Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Perimeter Primate: The "Parent Trigger" and its connections to the phoney LA Parents Union, Green Dot, Steve Barr, and Eli Broad

The Perimeter Primate: The "Parent Trigger" and its connections to the phoney LA Parents Union, Green Dot, Steve Barr, and Eli Broad

The "Parent Trigger" and its connections to the phoney LA Parents Union, Green Dot, Steve Barr, and Eli Broad

Originally conceived in Los Angeles by Steve Barr’s (of Green Dot) Los Angeles Parents Union, and largely funded by the Broad Foundation,the "Parent Trigger" has spread east, and here. This is an initiative where if enough parents can be convinced to sign a petition, a school will be closed down and replaced with a charter. On each Form 990 from 2005 to 2008, Steve Barr is listed as the CEO/President of the LAPU board.
Broad contributed nearly 50% of the funding for the launch of the LAPU (formerly the Small Schools Alliance, aka the Parent Revolution). The money he supplied helped pay for the propaganda to make it seem like the movement is being generated by "the people," when in fact it is a carefully planned, targeted marketing campaign to wipe out the public schools.
An absolute lie is being spread that it was "developed by the grass-roots group Parent Revolution in the Los Angeles Unified School 

Obama Gives Govs. Another Reason to Adopt Common Core - Politics K-12 - Education Week

Obama Gives Govs. Another Reason to Adopt Common Core - Politics K-12 - Education Week

The state-led effort to adopt a common core of academic standards is getting a lot of back-up from the feds.
And President Obama is expected to give the movement another shot in the arm tomorrow. Lesli Maxwell over at State EdWatch has the scoop.

A Modest Proposal for NCLB Reauthorization � The Quick and the Ed

A Modest Proposal for NCLB Reauthorization � The Quick and the Ed

Senior House Republicans and Democrats recently announced a new bi-partisan effort to re-authorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It’s a good sign for some real progress, both for education specifically and Washington in general, but there’s been no word on whether the Senate is so inclined. The “proposals” put forward so far by the Department of Education and at yesterday’s announcement are light on details, so this post is my attempt at rectifying some of the major issues around No Child Left Behind.

No More Pass/ Fail

One of the more frequent criticisms of the law concerns its binary pass/ fail system. If a school fails to meet a single academic benchmarks in a single grade in a single subject by a single sub-group of students, it is said to not meet “adequate yearly progress,” or AYP. If it does not meet AYP for multiple years in a row, the school is subject to a series of consequences that become more punitive the more years it misses targets.
The strengths of this arrangement came from protecting under-served populations. Because a school would be held accountable for all groups of students, it focused much more attention on achievement gaps and did not let a school hide its problems educating important sub-groups behind school-wide averages.
The focus on sub-groups should not go away, but a better system would allow states to create a multi-tiered ranking of schools with different consequences for different types of schools. They could give each school an A-F grade, for example, 

Sacramento region's week ahead: Issues shaping the news - Sacramento News - Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee

Sacramento region's week ahead: Issues shaping the news - Sacramento News - Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee:

Sac City Unified outlines $30 million deficit, seeks public advice
What: The Sacramento City Unified School District will host a community forums at two high schools this week to discuss the district's $30 million budget deficit and to solicit public comment.
When: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Rosemont High High, 9594 Kiefer Blvd., Sacramento, on Tuesday;

March Forth On Thursday, March 4th!

March Forth On Thursday, March 4th!
Protest! March! Rally!

Rally: Frank Ogawa Plaza, Noon to 4
(in front of Oakland City Hall -- 14th & Broadway)

March to the Ogawa Plaza rally from:
¨     UC Berkeley
o   Noon rally at Bancroft & Telegraph, followed by march
¨     Laney College
o   11 AM rally, followed by 1 PM march
¨     Fruitvale BART
o   Assemble at 11 AM, march at 11:30 AM


·       Pre-school thru graduate school and adult education
·        Open Admissions
·        No union-busting, no privatization, no charters
·        End NCLB and Race to the Top
·        Student/staff/parent/working class community control

Full Funding for Vital Services; Jobs for All!
·        Restore all cuts and expand public services
·        No foreclosures

Defend Immigrants’ Rights!
·        Full citizenship rights for immigrants
·        No ICE raids, no deportations

Bail Out Schools and Jobs, not Banks, Bombs and Prisons!
·        Jobs and education, not war and incarceration
·        Make the rich pay
Endorsers (partial list):  October 24 Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education; East Bay March 4th Organizing Committee; Northern California March 4th Organizing Committee; UC Berkeley General Assembly; UC Berkeley Solidarity Alliance; University Professional and Technical Workers Local 1 UPTE / CWA; Oakland Education Association (OEA);  Oakland AFT 771; Peralta Federation of Teachers; AFSCME 444
For more information:

Get Involved

Teacher house calls -

Teacher house calls -

Heather, a kindergartner at Stix Early Childhood Center, got an unusual visit on a snowy Friday earlier this month.

Her teacher, Karen Pittinger, came to talk to her and her grandmother about schools, her friends and the year so far.

Pittinger brought a gift bag, with notebooks, mechanical pencils and a book about tropical birds. "Since you're one of my best readers, I have a feeling you'll grow into it," Pittinger said.

A new program in the region is sending hundreds of teachers to their students' doorsteps. 

The concept of home visits isn't a new one. A federal study has found that teachers rate such visits as effective. Yet, the concept has been stymied by a lack of training and — more critically — funding to cover overtime pay.

Now, with the support of a philanthropic foundation, three St. Louis districts have started home visits in a program being tracked by researchers. The Teacher Home Visit Program has been in place at Valley Park Elementary for three years, at Maplewood-Richmond Heights for two years and will be expanding in the St. Louis Public Schools. Already, city schools have conducted nearly 600 first visits. -- Welcome -- Welcome

Black Youth Leadership Project, Inc.

8:30 AM TO 5:00 PM

The Black Youth Leadership Project, Inc. is hosting a one-day Open House geared
toward African-American high school students interested in California politics,
public policy, civics, governmental service, and/or community service. Students
will participate with Capitol staff in mock committee hearings and a legislative
floor session, passing laws that are important to them. The purpose of the Open
House is to encourage African-American students in grades 9-12 to regularly
interact with their state's political and community leaders and to use this
opportunity to discuss the legislative process, timely policy concerns, and the role
of democracy and advocacy within our communities.
Contact Lorreen Pryor at (916)319-3822 or LORREEN.PRYOR@ASM.CA.GOV
Christian Jacobs at (916) 256-4286 or CHRISTIAN.JACOBS@ASM.CA.GOV
for an application.

600 pink slips may be issued Elk Grove Citizen : News

Elk Grove Citizen : News

600 pink slips may be issued

By Citizen staff
Published: Friday, February 19, 2010 1:23 PM PST
Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD) Superintendent Dr. Steven Ladd announced at last Tuesday’s board meeting that he and the district’s six associate superintendents will take two furlough days this school year, five furlough days in the 2010-2011 school year, and a freeze in step and column salary increases in 2010-2011.

In addition to Ladd, the six affected are: Associate Superintendent of Elementary Education Donna Cherry, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Glen De Graw, Associate Superintendent of Education Services Nancy Lucia, Associate Superintendent of Finance and School Support Richard Odegaard, Associate Superintendent of Secondary Education Christina Penna, and Associate Superintendent of Facilities Robert Pierce.

The action represents the conversation taking place in negotiations with the district’s labor associations.  The district has asked them to consider seven furlough days, a freeze in step and column salary increases, and a temporary cessation of the lottery check paid to employees each fall.

The superintendent and associate superintendents do not receive a lottery check. They are also not represented by a labor association.

Following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s January budget proposal, EGUSD will need to cut $60.5 million to submit a balanced budget for the 2010-2011 school year to the Sacramento County Office of Education by July 1, as required by law.

Odegaard said the district in November took action to cut $42 million from the budget. Now they have identified another $13.5 million cut in the governor’s 2010-11 budget proposal and found another $5 million in reductions due to changes in the tax laws.

Ladd wrote a letter to all the district’s employees and said, “while many things may change as California’s budget moves through the legislative process, we must act on the best information available prior to the March 15 deadline. In light of the need to cut $60.5 million 

Read the Tier III Committee's Report SCUSD Observer

SCUSD Observer
Read the Tier III Committee's Report  SCUSD Observer

School Spying Students At-Home Via Computer? - THE DAILY RIFF - Be Smarter. About Education.

School Spying Students At-Home Via Computer? - THE DAILY RIFF - Be Smarter. About Education.

An Example Of Big Brother At Home 
Or Much Ado About Nothing?

CBS & CNN Report. FBI Is On The Case.
See (2) Short Videos Below.

Premise is as follows:

  • A school in Pennsylvania gave students laptops.
  • School could allegedly watch students at home via camera which is embedded in all laptops given to students.  
  • A family claimed school spied on their son at home without cause by using the webcam as a "peeping Tom technology".   Concerns were brought up whether schools could watch/monitor kids under any circumstance;  who has access to monitoring; plus the extreme ramifications of being taped in compromising situations such as getting dressed.  Some accounts claimed this boy was caught taking drugs when he was eating candy.
  • School countered by saying they only utilize the webcam monitoring in the laptop when there is theft of a laptop, according to one account.  Another said it was disabled.
  • FBI is investigating.

Whether this is another "balloon boy" hoax is yet to be seen, but but it again brings up the importance of our collective diligence about the issue of privacy.  Admittedly, the whole concept of the webcam that is embedded in our laptops could be used as a "peeping Tom" unknowinglyis very creepy.  The Daily Riff has been covering this topic, such as here and here.  

Student Motivation & Dropout Prevention: The School Archive Project

Student Motivation & Dropout Prevention: The School Archive Project
The School Archive Project - 
Students seeing their future

Student Motivation & Dropout Prevention

Home          Dropout Statistics          Why Archive Projects Work          Project Blog

The best dropout prevention is a focus on the future. The School Archive Project does that with a 10-year time-capsule and class-reunion plan designed to provide a physical connection to each student's future. The goal is to help students understand their own natural ability to make the differences they want in their lives and communities, and the world as a whole, through their planning and work.
The first School Archive was a 350-pound vault, bolted to the floor of the Quintanilla Middle School lobby in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas in 2005. The Archive has 10 shelves to hold letters from 8th grade classes until their 10-year class reunion. Students write these letters to themselves before leaving the 8th grade. The letter is about their achievements and stories from their life. It will document their efforts toward personal growth and their goals. They seal the finished letter into a self-addressed envelope. They then pose for a photo with their Language Arts Class in front of the School Archive holding their letters. After the photo they each place their letter into the Archive themselves.

Bill Betzen said...

The first step in curing the US dropout crisis is to have a simple and accurate report on dropout numbers in every school and school district. An annually updated 10+ year enrollment by grade spreadsheet, with annual graduation numbers, will provide this. Such spreadsheets should be on every school and school district web site. While not as technically correct as the “experts” want, they will eliminate the manipulations common in dropout number reporting and expose our deadly dropout patterns. They will also track progress as dropout rate numbers go down from step two.

Second: bolt a 500-pound vault to the floor in every secondary school lobby to function as a 10-year time-capsule. Each new class will write their first letter to themselves for the vault as they enter the school. They will write about their history and plans for the future. Parents are also invited to write a letter to be placed with it with their own dreams for their child. Then, as they are about to graduate from that school, students retrieve those letters. They use them in writing a final letter with a clearer focus 10 years into their future. They place the final letter, possibly with another from their parents, into the vault, and plan for a 10-year class reunion to retrieve them. At that reunion they will be able to speak to the then current students in the school about their recommendations for success. They prepare for questions such as: "What would you do differently if you were 13 again?"

The first School Archive Project started in 2005 in a Dallas middle school with an 8th grade class that was the Graduation Class of 2009. Both of these old, inner-city high schools who received these students had the largest graduation classes on record with the Class of 2009!

The 11th and 12th grade enrollments in the 32 high schools in Dallas ISD went up 5% from 2005/2006 to 2009/2010. This is in spite of total district enrollment going down 2.5% during the same years! However 55% of this gain is from only two of the 32 high schools in the district, the two who received the 700+ students who had placed a letter into a vault in 2006 and 2007. See the details for this $2 per student dropout prevention project at

AFT Policy Talk ... and Walk? Eduflack


AFT Policy Talk ... and Walk?

About a month ago, Eduflack wrote about AFT President Randi Weingarten's teacher quality treatises nailed upon the schoolhouse door, where the head of the nation's second largest teachers' union laid a vision for how AFT could get on board the new ed reform/school improvement train.  At the time, I wrote that she was talking a good talk, but the real challenge would be how AFT, and Weingarten in particular, would be able to walk the walk.

The first stroll of such a challenge took place deep in the heart of Texas earlier this month, when Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier tried to use Weingarten's rhetoric to get his teachers' backing for a new teacher quality initiative that allows the school district to remove teachers with lagging student test scores.  Grier's Houston experiment was unanimously supported by the Houston ISD School Board, but was loudly opposed by local teachers and by the national AFT.  Eduflack reflects on the Houston showdown here, while the National Journal's Education Experts Blog provides some terrific insights and views here.

Coming out of Houston, there were many an education agitator wondering if AFT is indeed serious about being part of the reform agenda.  After all, AFT is in the business of promoting teachers' jobs and boosting their benefits.  The reform agenda is now focusing on teacher incentives and so-called quality issues, which leads quickly to a discussion of bonuses for some (but not all) teachers and the removal of teachers who are deemed ineffective.  (Though Eduflack recognizes the rubric for effectiveness is one of the biggest sticking points in the game right now).  So while AFT may be for reform and for teacher quality, can it ever really get behind any plan that will call for the removal of educators from the classroom or the professional entirely, particularly when they are dues-paying members protected under an AFT-negotiated collective bargaining agreement?  How does the reform rhetoric translate into action?

While I'm not sure if AFT has figured out how it truly positions the union on the teacher quality issue (other than knowing that there are few in DC with the knowledge and experience on the issue with the ability to take real action like the AFT's Rob Weil), it is clear that AFT is not content in simply serving as the "loyal opposition" to the current education reform wave.  Yes, AFT is going to do its share of criticism on policies such as Race to the Top, proposed budget cuts, and the expected ESEA reauthorization, but recent actions signal that AFT may also be looking for some common ground where it can move the needle, make a difference, and be a part of real reforms.

“You All Took a Stand” | The White House

“You All Took a Stand” | The White House
With Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in tow, First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Philadelphia yesterday as part of the Let’s Move! campaign, a nationwide effort to rally the country around one goal, ending the epidemic of childhood obesity.
During her remarks at Fairhill Elementary School, Mrs. Obama applauded the city of Philadelphia for their “stand” to end childhood obesity:
Six years ago, when this city had fewer supermarkets per person than almost anywhere in America, all right, that was six years ago, when many folks had no access to healthy foods; six years ago many neighborhoods had alarming rates of obesity-related conditions like heart disease and diabetes -- the folks in this city, you all could have decided that you had an unsolvable problems on your hands, right?  You could have done that.  You could have decided that these problems were just too big and too complicated and too entrenched and thrown your hands up and walked away.
But instead you all took a stand, a really important, collaborative stand.  You decided first that no family in this city should be spending a fortune on high-priced, low-quality foods because they have no other options.  You decided that no child should be consigned to a life of poor health because of what neighborhood his or her family lives in.  And you decided that you weren't going to just talk about the problem or wring your hands about the problems, but you were going to act.
And that's precisely the kind of determination, the kind of commitment that we need to address the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country.  And this issue is an issue of great concern to me, and I've said this before, not because I'm First Lady -- or not just because I'm First Lady of this country -- but because I'm a mother, and I care about my kids and I care about all of our kids.  And I know that this issue is a great concern to all of you, everyone around this country.  We all care about our kids.  That's why last week we enthusiastically and proudly launched "Let's Move."  (Applause.)  "Let's Move" is a nationwide campaign to rally this country around one single but ambitious goal, and that is to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation so that the kids born today grow up with a healthy weight.  Simple but ambitious.
Mrs. Obama also announced a new part of Let’s Move! -- the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a multi-million dollar public and private investment to eliminate food deserts in America within seven years:
So with your success here in Pennsylvania, what you've shown us is that when we provide the right support and incentives, then business leaders like Pat Burns and Jeff Brown, they're going to take the chance to invest in our communities.  And when we bring fresh, healthy food to communities, what do we learn?  People will buy it, right?  People will buy it.  These stores are turning a profit.  And what's going on is that they're doing well by doing good.  Isn't that something?  (Applause.)
So it's because of this example that part of "Let's Move" we created this Healthy Food Financing Initiative that's modeled on what's been going on here.  And as Secretary Geithner said, with a modest initial investment of about $400 million a year, we're going to use that money to leverage hundreds of millions more from private and non-profit sectors to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved communities all across this country.  If you can do it here, we can do it around the country.  (Applause.)  And our goal is ambitious.  It's to eliminate food deserts in America completely in seven years.  (Applause.)
Again, we know this is ambitious, but we also know that tackling the issue of accessibility and affordability is key to achieving the overall goal of solving childhood obesity in this generation.
To learn more about what you can do to help solve the childhood obesity epidemic – visit and become a fan of Let’s Move! on FaceBook.

Don't blame the teachers - The Reporter

Don't blame the teachers - The Reporter

I am concerned about the comments made by the Vacaville Unified School District Board of Education at its Feb. 11 meeting. The board asserted that it was the teachers' fault that the district must consider closing schools.

This is another classic example of the school board trying to pass the blame off on someone else and not taking responsibility for making decisions.

The Vacaville Teachers Association (VTA) has put forth an offer of more than $1.1 million dollars in concessions to the school district. This offer represents an unprecedented give-back from the association and is the largest percentage give-back by any district employee group. In return, all the teachers have asked for is time outside the duty day to help with the increased workload that has resulted with the larger class sizes they are facing.

The district has rejected the offer made by the VTA, an offer based on the options given to the teachers by the district's negotiating team.

None of the options given to the teachers are good for the teachers or the students. But to blame the teachers for the possible closing of schools should not be the school board's response to the financial problems of the school district. If a school needs to be closed because it represents a financial loss to the district, then the board needs to do its job and stop passing the responsibility onto a committee or a group of hard-working employees.

Larry Baker, president
Vacaville Teachers Association

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