introduce them to grade level skills.”

We had ample opportunities to challenge and to enrich the students.

We had time for teachable moments.

We had time for fun!

We were not forced to stay within the system. We went beyond to help the students.

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Truthiness and Trump's Presidential Campaign

[Donald Trump] is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people, showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”

-Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump has a tenuous relationship with the truth. For example, four years ago he sent investigators to Hawaii to prove that the President was lying about his place of birth and reported that “they cannot believe what they’re finding.” While the results of that investigation were never released to the public, Trump still does not know if the President was born in the United States or “why he wouldn’t release his records.” In the real world, Obama had released his “certification of birth” during 1988, long before Trump had become the public face of the Birther movement.

During the speech before paid supporters announcing his entry into the current race for the presidency, he said “our gross domestic product...was below zero. Whoever heard of this? It’s never below zero.” The answer is “nobody” because in 2014 the United States had a GDP of positive US$ 17,419,000,000,000. Although it is a strange mistake for someone who is running as a successful businessman, he probably meant that the change in GDP had just been announced as below zero. However, this is a condition that has definitely happened before. In fact, “the technical indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product”.

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The Learning Curve of the LAUSD Shutdown

I as Superintendent am not going to take the chance with the life of a student.”

-Ramon C. Cortines

In hindsight, it is easy to look at the threat that was emailed to LAUSD Board members and say that the District overreacted by shutting down the schools for the day. Monday morning quarterbacks have the convenience of knowing that no bombs were found in a thorough search of facilities and that New York schools made it through their day without incident. Yes, the email does read like it was written by a terrorist’s fanboy and it is legitimate to ask why a person looking to kill as many people as possible would provide any type of warning, but Cortines had lives of 640,000 students in his hands. No matter how small the actual risk, I think that he can be excused for not wanting to take any chance with those lives. As long as they are willing to learn from the experience, the District should be given a pass.

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Controlling Information

Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation.”

-Atifete Jahjaga

During the last Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee meeting the LAUSD Charter Schools Division (CSD) claimed that they provide “high-quality charter school oversight”, are “stewards of the public trust” and take “stakeholder questions, concerns and claims” seriously in their efforts to bring “transparency” and “accountability” to the publicly funded but privately run charter schools. There is no denying that these catchphrases look great in a Powerpoint presentation and hold great promise for the students, taxpayers and other stakeholders of the district. However, to have any real meaning these words need to be backed up with actions by an agency that itself has transparency to the public. Unfortunately, when tested the CSD’s actions do not conform with their stated mission.

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LAUSD whatever happened to textbooks with paper and pencil?

In LAUSD elementary classrooms they use workbooks, sheets from the publishers, and photocopies at a waste of millions while enriching the publishers. There is not enough practice on any skill for every student to attain mastery of that skill.

My students used five to six Math books with Math paper folded into 16 squares. The students got plenty of practice and practice equals mastery.

For Language Arts exercises, I used a textbook along with lined paper. I used lined paper for creative writing too. I supplemented the textbook with charts and transparencies and the students worked and there was sufficient practice for mastery.

Do they really learn how to punctuate quotations by putting in commas and quotation marks on a printed page?

My students wrote their own dialogue and put in the punctuation.

LAUSD: Your tax dollars at waste always!

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The LAUSD Board Strikes Out

Resolved, That the LAUSD Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles opposes the Broad Foundation plan and all initiatives that present a strategy designed to serve some students and not all students

-Scott Schmerelson

When a leaked copy of Eli Broad’s Great Public Schools Now Initiative was published by the Los Angeles Times, the public was given insight into what the Ed “Reform” movement’s plans look like before they have been cleaned up by the marketing department. While students should be the reason for any education system to exist, in this document they were reduced to “market share” and tools for creating a system that will become “a model for all large cities to follow.” While claiming that this new model would be better for students, the initiative’s metrics were not set up to measure student achievement. Instead, they measured how well the program performed at increasing the size of the publicly financed, private school system with three stated “objectives: (1) to create 260 new high-quality charter schools, (2) to generate 130,000 high-quality charter seats, and (3) to reach 50 percent charter market share.”

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3R’s + T = LAUSD

When you were in school did you learn more than the 3R’s:  Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

Of course you did. If you think hard you can remember map making, singing and dancing, games, Social Studies, movies, slides or filmstrips, Science, public speaking and drama, Health, handwriting, and practical things like learning how to introduce two people, how to carry a chair, how to address an envelope, and so much more.

Don’t you want your children to have these experiences? How did we get to this place? How do we stop it?

We must retake our schools from the test and book publishers, the know it all celebrities (politicians and the extremely rich who never attended public school), the school board members who have no educational background, and the downtown administrators who are entrenched without the knowledge gained by current experiences at the schools.

Wherever thou goest in school today, the fun is gone, the tests are upon, and the students’ future is extremely drawn.

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American Idiots

Don't want to be an American idiot.

One nation controlled by the media.

Information age of hysteria.

It's calling out to idiot America.”

-Billie Joe Armstrong


Like consumer safety in a deregulated market, basic decency has been discarded as the Republican candidates for president have engaged in a race to the bottom in an attempt to secure their party’s base. Donald Trump fired the starting gun with attacks on Mexican immigrants and has continued to set the pace by mimicking a reporter with disabilities. Ted Cruz seemed to challenge President Obama to a schoolyard brawl when he stated "I want to encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face." When the New York Times  reported that Ben Carson’s advisor,  Duane R. Clarridge, told them that “Mr. Carson needed weekly conference calls briefing him on foreign policy so ‘we can make him smart,’” the Carson campaign chastised the Times for taking “advantage of an elderly gentleman.” Chris Christie one upped Cruz’s declaration that our country should only admit Syrian refugees who are Christians because “there is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” by maintaining that even "orphans under age 5" pose a risk and should be excluded from entering our country in search of refuge. Carly Fiorina continues to maintain that she saw an anti-Planned Parenthood video that does not exist while Trump stands by his claim that he “watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. Jersey City, New Jersey...thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” As proof, he “links to, a conspiracy website that pushes the idea that 9/11 was an insidejob...the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary was a hoax, FEMA is setting up concentration camps and Andrew Breitbart was assassinated to prevent the release of damaging information about Barack Obama.” 

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How far will LAUSD parents go to find a better school for their children?

A parent who lives by Palms Middle School chose to send her child to Paul Revere Middle School about seven miles away. This is a heavy traffic drive and the street leading to Revere is a one lane road in each direction.

Why?  Because she wants the best education for her child.

Parents go so far as to use someone else’s address.  This is a common practice as parents in areas where their home school is not to their expectations find other ways to get their children into a preferred school.

Many years ago, a number of students attending an elementary school were found using the same residential address where none of them lived. People have turned the guardianship of their child over to a relative living in the residential area of a desired school.

There are also students using permits with transfer and taking extremely long school bus rides to attend better schools. There are also students who utilize public transportation to reach a school that their family prefers.

All schools are not created equal.

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Saving Money by Shortchanging a Special Education

For 13 years [we have] known what we should do for Special Education and we have ignored it as a district.”

-Ramon C. Cortines, LAUSD Superintendent

It cannot be denied that Special Education costs a lot of money. In fact, the Independent Financial Review Panel says that it “is one of the fastest growing parts of the LAUSD budget.” When done well, Special Education can be labor intensive, requiring classrooms with extremely low staff-to-student ratios and sometimes even more one-on-one time. Experts in speech and occupational therapy are needed to fortify regular instructional time. The District must make accommodations so that those with physical disabilities can have full access to school facilities. Transportation is needed to get students to the schools that provide their required programs. These services do not come cheap, but they are all essential components to provide a Special Education.

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