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."
Truth and Lies in Trumpland Donald Trump is using mis-information like no President has before him. It's an unprecedented challenge to the news media, and a potential threat to democracy. We hear how the "leader of all the people" is dividing Americans and confusing the rest of the world.
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?
Nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula slowly coming to a head North Korea did not conduct a nuclear test this weekend, but it did show apparent progress in developing a missile that that could strike the United States. The Trump Administration says it has lost its "strategic patience." We hear what that might -- or might not -- mean for North Korea, China and the prospects for diplomacy.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.