Archive for December 2009

Bar Set Low For Lifetime Teaching Jobs... Thoughts And Highlights From Yesterday's LA Times Article

Yesterday the LA Times ran a story about the LAUSD tenure-mill system. While it explains how an unqualified teacher can easily acquire tenure, what the article really demonstrates is the overall lack of oversight within the bloated and often woefully incompetent LAUSD administrative bureaucracy. Before I say told you so, let me elaborate on some of the highlights.

Why Cortines' Plan To Fire 'Weak' Teachers Isn't What You Think

What makes a teacher weak? The starting premise of Superintendent Cortines is that LAUSD must "weed out ineffective new teachers before they become permanent." Keep in mind these 'weak' teachers are college graduates who have at least 4 years of college, supplemented by more than a year of credentialing programs that should have identified the supposed teaching deficits that they now suffer from. But as we all are aware by now, teachers are the real problem in education, not administrators. In fact, let's just fire all teachers and hire only administrators, since they're the only ones doing their jobs right. Whew. Problem solved.


12 2009

Cortines On Fremont High: "Whoops, Do-over"

It takes a lot of nerve to be an integral part of failed public education policy in this country, as Superintendent Ray Cortines has been during his 50 year career, and rather than own up and take responsibility for his part in this failed system, he instead blames the teachers.

300... of 33,000 Teachers

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It is regrettable that the Tuesday, December 8th demonstration did little to dissuade incompetent LAUSD leadership from further dismembering public education in Los Angeles by now proposing laying off of another 5000 teachers to balance its budget. If anything the...


12 2009

Comments Work!

You can now leave comments! Facebook/Twitter not so much (yet) but you should sign up and leave your thoughts anyway...

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The 8 Simple Rules For Fixing LAUSD Overnight

With all the brouhaha about fixing public education, people are left with the false impression that this is some herculean and incredibly complicated task that borders on the impossible. In actuality, nothing could further from the truth. What is hard is maintaining archaic disproved models of public education that only serve to maintain the relatively small number of people who benefit under the present regime. Instead of reconstituting teachers in failed schools, try reconstituting administration. Instead of accommodating teacher and student dysfunction, look at why they fail and stop lying to yourselves -- enforce objective standards for all. Stop adapting to failure and assaulting those who complain. Create independent oversight instead of blind loyalty to failure. Here are 8 ways to solve the education problem literally overnight.


12 2009

MAIL from Central High/Tri-C: Why give me the answers to tests I'm not (legally) supposed to grade?

Central High students are being given an assessment test this week, which sounds normal enough... but one teacher at the continuation school, where hardly any students ever show up, let alone work, can't figure out why the teachers there are being given the answers to tests they're required to turn over (ungraded and unchanged) to officials .


12 2009

LAUSD vs North Korea: Life as a teacher in the propaganda bubble

What do North Korea and LAUSD have in common? In North Korea, people live in a kingdom headed by Kim Jung Il and his entourage and have no contact with the outside world. All people know is what their illustrious leader incessantly tells them about the future communist paradise that is being created. But this paradise is contradicted everyday by their daily experience. In LAUSD, people also live in a kingdom headed at various times by a governor, a retired admiral, or a blind optimist named Ray Cortines, who tells his people about an educational paradise where they will all go to college, but alas, this fantasy too bears no relationship to the everyday reality that his vassals experience.

Why I'm not qualified to be a principal

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The first step to becoming an LAUSD principal is understanding how the administration works, or doesn't work. The administration is a closed bureaucracy that spares no expense in stifling reform it sees as threatening its privileged position. In order to accomplish this dubious end, school administrators establish many prerequisites of questionable significance in determining who will be allowed to join their ranks.
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New UC admissions policy in 2012: Less Blacks, Asians and Latinos

A change in UC admission policy that was supposedly designed to increase diversity on California campuses will have the opposite effect -- according to the UC Regents own internal study (using a 2007 model) African-American admittance would fall 27%, Asian-Americans drop 12% and Latinos 3%. Doesn't matter much though, as they've voted to adopt the new policy anyway. As the UC President Mark Yudof says it's about "fairness".


12 2009

New Mexico doesn't know if students should learn about Mexico

Arizona didn't want to learn about Mexican-American history. Florida doesn't need black history. And now New Mexico is considering saying thanks, but no thanks, to the Hispanic Education Act proposed by Gov. Bill Richardson. The New Mexico Sec. of Public Education Veronica Garcia says the law would aim at boosting the graduation rates of Hispanic students, which is currently at 56%.

CSU needs quarter for payphone

Well this is sad. CSU Long Beach is looking to save money by shutting off phone service -- I repeat -- phone service. Phones and lights are now a luxury amidst the massive cuts in UC and CSU budgets. With so many schools looking to close the gap, budget committees are being forced to get very creative. Furloughs, layoffs, trimming programs, raising tuition or simply begging for donations. CSULB President F. King Alexander says in 2001 California covered 50% of his school's budget. Now? Somewhere near 30%. Side note: California prison budget = $15.4 billion, education budget = $15.3 billion. The CSU President remains confident, however, as the multimillion dollar, state-of-the-art Spare Change and Advanced Beggar Training Facility was built to cope for just such emergencies.


12 2009

The latest accessory for hedge funders: Charter schools

Rough economy holdin' you down? Tired of taxes, taxes, taxes? Start a charity or charter school -- it really works! That's what partners at Gotham Capital did, along with a number of other hedge fund managers and analysts. They even joined something called the "Success Charter Network" (so you know it's good). And while "real" public schools were facing massive layoffs, they're now hiring! Jim Horn at schoolmatters wonders aloud if giant tax credits, lucrative land deals and all-you-can-eat bond bundles have anything to do with the sudden interest in education.

LAUSD pilot schools: Same old' same old'

While there are many possibilities for addressing present public school dysfunction, the four models that the Los Angeles Unified School District and United Teachers of Los Angeles have alleged considered are: Affiliated Charters, ESBMM (Expanded School-Based Management Model), iDesign/Partnership Schools, and the dreaded Pilot School. As this study clearly shows, if a charter school is correctly implemented it can beat any of these models, because it offers the greatest latitude in drafting to relect a reformed school model that could mix the most subjectively appropriate strengths of all models to the student population and community where the school has to function.

How can you expect students to read when teachers don't?

In  Los Angeles Unified School District, meaningful and independently verifiable change has been shunned by a highly ritualized kabuki District administrators practice, where their primary concern is to defend their privileges as refugees from the intolerable classroom reality from which...

ODD COUPLE: Arne Duncan and his strange friend at Save-a-Life

Sec. of Education Arne Duncan was chummy with some interesting people back in the day. Are you a convicted shoplifter? Make believe nurse? Diagnosed Schizo and pathological liar? Did Arne Duncan give you $60,000 for nothing? Why, then you must be Carol J. Spizzirri, head of Save-a-Life Foundation (!)

Destroying the environment, one school lunch at a time

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There are approximately 997 students at Lockwood Avenue Elementary School just east of Vermont in a predominantly Latino neighborhood. Every day the students in this overcrowded school eat their lunch in shifts before running off to play on the adjacent...

MAIL: A current LAUSD teacher writes to us....

A lot of teachers want to provide insight to the not so current crisis in education. Here's what one teacher sent us. Want to share your thoughts, complaints or general experience within the school system? Write to us too! (you can remain anonymous)

The real secret to choosing a school in Los Angeles

As desperate parents seek some sort of viable alternative to the dearth of options they have in LAUSD, the district's imperfectly run CHOICES Program remains one of the few possibilities that offers even the slightest chance of their children receiving an adequate education in a public school.