FROM Mike Piscal
Evaluating Our Teachers, Part 2 Last night we heard about the Los Angeles Times blockbuster education report , the release of records on 6000 3rd through 5th grade elementary teachers and what's called a "value added" analysis of their success or failure based on student performance on standardized English and Math tests. We also heard A.J. Duffy, the President of the United Teachers of LA, call the process a " disgrace " and ask union members to boycott the paper. But the Times plans to put all 6000 names and their on line, and today President Obama's Education Secretary Arne Duncan said parents have a right to know if their children's teachers are effective. California Education Secretary Bonnie Reiss said school districts should do the same thing on their own. The Times says those endorsements prove that the issue of teacher accountability is now bipartisan.
Layoffs and Seniority in the LAUSD Last week, Judge William Highberger ruled that teacher lay-offs planned for three inner-city middle schools would deprive students of their constitutional right to an equal education. Gompers, Markham and Liechty are three of the lowest performing schools in LA Unified. Because the state budget crisis requires cuts, the District sent pink-slips to between 46 and 60% of their teachers. In more affluent neighborhoods, the average was less than 15%. The judge found that educational opportunity would decline disproportionately and ordered the District to find a better way. But it’s not going to be easy because of seniority rules.
Does LA Unified Really Want School Reform? Mayor Villaraigosa says the LA Unified School District has delivered " a terrible blow to reform ." The elected school board has given control of 36 new and underperforming schools mostly to groups organized by administrators and teachers who already work for the District. Only four went to charter operators and three to the Mayor's reform organization. One charter operator says the move shows that "big labor has…control over these school board members." Yolie Flores, the board member who pushed for outside control, says some of her colleagues "are still beholden to unions."
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.