NEW LOS ANGELES AND KIPP COMIENZA: CHARTERS THAT GET IT RIGHT... IF GIVEN A CHANCE

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(Mensaje se repite en Español) KIPP Comienza and New City Charter are two notable exceptions to the premeditate failure of the vast majority of charter schools that have LAUSD as their LEA oversight, while being further compromised by being in LAUSD's SELPA. In 2013 KIPP Comienza had the unheard of 978 API scores with a close to 100% Latino population- a result unequal anywhere in Los Angeles or elsewhere by a public school with the same poor and minority population. However, their excellence has created a problem: When these highly educated students leave this elementary school oasis of best practices, they are faced with not being able to find a middle school or subsequent high school with a student population as rigorously prepared as they are. What they come up against is a failed middle and high school environment with only the slogans and without the substance of excellence that had allowed these students to reach their potential in the first place. While New City Charter Middle School hasn't been as successful results with their API scores in 2013: Whites 885, Blacks 772, and Latinos 725, what makes this school stand out as a beacon of hope in an otherwise dismal Los Angeles public school environment is their commitment to high achieving education for all of their purposefully integrated student population. But most importantly, New City is also seriously examining what factors have stopped them up until now from achieving this goal.

A CHIP OFF THE OLD CIVIL RIGHTS?

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(Mensaje se repite en Español) Given the revelations of Edward Snowden and others as to the ever increasing government onslaught on privacy and other civil rights that the government justifies by questionable and clearly overreaching notions of national security, one would think that it might finally dawn on people that the government might not always have their best interests at heart. Rather, government might exclusively be motivated by its own narrow self-interest, which is to stay in power at any cost, while serving the very specific and narrow corporate profit interests of the uber-rich. The latest assault on privacy now comes from Sweden in the form of a computer chip that is injected under the skin of the user with their unique identity, password, and other sensitive information imbedded in it to give all sorts of access- everything from buildings to bank accounts- to the person so chipped. This new technology joins the already prolific and potentially intrusive tracking and storing of individuals' data from cellphones and other tracking devices that contine to amass untold amounts of personal data on virtually every person who uses a computer or any other form of electronic device such as a cellphone. The unquestioned allowing of these massive individual data gathering practices falsely presupposes that those in control of government might not ever have a more nefarious agenda. Even if one assumes for argument sake that the present government has its citizens best interest at heart, there is no consideration given to the potential for some less democratic future government using this technology to subvert privacy and other civil rights in the not too distant future, if we continue to allow such technology to be put in place without any serious examination of its potentially more sinister applications.

LAUSD 2020: HALF OF ALL HEALTHCARE BUDGET WILL BE SPENT ON RETIRED TEACHERS

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Health Benefits.jpg (Mensaje se repite en Español) After costly iPad, MiSiS, and now the latest healthcare scandals, one might reasonable ask, "Are those running LAUSD really trying to push the district into bankruptcy in the not too distant future? And if you did ask this question, regrettably the answer would have to be yes. In 1992 during salary and benefits negotiations with UTLA on behalf of teachers, LAUSD signed a contract with UTLA to maintain teachers lifetime health benefits in lieu of a pay raise. And then for the next 23 years LAUSD did absolutely nothing to fund these healthcare benefits in a timely manner. Instead of setting aside a reasonable sum every year to fund this obligation, which would have been very doable, LAUSD is now faced with well over $10 billion in unfunded heathcare obligations it cannot possibly pay.

LAUSD "SCAFFOLDING": A PLACE FROM WHICH YOU HANG TEACHERS

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(Mensaje se repite en Español) As the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) blindly continues its clearly failed policy of social promotion that continues to move students into higher and higher grades without the indispensible mastery of prior grade level standards necessary to succeed in those grades, literally nothing is being done to address these students deficits in a timely manner that can clearly be documented by obscene dropout rates well over 50% through K-12 and a 75% level of the entering junior college population taking remedial courses that they should have been given while still at the K-12 level. It is an absolute rule in a student's education that the longer we wait to address their deficits, the less likely we are to ever turn things around. While pointing this out is clearly provable by the statistic of unnecessary failure, the reality of pointing this out and not drinking the LAUSD kool aid will more than likely get you labeled a racist. So although most teachers and administrators are clearly aware of this, they value their careers and prefer to compliment the latest LAUSD emperor's new clothes. Given this reality of teacher and administrator coercion by political correct newspeak, it is not surprising that the vast majority of these purposefully socially promoted students ultimately wind up dropping out of K-12 or junior college, if they make it that far.

LAUSD'S FAILURE TO ADEQUATELY FUND LIFETIME HEALTH BENEFITS- COULD NO NEWS JUST BE BAD REPORTING?

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LAUSD logo.jpg (Mensaje se repite en Español) When it comes to the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) failure to adequately fund lifetime health benefits, they have nobody to blame but themselves. Although it seems clear from today's article in the Los Angeles Times that LAUSD leadership is going to try and have teachers carry the financial weight on this failure to adequately fund these benefits in a timely mannner. The fact that LAUSD has a lifetime healthcare obligation deficit to its retired employees of over "$11 billion in future costs" is not something that just happened yesterday, so why does it only wind up on the front page of The Los Angeles Times on March 8, 2015?"

"NEGOTIATING" THE END OF UTLA?

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(Mensaje se repite en Español) Below are several rules that equally apply to good poker playing and good United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union teacher representation and negotiations with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) administration. Breaking these rules in either poker or the present union negotiations and the results could be disasterous. 1. Never sit down at a poker game that's too rich for your blood. 2. Don't telegraph to the opposition what cards you are holding. 3. Don't bluff the opposition in either poker or negotiations, unless you are willing to follow through with what you have threatened with a reasonable likelihood of succeeding. And in the present salary negotiations between UTLA and LAUSD there is something far greater at stake than whether or not teachers get paid more after years of no salary or cost of living increase. What is also at stake- and yet remains unacknowledged- is the likelihood that if UTLA calls a strike that it will not be able to sustain or enforce it. This could very well destroy what remains of an already demoralized union and rank and file- and with it the very existence of UTLA that has stood by for years while LAUSD has put the prerequisites for this final solution in place.

LAUSD- THE BUCK STOPS WHERE? AND WHEN?

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(Mensaje se repite en Español) It has been a little over 5 years since I wrote a blog about how then Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Ramon Cortines was going to get rid of "weak teachers," which he and his subsequent replacement- and now predecessor- John Deasy have had more than enough time to accomplish. And yet, even though the ranks of these "expensive" and supposedly "weak teachers" have been decimated by approximately 14,000 teachers, things are no better at LAUSD- in fact they continue to get worse. Might it just be that the problem never was the teachers, but rather an entrenched and incestuous bureaucracy, where questioning clearly failed policy continues to be something that can get you fired as an administrator. In other words, do what you are told, no matter how stupid you think it is.

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02 2015

IF FAILED TEACHERS ARE FIRED, WHY ARE FAILED LAUSD INCUMBENTS RE-ELECTED?

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(Mensaje se repite en Español) In the upcoming Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) board elections, I have a novel suggestion for anybody who is sick and tired of the consistent failure of LAUSD incumbent board members to address endemic corruption in both financial (iPad, MiSiS, inflated construction contract scandals) and pedagogic practices (fixed assessments, social promotion, and epidemic levels of truancy) that continue to fail the vast majority of the 90% Latino and Black student body of LAUSD and their parents. To echo this failed board's own rhetoric in establishing a standard for going after and getting rid of "bad teachers," (who just happen to be at the top of the salary scale- isn't that really why they are "bad"), why don't you go to the polls on March 3rd and get rid of some really bad LAUSD board members. Vote for anybody else except the incumbent. At the very least, you will ensure a runoff between the incumbent, who has an enormous advantage from the gitgo, and at least one of those challenging these go-along-to-get-along incumbents, who after multiple terms in office or as part of the LAUSD entrenched bureaucracy, have nothing objectively verifiable to show any improvement, while usually standing in the way of anybody trying to make things better in the school district that time seems to have forgotten.

ACCELERATED CHARTER IS LOOKING FOR A CALCULUS TEACHER

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If you are a credentialed Math teacher who has been having a hard time finding employment for any reason, you might try contacting Accelerated Charter principal Marcus Wilhite who is looking for a Calculus teacher. He can be reached at: Accelerated Charter, 4000 South Main Street, Los Angeles, CA - (323) 235-6343

LATINO HIGHER EDUCATION- REALITY OR MERE RHETORIC?

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(Mensaje se repite en Español) In the midst of an endless barrage of belated education reform proposals coming from Governor Brown, President Obama, and elsewhere that are purportedly designed to improve what has become an abysmal public education system, does anybody really want minority- and more specifically Latino- children to finally achieve their academic potential? If they actually did, those devising public education policy might try doing something different that has already proven to work well everywhere else in the world where it has been implemented. With recent studies showing that the bilingual brain is significantly more capable of assimilating more information in any subject than a monolingual brain, one must wonder why America still clings to a monolingual system of public education, where Spanish and other foreign languages are still treated like diseases that young students must be cured of, instead of potential assets to be nurtured as a culturally given advantage that all students might profit from.

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02 2015

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